Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A year goes by...

One year ago today, you became offically "ours" according to the court but in our hearts you always were ours since your first mom, "J" placed you in our arms.

Zoelle said today, "Mom, Xiomara doesn't even know she had another mom before she had you as her mom." I stared at her in wonder because we don't typically talk about your adoption every day. We don't label you as "adopted". We acknowledge that it is a part of you, but it does not define you. Thus when your big sister said that this morning, it caused me to really stop and think. She is right honey. Right now, at almost a year and a half old, you don't know about her. Oh I whisper to you as you fall asleep each day that "J" loves you. Or I often will exclaim to your daddy how happy "J" would be to see you hit each milestone.

But no babe, right now, you don't know her. And in reality, all you will ever know while you are a young child is that she was a part of your past. That she loved you enough to sacrifice her hapiness for yours.

However, she can always be a part of your future. We will talk of her, we will continue to send her letters and pictures, and someday when your dad and I feel you are ready, and if you so desire to, I really hope you get to meet her.

So that way you will know that you really did have a mom before me. For two whole days. And that even though you couldn't see her or talk with her, she was still that mom that lived inside you from the moment she placed you in my arms.

Happy finalization day honey! Know that "J", your dad, and I all love you!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday "J"

I see you in every smile, I think of you every time she calls me mama, and I feel you in the very heart of her.

We are connected through this tiny little girl we both call daughter. The one we both love with our whole hearts.

I hope you have an amazing day. And even though you may never see this or read this, I wanted to share this video of Xiomara dancing. I can hear your laughter as you view it and I think you deserve that today.

Love you and Happy Birthday from all of us!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When God asks me to wait....again. it is the end of November, National Adoption Month, and I feel as if I did nothing to support adoption. I mean sure I posted a few blog posts here and there and posted on facebook, but I'm not so sure that changes someone's heart?

What I really wanted to do this November was to change lives for adoption. To support adoptive parents, to support foster care, to support birth parents.

I wasn't sure how I was going to do it, but I really wanted to do it.

Not for me, but for them...the waiting children, the anxious birthmom, the lonely child. I wanted to help them.

And I'm pretty sure I failed.

I'll be honest, I'm really struggling with where to "fit in" in the adoption world. We aren't currently adopting, and I'm not sure we ever will again. Yet, after knowing the adoption world, I feel like I can't just step out of it and back into the "regular" world. If I did that, I'd feel like I was turning a blind eye to all the hurt, loss, need, and beauty in adoption.

So I sit here tonight with my tea in my hands wondering just where God would have us "fit in". What does He have for us?

I thought I knew, but now, now I'm just now sure. I feel lost, alone, and sad.

So I stand with my hands stretched wide asking God, "What now?" and like a whispered wind blowing across my heart, He tells me, "Wait daughter. Wait.".

So for now, I wait.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reflecting on Xiomara

Dear baby girl,

It's November and November is National Adoption Month so I wanted to write a little letter to you.

I can't even begin to imagine what life would be like without you. Tonight as we were tucking all three of you in, your two sisters were both crying. I looked down at you, and there you were smiling with all that is in you that beautiful smile of yours back at me. I turned to your daddy and told him, "I know that no matter what is happening in our home, I can always look to Xiomara to put a smile on my face".

When we were waiting for you, we prayed that God would send us a little girl who was full of joy. That she would light up the room and charm everyone with her personality. That you do little peanut. That you do.

Snotty nose and all, we love you!

If you weren't here in our lives, it would be a lot dimmer. I wouldn't be feeling the pain of a fat lip from you head butting me? kicking me? in your sleep last night. :) I wouldn't get to hear you and Meridian squeal to each other as you fight yet again over another doll. I wouldn't get to see the pure delight on Zoelle's face as you give her those big smooches you do everyday to her!

And your daddy, he would not have that sparkle in his eye that I see him have every night when he looks across the table at you. As for me, who would I talk about to your daddy every night as I tuck you into bed and stare into your beautiful brown eyes? Whose little milk chocolate skin would I be able to massage each day just because I know she loves massages? Who would I be able to whisper to when no one else is listening but you, "You are so beautiful Xio. I love you. God has great plans for your life."

I'm so thankful that you came into our lives after two years of waiting. You were worth every second of that wait. Every agonizing minute of wonder. Every tear that poured down my face.

You were worth it.

You are worth it.

Adoption is worth it.

