April Eleventh

Eight years ago today, I was returning home after our rehearsal dinner. It was my last night as a single person. Our wedding was the next day! My heart was full of excitement and anticipation about what might lie ahead for me and Joey as a couple.

Five years ago today, we assembled a wooden bunkbed in one of our empty bedrooms. We had just completed our pre-service training and submitted an application to be foster parents. We would begin our home study process in the coming months. Our weary hearts clung to hope and trusted the Lord for what might lie ahead for our household.

Tonight, as my faithful husband studied for an exam in another part of the house, I drank hot tea with our three young kids. We sipped our peppermint drinks from mugs that Joey and I received as wedding presents. My 4-year-old reminded me that, earlier in the day, I had suggested we might bake a cake for what she called our “celebration day”. I agreed that should be on the agenda for tomorrow while Daddy is at work. Then, I helped the two oldest climb into the bunkbed and held their hands until they fell asleep. I prayed for all our kids, with my heart full.

0411162229_HDR-01

Lately, my heart is stirring. It’s nestled in a place between feeling “carefree in the care of God” while also restless for the Day our broken world will be made new.

As I wait, I look back on my adult life.

When one’s days are long and a dry season seems to linger, it’s good to step back and remember what God has done (and is doing). He is good! He is orchestrating our lives for His glory. The LORD is sovereign and holds all things in His hand.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

On this anniversary eve, I trust my life to the One who is directing it.

.

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

Party Day

“M” was very excited about her classroom’s party for Valentine’s Day. Each morning this week she asked, “Is it party day?”

Although our family has had some challenges the last six weeks (which has meant a hectic schedule), we wanted to help make her day at preschool special. So Daddy went to school!

valentine2016bvalentine2016a

.

The Room Mom always does a great job organizing the holiday parties. The students decorated cupcakes:

valentine2016c

.

And they played the Pie Face game. Each child received a heart with the number of clicks to spin the handles. I’m surprised that “M” braved it! It looks like she had fun!

valentine2016dvalentine2016d2

My heart sunk a bit when Joey told me that she got whip cream in her hair! But he did a great job getting it out with wet wipes without messing up the style. I did her hair the night before and hoped it would last several days — Dad saved the day.

.

Of course, for this little one whose love language is Words of Affirmation, the valentine cards were her favorite. She read the names when she got home and beamed with happiness!

valentine2016f

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Preschool Portrait Day

“M” was sick on the first picture day scheduled this fall, so this photo was taken December 2015 on make-up day.

I’ve never been a fan of studio lighting for her skin tone, but she’s still a cutie pie!

She wore flat twists gathered into two puffs. It was a style I could do the night before with very little fussing in the morning. It’s hard to believe  “M” is four years old already!

Preschool 12-2015b

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Holiday Happenings

The months of November and December are so busy, aren’t they?  But lots of memories and fun are packed into those short weeks!  Our home was no exception.  We enjoyed visiting extended family and welcomed a new sibling right before Christmas. (It’s getting hard to find photos of “M” without any of the babies; she loves being near them!)

2015-Nov-Dec-a2015-Nov-Dec-b2015-Nov-Dec-c

.

We were able to see the Festival of Trees and Trains again this year.  “M” made many beautiful crafts in preschool.  And we looked forward to opening a new door in the LEGO Friends advent calendar each morning!

2015-Nov-Dec-d2015-Nov-Dec-e2015-Nov-Dec-f2015-Nov-Dec-g

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

..

.

.

Halloween and Fall Fun

tinker-bell-costume

Our little lady requested Tinker Bell for Halloween. (We found a cute option online.) This was her first year trick-or-treating, and she got to wear the costume two other times at parties. It’s so fun to watch her imagine at home in her fairy dress!:)

1029151740b-01 IMG_6113web 1030151401aWeb

.

.

All the kids have enjoyed playing outside this Fall as well!  I’ve noticed that I haven’t taken very many photos while we’re out so I captured a few yesterday while Dad was blowing leaves / cleaning up the yard.  Here’s a few of “M”:

IMG_6154web leavesIMG_6287web IMG_6251web

.

.

We also got portraits taken yesterday for the babies’ birthdays.  We got one shot of them together, which is adorable.  She loves her Bub and Sis so much!  I can’t share pictures of those cuties, though.  “M” is growing so fast!  She’s such a little lady, now.

P16a P22a

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

.

fourth birthday

A few days ago, I was reminded what our life looked like before children.  It was quiet and mostly boring.  And filled with longings and hopes and anticipation.  It was a good reminder how much has changed in five years.

During that time, we prayed that our home would be filled with children.  We asked for a family.  HOWEVER — although we knew there would be joy in store for us as parents — our focus was not solely on our gain.  We wanted to give a safe family to a child.

I was also optimistic and idealistic about our relationship with our future child’s original family.  Now, I know that open adoptions are hard. Closed adoptions are hard.  Adoption is complicated and no “cookie cutter” solution works for your child and her two families.  Even so, I am so grateful we get to raise “M”.  She is a beautiful little person.  We pray for her birth mother as we celebrate M’s birth and life.

adoption-heart-necklace

Necklace from Grandpa and Grandma that “M” received after her adoption.

.

We have had a fun weekend celebrating her fourth birthday!  (And we look forward to more excitement this coming weekend.)  She received so much love expressed through gifts and guests and well wishes and texts and hugs.

hello-kitty-birthday-cake

Birthday girl with her Hello Kitty cake.

birthday00a.

