Kids

Prisoners of Hope

Dustin and I just finished off an entire week at the beach sans our tribe of four year olds. Glory, Glory Hallelujah. It was a gift of a week. Honestly. Who can afford to go on vacation these days? *raises hand* Not us. From child care to the place where we stayed to our plane tickets. A straight up gift. Almost like a wink from God: GO.

The sweet, precious soul who owns where we stayed said to me before we left, “I hope you fall more in love with Jesus this week.” To which I said, “Oh thank you, Judy.” When in my head I was like: except I don’t need to fall more in love with Jesus. I love him plenty. I need sleep and for tiny people to stop touching me and breathing room and a hot second to just meet my own freaking needs. But now I could sob at that prayer prayed over us because I had no idea I needed to do just that.

I have been so weary. This year has been hard. I’ve harbored so much anger and resentment in my heart toward members of my family. I’ve doubted whether God is really good. I’ve wrestled and questioned why God would ask us to do something and then let it suck so hard for so freaking long. I’ve doubted whether we heard right. I’ve doubted whether God is really for us. I’ve been so, so angry at Him.I’ve been lonely in this place.

I wasn’t really trying to read Zechariah until another book I was reading mentioned it. I flipped over in my Bible and devoured the entire book scribbling and underlining and starring until those pages looked a hot mess. In chapter 9 Zechariah calls God’s people (Israel) “prisoners of hope.” Prisoners of hope. I am completely undone by that phrase.

A prisoner is defined as a person captured and confined, to be held captive. Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation, a feeling of trust.

Prisoner of hope.

Expectancy is my captor. Hope is my game. He is coming, yes, but He is also here now. Eyes on Me. To live with a great expectancy that you will see Jesus here. Right now. In every season and in every circumstance. Even when it feels dry and desperate and overwhelming and sad. Eyes on Me. To believe fully that He will enter in and redeem and restore and make things new right before your very eyes. To simply assume that God will meet you here- he will turn ashes into something beautiful and mend the broken hearted and comfort the ones who mourn. He will meet you in those ugly, broken places and rise up something beautiful. To live with such expectancy that you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. A prisoner of hope.

Will trauma always threaten to steal our joy? Will grief ever really turn to laughter? Will that one kid ever learn English? Will that other kid ever learn to look people in the eyes? Will deep, dark unanswerable questions alway lurk among us? What if we can’t pay that therapy bill that one kid needs? What if we never grow to love each other? Will he ever fully trust me or will he always push me away? Will you really mend the broken hearts in my home? What if I’m the wrong person for this job?

A prisoner of hope. To stake a claim, to proclaim, that I will see Jesus here.


I was nervous to come home and see our kids. I knew some would be excited to come home and I wasn’t so sure about another. The one whose heart is still broken. The one whose grief has me walking on egg shells most days. The one who hasn’t learned to trust me. The one who I struggle to feel love for. The one who isn’t sure he loves me. The one who used to spit on me and run away from me and bite me and scream at me and rage at me for hours. The one who grabs hold of any opportunity to go with someone else other than me. That was the one I was nervous about it.

I saw him through the window of the door, walked up and knocked. He grinned a grin I have never seen before, ran to the door and unlocked it. And then he stood there smiling and clapping his hands saying, “Mommy!”

He was excited to see me. ME. Never in a million years.

He is coming, yes, but He is most definitely here now.

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Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying:Part 4

Because when you have three 3 year olds you have to find the humor in parenting. Or else you’ll cry about parenting. 

When my kids start thinking their too cool. 

When the kid who annoys the bajeezus out of everyone gets what they had coming. 

When I’ve told one of my many three year olds to stop doing something or they’ll get hurt. And then they do it and get hurt. Hi, told you so. Bye. 

Mom what color is Fin McMissile? I don’t know, bud. What color is he? I don’t know. Hmm is he blue? No. Orange? No. Purple? No…. *10 minutes later*… Yellow? No. He’s grey, mom. 

