Days like Today

Tonight I had the incredible blessing of watching my 4-year-old daughter perform in a Christmas dance recital.  I helped her get ready by putting on her glittery leotard and pulling her hair back in bun.  I smiled as she gingerly walked onto the big stage, and giggled as she twirled in her fluffy white tutu.  As the evening went on and I watched the children dance, my mind escaped off to that place of sadness for the mom’s and dad’s of the little princes and princess’s who were not tucked into their beds tonight.  The shooting tragedy in Connecticut today has invaded my thoughts, and it was hard to get the families whose lives were abruptly interrupted off of my mind.

Christmas presents will be left unopened, family pictures will not happen, visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house will be filled with tremendous heartache, and parents will forever feel the silent emptiness of loss.  Gingerbread houses will go unmade, Christmas stockings will mournfully hang by chimneys, Santa will not be visited, and the sounds of laughter will not ring out on Christmas morning.  It is absolutely heart-wrenching to think of the precious lives lost today.  These children were just going about their day handing in homework, counting down the days until Santa visits, and telling their teachers their big plans for the weekend when darkness entered their lives.

The sad truth is that violence against children occurs year round and all over this world on a daily basis.  We discard them as if they don’t matter.  We ignore them as if they are not important.  We use and abuse them as if their little hearts and bodies will just “get over it”.  Scripture speaks of children being a reward, and yet, we take our time with them for granted.  I absolutely believe that we will not escape the Lord’s passionate and protective love for His children.

It is days like today that I hugged my Kindergartner and ballerina a little tighter.  It is days like today that I repeated the words “I Love You” to them often.  It is days like today that I am reminded that our children are not ours.  We are gifted with them for a while.  Some stay longer than others, but ultimately, they are the Lord’s children.

It is days like today that I long for His return.

Six Years of Happy

Happy Birthday Bubby.  I love you so much more than I will ever find the words to express.  I am incredibly grateful to the Lord for choosing us as your parents.  I know I have said that over and over, but I suspect I will not stop saying it until my life on Earth has ended.  Just thinking about the person you are growing into, all of your strengths and sweet quirks, makes my heart leap with joy.

The night before you came to us, I prayed that the Lord would provide us with the opportunity to parent a baby.  We woke up that morning not knowing that by the end of the day, our lives would be forever changed.  He answered my prayer immediately.  We quickly rushed out the door to head to the hospital after getting a call from the local child protective services saying “can you be there in 30 minutes?”  Your first year was full of hope, tears, joy, fears, and the overall feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We were caught between loving you desperately and the commitment we made to help your birth mother get you back.  We were sworn to protecting you; yet, we had to rely on others in your life to make the decisions on what was best.  We were broken down and humbled by the plight of your birth mother while glowing in the enchantment of who you were and by the Lord’s gifting of you.

I was so happy to have him for his first Christmas.

Your second year held the mixed up feelings of grieving for your birth mother and her loss of you while experiencing pure joy at your adoption.  Before your adoption, we did not know how long we would hold you.  We said “love you forever” as often as we could.  On that fateful day in May, we were given the blessing of you being ours forever.  So much was revealed to us during this time of life.  Your curly hair, sweet smile, and boundless energy kept us amused.  People were drawn to you.  Your charm and talkative nature took flight.

The outfit he was adopted in. We “tried it on” just a few days before his adoption to make sure it fit. Of course, he looked perfect in it!
sweet curls for a sweet boy

Year three…well…let’s just say that year three was a wee bit challenging.  Your God-given strong-willed determination was your shining accomplishment!  You  started to see more of the world with curiosity and fierce independence.  Music also became something you were quite fond of.  You welcomed a baby sister!  You announced it.  You told us that you would be getting a baby sister before we even knew.  I can only imagine how your little mind must have been spinning when your baby sister arrived on our doorstep.  You took it in stride.  You noticed your friends’ mommies had babies in their bellies; and yet, you never questioned why your sister was delivered to our door by a nice lady with brown hair.  You just seemed to understand that your mommy does not grow babies in her belly.

Age 3 with sissy
He was so excited to have a baby sister!

Year four was the year of music, Legos, and all things super-hero.  You often dressed up, grabbed whatever sword you could find, hop on your big wheel, and ride through the house in an attempt to beat the bad guys.  Sometimes you even sang songs about being a super-hero.  One of the sweetest things you said to me was “Mommy, you are my super-hero.”  When at home, you seemed to always have a drum stick and your dulcimer in hand.  Your songs were also about rock stars, Jesus, Christmas, God, and of course, mommy.  You performed just about every night for us.  You would jump out of the closet, proclaim yourself as a rock star, spin around, then sing and strum away.  My favorite song went like this:

I’m a little rock star…for Jesus…for Christmas…for God…and my family.

