So, how does it feel?

Some have asked, “So, how does it feel?” How does what feel? Oh, right. I should feel something. I think what I feel is a bit of relief that there won’t be social workers coming to our house anymore. I think I feel a bit more relaxed about discipline, letting the kids get filthy, and the condition of my house. I think the girls maybe feel a little more “mine” than they did before Monday.

But, honestly, nothing magical happened Monday morning. And I don’t mean to sound so cynical. I’m glad they’re here. I’m glad they’re ours. I’m glad our names will now be on their birth certificates. I love them, but I loved them before Monday. But a switch did not flip that all of the sudden made everything seem like a fairy tale. I wish I could tell you otherwise. This is still the hardest thing we’ve ever done so far in our lives.

There was a funny tweet recently from Jim Gaffigan. It went something along the lines of “What does having four kids feel like? Imagine you’re drowning and someone hands you two more kids. It’s kind of like that.” We still have moments where we don’t think we can or even want to do this. But it’s infinitely better than it was 10 months ago. The word “daughter” still doesn’t roll off my tongue very easily, but I remember it felt weird to call Mikey my “son” for a while after his adoption too.

So, how does it feel? Well, it pretty much still feels like we’ve got three kids who can’t wipe their own noses or bottoms. Three kids who can’t snap their own pants or put on their own socks. It pretty much feels like we work from sunup until midnight every day. It feels like God has called us to do something we don’t feel yet equipped to do.

But in the midst of the hard, and it is hard, we laugh until we cry. We watch them all together and shake our heads and grin. We listen to their wacky conversations and know they are God ordained. Our four children are exactly where they are supposed to be. We have no doubt about that. And Phillip and I are doing the very difficult job that we have been called to do.

So I guess you could say that it just feels like family. And family is hard, but it’s worth it. And I guess you could say that it just feels “right.”

photos by Amanda Reich Photography

Where to begin…

Today we adopted the girls. Where do I begin? I’ve got hundreds of pictures and words that I *want* to share. How about I just begin at the beginning? But I don’t have time at this moment to write a novel or even really a decent story. But I do have time to post a picture of the very first time Brittany met her daddy. (It’s a phone pic) She warmed up to him in about 30 minutes.

And I have time to post one of the first pictures I ever took of Katie with her daddy.

And the first photos of our four kids together.

So we’ll just start there for today. We’ll have adoption pictures to share soon. Thanks for loving our family. Thanks for praying for us.

October 3rd, 2011

It looks like the girls’ adoption day will be early Monday morning, October 3rd. And then…more pictures of their faces will be posted here than anyone will even know what to do with. (Assuming I can find the time with four kids.) October 3rd is going to be a good day.

When love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in

– Steven Curtis Chapman

Adoption is…

Adoption is…
a leap of faith.

Adoption is not…
only for people who can’t conceive.
just for the “super spiritual” (trust me!!)

Could you open your arms to a child you didn’t give birth to? Could you love wholeheartedly a child who does not share your DNA? Do you think you would be doing a disservice to your biological children? Are you afraid of “baggage?” After all, don’t we all have baggage? Do you think God isn’t calling you to do it? Are we not all called to help orphans?

Do you have any idea of the impact that could be made on the foster care system in Texas…or in Brazoria County if more people would go through the super easy classes to become a licensed foster home? How huge would it be if only 50 Christ following families in Brazoria County would open their homes to orphaned kids? It could be so huge. I know the fears. I’ve felt them. Heck, I feel them every day with my own kids.

If we can adopt three kids, I promise you anyone can do it. And oh my goodness, what a crazy adventure it has been and will be. These three kids of mine were born into nothing. Nothing except the arms of a loving God who knew their whole life before they were ever conceived. And he, for some crazy reason, chose me and Phillip to be their parents. He chose Jackson to be their brother. He chose our parents to be their grandparents. He chose our church to be the church they would grow up in.

I promise, long about September or October, there will be LOTS of pictures of the girls’ faces on here. We’re ready for their adoption to be final. But until then you’ll just see the backs of their blonde little heads.

These photos by Amanda Reich.

If you are interested in finding out more about fostering and/or adopting through the foster care system, here is a link to the agency we’re licensed through. The Arrow Project Getting licensed is surprisingly easy. It’s the whole having lots of kids part of it that’s hard. But it really is worth it.


And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky

But till that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With daddy and mamma standing by

And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

swing set.

We (I??) decided that we “needed” a swing set in our backyard to make it through the endless summer days with these FOUR kids. So we sort of splurged and got a pretty cool swing set.

And so far… IT’S SO FREAKING AWESOME!!! They play and play and play. I hope they play like this for months on end. And Brittany and Mikey have really been spending lots more time together. It’ been great! Can you tell that I’m just a little bit excited about it?

