Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dear Anna Bowden,

February 22, 2013
Dear Anna Bowden,
                I cannot believe that you will be arriving in just a few weeks. It seems like just days ago that your Daddy and I found out that we were pregnant and would be adding a baby to this crazy family of ours. Little girl, I do not think I will ever be able to explain the amount of joy that you have brought to our family before you were even born. Let’s be honest, I hope that I can always be honest with you, you were a surprise baby. A big surprise! I think that when you are much older you will understand the very unique nature of the timing of your entry into this world. You see, you know those crazy big brothers of yours? We legally adopted them when I was ten weeks pregnant with you. I know, God has funny timing, huh?
                Your big brothers had been in our family for just about five months in July 2012 and we were learning how to be a family. It was hard. Mommy cried a lot out of sadness and out of exhaustion. You see, I felt a lot of pain for this broken world that Jesus wants to heal, but that mere people like us cannot fix on our own no matter how much we want to. Daddy and I decided that becoming parents to three sons in one year was an awful lot of responsibility and we would not even talk about having a baby or adopting another child for at least a year. I was thinking maybe not for 10 years! And then one day, I just kind of knew that you were in my belly, so I took a pregnancy test. And, voila, we knew we had something special on our hands. Daddy’s first words were, “Well, I hope it is a girl because Violet needs a friend.” Actually everyone we knew was rooting for you to be a girl since I lived in a house full of men.
                The mere knowledge of your existence has brought shouts of excitement and tears of joy from your grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends near and far.  You have brought joy and healing to this little family without even trying. We are praying that your sweet presence will be an adhesive to our family that you will bring us all together more strongly than ever. We are praying that we are all blessings to you as you grown into the woman God wants you to be.
                The experience of being pregnant with you has been amazing. I never knew that I wanted to be pregnant and often thought that we would build our entire family through adoption. However, feeling you in my belly and having this time to think who you are and pray for who you will become is humbling, sweet and so very special. You are a delight to me and already the apple of your Daddy’s eye. Scripture tells us that sons are an inheritance from the Lord and Daddy loves his boys, but your Daddy is a sucker for you before you have even entered this world. To see his eyes light up when we talk about you or when he feels you move in my belly is sheer joy to me.
                I often wonder what you will be like. I wonder what you will be interested in. Will you be a talker like your mom and grandmothers? Will you be a musician like your aunts? Will you like to run, to swim, to play softball? Will you be an artist? Will you love to read or will you be a math brain? Or maybe school will be tough for you. Perhaps you will be uncoordinated and not like any sports. Maybe music and art will bore to tears. The excitement and fear is that we simply have no idea. However, this has been my prayer for you, “Lord, I pray that Anna Bowden will change her world.” This is the Scripture that I have started praying for you: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with your wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
                So, my sweet little lady, I am counting the days until you get here. Even your brothers are excited, though they are too cool to really say so. Your room isn’t quite ready for your arrival, but our arms and our hearts are ready to embrace you, so feel free to drop in as soon as you are ready.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Past Four Months in Bullet Points

  • July 6 - Sign Intent to Adopt for all three boys. The first true legal step in the adoption process.
  • July 8 - Find out that I am pregnant! To be clear, and maybe to disclose too much, we have never tried to get pregnant. We had not battled the pain of infertility. Adoption was our first choice. We had tabled the idea of birth kids for awhile. God had different plans! 

 We spent July 8 hiking to Laurel Falls. 

 This is the last picture of me in minor oblivion to being pregnant. We stopped on the way home from the mountains and I bought a pregnancy test.

  • August 13 - Finalize the adoption of Jerrett, Mikie and Elijah! 

 Last minute paper work.
 Births happen at hospitals, but adoptions happen at court.
 And, sometimes you wait a LONG time. 
 First, official family photo in the Judge's chambers after we swore to everything and signed everything. 

 We celebrated the rest of the day boating.

  • August 18 - Celebrate the adoption with a huge party at our house, all while keeping our little secret. 
  • August 19 - Tell the boys a baby brother or sister is on the way. 
  • October 2 - Find out that child #4 is a GIRL! 

Whew. So that is what is  up with us. How is everyone else?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where Have I Been? Or Why I Am Not Blogging About My Kids

On February 10, 2012, my life changed forever when three incredible boys became part of our family. You may have read about it here. I have been an advocate for adoption, foster care and adoption for almost ten years. My husband and I planned on beginning our family through adoption during our engagement. I have wanted to be an adoptive mom for such a long time. I have dreamt of “Gotcha Day” the way that most women dream of baby showers and planning nurseries. I had hoped to write about my journey to encourage others and show the real side of adoption, and in our case foster care. I wanted to write honest posts about our life, but when the boys came to us it really hit me that it isn't fair to them to expose their lives to a reading audience. They are human beings not content for blog posts. 

