Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beyond Blessed

Well 2013 has been all over the place. Robert was saying that 2013 went by fast, but I disagree. If I could sum up 2013 in a few words they would be: Sorrow, Joy, Waiting, Blessed.

From losing 3 grandparents, 3 patients of mine, and my great grandma, I would say Sorrow to describe this year. Yes in each death there was lots of God and peace, but its still sad to have lost so many people, especially grandparents. My grandpa (father's dad) was very inspirational to many people and I am most sad that he didn't get to even know about my kids or that we were adopting. They would have loved him and he would have loved them as he loves all his grand and great grand kids. Losing both of Robert's grandmothers was also hard as I would have loved for them also to know our kids and to see Robert as a dad. My great grandmothers (my mom's grandma) funeral was probably the coolest bc she was 100 years old and left such a great life of legacy to all her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, and great great grandkids. Losing 3 patients was also very hard bc in my line of work, we develop relationships with people. My patients aren't just a file number or someone on my schedule they are real people and kids who need my help and who more often than not become my friends. Each one of them will be missed.

Joy would be my next description of this year bc of the obvious - we became PARENTS! Its still weird to think I'm a mom and Robert is a dad after all we went through to get here, but we are taking it each day, one day at a time. Exactly a year ago on New Years Eve I would never have told you or imagined that I would have two little kids with me that I am in the process of adopting. But thats what is so cool about God, He knew it all along and was just waiting to see if we would be faithful to follow Him through it all. That is the greatest kind of Joy you can ever have. True Joy, where you know that even through your faults and failures and mistakes and inadequacies that God honored your faithful heart and that the tears and prayers you poured out have not gone unnoticed. God's Joy is the best! From the moment Rob and I both decided to pursue adoption, to God giving me a dream/vision of two little kids running through the house, to finding our adoption agency, and then from each day we waited, to getting their names, seeing them the first time, bringing them home, and finally having them feel like they really are ours... yes, I would say there has been JOY this year!

I can't leave out the word waiting from the list. Goodness each of you reading this has gone through the waiting and struggles with us this year. Each step brought about a desperate cry for God to reveal himself and to show us what direction to go. Waiting was certainly the hardest thing for me this year. When we announced that we were adopting, we both thought that we would find the kids profile within a few weeks and then have them at the end of the summer... well at least thats what we kept hoping for... but God knew we needed to wait. For whatever reason, I'm glad He knew better. Rob and I were able to fully enjoy this year and to learn more about each other and our relationship with Christ before we were plunged into parenthood. How we would have survived without that time to bond closer in all our relationships, only God knows! And I have to say that if you are waiting for confirmation or for the next step to some decision or just for God to reveal something to you... don't lose heart, God is strengthening you for the journey ahead. The best thing I ever read was on another blog from an adoptive mother who said "The wait, though it may seem to last forever, WILL END. You won't wait forever". And its true, just as I gave up anticipating what God was gonna do and when I finally surrendered that His timing was going to be perfect and I didn't want to have any control anymore... He answered my waiting with two beautiful kiddos. So have patience, pray for more wisdom and contentment, and keep waiting. Something great is about to come!

AND finally, blessed. What more can I say except I am blessed. My husband, who is now a wonderful father and willing to go on this crazy journey with me to parenthood... even with all the tears, prayers, laughs, cries, and uncertainty... Robert you are my rock. My family, who lovingly took in these two kiddos as their new family members, loving them and praying for them and us in this transition... its a change for everyone and for their love I am so grateful! Our church, The Gathering @ Midland, how you all have prayed for us and helped us see the light of Christ even when we were at our weakest, you celebrated with us, helped prepare us, and are always there for us no matter the need... we are so happy to call each of you a part of our family. The Youth Gathering... our first kids and always will be, you guys embraced the change in our lives and even when we couldn't give you all that we had before, you still loved us and supported us.. I know you will each become a special and important part of our kids' lives and we can't wait to share in all the joys and memories of 2014. My friends, near and far, I have strengthened some relationships and sharpened others this year. To each of you who reached out to me or allowed me to burden you with my anxieties and freak out moments, thank you... and to all the friends who I haven't had time to fuel our closeness, 2014 is a new year!