I locked myself in the bathroom the other day mainly because I just wanted to pee alone once and also I needed a hot a minute. All three of my children stood at the door banging and screaming like: 

When someone asks me if they’re all three. 

Hey guys it’s time to go. What did you say, mom? It’s time to go. Huh? It is time to go. What? 

That time someone asked me if I was going to keep them all. 

When people ask me if we’re going to have any more kids. 

When my kids refuse to eat a meal and then ask for a snack. 

When I watch a child do something wrong and then they deny it. 

When your kids say thank you unprompted. 

When you fall over a kid because someone is always at your feet. 

On Having Three Three Year Olds

Let me preface this post with a little something something. If you are not into sarcasm or laughter at the expense of your current family’s life status just skip this one. Don’t talk to me about *choosing joy.* I love my life. I love my people. And both of those are currently ludicrous. I can choose joy and sarcasm. WATCH ME. xoxo

Hi, welcome. So we have three 3 year olds. No, they aren’t triplets. But they’re all three and they all look alike. So, yes they’re basically triplets. All three were adopted internationally. We have been a family of five stateside for three whole weeks. It is a kind of insane that I did not know existed. And yes, my hands are full. They are so full. My heart is full too and whatever BUT MY HANDS ARE ACTUALLY SO FULL. 

I’m not sure how normal people transition up in number of kids but we basically went from this: 

To this overnight: 

Let’s get something out of the way first. No one tells you about the three year old. I heard all about the terrible twos but three. My God, laughs in the actual face of “the terrible twos.” And yes, that is in quotation marks because contrary to popular belief it’s not really a thing. Like, try again. Whoever invented that phrase should be fired. If you think two is terrible (and I thought it was really really hard) BRACE YOURSELF, SISTER. And so when we were like, three 3 year olds? Sounds crazy for sure but at least we’d be done with the two’s…. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. 

People want to know all the time “so what’s it really like?” And Dustin and I often times just stare back at people like this: 

Like, hi, you want to know what now? Can you ask the question differently? I don’t understand. *scratches head* 

Having three three year olds is like managing a three year old fight club. 

RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB. 

2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB. 

3rd RULE: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over. 

4th RULE: Only two guys to a fight.

5th RULE: One fight at a time. 

6th RULE: No shirts, no shoes. 

7th RULE: Fights will go on as long as they have to. 

8th RULE: If this is your first night at FIGHT CLUB, you HAVE to fight.

Like, this is me by 7 am:


I made the mistake of saying out loud that we take toys away and put our kids in time out, and people were all whyyyyyyy??? And I was just like…

Nope. I do not have time to explain my life to you. BYE NEXT. 

Let’s not forget that two of ours don’t speak any English. I drive by horses and one of ours shouts “MOMMY! ELEPHANT!” One time they pointed at George Washington and thought it was their grandmother. I have one who points at their belly button and says “elbow.” They jibber jabber away all day long to my unfortunate inability to understand what they’re saying. So we basically sit around all day looking at each other like this: 

Like, yeah, no I didn’t catch that. Can you say it a different way? No? Okay. 

All three of ours are in diapers right now. Mainly because I frequently walk into the bathroom and find a child doing something to the tune of this while on the potty: 

Like, why? Just stop it. I cannot even. We’ll stick with diapers. Thanks so much. We change something close to 100 diapers a week. So please don’t talk to me about things like the environment right now. We are single handedly killing it, I’m well aware. 

I have walked into so many rooms of my house because someone is always *missing* and been exactly like: 

Why are you eating the blinds!?

Why have ALL of the air vents been picked up out of the floor!? 

Where did you find nails and why are they in your mouth!? 

IS THAT POOP!?

How did you climb up the wall and rip down the actual decor that was hanging up!?

Why are you acting like the tv is a punching bag!?

Why do you have a knife!? 

Why is the bath running!? 

Why are you licking the walls!?

Why is there pee all over the floor!?

Why are you trying to stick something pointy in the electrical outlet!? 

This is Dustin and I during the dinner/bath/bedtime hour(s):

Jesus be near. See you on the other side. Loveyoumeanit. 

