Monday, September 24, 2012

The Best Day

Dear Junebug,

Well, I'm going to just have to get sidetracked again from our story, because something really, really, humongous happened and I just can't wait to catch you up on everything else to get to this day. June, you were adopted last week! That means that you will forever be our daughter, and we will always be your parents. This news is so unbelievably good, that sometimes I have a hard time soaking it in. I'm just a little sponge floating in a bucket of good news! I felt a little like this when your daddy and I got married. I kept waking up thinking, "Am I really married?!" Some things are so big that they take a while to sink in. Your adoption is one of those things.

Grammy (Daddy's mommy) was able to come out from Arkansas and be a part of your special day, as well as your cousin N, and Uncle B and Aunt J. Some good friends of ours also came and took wonderful video of everything. B, C, and M from Olive Crest came as well as our adoptions worker from the county. We all crowded into a little courtroom, that wasn't very fancy and had stacks of paperwork everywhere. Our judge was really sweet and smiley. You did so well, even though we were there during your nap time. The bailiff came over and gave you a teddy bear. You cuddled with it right away and made everyone smile. We swore an oath saying we would alway protect you and love you just like every precious daughter should be loved and protected. Then, Daddy got misty eyed while I tried to keep from completely crumbling into a puddle on the floor when the judge announced that we were officially a forever family.

Our neighbors had balloons waiting for us on the porch when we got home, and then another friend put up even more balloons, and a homemade banner along the driveway. Grandma in Ohio sent flowers.  Friends brought flowers and thoughtful gifts. We had toasts in your honor in the living room while you got some well-deserved nap-time!

Then when you woke up we went to Disneyland!  You loved riding on the carousel, and were mesmerized by "It's a Small World". (That means you were so interested in the whole thing you hardly blinked!)

It was quite the day; a day I am still waiting to completely soak in...but that's okay. We have time. We have all the time in the world.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Phone Call

Dear Junebug,

You have given up crawling all together, and you walk everywhere now! We started swimming lessons and you are so brave! When it comes to the time when you sit on the ledge and jump into my arms, you jump without hesitating! It's so fun to watch you become who you are going to be!

Let's get back to our story though, because we still have some serious catching up to do...

Ring...ring...I looked at my phone and saw that it was a call from our foster agency. I wondered why they could be calling. We still had two weeks left before we were supposed to be officially "ok'd" to take in any kiddos and I wasn't expecting to hear from them. When I heard the voice of our "placement" worker on the phone (that's the person who matches kiddos with homes) my heart started to beat just a tiny bit faster. After we had chatted a little she said, "Well, I have some news..." and went on to tell me about a tiny baby boy that needed a home...that very night! My adrenaline started to go a little crazy at this point. (That's the stuff that goes through your body when you're really excited!) I forgot about all the questions I probably should've been asking her like "how old is he?", and "what is his name?" and "does he need specialized care?"  I was just so excited that my day to be a mama for someone might actually be that day! I told her I needed to call Daddy and talk with him about it. I was sure Daddy would be excited, and I was right. We called our placement worker back right away and told her we were willing to be a home for this baby, even though we weren't at all ready yet (but they knew that).  There was paperwork to finish, safety locks to install on our cabinets, and a safety inspection of the house before we could pick the little guy up that very night!

By the time daddy got home from work ten minutes after that crazy conversation, I was completely, over-the-top excited and nervous. I kept running around the house saying, "sheets, we don't even have any sheets for the baby!" Daddy tried to calm me down and have me sit down for a minute to eat the lunch I just prepared, but I couldn't eat a bite. I had to get to work!

We decided the best thing to do was divide up the work.  Daddy started to put the locks on the cabinet doors, and I went to town to get our paperwork completed. I felt like I was in a completely different world than everyone around me. I walked into our insurance office, where everyone was just going through their day like normal, in a dull grey office with dull grey office noise, and I was exploding with every color of the rainbow on the inside. I sat there in the waiting room thinking, "These people have no idea what's happening in our home today!  They have no idea that today is the day we have been waiting for, for so very long.  Today we will become parents!"

I finally completed that task and got back into the blue open air. I ran to the store to pick up things I thought we would need for the baby without a clue as to how big our little fella was (he ended up being only 5 and a half pounds!) or what kind of formula he needed. I just gathered a bunch of things and hoped for the best!

