How We Got Our Daughter Part 2

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Click here for Part 1 of our story

The next two days seemed longer than the last year in some ways. We were told that they would call back to tell us to come meet our foster daughter. We spent our time  wisely, running across town picking out newborn girl clothes, baby bottles, blankets, and a plethora of pacifiers.

And then no call came. We were under the impression that they’d call us back that same day. That night must have been the longest night of our lives. Our little girl was alone in a hospital basin and we couldn’t be there for her. We spent the next day with our phones turned all the way up clutched tightly in our hands. Every sound caused us to answer them. All the while the nursery remained barren and silent. We lost even more sleep that second night. Was it all a misunderstanding? Did they call the wrong people?

Sarabeth and I were by each other’s sides the entire weekend while we waited for permission to see our little girl. Exactly one year ago today, at Target, picking up more baby stuff, Sarabeth and I split up so she could grab the paper towels at the back of the store while I began checking out.

The phone rang in my pocket annoyingly loud just as I was swiping my Target Rewards card. For the first time ever I blew someone off by answering it while they were talking to me (I don’t envy retail workers). I panicked because Sarabeth wasn’t nearby to take notes and I had a terrible memory, especially under pressure. I waved and jumped up and down to get Sarabeth to hurry back with the 12-pack of Downey. She started jumping up and down too when she reached me and we both started crying like little school girls in the middle of Target on a busy Sunday morning.

I drove fast enough to the hospital to merit getting yelled at: “You don’t want to die before meeting your daughter, do you? SLOW DOWN!”

There are three things in my life I’ll never forget as long as I live.

1) How terrified I was all four times I saw Jurassic Park in theaters.

2) Meeting my wife (even though I still get some facts wrong). And,

3) Seeing my daughter for the first time.

She. Was. Beautiful. I generally don’t think babies are that cute, but this one, she was perfect in every way. The first thing I thought was that ironically, she looked exactly like Sarabeth (no jokes, please – I’ve tried). Seriously, even the nurses were saying it and people still say it today. And the other thing I thought was that even though we were just fostering this beautiful little girl, I knew we’d keep her forever.

We’re hopeful to adopt her this summer.

Oh, and that was Sarabeth’s birthday. I know I’ll never be able to beat that gift. And we stayed with our daughter at the hospital that night and for the third night in a row, we didn’t sleep. But for a much better reason.

Happy birthday, Sarabeth, and happy “Hi Day,” little girl. We love you more than you can ever imagine!

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How We Got Our Daughter Part 1

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A year ago we met our infant foster daughter for the first time. Below is the epic saga of how it all came to pass. And, you’re welcome.

Sarabeth and I had been married for four years while everyone around us was popping babies out like gum ball machines gone haywire. We applied to be foster-to-adopt parents in February of 2013 thinking that would be a quick fix to a deep void. Come Christmas morning eleven months later, we still had no kid to lavish with gifts. Every Christmas was becoming harder and harder and only brought us more devastation.

It’s one thing to want a bike for your birthday or yearn for a promotion, but to have an ever-empty nursery in the house to welcome no child is a pain that even Hemingway couldn’t describe.

Enter bitter cold January of 2014. No child. Our background checks for the foster program had been lost. Again. Redo, resend, repeat. Goodbye, January. Hello February 6, five years into marriage and one year after applying to be foster parents, a day that would forever change our lives.

It started with an email from our assigned social worker: “You’ve been approved.”

My ever-optimistic thoughts: Oh, good. Now we just have to wait another year while they find us a kid. 

My phone rang. I scan my calls, so I didn’t answer it.

A minute later I got an email from the same social worker: “Can you answer your phone? We have a baby to place with you if you’re interested.”

My thoughts: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I pressed Call Back and immediately I was told that there was a newborn baby who needed a home and would we be willing to accept her? I was already emailing my wife. The frantic message looked something like this: Were aprived! They have a gbabya. Y or B?

Her response: Yes! Yes! Yes!

“We’ll take her!” I screamed into the phone as though I were at an auction.

The funny thing is, even though we had no idea what she looked like or had ever heard her cry, and knew very little about her, Sarabeth and I had already fallen deeply and madly and hopelessly in love with her.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of our story…

And be sure to join my Facebook author page for more fun stuff!

First Steps

Baby A

So we’re pretty excited. Baby A. took her first steps last night, at 12 months and 11 days old. Sarabeth and I were playing with her in the living room before bedtime and she happened to be standing up. I was sitting approximately two small feet away.

