Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dream List

Dear Junebug,

I'm going to have to get off track a little bit from our story. I just discovered something that I didn't know about myself...well, something I had forgotten. I was writing in my journal yesterday, and just happened to flip back the pages to read something I'd written a very long time ago. It was a list of things that I wanted to do in my life...a list of dreams, big and little. I know I must've written it at least a year before I ever met Daddy because meeting him was on my list too! (as well as learning how to scuba dive, which I also did before I met him)

Do you know what else was on that list? It was YOU! I wrote that I'd like to foster or adopt a child! I must've written that over a decade ago. And here I've been thinking (and telling everyone!) that the dream of you started in my heart only a few years ago. Boy was I wrong! I just think it's so neat that God brought me back around to you...despite my forgetfulness! I think He has a LOT of patience with me. I just had to share that with you. It encouraged me and made me feel so loved, that life has brought me all the way back around to my dream, despite myself and my forgetfulness.

So, back to our story. After camp, Daddy and I had begun to think a little bit about maybe... perhaps... possibly... someday being foster parents. (Remember, I had completely forgotten this was on my dream list.) But, like I mentioned earlier, I still needed some encouragement. I didn't know any other foster-parents. So I needed a good dose of courage.

That's when we learned about Tim and Wendy...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mama Bears

Dear Junebug,

We are on night four of having no electricity. There was a crazy storm that knocked down trees and powerlines all over town. While Daddy was gone, our doggy Brecka and I stayed in your room with you while the wind howled so loud outside that I thought the windows would burst! Luckily, we didn't suffer any harm, and the next day I went and collected some greenery that had blown off the evergreens for Christmas!

So, back to my friend, Julia.

Julia was a mama-bear. She was only eleven, but after years of not having a loving and protective mom for her and her siblings, she had learned how to be the "mother" that her siblings needed. When she was at camp she went around mama-bearing any little stray cubs that came her way...and she was good at it. The littlest campers trusted her quickly. She was gentle and kind.

It was Julia's 4th year at camp. That means for at least four years she had been in foster care. That's a long time to not have a forever-family. And, because she was eleven, the next year she wouldn't even get to come back to camp.

On one of the last nights of camp, all the eleven-year-olds get something really special. They get to go to "graduation". That night they stay up later than all the other campers. They sit around a campfire while their counselors share cool stories about them. At the end of all the counselors sharing stories about their kids, Julia was asked to share on behalf of all the eleven year olds what camp had meant to her. She said that life for her was hard. People don't always treat her well. But, at camp it's different. At camp she knew that people would do anything for her. At camp, she felt loved. It was the one week of the year that Susan got to be a cub, and have mama-bears looking out for her.

This got me to thinking, Junebug. A part of Julia had turned into a grown up really quick. She had learned how to be an adult for the smaller kiddos around her. And there I was, an adult, and I was still a kid, just looking out for myself. I think that's what made me start to realize that Julia needed more than a week of camp. Julia needed a mama bear of her own. A part of me had always wanted to be a brave mama bear. But to do that I was going to have to find the grown-up in myself...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Dear Junebug,

You will have your first Thanksgiving this week! I'm sad that it's just a little early for you to get to enjoy the mashed potatoes. But, maybe for Christmas! During a meal enjoyed with friends recently, we all shared one thing we were thankful for and one thing we longed for. You fit both categories for me. I long for the day we get to know for sure that you'll always be ours, and I'm grateful that you are ours right now.

I've been wondering if some of the people reading these letters might be very scared for us as they read this story. Because I bet they realize by now that we are pretty attached to you. And judging by the way you now lift your arms to be picked up, and smile wide at us in the morning, you feel the same way about us. (Getting attached means warm fuzzies and trust growing in your heart for someone you didn't know before. Really, it's just a big word for love.) Well, I just want to let folks know that it's okay to be scared. I'd be lying if I said I can't stand to even think about you leaving us. But, I also want everyone to know that you are worth the risk. Actually, you are worth far more.

