December 8, 2013



Well, last week, on Thursday to be exact, Bella and Tootaw were supposed to become Popps.  Way back in May at the TPR trial, the judge set a hearing for December 5th stating that should give the agency plenty of time to complete the adoption.  (Especially since TPR had already been handled and they didn’t have to do a best interest staffing.)

But, here we are.

Not only did we not get to finalize the adoption last week, but the agency has not even started our homestudy.  We’re on our third set of caseworkers since July.  In July, the state switched the agency that is carrying the girls case and we’ve been less than impressed and frankly pretty underwhelmed at their competency.

Needless to say, I’m frustrated.  Annoyed.  If I knew who I could be calling (who seemed to care or have any control over the situation), I’d be on the phone.


…This is nothing that any of you who have fostered or fostered to adopt don’t understand.  The reality of working as part of a system that is utterly broken.




Someday soon it will be official.

Someday soon we will walk out of a court building holding hands and imagining our forever future together.

Someday soon.  Just postponed.


As Bella said to me the other night,

“Mommy, I wonder what it will feel like when we really are here forever?”

I don’t have to wonder long sweet girl.  It will be one of the very best days of my life.

December 2, 2013

‘Tis the Season.




  It happens every year, so I’m not sure why I let it surprise me.

The stores start playing Christmas music.

We put up our Christmas tree.

Lights are on the houses all around us (but not ours, because seriously, where do people find the time!?!).

And it’s like a cue is given, it’s like a switch is flipped, and our sweet girls and their broken hearts start to bleed again.  With the music, with the lights, with the tree, and with the traditions, it’s like their scabs are peeled back, exposing the hurt again.

So every year, as we usher in the holidays, we also usher in dis-regulation and regression.


Every Christmas is hard for our girls.  They are clearly confused by their feelings and revert back to an instant fear response.

BUT, I can also see growth each year.  As they look to us with increasing confidence for their comfort, and as our trust and love grows stronger – their hurt does not diminish, but now we can be their safe place.  We are praising God for growth.

This year we see the regression.

But this year we also see trust.  We see the girls looking forward with excitement to our family Christmas.  Their family Christmas.

It will always be hard. We are not their first family, we are not their only family, but it is clear in the joy in their eyes, that we are their family.

With that in mind, I am looking forward to this Christmas season.  Dis-regulation and all.

November 22, 2013

always there.


My kids love listening to Adele.  That’s normal for four year olds, right?

The other day, Bella asked me to put on Adele 21.

“Mommy, can you play that song, the remembering song?  The first one?”

Not at all sure what she was talking about, I put the cd in.  I put the cd in and started playing the first track.

“Mommy, this song is like adoption, isn’t it.  I think this song is about adoption.”

The song started, and I was caught off guard.  Immediately tears welled in my eyes.  The kind of hurt sprung in my heart that is so strong your not sure how to hold it in.  The kind of hurt that feels like your heart is about to explode with the rising of confusing pain.  How do I process this feeling in time to turn it around and help my daughter process what must feel even worse – her every day grief.


When will I see you again?
You left with no goodbye,
Not a single word was said,
No final kiss to seal any sins,
I had no idea of the state we were in,
I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and heaviness in my head,
But don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Please remember me once more,
When was the last time you thought of me?
Or have you completely erased me from your memory?
I often think about where I went wrong,
The more I do, the less I know,
But I know I have a fickle heart and a bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head,
But don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more,
Gave you the space so you could breathe,
I kept my distance so you would be free,
And hoped that you'd find the missing piece,
To bring you back to me,
Why don't you remember?
Don't you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more,

When will I see you again?


Adoption is beautiful, and Jesus orchestrates families through it.  But let’s not forget that every adoption begins with loss.  That our children have a grief so deep that as an adult it feels impossible even for me to carry.  There is no adoption without loss.  Let’s meet our children where they are, where they are coming from.  Let’s meet them in their loss, and if we need to, lets dwell there for a bit.

November 21, 2013




It’s been a while since I’ve been around here.

I think I just needed a break.  Mostly, I think I just needed to step away long enough as to give myself permission for this not to be a priority.  I was letting it stress me out when I couldn’t stay updated on everything, or when I couldn’t answer every e-mail that came in – so, I’m back-ish, but maybe not as consistently.

I do wholeheartedly appreciate the comments and the e-mails making sure that everything was alright and saying you were still checking just in case.  It really did bless my heart.

So, a very abbreviated update of what is going on around the Popp house:



  We are working forward on the adoption.  At least that’s what they are telling us.  We had two caseworkers in a row that didn’t do a single. thing. on the adoption while they were on the case.  Essentially we are still at square one, when we were supposed to be finalizing in December.  I’m irked.  Two and a half years.  That’s how long my babies have been in the system.  Let’s get it together DCFS.  Once the adoption is completed there will be no shortage of ‘constructive criticism’ directed toward the agency in charge.  State, consider yourself warned.