And now a few pictures (without the kids faces) of our little family and the best times of my 2013:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 3-10

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Gotcha Day

Gotcha Day. December 20, 2013. A new adoption term we learned through our process is that of the Gotcha Day. The day the kids officially become ours in our hearts, although they are not 100% officially ours for another 6 months. So for our kids (and yes I like saying that) our Fowler Gotcha Day is 12-20-13.

Friday the 20th, I went to work as normal, we have half day Fridays which is awesome to get off at noon to get some errands run... and on this particular Friday, my mind was halfway across Texas. I saw one patient and managed to finish all my paperwork while having my head in the clouds and when 10 am rolled around I was done, checked out, and left work with lots of well wishes from my coworkers.

This was the day I became a mom.

Like for good. No more leaving the kids at their foster parents and driving away from them again, no more saying lets count down the days till we see each other again... These kids were to become mine on this day and I was being instantly thrown into the motherhood category. Boom - parenthood.

How do I even begin to describe how I felt... terrified is a good place, anxious, nervous, happy, excited, overwhelmed, stressed out... yeah that about sums it up. I'm glad that I had a long list of "to do's" that day because I would have gone completely bonkers just sitting around waiting for them to arrive... and I am a doer not a sitter as my mother is so staying busy is usually my comfort (as weird as that sounds). So after I exited work early, I went straight to the kids school to get them registered as Friday was the last working school day until the new semester starts on the 6th... so it was today or never pretty much... luckily I stayed up late working on their school forms (to which was also quite frustrating and I may have shed a tear or two bc I just didn't know or have some of their information. This is of course going to be part of the process for the rest of our lives bc some of their information that I come across that I will need I will never have... again such as some birth information or pictures and I again have never seen a baby picture of either child) ... so I turned in their school forms as complete as I could get them. I totally had sticky noted for the parts that I needed to go back and fill in their missing info... the lady looked at me like really? but oh well thats just how I roll.
Next stop was the grocery store. I mean they need food, right? So I set out to get us groceries... and I must digress here to say that I usually shop at walmart or albertsons... yes, I would like to be an HEB shopper bc I would like HEB, but something about the store drives me up the walls and stresses me out... so my coworkers and friends have been trying to get me pumped up into trying HEB. Literally every time I've gone in there I have had a nervous break down or disaster for some reason... even when I went with Robert one time... but anyways, I decided to go to HEB. I had time to use as the kids were not expected to arrive until around 5ish. It was raining heavily that day and their caseworker was a little behind schedule leaving town. So with my HEB giftcards (thanks again friends!) I started in the produce, grabbing some fruit and salad things, a few veggies, I moved onto the cheese and meat isle... and the panic began to rise.
Not only was I in the middle of an unfamiliar store on the biggest day of my life, but I had absolutely NO idea what to put in my basket. What do these kids eat, what do they like, not like, what makes them sick, what makes them happy, what is healthier options for them, will they try new foods, what I'm just wasting my time and this money for nothing... The questions took over me and I literally started to freak out... in the middle of HEB.

