Monday, December 9, 2013

Our Journey To Adoption {Why We Chose Adoption}

"So is this your first child?"
"No, he will be our fourth." 
"Oh. Wow." {Insert a look of shock here}

This is the conversation we had over and over again when going through our adoption of Caleb. {You can read more of his story here and here}. I can't blame people for the looks they gave us. We are so young, and so "full" already. Yes, we are crazy. We know it, we're not blind to the fact that four kids is A LOT of kids.
Yes, we can have more children. But we didn't want to have more children.
We wanted to adopt. We were called to adopt.

I have always wanted to adopt. During high school I can even remember thinking that one day I would love to have children through adoption. When I fell in love with James and we began talking about family, adoption was always in the discussion. We have always known one day we would.
Ideally we wanted to have Josiah then adopt. God had very different plans for our family. We got pregnant with Micah when Josiah was only 7 months old. Financially the funds were just not available until now.
I just love that God is supreme. His timing is perfect. Caleb is perfect for us. 5 years ago there would be no Caleb.

There was never a time when James and I felt God pulling on our hearts at the same time. We discussed getting the basement finished first, getting a mini van, waiting until the kids were older. It was not until last November God spoke to both of us at the same moment. "Now."
We were terrified to begin. We knew how people would view us.
Crazy. Financially irresponsible.

They are right. We are crazy, and financially "irresponsible" (by the was never our money to begin with)… God has called us to follow him at all costs. He promised us that if follow his will, he will bless us. He has promised to make the adoption happen. We chose to obey this calling on our lives.
He has come through in bigger ways than I can even express.
Yes, he provided every cent of cost of adoption for us.
The most amazing thing he has provided through this is Caleb.

His parents were broken, needy and hurt. They were not following Christ and yet, through God's redemption Caleb was born perfect.
We look at his sweet, perfect face and see God's grace. His love for us is overwhelming.

If we would have chosen to say "no" when God put this calling in our hearts we would not have reaped all of the blessings that Caleb will bring to our lives. We would have missed out on God's divine plan. I believe that God would have taken care of Caleb, but I also think he would have let another family reap the blessings that were intended for our family.

I know this incredibly wise, and godly woman who gave me this advice one time.
God was asking her to do something she didn't want to do. She asked God "What if I say 'no'." She said God answered with, "I will find somebody who will say yes."
I can't tell you how much this struck me. It stuck to my soul. If we say no, God will make it happen without us. Did I want to be the woman who says "no" to him. No, I sure don't. I want to experience God's plan, purpose, and grace.
I have never understood redemption more than I do at this moment.

If you ever get a chance to read Francis Chan's Crazy Love I highly suggest you read it.
God loves crazy. If we are following God's calling for our lives, people will look at us likes we're nuts. It's then we know we're not of this world. We are in it, but doing our part to change his kingdom forever.
So yes. We're crazy, irresponsible, impulsive, and busy. I've become scatter brained, excessively tired, and unshowered. My house is messy, my kids aren't bathed, and they are currently living off of chicken nuggets and raisins.
We wouldn't have it any other way.
Now we have Caleb. They have a new brother. Forever.
Adoption is worth all costs.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Newborn Photos

I will not need to say much for these photos.
I'll just mention that my heart is so full today.
I could not love Caleb any more than I do right now.
Praise Jesus for all he has done for our family.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our Journey to Adoption {Part 2}

You can read part one of our story here.

Meeting Caleb

November 27, 2013
The phone rang at 6:38am; it was her. Her water broke, she was on her way to the hospital. He was coming. I ran to the bathroom got dressed and we immediately began packing. I woke up the boys saying, "Our baby is coming!"; Micah jumped on Jo's bed and yelled, "Wake up! Caleb is being born!". The kids were amazing. They got dressed and ready within minutes. I was panicking and making beds, unloading the dishwasher and cleaning. I told you…I was panicked. We dropped off the kids with James' parents and headed down to the hospital.
On the way we prayed, and prayed. Anxious doesn't even begin to describe our emotions. It was all happening so quickly. It had not even been a year since our journey began and here we were, on the way to meet our son.
I want to be really raw, and open about everything in our time in the hospital, but there are things that I can't share…and I don't want to. Some things are just meant to be private. Adoption is a very sacred thing, and being such; things need to be kept close to the heart. 
Caleb was born at 10:06am via c-section. Around 11:05 a nurse knocked on the door to our room and asked if we wanted to meet him. I practically ran into the hallway and peeked over the little, clear, plastic crib. I looked into his eyes and it was no different then looking into the eyes of my biological children after they were born. I loved him as though I had just given birth to him. He was not made with our DNA but he was flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone. Our son. James felt it too. He was created to be in our family.

