Friday, January 23, 2015

Holding Kate

I held Kate for the first and last time. We couldn't see her. She had to remain in the bag she came in. It's simply been too long and her little body can no longer be exposed to the world. We took in a pink and white blanket--so very soft and so very fuzzy--and that was wrapped around the bag. I knew it would be hard. I was weeping before she was ever brought to me. I'd lobbied for the chance to hold her but everything in me screamed that I should run away before it was too late. Still, my heart reminded my head that I needed to do this because, now or never.

She was brought in to us. I turned. Suddenly, my senses were on overload. My body, numb. All I could focus on was what I felt and saw and smelled. Standing in the doorway was a woman and our pink blanket. But the blanket didn't look like a baby. It was a rectangular shape, the bag poking up at right angles at the top. I wanted to go. She was placed in my arms. Freezing cold. It was like I was trying to snuggle a bag of frozen food. And she was the wrong way. There's only one way for me to hold my babies. With their heads safely cradled in the crook of my left arm. I sat down and immediately switched her. Then I inhaled deeply. It smelled like a college science lab.

I fought the urge to push her into Troy's arms. My daughter is in here. She is wrapped up in this blanket. The baby I was going to bring home and love and hold and raise. She is here and this is my moment. Forget what I feel, tangibly. Think of the fact that right now, she is in my arms.

We held her and we cried--a lot. We whispered. Troy kissed me. Kissed me like both our lives depended on it. We took pictures. We stayed for awhile, like that. And she started to feel less like a bag and more like my baby. I began to discern daughter from plastic and I gently moved my hand over her. I rocked back and forth, back and forth, as though she were alive and crying. Then I asked Troy if he wanted time alone with her.

I closed the door gently behind me. I heard my husband begin to weep. He's not much of a crier, that man I married. Until Kate, I think I'd seen him lose it less than a handful of times in eleven years of marriage. It has slain me to watch him mourn his tiny daughter with the two inch feet. Slain me and made me fall more deeply in love with him than I ever imagined possible.

After awhile, I gently knocked on the door and entered. He handed our baby to me and then he left. And I will be eternally grateful that we both recognized the need we each had to be alone with her. I'd had the dream of spending lazy mornings with her while my boys were at school, snuggling together on the couch, my baby moving with the rise and fall of my own breath. I longed to do it just once.

I pushed three chairs together, laid down, and placed her tiny body on my chest. I cried. I prayed aloud. I talked to her. I held her tightly. My body was warming her. I didn't notice the sterile science smell anymore. It was just my daughter and me. Suddenly I realized that my heart was thundering inside my chest as she rose and fell with my every breath. And when it pounded, for a moment, it was unclear whether it was hers or mine.

My heart will beat for yours. You are safe in the arms of Jesus and so, here on earth, my heart will beat for both of us.

In that moment, mother's heart pounding while baby's holds still, I felt a peace wash over me. Suddenly I knew that I could grieve and dream, laugh and cry, stand still and run wild, all at the same time. I feel like God whispered into my soul that it is alright to hope. Good, even.

I stopped crying. We stayed like that for some time. Just her and I, the sweet girl I long to see at the gates of heaven. Then, her daddy knocked softly on the door and came in. Our tears were dried and we talked to her, telling her about her brothers, deciding the nickname Kater-Tot might have happened one day, insisting to her that she was the quietest of all our babies.

After two hours, it just seemed like it was time to go. I could have stayed forever in that space with my little girl. But she wasn't really there anyway. She is with my Savior. And though I long to have her breathing in my arms, I know the care He takes of her. I know that He was holding her in Heaven while I was holding her body on earth. Tonight, I choose peace.

Peace.

And hope.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Footprints on My Heart

Today was a hard day.

In some ways, perhaps, the hardest.

We met with Kate's birth parents. When we opened the car doors, I could hear her mom sobbing in the parking lot. It was awful. A gut wrenching, anguished cry from the deep. Though it made me want to cry from the depths of all the pain I feel, I knew that I needed to hang on. To stand firm for her. So I held her, in the middle of the parking lot. And I told her it was okay.