I was so overwhelmed by the questions and uncertainties and the realization that I had no idea what to do or what I was about to get into that the anticipation of this moment became too much for me emotionally, too much physically, and too much for me to mentally handle any longer. I broke down.
Thank God for his special angels that he places within our path at the right moments we need them most.
As I was having my breakdown I ran into the manager of HEB who happens to be a lifelong family friend and someone I trust. He was standing in the middle of an aisle and I just walked right up to him and started to cry. He knew we were getting the kids on that day in a few hours and just talked me out of my broken state. I am very grateful to him for being there.
So I collected myself and stepped up to the challenge of going down each aisle and finding some snacks and meal items to the best of my ability and headed to the checkout. There in line I ran into my friend again who was talking to the lady in front of me. She moved forward and I started to unload my monsterously crowded basket of stuff onto the conveyor belt. I had bought the kids some V8 berry splash juice... bc I had heard it was good, not that I knew what it tasted like, but v8 has veggies and fruit so it was a winner in my book... anyways, so the lady asked me if the juice tasted like tomatoes... I honestly just stared back at her bc I didn't what to say or how to begin, so I told her the whole story... "well let me tell you my story, I'm about to adopt two kids and needed to get them groceries and someone recommended this juice to me so I put it in my basket but I have never tasted it."     Her turn to stare.   "Now wait, you are adopting two kids and you are at the grocery store?" she said.
"Yes, they have to eat don't they."
"well when do you get them?" -lady
"In about 3 hours."
"Wow, ok. Well I'm blown away by what you are doing, and at Christmas time too, how cool..."- lady
I don't share that to pat myself on the back, but to say that even a little conversation about juice can lead to a chance to share what God is doing in your life :)

OK so I continue... I get home from the store, unload groceries forever it seems, and I desperately call my mom to see if she would be available to help me organize and somewhat straighten our house. There was still alot of little projects left to do and the kids' stuff was not all yet put up in their rooms. She was willing to come help and as she got out of her car I just crashed on her shoulder in desperate need of a mommy hug.
She worked with quick diligence and by the time 5 came around and the kids were 30-45 minutes away, we had the house somewhat cleaned up, dinner cooking in the crock pot, and my excited nerves in full motion.

We had talked to the kids on the phone that day and I knew that they were excited - Elva a little nervous and not feeling well from the drive- but excited none the less. This was a huge life change for the 4 of us and there was no turning back now! It's funny bc everyone was asking me all day how do you feel and even afterwards, how does it feel to be a mom? I don't know if I can answer that just yet. As I'm writing this its been almost 7 days and I just don't know if I feel like a mom just yet. Not completely. I know this isn't true in reality, but in my mind and in the atmosphere of our home right now I feel as though I have to earn that title - Mom. These kids have had multiple "mom" figures and right now I'm just another one of those... in their eyes they want to be here with us forever, but there is still a possibility we will turn out like everyone else and not keep them forever (of course we know thats not going to happen, they are ours and God has given them to us for a purpose), but none the less, I'm just not yet into the realization that I am now a mom. It will take time to hit me of course, but again its something that I want to show these kids that I can earn to be called mom.

So at 5:45 on December 20, whether I felt like a mom yet or not, the moment was upon me... and Robert, but I can't speak for him. He is always so calm and collected with things like this, drives me crazy but thats why I love him :)... with the down pouring rain, the kids came running in ... and with them a ton load of stuff. I mean bags and bags and trash bags and Christmas bags and more things here and there. The state will buy Christmas presents for children in foster care through various organizations and since they were still in foster care when the lists went out, they came with presents - about 12 each. It was quite a crazy mess in our house as we were trying to put their presents away in our closet, give them a grand tour of the home and of their rooms, as well as manage all the paperwork we had to do. The kids' caseworker and HollyAnn from Addys Hope were also in our home for this special occasion and to get our placement paperwork in place. I was signing things here, initialing there, stirring dinner, answering questions, and keeping track of important copies left and right... all while Robert was corralling the kids. They finally settled down playing the Wii while we finished everything that had to be legally done for us to have the kids in our home.

After we said goodbye to the kids' caseworker and to HollyAnn, we sat down for our first meal together. Waylon eats at about the speed of a tornado so he was finished quite quickly and Elva eats like a sloth very slowly, but they ate, we organized some of their things in their rooms, allotted time for baths, and then settled in Elva's room for our first family time. We prayed and allowed the kids to say prayers and talked about how grateful we were that they were here ready to be part of our family. It was a picture perfect time... they slept in the same room (Elva has a trundle that pulls out under her bed for Waylon when he wants to sleep in there) and we kissed them goodnight.

