A Letter to My Daughter on Our Adoption Anniversary

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie!  It’s been eight years since we were declared your forever parents; the ones who would walk you through the rough times and celebrate with you in the good ones.

There has been some rough times, hasn’t there?  There has also been some incredible times.  I know this.  You do, too.

I watch you.  I see the way you watch my every move, as well.  There is great pressure raising a girl in this world; raising one who is strong enough to be fierce when it matters and soft enough to be empathetic when no one else will.  Well, I’m here to proclaim that you are both of these things.  You’re fierce when you need to be and you are soft when it is necessary.  (Although, Mommy wishes you were a little more soft with me…especially when our shared strong-wills clash.)

It’s different raising a daughter.  Not bad, just different.  Us girls are complicated.  We feel every ounce of emotion that enters our psyches.  We over think and overthink until our brains are just done.  We love big and we grieve big.  Often, we are our worse critics.

It’s because of this that I want to tell you to never underestimate yourself.  Allow those strong emotions to come but do so in a way that will always respect yourself and those in your life who matter.  Don’t stop grieving for the homeless and others who are in a bad place.  That kind of empathy may not be rewarded on this Earth, but I believe it will be in Heaven.

Stick to your guns.  Stand up for what you believe in.  Don’t shy away from expressing your opinion (even when it’s not how others think you should feel).  Don’t give yourself away; to a job, to men, to anyone.  It’s hard to get yourself back once you do.

You, by far, have challenged me more than your brothers.  However, you, by far, have taught me more about myself and about this parenting life.  You question everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Don’t stop doing that.

You leave me nearly exhausted each day but you also give me the gumption to get up at each new dawn and try harder.  This, sweetie.  This is what it is like to watch your heart dance and prance around in the form of a little girl.  This is both challenging and incredible all at the same time.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be our forever daughter; although you were always “ours” from the minute you were brought to our home.  I need you to know that I’m constantly thinking of you.  I’m constantly considering how I can make a positive impact in your life and how I can protect you from the harshness of this world.

Yes, it’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be ours forever, but to me, time is sifting by at too quick of a pace.  If there is anything I can teach you, it is this.

What you are right now is not who you will be in the future.  You will grow and stretch and sometimes, it won’t feel good, but it will be good for you.  Life is neither easy or hard.  It is both at the same time.

There will be times when you feel less than the girl sitting next to you.  There will be other times when you feel that you can climb the highest of mountains with ease.  Both are relevant, but both are fleeting. 

No matter what, always remember that as much as we love you, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more.  Our love will never compare to His.  While we are your parents, you belong to Him.  He knew you before we did.  He knew you when you were in your birth mother’s womb.  He was present when you were born.  (We were not and that is something that has always grieved my own heart.)  You are wanted and you are cherished by us and by the Lord.  Don’t ever forget that.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared us as your forever parents; eight years of laughter and tears.  Eight years of talking-back and saying “I’m sorry”.  I literally cannot imagine my life without you.  These years seem to have come and gone so fast.

Eight years from now…well…I don’t even want to think about that, yet.

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie.

We love you.

We always have.

We always will.

Eightisgreat

 

3,285 days

Today marks the anniversary of the adoption of our oldest son.  It has been 3,285 days since the gavel of the Judge slammed down and our oldest son was declared as our legal and forever son; 3,285 days since I turned around and saw the tear-filled eyes of so many friends and family members watching our family become official, since I was able to fully exhale for the first time, and since all of us could truly visualize a future that included the little guy we had all fallen in love with.

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Little cutie in his adoption outfit

We were just four months shy of the two-year mark of him being in our home when our adoption was granted.  Some people have said, “Two years!  I can’t imagine not knowing what will happen for that long.”  Honestly, we feel pretty fortunate that it was only twenty months.  We know cases that have lasted a lot longer with so much more risk involved.  We don’t regret those twenty months.  Instead, we are thankful for them.

20170507_151237During the twenty months of fostering him, we grew closer, more faithful and walked in the witness of the hardship of others.  Words barely give justice for what it is like to completely put your heart out there for another little soul to whom you may or may not spend the rest of your life with.

We were not braver than others.  We just knew that we had to finish the race we had started without knowing what the finish line would look like.

