Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Growing our Family

The last two years have been exactly as life always is: a mixture of excitement and grief, joy and sorrow, mixed daily with the mundane details of everyday life. We've pursued another Congo adoption, loved another little boy, and lost him to the bureaucracy of government officials, who seem more intent on pride than compassion. And I won't lie, that has been devastatingly hard at times. Overall, the past two years have been good ones. We've seen our three beautiful kids grow and change and love and fight and play and become people that I really, truly enjoy. I just honestly can't fathom that they're all getting so big. But as a family, as a whole, we just haven't felt complete.

So many losses have taken their toll, and we've been... hesitant. We've been reeling from the heart-wrenching ache that comes with the loss of a child, that loss of expectation. In three years time, we lost three boys. Three boys that we fully expected to come home to us, to be a part of our family, and for two of them, now they have no family at all. Their names will be forever etched on my pieces of my heart. So although we've always known we plan to adopt again, there's been a sort of limbo for two years now, waiting for Congo to open up their borders for legally adopted children. Or waiting to be ready to move on.

And then came Nathan. I saw him on a waiting child list, and I thought that just maybe, we might fit. And the more questions I asked, the more this seemed our family might just be exactly what Nathan was looking for.  And when everyone came to the table, that was exactly what we all agreed: Nathan is joining our family! As a domestic adoption, this process has been ridiculously faster than international. We officially agreed at the end of May, and we're travelling to pick him up in the next few weeks.

There's a low level hum of anxiety and excitement over everything we do now. School is starting soon, and we desperately want him to have time to adjust to a brand new life and state and family before he has to adjust to a brand. new. middle school. Nathan is 11, which means we've completely skipped over two years of parenting phases, given that Robby is 9, followed by Lexi (8) and Ella (7). We are all so very excited to bring him home and welcome him into our family. And while we know that there will be challenges for everyone in the transition, we're just overjoyed that Nathan will be a part of us. I can't wait to share photos with everyone, but until he's home with us, it's best to keep his information private, as is his story.

We appreciate the love and support as we grow our family, and I hope to update again before another two years has passed. Pray and celebrate with us as we grow our family tree.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Adoption Day!

Exactly one year ago today, we met this beautiful girl for the very first time.

And we have been so very, very blessed to watch her grow this past year.  So very blessed to have her as our daughter.  

And it seems so fitting, on National Adoption Day, that we celebrate Lexi's adoption day.  Our family is so much better for having you in it.  Happy Adoption Day, Sweet Girl.  I love you so much.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Break My Heart For What Breaks Yours

"Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like You have loved me.  Break my heart for what breaks Yours- everything I am for your kingdom's cause."  As I sang these words this morning, I couldn't hold it together any longer.  This has been my prayer for a long time, and God has answered it.  He has shown me need so deep, it's nearly incomprehensible.  And He has given me a heart for His children around the world.  And my heart is broken, for what breaks His.  

And now the question comes, "What now?"  My heart is broken.  I lay crumpled and beaten down, and I'm hurting, in pain.  And I cry out to Him, "Abba, I can't do this anymore!  Please, please help!"  Because asking to be broken is not the same as experiencing it.  Sometimes I wonder that people can't see it written all over my face.  I'm broken.

I've been healing from this loss of a child, this loss of David as a part of our lives.  I've been at the point that I'm ready to move on, have needed to move on.  And for the past few weeks, we've been considering two other referrals.  Two beautiful boys that need love and a home and a family. And now, it comes down to it, making the choice of which boy to make ours.  This week, preparing a care package, planning to accept a new son, it aches deep inside, a wrenching debilitating loss.  In choosing a son, I feel less that we are choosing who to make a child of ours, and more as if we're choosing who to leave behind.  To add to the pain, I'm sending items that I've set aside for David.  As much as I try, I cannot convince my broken heart that I am adding a son- I feel instead as if I'm losing two.  