Even though it isn't.

I felt her abdomen press into mine. A bit soft. Lacking the one thing that we both long for. Missing Kate.

They signed papers giving us the right to bury our daughter. Forms that are the closest thing to an adoption that we'll ever have. A paper that said Baby Girl--Deceased at the top. No name--even though she has one. No life--even though she touched so many.

"How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. Oh, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts."


I am so thankful that her mother passed Kate's tiny footprints on to me. And I'm so thankful that those tiny feet walked all over my heart during these past three months. Tiptoed over every inch of it so that now I know that the deep grief I feel is explained only by the intense love that I felt.

It's exhausting lining up all the paperwork needed to transfer burial rights from her birth parents to the people who would have been her mom and dad. It took a lot of signatures. But it was accomplished and so, after we spent time with her parents, we went to the mortuary.

We went to the mortuary to discuss the burial of our infant daughter. I hate that sentence. I hate it with everything that is inside of me. I hate that my boys have to watch us grieve. I hate that we don't get to paint nails and have tea parties and play dress up and do all the things I imagined us doing together. I hate that I found myself sitting in a mortuary tonight discussing a two foot long casket. TWENTY FOUR INCHES of casket. That's all she needs.

I've been told by a handful of people that I can't see her. It's simply been too long and too much has changed. I'm supposed to remember her for what she could have been. Tonight, I was told the same information. So I asked him if there was any possible way that I might be able to hold her when she gets to the mortuary. Maybe she could be wrapped up tightly so that I couldn't see any of the things I'm not supposed to see. But...just...please? Because my arms are aching. Only not nearly as much as my heart is. He stared for a few moments prompting me to continue with, "Or, is that not okay?"

"The answer is yes," he said. I audibly exhaled relief. "I would never deprive a mother of the chance to hold her baby."

So, sometime in the next few days, I will be able to hold her in my arms--the place I imagined she'd be for sleepless nights and morning snuggles--for a moment. And, soon after that, she'll be placed into a casket not much bigger than a shoe box.

This isn't how I imagined any of this. 

Today was a hard day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For His Glory

"So that I can respond for His glory."

"My whole world is about to come crashing down."

That's what I wrote before I called our facilitator. In the course of ten minutes I'd missed two phone calls and a couple of texts. My body went numb. What could be so urgent? She'd changed her mind? She didn't want to place her child with us anymore?

Why would this happen? I asked. Why, when all the details had fallen so perfectly in to place would this happen? And all at once it came to me and I said aloud, "So that I can respond for His glory." Like a rushing wave I felt His presence. Then, just as soon as I'd known why all of this would happen, I knew that my world was about to come crashing down. So I wrote the words. And then I picked up the phone and I called.

She didn't want to tell me because Troy wasn't here. I told her she had to. I needed to know what had happened.

Oh how I wish her mother had changed her mind, had decided to parent her after all. Because then sweet Kate would still be alive.

I don't know why I feel compelled to write. Maybe because I've written the whole thing--told the whole story--and pouring my feelings out through my fingertips is the only thing that feels right.

I loved that baby. I love that baby. Her body is in a hospital in California and I am here and more than anything I want to scoop her up and hold her close and tell her that I'm sorry I wasn't there. I want to hold her mother and tell her I'm sorry I wasn't there. I want to go back in time and fix it all. I want to wake up and have it all be a lie.

That's what I wrote last night. Before I lost it completely and couldn't write another word. Before my grief grabbed me and made me hurt worse than I've ever hurt before.

I've led a charmed life. A life where the only people close to me that I've lost have been elderly. A life generally unmarked by grief. Not now. Now I hurt and I'm so sorry for what we've lost.

I'd bought these necklaces. The tiny one was for Kate. The circle was for her mother. I still plan to give the one to Kate's mom. But the tiny one--the one I bought on a short chain for a tiny neck--is around my own neck.

