"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth...Flooded by emotion, overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly.'" Max Lucado, God Thinks You're Wonderful

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sadie baby

Can I still call her that since she's turning one this week?
Well, I am going to until we have another one to call baby!

Sister had her first birthday party today.

And in my normal fashion, it was simple and low-key and oh-so enjoyable.

We had family, cupcakes, cookies, balloons, gifts and one sweet Princess. What more do you need to get a bunch of giggles?

The kids swam while the moms and dads chatted in the shade and loved on the babies.

Singing "Happy birthday Sadie!" That's one huge cupcake!
She loved the cupcakes and cookies! She got her momma's sweet tooth!
And she knows how to make a mess!
Thanks to our families for making Sadie and her family feel loved and for helping us to celebrate her precious life.

I can't quit thinking about how this time last year we had no idea she was coming into our lives.

I love her story and how she flew into our lives faster than we could have ever anticipated.
I love her sweet personality and how she is so girly, yet can put up with her brothers really well. She growls like them and can scream at the top of her lungs when she needs them to back up. It's funny to watch her work them over by screaming.

I will share more, but wanted to post some pictures since I haven't posted in a week. It's been crazy 'round here lately! But I LOVE it! Will share more soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm begging you!

If you live in Oklahoma, or know someone that does...I need your help!
Most of you know that for months now we've been working to draw attention to some adoption laws that we believe need attention.

In this mission, I have found an incredible team of professionals that come together monthly to address such needs in the adoption community. I have attended the last two adoption task force meetings and I am continued to be amazed at what all these people are doing. It is such a privilege to just be able to hear what they are doing and watch it all happen right before my eyes. There are judges, DHS representatives, adoption agencies, a public defender and now a birth mother, an adoptive mother and an adult adoptee.
At this last meeting Representative Jason Nelson shared that he has received a lot of requests for issues to be addressed by the task force. I am hoping that some of these requests were about Cooper's Law, but I know that there are lots of adoptive families out there that feel the need to have their concerns addressed! Then he asked the task force if they would be okay asking some families to share with the group their story and why they needed the task force to consider their concerns!!! I was sitting in the back of the room and almost fell out of my chair. How cool would it be for Cooper's Law and Cooper's story to be shared with so many that feel just as passionate about this as I do???
So, I am begging you. If you haven't written Representative Jason Nelson or Senator Steve Russell yet, please do! If you have and you could do so again, PLEASE DO! From what I understand this task force has a lot of weight on what issues in adoption will actually be addressed or changed! If anyone will hear me out, it will be this group. If you do write him please make reference to Cooper's Law. If you know of a personal adoption story in which you think relinquishment in the hospital could have kept an adoption in place that ended up falling through, please share that in your letter or email. Remember that our intent with this change is to protect the child and the birth parent's choice. Our goal here is that birth mothers who want to sign papers in the hospital (or at their agency) can do so without having to sit before a judge.
You can share my name if you want, but you don't have to. I am going to write them again today (for the 4th time). Oh my goodness, I can't believe I have become "one of those people"! But, I will never forget those weeks as we were losing Cooper and feeling so helpless. There was nothing we could do to keep him. I think that feeling is fueling me. In the midst of that journey I felt like it was just a part of adoption and something that had to be risked, but now I know better. Many states are doing this differently and there is no reason why we should continue in something that is not working. And because of that, I feel like I have to at least try to do something. These are 3 photos that were taken the day we had to say good-bye to our sweet baby boy.
On another note, many of you have asked if I had heard if I had been chosen to be on the task force. I found out yesterday that I did not. I joked about not being qualified, and boy was I right! The mom they chose is a wonderful pick as she wrote the bill that in its approval put into affect the adoption task force...she deserves to be on it!
Let's get busy writing some letters/emails. If you click on the representative or senators names it is linked to their info. If you can only write one, please address Rep. Jason Nelson as he was the one addressing the task force with this idea! THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Owen- not so teary!

Okay, so in the last post I felt the need to share about the actual day that Owen was born and how wonderful our adoption experience was/is with his birth mother...but now I need to share about Owen's celebration! This is the incredible thing about adoption...to be able to fully experience it all in the healthiest way possible I believe you have to embrace all aspects of the journey. You have to try to understand the grief and loss that an adoptee feels, but you cannot get stuck there. If you live as a mother focusing on what any child lost, you are doing them a great disservice. But if you completely ignore what they've lost in their adoption, you are doing just as much damage. It's a balance. Life is precious, children are incredible blessings and adoption is the most miraculous way that I have seen God's presence in our lives. So this post is dedicated to celebrating our sweet 4 year old!
These first few are from his actual birthday when we went to Bounce N Craze to play. Such a treat! We've never done that before! Sadie did have fun although she doesn't look like it in that one picture!
We had Owen's party at my parents pool on Sunday. Our parties so far have only included family. We had 12 kids there just from our family, 10 of whom were 5 and under! Needless to say we had lots of entertainment. This top pic is when the boys first saw the spiderman cake. This was the first time I ever bought a cake for my kids :( yowsers! It was worth it...they LOVED it!
So here are some pictures to share. We had such a blast hanging out with everyone and enjoying the pool and new toys! Thanks to everyone for making Owen's day so special!
They make pretty cute spidermen don't you think?