When I finally got home, daddy had just finished the locks and I had just enough time to tidy up the house a bit before our foster agency workers were there. They came through and checked all the boxes they needed to check on their lists, and we passed! It was official that we were now approved to be foster parents!  We were ready to take in a little one that very night. Next all we needed to do was wait for another call telling us where and when to go pick him up...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting Ready

Dear Junebug,

I am starting to feel like you will at Christmastime; when it's the 1st of December and you know Christmas is coming! (actually, it's an even bigger feeling than that!) We are signing paperwork at the end of this month to become your always forever and ever family! There aren't any words that seem as big as the joy I have about finally getting to know you will never ever leave, and I will be your forever and ever mama! After we sign the paperwork we will have to wait a couple months while lawyers get all their homework sorted out. Then, we will get to go to court where a judge can pronounce us mommy, daddy and daughter!

But back in our story we are very far from where we are now, so lets get back to remembering about two years back... 

I was very busy preparing a nursery. We didn't know if we would get a call for a boy, or a girl, a 2-day old, or a 2-year old. It was a little tough trying to figure out what gear we needed to have for any little person who came our way. A big part of our getting ready for you was having friends help us. Two of your aunts got together and threw dad and I a baby shower! We thought we could maybe end up with a little bit of an older kid than you, so we asked for things that a toddler might need. We still have some of those things in the garage waiting for you when you are ready for them. We felt so loved and supported by that "toddler" shower. It meant a lot that our friends were excited that we were expecting a kiddo! We even had another shower too, but that will happen a bit later in our story.

Watching the nursery come together was a great way to remind me that we really were going to be parents. Sometimes if felt like we were just pretending. But, at those times, I would open the door to your room and think..."oh my goodness, we are actually doing this!"

I picked up a rocking chair at a garage sale and sewed new covers for it, then painted the chair teal. I refinished an old dresser and put it up on legs to use as your changing table. I tried to make everything colorful. I thought that if a little one came to our house, they might feel very sad and scared in a brand new place with strangers taking care of them. So I wanted their room to let them know they were safe and welcome, and that room was just for them. And, I was also just having a lot of fun decorating a new room!

Well, I'm glad I started that process of preparing the room early and had it mostly finished before we were "certified" (that just means we had done all our homework and the official people said we were ready to foster-parent a kiddo), because two weeks before we were supposed to be completely done with all our homework and stamped by all the official people as ready to take a baby in, we got a phone call that would turn our world upside-down...

Monday, June 4, 2012

First Day at School

Dear Junebug,

I've been slowing down in getting your story written. But, I think I'd better hurry up! You're keeping me on my toes and you aren't slowing down anytime soon! You're almost walking already. Sometimes you act shy around strangers and tuck your head into my shoulder. Which, I admit, I love! But, you're never too shy to keep peeking up at them, and eventually come out for a smile. You love saying the word "duck"! Everything is "duck". Our doggy is a duck, any bird you see is a duck. And I think you just might be learning what mama and dada means.

We get to celebrate your birthday this week! I'm amazed you've been with us almost a whole year! When you're in a foster-family, you don't always know if you'll spend the next birthday together. So, having your birthday come around (which is very close to the anniversary of when we took you home) is a really big deal. I am so grateful for each of the 365 days I've gotten to watch you grow from a teensy tiny baby into an amazing toddler! I am so grateful for the gift of each day with you.

Well, before your next birthday, let's get back to your story...

Our foster and adoption agency wants to make sure that they find the best parents possible for their kiddos, so after we filled out forms with questions, we got to meet a really nice lady from the agency. I made apricot scones and cleaned the house from top to bottom! Daddy and I really wanted to make sure she knew we could be good parents. She was very sweet and after just a few minutes I could see that there really wasn't anything to be nervous about. They weren't looking for perfect people (lucky for us!) just for people who have love to give to kids. After talking for a bit, she thought we seemed like a good match, so she sent someone else from the agency to ask us even more questions. It was actually kind of fun, because they asked questions that were good for us to think about. Some of the questions were ones that were very near and dear to my heart and even made a few tears well up in my eyes.  But our question-asker was so kind and I really didn't mind at all. After that, we had to wait a bit while they took our answers to a bunch of other people who would decide if we were a good match for the agency. In a few weeks, we got our answer. We were in!

Next we got to go to classes to teach us about foster-parenting. I felt a little bit like you might feel on your first day of school. I was looking around, wondering about all the other people there. Did they know more than me? What was class going to be like? Would I fit in? Was it going to be hard?  Some of the other students were parents already and some were as new as us. There were all kinds of different people. Some were twice my age, and some ten years younger than me. Most were married, but a few weren't. It was really neat meeting all these very different people, knowing we all had something very important in common. Everyone was excited to meet each other and sometimes our teacher had a hard time getting us to stop chatting!