I love you Xiomara Marie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unadoptable is unacceptable!

I don't often blog about them, but I have 11 adopted younger siblings all through the foster care system. I grew up with one older biological sister and when I was 18, my parents adopted a sibling set of three. Two years later, they adopted a sibling set of six. Shortly before we adopted Xiomara, they adopted a sibling set of two.

I definitely have a heart for foster care. I will do anything I can to promote it. Thus when I recently got an email from the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption asking if I would share this video on my blogs, I said yes.

Because November is National Adoption Month. Because I love them. Because there are others like them who still need a family.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Scarlet Letter A

In high school, I was required by my English teacher to read Nathaniel Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter. I was captivated by the story of Hester Prynne and the legalism behind her having to wear the scarlet letter "A". While the minister, who was just as much a part of it, walked around free from the public criticism.

Image Source

Sometimes I think society is forcing birthmoms to walk around with a scarlet letter "A". A for adoption. You may never know her but you have already labeled her. You ask how she could have possibly given her child up for adoption? Did she not love him enough? Did she not care to share the laughter and the tears over her daughter's first boyfriend? Did she not want to stand with pride in her eyes as her son went into the army?

And so the scarlet stain on her letter A keeps getting a bit darker each time you place that judgement on her.

Oh and you just know she did drugs right? Or drank throughout her whole pregnancy?

That stain just got a little bit redder.

Did you know the she didn't want to wear that A? That she would give anything to have her son back. But that wasn't an option for her. Did you know that she cried until she was gasping for breath when she left her daughter in someone else's arms?

Did you know that she was raped and chose to give that child life rather than death?

Of course you didn't and neither did I until I saw it firsthand. And then I too had to put on my scarlet letter. Except mine wasn't an A, instead it was a J. Stained red for the judgement I had for our own birthmom and others before her.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The tug in my heart

I open up my facebook and see that two of my friends are adopting this week. Two *almost* brand new babies. Both with dark skin. Both beautiful.

And my heart rate increases.

The memories come back and it's almost as if I am there again. On our journey to Xio. Getting off that plane in Georgia on a hot, hot, July day. I can still picture myself in that tiny airport bathroom fixing my hair and makeup before going to meet "J". I still remember walking down the seemingly long, quiet hallway to meet "J" and Xiomara for the first time. I still feel in my heart the emotions of seeing my brand new daughter for the first time. For as long as I live, I think I will feel as if I could step back into that day today if I wanted. My memories are that clear.

And then I wonder if we really are done like I so recently blogged?? I wonder if my heart can ever be ok with not adopting again. I ask myself what about all the foster kids in this world? What about the little girl in Ethiopia who is crying out for food and who will one day be married young resulting in a fistula? What about the birthmom who is out there looking for that "perfect" family and what if we are it?  Shouldn't Xiomara have a little sister or little brother with the same dark skin as her?

The feelings come. The emotions come. And I want to experience them all over again. To feel them again. The joy. The pain. The peace.

But then I realize, that God has not called me to rely on my feelings. Never would I want to adopt based off of a feeling. The feelings will always, always be there. I'm quite certain that tug will always be on my heart. Mainly because God has laid it there.

So while the feelings of wanting to adopt again are there, I can use that tug to do good for adoption. Promote it. Support it. Pray for those who are adopting.

And then one day, maybe God will lay it back on our hearts to adopt. Until then (or even if that day never comes), I will never stop fighting for adoption!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Does "J" read your blog?

Recently someone asked me if "J" reads our blog. To my knowledge, she does not. We have never told her about it. However, that doesn't mean she hasn't found it. The blogging world is a VERY small world admist the big blogging world. I know it seems like such a contradiction, but seriously with the way social media is, posts can spread like wildfire all over the internet. So maybe she has read it.

Right now I write to write. I'm honest in my feelings, but I also know because I am honest from the perspective of being an adoptive mom, it may hurt her feelings from the perspective of being her birthmom.

I pray that it doesn't. Because my heart is never to offend but to be honest in my feelings.

Part of me wants her a part of our life. The other part of me is happy for the semi-open relationship we have now.

Sigh..adoption is so much harder than I ever thought.

Even now, 14 months after we adopted Xiomara, I think of "J"! I wonder what she is doing. I try and picture what Xiomara's life would be like with her. I just can't help it. It must be the mom in me relating to the mom in her.