Because she will always, always be in my heart. I'll never see her or hold her or tell her how very much I love every inch of her. But I will never forget her. We are planning to go to California and hoping to be able to hold a small service for her. My friend sent me the most beautiful quote. 

"How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. Oh, but what an imprint your footprints have left on our hearts."

Friends, I hurt. But I know that I know that I know that God is always good. And I know that, above all, I must respond for his glory.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Baby Kate

Our sweet baby was born today--stillborn.

I will write more when I have time to process.

Please be in prayer for her birth parents and for our family.

Thank you so much.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Where We're At

Troy and I continue to be completely humbled and blessed by the generous donations from our friends and family members and, in some cases, total strangers. Please share our story with everyone you know--every single dollar helps us! Just one dollar donated gets your name on Kate's wall so that we will always be able to remember and honor those who helped us bring her home. If you want to donate, click on the Adoption 2015 tab to see how!

Here's where we're at right now:

We've done everything that we can do on our end. We've updated our home study and we're waiting on our FBI clearance which is necessary for state to state private adoptions. We've retained both our Utah and our California attorney and, once approved by the state of Utah, we'll retain a lawyer on behalf of the birth mother.

We've started the task of turning a blue and beige playroom into a pink and gray baby girl's room. (We're hoping the baby actually comes out a girl because, otherwise, our third son probably won't like his fantastically girly room.)

We've made a paper chain and are down to just 54 days until the due date.


We've raised almost 55% of our funding!

The boys are bouncing off the walls excited. Of course, they've also chosen this past month to start fighting like cats and dogs. But mostly, they're both really excited. I made the mistake of taking them in to Carter's yesterday. You'd have thought I'd taken a couple of pregnant moms in instead of two elementary aged boys. They were exuberantly bringing me ALL THE OUTFITS and begging me to buy them. I wasn't even there for our baby. I was shopping for a completely different baby. In the end, I decided that, because we are in dire need of newborn clothes, I'd let them each pick an outfit for her. Matthew chose a blue sleeper with tiny pink hearts and Garrett chose little blue pants with a whale on the bum and matching short and long sleeve onesies. They talk about Kate all the time. I am beside myself with excitement over how adorable I think they'll be with her.

I continue to endure the adoption horror stories, "Just so you're prepared, can I tell you about my friend's failed adoption..." JUST SO I'M PREPARED? ARE YOU INSANE? YOU'RE TALKING TO THE LADY WHOSE SON'S ADOPTION WAS PUT ON HOLD FOR FOURTEEN MONTHS WHILE BIRTH PARENTS WERE AT A STALEMATE AS TO WHO SHOULD RAISE HIM. I know about failed adoptions. I know about moms changing their minds at the last minute. I know about all kinds of things. Just stop talking. Because the truth is, adoptions fail all the time. Adoptions are finalized all the time. If the Lord permits this to continue moving forward, we will keep walking through open doors. If He closes the doors, we will deal with it. No amount of you telling me horror stories is going to change anything. It's just going to make my chest constrict. And my blood pressure will probably elevate to an unhealthy level. I do enough worrying all on my own. I assure you, I don't need any help.

I finally dreamed of her last night. I really hadn't done that yet--at least, not that I can remember. But last night I dreamed that she was already all grown up and away at school. She got terribly sick (not, like, sick with a life threatening disease or anything, just...awfully sick with a gross flu) and I went to bring her home to get better. I woke up and I was happy. Not because she was sick but because she finally made an appearance in my subconscious. And also because, in the dream, I looked exactly like I do now. I was a very well preserved post 50 year old. It was so totally a dream because, aside from my having found the fountain of youth, Kate was whiter than I am (a real challenge) and had long auburn hair. Which is really weird because, in real life, she's biracial.