And yet, I know that I can't adopt them all.  And my heart grieves for those left behind, just as my Abba's does.  Break my heart for what breaks Yours, that's done. And now I ask for healing and grace and peace in this monumental pain, this insufferable suffering.  There are times when having my eyes wide open is agony, and I can only ask my Abba to cradle me close as I grieve. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time Marches On

I've been avoiding my blog for the last couple months.  There's so much to put down, and so many emotions to sort through as I share our grief with friends and family.  So many highs and lows.  Pain, and anger combine with praise and thankfulness.  Throw in daily doses of normal life, that continues on and on, regardless of times I've just wanted it to stop and allow me to grieve and process.  But there is homework to do. Hair to style.  Dance class and teacher meetings and housework. Life goes on.

Two months ago, I felt it, for the first time.  A sincere, panicky, from the gut feeling that David, our son, wasn't going to be ours.  I had no reason to believe that things weren't still right on track, but I couldn't shake it, this ache in my heart that acknowledged that this beautiful boy wouldn't be ours.

And then came the phone call with our agency director, where she told me that David's mother had been found.  And more than that, she wanted to parent him.  And it was so, so hard.  Because as much as we wanted David to be ours, he got to go home!  To his mother, that loved him and wanted him.  Our agency took another couple of weeks, investigating, making sure that this was truly what his mother wanted.  And when official word came, we celebrated.  Because this is a beautiful story.  A story of God's grace and provision- an amazing story of reunion.  And David is reunited with his mama.  He is right where he belongs.  And for that, we are truly, sincerely happy for him.

But this has come at a cost for us, for our family.  There is loss, and grief, and anger, and sadness.  We've lost a son.  A brother. A grandson. A cousin. A nephew.  Emotions have been high. But when it comes down to it, there are so many kids in this world that don't have a family that wants to or can take care of them.  David is so blessed to be loved by two families.  And how amazing is that.

But less than two weeks following the loss of our son and my children's brother, we also had to put down my beloved dog, Molly.  She came into our home ten years ago, long before we had children.  And our family was left reeling at the loss of two very important members.  The losses were very different, but the double whammy has left this enormous ache in my chest.  It hurts.  And there's been moments where I've felt that I can't breathe.  That I've literally had to sit down and wait for it to pass, because I literally can't draw a breath, because my chest is so tight.

But time is passing, and the ache is subsiding, slowly but surely.  And our family is starting to move on.  My kids still talk about him, and how hard it is that he'll never come home to us.  But they're stabilizing, and the tears and tantrums and inappropriate reactions to small things are tapering off.

We're opening up to the possibility of a new referral, a new brother, a new son.  And I'm starting to feel hopeful again, because at the heart of things, David has a family.  And that's exactly what we wanted for him.  We've never wanted to take someone's child away- never been in the adoption process to fill our own void.  We want another child, but we also want to provide a family to a child that doesn't have a home.  And I CANNOT wish that David's mother had made a different choice.  Loving him, I want the very best for him, and I believe that that is his mother, who loves him very dearly.  And I am so, so very grateful that David is home with his mama.  Regardless of the cost to myself and my family, I am overwhelmingly grateful that he is home, exactly where he belongs.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lexi's month of firsts!

This has been a crazy month of firsts for Alexis.  She performed in her first school programs and graduated Kindergarten!  

She went to her first American wedding.

She had her first sleepover at Grammy & Grandpa's.

She went in a hot tub for the first time.

AND, today she celebrated her very first birthday in America!!  We marked the actual day (Wednesday) with a trip to the family cabin, and today she had her very first birthday party (that she can remember)  

To top it all off, on May 23rd, she'd officially been in our arms six months from our Gotcha Day!  