Then we headed to our room and finally was able to take a breath. Again things felt like a dream at this point... are there really two kids sleeping in the other room? And we get to do this forever? Oh no, what do we do tomorrow? How do we be normal and make this transition easy? And Christmas is coming did we get enough, what is there left to do? Questions again came into our minds, but all we could do is stop and pray. How thankful we were that this moment had finally arrived and yet how terrifying that it was here. Again I can't say that that first night was all magical or anything, after I got over my anxiety attack from earlier, it was just simply a very nice evening. The excitement will continue for a few days and then we will have some serious work on our hands, but this is what we signed up for and God willing there will be a perfect ending in sight.

And now to forever celebrating our Gotcha Day.

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:23

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Greater Purpose

Again I would like to start out by giving my gratitude to the wonderful blessings God has given me that are called my friends and family. For your support and prayers we could never fully say thank you as much as it is deserved, but please know how much you each mean to us and how we know with time that you will come to mean to our kiddos.

My heart is so swollen with joy and anticipation for next Friday. Just 6 days until we become parents permanently. 6 days till we jump into a whole different world. 6 days left with just the two of us and then we become 4. I feel this Great Wall of tears welling up inside me after seeing so much generosity poured out over us for the kids and just for the great realization that what we have prayed for is finally upon us. I really can't believe we are in this exact spot that we are. I don't really know how to react at this point. My emotions are everywhere- joy, love, anticipation, expectation, fear, tense, planning, nervousness, but mostly just love. I am finally at the point where I just miss them and ache for them to be here. Pictures only make that harder as I can't wait to see their smiles and faces in person again. I prayed for those faces, every feature, and I prayed for their smiles and laughs, so I'm ready to be around them. No more driving them back to their foster homes, they need to be with me permanently, my heart needs it. I find myself so tearful at times and ten again so happy and then so sad for some reason and back then to tearfully excited. It's just not real yet to me, but the two Waylon and Elva size holes in my heart are aching more and more. 6 days left and maybe I can take a breath and wake up from this dream.... But then again, we will have a new dream to begin.

I struggled with sharing the words in my journal with others. As soon as we began the adoption process back in March, HollyAnn suggested a journal, write down what I was feeling. Keep track of memories. Use it as an outlet, a way back to sanity in this emotional journey. And I've never been a writing in a journal kind of person, but just like writing this blog has helped to heal the scrambled pieces of my heart together, my journal has helped to do all the things HollyAnn said it would and more. It has helped me keep my eyes on my Father and to remember what is most important, following His footsteps. So I was trying to decide if I really wanted to share things I had wrote, but I just recently pulled it out and started from the beginning. What I read just took me back to the whole purpose and true meaning for why we have surrendered ourselves to this life. Let me share with you the first page in my journal, dated 4-24-13:

God has revealed himself in such a miraculous way in my life. How He has protected me, supplied for our financial needs, led me to my wonderfulf husband and friend, and been the source of comfort through all sorts of trials and tribulations, joys and smiles. As I think about where my life has come and how my dreams have become reality - maybe have changed a little from my original plans - but that have turned into something more joyous... I'm overwhelmed. God has changed my heart from its empty hole of jealousy, anger, rage, and longing... To one of hope, love, pure joy, obedience, and light. When He told me that I might never bear my own children, I thought He was taking away my future and all the happiness I had longed for, hoped for, prayed for, prepared for. 
BUT I was wrong. 
He was giving me the freedom to choose His plan for myself and Robert, the one full of all my dreams and desires, but also one that served a greater purpose than I could ever have imagined. One called to Adopt. 
This is our adoption story. 