It has been 3,285 days since the last time I looked in his soft, brown eyes and wondered how long I would call myself his mommy; 3,285 days since I was declared his forever mom.

Three thousand, two hundred and eighty-five days since he became our son.

Love you bigger than outer space.  Love you, forever.

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Best big brother

 

 

 

He’s Never Called You Mommy, Birth Mother.

This weekend marked the eighth anniversary of the adoption of our oldest son and Mother’s Day.  Despite the joy this weekend had, you (Birth Mother) were on my mind.  He’s getting so big and growing into a young man; still yet, in my heart, and I know in yours, he will always be a blonde curly-haired and brown-eyed little boy.

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The reality is that he has stopped calling me “Mommy”, and I don’t know when this happened.  One day, he was tugging my pants saying, “Hold you, Mommy” and the next, it became just simply, “Mom”.

It grieves me a bit to think about how fast time is flying by, how we are all so far removed in years from when he was little, and how soon…too soon…he will be grown and spreading his wings to fly into the world.  Still yet, through all of the mountains and valleys of raising a boy in this world, you are never far from my thoughts.

The painful truth that hits me square in the heart is that he has never called you “Mommy”.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to write to you every anniversary of our adoption.  I suppose it is the least I could do.  The fact that our adoption occurred right around Mother’s Day is something I rejoice in, but also feel sadness about.  My first official Mother’s Day was just days out from our adoption in 2008.  In many ways, I feel that the timing is God’s wink at me.  In other ways, the timing is so incredibly complex and full of grief.  People may not understand why, or wonder how I could think of you so often, especially on this day, but that is okay.  This is our journey – his, mine, and yours.

Honestly, if I think too much about it all, my emotions get the best of me.  On the one hand, my heart leaps with love at the thought of being his mother.  On the other, it sways in sadness that you are not.  If you did not choose life, if an intervention had not happened, and if difficult decisions were not made, then I would not be here, typing this out, and listening to him laughing at a video in his bedroom.

This, Birth Mother, is the place where sadness and joy sit next to each other; one touching the other, one never too far from the other. 

I want you to know that he is a wonderful little human.  He is kind, athletic, artistic, and enjoys all sorts of people and places.  He does not seem to know a stranger and has no expectations of the types of friends he makes.  I love that about him.  He holds no judgment about other people.  He doesn’t care what skin color a person has, or what interests a person has, he just meets people where they are at.  This is a lesson for us all and makes my heart swell with pride.

He is eager to enjoy time with others, loves to goof off, and is a loyal person.  He is a good big brother, loves animals, and is always thinking of grand ideas that are (sometimes) okay to explore.

Birth Mother, you were so incredibly kind to us even though we had your son.  You could have chosen not to be.  You could have decided that we were your enemy and that I was anything but his Mother.  Instead, you referred to me as his “Mamma”.

Thank you…from the deepest and most vulnerable part of my soul, thank you.

I suppose you will always be in my thoughts, and in my heart on every adoption anniversary and Mother’s Day.  He may not call me “Mommy” anymore, but know that…

In my heart, we are both his “Mommy”.

 

It’s today, birth mother.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of our adoption of our son…your son.  Somehow, this year, it sort of snuck up on me.  The moment I realized it, I thought of you.

Our son is growing up too fast.  I look at him sometimes and wonder where that curly blonde-haired boy went.  I imagine, though, that you might think the same thing.

He does not want to snuggle as much as he used to.  Forget about hugging me in public.  No, those days are just a memory.  However, he still carries within him the same sweetness, loyalty, and love that he has always possessed.  I suspect, or at least I hope, these things will not fade as his youthful spring turns into an aging summer.

It’s today, birth mother, the anniversary of one of the most significant experiences in my life, and yet, I’m thinking of you.  It is odd, you know…two strangers whose lives greatly differ; yet, forever sewn together by the tapestry of a child.  Honestly, I cannot think of anything more beautiful.

Our son is smart, athletic, creative, and just a wonderful child.  His heart always seems to land in the right spot, even though his actions may not show it.  Behind that urging to fit in, be just “one of the guys”, and deal with the pressure of growing up in today’s society, is a boy whose future is full of adventures.

As I watch him develop, I gaze at his features, consider his personality, and marvel at his being.  That’s my job…to admire, to ponder, and to be amazed by him. However, it was once your job as well, and that is something I will never forget.

