A very long year

One year……365 very long days have passed since we hopped off that plane and became a family of 6. We are alive. And while some of us managed to keep many of our faculties/wits about us, let it be known that none of us made it through unscathed. We are all changed people here.
This is hard for me to write about for many reasons. It has been the longest damn year of my life. I remain raw, bruised, skittish. There are many days we still spend treading water; praying for bedtime. I am so tired. Parenting orphaned, wounded children is exhausting and rewarding and scary and hard. Just plain hard. It feels like raising extremely independent, crafty, street smart toddlers. They don’t need you for anything tangible and yet they know nothing. And they are fast. Very fast. Somewhere in between all of the comforting and providing structure and forgiving and restraining and declaring love and crying, their hollow eyes become mirrors of your own wounds. Except you didn’t know you had wounds like theirs, because you are an adult. An adult that has parents. A grown woman who has been loved and cared for always. An adult who has been moderately counseled and even medicated at times. You consider yourself, by all reasonable standards, “stable”. Certainly stable enough to give love even when you aren’t loved in return. Stable enough to not be angry at a 50 lb child just because he refuses at all cost to let you love him. Stable enough to watch your husband lose 2 jobs in 1 yr without thinking maybe you misunderstood what was asked of you in the first place; or that maybe God has just been screwing with you. Stable enough to survive a pregnancy scare. Even stable enough to hold your older boys as they cry and admit they feel terrible for just wanting it “to be easy like it used to be”. One might think she is stable, indeed. One might be wrong. Jesus. It’s been a long damn year.
I am so grateful for all of the HYSTERICAL moments scattered throughout this crazy year, which have saved our very lives/minds. The bird catching, the way they talk, the hair……. Lord help that hair! I have uttered/screamed/said the following mantras more than I thought was humanly possible. “Use your words.” “Look at me, son.” “You will not purposefully aggravate your brother.” “Sit down while you are eating at the table.” “Honor your brother.” “Stop interrupting while your brother is still talking.” “This is not acceptable behavior and you know it.” “Put the lid up before you pee.” “Did you wash your hands?” “Get that pee in that water for the love of all that is good!” “Slow obedience is no obedience.” “If you do it again, you lose your bedtime/screen time/playtime.” “You kids are driving me crazy.” “I am not going down like this.” “I am gonna lose it if you don’t stop!” “Stop rolling around in the floor!” “Stop talking.” “Please just stop.” Even more maddening, is when these redundant phrases are met with the standard “What dat mean?” I have called for the rapture on many occasions and clenched my jaw so hard I feared my teeth would break. It has been a year of laughter and joy and firsts. Walls have dropped and a settled feeling has begun. A year of bonding and healing and learning to trust and happy, happy times together. Of singing in the van and questions, questions and more questions. A year of family that has loved and accepted and cherished the uncherishable. A devastating year of fear and coups that left me haunted and wounded. A year of amazing people who love me enough to listen to me cry and tell the scary parts and still take my kids so I could breathe and drink and regroup. A lonely year without much peace. A year of rage and disappointment and doubt and frustration and more tears than I have ever cried altogether in my 40 yrs. A year of questioning God and being really, really angry at Him for a bit. A year of redemption. I have concluded what my girl Karla Bates has long suspected. As far as I can tell, Jesus IS on His throne and is indeed working things out in His sovereign, albeit maddening times/ways. He does love me. He did not leave me. Not even once. Not even when I thought I would die. He is love and love does win, after all.
Another reason this is difficult to write about is that I have friends whose children should be home ,too, but are still there. I got to go first. I have no clue why. One of my very best friends, Jill, should have brought her baby girl Natasha home last year when we did. We went through our adoptions together……. It MAY have been my idea to begin with. It is not fair. I am pained every time I celebrate our victories and when I complain and lament about the hard parts because Natasha is not home. Please pray for her immediate release as well as Frannie, Kadi and Lyli. Their families are desperate for them and they need God to show up and deliver on His promises.
With that, good people, we press on. Full speed ahead into year two! I am excited for all of the fun and a little scared of the pending madness. Here is a tiny look at the differences a year in a family can make. Even, apparently, when the mom is a bit of a basket case.








