One of the Lucky Ones – Missy’s Story

This is the story of my dear friend, Missy and her mom, Marcia.  She’s a special person and I’m so thankful she shared her story with me, and with all of you. She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”.

Missy, Marcia, and Missy’s sweet little girls

“We are often told that we look alike.  Our eyes meet and we just smile knowing that we are the only ones in on our little secret”, explained Missy when telling her story about her experience as a child in the system.  It was about twenty-four years ago that her life took a drastic, yet remarkable turn.

From the beginning of her life, one would not consider Missy to be lucky. Her biological mother was just eighteen-years-old when she gave birth to Missy. Already having a lot on her plate as the mother of twins, parenthood was hard on her. Missy’s toddler and preschool years were spent with her mom having multiple boyfriends.  She actually remembers her mom changing the pictures on the wall depending on what boyfriend was visiting. Things were rough, but got much worse when she was five-years-old.  Her mother married a man who was not the kind of father she and her siblings needed in their lives.

Physical abuse was a part of her life as young girl.  Missy remembers being beaten for trivial things such as losing the pen to the Yahtzee game.  Sometimes, she and her siblings were beaten so severely that they had to miss days of school.  Her siblings experienced sexual abuse, but Missy did not.  She is incredibly thankful for this, but carried guilt as a child knowing that her siblings were exposed to this type of horrific abuse. 

One of the worst memories Missy recalled was when her step-father tried to force her to drown her puppy for peeing on the floor.  Missy always had a genuinely compassionate love for animals, so her step-father choosing this as a punishment for both her and the pup was incredibly cruel.  Although young, Missy stood up to her step-dad, refused to drown her pup, and instead took a beating that lasted for hours.

As time went on, things got worse.  Her mom, beaten beyond recognition, would tell the children that she was going to take them and leave, but never did.  Missy suspects she was scared and had such low self-esteem that she chose to stay.

After three years of living a nightmare with her step-dad, a knock on the door occurred and child protection services removed the children.  Although in desperate need to be taken out of that environment, Missy was scared, clung onto her teddy bear, and sobbed over being taken away from her mommy.  She and her siblings moved from home to home for various reasons, and she remembers the drive to each new home being very scary.  They would arrive at a new place full of strangers and a trash bag full of their belongings. 

Enter Marcia.  Marcia was a former neighbor of Missy and happened to be at the Children’s Division office when she overheard the social worker talking about needing to find another home for the kids. Realizing the children being talked about were the three children she fed when hungry, Marcia immediately stated she wanted to take them into her home.

Even though their home was filled with children, Missy remembers feeling loved as though she was the only child there.  Marcia and her husband, Jim, welcomed her and her siblings with an incredible amount of love.  Her birth mom was never able to reunify with her children.  Missy feels as though she chose the lifestyle she was living with her step-dad over her and her siblings.  Although never legally adopted, Missy chose to change her last name to Marcia’s and Jim’s last name when she was twelve-years-old.  They were already adopted in love.

Being taken in and loved on made an incredible difference in the lives of Missy and her siblings. Safety and nurturing became their constant. Opportunity became their normalcy. The rest of their childhoods were ones free of abuse and neglect.  Marcia and Jim are heroes who helped to changed the lives of children; ones that desperately needed a place to call home and the love of a family.

I’ll let her words speak for them-self:

“I have not seen my bio mom since I was taken away.  It would be easy to be mad and full of hatred for her.  I chose a long time ago to let this all go.  The pain and hate only brought me down.  Matter of fact, if I ever see her I may thank her.  My past has made me the person I am and brought my new parents and siblings into my life. “My mom” and I are very close and I know we were brought together for a reason.  As she says “we are like peas and carrots”!  I now have two beautiful girls myself and cannot imagine letting anyone hurt them.  I realize not all foster children are as lucky as me.  I was able to graduate from college, get married to a wonderful husband, get a great job, and have two beautiful babies.  I guess I consider myself one of the lucky ones.”

 

Missy – I think those of us who consider you a friend are the lucky ones.  Thank you for sharing your story of how one person can change the life of a child, and for your personal resilience to rise above.  You, my dear, are an amazing woman.

Let Them Love You

One part of my job with the agency I work for is to recruit foster families.  I show a brief documentary about a foster/adoptive family to prospective families as part of this effort. The images and story of the family gives a brief yet insightful glimpse into the life of a typical foster home.  It also does a great job of promoting and showing the struggles and work, yet joy that is found in being a foster family.