Do any other adoptive moms feel this way? Or am I the only one out there like this?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Debt free adoption? Yes it IS possible!

Let me start by saying that I realize that I have all sorts of people who read this blog, through all different lifestyles and all different beliefs. To some of you, this post may really touch your hearts...and to others, this will be crazy. However, I have a story to tell so that you, my readers, know that God still does miracles today.


When I posted this video the last time I blogged, there was a tiny secret included in that video. What was it? That our adoption was paid for 100%! But first let me back up.

In July of 2009 when we started the adoption journey, we had literally next to no extra money. Yet we were feeling this strong pull toward adoption. Every time we would talk and pray about the possibility of adopting and the fact that we had no money to do so, we felt as if God was telling us to take a leap of faith and move forward with the adoption. After much prayer and lots of discussing, we did just that. In some ways, it was the scariest thing we have ever done, in other ways, we felt more peace than ever before.

We sent out support letters to our family and friends and also started applying for as many adoption grants that we could. Money trickled in slowly over the two year time frame and by the two year mark of waiting, that covered about half of our total adoption fees.

This is the point in which I panicked. We still had half of the adoption costs to cover and basically no way to do so. However, I was reminded that when we first started this process we felt God tell us that He would provide for every last penny, all we had to do was trust. I told God time and time again that if he wanted us to adopt, then He had to provide the finances to do so. If He did, I would make sure the world knew that our adoption was paid for all because of Him.

As we got closer and closer to the two year point in waiting to adopt, someone approached us and told us that if a situation arose to adopt, to not say no based off of not having all the finances. Instead, they encouraged us that money can come from God at anytime and that may even be after we have adopted. I remember being a little awestruck at the comment for this had never occured to me before then. But at the same time, I figured we would never have to take a leap of faith that big in trusting God. I figured He would provide somehow, someway, miraculously before we got a call.

So on that June day in 2010 when we got the call that "J" had picked us, I was a bit shocked, but reminded of that conversation and again reminded to trust. We again brought it before God and told Him that we only had half the money and that if He didn't want us to have this baby girl, He would have to close the door on it.

With a peace that could only come from God, we said yes to adopting and ended up getting a loan to cover the other half of the adoption. Again, we had no idea where the rest of the money would come from to adopt, but God kept assuring us that He could do this at any point. The money didn't have to be in our timing, but His.

For six months after we adopted Xiomara we waited on Him to give us word on providing us with the other half of the adoption costs. In the meantime, the loan was being paid for solely out of our adoption money that we still had in an adoption account. Then in January, I talked to a friend who told me that the adoption tax credit was a refund this year and not just a credit. If true, this would pay the other half of our adoption fees, thus making our adoption debt free. Up until this point, we had only heard that it was a credit (which really would not benefit us at all). We started praying and I remember getting the shivers because God whispered on my heart, "I said I was going to do it, didn't I?".

Because we finalized at the very end of December, we did not have Xiomara's social security number in time to file taxes. Thus we filed an extension. In the meantime, I hear from online adoptive friends who are having major problems getting their tax refund. They are getting questioned for months on end, some end up even getting their cases closed without getting the refund. Many are still, on this day in August, without their funds.

Fear hits me. But then comes peace as Chris tells me that "God said He would pay for it all and He will." Thus we file our taxes in June knowing that most likely we have a long wait ahead of us.

On August 1st, I go check the mail box and am astounded to see our tax return checks in there. With shaky hands and a prayer on my lips I open it and find the full amount of refund. We did not get reviewed, we did not have to wait months on end.

Instead God did a miracle and paid for our adoption 100%. I mean it! Every last penny was paid for!!!

So today I wanted to share with you and you can feel free to share with others, (because after all I said I wanted the world to know) that God still does perform miracles. It truly is a miracle because there was no way without His help that this adoption could have been 100% debt free!

It really was such a BIG miracle in such a little girl! Thank you God!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

She's walking...

I'm here, I'm here! I just have a walker now (which equals busy). Yes Xiomara who is 13 months old and teeny tiny is full on walking. I normally don't post much about our adoption or my thoughts on adoption in our family blog, but with today's post on her walking, I did.

I'm just missing our birthmom today. And really, really wishing she could be here to see this big milestone. Any other adoptive parents feel this way at times?