Playing on his new guitar! Thanks Jackson and Savannah! This has been a huge hit with all of the kids!
This guy seems so much older than 4 to me (at least most of the time). He is so sensitive to other people and their needs. He is a wonderful older brother and I am blessed by of the way he loves to care for and look out for his siblings. He clings on everything that Blake says and does.

Owen's favorite color is blue. His favorite sport is still mostly football but he loves to do most anything outside. He's a perfectionist in most everything he does and it bothers him greatly if he can't do something like he thinks he should. He hardly plays with toys, but loves books that aren't too long. He loves school once he gets there, but seriously loves "family days" where we just hang out and play together. I could go on and on about this child of God and how he makes my heart mush when he whispers, "I love you" in my ear.
And from dinner lastnight!
The kids enjoying Owen's new sand and water table. I love things that can entertain several kids at once and those of different ages. Thanks Noonie and Papa for the table!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday Owen!

I can't believe my Owen is 4. And at the same time, I can't believe he's only 4!

It seems like I have been a mom for much longer than 4 years. But to think back to this night 4 years ago...wow. Our God is incredible.

It hadn't even been a year since we started the journey in adoption. We first thought we were supposed to adopt internationally, but God closed several doors and we knew domestic adoption was where God intended for us to be. So we chose our agency and started the process.
Mandy had "picked" us for Owen 5 weeks before he was born. She asked us to join her at her doctors visits and be with her in the delivery room. So this time 4 years ago we were packing our bags ready to head to the hospital for her to be induced on the 18th.

That morning we met her at the hospital and it was surreal. It was such an incredible experience watching a woman you love labor and deliver your child. Nervous doesn't begin to describe what I felt that day. I so wanted her to be okay and healthy and feel right about her decision to place him with us. But I also knew that with that decision came great loss and pain. I was nervous for that pain and grief to hit. As much as I was elated to become a mommy, I knew it came at the cost of another mom losing her son. This time 4 years ago I saw firsthand what an indescribable act of love placement is.

I remember like it was yesterday when Owen took his first breath. I so desperately wanted to run to his side but I also didn't want to leave Mandy. For the first time they were separated and I found myself having to choose who to go to. Mandy noticed my dilemma and she said, "go to him...he needs his mommy". I tell you what...she's incredible. I couldn't hold myself back and I bear hugged her. I was bawling and told her how I loved her and thank you. Then I did as she asked and ran to meet my sweet baby boy. {{tears}}

Mandy asked us to room in with her. It was such a precious time with her. It was a time she could have kept to herself with Owen, but she wanted to share it with us. She told me later she wanted to see us become his parents. She felt like it was a part of her healing and solidified her decision because she was able to see how much we loved him and how intense that bond was so immediately. She watched me mother him and it gave her great comfort in her choice. Not that I am that spectacular, but to see it in action gave her peace.

Our experience at the hospital was so incredible, I will never forget it. It was like time stood still for weeks. And then they made us go home. We all joked that as tired as we all were from being there, that we wished we could stay longer. Saying good-bye to her, even though we knew we would be talking on the phone and seeing each other, was still torture. Blake and I sobbed as Mandy left with 2 of our social workers. The thought of her going home without Owen was hard to swallow, yet we were so overjoyed to have him as our own. What a mix of emotions!

We stayed behind as Owen had not yet been discharged and we had time to gather ourselves and stop crying. We eventually got our act together so that we could see well enough to drive home. Although throughout the day and for weeks it would hit us what Mandy and Owen had lost and we would both break down and cry. How wonderful though to be able to grieve that loss with our son through the years because we felt loss too. We know it is not the same, but we now felt a gaping hole where Mandy had been for the last 5 weeks.
So tonight and tomorrow as we celebrate, we are also thinking of the precious woman that chose for her son to have a family. We know that birthdays can be hard as we are reminded of what was lost. Our Owen is so tender and I know that this day will be hard for him as he starts to understand more of his adoption story.

This really wasn't meant to be a sad post, just one reminding us all who birth mothers really are. They are my heroes. They are selfless, noble and strong women. They are the ones that are bold enough to do what most of us only hope we could. I had not shared Owen's birthday before and it was more than I could have ever dreamed of.
Thank you Mandy for making me a mommy. Thank you for making my sweet Blake a daddy {{big lump in my throat}}. Thank you for not only placing your son in our care, but for everything else that you included us in as he made his debut. We love you more than you'll ever know. Happy birthday sweet Owen. God answered our prayers the day you were born!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wonder of a Child

Today I was listening to my ipod cleaning the dishes while the kids were sleeping and heard this Mark Schultz song again. Here are some of the words:

"Oh child...Precious one,

Let your life shine like the Son.