Fritzner turns 8

Today, my youngest son turned 8. That makes one 11 yr old and three 8 yr olds. Some of you astute readers have kindly noticed that I look “so exhausted” and some of you not-so-gentle people have even busted out with, “Oh my gosh, you look awful. Are you tired?” Yes, well-meaning(I’m sure) observers, there is a damn good reason I look so bad, so exhausted. And it’s not because I am not sleeping, because I can assure you, I sleep like the dead. I am physically, spiritually and emotionally spent; mostly from the birthday boy himself. At any given moment, I am on the verge of tears. I have become a raving lunatic. I clench my fist and shake it at the ceiling all day, every day while begging God to help me or just come get me, either way. I really am trying to be patient. I try hard not to yell, or grit my teeth. I cannot figure out if this is just hard, or if God is sanctifying me, or if I need to be medicated. My guess is a combo. Anyway, thanks for noticing my exhaustion and I am so sorry if you are disappointed.

God help me, I love that boy. I do. He is a big ole’ ball of energy. He is loud. He is happy. He is so funny. He tends to lie. He is up at the crack of dawn. If you need a helper, he’s your guy. He is staunchly independent. He repeats himself constantly. He stutters. He gets uncomfortable if no one is talking, so he asks random questions that are not applicable, or that have already been answered ten times, or he just fake sneezes if he can’t come up with anything to say. He is my biggest cheerleader at dinner. Before he even tastes his food, he asks if he can have more. With his mouth so full and still shoveling, he proclaims, “Mom! Dis is right on!” He is an attention seeker. Any attention will do. He is loving and kind. He is argumentative.  He is impulsive and fearless. He loves to sing. At the top of his lungs. In a very high pitch. Using sounds, not words. He LOVES dogs and dogs love him. Except poor Oliver, of course, who has lost all patience and hides/growls at the mere sight of him. He is rarely in control of himself. He cannot sit still. He bounces, skips and hops wherever he goes. He asks questions all. of. the. time. The daily questions are “Can I have ice bop?”, not to be confused with “Can I play x-bop?” And, of course, “Can I have chips?” Perhaps my favorite thing he says is “And me too!” It does not matter what was said. Nine times out of ten, it is completely irrelevant to him. This does not matter. Example: Bennett says “I broke my leg last year.” Fritzner retorts “And me too.” He is quick to put his pointer finger to his head and say “let me see”, whenever he is caught in a lie, half-truth, or willful disobedience. He has perfected exclaiming “Whaaaaaa?” complete with arched eyebrows and innocent face every time he is called down for any infraction. This is almost always followed with, “I don know dat.” Some other favorites go a little something like this:

F- “Mom!”

me- “What?’

F- “Dance.”

me- “No.”

F- “Mom!”

me- “What?”

F- “You, you, you, you member you say I can play your phone?”

me- “No, I said you cannot play my phone.”

F- “Oh. I not know dat. Mom! Can I play your phone? Oh, yes? Ok thank you, Mom, I play your phone.”

me- “Fritzner, stop.”

F- “Mom!”

me- “Yep.”

F- “Can I take bike ride?”

me- ” As long as a big goes with you.”

F- “They don want.”

me- “Then you can’t go. You can’t go alone.”

F- “Oh. You say dat?”

me- “Yes, I say dat. Everyday I say dat.”

F- “I don know dat.”

me- “Fritzner, please sit down while you are eating. For the 14,000th time, SIT DOWN.”

F- “Oh! I don know!!”

F- “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!”

me- “Fritzner! I am talking. Please do not interrupt! Wait patiently for Mommy.”

F- “Excuse……. Mom!”

me- “Wait!!!!!”

F- “Okaaaaaayyyyy! I don know!”

F- “Mom!”

me- “What, Fritzner?”

(long pause as he searches for something, anything to say)

F- “Can, can, can I have some cereal?”

me- “Fritzner, we are in the van. I don’t have any cereal.”

F- “Oooooohhhh. I’m forgot.”

These crazed conversations happen ALL DAY LONG. Add in a few hundred reminders to let go of/put down the dog, get your body under control, stop purposely aggravating which ever brother and lower your voice, and you have a picture of a day in the life with Fritzner.  And just when I think I cannot take one more minute, and I am calculating how many hours until bed, he will stop his circus act and say something that stops me in my tracks. Yesterday, it went something like this…. We were riding along  in a local town on the water here. It was gorgeous. It was loud.  Another adult in the car suggested we name something God made that we like the best. I was busy calculating bed time. We all name something from the scenery…… I like the water, the clouds, the birds, the marsh. Fritzner was impatiently and loudly stuttering that is was his turn. When he finally stopped yelling, and had everyone’s attention, he said “I like Mom.”  This boy is a hot, hot mess. I love him. I am so grateful he is home for his birthday this year….. that he is home period. I am thankful to his Haitian mom for giving him up so that he could live, though I will never understand why she didn’t return for him once he was well. Please pray that God will grace me to parent this boy well in his eighth year and his brothers, too.