Here he comes! (I promise he has some form of clothing on)

Year five seemed to slip away so fast.  You took your first airplane ride, went to a strange new place called Disney World, rode rides that overwhelmed your senses, and shook with excitement when meeting Buzz Light Year!  Painting became a hobby for you and we discovered your natural ability as a gymnast.  You graduated from preschool, got glasses, spent extra time with your Papa fishing on the lake, and started Kindergarten.  You started referring to yourself as a “school-ager”.

He was so excited to meet Buzz!

Sometimes, I just sit back and watch the videos of you throughout the years.  My eyes well up with tears at just how special you are and also at how swiftly time has gone by.  I wish I could back and push a button to slow down time.  I wish I would have kissed you just a bit more before night-night, or let you sing me one more silly song, or picked you up one more time when you said “holdu holdu“.  You are starting to show your growth in the way you get just ever-so-slightly embarrassed if I try to kiss you around other kids.  But, at the same time, you still reach for my hand and put your head on my lap when it is just the two of us.

God has blessed us so much by choosing us as your parents.  You continue to amaze us, challenge us, stretch us, refine us, and love on us daily.  You, my son, are a precious wonder.  Happy, happy, happy birthday my sweet one…love you forever…

Thank You, Lord, For Giving Us Six Years of Happy

He Chose Love

My husband and I are celebrating our anniversary this weekend, and I am so thankful for him. We have been married for eleven years. As an adolescent and young adult, I once believed that marriage is something I would never get to have due to my barrenness. I am very lucky to have found someone who has accepted everything about me; the good, the bad, and the infertility.

I do not know what it would be like to be married to someone who is infertile. My husband does though. He knew before we were married that if he decided to take this ride of life with me then he would never have biological children. He has assured me that it did not matter to him when we were first got engaged and it does not matter to him now.

He has had to learn by nature of experience and witness that infertility is not just about babies, or actually NOT having babies. It is an emotional and spiritual challenge as well. He has spent an equal amount of time assuring me that I am just as much female than I have spent doubting myself or comparing myself to others. He has also been silent about the topic when I needed him to be.

He never wanted to fix my situation. He and I know he could not do that anyway. Instead, he wanted to understand it and allow whatever was meant to happen in our lives to happen. My husband has seen my grief. He has heard my cries and watched as I have wiped away tears. Still yet, he never once made me feel as though he has regretted our marriage, or the fact that he would never have a biological child.

Instead, he has embraced my barrenness while holding on to me. Trust me; there has been a lot of baggage left over from the years of strife. Even now as adoptive parents, we know we face issues that our friends who have biological children do not deal with. Yet again, there he is just going along with the flow. He chose this.

I have typically thought that infertility, foster care, and adoption were written for MY life. However, my life experiences have helped shape my husband’s journey. God wrote this for his life just as much as He did for mine. I have often said that when I lay sickly in the hospital as a child God knew the plans He had for me. The whole truth though is that the Lord also knew the plans He had for my husband.

This story is not just mine. It is his as well. Fatherhood is special to him and I am thankful that adoption has given him the chance to be a daddy. My husband’s Heavenly Father has greatly enriched his life, filled in the gaps, and placed him exactly where he needs to be in order to be the best dad he can. He has also blessed my husband with a genuine sense of empathy and compassion for others.

My husband was a fantastic foster dad. He attended meetings when he could, went to court hearings, supported case workers, and loved on the children. He got up in the middle of the night to feed them when they were newborns. He changed diapers, prepared bottles, and played with them before tucking them in at night.

I know fostering was hard on him as it was on me, but I also believe that his desire to be a dad was strong enough to keep him going through all of the ups and downs that fostering brings. There were many times when he would tear up at the thought of losing the children – although, we both knew going into it that the goal was reunification. He approached it all with an open heart and mind.

My husband was so compassionate to my son’s birth mother. He embraced her. He engaged her in supportive conversations, and never once made her feel less than human. This, of course, is one the many things that I found to be so wonderful about him. My son’s birth mother told me one time that she was so glad he was an involved dad because she wanted her son to have a daddy who would do things with him.  It was just awesome to witness him ministering in his own way to her. It reminded me over and over how truly blessed I am, and how blessed our children are.

When my husband chose to ask for my hand in marriage, he knowingly walked into it with the realization that our lives would be different from most people that we know. He truly did not know if he would ever be a dad.  He chose love over infertility, and I am so grateful that he did.  I am also grateful for the Lord choosing my husband for me.