Ah, YES! Tomorrow is the last day of voting for Top Military Mom! I’m holding onto the #1 spot by the skin of my little teeth, and I’m so thankful for the crazy amount of support! You can vote once a day, so click HERE, and get your vote on! (Plus, this is the next-to-last day of the 19 day blogging spree, PHEW!)
Okay, here we go. Do you know what happens when you try to blog for 19 straight days? One, you’re kind of praying your kids have hilarious antics to discuss, and two, it’s HARD to think of something interesting enough about your life that people would actually want to read it. I mean, really… do you care that there’s a huge stack of organized laundry on my couch? Yeah, I thought not. Since today was mellow, and my kids were actually pretty awesome (this makes up for two days of not-so-awesome), I figured we’d touch on something I don’t often talk about on here.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart.
Yes, those little feet belong to our boys, aren’t their toes cute? Okay, there may be a wee bit of motherly bias in there. But that empty pair of shoes? Those shoes belongs to our daughter. What daughter, you ask? The one we don’t have yet. The one who is out there somewhere, working her way to us just as we’re waiting here for her.
Yesterday, as my five kiddos (remember, my awesome step-daughter is here for a visit) sat for a hockey-skate fitting in Syracuse, and the guy helping us (who was super duper nice) was wowed that I had five kids in tow. Well, when people get all shocked that our family is pretty big, I like to shock them a little more… I’m evil like that. 😉 So I said, “Just wait until we adopt our baby girl, and then there will be six!” I always love when the jaw drops.
Why? We get asked this a lot. We already have beautiful kids, why would we want to adopt another one?
Well first, come on, people, it’s not like we’re driving the Jon & Kate plus 8 van… not yet at least. We’ll still fit in a normal minivan, just with all the seats put in. And our dining room table seats 8. How prophetic is that?
But really, why? Because we’re missing someone, and we know it. It’s not just about having a girl, though I do long for tiny dresses, but about knowing that I’m meant to have a little girl, and the boys are meant to have a baby sister. It’s a feeling in my heart that I couldn’t get to go away. But the day they told me our youngest, Brody, was a boy, was also the day they told me I was a stroke-risk and he needed to be our last baby.
So we’re adopting.
I have this theory, that if everyone in the world who had enough love, and enough resources, adopted an unloved baby, we’d have no unloved babies in the world. I suppose this is me putting my money where my mouth is.
We started the week before Jason came home from his 3rd deployment, 21 months ago. We decided to adopt from the foster system for a ton of reasons. First, international adoption felt like we were “buying” a baby, and domestic adoption wasn’t really open to us because every agency we called said we had too many biological children and we were gender-specific, so those were no-go’s. Did you know that to adopt a baby girl from India, you can’t have more than 3 kids? Yeah, I didn’t either. Sheesh. So I talked to a friend of mine from High School who had adopted from the foster system and something just … clicked with it. I knew it was our path. If there was a baby here in Upstate NY that needed a home, well, we have a home… and four over-protective big brothers.
We took 4 months of classes, went through background checks, finger-printing, two home-studies and a lot of worrying before it was all done. Inviting CPS into your home to take a peek is a wee bit nerve-wrecking. I kept thinking they were going to take away the kids that we already have! Well, not really, but it’s a little intimidating. We prepped her bedroom the best we could, knowing that she could come any moment after they certified us.
What we started with
That’s a little better (this is the funiture I grew up with). My girlfriends popped pink champagne and came over to help me paint. Milspouses ROCK.
After we had the furniture refinished! LOVE!
We didn’t hear anything after the homestudy for a while. I knew they were still waiting on our background checks to come in from all the states we’ve lived in, just one of the perks of the military lifestyle. It was taking forever.
So, March rolls around and I had a slight breakdown. I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long. I heard so many comments like “maybe it’s not meant to be,” and “maybe this isn’t really your path…”
So on that afternoon, I dropped to my knees in her bedroom and started to cry, sending up a heart-felt prayer. I asked God (hey, we believe, but it’s cool if you don’t…) if this was really our path. If this was His will, or if I was forcing my own. I asked for guidance to know if I was forcing something I wasn’t meant to have, or if I needed to let this dream, this ache in my chest go away. Then I got up off my knees, wiped my tears away and left her room.
About three minutes later, our doorbell rang.
It was our next-door neighbor’s son. They’d had an envelope mis-delivered to their house that morning.
It was our certification for foster-parenting and adoption.
Yes, I cried like a big baby again.
It’s been 22 months since we started, and sixteen months since we’ve been certified. We’ve only had one placement, and she stayed less than 18 hours. Long enough for me to fall in love, and sudden enough to break our hearts. I was prepared for my heartache, but seeing the boys’ faces when they realized she’d gone while they were at school? That was wretched. But, it happens. It’s what we signed up for.
So when I feel like she’s never going to get here, that this is a pipe dream, I buy hairbows. No, seriously. Our little girl must have over 60 over them by now. It’s my reminder that good things come in time, and in patience, and faith. It’s my promise to myself that our family will be complete, and we won’t be missing her one day. It also means she’ll match just about everything.
I don’t talk about adoption a lot because it feels like a perpetual waiting room. Like being 9 months pregnant, but for almost 2 years. There are moments I feel like I’d better dust her room because she’s going to show up soon, and moments I feel like she’s never coming. There are days I don’t think about it much, and days where she’s all I think about: where she is, if she’s okay, if she’s been born yet…It just depends on when you catch me.
We picked a name out for her: Audrey-Grace Lorraine. Audrey for my mom’s mom, Grace for the woman who stepped in to grandmother me when mine died, and Lorraine for my dad’s mom. All strong women, just like I know she will be. The boys even had a mock-vote and agreed. After all, she’s as much theirs as she is ours. Every day I hear something from one of them about “when our baby sister gets here…”
Through it all, Jason is a rock. When I get overly sad, he tells me to go buy a bow. When I feel impatient, he closes the door to her bedroom and distracts me. He knows just when to support, and when to pull me back. When our first placement showed up? He’s the one who ran to buy formula and bottles, and obsessed about which pacifier he’d get. When she left? He carried her out to the car in her tiny seat, even though I know it’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done. Even with him gone, I know she can pop in at any moment, and our family can grow by one more person.
But as with everything in the military, we’re on a deadline. If we don’t have her adopted by the time we’re set to PCS in 18 months, we’ll have to start all over again in the next state we go to, because certifications don’t transfer state-to-state. This is definitely a draw-back to being military.
So we wait.
We have faith.
I buy hairbows.
Because one day…. one day you’ll hop on this blog, and I won’t be the Only Girl Among Boys any more. Really, she will.
And we’re waiting, precious little girl. We’re all yours and ready when you are, waiting to hug, kiss, love, protect, and generally snuggle the heck out of you. Our house is loud, and obnoxious, and fun. We’re imperfect, and kind of messy, and crazy in love with one another in this family. Our hearts are big, and our arms are open, just waiting in breathless anticipation for you to come through our door.
Your brothers can’t wait to meet you.
Oh, and my guess would be you won’t be dating until you’re 30, 4 older brothers and all. Sorry about that. Well, not really. You have no idea how loved and cherished you are, and you’re not even here yet.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart. Good thing no one ever accused our family of being weak. Oh no, we are fierce, and desperately in love with someone we haven’t met yet.
But one day we will.
Here’s to that day.