Back to my regular posts soon-I have an important one coming!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

One Year Ago Today

We met you one year ago today Xiomara. For the first time, I'm sharing publicly how God performed a miracle with your adoption. I thought it would be fitting to share on your one year anniversary in our family. I love you sweet baby girl!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

One Year Later... A Letter For You

Dear J,

I've been thinking about this letter and re-writing it in my head for almost a year. I've just never written it down because I knew when I did so, I would bawl. And I am.

I feel as if I've written you a thousand letters and they all say the same thing. And in a way, they always will. For you gave us your daughter to raise as our own. You already know how much joy she brings, and how much she smiles. You know how her and Zoelle share a bond, how her and Meridian giggle together. You can see how much Chris adores her (just like you always wanted), and you know I love her.

But today I write to you. From one mother to another, I pour my heart out to you in the hopes that your heart will hurt a little less today.

As a fellow mom, I know how important that first birthday is. I wish with everything in me that you could be here. That you could see her, hold her, kiss her one more time. And I'm positive you are sitting right where you are today wishing the exact same thing. You are probably remembering every kick she did in your tummy, every pain of labor, and most of all the joy of seeing your daughter for the first time.

I watched the sheer love you had for her the day you so bravely laid her in my arms. Tears poured out from your eyes as you walked away "forever". What you didn't know is that tears poured out from mine as well. For you, for her.

I've come to the conclusion this past year that adoption is beautiful in a really messy way. Sometimes something hurts so much, it is just beautiful. In this case, that something was adoption, was the choice you made.

So thank you. I know today isn't easy. No day ever will be. Each day you will think of her, and I will think of you. I'll know of and tell her of your love for her as she grows. But on this special day, her first birthday, I'll smile through the tears and know that because of you adoption is beautiful.

We love you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last Day To Vote

Hopping on real quick to ask you all to go VOTE for me one last time!!

Clicking on the word VOTE above will bring you directly to the page to vote for my blog. Just click the thumbs up and you have voted. :) Right now, I'm around 34th place. Which in and of itself is a huge honor. I still would love to jump up to 25th place because then I get an interview in which I can share my dream. That interview is shared with 6 million people! Which in turn means a greater chance of my dream becoming a reality! Which in turn means helping someone. Which in turns means changing one life forever!

Can you come help make that happen? You have until 5 p.m. PST! So go VOTE!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Letter To My Husband

Dear Christer,

I write this letter to you on Father's Day because you need to hear it, to understand it, and to believe it!! You are amazing! Ok, well maybe you already knew that, but I'm telling you again! ;)

But this letter isn't to tell you how amazing you are for working hard for our family. Or for owning two businesses. Or for parenting our three girls. You are amazing for all of that.

But no..this letter is to tell you how amazing you are to love a little girl who isn't your own flesh and blood.

I think that love comes naturally for a mother. No matter if said child is adopted or birthed, it is just ingrained in a mother to love. And so she does. The maternal instincts rise up and she becomes mama bear to her cub. For a dad, there is a certain pride in looking down into that little face and knowing that he/she is a part of you. That she has your nose, or that he has your chin.

But you, you didn't get that with our daughter. Instead, you looked at her on that hot July day in Georgia, with more love in your eyes than I can ever remember you looking and it literally shone throughout the room. You loved a little girl that looked nothing like you, or I, and that somewhere has a different biological dad. You looked past all of that and saw her for who she was: A little girl in need of love from her daddy. In the days after her birth, I watched a love and protection well up in you like none other.

 I remember before we adopted, while we were still in the waiting process friends would ask me how you felt about the adoption. Or would ask me if you could really love a child that was not your "own". I never hesitated in knowing that you could. And I was right.

Because you are amazing. Because I love. Because they love you. Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vote For My Blog Please!

Ok, big breath here. I'm asking for votes. Right now there is a contest going on for the Top 25 Adoption Blogs. I've entered mine. I have no grand thoughts of becoming #1 (nor do I think I deserve it), but I would be very honored to be in the Top 25.

So why ask for votes? I have dreams. Lots of dreams. All involving adoption. I constantly am asking myself what I could do to help the orphans in Ethiopia? How can I touch birthmoms just like "R" or "J"? What can I do for a family just like us that has no money to adopt, but feels very called to it?

So my mind spins and the dreams come.

I want to explore those dreams! But I need people backing me, encouraging me, being a part of those dreams. One way to do that is to expose my blog to others who have this passion just like I do. Who can help or know someone who can.

