How in the world are we just a few days away from Brighten's first birthday? In some ways it seems like yesterday that we were packing our car and heading to Texas to meet our daughter. In other ways it feels like Brighten has always been a part of our lives. Jason and I keep joking that we are having a birthday party for Brighten to really celebrate ourselves and the fact that we kept another human alive for a full year :) I joke, but in all seriousness this has been the most sanctifying year of my life.
I'm not good at keeping secrets. Well, let me rephrase that; I'm not good at keeping my own secrets. I've always been a verbal processor, so I think that telling my own secrets is some sort of coping mechanism. But with adoption, sometimes telling too much too soon can hurt the people who love you, and can break your own heart as well.
Today marks one year since we found out that there was a little girl who would be born the next month in Texas who needed a home. What we didn't know is that we'd find out a week later that we were going to be her parents, and she'd be born exactly one month after we found out about her. If you'd like to read our story of Brighten, click here.
It's been kind of a bizarre season of life for me. In May, I quit my job at a nonprofit that served kids in care to stay home with Brighten and to start my own consulting business. In June, we found out that we were not going to be able to continue to pursue international adoption in Ethiopia after almost four years in process. Now, I'm learning contentment, which, if I'm honest, is uncomfortable and completely unfamiliar.
I want to start by saying that I'm about to unapologetically brag on Jenny Clark. I'm going to tell you how amazing she is, and she'll probably roll her eyes when she reads this, but I don't care at all. She deserves some love and I'm giving it to her no matter how big that eye roll is.
When Jason and I began our Ethiopia adoption process in December of 2013, we had no clue what the next several years would bring. We were, admittedly, blindly optimistic. We thought it'd only take a few months to do our home study (try 7.5), be on the waiting list by summer (it was the end of September), and be booking flights to Ethiopia by Christmas 2015. Thankfully, even basking in our optimism, we'd heard that adoption is not for the faint of heart, so we had the foresight to set some "guidelines" - rules for ourselves if the going got tough.
I remember the seat I was in. I remember who was sitting near us that day. I was so embarrassed. But I was so broken and I couldn't stop. The tears came in full force. Loud. Breathless. Shaking, I held onto the seat in front of me as I wept.
Today is the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week. I've been working on putting this post together for the duration of this week, and honestly I'm nervous to hit the "publish" button. I'm nervous that it will be too direct, too opinionated, too much for some people. But my prayer is that if you choose to read this, you'll have a greater understanding of my story, and potentially stories that are similar to mine. My hope is that my words can bring us together, not divide, and that we can all rest in the unique plans that God has for us.
My great-grandfather, Storie, who Brighten is named after, marked timber for a living. All day, every day for years and years we walked the woods, marking timber. Everyday at lunch he'd eat a giant meal that my great-grandmother packed for him, drink a thermos of piping hot coffee, and laid on the toolbox of his truck to take a 20 minute nap in the sun. From everything I've heard about him, he loved his job, and he was good at it. Storie passed away just a few months before I was born, so I never got to meet him in person, however the stories I've heard certainly tell the tale of a man I would have loved to have met.
Technology truly is amazing. So much of it I tend to have a love/hate relationship with though. I find my phone in my hands when I really mean to be paying attention to something (or somebody) else. I scroll through the same posts and pictures throughout the day, beaconing someone to post or do something new. But technology also affords us so many wonderful things.
My, how life gets crazy quickly. In 6 months we have traveled to Texas, met our daughter, brought her home, went back to work, traveled to the West Coast twice, finalized her adoption, put our house on the market, taken our house off the market, and updated all of our international adoption paperwork. Whew, things have been busy. I began the year inspired to post something on my blog at least twice a week. I did that for all of one week and then fell off the bandwagon. Whoops! But here I am again, attempting to do better.
What a special day February 7th is to our little family. We were in celebration mode all day long. We went to lunch, got dressed up, and got to go visit the big courthouse where the Judge told us that Brighten is forever ours and we have all rights just as if she'd been born to us.
Dear Brighten, on the night before we finalize your adoption:
I'll admit, I tried to write you a letter then night before you were born. But I just couldn't. There were so many nerves and unknown expectations, I just couldn't fathom putting into words all the ways I was feeling. But now, you've been alive for 137 days, and I've known you just as long. Now, I can begin to put into words how incredible you are, how blessed I am, and how the fact that I get to be your mommy forever brings me nothing but pure joy.
Originally written on December 31, 2016. Held for contemplation and revisited on January 7, 2017.
These days my Goodreads list looks more like celebrity memoirs and less like a high school summer reading list, however, I'm thankful for having read some Charles Dickens in my day. Sometimes, authors give us words that make so much sense when we don't really know how to describe something in our own words. As much as I love Lauren Graham and her latest book is a such a delight, she just doesn't quite paint the picture of 2016. Charles Dickens on the other hand...
This post has been a long time coming. When we moved into our house in 2013, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the small, back room. Originally we used it as an office for Jason, but I assured him that as soon as we had a child, he'd get kicked out.
Things are much different than they were in our last Christmas update, that's for sure. Last year during this time, we were sick at the news of our first placing agency closing. We were moving from #12 to #81 on the waiting list and we were absolutely devastated.
Around this time last year, things looked a lot different in our lives. We experienced a pretty big setback in our adoption process. Our hearts were broken as we had been rejoicing and dreaming of days that we thought were soon to come, but in the matter of an instant, everything changed. You can read the post I wrote about that here.
We finally made it. The last installment of Brighten's Storie. Even though it's been fun to relive some of this experience through these blog posts, I'm really excited to move forward to updating you on Brighten's now and all that we're seeing her do! Without further adieu, here is our story of our time in Texas with Baby B!
This is the part you've all been waiting for - Brighten's birth story. I would like to preface before I begin that the next and last two parts of Brighten's Storie will be amazing, but also not a complete picture. Jason and I aim to be transparent, and we have been from the beginning of our adoption process, but this is the point where we make a sharp left turn and our story intersects with Brighten's and Birth Mom's. There are parts of Brighten's story that are for her to share or not share when she reaches an age that she can make the decision, and Birth Mom's story is her's to share or not share if she so chooses. So, buckle up, because this is the best part yet, but know that there are a lot of details that will be left out because this is from my perspective as an adoptive mom, as Brighten's mom, and it's only one fraction of the full, incredible story. If you ever have questions, I'll do my best to answer them if you email me here.
So, I've told you about how we found out about Brighten, all of the people who helped us prepare, a little bit about her history and her Brother, and now we make the journey to Texas. The story just keeps getting better and better.