  I started homeschooling this year.  I can’t homeschool Bella yet, because in our state you cannot homeschool children that are in the state’s custody.  The plan is for her to start staying home after the adoption.  So, right now I’m doing preschool with Tootaw and Sylvia, with a very eager Naomi at their heels and a very curious Vi pulling everything out of every drawer she can find while we work.  It’s busy, but it is so fun. 


extra services.

  Tootaw still has the early childhood special ed teachers coming to the house twice a week – but after coming out to our house for seven months they have basically concluded that they aren’t doing anything that we aren’t already doing at home.  So, I think they’ll be ending services soon – which is actually a little bit of a relief. 
  Homeschooling seems to be the route for Tootaw for sure – we have seen SO MUCH progress just in the last three months.  SO MUCH.  She’s doing great, and as I continue to learn more and more how to cater to her sensory needs it will be even better.  Praise Jesus.  Progress we weren’t sure we’d ever see.


empowered to connect.

  This summer we were trained to be Empowered to Connect trainers.  We didn’t waste any time, and we’re actually already finishing up our first class.  It has been such a blessing to share this curriculum.  We can’t wait to see where God takes it, and how he is going to use us in this amazing ministry.
  Brian and I are also co-developing a foster and adoption care ministry at our church.  Still in the grass roots stages – but so excited for where it’s headed!



  They’re all getting so big.  Now I can say we have five kids ages 6 and under, which gets a lot fewer crazy faces than five ages 5 and under.  Of course, we’re always anticipating DCFS calling us with the girls’ baby sister.  I think about her all the time.


Vi.  So big.



Sylvie at her fourth birthday breakfast.



Naomi, very quick to remind you that she is two and a half.


…I can’t wait to get to share pictures of Tootaw and Bella.  Soon.  So soon.


Until next time.

July 12, 2013

SPD, FAS, and more!


Well, I’m still working on a post from Disney.  That’s a lot of pixelating.

In the mean time, I’m not sure I ever posted an update on Tootaw’s assessment and services.

In her assessment with the school district, they essentially decided that she had global delays.  They decided to send the early childhood special education teacher out to our house twice a week.   Initially I thought, wow, they see the same things that I do and we’re actually getting services!

After two months of them coming out I’m thinking, wow, I hope I can get out of this in the fall!

Mostly they’re doing some interactive play with her – but it’s nothing that we don’t already do at home on a regular basis.  I’m not seeing the benefit.  I think that in general, they’re a little off target on what the real issues are.

After a lot more research, most of what Tootaw displays looks like sensory processing disorder.  I don’t know if it is just straight up sensory processing, if it is the fetal alcohol syndrome displaying that way, or both, but either way, we address it in the same way. 

We also have cognitive hurdles to jump and a lot of retention issues still, which I can only assume is part of the FAS.

I think we’re going to go forward with getting an assessment done by a child development team at the university hospital close by.  They have a specialized team that I think will be more helpful in possibly getting some occupational therapy that is better aimed at the issues at hand.  The only thing that makes me a little nervous about this route, is that it’s possible it will require a diagnosis for services. 

There is not a question in my mind that she has sensory processing disorder.  We’ve been told as much by three different professionals that she has FAS (without a formal diagnosis).  I’m just not sure I want a formal diagnosis.  What if we can overcome most of this and she can move forward without ever remembering?  What if we can get to a point where it doesn’t matter that she or anyone else knows about these issues?  If we can, I don’t want a diagnosis following her forever, or her feeling like a diagnosis is at all who she is.

So, we’ll see.  If I think they’re going to have to do a formal diagnosis, I may back off.  Or maybe not. 

Through a training that we’re in the middle of (more on that later), we have learned a lot about sensory processing disorder, and I actually feel pretty empowered to work with it at home.  But, I’d feel better if I had someone outside of us deciphering if she’s making progress.

Speaking of progress, though, she has made quite a bit.  We’ve seen lots of changes, even in cognition, in just the last few months.  That gives us so much hope.

I think that when it comes to schooling, we’ll have some difficulty.  I’ve actually decided to homeschool (more on that later too.), and this is one of the big reasons.  I can go at her pace, repeat things as needed, and she can be upside down while I’m teaching her if she wants to be.  I think otherwise school would just frustrate her, and I don’t want that. 

Anyway, that’s a very short and somewhat jumbled summation of what is going on in that arena.  I know that there were a few of you who were interested in the route we were taking for getting her needs addressed because you see some of the same needs in your kids, so I wanted to do an update. 

We’ll just keep at it. 

July 8, 2013

One strand at a time.



Two years ago today we got a phone call.

There was a little girl, three years old, very sick, and in need of a home.  God softened our hearts.

“Can you take her?” 

“Of course.”

A thread passed through the loom and was pressed in tight as to never come unraveled.  A thread of a different color.  A thread of unknown origin.  A thread of anxious preparation, unknown challenge.  What would it look like in our tapestry?