I still remember exactly where I was when I wrote that (on a plane to Houston with our church staff). I still remember the emotion of that moment and it's all so real again to me. How many times as Christians do we pray for God to use us, but yet we aren't ready to surrender and let Him actually show us what it will take for our lives to be of greater purpose. I am not a saint or someone to be praised. It's hard for me to acknowledge people being so gracious with their words regarding us taking on this adoption and loving two children bc I know it's not me. Elva and Waylon were created to be my children and to live with us, teach us, and learn with us about how far and deep is Gods love. They had to start in a simple home with a neglectful mother first for some reason that we will only see why someday, or maybe never, but they have so much to teach the world and I hope they can find the ability to let God use them.

Of course the enemy has tried very hard to discourage and distract us during this whole time. I read through several of my journal entries about our struggles with the kids behavior and getting through the rough times into the joyous times. 11-24-13: No matter how far our son and daughter may run, we will chase them in Your relentless love. Though our tears may fall, our anxieties rise, we know this is Your will.
I remember before I wrote this I took refuge in the hotel bathroom. We were with the kids in a hotel room for thanksgiving weekend with our families in Dallas. We had just had a very tough night with Waylon. These kids have triggers, they have sensory issues to different situations, and we have a lot to learn about what makes them tick and then tock in harmony with life. That thanksgiving night was not an easy one. We had a small hiccup in our evening that lasted about an hour. If it weren't for Robert and his patience we would probably still be stuck trying to get our son out from hiding under the bed. We finished off the night and as always things end fine and we typically get to enjoy bed time with the kids, but my heart was so troubled that I had to find solitude in the bathroom - the only hideout in a hotel room. I haven't cried and fallen on my knees like that in a long time. My face hurt from the pressure of trying not to let me tears be loud but to let them come. I knew that the enemy of the world was trying to make me doubt everything and to forget every promise God had fulfilled and every truth about our little developing family. My insecurities and ignorance of motherhood was being driven at the front of my mind. My only escape was to fight it head on with my face to the ground and a pool of tears that I was willing to shed for those two kids in the other room. I cried out to God for them, their future, their hearts, their souls, their bonding for Robert and I... I asked for patience, for understanding, and plainly for God to hold me together bc I in that moment had lost all strength. Robert came in and was my stronghold. I have had many people say how we need to be careful to not lose our connection together and to make our marriage stronger... In that moment I knew we were going to be nothing but in this together. I need him and God has used him all the time we have been together to be the spiritual lead and I know he has needed me at times too, we can't work without Christ. And now as upcoming parents we have cried out to God more fervently than ever before for our kids.

That night God once again showed himself to me and although I had to keep my eyes focused on him with multiple prayers being whispered under my breath, I knew that no matter what distractions or struggles came that my God would be there to hold me as I fell on my knees again and again. I have a problem with expecting perfection although nothing has been perfect in my life except finding my true love, so God has had to break apart my fear of having a less than perfect child and having a lesser than perfect parenting moment. Aren't we all just figuring it out and going with the flow of whatever works the best? Not being an expert or even a few days as a parent yet I have figured out right now the best tool I have is prayer. Unbiased and shameless prayer. I have heard of many stories where mothers have prayed so hard for their children to turn from addictions and lives full of sin for years upon years. Those mothers had their prayers answered. How much so that I should commit to pray for my kids, for Waylon and Elva, and every kind of uncertain decision and future that awaits us. I believe in the power of prayer. And if you don't, I invite you to try it out. Not just praying but believing. God can do so much through a humble heart that prays. And I know that all of you who have committed to praying for my kids have just added to the power of mine and Roberts own prayers. Try prayer. I find it's best done just surrendered on your knees. Someone once told me if you want your life to change or something to get better- suck some carpet.