We're waiting. And preparing. And hoping. And praying. And that's about all we can do.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Breathtaking

Our baby's due date is a little inconvenient. She's expected right after my children go back to school after being off track for three weeks. (Curse you, year round school! I do not love you.) She's also due approximately two weeks after our home study expires. So, in addition to pulling my kids out of school for who knows how long RIGHT after they've just been lounging around the house with no school to speak of for THREE ENTIRE WEEKS, we also have to update our home study.

So that's happening today.

We've taught our children not to lie. Oh sure, they still do from time to time but they know that the punishment for lying is SEVERE and CATASTROPHIC even. Maybe. They know that the consequence for lying is much, much worse than the consequence for whatever they did in the very first place. This is a great trait to instill in children. No one likes a liar.

Except. Well, I'm always a little worried when the social worker comes over. What if my kids just get hit with a sudden case of verbal diarrhea and one of them opens the door and just starts shouting a laundry list of our parental failings? What if they tell her that the house was a mess until that very morning when we decided we should probably dig ourselves out of a heap of toys and mail and smudge marks because we want her to say that we're fit to have a baby and not that, instead, she's calling some government office to have our home condemned? What if they tell her that we JUST discovered that the window in the baby's room is cracked and no one knows how it happened and we didn't have the time or the money to fix it right this second but it will be taken care of soon and so, for the time being, the blinds are drawn so don't try to open them, mkay? What if they tell her that, just this morning, the first seven things out of Matthew's mouth were negative and so I matched his sour disposition by YELLING at him to, "FIX YOUR ATTITUDE NOW!" What if they share the fact that, once, I thought Garrett was just going to get better and then I finally took him to the doctor after several days and it turned out that he had a raging case of strep throat (except he hadn't once complained about his throat hurting!) and I won the award for worst mom ever that day? 

The truth is, see, that I have no idea what I'm doing. I forget to check pockets and I wash chap stick and ruin three shirts and two pairs of pants. I take kids to the doctor for a windburned face that looks like the rashy plague of death but don't take them for raging cases of strep and doesn't everyone know that if left untreated STREP CAN KILL? I clean my house but often not until I know someone is coming over. Occasionally, on Saturdays, I don't get out of bed until after 9:00. Sometimes, I serve canned peaches on the side of frozen pizza for dinner. (Well, for clarification's sake, I do cook the pizza first.)

I don't want my children to lie to the social worker* it's just that, if they decide to go spewing nasty truths about my many failures, I hope they include the decent parts of their lives as well. I hope they tell her about the nighttime snuggles EVERY NIGHT and how my eight and a half year old still asks for them. I want them to tell her about our dance parties and the fact that last night's meal involved turkey and mashed potatoes baked into a pie with a side of broccoli. Maybe they can tell her about all the books we've read and how Matthew knows, when I pucker my lips, that he's supposed to back his scrumptious chubby cheek into them for a quick kiss and that this happens multiple times a day. They can regale her with stories of reading the Bible and learning how to read and walking in Israel where Jesus walked and swimming in the crystal blue waters of Maui. Or stories of countless bloody noses stopped or bowls held to catch the volumes and volumes of vomit. But more than anything, I wish they'd tell her that sometimes, if they turn fast enough, they catch me staring at them and that, for a moment, I'm not even breathing.

Because they take my breath away. 

You may not see that, friends and social worker and maybe even family. You may see the moments of correction and instruction and teaching them how to be men of integrity, honesty and kindness. You don't see the quietness (AND ROWDINESS!) of the door that closes behind you. The four of us on the couch laughing over a silly TV show, or all of us in the baby's bedroom trying to pick the exact shades of gray and pink that will make all of us happy (not gonna happen), or our quick games of football before the boys climb into bed. You might not know that I really do love them so very much that sometimes it hurts. Because I know how quickly it is passing by.

And because it's the only thing I've always wanted to do. I fail every single day. But I'd also like to think that I have some successes every day. I love being a mom and, more than anything, I hope they feel that. I hope they know it.

