her first day of kindergarten {my baby is a little girl}

We had a lot of late night conversations the months after Drew was born. I wanted to adopt. Mark didn’t feel the same. He wasn’t opposed to adoption; he’s sort of…well…more like opposed to noise and chaos. A man who enjoys peace and quiet who has a needy 4 year old, an independent 2 year old, a still-unfolding-from-the-womb infant, and a wife talking about adopting a fourth child = noise and chaos in every way.

Many of those conversations ended with me saying this:

I’m afraid that if we don’t do it, we’ll regret it the rest of our lives. I know that when we put her on the bus for kindergarten, we’ll look at her and say, ‘I’m so glad we did it.’

I don’t really know why that particular image equaled the image of parental contentment and joy for me. At the time I was speaking those words and imagining the day, I had not yet put even one child on a school bus. I think I identified that moment as a new chapter, when my baby would leave the season of babyhood and become a little girl, when my role as mother would not be over by any means or even get any easier but it would change dramatically. No longer would I be essentially the only influence in her little life; now, I would have to coach her to use discernment with other influences.

I clung to that image of a blurred dark haired little girl climbing bus stairs too big for her and wearing a backpack that extended beyond her shoulders through our process of saying yes to adoption and eventually yes to her specifically. Over the last four years, that image remained a blur until this week.

lyds_33 #firstdayofschool lyds_47 #firstdayofschool lyds_54 #firstdayofschool lyds_55 #firstdayofschool
This week, my baby put on a quientessential kindergarten dress with blue mary janes. She asked for two braids, one on each side. She put on a backpack extending beyond her tiny frame full of sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, fresh crayons, and classroom tissues. And, she stepped outside for a new adventure.

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She said she wasn’t nervous, only “cited.” She played the part, smiling big for the camera at the bus stop where moms and dads took pictures of their children too.

And, then we gathered around her to pray for her. And, she got a little more serious. And, so did I.

lyds_62 #firstdayofschool lyds_64 #firstdayofschool

The bus took forever, a literal reminder every minute of the significance of the moment every stop along the way to us. Every mom was saying goodbye to her baby. Every baby was thinking about things, wondering what color carpet square she’d get or if she’d make a friend that day.

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I think some babies maybe thought about things a little more than others.

Until flashing lights were in sight.

And loud brakes were heard.

And big doors opened to what seemed like even bigger steps.

And it was time to go.

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Just like that. She grabbed the railing and climbed the stairs.

My baby.

My little girl.

No longer an image in my imagination but my daughter.

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She looked back. And, I couldn’t look away.

And then, my heart rode away on a big yellow school bus.

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I’m so glad we did it. 

Just in case she ever wonders

I finished it. It was harder than I thought, yes. But, it turned out better than I thought.

Just like the three that went before her, I presented it to her on the eve of her first day of school.

Lydia just in case you ever wonder1

And, then we read it and ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over glimpses of her childhood…since she’s all grown up now, you know.

Lydia just in case you ever wonder2

Lydia just in case you ever wonder3

Lydia just in case you ever wonder4

It by no means tells her whole story. But, it’s a great way to keep telling her her story and keep dreaming about what the rest of the story may be.

Lydia just in case you ever wonder5

The kindergarten tradition is now complete. {sigh}

Lydia just in case you ever wonder6

Lydia just in case you ever wonder7

Glad they keep me laughing or I’d probably just sit around and cry tonight.

Things have not been this quiet in real life

I know. It’s been lamely quiet around here as of late. Let me assure you that I have a good reason. It’s because it’s been everything but quiet here in real life.

We just got home from this place.

Lake champion 1
I know, right? Add to the serenity that it’s where Mark and I met and it becomes a piece of heaven on earth.

But, it wasn’t for the romance factor that we were there (and the room filled with bunk beds shared with our children reminded us of that). We were there with all these people.

IECS training 2014 team pic
Those people there? They’re our front-line team. And, I don’t mean this kind of front line. (Note: I was so incredibly sad that having four children who couldn’t do this event meant that I had to be a spectator.)

IECS training 2014 paintball team1
Though our time included a lot of fun and games that made our children cry when we had to leave, there was more to our week than that.

IECS training 2014 zipline
IECS training 2014 zipline 2
IECS training 2014 ropes course
20 dear friends are heading over to various cities in Chna to teach English and build relationships with students. We got to spend every waking hour with them over the last week to coach them along, encourage them, and prepare them for the field.  I honestly can’t think of any place we would have rather been and anything we’d rather be doing than that.