We went and picked her up at the hospital, so sad, so scared.

We didn’t think that she could stay.  Not what we had planned for, not what we had been told.  What if it wasn’t good for our family?  But God made a way, he provided, and she stayed.

Another thread passed through the loom and was pressed in tight.  A thread of trust, a thread of faith, a thread of change.


We went through treatment after treatment.  ER trips.  Scary illness.  Improved blood counts. Healing.  Healing.

We went through visits.  Up and down.  Back and forth.  Trauma after trauma.

We went through vomit.  Refusal to eat.  Eating challenges and, well, not eating challenges.

Painful bedtimes.  Trauma tantrums.  Disregulation.  Hating us.  Loving us.  Confusion.

Whump.  Whump.  Whump.  Thread after thread pressed tight into the weaving.  Different colors. Some light, some dark.  Some thick and hard to weave in.  Some silky and soft.


Finally trust.  Finally attachment.  Finally smiles.  Finally food.

Joined by her sister. 

Threads of sparkling beauty added to The Artist’s creation.

Final goodbyes.  Painful last experiences.  Ties damaged, but hopefully not broken.

Threads woven with blistered fingers.


What was it that The Artist was doing?  As we watched one thread woven through at a time we couldn’t tell.  Sometimes it seemed like things would turn out ugly. 

Sometimes our ideas of what our tapestry would look like were stretched. 

Sometimes we couldn’t see past the thread being woven to remember who was weaving.


But now.  Now looking back.  Look at the beauty.  Look how they all fit together.  A story told to be retold, revealing the beauty that The Artist had in mind.  It is gorgeous.  Not without it’s pulls in the thread.  Not without sweat and tears staining the weaving.  But all for the glory of the Artist.

Faith that He knew what he was doing.  That he had a plan for how all the threads would look together.  Looking back over the last two years I wouldn’t change a single thing. 


And look now.




It’s beautiful.

And we’re not done yet.

Thank you Jesus for weaving things in that we would have never considered.


I love you Bella.  My Bella.  My daughter.  Forever.  Happy two years.

July 3, 2013

Daddy-Daughter Dates.



  My hubby takes our girls out on dates regularly.  He does one date night per week, and we rotate between the girls.  They LOVE IT.  We did father’s day presents where the girls had to answer questions about their Daddy.  Three quarters of the questions were answered with, “Going on dates.”.

What’s your favorite thing about your daddy?

Going on Dates.

What’s Daddy’s favorite thing to do with you?

Go on Dates.

If you could do anything with your Daddy, what would it be?

Go on a date to…

  They build lots of special memories while he’s winning their hearts.  Meanwhile they are learning how guys should treat them, show them respect, and love them.


  The day of their date, Brian calls them in the afternoon to ask them to go on a date with them.  And he always tells them to ask my permission – just in case the answer is no. ;)  As soon as they hear that someone is on the phone for one of them, they all get excited.  “You get to go on a date tonight!  Daddy’s on the phone!”  It’s adorable.

  Anyway, I wanted to post some pictures of date nights recently so that we can keep them in the memory bank. 

Naomi just turned two in April.  Two is the magic age where you get to start going on dates, so she recently had her first.


Out to dinner.


And to the pool.

She was very proud that she got to go on a date.  She kept telling me, “I go on date with Daddy!  We go pool!”



Sylvia’s most recent date was a picnic at the park and going on a flower walk.











And ice cream…


Bella’s most recent was going to a ceramics studio and getting to paint her own piggy bank and then going to dinner with Daddy. 






  Tootaw’s up next and I’ll post her pictures then.


I love my husband.  They love their Daddy.

June 30, 2013

6 Months.



You are loved.  Obsessively.  Rarely do you have a moment when you aren’t being smothered in love and attention. 

The life of a fifth child in a house full of mommies.




Sometimes I wonder what all this overstimulation is doing to your little brain.  But you seem happy enough – I think you’ll survive.  I think.


This month has brought all kinds of change for you.  All of a sudden you’ve figured out that you can move.  If there is something you want, you roll to it.  If you can’t roll to it, you squirm to it.  And, as the most recent development, if you can’t squirm to it, you army crawl to it. 


First time in the swing!  Sharing with your sister of course.

Five and a half months and you learned to army crawl.  It’s like you have four sisters to keep up with or something.  You also get up on your elbows and knees and rock, so I don’t think it will be any time at all until you are legit crawling.  Let’s repeat this together, ‘stationary is good. stationary is good.  stationary is good.’.


You’ve also started babbling this month!  It’s adorable.  No bias.  Much to your Daddy’s chagrin, your first babble was not ‘Dadadada’ like it was with your sisters.  It’s an unintelligible ‘Lablablabla’.  Definitely not Mama, but it’s not Dada either. Ha!


