Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How We're Doing

We've had lots of friends and family inquiring how our family is adjusting.  Thank you to all of you who are checking in.  Here's my recap. 

My parents left to head back to New Jersey last wednesday after helping the first two weeks we were home.  

I'm pretty certain that it was about two seconds after they pulled out of the driveway that J-Man got sick. 

His nose started running and the coughing ensued.  

Then he started puking on Friday morning.  

Tyson and I had taken an unexpected short trip to Atlanta for two days to hug on the neck of one of my best friends. 

So that left Daddy in charge of operation pukeage.  I was available by phone for medical consultation.  

In which case, I determined he had the flu.  

In which case, I was wrong. 

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, I am not. 

Monday morning, J-man and I headed to the doctor and poor baby had strep throat.  

I've played "keep away from your brother," for the past three days.  

I also have been on "Do not stick your brother's pacifier in your mouth" patrol.  Good times. 

I think we are back to health around here, as evidenced by J-man smiling and giggling and his lack of puking.  Whew. 

In terms of us bonding and adjusting with Tyson, he's a rock star.  Sweet pea loves snuggling and grinning at his mom and dad.  He especially thinks his brother, J-man is HIL-arious and gives him a big ol' gummy grin on a regular basis.  

J-man, for being 15 months old and just experiencing major life adjustment, has done amazing.  He hugs and kisses Tyson often (when not quarantined), and he loves trying to make his brother laugh. 

TD wears his headphones a lot and has "homework" in his room way more than usual.  

Honestly, he's been a huge help too, corralling J-man when I'm trying to do something with Tyson and can't keep my eye on him.  

So, since we are emerging out of pukeville and today is a new day- I can say that we are doing well.  

Taking it one day at a time.  Figuring out bedtimes, schedules, and life with two under 15 months old. 

As both of my little ones were actually laying down on the same blanket for a few short seconds today, heads together looking at each other, I couldn't help but smile at what we've been given.  

I'm stinking exhausted at the end of every day, but that's to be expected.  

Brian and I are just thankful for 7 o'clock bedtimes.  Especially since I'm asleep by around 7:15 these days. . . 

Monday, January 21, 2013

We Look a Little Different

We are your average, American family; dad, mom, three boys, and two dogs that are constantly causing trouble.  

Except we look a weeeeeeeeee bit different. 

We are actually two white folks, including one with a bunch of freckles who doesn't tan well, plus three black boys, ranging in age from five months to 18 years old. 

Ok, we're an anomaly and we know it.  Some people think we are just plain weird. I'm okay with that. 

To be honest, Brian and I really don't care what people think of us.  The choices to form our family have quite obviously not been due to public opinion. 

We didn't plan on adding three children in one year.  We didn't plan on adding children of all one specific race to our family. 

We agreed, from the start of our marriage, that our family would include children who needed homes, stability, and love.  

This year, three children entered our lives that needed just that.  They just all happen to be boys and they just happen to be black. 

One through legal guardianship.  One through foster care.  One through adoption. 

At this point, just one has our last name. 

But don't be mistaken, each one has our heart. 

A year ago today, I wrote a post about our city and our family.  At that point, we had just welcomed our J-man into our home a few months before. 

Thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr., his impact, his life, and his role in the city that we live rang especially deep in my heart last year. 

Today, I can say that MLK's words and his mission for equality bears even more weight and significance in my life. 

Now, as parents of a black teenager, we have witnessed that misconception and prejudices about race are still prevalent and thriving.  The road for our boys will not be easy.  

We feel a very strong burden to give them the foundation in which to navigate a world where color is often still the first thing a person sees when making a judgement on character ability.  

We believe that their culture and their heritage is paramount to who they are and needs to be cultivated. 

We pray that the first and foundational thing in which they identify themselves is their faith in Christ. 

We envision a future for them where their relationships and community is not defined solely by their race, but instead by common values and beliefs.

We hope that one day, our son will not be feared because he is walking down the street in a grey hoodie and jeans. 

We pray daily that our boys will become Godly men of integrity and honor, who do not believe anything is owed to them, but instead stand and fight for justice of those around them who cannot.  

Brian and I know that the choices we have made to form our family won't be accepted by everyone. 

We know that we don't have all the answers on how to raise our boys. 