Several weeks ago, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a thought. I was watching my boys playing together and my heart was so happy. I thought, Oh my gosh. What are we doing? Why are we adopting this baby? What if I just can't love an adopted child the way I love these boys? That would be so unfair to the baby.

It took me a solid five seconds--at least--to remember that one of those boys is adopted. And in that moment, I realized that this is all pretty great. It's exhausting and frustrating and I'm a hot mess of a mother who screws the whole thing up every day, but these kids God has trusted me with mean the whole world to me. That He'd trust me with another one (that her mother would trust me with her) is just...breathtaking.

My children can tell the truth. And I will hope that they've absorbed even a small amount of how I really feel.


*The truth is, I'm not actually worried about our home study. But I just reread this post and, maybe, I should be?

Monday, January 12, 2015

There's a Crib Now

Exactly two months until our baby's due date.

So I put together a crib tonight.

People have been really generous with their baby gear. We've received a bouncer, a swing, a crib, a baby bath (brand new and still sporting stickers), and an umbrella stroller. Not to mention a hefty haul of hand-me-downs. This has been incredibly helpful because, with the exception of a pack n play, I had nothing left for a baby. I got rid of it all years ago.

I'm convinced that I need to start dreaming up the most ridiculous scenarios for my life because God's plans are about as far from mine as I could come up with. I know, maybe one day we'll move to Guam. Perhaps I'll become a world class chef. Maybe I'll run for Congress. How about having a baby when my children are 8 and a half and 6 and all our baby stuff is long gone. See, that last one doesn't sound quite so nutty on the heels of the other things.

Troy had Garrett at scouts and Matthew was taking a bath while I built the crib. He had no idea what I was doing and, when he got himself out of the tub, he came into the bedroom, gasped and then declared, "I think Kate will like this bed a lot!"

I hope so.

I hope she likes it so much that she uses it a lot and for long stretches of the night.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Day I Organized

You know what's a real thing? Nesting. You know what's also a real thing? Adoptive moms nesting. You know what makes it even worse? The fact that adoptive moms don't have a big ole belly in their way. Adoptive moms don't have a lack of energy. Adoptive moms aren't busy gestating. They're not actively involved in making a new little human. They've already contacted all the lawyers and mailed all the paperwork to all the involved agencies. They're waiting for their FBI clearance and, other than that, they're waiting for their baby to finish growing and there isn't a darn thing they can do about it. So do you know what they do on a Saturday because they aren't allowed to paint because they want their shoulder to still be working in March when their baby is born?

Well, I can't speak for other adoptive moms, but here's what I did today:

I organized underneath my kitchen sink, scrubbed the ceiling in the kitchen, organized the dish towel drawer, did the dishes, cooked a turkey, cleaned the trash can, organized under the sink in the boys' bathroom, cleaned their bathroom drawer, went through the medicine tub, organized my bathroom cabinets, cleaned off my dresser and my night stand, did two loads of laundry, and did some online banking.

This coming week, now that so many things are organized, I need to clean the whole house because our social worker is coming to update our home study. It expires at the end of February and our baby didn't see fit to be due until mid March. And, you know, we want our social worker to think our house is really nice and neat and organized and clean most of the time. Even though...HA! Two elementary aged boys live here.

Anyway. I still have more than 8 weeks. Just think of the organizational possibilities!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Will the Sneezing Ever End?

Huzzah! My children went to school today!

Not huzzah! I went to urgent care.

Last night my ear started to feel not good, and, when I say "not good" I mean that IT WAS THROBBING AND HURTING AND DOING A LOT MAKING ITS POSITION ON MY HEAD VERY WELL KNOWN. Also the entire left side of my face felt like it was going to explode straight off my face spewing bits of skin and freckles and sinus cavity all over the place.

Sorry for that.

But it's true.

So I got to urgent care at 8:05. Five minutes after it opened. I was finally seen at 9:28 and at 9:36 I was in my car, driving away. It didn't take a medical degree OR 100 dollars to look in my ear and declare, "Well, this will come as quite a shock but you have an ear infection." You're kidding? I had NO idea.

