Thursday, April 25, 2013

.Joy.

It doesn't always feel like joy. 
Sometimes it feels like 2:24am and you haven't gotten much sleep, but you're awakened to a crying baby who needs a(nother) bottle.  

Sometimes it feels like 6:13 in the evening and the baby is really fussy and you don't know why. 


Or sometimes it's 11:04am, and your baby is crying and you don't know why. 

Yet, there's joy
Joy because the crying baby or the fussy baby is the answer to so.many.prayers.  
Joy because the baby who smiles at you literally makes your heart leap in your chest. 
Joy because this child is a constant reminder of God's faithfulness and goodness.
Joy because, even though circumstances are not ideal, you have lots of 'extra' time with this child. 
Joy because after so many years and months of waiting and longing and praying and preparing,
he's here-in my arms.
Joy because God chose us to be the parents of this specific child. 
And to be able to have a bond with his birth family in a way that no one else ever will.   



On April 15th, I woke up with a sadness.  I was remembering a place I lived that I loved.  A place where I lived so intentionally.  Where everyday was filled with purpose and joy in knowing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  It was April 15, 2006 that my teammates and I had to leave that country.  We didn't want to leave.  We were sad to leave our friends, especially knowing that we might have endangered them and may never see them again.  
Ever since that day in 2006, I've lived with a sadness.  Not despair--because my hope is not in this world. Our friends were not dependent on us.  God's Name was not dependent on any people in that country, especially not the crazy American just-graduated-from-college-kids.  But I truly loved that place. And those people.  A large piece of my heart was left in that country.  So, remembering that place sometimes makes me sad.  Especially when I remember having to leave so suddenly. 
But, this year, on April 15th, as I lay in bed with our son, something happened.  Tyndall and I were 'talking', and he got so excited and made the funniest noise, I laughed.  And Tyndall laughed in response.  He didn't know he was doing it and in fact looked a little frightened at what had happened.  But, then he laughed again.  And we laughed together.  And then I cried tears of joy.  God literally turned my sadness into laughter.  The first laughter from my son happened on a morning when I was sad.  The son who we have waited for, longed for, hoped for, yearned for.  Our son was laughing with me.  What a sweet gift from my Heavenly Father.  
Ever since then, He keeps reminding me that He is the Source of joy.  He is the Giver of the gift of my son that brings me so much joy.    

The Boston tragedy happened later that day.  And then the Texas tragedy.  I was reminded that we live in a broken world.  But we're not alone in this world.  There is Joy in the sadness, in the chaos, in the brokeness. 

Source

Sometimes, Joy overflows out of our hearts.  Sometimes, we must choose it.  Always, it is available.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finalization Day in Court


We went to court, raised our right hands, and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

We swore that we have had "Baby Boy" in our care ever since we received placement.  We swore that we have bonded with him and he with us.  We swore that we have been married for almost 6 years and have a healthy marriage.  We swore that we will do everything we can to provide for our son.  We swore that we would like to have his name legally changed to "Tyndall James". 

Tyndall's representative, who happened to be a family acquaintance from the church where I grew up, testified that after reviewing our home study and post-placement reports, and visiting with us, he thought adoption into our family was in Tyndall's best interest.

Stephani, Steven, and Hailey were present as witnesses and were invited to speak.  Stephani said, through tears, that she was very happy for our family and knew that Matthew and I would make great parents. (At that point, I teared up.) 

The judge declared us a family. (Something we have known and felt to be true ever since our first phone call.)
And she invited us to take pictures.  


And then everything was official.  

I think this day means different things for different adoptive families.  For us, this was a very special day, but it was nowhere near as meaningful as you would think.  I have honestly, truly, fully felt that we were a family ever since we received the call  that we had been chosen for this baby boy.  I was never fearful that his birth mother would change her mind (she had already signed placement papers before we even knew about him).  I was never fearful that his birth father would come into the picture and choose to parent him (based on what we knew from the agency, this was never a huge concern).  I always knew that our family was the family God had chosen for this child, and that this child was the answer to so many prayers.  

I refer to 'placement day' as Adoption Day, because that's when things became official in my mind, in my heart.  It's not the same for everyone, and I recognize that.  But I'm so thankful this is how God orchestrated it for us.  On Placement Day, we became his primary caregivers.  We were given free license to bond with him and love him fully.  We were legally obligated to care for him and provide for him.  We became his parents that day.    

But officially, on paper, in legal documents, that wasn't true.  We were his guardians.  

On February 11, when I lost my job, I became a little fearful.  Our ability to provide for him had changed significantly, and I was afraid they would recognize that and choose to take him away.  Thankfully, that didn't happen.  Our agency and attorney understood the bigger picture--that we have bonded, that we would make sacrifices to provide for our son.  We continued moving forward to make the adoption official.  

Yesterday, the judge signed the adoption decree. Now, we are his parents.  We will even be issued a birth certificate that lists me as his mother and Matthew as his father.  That's pretty cool.  

What's even more amazing to me is that God has known for all eternity that this day would come.  Before I or Matt or Tyndall were created, God knew that we would be a family.          