We love you, Alexis Mbo.  I'm so very glad you're mine!  We are so blessed to have these "firsts" with you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Apparent Project Bracelets

As important and amazing and necessary as I believe orphan care is, there's another side to the coin, which is: helping prevent children from becoming orphans in the first place. I venture to say that one of the biggest reasons for orphans in third world countries is simply that families cannot support their children.  One of my favorite organizations is the Apparent Project, which gives parents in Haiti the skills and opportunity to sustain their family.  Sustainable families= fewer orphans!  

As part of the Apparent Project, men and women in Haiti make jewelry using recycled materials, such as cereal boxes.  These brightly colored boxes are cut into strips and rolled into beads, which are then used to make bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.  This does two things for these families: first, it gives them a sustainable living, and second, it gets trash off the streets of Haiti!  

The Apparent Project recently announced that they are offering some of their bracelets as fundraisers. To help raise money for our adoption, we are selling bracelets made by the Apparent Project.  That means that every bracelet sold not only fulfills the function of helping families in Haiti and getting trash off the streets, it also helps us provide a home for orphans.  Guys, I can't even tell you how jazzed I am about this project!  

One of my very favorite parts about this is that with every bracelet, there's a tag, with a picture and the story of the artisan who made that very bracelet.  It makes it personal, seeing exactly who was touched by your purchase.  

The bracelets are all very brightly colored, and no two are the same.  There are many different color combinations, but they're all beautiful, whatever color you choose!  




Earth Tones

Bright Multi-Color
Subdued Multi-Color

Each bracelet is $10, with $3 shipping for as many bracelets as you'd like to order.  Again, this supports the adoption of our son as well as parents in Haiti.

I accept Paypal at

Thank you so much for your support!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This Mother's Day

It seems fitting to write on our blog today, on Mother's Day, that we are adopting once again.  This time, a beautiful new son will join our family.

Our boy is five years old, and we are so thrilled, knowing he'll be the completion of our family.  I've had this thought in my head for the last two years, a picture of what our family can be.  Our children: two black, two white.  Two adopted, two biological.  Two boys, two girls.  Two from Congo, two from America.  Everyone has someone like them.

We talked about him, and prayed about him, at great length.  And it took over a month before we officially decided that yes, he is our son.  This is not without some fear, understandably.  We're tired.  It's been a long, financially and emotionally difficult two years since we started the adoption process.  But oh, how excited we are to bring home our boy!

Our family is doing really well, almost five months home.  How crazy that seems!  On one hand, I can't believe it's been that long, and on the other... well, was there ever a time Alexis wasn't my girl?

Looking back at our time in Congo and first home, Alexis has come so very, very far.  Her English skills are astounding- I can hardly believe it.  And she is learning so much in school; just this week, she's improved so much!  But more than that, she's happy, and warm, and loving.  She has a sweet heart, and a fantastic sense of humor.  She loves her family fiercely.

Lexi's favorite color is yellow, "because it's so pretty!" and she loves to wear pretty dresses and care for her babies.  She cannot wait to start school in the fall at "Robby's school," where all three of my babies at home are registered for next year.

Like all our kids, Alexis isn't perfect, but I believe she's perfect for us. She went out of her way to show me that I was important today.  Oh, how I love that girl.

Ella and Robby love their sister, as passionately as she loves them.  They play and fight and sing and dance and yell and hug, all within the same five minutes.  There are times that Ella struggles with sharing everything.  It's very different having a sister to share with, instead of a brother.  That's not to say there aren't benefits- as much as Alexis gets to share Ella's toys, Ella gets to share Lexi's!

Robby, on the other hand, is struggling with wanting to share more.  In our family right, Robby has always been the social one, the extrovert.  He loves nothing more than to be around people.  So it's hard for him some days, wishing his brother was home to share a room and toys and clothes with.  More than anyone, Robby desperately wants his brother to come home!

There are days when money is tight and we get stressed, but I feel so incredibly blessed.  We have been given such amazing gifts in these three (soon four!) kids, and I don't know what I ever did to deserve them.

My Abba is good!