So, yeah, it’s been quiet here lately but not because of a lack of things to overthink and talk about…maybe more because of a lack of freedom to share it all.

{TBT} “We’re adopting!”

Originally published in July 2011…

_____________________________________

Ah, vacation…time to read a bit, think a bit, and even write a bit in between trips to the arcade down the street, canon balls in the pool, digging holes in the sand, and ice cream.

This week alone, I connected with two families actively fundraising for their first adoptions and two families who just announced they are adopting for the first time and adopting again. I have the joy of hearing a lot of “We’re Adopting!” and “We’re adopting again!” announcements. And, each one gets me pretty excited. ONE MORE child with a forever family; ONE LESS orphan in the world. It’s a pretty beautiful thing, folks.

Some of you may not hear that announcement as often and may not always know how to respond when you do. I don’t claim to be an expert—I’m an adoptive aunt to one and we’ve embarked on this adventure only once ourselves. Though my experience is limited, I think some principles are pretty universal.

So, next time you hear someone say, “We’re going to adopt” . . .

  1. Please demonstrate excitement – It’s a good thing! It’s not a consolation prize that a couple is settling for because they “cannot have children of their own.” If the couple has experienced infertility, they have made the decision now to invest themselves in becoming a family through adoption. Do some cartwheels and jump up and down.
  2. Please don’t offer the infamous cliché – “Oh, now I’m sure you will get pregnant!” or “Oh good! Seems like as soon as someone decides to adopt, they get pregnant.” Not true and a downright not good thing to say. Just don’t. Please.
  3. Please don’t freak them out – Just like how you don’t tell a newly pregnant woman about the woman you know who just miscarried or the tragic story of a baby lost at birth, please don’t hear the word “adoption” and proceed to share some stories about a tragic story you heard on the news or someone you know who waited forever or a birthmother who changed her mind after a month or whatever. Couples starting out in the adventure of adoption likely already have a bit of fear in them—as all new parents do—and you don’t need to grow that fear.
  4. Please respect their child’s home country – While we have a passion for China, I recognize that not all adoptive families may have a particular passion for their child’s home country if they are adopting internationally. But, even if they don’t, please do not insult the people of that country or the child’s birth family for the choice they made. Feel free to ask questions if you do not understand the culture and why there are orphans there available for adoption. But, in so doing, do not make judgmental or negative remarks about the people particularly in front of biological and/or adopted children. And, part of respecting their child’s home country includes not critiquing their choice of programs (i.e., “Why wouldn’t you just adopt from here?” or something along those lines). Simply encourage.
  5. Please be intentional with your verbage – While not all adoptive parents are sensitive about what words people use, it’s always better to be cautious and respectful with your words. Their child is their child, not like their own child. Use the terms birth mother and birth father, not real mother and father. The adoptive family is very much the child’s real family.
  6. Please don’t make saints of the adoptive family – There are many more families now making the choice to adopt to grow their families for reasons other than infertility. Amen! But, don’t praise the family by telling them how lucky the child is to have them or how wonderful they are to rescue this child. It can be pretty uncomfortable. And, that type of praise actually can be harmful if said in the presence of their children—biological and/or adopted children. Instead, simply encourage them for following God’s call for their family. That’s enough.
  7. Celebrate! – The typical baby shower typically won’t work to celebrate the arrival or pending arrival of an adopted baby, toddler, or older child. Think creatively! Consider getting girlfriends together for a Nesting Party during which you can help your friend paint the child’s room or even simply clean her house. If the family doesn’t know the age or gender of the child who will be coming home, consider having a book party simply to grow their children’s library. Gifts for new parents can be super helpful and needed. But, perhaps more than the gifts, simply the attention given to the family (okay, fine, mother) and the message sent that friends and family are rallying around this child can mean a whole lot more than gifts and last a whole lot longer.
  8. Assure them you will care for them after the fact – In our circles—and I hope in most—when a family brings home a newborn, their church and/or neighbors help through providing meals, babysitting for other children, grocery runs, etc. This is not simply because a woman is recovering from childbirth; it’s because a family has just completely changed their dynamics, and it takes a while to get your bearings. Adopting a child is no different. In fact, having brought home biological newborns and one toddler via adoption, I think I needed care more after our adoption than after recovering from labor and delivery. Please don’t equate labor with need for care. Adoptive moms need that care too.
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