As we followed him to the NICU (it is protocol for any adoption done in that particle hospital) we ran into our birthfather. When we saw each other we immediately embraced and began to sob. We just stood there, in the hall, experiencing the moment. It was heartbreaking. I could physically feel his sorrow. Like I said earlier, I am not a "hugger" but I didn't want to let go; neither did he. Finally we let go; I said "He's gorgeous." He said "He looks just like me." Just like that we parted ways; walking in opposite directions; he away from the baby and us with our son.
I have had three c-sections myself and the time in the NICU was all new to me. I've never seen one of my babies weighed, measured, or bathed. It was amazing. He was perfect. Perfect. She did an amazing job during her pregnancy. 6 pounds, 19 inches; small, yet mighty. He was so calm. He was so gorgeous. We were on cloud nine.

Our BP (birthparents) called later to come and see them upstairs while she was in recovery. This was the time we felt appropriate to give them our gifts. We told them we prayed over Caleb before he was born and asked God for his life verse. (You can read more about that here). God gave us Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” We saw such strength and courage in our BP and we knew Caleb would be that way. We told them we loved them, respected them and were so encouraged by them. We gave our birthfather a pocket watched engraved with JOSHUA 1:9 STONG & COURAGEOUS and I made her a necklace with the definition of love (unselfish, loyal, benevolent concern for the good of another) and a stamped charm with Joshua 1:9. We wanted them to have a piece of him, and a reminder of their strength. We only stayed for a few moments and then allowed them their space to begin the healing process; both physically and emotionally.
The rest of the day was spent with Caleb. Listening to his little squeaks, moans, and breaths. He was perfect.

November 28, 2013
It was Thanksgiving. I had spent the night alone with Caleb as James had to tend to our other brood. James came to spend a quite morning with us at the hospital and we enjoyed the peace with our new baby. Throughout the course of the day I spent time with our BP. I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. I knew this may be our last chance to truly understand their hearts. Like I have said earlier, I want to make it clear of what we felt throughout our stay, but it's not possible. The fact of the matter is that the adoption was never about us. It was about Caleb. It was about this incredibly difficult, and astonishing choice these two young parents made. They made the choice not to parent their son. If you have not gone through an open adoption you can never fully recognize the heartache they experienced. Our stay was heart wrenching. We watch two people lose the thing they loved the most; their child. No words can define this. Like I said earlier, we were walking with Caleb and they were leaving him behind.
Thursday was the hardest day for all 4 of us; for James and I, and for our birthparents. I watched her writhe in pain from the c-section and from the loss she was experiencing. I cried with them as they said goodbye to him. I felt every ounce of grief with them. I knew exactly what they were doing. I felt the sting with them. It was truly devastating.
That night they both decided to come down and see him. James had to leave to take care of the other kids and it was just the three of us in the NICU room. They both chose not to hold him but stared at what God had created through them. They were able to watch me change his diaper, feed, and burp him. They told me that they could see the love I had for him and they repeated over and over again about how happy they were that they chose our family for him. They were even impressed with my "baby skills". Our birthmother than spoke about what it felt to hear him cry. She expressed that she never expected to feel such an overwhelming sense of love for him. All three of us wept together as she talked about how much she loved him. I then told her that I loved him just as much as she did. I felt it too. I couldn't help but feel that overwhelming sense of love a mother has for her child. In that moment we knew he had two mothers, and he always would. We parted ways that night and planned on saying goodbye in the morning when we were discharged with Caleb.

November 29, 2013
James and I prepared for another emotionally charged day. We knew today was the day that she would officially sign her rights to Caleb away. We prayed and waited in the morning. Our nerves were on edge, and we were so anxious to leave the hospital. Our case worker substitute (our's had gone on vacation for Thanksgiving, which definitely added stress to the entire process) come to us first for us to fill out a few things, and then headed to her room to get her signature. We waited for a call to say she was ready for us to come in and say goodbye. We never got that call. They were not feeling up to another goodbye. She was in a lot of pain, and just not up for it. I will be totally honest; I was sad. I wanted to say goodbye. I wanted to say thank you, again. I needed it. But it wasn't about what I needed. She needed space and time to heal. That is what she needed. So we loaded him into our car and headed home. It felt as though we were taking a limb away from them. It was  devastating. Yet, at the same time it was one of the happiest moments in our life. We were headed home from the hospital with our fourth child. It was such an odd bag of emotions. I wasn't expecting joy to be muddled with such great sorrow.
There is still so much more emotion to experience as we move on with our birthparents. It is an open adoption and it is our hope to keep a relationship with them. But ultimately it is their choice. They will need time, and space to heal.
We are eternally indebted to them and their sacrifice.