My favorite part is an interview with a 16-year-old boy who was residing in the home as a foster placement   I’m not entirely sure of his whole story, but I get the feeling that he had been passed around a lot and moved from placement to placement.  In his interview, the teen describes moving into the family’s home and how much he liked it.  He then moved on to giving advice to families who want to foster and adopt out of the system.  His words “Let Them Love You” are ones that are hard to forget.

At first, I thought he meant for children to let the foster families love them, but then I realized that he meant foster and adoptive families need to let the children love them.  Sometimes, it seems foster families give in too quick when a child does not attach right away, or is not the right fit for their home.  The matching of families and children is so difficult when placement is needed immediately.  I also understand the complex and sometimes severe issues that cause disruptions in and out of homes.  However, I just can’t get his words out of my mind.

I have heard many people say “I could never be a foster parent because I would get too attached.”  I know the pain of being attached to a child, yet having to step one foot at a time into the unknown.  I get it.  Despite the hardship of it all, the children need attachment.  They need for families to love them to the point of not wanting to let them go, but they also need families who will recognize that reunifying with birth family is extremely important.

There are over 1000,000 children and youth available for adoption in the United States Foster Care System.  Many are children with medical, emotional, and behavioral challenges.  Many are part of large sibling groups.  Many have meandered through the system without ever setting roots anywhere.  Many are like the teenager who spoke on the video I described above.  Too many are not anywhere long enough to be allowed to love anyone.

I think the best thing those of us working within child welfare could do to make it better is to listen to the kids who are living life in a system made up of judges, case workers, lawyers, and temporary parents.  They have so much to offer us if we just took the time to listen.  We need to hear to their words and take heed to their insights.  We need to give them the opportunity express their hearts and feelings just like the teenager on the video.

We need to let them love.

Around the Fire

Last night we had the privilege of spending the evening around a bonfire in the country.  Hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, the sound of crackling wood, a gorgeous full moon, the chatter of folks, and gleeful screams of children playing in the field next to us made up our evening.  Fires are so good at catching one’s eye.  I sat and stared for a long time at the majestic wisps of flames as they flickered their way up to the heavens.

With the scent of fall in the air and the comfort of a blanket over me, my thoughts immediately went to the reason why we were all out there under the stars.  Out of the eighteen or so children present last night, around thirteen of them were adopted out of foster care.  Let me say that again….13 out of 18 or so children present last night were adopted out of foster care.  Most of the children were siblings of some sort, but not all.  A handful of families adopted the siblings.  Honestly, it was kind of nice to be at an event where my children were not a minority.  Usually when we go to “get-togethers”, or anywhere in general, my kids are typically the only ones adopted; especially out of protective services.

There is something comforting when being around fellow parents who have experienced the journey of being a foster parent and adopting.  We are able to swap stories of our experiences and compare notes.  We can relate to the challenges sometimes experienced when raising children with histories of abuse, neglect, prenatal exposure, or separation from family of origin.  We can also talk about resources that may come in handy if future issues should arise.

Last night, I took a moment to look out in the field at the children playing.  The image of glow sticks in hands, glow-in-the-dark balloons bouncing up and down, and the sounds of laughing children running freely through the field filled my mind and my heart with gratefulness.  I thought about how their young lives were interrupted by the ways of the world and the poor choices of their  birth parents.  I thought about the losses every single one of them has endured already in life.  I thought about the adults around the fire who took them in.  I thought about the opportunities they have because of permanency in their lives.

I thought about how they get to have a childhood free of abuse.  I also thought about how lucky we are to be a part of this.  Adoption out of foster care is not a second best choice.  It is not reserved for only those who cannot afford private adoption.  It is not just for couples who are unable to have biological children.  It is a blessing to parent a child whose beginning to life automatically put him or her in the category of the “least of these”.

It is a blessing to meet other adults whose lives have also been impacted by the decision to become foster parents.  We are all connected in some way to each other by the children playing in the field.  We are all a part of something bigger, something more eternal, and something better planned for these children.

As I watched the fire burn and looked around, thankfulness filled my heart.  We were all brought together by the one true God who brings light into dark places, hope into hopeless situations, and love into the lives of all of us.

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

Where is your treasure?

(photograph by Sarah Carter – http://www.sarahcarterphoto.com)

A friend recently told me that when she and her husband started telling people they are taking foster parent classes, they were met with responses that were both surprising and disheartening.  People have said things like “why don’t you just have your own baby?”, or “why would you do that?”  Unfortunately, the majority of these statements have come from fellow believers in Christ.

