Tag Archives: adoption

Mother’s Day Blessings and Memories

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there who love everyday in big and small ways. In ways that are noticed and acknowledged and in so many ways that are not but will be felt, remembered and cherished. Generation after generation.

I know I am a little behind on sharing Mother’s Day sentiments but I had a busy Mother’s Day myself; enjoying church with my family, doing a little antiquing on my own, and then watching The Avengers and Captain America with my husband and kids.

Yes, those were my movie choices.

What? Well we couldn’t watch Thor, we’d just seen it a few days ago.

Then yesterday, my husband and youngest took me out for sushi and to browse the bookstore and enjoy a treat in the café. So today is the first chance I’ve had to share Mother’s Day with you.

While Mother’s Day is a day for watching action movies … what? … it is also a day for reflection and celebration of the women who have mothered us. The women who have nurtured us, stood by us, been both patient and frustrated with us, disciplined and molded us, mentored us but above all, loved us. Always.

Everyone’s story is different. But I hope with all my heart that you had or still have a mother or mother figure in your life to remember and be thankful for. Whether you are able to hold her hand or just her memory.

I am blessed to have some wonderful women to celebrate on Mother’s Day …

Mom-and-MeMy fabulous mom who was always in my corner.

I am so thankful for all she taught me (and all she put up with from me in the process). Self-sacrifice, the reward of  hard work, the ability to do a lot with a little, dinner at the table as a family, cooking, gardening, homemaking – homemade is best, anything after 1am is just going to get you into trouble and to pray, attend church, read and study my bible and look to God in all things.

I also got her sassiness, temper and eye rolling death stare. It’s true.

And if you ever wonder why I am a little “over-the-top”, this was my 4th grade Halloween costume …

Marie-Antoinette-for-HallowMarie Antoinette

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She made the whole thing.  The dress. The powdered wig.  I got “over-the-top” from her.

And I love her for it!

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I celebrate my Aunt Andi (my mom’s sister) too. She’s fun, independent and tenacious!

And I still look at her like that sometimes.

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And my grandma Ibby. I’ve told you a lot about Grandma Ibby and her incredible recipes have been the subject of many of my blog posts. I’ll be posting her delicious banana bread recipe on Friday. You won’t want to miss it! So much of what I learned from my mom came from the lessons and example of her mother, Grandma Ibby. She is deeply missed.

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I love this picture of me with my great-grandmother Rose, my great-grandmother Clara, my grandma Eileen (my first best friend) and my very own super-mom! It is a blessing to have known two of my great-grandmothers. I will share their stories one day. But I do hope you will click the link just above and read about my grandmother Eileen. She was such a huge part of my life and I have so many wonderful memories of her. A love of antiques and making all that is old new, beautiful and loved again comes from her. Plus she let me eat Fruit Loops (banned and forbidden by my health conscious mother) before bed. Which was awesome.

So now, I am a mom too. I have learned from the best. Not how to be June Clever perfect  but how to give everything I have, to keep trying when I fail, to say I’m sorry when I need to, to love the Lord with all my heart and to pray for my children in all things.

I received some pretty incredible gifts this Mother’s Day. Gifts that let me know my kids love and appreciate me, even if I don’t always think they show it.

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Ask any mom, that is what she wants most and the simple gifts made by her kids are the most precious!

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Nathan gave me a sweet card and poem and “mom’s helping hands” with the things we like to do together written on them.

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Purple was my favorite color as a child. Sara knows that and made a purple necklace for me. Her sense of humor came through with a piece of paper with the word “PEACE” written on it. Whenever they ask me what I want for my birthday or Mother’s Day, I always answer “peace” as in a peaceful relaxed day with no kids fighting or arguing. So, she gave me peace.

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David made a book for me at school which was filled with his creative writing and story art all the way from the beginning of the year.

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This is a picture of him in his Halloween costume. He was a Ninja and that is exactly what it looked like right down to the “spider” treat bag and the “fluf pads” muscles. So cute!!

No, I did not make it.

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He answered questions about me. He knows me. I love that!

He also said my favorite TV show was “Beerfoot” which is Barefoot Contessa. My favorite hobby is cooking. My favorite book is a cook book. My favorite restaurant is “all” restaurants. I enjoy cooking. And that if there were four extra hours in a day, he would spend them cooking with me.

I’m sensing a theme, maybe I need to expand my horizons a little.

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He also listed three reasons why “you are special to me.”

You love me.

You say prers (prayers) with me.

You love me more than I can love you.

And then he wrote this. And I cried.

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I’ll never forget the time you “never gave up to adopt me.”