Also, I went to bed at 8:00 last night and got up at 7:00 this morning. And also I am back in bed right now and I DON'T EVEN CARE. I also didn't care enough to take my jacket off when the nurse weighed me. For the record, when I was PREGNANT, I cared so much about weight gain that I wore light weight shorts, tank tops and flip flops to my appointments. AND I WAS PREGNANT. I had the best excuse of all for gaining weight. Today I was like, Bulky sneakers. CHECK. Jeans and a thick cotton shirt. CHECK. Jacket. YOU KNOW IT!

Because, for real, I went through nine Kleenex during that hour and a half and sneezed approximately 52 times and so what's a little weight gain? But I totally left with a prescription for Amoxicillin and Flonase and I'm taking it like a boss because I have exactly 19 hours before I'm hanging out with a classroom full of kindergartners. You wanna know a sure fire way to get better? GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE.

I simply cannot still feel like this tomorrow. I'll let you know if assigning a deadline to the amount of time I am allotted for feeling bad actually works. If I'm right, I'll feel better. If I'm wrong, I'll be singing kiddie songs in my most nasal of voices, asking them to count my sneezes, and yelling, "BE QUIET, YOUR VOLUME IS HURTING MY EAR!"

All things that would make for a fantastic substitute, I'm sure.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lady Insert My What Now?

I texted my mom. "I have too much to do. I don't have time to lady insert my heated blankie at noon." Except that's not even what I meant to say because, well, what the heck would that even mean, I wonder? It was supposed to say that I don't have time to lay under my heated blankie at noon. Lay/lie? Eh. Who cares?

(Okay. Me. I care. But not enough to look it up right now because CHILLS and SNOT!)

The heated blanket, however, is one of my most favorite Christmas presents. It's like my mother knows me REALLY well. Or something. It's fantastic. But, nevertheless, it has a TIME and a PLACE and noon, in my bed, on a Tuesday is neither the time nor the place.

Last night, after a round of Tylenol at 5:00, the oldest boy stayed fever free for quite a good, long, while and I thought we were over the period of elevated temperatures. I fell asleep between 8:00 and 8:30 (don't judge) and when I woke up I thought, "Oh goodie! I just feel like I have a slight cold." This was great news because I had to head to the orthopedist this morning because exactly one month ago I severely wounded my shoulder hauling chairs around the church after our women's ministry event which took us approximately 12,000 hours to clean up and included four women chair hauling and lifting and attaching. In and of itself, this is not a big deal, the moving of chairs. However, apparently, I need to come to terms with the fact that, in my old age, I am simply physically unable to do certain things. Like chair moving. Because I have compromised shoulders from years and years of repetitive swimming motions. No one told me, at the tender age of seven, when I started competitive swimming, that a decade of some pretty intense workout routines was going to take its toll and by the age of 33, I was going to, forever after maybe, have to politely say, "I'm sorry, I can't move chairs anymore. I was a swimmer. The end."

So I injured my shoulder on December 6 and it was the very worst it has ever hurt in all of time. I am not exaggerating when I say that it mostly just hung limp at my side for the better part of three weeks. I did not sleep through the night for weeks (practice for March, maybe?). I ate Ibuprofen like it was candy JUST TO SURVIVE. Two weeks ago I made the appointment with the surgeon and wouldn't you know, that's all it took. My shoulder almost immediately began to improve, ever so slightly, day by day. I decided to keep the appointment though because BABY LIFTING IN MARCH.

The good doctor thinks I inflamed my bursa or my rotator cuff and it just took THAT BLOOMIN' LONG to start to feel better. He gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, told me to keep doing my shoulder exercises, and sent me on my merry way with strict instructions not to paint the baby's room OR move any chairs any time soon. Which was all fine and good because I did not want to try to squeeze shoulder surgery into the next nine weeks. He also showed me an excellent little calcium deposit that shows up in my x-ray. Thanks, years of competitive swimming for that gem. At least it was fun and I was pretty good. I promise it wouldn't have been worth it for mediocrity. But I could have been a contender so, for that, I suppose I'll live with my bum-non-chair-moving shoulder.