Dustin and I sit around at night like this because did we really just make it through another day alive? 

And so when someone asks me “what’s your day like?” I find myself doing this. 


Like LOL. I’m just trying to make sure all of us are alive and my house hasn’t burned to the ground at the end of the day. True story the end.

I want You To Know 

I am Wyatt’s mom. Yes for sure. I am also Wyatt’s second mom. He has a biological mom, a birth mom, and I am not that. I think about his biological mom a lot. But especially on Mother’s Day and his birthday. I’m sure I’ll think about her on his first day of kindergarten and on his 16th birthday and when (if) he gets married. Significant moments she will never share with him. Significant moments he will never share with her. Significant moments that only by the grace of God I get to share with him and he with me. 

 Mothering someone else’s baby is beautiful and complicated and gives me exactly all the feels. It is all of that. Forever. And some days I wish I could reach across the oceans, give her a hug and whisper in her ear: “He’s okay and he’s loved. Oh, and you’re loved too sister.”

Hey girl, 

I want you to know that you birthed one hell of a kid. Really. You honest to God did. 

I want you to know he has a killer fake laugh right now. It’s borderline ridiculous. 

I want you to know he loves cars so very much. He never leaves the house without at least five of them. 

I want you to know he is hilarious. He is genuinely funny and I love it. 

I want you to know he’s beyond ticklish. Like, everywhere. The neck. The feet. The thigh. The hiney. The underarms. All the places.

I want you to know he loves throwing rocks into a lake by our house. 

I want you to know his tiny voice is the most precious. 

I want you to know he loves Popsicles. Like wakes up asking for one. 

I want you to know he’s learned to ride his tricycle. It’s red and he was so scared at first. 

I want you to know he loves Lightning McQueen. And Thomas The Train. And Finding Nemo. 

I want you to know that bacon is the name of his game at the moment. 

I want you to know he’s sweet. So, so sweet. And kind. 

I want you to know he loves slushies. He usually picks purple but sometimes it’s red. Or blue. 

I want you to know his eyelashes still curl all the way up to his eyelids. Sometimes he tries to pick at them and I lose it every time. 

I want you to know he’s sleeping in a big boy bed now. It has trucks all over it and he thinks he’s hot stuff sleeping in it. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

I want you to know he loves jumping on the trampoline and blowing bubbles and playing baseball and kicking the big red ball. 

I want you to know he never stops talking. Seriously never. 

I want you to know he loves to sing. He knows all the words to Adele’s Hello. It’s kind of hilarious. The kid can sing let me tell you. 

I want you to know that he tells this joke about a giraffe and it makes me laugh out loud every time. 

I want you to know he loves reading books. Same Same But Different, The Skin You Live In and Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site are popular ones right now. 

I want you to know he’s happy. This time last year I wasn’t so sure, but deep in my soul I know he’s happy now.  

I want you to know he’s growing up. He’s tall and his baby face has turned into a little kid face. He’s not as squishy anymore. (Sad face) 

I want you to know he is so loved. By a host of people. 

I want you to know he’s going to be a brother soon. And I think he’s going to rock it. 

I want you to know he is stubborn as all get out. Like I dare you to try and get him to do something he doesn’t want to. 

I want you to know his big brown eyes still have a sparkle to them. And that sparkle still makes me want to weep a little bit. 

I want you to know he’s started pouting recently and I can’t stop laughing about it. 

I want you to know you’re loved. That we still believe in a whole lot of grace. And redemption. And forgiveness. That I love being your boys mom. That I can’t wait to link arms with you one day and show you our boy. Thank you for sharing him with me. 

Happy Mother’s Day to you, sister.

xoxo, ck

How To Be A Parent 

Not too long ago I found myself back in my counselor’s office basically weeping over being a parent. I found myself paralyzed in fear over parenting Wyatt. Like, I could not do it because I was terrified of messing it up. Really of messing HIM up. And I can’t mess up a kid who already has a messed up beginning, right!? The pressure! My God! After a couple of weeks, my counselor looked at me and said: “Where is the Courtney I met all those years ago? The one who did not give a shit about what other people did or said? Where did she go?” And I was like: Dang it. You are right, sister. She got lost. I lost her! I lost her in all of the stupid crap out there that tells you how to be a parent. 

