As we usher in a new year, I can't help but reflect on the past year. While it has brought much joy, it has also brought sorrow and challenges. A few things that defined this year:
- In January, a mere 3 weeks after visiting with my grandparents, my Grandma C. unexpectedly and suddenly passed away. It was harder than I can possibly explain - she was an amazing person whom we all adored. Emmarie's middle name is 'Doris' after my Grandma. I wish I had known we would be adopting again and could have told her!
- In February, we were contacted about an unexpected infant adoption (a bio related to Ty). We were very excited and welcomed the idea of boy #4. She changed her mind before we got far (and before we had shared). It was hard. We understood and we have a good relationship with her - we are happy that she was able to parent.
- In March, I visited my Grandpa C. for the last time. As he prayed over us and with us, I felt so blessed. God gave us such wonderful examples in our grandparents. They loved and supported and prayed for us always. We celebrated Nauryz with some new friends!
- In April (really right at the end of March), we KNEW God was calling us to adopt again and that we were not to wait any longer. We had four different possibilities fall through between July 2011 and February 2012 and weren't sure what to do. It became clear and despite our fears and hesitation, we took a leap and began this walk and journey of faith. Our first home study visit was in April. I also became a Pampered Chef Consultant - directly related to the call to adopt.
- In May, my Grandpa went home to Heaven. I still can't even type that without tears. I miss my grandparents so much. The loss of them was very defining in my year. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think of them. We also had our first HUGE garage sale towards our adoption expenses and were blown away not only by the success but by the incredible help and love of several friends - from donation gathering, pricing, set-up, take-down, and volunteering to work, we were blessed.
- In June, I celebrated my 33rd birthday. We worked on lots of adoption paperwork. Honestly, I struggled a lot in June. It was a hard month. We found out Calvin would be having major surgery in August - something we did not expect. We saw the face of our daughter but didn't realize she was ours just yet.
- In July, we enjoyed a camping vacation with my family. It is very rare for us all to be together and almost everyone was able to make it. We agonized over a family decision that was incredibly difficult. We also enjoyed our denomination's international conference that comes once every 4 years. It was fun to catch up with family and friends and the boys had a blast!
- In August, we turned in our dossier (all of our adoption paperwork). Calvin had his surgery (a palatal repair/correction to improve speech). He spent two LONG weeks on a liquid diet and four more weeks on a soft diet. We were very thankful for several friends who brought meals as he recovered and for many who sent cards and gifts - he was so grateful! He was a trooper but it was challenging and was right at the beginning of our school year. God unexpectedly brought the little girl we had seen in June/July back to us through our coordinator and we knew she was our daughter! We submitted our Letter of Intent and waited to be approved and matched with her.
- In September, we were officially matched with Emmarie! We worked to get in the swing of things with 2nd grade and with our classes. I worked hard as the lead planner for our annual Two Hearts 5K - it took a lot of work but was rewarding. We enjoyed seeing our dear friends for the 5K. This month also brought the unexpected move of my sister and her husband. They moved to CO - she is one of my very best friends and honestly, I just miss her a ton.
- In October, we celebrated SIX years of Calvin & Patrick being home - so hard to believe! We anxiously awaited our Letter of Approval but it did not arrive. We plugged away at school and enjoyed our classes. We worked football games on several Saturdays (Aug-Nov) to earn extra money towards adoption expenses - and were again incredibly blessed with friends and family who volunteered at the concession stand and others who watched our kids.
- In November, our family learned that my dad has Parkinson's - a very hard thing for all of us. We are still processing and working through this as a family. We received our Letter of Approval which was exciting! I enjoyed a great month with Pampered Chef. And I had a very stressful month at work. We also learned that we had been given a large grant towards our adoption and were completely surprised by the generosity of it!
- In December, we struggled with some health things. I enjoyed a second really great month with PC - a huge blessing towards our adoption! We worked really hard to get things ready for Emmarie. We celebrated Christmas with both sides of our family. We started really thinking towards travel and the logistics of not only adding #4 but of adding a girl and a toddler. Tried really hard not to be overwhelmed and stress - mostly failed.
That brings us to January 1. I'm still overwhelmed - we could be leaving in as soon as two weeks. I'm trying to outfit our daughter and pack for a trip that will be in two climates and get ready to add a GIRL to our very BOY home. I have lesson plans and meal plans and childcare and house projects that really need completed before we leave - I'm plugging away at them.
We are thankful - God has sustained us through the good and the difficult. And God has directed every.single.step. of this adoption journey. We cannot wait to meet our daughter (despite the stress of getting ready :)). We know it will be an adjustment and we know the first weeks and months and year will have their challenges but, by God's grace, we are ready. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is ours - what joy!
While we certainly don't know what all 2013 will have in store, we know that we will grow - physically (well for the kids anyway! :)), emotionally, and spiritually. I'm looking forward to it. My word for the year is THRIVE. That is my prayer - that I would thrive in the various roles and situations God has for me and that our family would thrive with our new addition and that Emmarie would thrive in her new family.
Blessings to all of you as you welcome a new year!