And none of that was even the point. The point was that, when the kids woke up this morning, their temperatures were 102.5 and 103.7 and that was just not remotely ON THE MEND. And, despite feeling only slightly under the weather myself when I left for my "YOUR SHOULDERS WILL PROBABLY ALWAYS JUST SUCK" appointment (no, he did not use that word), I am now lady insert my heated blankie at noon. Oh autocorrect. At least you provide amusement for me while I shiver:

Point of this entire blog: The plague is swirling around this house and it is not going away.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not the Flu

We've all been stricken with the plague. That to say, if you were around us yesterday at church, my sincerest apologies. The only one of us who had any symptoms yesterday was Troy and believe me I tried to get him to take a sick day. But he's a stubborn one. It doesn't even matter though because the rest of the three of us would have still been there given that WE HAD NO SYMPTOMS.

Unfortunately, we do now.

There are fevers and headaches and coughing (but the doctor told Troy he didn't think it was the flu) and Ibuprofen and WHEN CAN I TAKE MORE IBUPROFEN and DID I SERIOUSLY ONLY GIVE IT TO YOU AN HOUR AGO?

So I really am very, very sorry if I inadvertently gave this to anyone.

But at least it's not the flu. Right?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

JUST SEVEN WEEKS!

Have you ever stood in the middle of what can only be described as a modern day miracle? "God doesn't 'do' miracles anymore," they say. "The Bible can't be true because miracles can't happen," they say. "I've never seen a miracle."

Perhaps, friend, you've never paid any attention.

When I first looked at the email our social worker sent me on October 18, I was half a second away from deleting it. On the one hand, my babies are practically all grown up and starting over again seemed daunting. On the other hand (a much bigger, more pressing hand), I did not have 24K plus legal fees just lying around. (Legal fees are A LOT. Like, $300 dollars an hour of A LOT. And there aren't just one or two lawyers involved here. There are three.) My quick estimation math rounded the total up to $30,000 or more.

We're in ministry. We rent our home. Our insurance premium is nearly $900 a month. Both of our vehicles are older than our firstborn and need their fair share of maintenance. We don't have much wiggle room in our monthly budget. We certainly don't have $30,000 just burning a hole in our pocket. Paying back 30 grand, adding the hungry tummy of another child, sending another kid to camps and prom and college when we're just doing our best to make ends meet now...well, that all seemed just a little reckless.

A little like Jonah heading into Ninevah. He never could have imagined the miracle of repentance that awaited.

A little like Elijah drenching the altar with water before calling on the Lord to ignite the sacrifice. And then watching the fire from Heaven as it consumed everything.

A little like Gideon taking 300 men to fight against 135,000. It would take a miracle.

A little like a shepherd boy taking on a giant. And, in the name of the Lord Almighty, defeating him.

Reckless on our own. Ordained with God.

Eight weeks ago we decided that we were all in. We had absolutely no idea how we'd come up with the money. Seven weeks ago we made a video asking people to help us by contributing just one dollar. I couldn't imagine raising any large amount of money this way but I knew that every dollar donated meant one less that we'd have to come up with on our own.

In the 49 days since we began fundraising, we've had only three days that we didn't receive any donations. We've had days that our grand total was two dollars and we've had days like yesterday when we received $2852. In just seven weeks time, we have received $15045! We're halfway to our ultimate goal in just 49 days! God is using our friends, family members, teachers, children, strangers, friends of friends, and so many more to bring about His plan. More than 150 different donors have partnered with us.

One dollar DOES make a difference. Even if we don't receive so much as one more penny, we know that our God has raised half of our funds for us in JUST SEVEN WEEKS.

Do you believe in miracles? We do.