And so I spent the next few months trying to find and get that girl back. And good news! SHE’S BACK. And she don’t give two shits. (JK but not really) 

So this is for all of us who got lost in the parenting books and studies and classes and what everyone else is saying and doing. This is for all of us who found ourselves again. Because being a parent is hard enough without all the extra noise out there telling you how to be a parent to the kid only you know best. Let’s do this. 

How to be a parent in like almost 20 steps:

Do not give your baby formula under any circumstances. It causes brain damage. Breast is always, always best. Unless that isn’t an option, then formula is great. Drink up! But beware, giving your child the nutrients they need is being a good parent that can also kill your child. 

Do not ever put your child down. You should wear them at all times. This is nurturing the bond between you two and increases their felt safety. You should put your child down because this helps them learn to crawl and walk and do things on their own which will increase independence and it will be the downfall of your attachment with them. Baby wear until middle school.  

You should come up with a routine and stick with it always. But don’t do that because then you will never be able to do anything ever again and will feel like you might die. Schedules are very important for children that should be kept exactly always and never. 

Do not leave your child in a room by themselves to fall asleep. Unless you want to let them learn to self soothe which is a great coping skill that also makes children feel abandoned and like they are going to be eaten by Voldemort. 

Don’t spank. Ever. Under any circumstances. Unless you believe in discipline that produces drug addicts. Because that’s what spanking does. It makes your child more likely to do drugs. 

Do not put your child in time out. It is scientifically proven to be ineffective and damaging to your child’s brain and heart. You will actually destroy your child as a human being if you place them in time out. 

Always speak to your children like Mother Theresa would. Do not raise your voice ever. Raising your voice causes your child to undergo unnecessary trauma. And trauma quite literally changes the shape of your child’s brain. 

You should be aware of your parenting triggers before you become a parent. Is it crying? Whining? Being completely sleep deprived? Maybe all of the above? Again, you should know these before having children. Do not give in to your triggers. Keep your cool always. Do not get frustrated. Losing your cool will guarantee a lifetime of counseling for your child. It will also give them the same triggers you have when they have their own children. Relax!  

Always give your child 13 bajillion choices. Any more than 13 bajillion and you are encouraging entitlement. Any less than 13 bajillion and you’re just being plain neglectful.  

Do not avert your eyes from your child at any time during the day. Averting your eyes from your child causes your child to have a shorter attention span. If you do have the balls to let your eyes wander from your jewel, well done, you have just given your child ADHD. 

When your child is throwing a tantrum do not show any signs of anything on your face. Always remain neutral. If you laugh that gives them a positive reaction and they will continue to throw down. If you show frustration that gives them a negative reaction which makes their brain go into flight or fight mode. Leave them alone. Stay with them. Let them throw the tantrum and ignore them. Put them in a safe place and let them work it out. Contain them with your arms, rocking back and forth and whispering words of love in their ears. 

Your child should watch tv anywhere from no minutes a day up to 3 hours. It’s best for their brains if they see no electronic screen until 5 years of age. 1 hour of tv a day starting at age 2 is good for your child which also causes shorter attention spans, hyperactivity and makes your child’s brain smaller. 30 minutes of tv is best starting at age 1. 

When playing with your child always let them lead. Your child is in charge and should make all play related decisions. Do not ever decline an invitation to play. Unless you want them to learn how to play independently which is a developmental milestone that also causes aggression in children. 

Do not do things for your child if they are able to do it themselves. They will never be able to grow into functioning adults. Continue to do everything for your child. They need you and this is nurturing for your child’s relationship with you. If you want your child to be able to be in a healthy relationship in the future you should continue doing everything always and never for your child. 

Do not ever say No to your child. You should always say Yes. Unless you can’t for safety reasons say Yes then you should come up with a creative way to not say No. You should tell your child No sometimes. This helps them understand rules and boundaries. Do not negotiate with your child. Communicate to them who is the boss. 