And that is what being a mom is. We never give up. Not ever, no matter what. We are always there for our kids. Fighting for them. We sometimes fail and we often regret but we never give up.

Mother's-Day-2013Because our mom, or someone who loved us like a mom, was always there for us.

Fighting for us.

And just when you think your children don’t realize or appreciate it, they come out of left field with just what you needed to hear.

“You never gave up …”

Of course I didn’t, I’m your mom.

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Adoption Day Reflections

It is a busy Monday. A day filled with errands, laundry, picking up endless toys and shoes and books. A day filled with plenty of the usual things that make-up a typical weekday for me.

But it is not a typical day.

Today is my baby’s adoption day.

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Four years ago today, the documents that made my husband and I his parents were signed, stamped, sealed and filed. Official.

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But I have always been his mommy.

So really, April 29, 2009 was simply the day the State of Arizona finally caught up.

My husband and I are over the moon with joy to have our kids and we are blessed to be adoptive parents but we don’t make a big deal on adoption day. Every family is different and for some it is a day for a party and that is wonderful.

For us, it is a quiet day of thankful reflection. No party, no fuss. That may seem strange, but there are reasons.

For me personally, the pain of our journey through the foster care system remains and while that journey has a happy ending, I feel the welling in my chest as I think back on the struggle.

No, the filing of a piece of paper is not what I celebrate. I am happy and relieved to have it but it is not what I celebrate.

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I reflect and I celebrate the moments I spent rocking my son as he attached to his new life.

I celebrate the dimples and the smiles and the energy and the laughter.

I celebrate the hundreds of times I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear as his tiny hand excitedly turned to the next page.

I celebrate all of the memories yet to be made.

I marvel at and celebrate the depth of the love I feel for this child God has blessed me with.

I celebrate the miracle of him.

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April 29, 2009 is not the day Nathan became my son.

He was my son from the moment God placed the desire for him in my heart.

He was my son from the moment I first laid eyes on him and held him close to me.

He was to be my son from the moment he took his first breath.

But he is not my son alone. My son was not an orphan. My son has another mother. Barely more than a girl herself when he was born. My gain was her loss. I think about her today. I’ve thought about her all day. And I’ve prayed for her.

It has taken me a while to get to this place. A place of forgiveness and understanding. And while my heart is bursting with joy at being my boy’s mama, balloons and cake and celebration just don’t fit.

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I think about the day he will ask me about adoption. The day his daddy and I will explain it to him. He is still too young to completely understand what it all means.

I want him to know that he came from her to me not because he was unwanted or because there was something wrong with him but because he is loved by a Heavenly Father who has a great plan for his life.

I want him to know that before he was her child or my child, he was His child.

I want him to know that he healed my broken heart.

I want him to know that it doesn’t matter that the color of his eyes, his skin, his hair are different from mine. He is my son and I am his mommy. God has made it so.

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II want him to know how his sweet spirit and adventurous nature brought life back into our world. Just when we needed it most.

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I want him to know how much his joy for life and laughter consume me.

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I want him to know that I will always be his mommy.

Always.

I want him to know that he will be covered in my love and prayers.

Wherever he goes, whatever he does.

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So while April 29th may be his adoption day, I want him to know that every day with him is a party and a cause for celebration!

Your mama loves you sweet boy. For ever and always. And I celebrate you Every-day.

Beauty from Ashes

As I continue along on this new adventure in Blogdom, I look forward to introducing you to my family, friends and the company that I keep. For today, I am feeling led to share with you the story of how my husband and I became parents. It is a story that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is a story of how God is always good and always faithful; even when His timing is not our own. It is a story of how He makes Beauty from Ashes

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 

Being a mom is one of the greatest experiences of my life but the process of becoming a mom was one of the most painful; starting with multiple fertility treatments once the harsh reality had hit that becoming parents was not the “given” we thought it would or should be. After more than a year of tests, painful procedures that ultimately failed, disappointment and heartache we began to consider other options. You see, through all of that, God wept with us. He allowed us to experience it – all of it – because He knew that out of the ashes of infertility He would pull up a stronger couple more focused on Him, better prepared for what lie ahead. And so the ashes of infertility became something beautiful.

We began to think about adoption. I was working as the Program Coordinator for a Tutoring and Mentoring Program for school aged children in foster care, not a coincidence – nothing ever is. We began to think about fostering. We began to pray about fostering. Could we? Should we? God are you calling us to this? Is this your will for us? It turns out the answer was yes. It took about six months to receive our license and our first placement. A sister and brother, the siblings of two of the little girls in my program – Sara was 4 and David was just 20 months. Just like that, we were parents – foster parents but parents just the same. We were told from the beginning that there was a 99.9% chance that Sara and David would be with us forever and that we would be able to adopt them. And so the ashes of childlessness became something beautiful.