To those who have donated, we thank you. You are as much a part of this adoption as we are.

Monday, December 29, 2014

RIP Peter

Rest in peace Peter the Fish. You were with us for three years and 27 days which, in bowl dwelling fish years, is an eternity. We will miss your happy glubbing and the bubbly disposition you maintained for most of your three years. In the end, there, you were a bit senile and mopey but it was probably to be expected as you were approximately 11,001 fish years old. We promise to cut through the ice and snow and give you a proper burial. You shall not meet the sewage in the long and winding pipes.

Thank you for being the motivation for getting my then five-year-old to stay in his own bed. Thank you for providing us endless laughter as we'd place a mirror near you and watch you puff up, ready to fight your own reflection. Thank you for tolerating it when the boys would place a finger in your bowl and "pet" you. Who knows how long you'd have lived without that little shenanigan. Thank you for never complaining, always staying where we put you, and being generally easy and pleasant to care for.


You will be missed.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Over Lunch

For the past ten years, we've had access to free tickets to Sea World. (Thanks, Sea World employee who continues to hook us up!) Today, we were able to head to the park with my parents, my brother and FSIL*, FSIL's parents, her sister and her sister's boyfriend.

So. There we were, eating lunch altogether at Sea World. FSIL's sister and her boyfriend live in Maryland and it had been, like, 20 years since I'd seen her (and by 20, I mean 4). I'd never met her boyfriend. Topics of conversation ranged from, "Where did you grow up?" to, "Do you like snow crab?" Well, since we didn't know him and he didn't know us, obviously my ex-fiancé came up. What? Don't you talk about previous fiancés with people you've never met?

Actually, it was like this. Boyfriend asked us how we met. I explained that Troy's dad had come on as the pastor of the church I grew up in and we'd met there. Troy interjected that we were friends first because I was with another guy.

"He was an Egyptian!" my eight-year-old exclaimed and then made a comment about being related to king Tut. This was the first time I realized that my son doesn't understand that my ex-fiancé is just a guy whose father moved here from Egypt and that I wasn't actually engaged to someone with his own pyramid who dressed like the characters from Prince of Egypt. Note to self: Further cultural education for my children is needed. Another note to self: Explain the difference between ancient civilizations and current ones to said children.

I explained to the over eight crowd that he was half Egyptian and half Caucasian but that we had, indeed, ended our relationship and that did, indeed, make way for Troy. Garrett was still clearly sad this ancient Egyptian fellow was no longer in our lives. "It's a good thing we broke up and I married dad. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here," I reminded him.

Without skipping so much as a beat, with the comedic timing that wins awards, Matthew quickly shouted, " BUT I WOULD!"

And then eight adults erupted into hysterical laughter. Several of us were wiping tears away from our eyes. It was SO hilarious. I honestly don't know if he was trying to be funny or if he was just stating the fact that his father and I ending up together had absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his presence in the world. Regardless of effort, the effect was comic gold.

*Before my brother got married, I referred to his fiancée as FSIL (Fizzle) which stood for Future Sister-in-Law. We tried out SIL for awhile but it just didn't have the sticking power. So now it's FSIL and the "F" represents any adjective beginning with that letter. Often, it stands for FABULOUS.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Tax Deduction!

Couldn't everyone use a year-end tax deductible donation? You just don't need to look any further than right here, is the thing. You can go straight here and donate. No donation is too small. READ MY WORDS--NO DONATION IS TOO SMALL!!!

I'm not even kidding. You want to donate one dollar? NOT TOO SMALL. I promise that one dollar from a lot of people adds up to A LOT OF DOLLARS. I'm making a list of all the people who have donated money. I read it over often and praise God for each person who has felt led to contribute. It means the world to us.

Please, please, please consider joining that group of people and helping us. We will never forget your generosity. Every day, when we look at our daughter, we will think of those who partnered with us to help get her home. We are almost 40% funded. Can you help us get just a little bit closer to 100%?