Do not use sticker charts as a way to reward your child. Don’t reward your child for anything. This causes entitlement and you can expect your child to live with you forever. 

Sometimes you will need to go with your gut. You will need to make in the moment decisions with and for your child. You should always prepare for these situations even if you do not know what they will ever be. Every single moment is a teachable one that will make or break your attachment with your child. Do not mess up. Feel confident in yourself! 

Don’t ever wake your child up. Unless they are napping and you want them to sleep at night. A child should nap between 1.5-3 hours daily. There should be exactly 5 hours in between the morning wake up, nap, and bedtime. Do not make your child go to sleep. They will tell you when and if they are tired.

You should cherish every moment of parenting. Parenting your children is a grace that you should also not feel pressured to enjoy every moment because that’s ludicrous. Enjoy every single moment always and sometimes. 

Easy enough, right!? Go forth. You’ve TOTALLY got this. 

On Adoption & One Year Home

In January it was one full year since Wyatt joined our family stateside. He is such a joy. Truly. Adoption is such a blessing and something I daily am so thankful we chose. I’ve been reflecting a lot over the past few months about the first year home. How much Wyatt has grown and changed and healed. How much Dustin and I have grown and changed and in a lot of ways healed, too. 

People ask us all the time what adoption is really like and a lot of times I just don’t have a very good answer.It’s so overwhelming. It’s so awesome. It’s so hard. Your child is a stranger to you. You are a stranger to your child. There are so.many.things that go down the first year home. So I thought I’d take a minute to answer that question from the lense of surviving the first year home. Because really looking back that’s what it felt like. Survival. Until one day it didn’t.

Obviously this is our experience and not everyone you’ve ever known who has adopted. (18 month old. International. No special needs. No other kids in the home.) Please laugh with me. I snorted laughter while writing this. Sometimes laughter is just the only way.

We had read all the books. We had taken all the classes. We had talked to all the people. We had waited all the months. We were so ready. We felt so prepared. It’s so funny to look back on. Really. Because we knew nothing.

The first six months of our existence with Wyatt had us looking something like this:

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He is so cute! And he cries all the time! He never sleeps! Never! His laugh is the best! He wants to be held all time! Aw! No seriously he never wants to be put down! He won’t eat anything! Not one thing! OMG he won’t stop eating! He’s throwing up! He’s gagging! He’s choking! I feel so stressed! He hits! He’s learning to play! He’s learning to walk! This is the best! The parasite poop! It’s everywhere! All the time! He won’t stop screaming! I don’t know what he wants! He never sleeps! I feel so confused! And tired! I think he hates me! He’s so cute! He won’t stop screaming! But really he literally never wants to be put down! I want to put him down! He’s scared of everything! The tantrums! Over everything! My God! What have we done! I love him! I’m not sure I like him yet! I want to cry all the time! I want to laugh all the time! I feel so confused!

And then the outside world welcomes you home and they have no idea. Not the one. And you don’t really know either. This is exactly your first rodeo. And so everyone just circles up and tries their best. But nobody really knows what is going down on the inside of your home. No one. But you. And your walls. And the pillow you sometimes cry into and other times scream into. 

And so when people start saying things like, “Aren’t you SO GLAD you missed the newborn no sleeping phase? LOL.” You find yourself physically unable to not make this face: 

I’m sorry, you want to say. Have I done something to you that makes you hate me? You see we have done a lot of things since becoming parents and sleep isn’t even on any of the lists. Not one of them. 

The first five weeks Wyatt was in my care he never slept more than two consecutive hours. TWO. I flew solo with him from Uganda to TN and straight fell asleep on one of my flights with him sitting wide awake on my lap. Like, I was out cold and drooling. Still to this day I have no idea how I fell asleep or for how long I was asleep or if my child got up and walked around while I was asleep. Not one idea. Once we were home it improved. And by that I mean he was sleeping like 3 hours at a time. So, no, we were not like SO GLAD we missed the newborn no sleeping phase. Like, settle down with your LOL. 