 I have always trumpeted God's call to care for the orphan, but orphans are people not a cause. Even the word orphan sounds awkward at our house. My husband and I have stopped wearing various and adoption and orphan care ministry t-shirts that we have accumulated. Our children are real people not defined by a legal status, preconceived notion or statistic. My children's lives have been filled with trauma, tragedy, loss and confusion. The very deep hurts that they have experienced are now causing deep hurts for my husband and me as well. I cannot write adorable anecdotes about our victories while not writing about our many defeats.

The decision to not write about our journey has been difficult, but I feel certain that I should not expose my boys’ story to an Internet audience. Without knowing their story sharing our story is not genuine. I would give a one dimensional view of a shiny happy family that isn’t fair to represent to people who are looking to me as a true and honest voice about foster care and adoption.

Once our children are legally adopted, I will post pictures and give life updates. (Until then I have gotten really good at taking pictures of the back of their heads.) There are some great blogs available to people interested in adoption. Do a quick google search and you will find dozens. You just won’t find mine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My So Called Life

Andy, Sam, the boys and I are all adjusting to our new normal. Our so called life is delightful so far. I know that this is the honeymoon period, but we are having a great time. We had a pretty low key weekend at home while we unpacked and got some schedules in place. We did splurge on Saturday and went to lunch at Chick Fil A (my choice) and to see Star Wars in 3D (the boys' choice).

We had a fun and sugar-filled Valentine's Day. Sarah showed up at 6:30 a.m. with Krispy Kreme for everyone. Now that is true love because she isn't a morning girl! We had doughnuts and waffles and Valentine's cards all around. Then last night we had a fun fondue night for dinner.

I can't use names on the Internet, so I will refer to the boys by their birth order. Here are a few updates.

Our #1 son is every single bit a 13 year old boy. He is obsessed with getting a cell phone or an iPod touch or both. He is having some academic challenges, so we will spend a lot of time on that. He is a big hearted, sweet and very helpful boy. While he isn't very motivated in school he is very respectful and likes all of his teachers. The same attitude translates to home where he will help with anything that is needed and he is very kind to his little brothers. He is the peacemaker of the group. He came home from Valentine's Day at school with a new girlfriend. Oy vay.

Our #2 son is 12 years old and is one sweet heart of a kid. At least once a day he calls for "Hug Time"! Which starts out as a hug, but usually ends with him trying to crack my back. We are about the same size, so he usually does a pretty good job! #2 has some special needs and is in Special Ed at school. He has a great teacher that is helping me learn to navigate the system. Due to his special needs he is an immature 12 year old, but he is super sweet and still wants me around so I will take immature for awhile. He has a stuffed animal cow that he loves named Moo Moo. I used to love cows and had a stuffed cow in his room when he came for his first weekend. I know it sounds silly, but I considered it to be something of a sign that we should adopt the boys. We are learning his triggers for bad behaviors and working on ways to prevent bad behaviors and correct bad behaviors.

Son #3 is 9 years old and the charmer of the group. We made school Valentine's for for his class and since he is still in elementary school he had a class party. Another mom whom I met invited me to attend, but I didn't want to bust up on his boundaries and make him feel uncomfortable. I asked him over the weekend if he would like me to attend. He decided that he would like me to come and I was overjoyed. I seriously almost cried! He came home on Monday and said, "Don't forget the party is at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow." Apparently, last week he announced to his class that he was getting adopted last weekend. I have been most concerned about him emotionally during the transition, so that was very encouraging to me. Andy also got to go to Cub Scouts with this week and they are building a Pinewood Derby Car. He is at such a fun age and I am hoping having two supportive parents is really going to help him blossom.

So, that is the big update. I am pretty worn out and yesterday felt pretty hectic, but at the end of the day Andy said, "Our life is so fun now." I have to agree.

(Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I can't show off the boys until they are ours legally!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Today, I Become a Mother

I woke up this morning with a giddy excitement because today I become a mother. Our three boys move in after school today. Last night, Andy and I had our last supper with just two people (Sam was out). Last weekend, we celebrated our second anniversary by going to Chattanooga, so I guess that was our "babymoon." This morning instead of grabbing my hospital bag and munching on ice chips I brewed up a pot of Peet's coffee, tried to read my Bible (but I couldn't focus) and then hit the YMCA for a run to get the jitters out (it didn't work). Then I made a quick run by the store to get some essentials like 2% milk and "normal" salad (the boys will eat iceberg lettuce and carrots with ranch, but my exotic blends of field greens, chickpeas and feta do not go over well). Sweet friends are filling my freezer with meals to use on the days that cooking doesn't seem feasible. I am trying to make homework stations and plan morning routines as well as decipher doctors and boy scout leaders. Eager grandparents are making plans for their weekend visits to meet the newest family members.