One morning when I went in to get you, this is what I found.  I think they love you.


You still do your awesome giggle.  Anytime you get remotely excited about anything you start to chuckle.  Huuuhhuuuhhhuuuhh.  I love it.  You’re a happy girl.


Essentially, as long as you are being held, you are happy.  You’ll do a few minutes in your exersaucer every once in a while.  But mostly you just like to be with Mommy, always facing out so you can see what’s going on.  Maybe you’ve just figured out that it’s a safer vantage point than on the floor with your sisters – but if your being held you’re happy. 


You love your sisters.  You giggle at them at the drop of a hat, and (most of the time) you love it when they hold you or make some silly attempt at entertaining you.  They love you too.  So much.  They are constantly singing to you, kissing you, hugging you, begging to hold you, and bringing you toys.  If you are upset, there is immediately at least one little mama there to try to make it better.  This morning when Naomi woke up, she crawled in bed with us and said, “Oh, I love you Vi-Vi.  Sissy’s here.”, and gave you about 200 kisses.  It’s adorable.  Sylvia is always singing to you and entertaining you with silly dances and sounds.  You think she’s hilarious.  She loves that you think she’s hilarious.  It works out well.  Tootaw is so sensitive to your needs.  She’s always telling me what you want when you’re upset.  Bella loves to hold you.  She looks out for you too, and is quick to reprimand anyone who isn’t treating you like a princess.

Oh, there’s that too.  This month we found out that Bella and Tootaw will be your sisters forever.  They were there the day you were born, and they’ll be there for your first birthday and every birthday after.  You can’t talk, but I know you’re rejoicing.



Bella snuggled up reading to you.


I’ve not given you any food yet.  I think we’ll wait a little bit.  Although, holy cow, you’ve gotten grabby.  I can hardly hold you when I’m eating because you pull anything off the table you can.  I think you may start exploring food all on your own by stealing mine.  Like last night when you stuck your hand in your sisters ice-cream cone and then put it in your mouth.  You approved.


You’ve gotten a little picky about who is holding you.  Right now you mostly like Mama and Daddy, which is just fine with me.  Daddy and I are learning a lot about attachment right now, and I’m just fine with you being securely attached to us.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I’ll hold you all you want.  We tried to leave you with our friends for the first time so that Daddy and I could go on a date, and we ended up picking you up about an hour into the date because you weren’t as gung-ho about the plan as we were.  That’s ok,  we’ll have plenty of time to go on dates without you.  For now we’ll just soak up that you want to be with us.



We’ve started putting you in your crib at the beginning of the night and bringing you in with us when you wake up.  You usually make it until about 1:00…which is almost too long for me.  I love snuggling you, so don’t get too used to that crib!  …mostly kidding, I don’t think you aim to stay in your crib all night for a while yet.




Your smile is contagious, as is your laugh.  I can honestly say that you bring joy to each and every member of our family.  We are so thankful that God gave you to us.  Anyone who might think that a fifth+ child might get less love and attention has never seen the adoration that you get.  We love you little lady.  So. So. Much.


Love you, love you, love you,


June 24, 2013

Goodbye and forever.


Last Wednesday the girls had their ‘goodbye visit’ with their mother.  Ever since the hearing we’ve been debating how to go about all of this.  Do we prepare them ahead of time?  Do we wait until after the visit so that we can be the comforters vs. the bearers of bad news?  How do we talk about something so traumatic?

Well, it turned out we didn’t have much say in the matter, because they called us Tuesday night to let us know the visit was on Wednesday.  Well then.  So much for preparation. 

Brian took the girls to the visit (an hour and a half away) so that one of us could be there for them afterward.  Also, I had recently e-mailed their birth mom a bunch of pictures from Disney and never heard back, so I wanted him to ask and make sure I had the right e-mail. 


The visit actually went relatively well.  Mom didn’t even discuss it being the final visit, but did give the girls some pictures of the family before leaving.  I have a lot of respect for her ability to not make it an emotional blood bath – because, really?  I can’t even imagine.  The only thing that could have gone better is if Mom would have taken some time to verbally give the girls permission for us to be their family, for them to love us and move on.  But, having been in this field for a while, none of us were really expecting that.



When they got home from the visit, we went ahead with bedtime.  Bella was clearly contemplative and a little quiet.  Then she asked it,

“Was that my very last visit with my Mom ever?”

I’ve been thinking about, praying about, preparing for this conversation for so long, and still it was like a punch in the gut.

“Yes sweetheart.  Yes, it was.”

Knowing that if at any point it is appropriate for the girls to have contact with their mom that we would be all for it – it was difficult not to want to comfort her with that.  But, from what we’ve learned (purvis, purvis, purvis) it is better to be straightforward and not give hope for what might not happen, at the risk of implanting a hope in a child that they could hang on to for years without any resolution.

She went on to ask all the questions.  Why?  How long is forever?  What is adoption?  Will I ever see them again?  Are they dead? 

