The meaning of “BIG BROTHER”

RJ has been begging and praying for a baby sister just about every day for months.  We couldn’t wait to share this exciting news with him, and although he may have been a touch too young for the surprise, he hasn’t stopped “doing his happy dance!”  Grae’s reaction has also been consistent… None. 😉

Proud brothers

Big Steps

I have been a little hesitant to write publicly about the recent developments with the adoption, but we can now safely share that, after an excruciating 8.5 hour long trial, biological parental rights have successfully been terminated!!!  That is HUGE. More than huge, it is everything.

As I sat in that court room and listened to hour after hour of testimony, I have never been more terrified. The logical part of my brain knew that there was no other option but termination, but the other part kept asking- “What if!?”  Our witnesses were not allowed to share anything that RJ has disclosed to us.  They had to only rely on their expert opinions. What if the judge did not or could not hear what they weren’t directly saying?  What if she gave those people yet ANOTHER chance?!  We all prayed, held hands, and tried to have faith in our system. In humanity.

Toward the end of the trial, our attorney warned that after closing statements were made, the judge would take the information and deliberate- and we would be emailed her order when she makes her decision.  It could be a few more weeks.  Oh my god.

But she didn’t deliberate.  She didn’t need any extra time.  She looked him right in the eye and said “My decision has been made with the best interest of the child in mind.  It is unfortunate, sir, that you were not able to care for this child.  He is to remain in his current home.  Custody is awarded to the State of Georgia.”   She went on to advise him to make a profile for himself on the adoption registry, in case one day his son wants to find him.  She told him that he should start making something of himself, so, if and when his son comes to him, he’ll have a story that his son will want to hear.

WOW. There were no words. Just tears.

He looked at me, told me he knows that his son is very loved and well taken care of, and asked me to always take care of him.

________________________________________________________________

The rest is paperwork. We will still be on pins and needles until we have that paperwork signed and in our hand, but it should be (in the words of RJ himself) “easy peasy, lemon squeezey” from here on out.

We were told it will all be finalized between early fall and Christmas.

We are all on cloud nine.

And we are SO THANKFUL for all the thoughts and prayers you have sent our way.

Leaping Lizards

It has been wet and rainy all week- which means a lot of playing inside (read: two stir crazy little boys).  As we were coming downstairs this morning, RJ started excitedly screaming, “Mommy!! Mommy! Can we keep it?!!” As my heart dropped (because God only knows what that child was talking about- and my thoughts went flying directly into how am I going to get rid of the racoon, mouse, squirrel, etc that invaded our home..), I was thrilled to find the cutest baby lizard in our entryway.  We played with this little guy for hours.  What is it about little boys and lizards?!  How fun!

(No, we didn’t keep it… and, if it’s some crazy, venomous critter, we’d rather not know… keep your information to yourself. haha!)

Lizard

Cookin’ Up Some Family Fun!

In honor of Father’s Day, we hosted the 2nd Annual Family Cook-Off.  Because it was Daddy Day, we let Grandpa Choo Choo name the competition.  He decided on BEEF.  Everybody takes this silly competition very seriously, which makes for some of the most delicious meals ever created.  It’s all in good fun, and although we made official score cards this year, we never can choose just one winner. 😉  I think next time we will need to invite an unbiased party to judge.

It was an amazing day- full of family fun, friendly competition, and lots of laughter.  Memories were made that will never be forgotten.  Thanks to everyone who participated! Keep your game faces on for the next throw down!

Wise Words

Has anyone ever read Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by the great, modern spiritual writer, Henri J.M. Nouwen?  I’ve been reading it while G naps during the day and I just finished a chapter on family that was so beautifully worded that I feel compelled to share it:
Children are a gift.

Being a parent is like being a good host to a stranger. While we may think that our children are like us, we are continually surprised at how different they are. We can be gladdened by their intelligence, their artistic gifts, or their athletic prowess, or saddened by their slowness in learning, their lack of coordination, or their “odd” interests. In many ways we don’t know our children.

 

We didn’t create our own children, nor do we own them. This is good news. We don’t need to blame ourselves for their problems, nor should we claim ourselves their successes.

 

Children are a gift from God. They are given to us so that we can offer them a safe, loving place to grow to inner and outer freedom. They are like strangers who ask for hospitality, become good friends, and then leave again to continue their journey. They bring immense joy and immense sorrow precisely because they are gifts. And a good gift, as a proverb says, is “twice given.”

 

The gift we receive, we have to give again. When our children leave us to study, to look for work, to marry, to join a community, or simply to become independent, sorrow and joy touch each other. Because it is then that we feel deeply that “our” child isn’t really “ours” but given to us to become a true gift to others.