Oh, yes God we owe you our highest thanks. Oh the roads you lead us on aren't smooth or luxurious, but how beautiful is the scenery and the destination when we place our hope and trust in you. Lord continue to be my guide. I surrender it all and everyday I will give you my life, my loves, my all to you. 
Amidst the hard times, the greatest memories are the happy ones. We have been able to talk with both kids very openly now about coming to be with us forever to be adopted. While it's a lot to chew for these kids, they are very excited to become apart of our family. Yes I think it will still be a while before either of them calls me "mom" I know that when that day comes that it will be one of the best.

As of now the kids will be brought to us Friday. Then forever we begin the process of fulfilling our commitment to them and to The Lord and making ourselves a family. I can't wait!

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19 NLT)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Waiting and Learning

As we count down the days till they come to our home forever, we continue the story....

The rest of our first moments with our kids consisted of us taking them to a local park for the day, swimming at the hotel pool, and keeping them overnight for the first time in a small hotel room. Not to skip over the details, but we had alot to learn about these kids and we were very much thrown into instant parenthood without knowing even what they liked to eat or what time they normally go to bed. Now I know that babies do not come with an instruction manual, but most of the time you get to write your own manual on that child as they grow. We not only didn't have a manual, we didn't have the beginning secrets of what made them who they are. We had a great first weekend with them and we sure did figure out fast what their "triggers" were and we saw how they were going to try and push our buttons. Remember when we said this wasn't going to be easy...like any child who has an opinion about anything, we were to find out just what kind of love and structure Waylon needed, just how tender Elva was, and just how much they would get very close to pushing us over the edge. BUT we also learned what things made them laugh, how we could get them to smile, and that they would do anything when bribed with sweets (me too :)

Its fun and emotionally draining figuring out your child for the first time, while still trying to connect to them and form a bond, but without taking things too fast. We, again, were very cautious not to mention adoption or staying with us forever as through this whole process it boils down to the kids' choice after we have them in our home 6 months. Yes, the kids have their own special amount of rights and after we have them for 6 months, they will get asked if they want to be with us forever. How frightening that our kids could say no to us after all the hard work we are willing to invest. BUT thinking that way gets my anxiety up and honestly, this is in God's hands. He wouldn't have brought us this far and invested our four lives together if it wasn't in his purpose and plan. SO, I can think about the next 6 months or I can just take it one day at a time.

After we saw the kids for the first time ever in November, we began to keep up with them through phone calls. We would rotate days, calling one child a day just to say we missed them and couldn't wait to see them again. Its kind of weird to think back to those first few phone calls when we really didn't know what to say and how hard it was not to scream our WE LOVE YOU to end the call. Elva's conversations usually consisted of her just saying hi, I miss you, I drew a picture of a______ today, I miss you... and so forth. Waylon had more to say on the phone, but we had decided for the sake of making things easier on him, to have Robert call him on the phone.
I have to insert here that Waylon is a very good kid and just needs to be loved by a real family. BUT he once had a mom. A realization that we will live with forever, for he had to watch his family fall apart and take care of his little sister through it all in order for us to get where we are now. Waylon has seen love fall apart at too young of an age. I will never be able to take away his memories to start fresh, but I can show him how real love can be true and genuine.
So with that being said, Waylon was not very responsive to me at first. I was very cautious to follow his signals to keep the affection to a minimum and to watch my words. It was very important that I not push myself as a new mom onto him. Elva, sweet girl, was hungry and thirsty and for a family and latched  onto us like a leech. We had to watch how much we gave her attention vs Waylon. All things you normally dont have to think about with your children on a daily basis, but it was something that was constantly on my mind.
SO... during phone calls, we would have Robert call Waylon, you know, to have man to boy talk...
until the one day that he finally asked to talk to me. I must have looked like a fool all giddy as I was. I called his foster parent and heard his excitement from the other side of the phone as he asked Waylon if he wanted to talk to me. To hear that excitement was such a warm break through in my heart. Maybe, just maybe he would give me a chance. Now conversations with an 8 year old aren't the most interesting, but we talked about games and upcoming visits and what things he might like in his room... err uhh the one he would stay in when he came to visit... if he wanted to. Remember we had to avoid the conversation of forever and adoption for the time being, so to say what do you want in your room had to be further explained.