Hello good people. Yesterday marked 4 weeks my littles have been home from Haiti. Time has flown. To commemorate their 1 month homecoming anniversary, they found the attic. Help us, Lord. It’s like coming home all over again. They are constantly sneaking up there and dragging something down or better yet hiding from me in all the mess that is our attic. On a happy note, they have seemingly stopped stealing/hiding our car keys, so that’s good. Had they found the attic right away, our keys might be up there in the madness and we would be stuck here.

We have been able to celebrate many milestones in their short month at home. We went out to a restaurant, to the grocery store, and even to 2 schools for tutoring. They are both learning to read (kind of), they have overcome lots of food texture issues and they seem to be making headway with peeing IN the toilet. My bath rooms have been scrubbed more in the past 4 weeks than in the past 4 years. Daily I raise my fist to the ceiling and proclaim “Curse you, pesky foreskin! You serve NO PURPOSE,”(or something like that ;), as I use container after container of generic Clorox wipes on walls/flooring/cabinetry/trash cans within a 5 foot radius of the toilets.

They have met lots of people and done well for the most part. The one I thought would be so social is cautious, moody and shy, but also quick to say that he loves me. The one I was most socially concerned for is buck wild, argumentative and borderline inappropriate.  He still asks me EVERYDAY if he can have chips for breakfast. He will pretend he has a secret to tell you and then “eat” (read:lick) your ear. I don’t know what to say. He will climb up you or jump on you when you least expect it and hang backwards until he falls or you drop him and then he pretends to be dead. He patiently waits until you think something might actually be wrong, then jumps up laughing like a maniac and runs away. Don’t fall for “Up me, please.”

I love hearing them talk. I get a kick out of hearing them try to figure out how to say what they want to say. Some of my favs:
“I have poop!”= I need to poop.
“Mom! Fritzner do me like dat! (insert a demonstration of whatever injustice was inflicted)= Fritzner hit/pinched/tripped me.
“Mom! There is me.”= Here I am.
“For whaaaat?” (in whiney voice)= Why?
“I don love it.”= I don’t like that food.
“I need eggs in the ho-wo.”= I want an egg in the hole. (breakfast delight)
“I need the monkey.”= Can I play monkeyball? not to be confused with:
“I wan look at George.”= Can I watch Curious George?
“Mom! You say hurry, les go, les go, but you no go.”= perceptive kid

They have become bird lovers. They love all birds. especially the plain ones. They squeal with delight at any/all black birds in flight. Geese and ducks have caused me to almost wreck my car in response to their sightings from the back seat. “Mom! Dare is a bird! He have babies!” Yesterday on a bike ride, they were attempting to open mailboxes along the way to check for birds. I’m not sure why they think birds would be in a mail box.

Our big dog, Zeb Zebley, as they lovingly call him, can hold his own with these boys and finds them quite entertaining. Oliver, on the other hand, has resorted to hiding and growling at them if they even think about approaching him by the end of the day. He begs everyone who comes here to take him home with them. To his credit, he does allow them to carry him like a baby for most of the day, ride him on bikes and skateboards and to be dragged by scooters and anything else they tie his leash to. Bless him.

Anywho…we are all getting used to each other and the coups have been much less intense and much shorter on the whole, praise God! They recently got to Skype with another former orphan they used to live with and they told her they were so happy here. They kept talking about how clean they were and how good their beds smell. They told her that we feed them all the time. Last week they finally seemed to understand that this is forever and not just a reverse visit. Earlier this week, we were taking turns practicing “kind words” at the dinner table. Fritzner went around the table diligently naming what everybody was good at or something he likes about them. When he got to me, he said “And you, Mom, you love me.” And so, we press on! Love is winning every day here.