It’s today, birth mother.  Today is the day the gavel fell and he was declared mine forever.  Do you want to know something?  Despite the legalities of it all, I still believe that he will also be forever your’s.  How can I not feel this way?

I wasn’t there when he entered this world.  I didn’t hold him on my chest when he was breathing Earthly air for the first time.  I didn’t name him.  While this has grieved me some through the years, I cannot help but be thankful that you had those moments…those precious, unforgettable moments.

I don’t regret anything, birth mother.  No.  Instead, I am forever changed by the time we had together while we were all navigating the world of foster care.  The system isn’t pretty.  I know that you understand that so well.  It doesn’t create too many divine moments.  However, what happened between you, our son, and I was splendid.  The system cannot define it.

Today, birth mother, is the anniversary of our adoption.  Today, birth mother, I not only celebrate my son, but I also honor who you are, what you meant to me during our foster care journey, and how much you mean to me now.

Our son is wonderful.  He is everything you hoped he would be.  And that, birth mother, fills my heart with gratitude, contentment, and delight.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m here on the eve of celebrating the anniversary of our son’s adoption day, and I’m thinking of you.  It happens every year, you know. We mark the seventh of May with joy and celebration at the gift that he is to us.  It is the day that the courts declared him to be forever ours.  Still yet, my mind travels to thoughts of you.

Six years ago, on the eighth of May (the day after our big court date), I sat in his room, watched him play with toys a bit, and then pulled a blue t-shirt over his head to wear.  As his blonde curls popped up out of the neck of the shirt, his big brown eyes caught mine, and then it hit me.

I sat there for a moment, captivated by his precious face, and suddenly, felt the tears as they began to well up in my eyes.  Something about that moment….getting him dressed as my “official” son…on a new day…with a new start…being able to exhale for the first time in almost two years…with a new legal description of who I was to him…moved me greatly.

photodayafterI snapped a quick picture of him.  I wanted to capture that moment in time.  I did not want to forget it. I was a blubbering mess in the middle of his bedroom.  We had shared nearly two years of a life without permanency, and in that moment of our eyes meeting, I knew full well that he was not going anywhere.

It was not just the beginning of our new life together that caused me to pause, it was also the ending of the journey that you and I shared.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m thinking about the first time I met you, the meetings, court hearings, visits, laughter, tears, and restless nights.  Your words remain on my mind.  Your laugh, your concern for my family, and the friendship we formed in love because of our son are held in a place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else, but will be shared with our son as he grows.

Your kindness was an incredible and unique experience that is sometimes not expected in the world of foster care.  People may wonder why I feel the way I feel for you.  They may even question how I could form a friendship with someone who found herself in the position that you did.  Instead of understanding your “lot in life”, they judge.

My judgment fell away the moment we met.  I looked at you, heard what you had to say, and realized that you were not my enemy.  You were never meant to be.  We just found ourselves wrapped up in the legal drama that is foster care.  Instead, we formed a friendship based on very difficult circumstances. It grew out of the love for our little boy – yours, and mine.  Your love for him was never questioned in my heart – not then, not now, and not ever.

How can I love him and not love that part of him that belongs to you?  How can I not think of you when he learns new things, calls me Momma, succeeds at his talents, gets sick, and moves along in his journey to adulthood?

I want you to know that on our joyous day six years ago there were many loving people in the court room.  Each one played a small part in forming our family. Some prayed for us.  Some cheered us on.  Some loved on him with genuine and unmistakable adoration.  Some pushed paperwork, and some allowed me to cry on their shoulders.

Even still, no one in the cramped court room mattered more in the whole scheme of things than you.  Although you were absent from the court room, I carried you in my heart that day.

You chose life.  You carried him.  You labored bringing into the world.  You called him by his name before anyone else.  You left the hospital alone. You were gracious to the strangers (us) who took him in.  You hung in there, and visited him.

You said your good-byes, and you let go.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m returning to that incredible day six years ago when God proved His faithfulness, removed the mountain-sized weight off of my shoulders, and blessed me with adoption of the son we share.

Do you want to know something, birth mother?  On the day after, I thought the hard part was over.  I thought that being his foster-mother, not knowing how permanency for him would unfold, and wondering if I would be his forever momma, was the hardest part.