Live with the wonder of a child.

Pray with your arms thrown open wide.

Love with the love that has no end.

Until I see you again!"

I love this song.

I love what it makes me think about.

I don't often live with the wonder of a child. I should. I have great examples around me all day long.

I rarely throw my arms open and plead with my Father. Don't get me wrong, I pray but its more of a conversation.

I pray that I love unconditionally and without end, but I know I don't get close.

As I read the words over and over again, I can't help but think of something that I've heard God reminding me over the last several weeks.

"It's not about me."

Ever since I shared about starting an adoption ministry I have talked to so many people about it and it's really been encouraging. But as soon as I start talking about the foster care part most people start getting uncomfortable.

I can't tell you how many people have said, "But I just couldn't do that. I couldn't fall in love with a child knowing that I could lose them." Then God says, "Well, this isn't about you!"

So when I hear that song say, love with a love that has no end that means to me, love when you know you might experience pain. Don't just love when it's easy to love.

When I hear the song say, live with the wonder of a child, I think about how our children would consider foster care. This is what Owen said to me last week,

"Mom, you know there are kids without families? They could come here and they would love our family. They'd be like, 'This is a great family' "

No lie. Out of the mouths of babes, huh? He knew about the children we spoke of a couple of months ago. I told him the things we were collecting were for some children that didn't have a mommy and daddy. Boy do kids remember things like that!

What if we lived with the wonder of a child? What if we loved without condition? Perhaps a child would feel the love of Christ that they might have never felt otherwise. I think that'd be worth the possibility of me losing a child, don't you?

Our group met again tonight to discuss more about what an adoption ministry would look like at our church. All I can say is that it was incredible and humbling to be a part of. There were 10 there from 4 churches and now we have 23 people that are wanting to be involved. And this is before we have even discussed this with our church! Can't wait to see what all God is doing here and it's super exciting! Please pray for me tomorrow as I discuss our dreams with one of our pastors.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer fun

I love this time of year! Even though it's hotter than hot, we had a beautiful rain today!

The boys woke up to thunder and lightening from their naps. I decided to strip them down to their undies and let them dance and play in the rain and puddles. It was wonderful! I even rolled up my jeans and played with them. Man I love playing in the rain. There is something so incredible about storms and rain for me. I love the sight of it, the smell of rain and the still once it's passed. Unfortunately, we were having so much fun that I didn't grab my camera so just use your imaginations!
Yesterday we made water balloons and the boys had their first ever water balloon fight! Blake was even home in time to get in on the action. We all loved it, except that for some reason they kept throwing them at Sadie and I?!?!

I took some pictures of Sadie for her 11 months and they ended up showing LOTS of her personality. She is such a hoot and is becoming very sassy!
She was having so much fun playing peek-a-boo with this pillow! Look at that face!

This is the look she gave me when I told her that the game control was not hers to play with. Seriously, she already knows how to work that smile!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Almost 4, 2 3/4 and 11 months old!

You might be able to guess why this is a fun time of year for us, but also hard because my babies are growing up!

I cannot believe that Sadie is almost one!
Then to think that Owen is going to be four just can't be true! Then at the same time hearing the thoughts in his head and the grown-up things he says is just a constant reminder for us of what a sweet little boy he is. Yesterday at lunch we told him that he was such a kind young man. He responded, "I am not young! What's young mean daddy?" We cracked up.

Sadie cakes is 11 months old today! She is loving walking everywhere and can stand up without pulling onto something. She tried to jump yesterday, I am not sure if it was on purpose, but I couldn't help from laugh seeing a baby jump! She totally bit it though. She is really tough and has great balance. I think that the babies in the family always have good balance and quick responses though...they kind of have to for survival!

She still loves to eat, but can hardly sit still long enough to get it all in. She is up to 18 lbs 10 oz! And this girl knows how to SCREAM! It's not always a sad-cry scream, but she can be LOUD and high pitched. It's like she knew girls were loud in a different way than boys! We are constantly chasing her and re-directing her. It's a fun stage watching them explore and learn what's theirs to play with and what's not!
And our newest girly thing with Sadie is that I gave her pigtails for the first time yesterday. She has lots of hair at the back of her head, but not so much in the front. But her hair is getting long and even starting to get knots! So I got some little bows and I thought they were so stinking cute! And the good thing is she left them alone!

These pictures are from the zoo. We went as a family on Saturday and had so much fun! Blake took us to the Sea Lion Show and it was such a fun treat.
Look at her long legs! Is it just me or do they look LOOONG?