In other groundbreaking news, I am 40 yrs old today! That seems so crazy to even type. As I was pondering my 30’s and all that I have lived and learned, God gently reminded me of His faithfulness, as He always does. My 30’s were defining for me. Here is a brief synopsis. I narrowly escaped death giving birth to my second son when I was 31. I became a runner. I ran 2 half marathons in my 30’s. I quit running. <—– mistake. I had a small breakdown associated with grief and a little PTSD. I lost 40 lbs. along with my mind for a bit. I got into the best shape of my life. I underwent months of fertility treatments, shots, and a couple of failed IUI’s. I went to months and months of marriage counseling with my husband. I learned how to fast in my 30’s. I learned how to be real and raw with God and with myself. I learned boundaries. I got to feel loved by a second dad in my 30’s. I fell in love with Will again. I met 3 women who have come to be some of my very best friends. I went to Haiti. I crashed down a mountain in Haiti on my 2nd trip and went back 14 more times. I grew my hair out. I got a tattoo. I attempted to move to the third world. I learned a lot about humility. I stopped being afraid. I survived a 2 1/2 year process to bring my second set of sons home. I lost my illusion of control. I lost hope. I found it again. I began to live/give/love more purposefully. My 30’s were awesome. I am excited for my 40’s and all that I will learn. I am grateful for a loving God who has never left or forsaken me, who loves me more than I can imagine. He has made all the difference.

In the immortal words of Fritzner, “See you to-later!” (a combo of tomorrow and later) = Next time, friends. Thanks for reading.

1 week in

Hello people, it’s me. Half of you are probably thinking “Enough already. They are home. They are cute. You are grateful. We got it.” The other half are wondering what has been happening and/or weather or not I have lost it. You folks in the second half are my targeted audience. Congrats. I am clearly an expert on adoptive parenting after my 9 day tenure. Therefore, be sure to heed my words with said experience in mind.

Ahem….alot of you have seen my many Instagram pics. I am sorry and you are welcome all at the same time. I can honestly say that the first 5 days were GOLD. I am so thankful for those “honeymoon” days and equally thankful that I am no fool. Every single day of bliss, I said to my inner circle that I knew that the sh*t was going to hit the fan sooner or later and boy has it!! Will and I lovingly call the crazy episodes of madness these boys delve into with no warning, mind you, “coups”.  Anywho….day 6 started out just like day 5. And then at 8am, after a denial of potato chips for breakfast, one of them began his coup. The typical coup starts with silence and staring. This one evolved into silent tears and then sobbing that sounded like a wounded animal. One hour and 40 minutes later, both of us drenched in tears as I held him tight, he fell asleep. Meanwhile, the other one was highly distressed because he wanted to go to school with the big boys. After being manually removed from the driveway, he flipped out, threw his boots across the room and laid on the floor refusing to speak. Later that day, after recovering from aforementioned coups, we had a great day until the one with the potato chip fetish threw coup #2 because I told him not to ride his bike in the road. This coup was all anger and out of control. Biting, kicking, screaming….. good grief. Days 5-9 have been a mix of joy and firsts and great moments with some angry coups thrown in at will.

Tonight, after a loving, happy and fun-filled day, (with lots of Instagram photos for proof) he lost it. I don’t even know what happened. I just got downstairs from restraining him while he kicked, hit and attempted to bite me while screaming bloody murder for 30 min. While he fought, I prayed and told him how much I loved him. It ended as suddenly as it started. He calmly walked to the shower and then brushed his teeth. I told him he was a good boy and loved and chosen and special. He fell fast asleep.

Equally as memorable were the moments this first week when one caught a napkin on fire (as in “oh lawd Jesus it’s a fire!”) and the other one stole my keys and started my car while I sat completely unsuspecting inside. I wonder if God is amused. They eat like grown men. My house is filthy. I need more socks. I am back to using phrases like “honor your brother” and “you have two choices…” Oliver is looking for an adoptive family himself, as they will not put him down. While practicing “kind words” at lunch one day, one said “I’m so glad I am live here with you. You are so, so great.”  The laundry has quadrupled with the simple addition of two mini Haitians. I run the dishwasher every day. I am exhausted. I hate not being able to reason/argue my way out. This adoption business is not for the faint of heart.

That being said, I would not change a thing. I am terribly in love with them. My inner circle is amazing. My husband is amazing. God is on His thrown and week two starts in a few hours. I am going to bed. Thank you to all who made it through this blog and for all who have called, texted, sent $ and prayed. We will make it and things will get better!! Stay tuned🙂.


Hello friends!! Two blogs in one week can only mean one thing…….It’s go time! We leave tomorrow morning to go get our boys! I can hardly believe I am actually typing those words.