A friend told me that a good swing set can change your life. I think she might be right. I think she might need to get her own t.v. show.

Anyway, here are a few picture from today after church. The kids played outside while I fixed lunch. And then we had lunch outside in the shade, and then the kids just played. It was so nice. And then Phillip got home and we tried to take a nap, but we couldn’t because of stinkin’ Mikey! But that’s beside the point. Enjoy some photos.

And since I can’t post photos of the other two, I’ll just post some of this one. And not because he’s the favorite either. He was very tickled that his cup was swinging too.

My wuff you.

Brittany tells me this many times a day. She has been taught to love, not by her birth mom and really not by us. She was taught to love by Mimi and Papa, who she spent over a year of her life with. And we’re so thankful that they took her from the little girl she was when she was placed with them and helped her be the affection, loving child that she is today.

She loves to be held and hugged. And when you sit by her, she wants to sit right next to you so that your body touches hers, or better yet, she’d really just like to be up in your lap. She loves to be kissed and carried around. Since she’s one of four kids, I find myself unable to simply sit next to her or carry her around as often as she would like. And she loves to be read to. Again, I wish I had more time. I think I have at least three kids who speak “quality time” as their love language.

And so over spring break I had a special outing with each one of the kids (except for Jade; she doesn’t count). I took Brittany to the local Sea Center and then to eat at Smithart’s. She had a blast and really enjoyed The Sea Center. She’s been back twice since then. Here are a few from her first trip there during spring break. I got some really cute ones that show her face. Someday….

Brittany, my wuff you too, kiddo. And I know that’s only going to grow and grow and grow.

This week

Phillip and I feel like things have been going better with Mikey this week. We’re trying to spend more one on one time with him and I think that’s helping. His love language is definitely quality time and when he doesn’t get enough quality time with his parents he acts out more.

I got the boys’ room cleaned and organized over the weekend. One of closets in particular was a huge mess and basically not usable. That closet is now organized and they can easily find their toys and the boys both have Lego tables in their room. They’ve been playing with Legos a lot since we got the tables. I think it has really helped Mikey to have an organized room that makes sense to him. It was pretty haphazard moving him into Jackson’s room and it really hasn’t been truly Mikey friendly until this week. If things are organized and have a place Mikey can understand how to play and clean up when he’s done, and he’s very willing to do it. He’s very particular about making sure that each toy is where it belongs. But if he’s in a chaotic space, he just wants to make it more chaotic by throwing stuff everywhere.

A friend of ours made really cute canvases for the kids with their names on them to hang in their rooms. We hung them up over the weekend. For whatever reason Mikey was very upset about his and he wanted to take it down. I think he likes it, but I just think maybe he still considers the room “Jackson’s room” and he didn’t want his name on the wall in there. Or maybe he’s still hoping that he’ll get his old room back. I really don’t know why he got so upset, but we just took his down and put it away. I’ll try to put it up again another day. It wasn’t worth the fight. Today my thoughts were confirmed on this when Mikey basically told me that he wants his fish bed and his room back, but the girls won’t leave so he doesn’t have a room anymore. I reminded him that he does have a room. He just has to share it with Jackson. Everyone in our house shares a room with someone.

Mikey seems to be playing with Brittany a little better the last week. Although today he was screaming, “I don’t want to keep him!!!!” over and over again. It took me a minute or so to realize he was referring to Brittany. The “he” and “him” thing still confuses me sometimes. I don’t remember now what he got so mad about, but when he gets mad at her he’s not very subtle about how he feels. Mikey and I took a long walk this evening and he did tell me that he likes Brittany a little bit….just a little bit. I guess little by little is what we’ll have to take. He’s such a good kid in countless ways. We just have to figure out ways to help him be better.

Thankfully for now Brittany seems pretty unaware of his yuckiness towards her. She’s slowly learning when she needs to keep her distance from him, but when he’s willing to play with her, she is just in heaven. She loves to be around him. She laughs like crazy at his jokes and his antics. She’s pretty sweet with him most of the time and just genuinely loves being around him. We think Mikey has just made the decision not to like her, but occasionally he forgets. Their relationship right now is very much on Mikey’s terms. I know that’s not fair, but I don’t really know what to do about it.

Here are some photos from Tuesday. As you can tell, Mikey was pretty tolerant of sharing his space with Brittany. He even allowed her to lay on his back and climb on him for about 1 minute. He didn’t freak out at all. And I got a picture of Mikey, Brittany, and Jade sitting right next to each other but I can’t put it on the blog.

Today the girls’ CPS worker came over to plant some flowers with them (previous post). Here are a few pictures from today.

We’re doing the best we can to make our new family work. Some days are better than others. And just when we have a couple of really good days, we have one that makes us think we’re back to square one. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now, this week.

Just figuring it out, little by little.