Sara in 2006 at age 4

Beautiful, yes. Easy, no. Neglect, abuse and trauma are not pretty nor is the aftermath. Attachment issues, loss and fear are not pretty. We were not prepared for the magnitude of ugly that our kids had experienced and it literally brought us to our knees. But when God says with Him all things are possible, I am here to tell you, He is not kidding. Also know, that there is no room for pride, arrogance, vanity, selfishness or judgement in God’s work and He will strip you of it so that you might be better prepared to walk with Him. How difficult that process is depends entirely upon us and our will to have our way; it was hardest for me but I had never felt God closer to me than He was during that time of refinement. The healing and growth that occurred in our home over the next year and a half was as much about Gary and I as it was about these two amazing children who had so much to teach us. And so the ashes of pride, anger and hurt became something beautiful.

David in 2006, not quite 2

This next part is still difficult for me to talk about (or write about for that matter). I can feel the unresolved hurt and anger well up in me as I struggle for the right words; as I do every time I tell this story. God and I are still working on this. I hope I can share this as He would want, with words that carry truth without bitterness.

About a year and a half after they had come to us Sara and David, along with their two older sisters were returned to their birth mother. The ideal is that foster parents provide a child with safety, stability and love in support of the system’s work to reunify them with their family. It is an honorable and wonderful thing to be a part of helping a family to heal and to be able to send a child home to a mom and or/dad who has gotten help and is ready to give them the home they need and deserve. The reality of the situation is our system is broken and overwhelmed. The process takes too long and burns through too many good people who are trying to do the right thing; foster parents and case workers alike.  The bottom line for us was a crippling loss, a huge pile of ashes and a God that was still at work.

A few months after Sara and David had gone, the phone rang. Gary and I had done a little bit of respite care which proved to be excruciating and brought us to the final conclusion that we would never foster again because it was just too painful.

But God had something else in mind  … “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

On the other end of that phone was God’s blessing. A blessing that would require our obedience and bare faith in answering His call to open our hearts to a new child, a five-week old methamphetamine exposed baby boy that we knew little else about. Once God moves in your heart, He moves big! It took only about 30 seconds of staring at each other (and a trip to Target to get an infant car seat and supplies) to know that our hearts could never say no to this little boy who “needed us” … as it turns out, it was actually us who needed him so very much. The true act of faith and obedience came in our willingness to trust God and to follow Him back to a place we swore we would never go again. And the ashes of grief and loss became something beautiful.

Nathan when he first came to us in 2007 at 5 weeks.

Fast forward a year and a half later, our sweet boy Nathan already a toddler with his adoption just weeks from being finalized, and the phone rings again.

Sara and David are coming back to us.

I can’t and won’t go into the details of what they went through, that is their story to tell when they are ready. What I will tell you is that the children that came home to us were mere shadows of the children who had left us. They were in terrible shape and were so traumatized that we were left devastated, overwhelmed and uncertain of where to even begin putting the pieces back together.

So we started in the only place we could, in the arms of the Father who loves us, had never left us and had just worked a miracle in our lives by putting our family back together. Beauty from Ashes.

The healing began and so did a multitude of diagnoses; RAD, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, DID … all big and scary, but NOTHING is bigger than God! And now here were are 3 and a half years later. All three children with finalized adoptions and birth certificates that say “last name Brewer”. With good days and bad days. More joy than pain. And an understanding that labels are just that, labels – they do not define who we are. Who we are is what God would label us, “Redeemed, Beloved, Mine”.

Our story is lengthy and complicated and painful and unbelievable but in the end it is a story of redemption and of the mountains that faith can move. It is a testimony of God’s great love, grace and mercy. No, the road has not been an easy one but God has been there every step of the way, increasing our faith and reliance on Him which truly has been one of the greatest blessings in all of this. I am not the person I was and I am humbled and overwhelmed that He chose us (the least likely – believe me) for this journey.

The Three Musketeers, 2009

I have been so blessed to watch Him make Beauty from Ashes right before my eyes. It was what He had planned all along. He will use our story, my children’s story, for His glory, for the good of others and for the advancement of His kingdom. We are truly “a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” He will use our story, our testimony to His greatness, to make Beauty from Ashes in the lives of others.

My “Miracle Family” at the baseball game together, just a few weeks ago.

Be encouraged. He is with you. He has never left you.