I am a quirky kind of girl where dates, names and numbers are concerned. God knows that and likes me anyway. He even relates to me in such ways……kind of like a wink to me…….like you do to your kids when they realize you set something up especially for them and they get all excited. So, true to form in His great love for me, guess what date we are coming home? Marc-ELI’s birthday!!! True, people. I cannot make this up. The boy who started it all……his name given to me by my sweet Jesus in the beginning of this crazy process over 3 years ago turns 8 on Thursday. We fly out of Haiti that afternoon and into their new lives, new lineage. Who is like our God?! I wish I had time to write for you all of the crazy name/date/number stories He has so beautifully orchestrated in my life, but alas, I must pack!

This week has been full of shock and excitement and disbelief for us. But for other families, it has been more frustration, more waiting, more red tape. Before you rejoice with us, please pray for them…..that they would trust God and rely on His timing and His grace. That He is enough. Pray with us that God will guard their hearts and minds as they wait and hope for their come home day.


It’s time

Good people, it’s time. OUR BOYS ARE COMING HOME!!! Almost 2 1/2 years to the day we met them, they are coming home.

We are feeling shock and panic and denial and elation all at the same time. This whole scene is very much reminiscent of the time I first gave birth. I remember being in my 30th-ish hr of labor and calling my mom into the bathroom at the hospital to tell her I didn’t think this was such a good idea after all and that I wanted to go home. Lord help.

The biggest saving grace to this whole big, scary life change is that I know it wasn’t my idea! This was solely initiated and sovereignly executed by God alone. And so, I have no choice but to believe that He will equip us for what He has called us to do. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am no kind of mother-of-the-year. Wife of the year? Probable runner-up. Friend of the year? Yep. Sister of the year? Every year. But mother? I love my kids….. but I am not that fun, “let’s do stuff together all the time” girl. I’m the “go find your brother” and “let’s go away without the kids” girl. All of the research points to “cocooning” as a family for a while to give them stability and healthy boundaries. READ: staying only at home for a long time together. Also, not leaving them for even longer. I hate isolation. Pray, saints.

During the painfully long process of adoption, all we ever though about, talked about, dreamt about was “when they come home”. We have lured you into loving them and begged you to pray them home. We have prepared our home, showed them pictures of our home and wondered if they were ever actually coming home. And now, seemingly suddenly with one week’s notice, they are almost here! But the reality is, this is not what they know as home. They live with 120 other kids. No one has ever parented them in any way that’s even remotely similar to the way we parent. They have no possessions. They do not understand safety, stability, nor structure. They do not even know what paved roads look like. They don’t know pets. They don’t know conversation. They don’t know obedience and they don’t know grace. They don’t know new people, new clothes, new toys, new anything. No snuggling. No pajama days. No being comforted when they are sick or hurt. No forgiveness and no forever. While they are leaving the very poorest country in the western hemisphere, it is all they have known. They are leaving their family…..all of their friends….all of their reality. So while we are so excited for them to come home to their new life, their new family, their new lineage; they are about to have their world rocked. They are coming with abandonment issues, attachment problems and overall emotional trauma that comes with being an orphan

The more I prepare for their homecoming, the more I want to make sure you know how much we love you…our people. You who have waited and prayed with us. You who have stood by me as I have learned how to give up control. You who listened to me bawl every time I left them and you who have ridden the waves of doubt, fear, joy, unbelief, hope and anger with me. You who I have met along the way and have been forever changed by. You who came with me to Haiti….with me to know them and so that I would be better.  You who have given generously so that we could go visit them 11 times in two years…… you people. Please know that we could never have done this without you.

We are fortunate to be in relationship with some great people who have gone ahead of us in this adoption journey as well as some experts in the field. We also feel beyond blessed to have known these boys for two years, albeit one week at a time. So with some great advise paired with what we have learned about them thus far, we are attempting to prepare ourselves and our home for the daunting task of helping these two precious boys to feel safe and secure and loved, while also making sure our first two boys don’t become invisible.

We are going to have to check out for a bit once they get here, but we will be back! I am attaching what has been a life-changing sermon for us (by a fellow adoptive dad whose kids are also from Haiti), as well as a link to one blog and a portion of another (both by a fellow adoptive mom whose kids came home from Africa 1 1/2 yrs ago). I hope these will be helpful to those of you who are in our community and who do day-to-day life with us.

We know you are excited and looking forward to meeting them and loving them. We cannot wait to show them what an amazing extended family and community they have! Thank you for understanding and for waiting patiently while we become a new family. We covet your prayers and we are forever grateful for all your support.