And then you’ve been off the plane for approximately 72 hours and the good people start asking things like:

“So what’s your daily schedule like?”

“What’s Wyatt’s nap schedule?”

“You’re not making him nap? You know it’s really important for babies to nap, right?”

And your response is to look back at them like this:

llama

Again, you are physically unable to make your face look any different. I don’t know how to help you with this. Because hi, I just switched CONTINENTS WITH A BABY. Did you know that day time in America is night time in Uganda? Like seriously did you know that? So what’s our daily schedule right now? To stay awake during the day. It’s really very simple at this point. Once we have that down I’ll let you know about our sacred schedule we create for ourselves. 

And then you get a little bit brave and start trying to explain the kind of tantrums that go down in your house on an hourly basis, and people tell you to read their favorite parenting book, Bringing Up Bebe, and this is you:

UabZFW8

Like, cool. I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. The insane tantrums. Over everything. All the god forsaken day long. Like this is not an exaggeration. Not even close. One time at a friends house Wyatt threw one of this kind of tantrum. After it was over, my friend looked at me bug eyed and said, “Are they always like this? Do you get any time by yourself?” And then she poured whiskey in my coffee. It was 10 a.m. Bless. 

And then in the midst of all the other things, when your doctor calls and tells you that your child is still (STILL!) testing positive for the horrific parasite known as Giardia you do this:

Like you can’t even function properly after this call. If people only knew how you had stood over toilets and dry heaved over the smell of this poo. Or how many mornings you woke up to your child covered in this stuff. Or how many loads of laundry you do in one day because of it. Or how sad the screams are that come from your child because it’s so so painful. Or how you can’t really go anywhere because this stuff is uncontrollable and when it happens you need to take cover immediately. 

I will never forget my child having a blowout (like next level blowout) in Walgreens one day and I didn’t know it until I had flung actual parasite poop onto the checkout counter. And I didn’t even acknowledge it. Like I just paid and walked away with a screaming baby who was dripping the worst smelling crap you have ever smelled. I watched the news for days waiting to hear of a Giardia outbreak in East Nashville. 

If you have a friend who is changing the diapers of a baby with parasites go give them a hug. Seriously. It is truly something else.

And then the people want to know about things like why you don’t get a babysitter (I bet he would be fine! They say) or do the church nursery (It’s church!) or the gym child care (That would be so good for you!), and you’re like you just don’t even know my life:

It is just not that simple you want to say. 

The first time Dustin walked into church after successfully leaving Wyatt in the church nursery (hi, eight months later) I almost had to excuse myself to go cry with excitement (for him and us and our church congregation who had so kindly endured his church time antics). That experience has left me so drained I’m like- I think he would be fine SO FINE at the gym child care BUT WHAT IF HE ISN’T OH MY GOD NO I CAN’T. 

And when you’ve been home for a few months people start inviting you over for dinner or want to meet up for a meal and you’re like, You sure about that? Because this is us after a meal at OUR house:

I put something in the microwave for Wyatt the other day and he didn’t fall on the floor weeping uncontrollably and I thought- We have come SO FAR. Meal time was like an actual war zone. There were tantrums and choking and spitting food and gagging and throwing up and screaming and throwing food and 2 hours later we’re still sitting at the freaking table like: FINE. WE SURRENDER. 

And then people try to make you feel better by saying that all of this is so normal! Because their biological kid does THE SAME EXACT THINGS! No their kid doesn’t have any known history of trauma! Yes their kid has been in their loving care since exiting the womb! But take heart! Because they are facing the same.exact.challenges.(!!!) 

And you find yourself doing this on the inside:   Because, no. Like thanks but no. 

And then out of nowhere you start functioning like normal people for hours and then days and then weeks at a time. The screaming for all the hours of the day just ends. The tantrums simmer down. Meal times aren’t the worst times of the day. The parasites go away. You all of a sudden find yourself so obsessed with your child because once you can breathe you see just how awesome he really is. You sleep one full night here and there and feel like a real superhero. You all find your groove as a family and you’re exactly like: 

  
Praise The Good Lord. 