Friday, April 5, 2013

We Finalize Tomorrow!

2 years, and 7 months ago, we began our adoption journey.

Several things have changed since then:
  • 3 different addresses, finally settled into our first house!
  • Hailey Drew, our first niece was born (now almost 2!)
  • one new brother-in-law
  • a new dog
  • one more niece and one more niece or nephew on the way!
  • lost Matt's grandfather
  • got a new car
  • Matt earned his Master's degree
  • 4 different jobs (some full-time, some part-time) 
3 months, and 1 day ago, we found out we had a son.

Several things have changed since then:
  • We named him.
  • We have met him, held him, fed him, changed his diapers, prayed over him, and LOVED HIM
  • We cheered him on as he grew from 3 pounds, 5 ounces (when we met him) to 3 pounds, 15.6 ounces (all still in Special Care Nursery)
  • We brought him home
  • We've given him baths, bottles, kisses, hugs, giggles, and a great room
  • We have taken him to doctor's appointments, family dinners, friends' houses, special events, baby showers, and to gather with our church
  • He went on his first trip to BeBe's house
  • We have become a family!



Tomorrow, everything will be finalized in court!  He will LEGALLY have his new name and be part of our family.   

We've been a family for a long time now, but we're so excited for things to be finalized tomorrow!   

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    God Makes Babies. People Don't.

    Remember that one time I played an April Fool's joke and 'announced' that we were pregnant just a couple months after adopting our son?  


    Actually, it technically doesn't say that we were pregnant.  But people assumed, which is what I wanted them to do...  Because I cannot tell you the amount of times we've heard, 'now that you've adopted, you'll get pregnant with one of your own'.  

    Well, I thought it was funny.  I figured most people don't truly believe big announcements that are posted on April 1st.  

    In fact, I had been planning it for weeks.  I even gave the immediate family members a heads-up so that they wouldn't have heart attacks.  Well, all except for my sister, Laura.  I forgot to give her a heads-up.  Sorry, Laura.


    Within minutes, there were lots of very excited people.  Only a handful commented things that hinted to April Fool's... several even said  "I'm sure you wouldn't joke about something like this."  I realized pretty quickly that people would have been thrilled had this news been true. 


    I texted or private messaged most people who commented, letting them know they had been 'had'.  Most responded lightheartedly.  But there were some who gave me a really hard time.  After only a couple hours, I posted the updated picture and came 'clean'. 


    Some laughed.  Some didn't.

    I didn't realize that my fun little prank was going to cause so much concern.  And then this picture appeared in my Facebook newsfeed.  Twice.
    Ouch.
    And I felt like a terrible person.  Why?  I can't fully explain, but I'm going to try...

    A few years ago, it was my heart that ached and pricked a little bit every time I saw a pregnancy announcement.  It reminded me of my loss.  And made me wonder, when will it be my turn?  There was a season that I was a little bit bitter and resentful when I would find out about 'surprise' pregnancies.  Actually, there was one only a few months ago that definitely made me run to the Lord and pour out my heart to Him.

    And I'm so thankful for those times.  It's helped me become who I am, and it's helping me be the Mom I am to Tyndall.  Motherhood didn't come easily for me.  There were lots of things that we could have done to try harder to conceive.  But we didn't feel led in that direction.  We felt called to adoption. And adoption wasn't God's second choice for us.  It was His first. 
    We have friends who are pursuing infertility treatments. Going through painful surgeries and treatments in hopes of conceiving and becoming parents.  I don't want to discount the pain and yearning and longing that these friends, and others, are feeling.  It's real.  Still, that was not the road God led us down. 

    But you know what?  Even if He had led us down that road, it would have been Him and only Him who created a child.  It's not timing or planning, or medicine, or vitamins, or procedures that create life.  God does that. 

    Whether a pregnancy is planned, a surprise, free, or costly, God's behind it.  I've really and fully learned that to be true.  I've walked with enough friends through the heartache of waiting for pregnancy to happen (and experienced it myself).  I've also walked with enough friends through surprise pregnancies. 

    There are no 'surprises' to God.  Tyndall was not a surprise to God.  He was created in God's perfect timing, grown and sustained inside his birth mother's body, then delivered at just the right time.  For us to be his parents. As the answer to so many prayers.  God made this child.     




    A couple of people who are dear to me told me this was a mean joke to play.  Because there have been so many people praying for us and supporting us (even financially) on our journey to parenthood.  They talked as if being pregnant would be the answer to those prayers.  And I guess what I want people to know is: Tyndall is the answer to our prayers.  A biological child wouldn't be any more of 'our own' child to us than he is.    
     
    If the pregnancy post had been true, I would honestly be freaking out.  I am jobless and have no health insurance.  And I have a 3 month old.  This would not be an ideal time for a pregnancy.  BUT, IF GOD chose to place life inside of me, then I would embrace it.  Knowing that God is the One who creates life.  Not us.    
             

    April Fool's!




    Alright, people... Please don't hate me...APRIL FOOLS!