Right now, my crazy dream is to take $10 and turn it into $100. $100 into a thousand, $1,000 into $10,000 and from there the possibilies are endless. I want to use that money to all go towards adoption. Perhaps to a family wanting to adopt. Or to an orphan in Africa. Or maybe something else yet to be revealed to me.

It is very humbling to put my dreams out there on a public blog. For fear that they may fail or never happen. But I'm taking that leap of faith knowing that I have to open myself up in order for the dream to get started. Big dreams, but not impossible and I truly believe with the help of others we can make adoption more the "norm" and perhaps more attainable.

So if you have a minute, would you go vote for me? All you need to do is click on the thumbs up and you are good. You can vote once every 24 hours (until June 21st)! Just follow the link, look for my blog: On Our Hearts, and click the thumbs up. Also, please spread the word because I really want to see this dream become a reality!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The day my world changed

One year ago, on June 10, 2010, my life changed. That day had always been just another day on the calendar, and also a day to mark my half birthday. But on that day, it became SO much more.
The day I found out about you Xiomara.

I'll never forget the exact spot I was standing. Meridian was sleeping, and I was already late to get Zoelle down for a nap. It was a little after 2 p.m. and I was heading up the stairs to put Zoelle to sleep. I was a little cranky because she wasn't cooperating and then the phone rang. I did what all moms do, the fake and happy, "Hello" when in the inside, I was feeling the opposite. It was our social worker. We had been in talks with her for a few days about updating our profile books to be more current, so I wasn't shocked it was her. In fact that morning she had called me several times asking if I had decision about whether or not we wanted to agree to the new policy that An Open Door Adoption Agency in Georgia had. The new policy concerned money being given at match and then if the adoption did fall through, that money would be tied up with the agency. So we would basically be "stuck" with them if something went wrong. I remember Chris being super busy that morning and he refused to give me an answer. I was feeling down and frustrated and just wanted to give her an answer, but Chris was far too busy to make that important of a decision.

Thus when I saw it was the social worker, my heart sank. I knew I didn't have an answer for her yet. My heart was leaning towards yes, Chris was leaning towards no. I answered  the call anyway prepared to fully tell her that I would call her back no later than that night with an answer. And I did tell her that when almost immediately she asked me if I had a chance to ask Chris yet. I'll never forget her answer, "Well...apparently they umm...they didn't understand me when I said you hadn't agreed to the new policy...and well, they showed your profile to a birthmom this morning and she picked you".

And just like that my life changed.

All breath left me as I wondered about you Xio, and of course my thoughts went to you "J".

That day we learned very little. We learned that most likely you were a girl and I remember being overjoyed at that news because we always felt like God had a little girl named Xiomara for us through adoption.

That night as I went to bed, I could hardly sleep. I was so excited, nervous, and scared. My mind wandered back and forth between the baby that was to become you Xiomara, and to you "J". I wondered what you were like, what your pregnancy had been like, how it felt to have the baby move within your tummy. Was she a kicker like some babies? Did you carry her up high, or way down low? Had you been miserably sick like I am for my pregnancies?

And somewhere between June 10th and June 11th, I felt like I became a part of you. For you had chosen me to be a part of your daughter's life. And I fell in love with her before she was even born.

I began to wonder that night at the sheer courage it took to make a decision on who would raise your child. After all, who could possibly love her as much as you do?? I slowly realized that in choosing us, we became joined together; connected. She would no longer have just a mom, but two. One who was in her everyday present life, and one who choose to carry her and love her enough to give life to her.

And my life changed. Forever. And your life changed "J". Forever. And your life changed Xiomara. Forever.

One decision. One day. Changed.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Help during a failed adoption

No one wants to experience a failed adoption. Even though the child you were all set in place to adopt isn't legally yours, your heart has been opened and you have spent many nights dreaming of him/her. It hurts.

I realize I never spent much time talking about our failed adoption. It was too fresh and raw at the time to do so. Today, I thought I would share three tips to help a family who has gone through a failed adoption.

1. Listen. Acknowledge the loss, make sure they know you care by saying "I'm sorry", but stop there! Don't ask questions, or tell the story of a friend who you know who went through the same thing, don't assume the birthmom is horrible for changing her mind either. There is a story to every story and unless the adoptees want to share, just be there for them as a listening ear when and if they want to share.