Who knows what our coming months hold? We are praying for a smooth emotional transition for our boys. We are praying that they will find joy by being in our family. We are praying that we bond and attach to one another. We are praying that laughter fills this place as much as the stinky boy smells will.

So, I won't spend today in a hospital checking vital signs, but when I go to bed tonight I will be a mama to three precious boys. This morning when I couldn't read my Bible, I finally just flipped open and this is what I saw, Psalm 127. Perfect.

 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord xwatches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious ytoil;
for he gives to his zbeloved asleep.
Behold, bchildren are a heritage from the Lord,
cthe fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of da warrior
are the children1 of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies ein the gate.2

Monday, February 06, 2012

On Being a Mrs.

I received this coffee mug as a wedding gift. I was sipping my morning brew from it a few weeks ago and it struck me how much I love being a Mrs. and not just to anyone, but I adore being married to Andy.
 Two years ago today, I became  Mrs. Andrew Nack.  I realize that is a pretty old fashioned title and I do not go around calling myself by my husband's name. However, years gone by there was a sense of honor in marrying a good man and taking his name. I feel that sense of honor today and feel so blessed to be married to Andy.

The past two years have opened up the world of marriage to me. I know that Andy loves me securely through all of my meanness, emotional instability and critical nature. Honestly, Andy brings out the best in me and even when the worst of me comes out I have not doubted his deep love for me even once. I have seen the way he has decided to put aside the easy road to follow God's call for us to open our home to Sam and now to our three boys. I have learned to be a team united in heart and purpose. I have learned what it is to be cherished. Andy brings me flowers every week. It started as a joke early in our dating relationship and he has missed very few weeks since then. Andy opens my door getting in and out of the car. It drives some of our friends bananas, but he loves to give me the place of honor and treat me with special attention. Andy holds my hand all the time. It is so sweet to me and we plan to be that cute, old couple that is still holding hands at 90. 

Last week when we met our boys' mom she mentioned one reason that she was supportive of our plan to adopt was because there was a man in our house. With tear filled eyes, I told her that Andy is the type of man that she wants her boys to grow up to be. I told her that he is faithful, honest, hard working and treats women with the utmost respect. He is tough, he is tender, he is smart and he is funny. I am so excited that Sam and our boys have Andy to look to as a male role model. 

So, with a man like that, I gladly take the title of being his Mrs!  Happy Anniversary!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Jumping In With Both Feet

Over the course of a three day weekend we fell in love with three boys. We had been thinking about and talking about the boys for almost six weeks when we finally met them. We had a great weekend with them watching movies, playing basketball, playing board games and generally laughing. Over the course of the six weeks of waiting to meet them, I was warming to the idea of adopting them, of giving them a forever home. When I thought about myself, my ideas and my plan I always said no. But, when I thought about the boys and what they needed my heart had to say yes. From our first hours together, I knew that we would say yes to bringing them into our home and family. On the technical side, there are still some legal issues to resolve and we will not be able to petition for adoption until the boys have been in our home for six months. Until then they will technically be foster children in our home.

We have been sharing our news with family and inner circle of friends and have begun the preparations for becoming full time parents to three adolescents. I have started meeting teachers, filling out field trip permission forms and planning chore charts. We have been test driving mini-vans. I have been researching attachment in adoption with older children and praying almost constantly for help. In essence, I am in the adoption nesting phase. We are thrilled, exhausted and anticipating our future with our boys.

The boys were told by their current foster mom and case worker that they will be moving in with us on February 10 and that we will be adopting them. Though they have been told before that they cannot return to their birth parents, they are truly understanding and accepting that fact for the first time now. They are understandably sad. Our boys have (and will continue to have) a relationship with their parents and they love them very much. We were able to meet their mom this week. She is sweet, precious and loves her children so very much. What she wants most for her boys is that they grow up to be productive and happy people. She is giving us the opportunity to help the boys achieve that. I cry every few hours as I ponder the reality of pain, loss and grief in adoption. Our great joy is coming from someone else's great loss. While we are very excited about adopting the boys, as are our friends and families, the boys are not able to express those same emotions yet. I pray that they will come to a place of joy of being in our family. I pray that they are able to see what they are gaining and not only what they are losing.

So, starting next week, I ask that you treat me like the mother of a newborn. (Newborn triplets, maybe!?!?) While my nights won't be sleepless and I won't be trying to schedule feedings, I will be buried in figuring out school schedules, driving to boy scouts, helping with homework and laying the foundation of a new family. If you don't hear from me, it isn't because I don't love you or want you to know what is going on. It is probably because I am exhausted and confused. Please send me texts and emails. I may not respond, but I will be so happy to hear from you.

A new life is waiting for us and we are jumping in with both feet.