She was holding one ball, and I was holding the other. She really wanted that ball. She then took not one step, but two steps toward me to retrieve the other ball.

And then I heard singing behind me and when I turned, Lady Antebellum was in our dining room singing “I Run to You.”

Baby A. has also been *almost* saying “Hi,” accompanied by an excited wave of the hand.

But her first definitive word so far? “Da.” I count that as “Dad,” but Mommy and I are kind of in disagreement over that. So then I just said, “Fine. ‘Waaaaa!’ is the new word for Dad. So I still win.”

But at any rate, I’m very proud of my little girl. And we’re still very much looking forward to her permanent goal being changed to adoption in March.

On another note, have you read about my upcoming teen book? I think it’s pretty spectacular so far… click here to read a teaser.

Adoption Update and My Upcoming Books

IMG_1086After five years of yearning for a child, Sarabeth and I brought one-month-old “Baby A.” home from the hospital as our foster to adopt daughter. So the year’s been full of dirty diapers, midnight feedings (mostly done by Sarabeth), social worker visits, and court dates.

So you might be wondering if we plan on actually adopting Baby A. as our own.

Yes, that is our plan. And our hope.

Good news is that the state has a date scheduled early next year to terminate parental rights on Baby A.’s biological parents who have been virtuously nonexistent from the day we met her in the hospital.

Not that we’re complaining. It’s made the process that much smoother. And IMG_1127once those parental rights are terminated, the court will move to the next phase of Baby A.’s permanency and proceed to work toward our adoption of her to make her a permanent part of our family.

By that time we’ll be able to post actual pictures of her face and reveal her name. (No, we don’t actually call her “Baby A.”)

On the other front, I’m still busy with my next three books. Two of which I am excited to share a little bit about with you today.

The first one is a teen book called These Great Effects, about a fifteen-year-old girl named Adelle who strikes up an unusual romance with a boy…whom she killed. It is a coming of age story that I’m super excited about because I haven’t laughed so hard while writing, and I know that the tears are going to start flooding in about a chapter or so, because I know what happens.

The other one is a young readers novel about a dachshund living in 1940s Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.03.48 AMGermany during the war and he wants desperately to be a Nazi, but his ideas about the world are shaken when he befriends a Jewish girl whose parents were taken from her. I have a team of artists from Rose State College in Oklahoma developing the book trailer for it now.

Be sure to pick up my newest book, I Am the Lion for your Kindle.

Help Fund an Adoption! (And read another excerpt of my book)

IMG_1055My wife’s sister and brother-in-law are trying to adopt internationally. So my wife has been generous enough to make really cute headbands to sell on Etsy, where 100% of the proceeds goes to the adoption.

Read Sarabeth’s post here. There, you will find the link to purchase the cute headbands she made herself, pictured below.

Also, these headbands are so cute that they inspired a few scenes in my new book, I Am the Lion, which is available now on Amazon Kindle for just $1.99. 

Here is an excerpt:

It was a Tuesday when Mr. Hill was having Lydia write another story IMG_1062about her mother. That day’s story was supposed to be about her favorite birthday memory and why it was so special. Lydia and her mechanical pencil were engrossed in the recollection of her seventh birthday, January 16, 1993, her last birthday with her mother.

Lydia had woken up that morning with butterflies in her stomach as most kids do on their birthday, and followed the aroma of freshly grilled pancakes and homemade blueberry syrup wafting from the kitchen. Just like the previous six years the dining room table was neatly littered with presents with balloons tied to them, but this year there was something different surrounding the gifts. Laying around the meticulously wrapped presents lay pieces of felt of various colors. Lydia’s mother walked in and greeted her with a warm hug, then she reached over to the table and pulled out a small gift for Lydia to open. Lydia unwrapped a pair of unopened scissors and looked up at her mother for an explanation. Her mother pulled out a felt headband from her pocket. She secured it to Lydia’s head and Lydia admired herself in the mirror.

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“What do you think?” her mother asked.

Lydia observed the pink flower attached to the white headband and saw that it too was made of felt. “Are you going to teach me how to make this?” Lydia asked excitedly, to which her mother enthusiastically nodded, holding up some strips of felt against her chest.