Today we are enjoying our time at home with our new baby. It is still an adjustment but we couldn't be happier. He is perfect, healthy, and hungry. He is amazing and his is the perfect addition to our family. I can't imagine if we would have said "no" to God when he put the call to adopt on our hearts. We would miss each and every blessing this boy will bring to our lives.
Praise Jesus. We have now seen and experienced redemption as Christ intended it to be.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our Journey to Adoption {Part 1}

{I began to journal our journey to Caleb as soon as I received word we had a placement. Please forgive me for jumbled thoughts, emotions and using a mixture of verb tenses and horrific grammar. I wanted to get it all down, but it took a while to do so. Thanks for bearing with me.}

October 30, 2013
Around 1pm today I got a phone call from our social worker.
We were matched.


My heart nearly pumped out of my chest.


I sat on the bench in the dining room staring out the window as she explained how it happened.

The birthparents were very specific about two things; they wanted a big family; they wanted a stay at home mom.

They saw our book and video and chose us.

Us. They chose us. Our family. Us.
I cannot  even begin to explain the way I feel.

Ecstatic. Elated. Euphoric. Joyful. Blissful. Overjoyed. Delighted. Thrilled. Exultant.

I had no idea that this would make me literally jump for joy. I was jumping in the kitchen with Ella chanting "BABY! BABY! BABY!".


A baby boy.

Praise God for adoption and for the amazingly brave decision these birth parents have made. We are eternally indebted to them.

October 31, 2013
We got word that our birthparents want to meet us (all 5 of us) in 2 days. We are still full of so much hope and excitement.

November 1, 2013
We received a phone call from our case worker (she's amazing, by the way) that our birthmother was not feeling well and might have to cancel our meeting planned for tomorrow. We are sad, but hopeful!

November 2, 2013
The birthmother canceled our meeting this morning. She says she's sick. Our case worker is reassuring us that everything will be just fine, but we can't help but feel anxious. We are worried she will be changing her mind; she is having second thoughts. It is such a low compared to the high we felt a few days ago.

November 4, 2013
It has been a long couple of days with no word from our social worker or our birthmother. We were told she would be going to the doctor (which would be wonderful, as we still do not have a due date). After a few failed attempts at contacting our birthmother, our case worker finally heard back from her. She was really sick, but is starting to feel better. She never did go to the doctor, but is planning on seeing one in 2 days. Our case worker says she will take her to the doctor, to ensure she goes. From the worry we felt the past few days, we are trying to guard our emotions. We still feel hopeful, but I can't believe the roller coaster this has been in less than a week. The highs and lows are crazy! We were warned…but wow! I am praying so often; for her, and for the birthfather, and for the baby.

November 5, 2013
We have just confirmed a meeting with our birthparents scheduled in 2 days. James will take off work and we will meet. We are super excited to get together with her!

November 7, 2013
Our nerves were high as we drove to meet our birthparents. We were praying for peace, but feeling the pressure. I won't lie, I have not been that nervous in a long time (I canned my outfit three times before we left the house). When we walked into the room they were sitting down. They stood up and I couldn't help but grab her for a hug. If you know me….you know that I'm not a hugger, but I couldn't even help myself. The meeting went so great. It is such an odd thing to do; to sit down and meet the mother carrying your child. Her belly was big, our son was in there. I don't know how to put into words, what that felt like.
She looked so healthy; tired, but healthy. She was beautiful. You could feel the pressure in the room begin to dissolve as we chatted and just got to know each other. I would love to say that our bond was instant, that we fell in love with them immediately; but that wasn't the case. We loved them for their choice and for their strength…but again, such an odd relationship.
They were so sweet, so young, and so wise in their decision to make an adoption plan.
The thing that stood out the most to us was when our birthfather said they chose adoption because he did not ever want to have to decide between feeding his baby or himself. Our hearts broke. We felt their  pain, sorrow, grief, and heartache.
We left the meeting feeling so full of hope. We loved them for what they were doing for our family. I love her for her strength and courage.
The kids came in and spent a few minutes with all four of us as well. A huge factor in their decision for us was our family size. They loved a big family with lots of kids, and a stay at home mom.
And I want to give so many thanks to my mother for keeping the kids occupied so that we could get to know the hearts of our parents as well.