 

It is so hard to give our children their freedom- especially in this violent and exploitative world. We so much want to protect them from all possible dangers. But we cannot. They do not belong to us. They belong to God, and one of the greatest acts of trust in God is letting our children make their own choices and find their own way.

I have a feeling I will re-read these powerful words countless times, as a reminder to myself, to celebrate as my children grow more independent, despite the sadness that I feel every single day, wishing I could freeze these moments in time… wishing they would never change.  But, truly, what wonderful gifts they are.

hereandnow

Where does the time go?

Wow, these last few months swept my feet right out from under me.  I’ve had to put blogging aside for a while in order to recover from the twists and turns my life has taken recently. Things are finally calming down though, so I’m going to do my best to get back at it.

The last three months have taught me that change is not only necessary, but it keeps us growing… it keeps life moving. I’ve been doing my very best to not only accept it, but to embrace it.

happiness

As of April:
I quit my job. Helped start an amazing new school from the ground up.  Got through another doctoral class. Remodeled our kitchen. Started my own business. And now I get to spend EVERY SINGLE DAY with the LOVES of my LIFE.  And in a few weeks, we will take the next step in the adoption process!
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”  (John Belasco)
Everything is falling into place.  And I couldn’t feel more blessed.
Love,
Andrea
Brothers

“Be Very Happy”

We received terribly sad news last week.  Ian’s beloved grandmother peacefully left us to be with the angels on February 18th, 2013.  She was 86 years old. Ian wrote the most beautiful tribute for her, and I wanted so badly to share, in hopes that someday Graeson will be able to read the words and get a better sense of who is Great Nan is and just how special she is to our family.  We love you forever, Nan.

Rosina Pollard was my wonderful Nanny.  My Nan can’t be measured against any other. She has always been the source of an indescribable power and a light burns brighter with every amazing memory. Knowing that I carry a rich measure of her love allows me to stand tall in the face of any challenge. I could never have become the man, husband, son, and father my family deserves without her. I find myself asking how it will be possible to repay her for the honor it has been to have her by my side. I wonder how I will ever be able to find the words to describe her to my son when so few are worthy. If Nan were reading this I’m sure she would tell me not to worry and that someone as wonderful and handsome as her Grandson won’t have any trouble. She had a way of making me feel 20ft tall. After looking for all of the things that could remind me of my Nan, I came across the frame of an engagement picture that my wife and I had left out for guests to sign at our wedding. I quickly looked from one small message to the next praying that my Nan had somehow found the time to sign it in all the commotion. After reading almost every message, I found my Nan. With tears in my eyes I read the words, “Be Very Happy,” as if she had somehow known exactly what I needed to hear.

 

I Love You with All That I Am and All I Ever Will Be, Nan.

Your Ian

Nan signing Nan Best Nan Cover Dancing w Patti Nan on My Knee 2 Nan on My Knee Keeping an eye on things Me Mum Nan Mum Dancing w Nan Mum Spinning Nan Nan and Jenn Dancing Nan and Khyle 2 Nan and Khyle Nan Cheering Nan Group Nan in Group Pic Nan in Leather Chair Nan in Spin Nan line dance 1 Nan Mid Spin Nan side group Pic Nan Thats Better

Will You Be My Valentine?

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends!  XOXO

(Did I actually buy my baby boy angel wings?  Um, yes… yes, I did.  How could I not take full advantage of the photo op when he looks just like a little cherub?! My mom and dad are fully convinced he’s going to hate me someday. :))

What its all about

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.

~Peg Bracken

I’m still coming down from the buzz of Christmas, holy smokes! This Christmas will go down as one of the best.  We ate and laughed and played with so many of the people we love.

We decorated Christmas Trees and gingerbread houses, sat on Santa’s lap, spent time with great friends at a lovely Christmas party, and searched high and low for Jingle Bell our Elf On The Shelf every single morning since Thanksgiving.

We spent many nights this Christmas season reading about the birth of Jesus. We put our nativity scene together and talked about Mary and Joseph, the three kings, angels and shepherds. And on Christmas Eve, I woke RJ up at 10:00 pm and asked him if he wanted to attend a Christmas Eve Church service with the adults.  He popped out of bed quicker than I could blink.  He had never heard of Jesus before coming to live with us, so he had about a million questions, but was fully attentive well into the wee hours of the night.

We celebrated Christmas three times this year- once in Augusta with my side, once in North Carolina with Ians, and once at home- just the four of us.  Each celebration brought with it its own set of memories that we will cherish forever.

We hope your holidays were just as merry and bright!

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