From that moment on, we would call both children together and spend time talking to each of them individually. I realize now how important it is to document your child's first words... but how even more important for us was to document the first time our children said I love you to us. November 22nd, the day we drove through sleet and freezing temperatures to reach our kids was the day that Waylon first said I love you to me on the phone while he waited our arrival. Elva first said those sweet words sometime in the week before while just having a typical conversation. How great those words are to hear. And how much I want to earn the emotions and feelings and meanings behind those words. I still can't wait for the day they call me mom, but I know I may have to wait for that one a little longer.

BUT wait I will do. Whatever it takes, I will wait.

11 days. The sounds of the kid's voices on the phone at this time are so much more filled with joy. We say I love you freely and openly to each other on the phone now, although at times Waylon is a little more reluctant to say it, but thats ok. Through everything I've learned to just accept things and to know that things are ok. God has a plan, He always has a plan. Do we want to follow it or not? Do we want to live in fear or anxiety or do we want to live in peace? frankly at this point, I definitely choose peace. 11 days. Counting down...to our little piece of forever.

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! 2 Thessalonians 3:16


Saturday, December 7, 2013

In that First Moment

I am writing this post on 11/13/13 to keep the memories fresh on my mind, but I know I'm not posting it until whenever today is...

On Friday, November 8, our world took a turn, a new page turned, a new road opened up and with it the floodgates of emotions and realities started to sink in... on this day we got to meet our children for the very first time.

After many weeks of praying for these children and patiently waiting for the next step, the next go ahead from the authorities that be, we were given the green light. As we drove from Midland the 4 hours to the city where they resided, I was emotionally wrecked with joy, happiness, anxiety, and fear like I had never felt before. I think I talked Robert's ear off with nervousness the whole way! This was the moment we were patiently (well somewhat) awaiting for weeks and weeks, the chance to see them face to face. The drive was totally a blur and seemed to drag on all day. Navigating to our hotel through an unknown city was hard bc of all the nerves.
We checked into our hotel and proceeded to get ready for the night ahead of us. With a few minutes to get changed from the drive and freshened up, I just prayed and prayed. There was nothing else I could do. Things were in Gods hands at that point bc my body was going numb from anticipation and fear. As I was unloading my suitcase a thought occurred to me...

"What do you wear to meet your kids for the first time ever?"

How strange and how not normal this situation was and how frightening that we were about to walk into this experience feeling like we were blindfolded and handing two little beings our hearts on a glass platter.The uncertainties and the fears were very real and very vivid. Of course, it didn't really matter what we decided to wear bc I'm sure kids don't really notice those details, but in a way we were interviewing to become parents... to our kids... so very strange. The questions began to run like crazy through my mind: what will they think of us? Do they know our names, our faces? What do we do when they get hungry, fussy, or tired? How will we break the ice? What if they don't like us, what if we aren't any fun to them? What if they refuse to go anywhere with us? I could have driven myself crazy with all the questions... and I could have let the enemy terrify me to death that I backed out and told Robert we had to drive back to Midland...
But no, God was my patience and my strength, He took my hand, whispered in my ear His calming words of encouragement, and led me through the hotel lobby, to our car, and with Robert, down the few blocks to the appropriate place we were to meet with the kids and their foster families.

The moment had arrived, as we pulled into the parking lot, we double checked the address, of course we were a few minutes ahead of schedule. Would they be in the lobby? What are the first words to my son and daughter going to be?