Tootaw doesn’t understand what is happening at all.  Not at all.

Lots and lots of questions.  Lots of tears.  Some obvious relief for having some concrete answers.  Some relief that she does not have to say goodbye to us.  Lots of heartbreak. 



Since then we’ve seen a huge resurgence of trauma behaviors.  Trauma tantrums with hitting, kicking, spitting, biting.  The difference between a year and a half ago and now is that she trusts us, so with lots of help from Empowered to Connect, we are able to work through it.  We are able to provide comfort.  We can love her through it and connect through the pain.

But jeez, what I wouldn’t give to not have to go through all this trauma again.  We had worked through so much.  So. Much.  And now here we go again.  But this time around we are investing in forever. 


Thank you Lord.


Prayers for the hearts of our sweet girls are coveted.  Healing will come.  It will.

June 7, 2013

Popps in 2013.


Yesterday was the permanency hearing for the girls, to follow up the termination hearing we had in May.  I wasn’t really expecting to get any news from this hearing – the purpose was just to legally change the goal of the case from reunification to adoption. (!!!)




I got an e-mail from the caseworker today letting me know that the judge actually set a hearing date to finalize the adoption, saying that it should give the agency plenty of time to complete the adoption. (When I imagine it, the judge has a whip in his hand and snaps it as he gives the order.)

And so it’s set.  We will legally become a forever family on

                    December 5, 2013.


It seems like we’ve been waiting for so long.  Waiting for some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.  Some kind of permanency.

Not only for the last two years, but for our entire fostering journey our mindset has always been, has had to be,

we’ll see what happens.

who knows what will happen.

we’re just not sure where things are headed.

we can’t be sure until it’s over.

It’s kind of just become a way of life for us, and now, all of a sudden, we know what is going to happen.  We know what is going to happen, and it is adoption.

It seems so surreal.  I don’t think we ever really thought we’d get here.  We’ve been foster for 5 years and have never been in this place.

We’re adopting.

They will be ours.  Our daughters.  Forever.


December 5, 2013.

And you better believe that as of then, I will be posting their beautiful names, and posting hundreds of pictures of their beautiful faces.  Faces whose names will end in Popp.

They’ll be Popps.



May 31, 2013

5 Months.


  Oh little Vi, you are such a joy.

You’re not really very little for your age.  You are in the 75% for weight and 90% for height!  Weighing in at 14 1/2 pounds, you are definitely not struggling for growth!  I love your roly poly little body.


  What defines you is your smile.  Pretty cool thing to be defined by, eh?  You have a smile for anyone, anytime.  You give them away freely, and they are beautiful and full of joy!  It fills my heart to bursting every time you smile at me.  You are a gift from God.



  You make lots of noise, talking and jabbering with your sisters, or giggling at something silly they’re doing.  Your signature sound is this little chuckle that you let loose at anything reasonably funny.  Any time you get excited you start your “huhuhuhuhuhuh” laugh, and we can’t help but smile!  You jabber all the time – and you’re LOUD!



  You’re in a hurry to get moving, just like Sylvia was.  You’re rolling all over the place, front to back and back to front.  I can’t keep you on a blanket, so I just gave up and you roll all over on the floor.  Even though you know how to roll, your favorite position right now is standing.  If you’re being held, you like to be standing.  I’m afraid this is a sign of early walking.  No need for that.  Immobile is good. (This should be your mantra.)  You’ve started playing with toys, and you’ll even try to scoot to get to them.  Your working hard to catch up with your sisters, and I’m sure it won’t be any time at all before you’re running around with them, just as crazy as they are.



  You’re a big time thumb sucker.  This is new in our family.  You love. your. thumb.  Which I’m pretty ok with.  You put yourself to sleep with your thumb and in general are pretty happy as long as you have it.  And you can’t drop it.  It’s great.

  You are SUPER ticklish.  It’s very fun.  I can tickle you and easily get a belly laugh, which is all I need to brighten my day.  It makes you happy too.  I’m not torturing you for my pleasure or anything.



  You’re such a happy baby.  We trekked you all over Disney World for five days and didn’t hear a peep out of you unless you were hungry.  You’re a trooper.  It’s good.  You’re number five.  Happy is good.



  Your sisters love you.  Bella loves to hold you and sing to you.  She asks to hold you all the time.  When you’re unhappy she gets you toys, she picks out your clothes.  She just loves you.  She’s going to be your protector. She’ll be by your side, and she’ll have your back.  She’s a good big sister.

  Naomi laughs and giggles anytime she sees you.  She gives you kisses all. the. time. and she loves to snuggle you.  She sings to you in the car, and hugs you when you’re sad.  I think you two are going to be good buddies.  Naomi can hold her own, and I think she’ll stand her ground for you too.  You’ll never have to worry about having someone there to watch out for you.