It was at this point in the story when Lydia’s dad walked into the classroom. He was early, a fact he was sure to make plain to everyone present. Mr. Hill, sitting at his desk grading yesterday’s homework assignments, coolly nodded at Lydia to put her paper away, but casually. She complied, but she wasn’t quite fast enough. After giving Mr. Hill a nod, Lydia’s dad strode over to Lydia and asked what she was putting away.I_Am_Lion

“It’s just a writing sample I was having her do,” cut in Mr. Hill, saving her from speech.

“What about?” asked Lydia’s dad. He must have sensed how uncomfortable they both were because it was unlike him to pry over something so small.

“I was having her write about her favorite birthday memory,” confessed Mr. Hill finally.

“Oh, yeah? You chose this last year, right? Remember, I took you to the, uh…” but his voice wavered as he held out his hand expectantly for the paper. Even if Lydia had felt the freedom to talk, she would not have mentioned aloud that her dad did not remember her last birthday a few months ago.

Get your headbands to support the adoption here.

Get your copy of I Am the Lion here.

10 Movies About Adoption No. 4: Meet the Robinsons

Meet_the_robinsons_wallpaper-400x250So I’ve been talking a little about movies about adoption. When adopted kids are of age to learn about their adoption, it doesn’t have to be a bad or negative thing. In fact, it isn’t even remotely that. And some films and shows out there actually give adoption a very good name, which could be helpful to watch with our kids. One such movie is Disney’s Meet the Robinsons.

As silly and goofy parts of the movie may be, there are some very moving scenes when the story refocuses itself around Louis’s adoption by the gigantic and zany Robinson family.

There are no qualifiers. Louis is with the Robinsons for less than a day when they learn he has no parents and immediately they are ready to take him in as a son. That’s a big point about adoption, is that no one earns it. The only prerequisite is that they are available. Our little girl did nothing to earn her place in our home and our hearts. She just simply was. And we loved her immediately for it.

On the flip side, Louis, in the movie, has a chance to see and meet his mom that abandoned him as a baby. All his life he’s been plagued by questions about her – why did she abandon him, where did she go, who is she? What was wrong with him? And so, presented with an opportunity to meet her, he declines in the end, because he realizes who his real family is.

He learns that he is valuable and loved. A message that every kid, orphaned, adopted, or biological, should hear time and time again.

To be honest, I can never ever make it through this movie without needing a few minutes to gather myself together. Especially when I watched it once we had our foster daughter whom we are about to adopt.

As far as adoption movies go, Meet the Robinsons ranks as one of my all-time favorites. I highly encourage any adoptive family to watch this, as it can stir up some very fruitful conversations.

Priorities

priorities-1024x768We all have priorities in our life. Work, school, family, kids, weddings, hobbies. But the interesting thing about priorities is, for the most part, we have complete control over them.

If work is your priority, it’s the job that might keep you bound in obligation, but you don’t have to keep it as your highest priority.

Let me explain.

You’re obligated to go to work and make your money to pay your bills. But you’re not obligated to take your work home with you, mulling it over in your head all night, working on projects when your kids are vying for your attention.

Does this make any sense?

Here’s another example.

Sarabeth and I have become quite addicted to this game I downloaded called “Subway Surfers.” It’s a brilliant In-Subway-Surfers-added-a-new-city-Seoulgame where you’ve got to keep your little guy (a juvenile delinquent) from being captured by the security guard who is chasing you through a train yard. Sarabeth and I are constantly trying to top each other’s score by how many coins we collect. (I won’t make a big deal of it, but I was the record-holder of 463 coins until she beat me with 560. She held the record for two minutes before I came back and topped her score with 863 coins, which is the total to beat now.)

But sometimes our seven-month old daughter needs attention while I’m busy jumping trains and dodging roadblocks.

michael-scott-dancing-oAnd during those moments, I must decide what my priorities are. Sadly my priority is usually to finish the round with as many coins added to my score so that I can gloat to my wife. This usually includes laughing and pointing and dancing around her like a big baboon as she buries her head in her hands in shame. After all, the baby will still be there, right?

But in those moments, I have a choice. I have full control over my priorities. I have the authority to make a quick shift in my mind, swapping my gaming priority with baby-time. I may not want to necessarily, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is, my daughter needs me, whether I like it or not.

I may be at 792 coins, but if my daughter needs me, it’s my responsibility to forfeit the game and tend to her needs, or respond to my wife when she’s asking for my attention (even if she’s just trying to distract me from getting a higher score!).

We may not be able to control everything in our life, but we can always control, and change, our priorities. And that can make all the difference in the world to the people around us.

 

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