And so when people would ask, How are things going?! And I was all… Do I tell them? Can they handle the truth? LOL LOL, nah… “Things are kinda hard but they’re REALLY, REALLY GREAT!” This is what I really felt like:

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Now when people ask me what adoption is really like I say, “Ya know, the first six months I thought we were all going to die. But we didn’t. And now things are really fun and great. Still really hard at times but nothing like those first few months.”

What’s That? 

This is an ode to all the parents who can count on two hands the number of nights they’ve slept through the night since becoming parents. Because sometimes when you’re desperate for sleep you try the most ridiculous crap. And other times you just need to LOL about it because otherwise you might cry about it. Or fall asleep with your eyes open. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s a night light. Maybe it would help him to have a light in here.  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I’m just going to rub some essential oils on his feet real quick. People say they think this might help their kid sleep. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I bought a humidifier. Someone told me they heard that these can help kids sleep better. 

Husband: What’s that?

Me: I’m thinking about buying a super hero doll that has a light on it and it changes colors when it’s morning. Someone said it helped their kid. Or something like that.  

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s a diffuser. I’ve read that diffusing essential oils can help them sleep.

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: I’m looking at weighted blankets. People say those can help kids who never sleep ever sleep for a few minutes. 

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: Oh I got some sleep inducing bubble bath at the store. I heard someone say that bubble baths before bed helped their kids sleep through the night. 

Husband: What’s that?

Me: It’s like melatonin but not that. I read somewhere that this helped someone’s kid sleep through the night one time.

  

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: Someone gave me their notes from a sleep trainer they used. They said it helped for like a month. 

Husband: What’s that? 

Me: It’s Benadryl for the love of God. 

Mornings With A Toddler: A One Act Play

Open scene on dad in shower, mom laying in bed, and toddler waking up crying. 

Mom: Good morning, buddy! 

Toddler (crying): Want to go eat. 

Mom: Okay. Let’s go. What do you want to eat? 

Toddler: Peanut butter sandwich and banana. 

[Mom fixes peanut butter sandwich and cuts up banana while toddler sits and cries because he wants all the foods NOW.]

Toddler (eats bite of sandwich and starts crying): Don’t like it. Want pasta. Want turkey. 

Mom: You love peanut butter! Let’s take some bites! Pasta and turkey aren’t for breakfast. Maybe we can have those for lunch or dinner. Mmmm bananas. 

Toddler (crying): DON’T LIKE IT. Go lay in mommy’s bed. Want cars! 

Mom: Okay. Well, you have to eat something for breakfast and you can lay in mommy’s bed after you eat. You can have your cars when you start eating. Would you like something else? Eggs? Sausage? 

Toddler (SCREAM CRIES LOUDER): DON’T LIKE IT. GET DOWN. 

[Gets toddler down because coffee has not been made yet and mornings are not safe until coffee has been consumed.]

Dad walks in. 

Mom (looks at dad with semi crazy eyes): This is why I don’t do breakfast. 

Toddler (sobbing hysterically): I WANT CARSSSSSS. 

Mom and Dad: You may have your cars when you eat your breakfast. 

Puts toddler back in high hair. 

Toddler (crying): I want cars. 

Dad: Eat your food. 

Toddler (crying): I WANT CARSSSS. 

Dad: If you want your cars you need to start eating. 

Toddler (eats food happily like this is the first time he’s had this discussion with an adult, because WHY?) 

Dad leaves to go to work. Before dad leaves, mom looks at him with a “Don’t you dare ask me what I did today” look because, THIS, this is what I’m going to do all day. Hugs. XOXO. 

Toddler: I all done. Want to get down. 

Mom: Let’s take two more bites of banana because you’re two! 

Toddler: I don’t like baby bite. Not like it. 

Mom: All the bites of banana taste the same. The size doesn’t matter. Just eat two. 

Toddler (starts crying): DON’T LIKE BABY BITE. 