  Sylvia is still your biggest fan.  You look so much like her I can hardly tell your pictures apart – it’s crazy.  She loves to snuggle you.  Loves it.  She’ll do anything to make you smile and laugh – which is why half the time I’m holding you, Sylvia is in front of me making funny faces and dancing.  She just loves to hear you laugh. 

  Tootaw loves you so much.  She loves to hold you.  She loves to ‘read you books’.  I think she’ll be the first to teach you to do really dangerous things.  Everyone needs a sibling to teach them to do dangerous things.

  Your sisters love you – but that doesn’t always equate with them being gentle with you.  But they love you, I promise.  Someday you may have anxiety at the feeling of being squished, but it was all in the name of being loved.



  You’re still great at nursing.  I recently started teaching a MAPP class, and your Daddy has kept you those nights.  You take a bottle like a pro, even though you hadn’t seen a bottle once until you were four and a half months old.  When I lay you down in my bed at night to go to sleep you giggle, because you know I’m about to nurse you and then snuggle you all night.  I love it too.  We love to snuggle.  Of course, as much as I love to snuggle you, you’re not really snuggly unless you are nursing.  Other than that, you like to be facing outward taking in the world.  You are interested in everything and loving life.






  I can’t imagine life without you.  Not even close.  You bring me joy even when I am at my wits end and completely frustrated.  I love your snuggles, I love your kisses, I love your smiles, I love your giggles, I love seeing your sisters love you.  You are a gift.  I love you.  So. So. Much.


Love you, love you, love you,


May 23, 2013




Well.  I’d love to be posting more often.  I miss it, and I hope that this blog will also be a way for me to look back at a rough overview of the important times in our lives. 

But, the whole five very small children thing…ya know?  It takes time!  Who’d have thought.  Maybe soon I’ll get a post up about Disney.  Maybe.

May 1, 2013




Today was the conclusion of the termination of parental rights trial for Bella and Tootaw.  All so very bittersweet.  I was anxious going into it.  I don’t think I was anxious as much about the outcome (it was fairly obvious what was going to happen) as I was about having to sit in the court room again with their parents and listen all day to all the things they screwed up. 

If you find it impossible to have compassion for birth parents in a situation like this – if you just can’t connect with them and empathize – go to a termination trial.

They are just people.
Thrown into the pool of life in the deep end, head first.
Usually with no support system.
Usually having grown up without role models.

A life most of us cannot even relate to.

So, I was not looking forward to sitting in the court room with them all day while they were trampled in all the muck they have left in their wake the last two years.


We got there and made small talk with their parents.  We’ve worked hard to develop and maintain a relationship with them and regardless of the outcome today, I wanted them to know that we still aren’t against them we are just for the best interest of the girls.

It took them a long time before they even started telling people they could come in the courtroom – attorneys in and out, lots of hushed talking.

Finally, the state’s attorney asked me to come into the courtroom.  Mom and Dad were considering relinquishing their rights and wanted to know if there was any way we would maintain contact.  Brian and I had already had conversations about this, I had discussed it with the girls therapist, and we knew that if possible, we did want to maintain contact to some degree.  Both their therapist and Brian and I agreed that initially it would be better to maintain contact through e-mail or P.O. Box.  We were hoping for an open adoption to some degree and to maintain as many ties to their past as possible.  Both for the sake of the girls and their family.


I left the courtroom to find their parents crying in the hallway.  The caseworker had just let them know that we were willing to maintain contact and Dad leaned forward and said thank you.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, but I walked over. 

We had a conversation about their fears.  I promised that the girls would never forget them and would always know that they love them.  My heart was breaking for them.  It was excruciating to be a part of.

I am thankful that this is how it all happened if it had to.  I felt assured through our conversations today that their Mom and Dad knew that we weren’t against them,  that they trust us to care for their girls, and that we love the girls and will forever.  We were able to offer support in such an awful time.  I felt like it was the fruit of working so hard to maintain a relationship.  Now, in the midst of such pain, they knew they could trust us, they knew we would not give up, they knew that all we wanted was what is best for the girls.  And in the midst of all that, it laid a foundation for continued contact.


It was excruciating to watch.
We hurt because they hurt.
We hurt because of the loss that this day signified for our girls.
So much brokenness.


All this will take a lot of processing.  I’m sure that I will post more on it as it all settles.  I wish it could just be a celebration, and celebrate we will when we get to our adoption day – but for now it is bittersweet.  So much hurt that is so visceral right now.

The sweet in all of this?  Right now I am looking at my girls.  My girls who will be my daughters forever.  My sweet babies that I will love and cuddle.  I will watch them graduate.  I will watch them walk down the aisle.  I will watch them pursue their dreams.  I will watch them heal and grow and flourish.


And, I guess, that’s the end.