However, I’m learning that raising him is the hardest part.  It is not because of him. He is a challenging, at times, but he is remarkable, beautiful, smart, witty, creative, ornery, and loving.  He is an incredible son, and I’m one of the most lucky momma’s on Earth.  Being his momma is an important responsibility and privilege in my life.

kiteIt is just that the world sometimes does not look upon children like it should.  Raising him to love, respect others, enjoy the simple things, remain loyal to his family, and not be swayed by the winds of ego-driven goals, is a struggle for most parents these days.  I’m no different.

I do not ever want to dishonor you by not giving my all to him.  I want him to experience a life of opportunities, one full of friendships, and dreams that soar.

I want him to live life to the fullest, while also, learning how to be a responsible soul that passes on goodness to this world.  I know you want that, too.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m thinking back at what seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m sifting through memories.  I’m looking through pictures, and I’m experiencing the emotions felt when the gavel fell, and the Judge declared our adoption as final.

I’m thanking the Lord.  I’m praising His mighty Hand.  I’m marveling in His penmanship in our lives, and I’m relishing in His powerful ways.

I’m here again, birth mother, and, I’m thinking of you.  I’m thanking you.

 

Related Post:  I thought of you today, birth mother.

Ten Years from Now {a letter for my daughter}

My daughter, I look at you and wonder where the years have gone.  You are getting taller, losing your baby fat, and seeking out things that intrigue you.  Ten years from now, I hope you will stumble upon this rambling of mine.

As a 5-year-old, you are bright-eyed, strong-willed, and quite the little drama queen. You organize my closet like no one’s business.  You worry about whether or not the pets have enough to eat, and you are already slightly obsessed with teenage musicals.

You push my buttons, and seem to enjoy it.  Yet, at the same time, you make my heart melt when I see your sweetness arise.  I watch you as you watch me.  You mimic my every move, and ask often, “When will I be old enough to….?” IMG_2616

My daughter, as we commemorate your adoption anniversary, I want you to know a few things.

Ten years from now when you are 15-years-old, life will look a little different from now. You will be sitting in a high school classroom possibly wondering if you are good enough.  You might look in the mirror and only see imperfections. You might even be hard on yourself, find things you want to correct, and maybe even wish you looked different. I did, too.

My daughter, ten years from now, I want you know that you are beautiful.  

Your beauty is beyond compare as there is no other girl in the world just like you. Your eyes, your hair, your skin tone, and your body are exactly what they are supposed to be.  They are pieces of the magnificent puzzle that make up who you are.

Your beauty is more than skin deep though.  Your beauty comes from the inner part of who you are.  It comes from that place where your deepest whispers of the heart are heard.  It bristles at your ideas.  It captures your dreams, and it carves out a spot in the universe just for you.

Ten years from now, your 15-year-old self is a person I cannot wait to meet.  I look forward to seeing where she wants to go in life, what captures her heart, and where her hidden talents are found.  I anticipate watching her try on fancy dresses for school dances, and listening to her giggle at the sound of a boy calling on the phone.

Ten years from now, please tell me if I am hovering just a bit too much.  Please let me know that I might just be getting on your nerves.  I already consider the trials you might face in high school, and wonder if you will see yourself with the same set of lenses that I see you.

I do not want you to feel the sting of rejection, or the intimidating glare of another girl at school.  I know though, that I cannot shield you from these things.  I can just build you up to be the confident girl that you deserve to be.

If someone tells you that you are not good enough, please say, “I am better.”  If someone tells you that you are not welcome, please tell him or her, “I’m sorry that you are missing out on a friendship.”

If you hear that you are too skinny or too fat, remind yourself that true beauty is not seen with the eyes. True beauty is experienced in those moments of tenderness between two friends.  It is felt when you are doing exactly what your heart wants you to do.  It hovers when you are showing kindness to those who need it the most.

True beauty does not have a physical image.

As I think about our adoption anniversary and scroll through the many pictures of you we have saved on our computer, I gaze with awe at how amazing you are.  You are exactly who you were created to be, and, we are exactly the family we were created to be.

I will never be able to replace your birth mother.  Your daddy will never be able to replace your birth father, but know this, you are deeply loved.  You were chosen.

Today, tomorrow, and ten years from now, I will always defend you, and stand with you.  I will always celebrate the day you came to me, and the moment I held you for the first time.