November 26, 2013
After a couple of weeks of trying to schedule another time to get together with the BP (birthparents) we were finally able to sit down with them again. We met them for dinner in downtown Denver. This time was a bit nerve wracking as well. Our case worker would not be with us, unlike the first time. Dinner went amazing. All of our nerves were at ease and we were just able to connect on a more personal and comfortable level. We told them how proud of them we were. We told them how excited we were. Her and I developed a deeper connection. She is truly amazing. As dinner ended we were able to take a photo together (what a gift to frame for Caleb one day). We hugged goodbye and made plans to see each other in a few days. As James and I were driving home we spoke about how great meeting with them felt and commented on how large her belly was looking. She looked ready at any moment.

To Be Continued…

:::Read Part 2 here:::

Monday, November 18, 2013

Window Chalkboard DIY

You guys…..

I have been so crazy, busy lately. Seeing as how blogging is pretty low on the priority list, I haven't been able to get to it.
A lot of the "busy" has come from projects that I have been doing. It's pretty bad, I have been so busy that I'm wearing myself out. I'm exhausted. But….that's what I get. I just can't sit still. But here your go…here's one of my newest projects.

I won't lie…I LOVE it!

My dad and mom are revamping their lodge and with that came new windows. Yay for me! I just had to turn the old ones into a chalkboard/corkboard…right?!?

So there ya have it. It did take me all day (granted I had to take 5,000 breaks due to small children). But it was super easy. I just hot glued the wine corks to the glass and painted the other panes with chalkboard paint. I kept the original hardware, but painted the frame. It's perfect in this room. I really couldn't be happier with it! I also put sawtooth hooks on three sides so that I can hang it any direction I want.

Not a bad little afternoon project. Now…breaks over, time to get back to canning 24 jars of pumpkin butter.
I told you, I'm driving myself crazy!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Boy's Room Closet Makeover

The last time I posted on a room in our home it was excessively pink. This time…it's excessively blue. What can I say? I love color.

The boys closet has always been such a drab spot in the house. It was pretty empty. It just had a few odds and ends in there. Random Christmas trees, clothes too small or too big, and pull ups were about the only thing in there. Clutter…that's all it was.
And then one day we woke up and decided to completely change it; and then did it in a weekend. We are so impulsive and we get an idea in our head we've got to get it done….immediatly!

So here it is in all it's newfound glory.

Here is the before and after…because no blog post can be done without a before and after…right??

The goal was to clear up some space in the boys room, and what do you know….the dresser was a perfect fit in there!
I had already painted the dresser, thankfully so!
The plan for the closet was to hang some cubbies above the dresser. When doing some hunting I realized they are incredibly heavy. I was feeling a little weary to hang two rows of cubbies over the dresser and "SpideyFish". They also were more than twice the price of shelves. We found the shelves and brackets at Home Depot (we love that place). 
James is now a pro at hanging selves. He got all the practice he needed when we updated our garage
I was already planning on adding the bins to the cubbies, so that was in the budget already. 
I found these bins a couple of years ago at Wal-Mart and I've been buying them since. They are $4 each. I have never seen any as inexpensive as that. They aren't that big…but they are the perfect size to fit onto the shelves. 
The solution to hanging their clothes came in the form of $2 tension rods. Because they are boys (and not "snazzy" dressers for that matter) they only have a few things that need to be hung. I can get all of their clothes neatly hung on the inside corners of the closet. I love those darn rods. 
The total cost of the closet renovation was right around $88. 

I still plan on adding some Command hooks between the dresser and shelves to hang their ball caps.
I am so happy to turn an unused space into something really functional and totally practical, and kind of adorable. It freed up so much space in their room.
It is truly amazing what can happen when you remove closet doors and add a coat of paint. I'm so happy we did this. I am sure Ella's closet will be on the "to do" list soon. That will be super fun to do!

Ok…now back to my children who are being completely neglected right now.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treat

This was our first "theme-less" Trick or Treat experience. 
A bit bittersweet. But hello! It's so adorable!

We've got Raphael, Cindy Lou Who, and a Power Ranger.

Here's a Flash Back

2012 {The Avengers}

 2011 {Peter Pan}

2010 {Buzz and Woody}

 2009 {Batman and Robin}

Back to last night….

It was freezing, but they were bundled. Always super fun to watch my children beg strangers for candy. What a weird holiday…right??
The candy situation was out of control this year.
Now, to figure out what to do with 48lbs of candy….

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I {Heart} Fall

It's totally normal for somebody to take their kids to a pumpkin patch at least twice a year, right?
Well…that's how we roll. We are going to love the crap out of fall. 

The best part is there is still Trick or Treating!
How about a little preview…