April 30, 2013

2 Years.

Little bitty Naomi.  I’m not sure how you got to be two years old, all I know is that when I look back at your baby pictures there’s a little pang in my heart because it all flew by so fast!
This post is a few days late, but I have a good excuse.  In the last 3 weeks you have had a stomach bug 4 different times.  UGH.  That’s no fun.  Hopefully you’re over it, and you can enjoy the rest of your year much more. 

If there is one thing that describes your personality, it is passionate.  And opinionated.  And forward.  So I guess that’s three things.  What you lack in size, you make up in vigor.  When you are happy, you are so, so happy. 

But if you are mad?  Watch out world.

We’ve now removed you from childcare at church, and you have to stay in Sylvia and Tootaw’s classroom at bible study.  Like I said, you are forward.  Unfortunately, you are forward with your hands – in the form of hitting.  We are working through it.  For a long time you scratched.  You don’t scratch anymore, now you hit – we’re making progress.  (I think?)  Anyway, you have taught me some intense lessons on sin nature.  Thank goodness for Jesus, yeah?

But, that is such a very small part of who you are.  A very small part that will pass in a phase (I. Hope.).

You are talking a lot more now, with small sentences.  But you still go on 2 minute long monologues of babble that have us all stumped.  Clearly you are saying something, you’re just the only one who knows what it is.  I love it.


You have about as much personality as you could possibly pack into a little two year old.  You are bursting with life and energy – whether it be with ultimate joy or severe wrath, you let yourself be known.  Of course in our house you have to go loud or go home, so you’re just doing what you’ve gotta do.  You have hundreds of facial expressions that you make make sure you use in rapid succession as often as possible.  You have a wonderful giggle, and a very stubborn and obstinate “NO!”.


You haven’t weaned yourself yet.  Mama’s starting to think I may have to play into that process with you.  Your sister weaned herself at almost exactly two years old, but you want nothing to do with that.  You love to nurse.  You frequently climb onto my lap and tell me, “I unna sees!”  Which means, I want to nurse, and I’m going to insist on it until you give in.  It’s ok.  I love that you love to nurse.  I love that it comforts you so much.  I love that we are still building a bond that will last forever.  Someday you will wean.  I think.


You have just recently started asking to sit on the potty.  You have yet to go, but it’s a step.  Actually, one time, you asked your Daddy if you could sit on the potty and he obliged.  You went through the motions, with no real potty.  Afterward, Daddy shut the lid and stood you on the potty while he brushed his teeth, during which time you peed.  So, technically you did pee ON the potty, just not in it.


You love playing with your sisters.  And they love you.  Of course there is a fair share of fighting, but you wouldn’t be sisters if there weren’t.  You run around after them, trying to keep up with whatever make believe game they’re playing.  When you get tired of that you follow me around whatever I’m doing – usually pretty insistent on being held.  You love to be held still.  As independent of a spirit you have, you are still attached to me at the hip.


You know your animals and all of their sounds.  Your favorite is anything that growls.  You love to growl and frequently pretend to be a monster.  If I ask you if you’re a nice monster, you say, “Eat you up!”  I guess that’s a no.  You know some of your shapes and some of your colors.  You love to read books.
You look exactly like me, only with blonde hair and blue eyes.  We looked at my baby pictures last weekend and it is uncanny how much we look alike.  And you are tiny like me.  At two years old, you weigh a whopping 20 pounds and you are in 12-18 month clothes.  Teeny.  Tiny.


Regularly your dad and I look at each other and say something to the effect of, “Has ever a cuter creature existed?”  Of course, we won’t tell you that now, but when your 25 and reading this, I don’t imagine it will do too much to your ego.



I love you little Nay-nay Roo.  I love your passion.  I love your energy.  I love your zeal.  I love your teeny-tinyness.  I love that you always want your Mama (unless your grandpa is there.).  I love that you’re quick to say I’m sorry and I love you.  I love that your smile makes me feel like I must be the most blessed person in the world. 
I love you.
I always will.
When you’re 2.
When your 42.
When your 62.  (Lord willing.)

Love you, love you, love you,

April 16, 2013

Make a Wish!


  We’ve had quite a bit happen on the Make a Wish Foundation front!  I’ve not gotten to update much, but we have some girls around here getting very excited.


  Back in November the ‘wish granters’ came out and talked to Bella about what her wish was.  She wished to eat with the princesses in their castle.  After we talked about specifics for a while (dates we’d be able to go, more specifically what she wanted to eat and where…) the left our house saying, “We’ll get started on making it happen!”  It was like magic!  Like we had rubbed a magic lamp or had a fairy godmother or something!

  We’ve been in contact with them ever since, e-mailing back and forth about what the girls would enjoy and more specifics on our trip.



We are officially going on a trip to Disney World May 5th through the 11th!  They have arranged our flights, our accommodations, food, and rental car.  We just go, and enjoy the magic.  Really.  While we are there, we will have a meal with the princesses.

It is so surreal because we have done none of the planning.  I don’t think it will seem real until we are getting off of the plane in Florida!