2. Bring them a meal. When our adoption feel through, it literally felt like a child of mine had died. I wanted to stay in bed all day, hide, and cry. The last thing I wanted to do is cook. So bring over a meal (but remember just drop it off and leave as they probably aren't up for entertaining). If they have other children in the home, bring some cookies to cheer up their day (they are probably hurting too).

3. Pray. There is nothing much better than asking God to heal the hurt, give them peace, and to protect the birthmom/child.

Anyway you look at it, failed adoption stinks. But hopefully, with a little help from you, and a lot of help from God, they can get through it and come out stronger on the other side!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dear J,

I've been sitting here for the last half hour trying to figure out what to write. How to express to you in words my thankfulness to you. For you see in seven short minutes it will be Mother's Day. And you won't have your baby in your arms. On the day you should be celebrating being a mom to her, she will she will be in my arms. I'll be celebrating while you are crying. And that has to hurt. To know that another mama is holding your little girl, while you ache to see her just one more time.

I'm not sure my words could ever adequately cover over any pain you have. I'm not sure I could ever convince you that I will be, or am, just as good of a mama as you would have been to her. I'm not sure any bouquet of flowers will replace the daughter whom you have placed for adoption.

I can't take away the everyday hurt, the everyday longing to hug and kiss her. But I can promise you just as I did 10 months ago to the day, that I do and I will love her as if she came from my tummy. That I will raise her up so you can be proud of her one day. That she will know you as her mama who loved her so much that you sacrified your happiness for hers.

And that "J" is amazing! Happy Mother's Day from all of us here. We love you!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Letter From Her Birthmom

It arrived almost two weeks ago. In a non-descript envelope from our agency. Thinking it was finally Xiomara's updated birth certificate, I rushed to open it. Instead, a single white sheet addressed to Vanessa, Chris, & Girls, fell to my lap.

It was from her; "J" our birthmom.

For the first time in 9 months we heard from her. Directly. I've been in contact with our social worker from Georgia and heard little bits and pieces that "J" has been ok with her sharing, but otherwise it has been silent.

And I hated the silence. I wanted to know that she was ok. I wanted to know if she still was happy she placed her daughter with us.

She is ok and she still feels confident in her placement. She is extremely grateful that we are still sending her letters and pictures even though we are no longer obligated to do so.

But, and there always seems to be a but...she referred to Xiomara as her daughter the whole letter.

It bothered me and I'm not sure it should have being that Xiomara is her daughter. That reality doesn't go away just because she placed her for adoption. Yet can she also be mine? The big question is: Can Xiomara have two moms who both love her? One who grew her in her tummy, and loved her enough to choose an adoption plan for her. And one who grew her in her heart and loved her enough to accept her for who she is no matter what.

The answer: I think so. Because that is the life I'm living right now. The life I chose. I'm working through these emotions and experiences as they hit me one at a time.

Any other adoptive mamas have advice for me? Is what I am feeling normal? I'd also love to hear from birthmoms on this issue if you are willing to share.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago today, what was suppose to be our baby boy was born. The next day, on the 17th, our adoption fell through. My heart broke. I literally never knew my heart could hurt so much over a child that wasn't "mine". I've been thinking a lot about "R", the baby boy who today is one, and about what I would tell myself a year ago if I knew what I knew today. So I wrote myself a letter in order to remember and to hopefully help others who are going through the same pain we were a year ago.

Dear Vanessa,

I know your heart is hurting today. And that is ok. Even though this child was never officially yours, in your heart he was, and you need time to grieve. To mourn a loss of what could have been. Don't worry about what others will think. Ignore those who mean well in what they say but just don't get it. Instead take time to cry. For that little boy a year from now will be rocked to sleep on his birthday in someone else's arms. He will learn to take his first step with a different mama than you cheering him on. And that hurts.

But on the other hand, a year from now you will be rocking to sleep a beautiful little girl. With milk chocolate skin and big brown eyes. She will melt you with her smile. And any pain you have now will lessen with the joy she brings. For you will be there on her birthday. You will watch her smash her little hands into a cake for the very first time. At night, you'll take her in your arms and quietly whisper that she was worth every little bit of pain. That she was worth two years of waiting.

A year from now, you will fall asleep in peace knowing that "R" made the right decision. That you made the right decision. It doesn't help lessen the pain of today, but I want you to know that a year from now it will be ok.



Thank you "R" and Happy Birthday to a little boy who I still think and pray for everyday!