We had to say goodbye to a baby boy before you came into our world. I will talk more about him later in our story. But, I just wanted other readers to know that it's because I loved him so much, that I will always be grateful for the three months I got to be a mama to him. Even though I don't know how I would handle not getting to keep you forever and ever, you (like him) are precious enough to be worthy of my heart breaking.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful that I've come to know this:
having you is worth the risk of losing you.

I just had to share that before we move on to Julia.
I promise we'll get to her in the next letter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bear Hugs

Dear Junebug,

When you say yes to one thing, it can lead you to a place you might never have gone had you stayed safe and kept saying no. It can lead you to a lot more yes's. I'm so glad I said yes to camp.

When a bus full of kids arrived at camp, daddy and I were out on a field with tons of other camp counselors and staff. We were all cheering for the royal kiddos on that bus. As they stepped out one by one they each came through a tunnel of high-fives and cheers. Most of them were probably nervous and excited at the same time. Maybe they didn't realize how anxious a lot of us counselors were too. I was nervous that my wisdom, patience, and energy would fall short of what they needed. For most of these kids, this is the one week in the entire year when they don't feel like an outsider. They get to just be kids. It's an incredibly important week.

The first summer my cabin was filled with eleven year olds. I have so many memories that I could write you stacks of letters just about those five days, but for now I will tell you just a few stories of little heroes I will never forget.

One is of a girl I will call Teddy. Teddy wasn't even my camper, but we shared a cabin together. Her counselor had to leave camp a day early that year. Teddy knew saying goodbye to her counsellor would be tough. So, after a few days at camp, we started to become good buddies. She hoped that becoming friends with me would make it easier to say goodbye to her own counselor. Teddy was so much fun. She was sweet and friendly and she always held on to hugs. At camp we aren't allowed to give big bear hugs, but we can give side-hugs. Well, Teddy would hang onto any kind of hug for as long as you would let her.

One day we were sitting and listening to story time. Teddy had her arms wrapped around my legs and was sitting at my feet on the ground. I was stroking her hair when I started to feel little hot drops of water hitting my feet. I gulped as I realized that Teddy was crying. Her little hot tears were hitting my feet. Drop...drop...drop. I didn't want to embarrass her, so I waited until the story was over before I asked what was wrong.

She told me that story-time had reminded her of her mom. You see, the story mentioned the great big hug that a runaway boy got from his dad when he came home. Teddy told me that her mom was a big hugger too. She gave the best kind - the big bear kind that swallow you up and warm you all the way from your ears to your toes.

Then I realized why Teddy hung onto hugs for so long...why she wrapped her arms around my calves during story time. Teddy just didn't get enough hugs. For whatever reason, her mom couldn't give her those bear hugs anymore. From then on, I let Teddy hang on for as long as she wanted.

Teddy made me realize that there were things I could do to help kiddos with big hurts. I didn't have all the answers. I couldn't take away Teddy's pain.
But, I could let those side-hugs hang on longer.

Because of Teddy, I started to see that the fear of not being helpful, wise or useful enough could keep me from being any of those things at all.
If I had said no to camp because of fear, I couldn't have given Teddy one single hug.

Teddy wasn't the only camper who helped me see things more clearly. There was another brave eleven year old in my cabin that year. I think I'll call her Julia...

Monday, November 7, 2011


Hi Junebug,

The last few days have been so fun! It seems like someone just pushed a button on you and turned up the volume! Yesterday you even got a little slap happy and started giggling in your bumbo seat. Daddy and I watched the video of those giggles over and over after you went to sleep for the night. But, I bet you want to get back to what happened years before we ever heard those giggles...