We are quite aware that we will make many mistakes along the way.  

But we are very sure that the three boys placed in our home this past year are here because they belong in OUR FAMILY. Not just anywhere, but here, with us and our two crazy dogs.  

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We have faith that though we don't know what the road with our boys looks like ahead, we are a family formed with a purpose.  And we are going to move forward and figure this out this crazy life together.   


Friday, January 18, 2013

Meeting Her.

Last month, before leaving for the DRC,  I wrote about what was weighing heavy on my heart - the day I would take my son from the arms of his foster mother. 

Every time I talked about it with someone, I was in tears.  Every time I thought about it, I was tears. 

As a foster mom of a son that I have loved since the minute he was placed in my hands at two weeks old, my heart was filled with gratitude for this woman whom I would soon meet.  

The days leading up to our meeting were filled with nervous trepidation, as I knew that I would never be able to voice to her just how much I understood her role in our son's life. 

Because of our baby J, I know what it means to love a little one who is not promised to you.  

I know what it is to be up at all hours of the night, rocking, cradling, and snuggling a child that I did not birth and whose sweet little toes I may never get to see fill the shoes of a grown man.

I know what it means to pour everything you have into a child that may never thank you, and in fact, never remember you. 

There was so much I wanted to say to her, my Tyson's Mama Isabelle. 

As I walked out to meet her and my baby boy, the tears were flowing.  

She greeted me with a huge smile and I hugged her as tight as I could. 

She spoke no English and I spoke no French. 

Through our lawyer, who spoke minimal English, I shared with her everything I could muster in the shortest and most succinct amount of words. 

"You have loved him so very well.  Thank you."

It wasn't enough.  But nothing I said would have been.  Nothing could have conveyed how full my heart was at that moment. 

As I held our smiling, cuddly son, with chunky thighs and full cheeks, it was quite evident that Tyson had been well-fed, held tightly, and cuddled often. 

And believe me, I fully realize that this is not always the case in international adoption. 

Because of Mama Isabelle, our Tyson bonded quickly to us.  He craves snuggles, makes great eye contact, and smiles and smiles and smiles and smiles. 

It's been three weeks since I met my son.  Three weeks since I took him out of the arms of his Mama Isabelle. 

When I talk about it or think about it, it still brings me to tears. 

But it isn't out of sadness.  

It's out of a heart that overflows with emotion for the gift of a son who now carries my last name.  

It's from a heart filled with thankfulness for the selfless love of a foster mom caring for our baby 4,000 miles away.

It's because of a heart bursting with love for my own foster son who is a miracle and gift that I one day may have to return. 

I can't guarantee the tears will stop anytime soon, because they are filled with gratitude and awe at this life we've been given. 

Thank you, Mama Isabelle. You were an answer to five months of prayer for our son and a tender reminder to me of my call as a foster mom.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Day the WAIT was over. (In Video)

After 28 hours of travel; from Montgomery to Atlanta to Newark to Brussels to Angola to Kinshasa... we arrived in the Congo.

Our plane landed at 9:30 pm and we entered a humid, crowded, noisy airport that was the first taste of our son's homeland. 

Tresor, our lawyer, met us at the baggage claim and helped us navigate through the chaos of the terminal and into his car. 

The streets were fairly empty, but the sidewalks and storefronts still were bustling with life at 10 o'clock at night.  The air was smoky and thick, as the trash in the city burned in piles wherever it was laying. 

We pulled up to our "hotel," a former convent, at around 11pm, entered our room, and immediately crashed for the night. 

The next morning, we would be meeting our son. 

We were told that Tyson would be brought to us at 11am.  
However, we were in Congo, so we had an idea that we were now on "Africa Time," and that meant time frames would be a little more flexible...

We were right.  

After waiting two hours, one of the hotel receptionists, who only spoke french, found us and mimicked holding a baby.  She pointed at us, said "Baby," and indicated we follow her. 

He was here. 

Another adoptive mom, Sara Gentry, waited around those two extra hours with us so that she could video our first minutes meeting Tyson.

And here it is. . .

Saturday, January 12, 2013


We are HOME!  

Way more to come, but let me first officially introduce you to Tyson Henry Word. 

He is amazing and beautiful and best of all. . .our SON!