It seems this appears to be quite common even in the Christian community, or at least perhaps in our area of the country.  Thankfully, my husband and I did not deal with this as much because people knew we were infertile and that we wanted the opportunity to be parents and hopefully adopt.  But, my friend and her husband have biological children, and could have more if they chose to.  They have felt called for a while now by the Lord to minister to little ones through foster care.

After our conversation, my heart was a little unsettled.  The Lord kept saying to me “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”-Luke 12:34.  After pondering on this, the thought entered my mind that while we are truly blessed in America, where is our heart?  In my opinion, it seems that it is in worldly things.  We treasure our actors and celebrities. We lift them up on pedestals and award them.  Yet, do they reflect our hearts?

We fight so hard with each other over our political opinions and opponents.  Our different views in policies and our abilities to express them are an integral part of our freedoms, but do they really reflect where our hearts should be?  We strive for big cars, bigger houses, and small waistlines, but still, are these the things that we treasure?

It would be a lie to say that I don’t enjoy going to movies, voting, or admiring nice cars or homes.  It would also be not truthful if I never worried about what the scale said.  But, I hope these things never reflect where my treasures really are.

It breaks my heart that in this country of opportunity where fellow Christians can walk freely without persecution, we overlook what is truly important.  The Lord has called us to minister to ALL people.  This includes the politicians we don’t agree with.  This includes the actors or actresses that we may find “weird”.  This especially includes children who have fallen into the foster care system.

I have worked in child welfare for eleven years now and have seen so many horrible and vile acts against children.  I have witnessed foster families get their hearts broken time and time again.  I have watched birth parents lose their battles with addictions, and ultimately lose their children.  Sadly, I have seen social workers become hardened to their hopes that they can change the world.

I still believe that one person can make a huge difference in the lives of children.  I choose to believe that people can change, but they need willing participants to walk along them in their battles.  Sometimes, it seems that we want children to grow up in safe homes, or want adults to change, but fail to recognize our responsibilities in these things.

We might say “I believe in Christ and love Him mightily”; yet, we turn our backs on the things that take us out of our comfortable “God bubble”.  Christ surely was taken out of His comfort zone.  He could have decided not to follow His Father’s calling.  He could have walked away, but He chose not to.

If we want the staggering statistics of abuse and neglect of children to end, we too must not walk away.  Foster care and being involved in child welfare issues will certainly take us out of our comfort zones.  It will definitely break our hearts at times.  However, our involvement in children’s lives and doing what God has called us to do is a reflection of where our treasure should be.

I saw a poster one time that said this “You have never looked into the eyes of anyone who does not matter to God”.  I have decided to recite this to myself daily as a reminder of the incredible responsibility and calling as a Christian to love people, especially those that can be overlooked by society.  My hope is that my treasure and my heart will always be focused on the One who is worth treasuring, and on the children He desperately loves.

Playing in the Dirt

 

 

I don’t know why, but it really bothers me when my little boy bolts out the back door stepping around and jumping over the various arrays of toys just to head straight for the small and somewhat insignificant dirt pile near our patio. By the time his session in the dirt has ended, he is covered from head to toe with it. His bright blonde hair shows every spec. We usually head straight to the bathtub for a nice scrub down. After his bath, you would never know he was covered in dirt from his time outside.

I usually will say to him “Please don’t get in the dirt. Mommy doesn’t want you to”. He replies with “okay”. However, he still heads straight out the door right for it. It is as if he is compelled to play in it! One day while watching him twirl his stubby little fingers through it, I got to wondering if God feels the same way at times about us playing in the dirt. He may not want us to, but yet, we go back to it time and time again. Or, perhaps He wants us to get a little dirty at times. It is quite possible that there are many life lessons that we have to learn while in the dirt in order to come out a little cleaner.

As I grew from being an eleven-year-old to a young adult, I noticed more and more that despite trying to stay clear and clean of truly dealing with my hysterectomy and infertility, I found myself struggling to ignore it. I do not recall at what point exactly that I threw my hands up and gave up on pretending that my surgery did not bother me. Through the years I probably attempted this many times and may have succeeded in leading others to believe that I was just fine with all that happened. Truthfully, I was never okay with what happened to me.

Looking back on my experience with infertility, I can say there were definitely moments that I was just moving dirt around from one place to the other. Sometimes I would just sit right in the middle of the squalor that is hopelessness. Other times, when seeing my friends and families enjoy their pregnancies, I felt compelled inside to sling mud around. I would never try to purposefully ruin someone’s moment, but internally, I was slinging the mud from one spot to the other because of despair, anger, and jealousy.