Camp happened. Now, this was no ordinary camp. This was Royal Family Kids Camp. It's a camp just for kids in the foster care system. Foster care is for kiddos who's tummy parents don't know how to show love to them. Unfortunately, many of their parents are down right mean to them. I don't even like to think about it, but sometimes these kids are beaten or they don't get to eat. Sometimes they are just ignored all the time. But absolutely nobody deserves to be treated that way. So there's a whole system with judges and lawyers and social workers and foster parents and hundreds of people who try to make sure every kiddo is safe and loved.

Some very good friends of ours kept inviting us to come and help out at Royal Family Kids Camp. They told us that the kids at camp have a lot of hurt bottled up inside them. Sometimes they have so many bad memories from their tummy parents - or from moving from one foster-family to the next, over and over again - that their pain can spill out of them and hurt the people around them. We were a little scared to go because when someone signs up to be a counselor and help take care of these kiddos for a week, they pretty much know that some of the pain inside of the kiddos is going to end up hurting them too.

But, the third year they asked us to come we finally said yes...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting the Baby Hopes

Dear Junebug,

Happy 1st Halloween today! I couldn't help but make you a cute little lamb costume. You are so adorable in it!

I wish I could post pictures of you, but because we need to follow the laws that help keep you safe, we aren't allowed to do that until you're are adopted.
If that day comes, I think we might shut down facebook with all our photos of you!

Okay, back to our story...

Daddy and I had been married for around two years, I think, before we started to get those baby hopes.

I had a few friends who were having trouble. They couldn't grow babies in their tummies. I felt really bad for them. But, even though I felt bad, I knew that I didn't completely understand their sadness. Sometimes with a sadness that is so big like that, it's hard to understand unless you've gone through something similar. So, I asked God to give me compassion for my friends. I told God that it was fine by me if I needed to go through the same thing to help me understand. (Which was really silly, because God can do pretty much whatever He wants with me telling Him so.)

To be honest Junebug, I thought there was probably a "right" way to go through something like that and I arrogantly thought I would be the one to figure that out. But, after I prayed that prayer...I pretty much forgot about it.

And then, month after month no baby came...

At first daddy and I weren't too worried. (especially Daddy, he never worries about anything!) It takes lots of people several months to make babies in their tummies...Pretty soon though, there were a piles of months behind us.
And then it got to the point where the baby doctors would tell us there must be something wrong. I thought about going to see one of them, but I always got a nervous, jittery feeling when I would even think about it.

Then two years passed...and three years...

My sadness started to get bigger, and deeper. Sometimes I would do something simple like walk through the grocery store and a card with a tiny footprint (like the ones your feet could make!) would made my eyes well with tears.
I missed the baby I didn't know yet. Everywhere around me people were doing all sorts of things that baby doctors suggested to make babies grow in their tummies: having surgeries, taking pills, getting needles poked into them. And though it was no fun for them at all, I understood why they did it. Even today, I feel like I'm watching a miracle every time I see a woman with a baby in her belly! I still see every birth, every baby as a miracle (that includes you!). So, I couldn't understand why I wasn't willing to do anything to make that happen in my tummy? I worried that maybe there was something wrong with me since I wasn't trying as hard as others.

Then four years passed...then five years...

And then some things started to happen that would change everything. Those were the things that made me start to think about you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's start at the beginning.

Dear Junebug,

I hope that someday, when you can read these letters, they will help you understand how having you for a daughter is more wonderful than anything daddy and I had ever imagined for ourselves. And, I don't just mean how delightful and enchanting you are...but even the way we came to find you; and how we became foster parents. I have really grown to love our story.

When your dad and I were going through all the things that finally led us to you, I so longed to hear stories of other women who felt anything even close to what I did. I hope sharing these letters might help others out there who are on a similar path and need to hear they are not alone. I am forever grateful for the people who shared their stories with me and daddy when we needed to hear them.

There is so much that I have to tell you, and I can't wait to get to the part where you came to us, but I think our story actually begins when daddy and I were hoping for a baby a very, very long time ago; back when I assumed I would do what almost everyone around me was doing, and grow a baby in my tummy...