While we are there we get to stay at Give Kids the World Village – which looks to have enough fun stuff to do to keep us busy the whole trip all on its own!



Not only that, but they are having a ‘going away’ treat for the girls before the trip and are sending us to a little girl salon for them to have their nails painted and hair done.  (Ha!)  This is something I would have never ever done outside of someone else completely setting it up for us – but I’m sure the girls will love it!

I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to see their eyes light up.

I can’t wait to watch them marvel at the magic of Disney World.

I can’t wait to watch Bella experience something that she never would have otherwise.



And who is more deserving of a trip like this than our sweet five year old, who in her life has already conquered cancer and lived through foster care? 


Can’t.  Wait.


Pictures.  There will be lots and lots of pictures.

April 11, 2013

3 Months.



  I know little Vi, this post is a bit late.  After Easter, stomach bugs, and broken clothes driers, I’m lucky I got one up at all this month!


  You are such a joy at 3 months.  You give smiles at the drop of a hat, especially to Daddy and I.  As soon as you focus in on us and see our faces, your whole face softens and lights up with a big smile.  And every time you smile at me, my heart feels like it might burst. 




  You still look exactly like Sylvia, but there is something just a little different about you that makes you Vi.  I can’t wait to get to know more of your personality to know if you are like Sylvia in that way too. 

  You’ve rolled over a few times – but not super regularly yet.  You’ve started making a lot more noises, trying to talk back to us when we talk to you.  It’s adorable.  You’re a chunkster.  At your two month appointment you were in the 90th percentile in height and weight, and I don’t think you’ve slowed down any.  Before long I think you and Naomi may be sharing clothes!



We brought out the bumbo just recently.  Your sisters thought that since you had a tray you must need a cup, bowl, and plate.


….and a princess hat, for good measure.  Although it looks a little like a pope hat.  Maybe they were offering you up for the job.


You’ve found your thumb now, and you love. it.  I’ve never had a thumb sucker, but you seem happy to be my first.  I’m not terribly upset about it, because you frequently put yourself back to sleep when your napping, or if your feeling tired you pop it in and fall asleep!  I’m not sure, as number five, if this is a survival technique or just your tendency….but it works.






Your sisters are still so in love with you.  And you are so obliging.  They hug on you, sing to you, kiss you, lick you (Naomi’s new thing), practically lay on you, and you just roll with it.  It doesn’t phase you in the least – and you’ve even started giving your sisters smiles when they talk to you.  They love that.  You have lots of people in this house who love you – it’s like you have your own cheering section that generally comes dressed in princess dresses and dirt.

You love to nurse.  And you love to cuddle your Mama.  And I am nothing but pleased with both.  I’ve still not left you anywhere just yet – I like having you close, and I think you like it to.  There will be plenty of time for us to be apart, so right now, I’ll just soak up the cuddles.


  Oh little lady, you have no idea how much joy you bring to my heart.  Even when all of your sisters are having a rough day, all you have to do is smile at me and I remember the joy in all of this.  I don’t think I could possibly love you any more than I do.  You are growing up so fast – it seems to be going even faster than it did with your sisters.  So slow down.  You can be my baby for a while, can’t you?  I’m eager to see your little personality and to watch you learn new things, but we can just take our time. 


I love you so much.


Love you, love you, love you,


March 25, 2013

So thankful, So healthy!



Bella took her very last dose of Chemo on Friday!!!  It seems so strange.  She’s been sick ever since she was placed with us – for the last (almost) two years, all we have known is hospital visits, tons of medication, and E.R. trips.  What is this life with no Chemo?  We can hardly remember!

Saturday we had a party to celebrate our sweet girl being a SURVIVOR!  We invited our family and friends who have played such a crucial role in helping our family through this trial.  Through prayer, meals, babysitting, encouragement – we couldn’t have done it without them.


At Bella’s last hospital appointment while still on treatment!



Bella with her doctor and her primary nurse.  After so much time at the hospital, these people practically feel like family!




We had the party at a frozen custard shop near our house.  Everyone enjoyed frozen custard and cake, and it was so great to get to celebrate with everyone.  I was overwhelmed at having all of these people together who have done so much to love our family and love our daughter over the last two years.


Of course, at the end of March, in only makes sense that there would be a big snowstorm during the party…



Photos of Bella from the time she came to us to today.  She looks like a completely different child.  She looks so healthy and happy now!






Nana and Grandpa



Ms. Chris, or Grandma Chris as the girls call her.



Reading books with Grandpa Richard.




Bella with our family worker.  She is wonderful!


It was a wonderful celebration!  I wish we had taken more pictures, but we were busy soaking up the moment.  We are so thankful, so relieved, so joyful that we are through this trial!  Although we’ll still be making a lot of follow up visits – no more yucky meds, no more lumbar punctures.  Our brave girl made it through!


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