I don't think we were ever too surprised by the things they taught us, because Tim and Wendy had been such good teachers to us already. We learned about a bunch of legal stuff, as well as heart stuff. We learned about the history of foster-care and adoption. And we heard lots and lots of stories about kids who had found safe and loving homes after going through really terrible things.

I also got to meet some giants! Well, they weren't actual giants. They weren't really really tall like Goliath or anything. But they were giants in another way. They had spent so many years with so many kiddos learning how best to love them, that it seemed like their hearts were huge and their brains really full of wisdom and experience. I felt like a little shrimp knowing how little experience I had (zero!). It was a little intimidating, and at the same time, it was exciting. Even giants had started somewhere. It felt good to be putting my little feet inside the big footprints they'd left for others to follow.

Month after month, we took classes and filled out paperwork. Then we would take more classes, and fill out more paperwork. We had to get everything in order and just right before we could become parents. We had to find a good babysitter, make sure our car worked well, make sure everything in our home worked well, we went to the doctor for a check-up, even our doggy had to go to the doctor and make sure she was in tip-top shape! But, it really wasn't overwhelming because they just gave us a little bit to do at a time. So instead of one huge daunting mountain it was just a bunch of little hills we had to climb.

Besides all the preparing with classes and paperwork, we were preparing a room for you at home too. I got started on your nursery! It was fun watching it come together, and month after month, it got closer to being finished. I loved being able to see something to remind me you were on the way!  I'll show some pictures of your rocking chair, and your changing table just for fun in your next letter!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Dear Junebug,

We are finally getting to the good stuff when this story really starts moving!

The act of tapping the "send" button for that application seemed so tiny, so simple. That teensy act began a big snowball of events. But before that snowball hardly even got rolling... JOY broke into my heart! The idea of what that application meant began to sink in... we were now EXPECTING A CHILD! I think it may have only taken a few minutes before we realized the worlds of possibilities that we had just opened up! We were going to be parents! We were going to finally grow our family! And, not only that, but I had the joy of knowing I had finally listened to all the things God had placed in my life, and I had obeyed. It was a wonderful feeling! I imagine women who find out they are going to grow babies in their tummy probably feel very similarly to how I felt that day. It was time to dream and prepare. But for a while, I just enjoyed soaking in this new truth. I was going to be a mama.

When you have good news, you just want to share it with the whole world. There have been a few times when I've felt this. I shouted out "we are engaged" as your Daddy and I walked down the street right after he had proposed. The day I graduated college, there isn't a single photo of me where I'm not smiling ear to ear. Sometimes you just have to share your joy. I envied women who had bellies sticking out that declared their anticipation and joy of being pregnant to the whole world! I wanted a sign across my chest that said "I'm Expecting A Child Too!" I wanted to tell strangers! I wanted to talk about it with the clerks at the grocery store, and the barista at our favorite coffee shop.

So, like anyone with good news, we started calling friends and family to share our joy!

That part was probably a little bit different than when other belly-mamas tell people they are expecting. Some people didn't jumped up and down and squeal with excitement when we told them our news. And it wasn't because they weren't excited about being a part of your life, my dear. Quite the opposite. They were probably a little hesitant because they knew that being a foster-family can sometimes be really hard. Because they loved daddy and I, some of them were worried. They were afraid they might have to see us get hurt if you didn't stay with us. They might have been afraid for their own hearts a little too. We did get some squeals of joy with our news (which I loved!). But no matter what their first reactions were when our friends and family heard you were coming, they all took a risk right along with us. They jumped right in and fell in love with you (who couldn't, really!) even though they didn't have a guarantee that they'd always get to be in your life. You've got a great group of people who love you, kiddo.

Things started rolling pretty quickly from there. It was time to learn, prepare, and get ready!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Pity Conundrum

Dear Junebug,

You have been a trooper this this week! You are getting not just one, but your first two teeth at the same time! You are also scooting around all over the place. It's really funny watching you chase our doggy around the house. She doesn't make it easy on you though. She gets up as soon as you reach her. But, you just turn right around and keep following her. I love your determination!

So back to our story. This good friend of mine is the kind of friend that makes me want to be a better person when I'm around her. And when we had our very important conversation, she wasn't making any babies in her belly either. We were both dealing with it in different ways, but it was still so nice to have someone who understood a little bit. Finding people to talk to about stuff like that can be hard. See, there's a bit of a friendship conundrum when you can't make a baby in your belly. Many of your friends feel sorry for you. And if there's one thing that gets my feathers ruffled it's having people feel sorry for me (that's because I'm a little too proud sometimes). Grown-ups seem to have an unspoken rule that if you are able to make babies in your belly you shouldn't say anything to a person who can't, because it'll probably be the wrong thing to say. I always felt bad about that silly rule, because I never wanted my friends with belly-babies to feel like they couldn't talk to me. When your friends are afraid to talk to you about your big sad things, it can make you feel even more lonely...and make your sadness feel even heavier. Really, that's exactly what most friends are trying not to do by trying to not say the wrong thing!