There were times when my sense of purpose for life seemed to be soiled by the trauma of my surgery. Everything seemed to be less enjoyable because all I could do was wallow in my own misery. It was as if the impact of my surgery caused most things in life to be covered in a thin layer of dust; the debris left behind from just one impactful moment in my life.

It was during these times when I had my hands and head in the dirt pile that I probably gained the most insight about my life and the Lord’s will for it. In order for me to get a to a place of contentment and hope, I had to really dig around and take a look at what kept popping out of the “mud”.

I wish I could honestly say that I fully accepted being barren before becoming a mother to my children. I cannot do this though. While fostering them, I found myself still digging around trying to process and take it all in. There were moments when I grieved the fact that I didn’t carry them in my body. I would have never chosen some of the actions their birth mothers did. Other times, I was so frustrated because it only seemed “right” that I should be able to keep them and not worry about reunification…after all, I was doing all the hard work raising them.

Being a foster parent definitely allowed me to discover the full impact of infertility. It was extremely hard at times. I never really knew what I was missing until I held my children for the first time. While I was overjoyed with loving them, I was also being reminded of the great loss I had suffered.

There were other times when I became angry with myself for ever signing up to do foster care in the first place. When it seemed that their cases were heading towards reunification or placement with relatives, I would start grieving their loss before it even happened. I thought to myself “Well great job Caroline.  You’ve lost having a biological child, and now you just set yourself up to lose the only babies you have been a mommy to.” There I was, playing in the dirt again.

It seems now though that being in positions that truly forced me to get my hands and my head dirty probably were the most poignant times when I stretched in my understanding of what had happened, developed in my humility and empathy for others, and grew into a more faithful child of God. I lifted up these dirty hands, this soiled heart, and this dusty life to Him. As I did this my vision became cleaner; or better yet, His vision of me became clearer.

I have decided to make a consorted effort not to stress about my little boy playing in the dirt anymore. After all, it is just dirt. There are much worse things he could play in. I may just shock him one day and actually encourage him to get as dirty as he wants to.

Who knows…I may just get out there and join him!

Fostering Hope

Ever wonder what it is like to be without hope?  I don’t mean those momentary spaces in our timelines where we are feeling a little confused about what our next steps are supposed to be.  I mean truly without a sense of hope for the future.  I have talked with far too many young people in foster care who have no hope of a future, family, or anything better for that matter.

This week marked a movement in America called the National Prayer Vigil for Foster Children week.  It is part of recognizing May as the National Foster Care month.  Many churches, citizens, and agencies are spending time focusing on and lifting up children who have been caught up in the system.  These children and youth are victims of their circumstances.  They did not choose the system.  They were forced into it.  Many kiddos across America have been reunified with their parents or family members.  There are also many who have been or are in the process of being adopted.  Still yet, there are thousands who wind up with no family to call their own.

We see the signs everywhere; child abuse cases that shock the most seasoned professionals, newspaper articles displaying the staggering statistics of children in foster care, television reports aiming to try and capture the need for foster families. However do we really stop to think what that means and how it impacts our communities, our state, and our nation? What if there were more homes for children and older youth in this country than there were children actually needing foster care services? What an amazing testimony to the rest of the world that would be! Yet that is not the case. In our blessed land of freedom and opportunity, nearly 130,000 children live each day without a permanent family. This statistic does not, however, represent the entirety of the numbers of children in protective services in theUnited States.

Why is it that the children who fall into the world of foster care tend to be the last thing on people’s minds? As Christians, we are ordained by God to take care of the fatherless. Not every child in care is an “orphan” per se, but nevertheless, their lives are caught up in the turmoil of the poor choices of their parents. It is not uncommon that their parents’ lives were at one time also caught up in the problems of past generations. And so the story goes on….more children aging out of the system without a family to rely on. Often, they have children who end up in the system and the cycle continues. There are generations of families who are at risk for being lost in the midst of abuse, neglect, drug problems, and homelessness.

Thankfully, that is not always the ending of every story. Reunifications with birth parents occur on a regular basis throughout the foster care system. Committed efforts by professionals and birth parents are essential in the reunification process. Foster parents are also key to a positive outcome for foster children. Foster families that are committed to the stated goals of the case, act humbly towards birth parents, mentor, encourage, and pray for the birth parents are (in my opinion) the best representation of loving Christians.