When a mother first meets their child, their newborn, I imagine it just being so emotional  and joyful and happily chaotic as you take in the child's first cries, first breath, first every moment in life. And as they grow you get to mark down their many firsts- first steps, first time eating solid food, first words, first smile, first laugh, first fall, first bruise or scrape, first ... You fill in the blank. And there's usually photos or video to document these momentous occasions  so you never forget.
At this time I have never seen a baby picture of either child. I don't know when they first developed their gross and fine motor skills (which kills me as a physical therapist), I have no idea what their first words were or what they liked to play with.  Their firsts were about happen for us and there would be no typical new mommy and daddy fanfare happening around us.
There was just two terrified kids and two even more scared adults.

So as we walked into the building and saw Elva sitting there next to her foster mom, my body could have just fallen over from how tense and nervous I was. My first reaction from my daughter was a glare. Who is this strange person staring at me? She was very timid and shy, as I would be if I was meeting a perfect stranger who looked at me like they knew me. Waylon came in a few moments later and was happy to unite with his sister. He didn't even give us a glance. And not that I don't blame him...this was not normal.

We were introduced and led to a room where we had to talk some logistical stuff with their social worker. From what I could gather the kids had been told about us but just small details. The kids were not exactly aware that we were wanting to adopt them. We were warned not to even mention adoption or "living forever" to Waylon (for many reasons, he just wasn't ready to hear it). Really... I couldn't even talk to my kids about them coming to be with me forever. How not normal again.

After discussing some things about the kids and the whole situation and after being introduced to several other members of their CPS network we were able to go through a photo album we had created about our families with the kids. They asked some questions but were anxious to see what we were going to do after being stuck in this room. I have to share the best moment bc it was one of the happy memories we will have of our first meeting... while talking logistics the kids kept coming to us with large strips of paper and measuring our heads. They informed us that they were gonna make us king and queen crowns. And that they did. Elva put hot Cheetos on mine since she really likes hot Cheetos and she wanted me to like them too. We kept those crowns on for a long time and I even kept them in an album- minus the Cheetos bc that would be gross.

I can't say that our first meeting was everything I had hoped it would be. We took them to a golf/go cart/skating/game room place to just play games and break the ice together. There was a lot of awkward times and some less than glorious moments, again we felt like auditioning as parents. All I wanted to say was please like me! I love you and I am really fun! But I just had to take it one step at a time. There are so many more details I could share but for the sake of time and not overloading my server right now I will leave you with just one more paragraph about that first day.

The stress of the day cannot even begin to explain the emotional roller coaster that we went through. How hard it is to stare right at the perfect beautiful two sets of brown eyes you had prayed over and decided to love many weeks before and yet to have those eyes blankly even give you a second glance.  We knew this was going to be hard, and knowing that these two kids are real people with real feelings and real opinions, just made it all that much harder. Robert and I had to trust God and to persevere through whatever doubts popped up around us. We felt like the most nervous babysitters in the world although instead we were pining for these kids to see past all the hustle bustle of the games and see Christs love through our eyes, a love that spoke of future to these kids. Elva is very loving and super creative, Waylon is also creative and smart and just playful boy. Together they are silly and super energetic. We love them. Though their first moments with us were less than a joyful and glorious chaotic happiness, we love them. The real challenge was now to begin... Showing them who we were and that we were there to be parents, to not be a babysitter or cool hang out person who would buy them tokens for game machines, that we simply and plainly love them.
Yes, the real challenge had now begun.

If you have been following us on facebook you know that we will officially be bringing the kids home on December 20th. We are overjoyed to be having them right before Christmas (although they sure are expensive to buy for :) and we are still in need of prayers. Throughout this entire journey we have definitely felt the prayers- keeping us safe on the road to see them, giving us strength to endure every rough patch and every crack in the road, giving us hope through each layer of the process- we have felt your prayers. And while we may fall apart at the end of the day from the stress, it is only God who has helped us stay strong. Thank you. December 20th is coming soon, and I know I have alot more to update this on and it will happen, just give me time to get my words right. Thank you all again for your support!

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE and GLORIOUS JOY, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9