We are home with Amos, Daisy, Lee and Violet! Meanwhile we have jumped in again for one last very special girl. If you would like to help with that, you can make a non-tax-deductible donation HERE that we can access immediately. You can also make a tax-deductible donation HERE that we can use once we receive travel dates. Or by donating HERE you can help provide her and other children at her orphanage the care and nutrition they desperately need. See all of our current fundraisers HERE. We are thankful for any support you can offer!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Birthdays are special. Birthdays are hard.

17 years ago, on the other side of the world, a tiny little baby was born.

He was born at home, but there were complications. He and his mother went to the hospital. They were both there for some time. There were irregularities with his mother's documents and passport. She fled the hospital, leaving him behind. She hadn't signed papers relinquishing parental rights like a lot of parents do. At two days old many children are signed into state care. But she was at the hospital for a very long time, and she never did. When she left he was considered abandoned.

I want so badly to believe that she wanted to take him home and raise him. It's difficult to do there, and parents are encouraged to put their children in state care, but some people bring their babies home from the hospital. I want to believe that she only left to avoid being arrested for the passport issues. Maybe that is what happened. Or maybe they wouldn't let her sign the relinquishment papers because of the passport issues. I really don't know.

I have tried to find her and tell her that her son is amazing. He is loved. He is an incredible kid who is doing fantastic things. He is okay. He is safe. This is the very special person who that tiny little baby has grown up to be. But I haven't found her. The name I have for her is likely a false name. We were told he hadn't had any visitors. She might not even know if he is still alive.

So I have here in front of me this very special kid to show for it. This kid who is walking. Walking! Learning to walk for the first time as he turns 17.

This kid who lives for his baby brother. He is full of love and tenderness for his little best friend. The two of them sit and have their funny little talks and laugh at each other.

I have this very smart boy who sometimes hides what he knows and sometimes answers hard questions and flashes a grin because he knows he is clever.

He is a boy with so many favorite things. Fire trucks and trains and paw patrol. Pasta and oatmeal and chicken. Playing with dogs and trips in the bus and getting messy. And he is a boy with a family who indulges all those favorites, within reason.

He is a boy who waited a long time for that family, and stayed sweet and gentle in a place that was not made for sweet and gentle boys. Not the right place for any boys, for that matter. But he survived it, and his tender personality did too. He is strong to have stayed soft in such a hard place.

He is a boy with a mama and papa and so many brothers and sisters who love him. He is a boy with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who love him. So much love for this boy.

Theo, sweetheart, you shine. I wasn't your first mother, but I am your mother now. And I want you to know that you are perfect. You are so loved. I am so proud of you. And I will always love you. Happy birthday, birthday boy.


The end of July and beginning of August are very busy for our family. We have three birthdays within a few days. Those familiar with adoption might already know that this kind of excitement can trigger big feelings for our kids. The anticipation of happy things can be stressful. Birthdays are even more complicated.

Some of our children have been having those big feelings recently. Their responses aren't unusual. Behaviors that we haven't seen in a long time resurface. In turn, they are worried and scared that they will get in trouble for those behaviors. These are hard times with hard talks, but this is what we signed up for. 

Those talks will take you by surprise. Sometimes I can guess what direction they will lead, but sometimes I just need to listen and occasionally ask questions. 

We had one of those talks recently. The discussion veered far from the typical discussion I was expecting. This was not a shallow water, dipping our toes in the pain discussion. This was a middle of the water, grab your life jacket cause we need to dive into this right now, this is big and fundamental kind of conversation.

In an orphanage, every woman is mama. People who have adopted younger children have talked about a sea of tiny hands stretching up to them, calling them mama. It was the same for us even though our boys are older. Our sons' friends would call out "Mama, look!" while they played. Boys would grab our hands and pull us to follow them. "Mama, come here!" Everyone called me mama in the institution, even the great big adults who were my own age.

So we talked. We talked about a lot of events and a lot of feelings. But one thing kept coming back for Theo. He called all those women "mama," but they weren't his mama. He wanted them to be his mama. At night he was sad because he didn't have a mama, and sometimes he would pretend one of them would be his mama. But he knew they weren't really his mama. He called them mama, but he was sad because he knew they weren't his mama.

He said he is glad that I am his mama now. I am too. But I wish he hadn't needed to spend so much time calling every woman mama, being sad because he knew it wasn't true.


We are adopting 4 more children. They each come with their own story, just like the children already in our family. There are common themes and events woven through their stories, but each one is unique. Loss, sadness, pain, hope. It's all there, in its own different way. There is one thing they will all have in common. They will have our family's complete and unconditional love. We will love them through the easy times, and we will love them through the hard times. We will have these same tough talks, the ones that later bring me to my knees when I am alone. We will have so much happiness that I think my heart might burst. I often sit in awe that I have been given all of these precious lives to care for and guide and love. There is nothing I could have done to earn the privilege of having all of these children to love, and yet here they are in front of me. And there they are across the ocean.

To everyone who has supported us through this adoption by sharing and donating and praying, thank you. I cannot thank you enough. I've been sitting here near tears watching donations come in. You are all doing this impossible thing, and I am so grateful.

If you haven't seen it yet, go check out the giveaway! I'm listing the prizes. They are amazing! Read the full information HERE. All you need to do is make a donation to our family adoption fund HERE or HERE and post on the comments HERE. (You can also share and donate to Otto for more entries!) Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make this such a huge success! Just a few days left!

1. A cruise to the Bahamas for 2.
2. $300 Amazon gift card
3. New Ninja Mega Kitchen System
4. New Amazon Echo
5. Working train track
6. New Amazon Fire Kids Edition
7. Amazon gift card $25
8. Amazon gift card $25
9. Pick a family for a $50 donation
10. Pick a child for a $50 donation
11. Pick a child or family $30 donation
12. TGIF gift card $50
13. Target gift card $15
14. New Love Crosses Borders sign
15. New flower power lap quilt
16. Love, hope, peace lap quilt
17. Spring is in the air lap quilt
18. Scripture lap quilt
19. Purple song bird lap quilt
20. Cross lap quilt
21. Bait and tackle pillow
22. Math is for lovers pillow
23. Dessert heaven pillow
24. Raining cats and dogs pillow
25. Road workers pillow
26. Handmade afghan
27. New thirty one bag
28. American Eagle purse
29. Coach clutch purse
30. Express purse
31. Banana Republic purse
32. Handmade memory box
33. Traditional Indonesian table runner
34. Traditional Indonesian table runner
35. New toddler crocheted hat
36. Child's purse
37. New earrings
38. Yellow bracelet from Uganda
39. Pink bracelet from Uganda
40. Multicolored bracelet from Uganda
41. Delicate peach necklace from Uganda
42. Colorful double necklace from Uganda
43. Silver earrings from Uganda
44. Hanging beads necklace from Uganda
45. Pink double necklace from Uganda
46. Sweet set wool felt dahlia pins
47. White Ukraine shirt
48. Little Red Hen soap

Bonus Homeschooling Prizes
49. $75 Rainbow Resource gift card
50. Biblioplan bundle
51. Biblioplan: Remember the Days, Medieval Days; Book Two
52. Story of the World Audiobook Volume 3
53. Story of the World Audiobook Volume 4

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