“M” took a special treat to preschool today for snack time.  She, of course, helped make Minion cups (so easy!) and fill them with popcorn (so inexpensive).  She was thrilled!  Win-win.

0928151000c-1 IMG_6042a0928151100a-1IMG_6034a.

After school, we spent the evening playing at a park and enjoying a picnic as a family! :)  We love our sweet four-year-old!

swing-polaroid.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

this hair journey

I think about hair often.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how the community of adoptive families can be so helpful and supportive. We all want the best for our kids. Yet, when it comes to transracial adoption, talking only to other White moms about hair can sometimes give a new parent incomplete or even over-complicated ideas about hair care. Still, other times, the advice is accurate but not age-appropriate. We “try our best” but, in some cases, our best is simply insufficient. We need more tools. More resources. More help.

05-23-2015

.

In February, I joined an online hair care group specifically for transracial adoptive families. I deeply appreciate the thorough instructions and patient advice directly from Black women in this group.

 – I have learned I am doing some things well.

 – I have learned I need to gain more understanding (and practice) on some other things.

It’s been stretching but SO GOOD for my daughter’s hair!  Prior to joining the group — I watched YouTube videos, read natural hair bloggers, bought all the books. I would receive many compliments on M’s hair, but — secretly — I felt that I did not have enough knowledge to earn those endorsements.

Plus, basic hygiene is the role of a parent. I don’t like getting praise for doing M’s hair well.  It’s what I should do!

IMG_4446b.

I have more to learn (particularly related to culturally-appropriate styles and accessories), yet I have made progress in the last six months.

Most importantly, I have learned that daily care (and styles) need not be complicated.

We have tried to focus on healthy hair using the L.O.C. method (layering liquid, oil, and cream). Unfortunately, in the past year, my hands have started to react to oil. I originally thought it was just coconut oil but I seem to get teeny tiny blisters on my palms with olive oil and avocado oil too. They itch, feel dry, and eventually open. I’ve been wearing gloves (tried latex, vinyl, and nitrile) while doing her hair but haven’t been able to completely eliminate the issue. Plus, I don’t feel like I can stop using the products because they work so well for her.

moisturizing vs sealing oil.

I even started a hair journal to try to narrow down the cause but  I haven’t had much success. (I abandoned the hair journal a while ago.)

0530151911-1

The natural hair movement has done a lot to empower women to stop chemically altering their locks.  In the beginning of our journey, I sought advice from these experienced women who were giving tips to other adult women transitioning their hair to its natural state.  I made a big mistake when I transferred that advice given for adult women to my care of a child.  It seems obvious now.  But I did not understand what styles were age-appropriate for a toddler.  To complicate matters, many mainstream advertisers feature African-American girls in afros only.  (But loose hair is common for older teens only in most regions.)

I have tried to keep styles simple. I really have. But I find that puffs get dry and so tangled, and her edges get broken and thin when it’s merely smoothed back over and over. So, I prefer flat-twists: they hold all day (or three!) and I can put them in quickly and they are protected / moisturized AND (most important) she experiences less breakage. For now it’s what works.

Our goal is healthy hair. 

I want my child to love her hair. To learn to care for it herself. To know that she is wonderfully made.

05-01-2015

flat-twist-ponytwists

We are still on this journey. Still learning. Still taking advice (with more discretion!) for her sake.

.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio.

.

.

.

.

Peace in Transition

March-2015-bw“M” has grown and changed a lot this spring. Her legs are longer. Her face is slimmer. She is speaking more clearly (and confidently). She can keep her panties dry all day. These days are passing so quickly!

Two years ago today, we finalized M’s adoption.  We are thankful for her life and for the privilege to raise her.  I am reminded that children are a responsibility, and parenting them for God’s glory matters most.

We do not celebrate “Gotcha Day” in our home.  For some reason, though, I couldn’t get M’s adoption day off my mind today.  It was a wonderfully ordinary day.

In the last few years, I have matured in my understanding of adoption-related issues and its complexity.  It’s hard.  It’s heartbreaking in ways.  Yet, adoption is not about the parents.  It’s a promise to a child to provide, to nurture, to train, and to sacrifice ourselves by bringing her up in ways that honor God.  We also want to honor her birth family as much as we can.

April-2015-butterfly March-2015-blueberry March-2015-momma.

We don’t know what the future holds for our family.  Truthfully, we haven’t for a while.  Maybe it’s because we regularly have new children in our home, but we feel “in transition” all.the.time.  It’s okay.  At least we don’t have a false sense that we are in control!  That realization is a gift!

For now, Joey is planning to start grad school in January, and the online program takes two years.  He will be a great Nurse Practitioner.  From there, we’ll see where he gets a J-O-B.  We love where we live now.  Yet, we would like to be in an area with more racial diversity so our neighbors, church family, school peers, and friends look more like our home.

We trust the One who is orchestrating all the details.  God has formed our family and we lean into His plan.  We have hopes and desires that we believe line up with His, and we’re watching Him direct (and redirect) us inch by inch.  Oh, I am so glad He is patient!

Just as the previous two years have FLOWN by, we know the next two will as well.  Sure, day-to-day life will have ups and downs as we wade through it; but, we are firmly anchored to the Rock.  He is unchanging.  We have peace in transition.

May-2015-smile

July-2015-zoo.

– – – –

Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. 

.

.

.

.