    Well, in the 2.5 hours that I lasted, we 'fooled' LOTS of people.  And some of you clever ones figured it out right away. 

    I am always the most gullible person, so I was excited to have something believable to prank this year.  All in good fun.

    We are very THANKFUL for our ONE baby in 2013!  And for Tyndall's cousins on the way. (Yes, the ultrasound picture was Valerie's). 

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    SURPRISE!!!

    Lots of people said this would happen...  
    WE ARE STILL IN SHOCK!




    *Update: April Fool's!*

    Easter Weekend 2013

    We had a great Easter weekend...

    Friday night, Aunt Valerie came and stayed with us.  

    Saturday morning, we went to the Easter Egg Hunt at Friendship Baptist.  But I thought it started at 10, and it didn't start until 11.  So to kill time, I went to the outlets and picked out a special outfit for him to wear for Easter. (Isn't that what you're supposed to do with kids?) I also got to see a sweet friend!  Then, I made it to Friendship for the egg hunt.  Tyndall was given two eggs. :) 
     


     He certainly got plenty of attention.
     I enjoyed watching Hailey find and collect eggs... especially the one's in other people's baskets. ;) 

    After the egg hunt, Tyndall and I went and hung out with Morgan, who we hadn't seen in over a year and a half!  In the evening, when Matt got home from work, he announced that he had ALSO bought an Easter outfit for Tyndall.  :)  And we settled in to watch Sound of Music.  

    Sunday morning, we gathered with our River Church family for the first time since Tyndall came home.  We were advised to wait until April, but 3/31 was close enough, and it was Easter Sunday!  We wanted to celebrate the risen Savior as a family.  I'm so glad we did, and Ginger joined us too, so it was extra special! 

    Matt saw this kind of tie knot on Pinterest and watched a YouTube video to learn how to do it.  He was very proud of his special Easter tie.
     Matt had to go to work after church, but Ginger and I joined the family for Easter dinner at Steph and Mark's.  I was supposed to make mashed potatoes but didn't leave myself enough time.  Thank goodness for KFC. ;)
     Ginger, however, made this awesome 'bunny brownie'.  She's pretty talented at the baking thing.
    This basket was made by Matt's Mom when he was younger.  Steph had an Easter basket for Tyndall and used Matt's basket, which was very special.  After we went through the basket, we decided to put Tyndall in it.  And he even smiled for some pictures. :)  


     He met Cousin Noah. And Shared some smiles with GiGi.

    It's so fun to have kiddos around for family holidays. :)

    Three Months Old!

    Tyndall James is 3 months old!

    Three Month Stats: 
    Weight:  9 pounds, 8 ounces
    Length:  21 1/2 inches

    He still wears newborn-size diapers and clothes. At 3 months old. I'm actually finding myself thankful that we get some extra 'tiny time' with this precious boy.  Since he is healthy and generally happy, I'm considering it a gift from the Lord.  Everyone says this stage goes by soooo fast, so we are enjoying our mini munchkin while we can!  
     
    Almost smiling... what are dimples called when they're on the upper lip?

    Aside from his size, he is actually quite far along developmentally.  A couple of times, I have been out and about with him and he will lift his head or be sitting up and he will get some very quizzical looks.  He looks like a newborn but is very strong and learning to do new things all the time!  
    - He is strong!
    -He consistently holds his head up... when we are carrying him, he likes to be up on a shoulder so he can look all around.   
    -He has stopped sleeping in a swaddle.  But sleeps 6-8 hours consistently at night now. 
    -He definitely knows Mommy and Daddy from others. 
    Big Smile!
    -He's discovering his hands and how he can control them. 
    -He is not a fan of tummy time, and the back of his head is getting a little flat.  Mommy may or may not be getting a complex about it.  But he LOVES his swing and loves being on his back so he can look around.  Life must be pretty boring just looking at the ground.  (Any advice here is welcome.)
    -He loves to "talk", especially in the mornings when he first wakes up.
     Not-So-Regular Things He Does:
    -He can sit up, but can't balance himself.  I am just impressed that he is strong enough to sit. 
    -Same with standing.  He can fully stand up and support himself, but he has no balance. So we always hold his hands at least or under his arms.  (Isn't kinda crazy that our 3 month-old preemie baby can stand!?) There is a video on Matt's Facebook if you're curious to see what I'm talking about. I'm not a crazy-exaggerating new Mom.  At least I don't think I am.  Please tell me if I am. ;) 
    -He has rolled over once... about 150 degrees. 
    -He has laughed once at his Daddy.  (Very fitting.)

    Memories from his Third Month:
    • first Road Trip! 
    • baby shower with River Church friends
    •   first picnic and walk at the County Park
    • hanging out with Will Hyatt in the afternoons
    • couple of evenings at Papa & GiGi's while Mommy was out & daddy was working
    • meeting his first famous person... Marcus Lattimore
    • went 10 days without a bath (oops!)
    • new nickname: Monkey
     We are SO IN LOVE with our son and so thankful to the LORD that He chose us to be Tyndall's parents. 

    Here's his 3 month video... showing off his moves!