Supporting Families After the Airport      (an excerpt from “How to Be the Village” also by Jen Hatmaker)

You went to the airport. The baby came down the escalator to cheers and balloons. The long adoption journey is over and your friends are home with their new baby / toddler / twins / siblings / teenager. Everyone is happy. Maybe Fox News even came out and filmed the big moment and “your friend” babbled like an idiot and didn’t say one constructive word about adoption and also she looked really sweaty during her interview. (Really? That happened to me too. Weird.)

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for a while. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but because this phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends – this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Texas.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 8-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Texas, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends. Put together a meal calendar and recruit every person who even remotely cares about them. We didn’t cook dinners for one solid month, and folks, that may have single-handedly saved my sanity. There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jet lag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jet lag.

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Wal-Mart.

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.

Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.

Because that day you brought us pulled pork tacos was the exact day I needed to skip dinner prep and hold my son on the couch for an hour, talking about Africa and beginning to bind up his emotional wounds. When you kidnapped me for two hours and took me to breakfast, I was at the very, very, absolute end that morning, but I came home renewed, able to greet my children after school with fresh love and patience. When you loved on my big kids and offered them sanctuary for a night, you kept the family rhythm in sync at the end of a hard week.

Thank you for being the village. You are so important.

A 10 yr old and three 7 yr olds?

I am highly amused today at the thought of being a mother of 4 boys…….a 10 year old and 7 yr old non-biologically related triplets…..tricky. I am amused because I was once deemed infertile and for a long time I was so desperate for a child. Old habits die hard as even now at this stage of the game I still get a little excited every time I think I could still (theoretically) get pregnant. Several of you just gasped and my sister just swallowed her own tongue, no doubt. I can’t help it. I love having children. I loved being pregnant. I love the ones I birthed and the ones I didn’t. All of this is completely absurd when I remember that I didn’t always want kids……in fact we prevented it staunchly for a long time! Oh how times change….how our hearts change along with our minds and our desires…..but I digress.

Today is my 4th son Fritzner’s birthday. He is 7. When we met he was 5. He was so small and sweet and quiet. He was the friend of Mar-Eli (who we knew was ours) and we chose him. It was a grueling choice between him and another friend at the orphanage. It was perhaps the hardest choice we have ever made. Since then we have come to know and love Fritzner, but it has been so hard……..He is a text-book orphan who was “turned in” when he was 19 months old weighing 15 lbs. He was sick and malnourished and covered in scabies. His biological Mom had a healthy 4 yr old daughter she could care for, but she couldn’t get Fritzner well, so she gave him to the orphanage so he could live. Today he is still small for his age….they all are. He is sullen and deep and has serious abandonment issues. He is tough, a survivor. He is leery and cold and does his very best to appear nonchalant, unaffected. But oh how he smiles when he forgets to be on guard……how he laughs so hard when he jumps out from a hiding place to scare me and I scream; how he stares, crying those silent tears every time we leave……. God help me this child has almost taken me out. He has made me second guess and outright doubt my choice. He has caused me to question the very idea of adoption….question my own salvation. He has frustrated me and hurt my feelings and defied me and turned me into a raving lunatic. I have cried and lamented and cursed and shook my fist at the injustice of it all……I have been jealous and mad and impatient. U-G-L-Y with no alibi. Stripped of my “Mother of the Year” award yet again. Dr. Karyn Purvis (renowned adoption psychiatrist) had undoubtedly sensed a disturbance in the force. I keep waiting for her to show up and give me private lessons out of pity for my inept-ness. And yet the Lord is good. He has shown me so much. He has shown me myself and more importantly, he has shown me Himself. He has comforted me and reminded me that I, too, was an orphan before He adopted me as His own. I, too, have suffered with abandonment and distrust. I have purposely tried to appear unaffected and perfectly fine when I was dying on the inside. I have not returned His love. I have shown more attention to other people and other things while He waited patiently for me to love Him back. I have been ungrateful and fearful and selfish and prideful and yet He is good. His love is perfect and He adores me in spite of myself. He has given me great hope and deep love for Fritzner. He has convinced me that a well-timed SSRI is nothing but smart🙂. He has surrounded me with amazing people who have walked with me and supported me and encouraged me in this adoption as I have stumbled and soared. He is preparing me for what is to come with all my boys and His plans are undoubtedly just right. His redeeming love is enough to save us all from our orphan status, from our emotional scars and from ourselves. Happy Birthday, precious Fritzner. This will be your last birthday in an orphanage….ever.