I didn’t set out in this world thinking of working in child welfare or of becoming a foster or adoptive parent.  God sort of just wrote that out for my life.  And I’m so glad He did.  Foster parenting is probably one of the toughest, underappreciated; yet, compelling experiences in life.  Being a case worker is all of these things as well.  Child welfare is a beast of its own and is extremely complex.

One time while visiting with a pre-teen boy in foster care, I asked him “what do you want to do when you grow up?”.  He replied, “I don’t know.  I’ll probably be dead or in jail by the time I’m 21.”  How sad.  This boy had already been in care for several years, parents rights had been terminated, and finding an adoptive home was extremely tough due to some of the behavioral and emotional struggles he was dealing with.  I later learned that he did end up in jail after aging out of the system at 18 years old.  The system offered little hope for him.

Foster families can do more than just house, feed, clothe, and care for kids.  They can encourage them and give them a sense of hope for the future.  Fostering and adoption (if that becomes the goal for the child) can make a generational change in the lives of children.  Not only does can it make a tremendous impact in the lives of foster children, but also potentially in the lives of their future children and families.

I never thought of myself making a generational impact while fostering until I realized that my children’s birth families had struggled with historical cycles of abuse, neglect, and substance abuse.  My heart breaks when I think about what all my children have lost because of these things. I pray my children will never struggle with these issues in their lifetimes.  I know I have done what I can to fervently make a difference in their lives, and will continue to do so.

As Christians we recognize that we too were lost in the sins of the world. We were adopted and redeemed by a loving God. He is committed to us, He encourages us through His word, we should mimic His actions towards others, His humble servitude is written about in the Bible, He hears our prayers and we are given hope that is life-sustaining. Through our adoption by Him, generations of our families have been changed. We can pass down His legacy of love to our children and our children’s children. His sacrifice made an eternal and generational change in humanity.

What if our country looked at fostering the same way? Fostering a child is not just about that one or two children you may take in. The difference foster and adoptive parents make can change the course of generations. I cannot think of a more important and immediate need in our country than Christian families to reach out to the “least of these”. It would be an incredible transformation in our nation if children in the welfare system were loved on, cared for, encouraged, and witnessed to by families.

The overhaul of the system could start with Christian families committing to take a stand for our children in need. Christ took the ultimate stand for us and because of that we can pass on His legacy. Christian families should be doing the same for foster children not because it is the right thing to do, but because we too were lost and then found by a sovereign and humble Heavenly Father. Just imagine what it could mean to the lives of thousands of children and their birth parents if families would love on them, meet their needs, show them grace, and foster hope!

The Wonder of You

Look at you, my precious girl, with your eyes of blue.  It looks like God Himself dipped His paint brush into the sky when coloring your eyes.  And you, my son, with your brown eyes and wavy blonde hair.  I swear angels spun your hair out of butter.  Sometimes, when admiring you both, I think to myself “the wonder of you”.  You truly are wonderful.  You challenge me.  You cause me to get up early on the weekends.  You leave food and toys and just about anything your hands touch strewn all over the floor.  But still, I’m amazed by the wonder of you.

I had no idea how truly incredible you would be.  Whoever said blood is thicker than water surely never experienced the supreme delight of adoption.  At one time, I could not imagine ever having you in my life, and now I cannot imagine my life without you.  My children.  My sweets.  My love.  You have captured my heart.

You are not second best.  You are not statistics.  You mean more to this world, your family, and your Heavenly Father than you will ever fathom.  You may have been born into a world of chaos and less than desirable circumstances, but you will leave this world a better place.  You have inherited the fullness of God’s mercy and love.  He loves you both as if you are His only children.

For you my son, your entry into our home was sudden.  We had just a few hours to prepare.  But, the moment my eyes focused on you, everything came to a screeching halt.  I was in awe.  You took my breath away.  There you were, so small and vulnerable, and yet, so significant.

And you, my daughter, you literally arrived on our doorstep by the first angel who took you in.  One look at you caused me to realize how incredibly blessed I was.  You were more than an abandonment.  You were more than a legal status.  You were purposefully, wonderfully, and intentionally made.

Fostering you both was humbling, heart-wrenching at times, joyful, and full of so many life lessons.  Actually, raising you is full of these things as well.  Your imaginations inspire me.  Your silliness tickles me.  And, your love of all things new creates in me an excitement to explore the world with you.  You both have colored my world with shades of goodness, lightness, and love.

You are both more than I could ever imagine.  Adoption completed us.  I am mightily aware of the blessed responsibility bestowed onto me.  I would never go back to life before you.  I don’t think I could.  I thank the Lord daily for filling my life with the wonder of you.