It's really important to know that sadness is okay and normal and even a good thing to feel sometimes. But, you have to be careful with it, because if you hold onto it too tight it can turn into pity, which isn't so good. (I think we've talked a little about pity before, so be patient with me. This lesson took a long time for me to learn!) When you fall into pity (which I've done more than a few times!), you start to believe that everyone's life is better than yours. But, that is never true. Everyone (and I mean everyone) has hard stuff in their life. If you start to believe that all your friends have a better life than you do, you just aren't seeing things clearly...and you probably aren't able to be a good friend because of it. Sometimes we need friends to pull us out of our pity. Lucky for me, Daddy never had much tolerance for pity. This dear friend of mine was another person like that. I just couldn't be around a person like her and get stuck in pity too long. She was always helping others, and reminded me too much of all the people around me who needed help and kindness even more than I did.

So, I was talking with this friend about how I wished for more friends who could help me stay away from pity. I was babbling on about the person I wanted to be, and ended up saying, "I just want to be the kind of person who can be grateful for infertility because it led me to become a foster parent." And then you know what happened? Right after I said it, my own words hit me over the head as hard as a frying pan! I was waiting for somebody to give me permission to stop being pitiful and start being grateful! I was waiting for someone to go ahead of me and do exactly what I wanted to do. But, that was the silliest thing ever, Junebug! Nobody was going to live an example of my life for me and show me exactly how to do it. I finally saw that it was up to me to become the person I had always deep down wanted to be! I just needed to startdoing the things that person would do!

So, a few days after that conversation I spent a little chunk of time filling out a form on my computer. When I was done I went into the living room and said to Daddy, "I just sent in an application to become foster-parents". And he said, "Hurray! It's about time!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Memory Boxes

A friend today asked me what your personality was like. I hadn't been asked this question before, and I don't think I drew an accurate picture for her. So I thought I would try again, and share my answer with you. You are a morning person like your daddy. You are also full of funny little wry smiles and eyebrow raises. You are insatiably curious. You reach for everything behind, above or around you that would pull you out of your seat, or off the changing table. You keep me on my toes! When you're sleepy, you like to be held upright and slumped over my shoulder with your arm around my neck. I love those moments, and sometimes I hold onto you long after you've fallen asleep.

In our last letter I mentioned that I had to figure out what to do with my sadness about not growing a baby in my tummy. But, maybe I didn't put that quite right. With big sadness sometimes you can't really "do" anything to make it go away. You can only figure out how you are going to live with it. When our biggest sadnesses are very heavy, they are often all we can think about. Then, other times we might tuck them away inside a memory box for safe keeping.
Every once in a while we will pull them back out again to remember. I think that is how this particular sadness is, and will be for me.

So, even though a new love was growing in my heart and mind because of what I'd learned from Teddy and Julia and Tim and Wendy, I wasn't quite ready to put my baby sadness in a memory box just yet. (Daddy's sadness had already been boxed up by then I think!) I decided I wanted to try one last time to make my sadness go away. I knew I wasn't comfortable with the choices the baby-doctor gave me. So, I decided to make my body as healthy as possible and see what happened. That was a way I could fight the sadness that I felt okay about.

I tried some things that might sound a little nutty to some people. Actually, they sounded a little nutty to me too! I went to a place where they put tiny little needles all over me, and they gave me herbs to drink. After that I tried rubbing a cream on my arm. Then I changed my diet, started exercising and drinking more water and taking vitamins. But, you know what happened? Those herbs made my lips itch! The cream turned my arm red and bumpy. And the big vitamins made my tummy feel yucky.

Eventually I had to look at all my attempts at fighting the sadness and just laugh at myself. Nothing I tried worked to make a baby. I felt a little bit like a cartoon character who keeps ramming himself into a locked door and getting swirly stars above his head. I just felt silly. Not silly in a way that made me ashamed, but silly in a way that made me start to chuckle a little bit at myself.

A tiny part of me began to realize that there might be a reason I wasn't comfortable going to the baby doctor. Maybe even deeper down within me was a different desire.

It still bothered me that I didn't know any other women that had decided not to fight their sadness with the choices the doctor gave them like I had. I wished someone would just tell me what to do next. I didn't want to make my own path. I just wanted to walk in a path someone else had made. But, I couldn't find one that suited me.

All those thoughts and stars were swirling over my head one day when I had a very important conversation with a good friend.