Ten years from now, I want you to know that…

You are beautiful.  You are hope fulfilled.  You are so worth it.  You are loved.

 

daughter of mine, Child of His (re-posted for a reason)

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I originally published this post back in July of 2012.  I’m sharing it again today in honor of the 3rd anniversary of our adoption of our little girl.  It’s been a rough weekend with family members undergoing serious illnesses and sudden changes in our routine, but nevertheless, the Lord is always faithful.  I’m so blessed to have a daughter!

daughter of mine, Child of His

Life as a girl can be difficult sometimes. The mirror reflects what you see but not what the world expects you to be. My hope for you is that you will only see how your Heavenly Father views you. Your blue eyes were made just for you. He designed you from the tips of your toes to the ends of your hair. That ever-so-slight dimple in your chin was carefully placed exactly where He wanted it to be.

daughter of mine, Child of His. You are beautiful.

There may be times in your life when you may not recognize who He created you to be. You may not always hear Him calling for you, or answering your prayers. Sometimes, you may feel as though you are trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but you are not. Your Heavenly Father will always be calling for His child. He will always listen intently and mercifully to your pleadings.  He is carrying both you and the world in His hands.

I want you to get dirty, jump in puddles, grow flowers, dance until your feet hurt, sing at the top of your lungs, have childhood crushes, laugh yourself silly, and dress in a way that shows your creativity and personality. I want you to say no and mean it. I hope you never believe that you are not good enough for anything less than happy, loving relationships.

daughter of mine, Child of His.  You are good.

I hope your friendships have depth, your love has width, and your aspirations have height. I pray your faith will be a well of peace and solitude. Be who you are, not who others wish you would be. Find what makes you happy and run with it. Let your passions become your joy. May you wander the world, but never forget where home is.

The Lord gifted me with you and all the things that make up who you are. You are delightfully stubborn, sensitively sweet, and tomboyish tough all at the same time. I want you to never be afraid of showing your colors to the world.

daughter of mine, Child of His. You are colorful.

In My Daughter’s Eyes

Sometime before I knew what my plan to become a parent would look like, I heard a song that I just fell in love with.  I’m not a country music fan really, but the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride stuck on my heart.  I heard it on a television show and truly thought that one day, if I ever got to adopt a daughter, this song would mean so much to me.

Here I am now, the mother of a son and a daughter.  Our adoption anniversary for our daughter is this coming Monday, February 11th.  She has been “legally” our daughter for three years now; although, she felt likes “ours” the moment we met her.  For our son’s adoption celebration, we made a movie of images of him set to a song about adoption.  For our daughter’s celebration, we chose the song “In My Daughter’s Eyes” for the background music for the video we made of her.

In honor of our third adoption anniversary, I thought I would share the words to this song with pictures of her.

photo (48)In my daughter’s eyes, I am a hero I am strong and wise, and I know no fear. But the truth is plain to see. She was sent to rescue me.

I see who I want to be, 
In my daughter’s eyes. 

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In my daughter’s eyes, everyone is equal.

Darkness turns to light, and the world is at peace.

This miracle God gave to me, gives me strength when I am weak.  

I find reason to believe in my daughter’s eyes.

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And when she wraps her hand around my finger.  

Oh, it puts a smile in my heart.  Everything becomes a little clearer, I realize what life is all about.

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It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough.  

It’s giving more when you feel like giving up.  I’ve seen the light, it’s in my daughter’s eyes.

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In my daughter’s eyes, I can see the future.  

A reflection of who I am and what will be.  

And though she’ll grow and someday leave, maybe raise a family.  

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When I’m gone I hope you see, how happy she made me.  

For I’ll be there, in my daughter’s eyes.

The part of the song that talks about hanging on when your heart has had enough always gets to me.  There were times growing up in the shadow of infertility that I thought my heart could not stand anymore.  I never considered throwing in the towel as an option for me, but, there were moments throughout my adolescents and adulthood where I thought I could not take anymore heartache.

Now, I know that hanging on is worth it.  It is worth it to have hope for the future.  It is worth it to strive to achieve what your heart’s desires are.

It was so worth taking the leap of faith that led to foster care and adoption.

 It is in my children’s eyes that I see why this journey we call life is so worth it.