Friday, March 11, 2011

In the eyes of a child

Recently our Zoelle, who intellectually is more 5 than 3, started declaring to us about Xiomara: "She's brown; I'm white". My first thought was to panic. I did not want race to be an issue within our own immediate family. I mean afterall, Xiomara will have to deal with the race issue within our extended family, friends, church family, etc. No matter how right or wrong it is, people will treat her differently because of the color of her skin. Thus when Zoelle declared those differences, I panicked. At least on the inside. On the outside, I calmly looked to Chris. I think we both had the same thought from God, "She's right". So we turned to her and said, "You're right Zoelle. God made Xiomara brown and you white". Do you know what gets me and brings a smile to my face? She accepted that answer. She didn't care about the differences. She hasn't treated her any differently since realizing that they are different.

It just is what it is. A fact.

Perhaps we could all learn from that little fact. Me included. Skin color is just that: the color of one's skin. It doesn't change who we are and what we do. It's what's on the inside that matters. As the weeks have gone by and Zoelle has declared lots of skin colors as we go to the grocery store, Target, and church, we have come to acknowledge the obvious and remind her that it's what on the inside that counts. What does her heart look like? What does mine? What does yours?

So I encourage you, acknowledge the obvious in your life, in your children's life. Maybe if we all acknowledged the obvious rather than trying to ignore the color of our skin or those around us for fear of being labeled racist, race would be a lot less of an issue.

Instead the only issue would be what do our hearts looks like on the inside. After all we are all children of God.

Whether adopted, black, white, or brown. It doesn't matter in the eyes of God. Or in mine. How about yours?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Look

Hey everyone! Welcome to the new look on the blog. After almost three years of blogging, I have a new look thanks to a giveaway I won! I have one small kink I need to smooth out on this blog, but otherwise this is it!

I plan to keep this adoption blog open even though we have already adopted for a few reasons:

1. We may adopt again one day
2. For Xiomara's birthmom, "J". While we haven't shared this blog with her yet, we may in the future.
3. I don't feel like God is finished here yet. Not sure what that means, but I'm following Him on this one.

Feel free to look around while you are here. I've finally added a link to our adoption story, but still need to write it. I also added a contact page for those of you who have questions about our journey. Also, I've slowly been going over my old posts and adding labels to them so you can look up a topic by label.

I think that's it! Hope you enjoy reading and that your life is touched even greater through adoption.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Millions of Miles

I would have blogged about this earlier had I known, but since I didn't know until now I didn't share until now. However, you still have a few hours left to make a donation. So click the button above for your chance to win a trip, but more importantly to help in the Congo and Haiti! Just $10 is all it takes to help somone in need. The question is, will you help?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I Want You To Know

Often adoption can define people.

But I don't want that for Xiomara.

I want Christ to define her, not being adopted.

I want people to look at Xiomara and see her for who she is, not how she came to be.

I long for the day people will introduce us and say, "This is Chris, Vanessa, and their three girls." Right now, I hear, "This is Chris, Vanessa, their two own girls, and this is the girl they adopted."

I don't want people to treat her special or different because she is adopted or because they are afraid to hurt her feelings.

I long for her to be normal in the eyes of others.

For you see in our eyes, adoption does not define who she is. Yes, it is a part of her, but it isn't her. Her past is her past. It doesn't matter if her birthmom did or didn't use drugs or alcohol. It doesn't matter what her birthfather looked like or did. It doesn't matter why she was given up for adoption.

None of that defines her.

Instead, with her adoption came a new life. Adoption is one of the greatest examples of Christ's love for us in human form. He adopts us as His sons and daughters, just as we adopted Xiomara. He doesn't ask questions. He doesn't look for something wrong in each passing momement.

Instead He loved us, took us in, and called us His own. Adoption became part of who we are, but it doesn't define us. He does.

Are you letting adoption define someone you know in your life? Are you looking for them to fail because you have labeled them as adopted?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Break The Silence

"Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about things that matter"- Martin Luther King, Jr.

She matters. I won't go silent.

Will you?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prayers for Waverly

Today while I held my daughter close to me knowing she was mine forever, there was one family holding their daughter Waverly close to them, knowing they have until only tomorrow. Then she will forever be gone.

Forever is a long time when you have had your daughter since birth.

It doesn't matter that she wasn't born to them biologically. She was in ever sense theirs. And their heart hurts tonight and mine does for them.

Will you please join me in praying for them?