Mom (shoves two pieces of banana in toddler’s mouth): YAY you did it! You can get down and go play! 

End scene as toddler runs off to go play and mom lays head on kitchen table because, how is it only 7:50 a.m.? 

Because The Puzzle Is Back

If you’re just joining in, Hi welcome. We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here.

I just need you guys to know that I have been sitting at my kitchen table now for one actual hour staring at my computer saying things out loud like: “I don’t want to write this. I don’t know what to say. I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE THIS.” I have grunted and exhaled and gone to the bathroom and poured myself another glass of wine and checked Facebook and my email. I have even said a string of “blah blah blahhhhhhs.” I have started writing and deleted paragraphs and then I have repeated that ten times. I am currently contemplating if I’m going to not write this at all and instead go watch Scandal, because I really just want someone in a white coat to look me in the eyes and say with conviction, “It’s handled.” Okay. Glad that’s out of the way. (Dustin says I need to delete this whole paragraph and just say: “This is really hard to write. Coming back to you guys and asking for your help again is just really hard.” But whatever, I like this paragraph. SO IT STAYS.)

Adoption is hands down the most awesome thing I have ever been a part of. It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever been a part of. Adoption is beautiful and broken and redemptive. Adoption is constantly honoring losses and celebrating gains. It’s full of tension- always holding a space for what should have been while also holding a space for what is. It’s the gospel in my living room and my kitchen and in my back yard. It’s grief and laughter and growth and trauma all wrapped in one. Adoption is the most unnatural and natural thing on planet earth, to parent a child that was never intended to be yours. It’s easily the biggest thing to ever happen to my heart.

And we’re here to do it again. It makes no sense and at the same time it makes every bit of sense. One day I will tell you the whole story and you will be like: “Shut up. OH MY GOSH YES.” You will. I swear to you. That will be such a fun day. I will most definitely cry.

A little over two years ago we came to you guys and said: “Hey. We feel like we’re supposed to do this really big thing. It’s crazy expensive and we can’t do the whole thing by ourselves, but with your help we can do a lot of it. Who wants in?” And a ton of you bought in. Like, you bought in with actual dollars and it was one of the coolest things we have ever been a part of. Hundreds of you rallied and stood beside us and we raised $11,000 in six weeks. All of your names are on a puzzle that is currently hanging in Wyatt’s room. It’s one of my most favorite possessions, I feel confident it’s one of the things I would grab if our house were ever on fire.

And so we’re doing it again. The puzzle. Except this time it’s going down a tad bit differently.

Let me give you a few numbers just in the name of transparency. To complete Wyatt’s adoption we spent a total of $35,000. We raised/were given $15,000 of that. Two years ago agency fees were roughly $16,000. Today they are $22,5000. Investigations, DNA testing, and lawyer fees have all increased dramatically. (And we stand for ethical adoptions so we are totally okay with this.) And then there are the home study update costs and USCIS fees and travel costs and in country expenses. It’s all just a lot. And coming off of one, we simply put just need your help.

So the puzzle, we have a 750 piece puzzle. Each piece is $30. If we are able to sell all 750 pieces we will have raised our exact agency fee payment of $22,500. We know this is insane and risky and a lot to ask of you guys. We get it. We really do. But I also just feel so at peace about it. Like it’s going to be okay. You guys made me believe in you two years ago and I can’t stop doing that now. People are good. They are so good. Wyatt is a walking testament to that.

So here’s the skinny:

1. We have a 750 piece puzzle. Do we even know that many people? I cannot talk about that right now.

2. We are selling the pieces for $30 a piece. You can buy one puzzle piece or 25 puzzle pieces. You can buy one for yourself or every member of your family. You can empty out a piggy bank or give your tithe or just write a check for a random amount, it doesn’t even have to be about puzzle pieces. You can do literally whatever.

3. There are 3 ways you can participate: You can click the PayPal link and enter in your dollar amount. (It will make you set up an account, sorry about that, but PayPal has the least amount of processing fees of all and we just really want to honor your dollar.) If you would rather send a check you can email me at courtney.koctar@gmail.com and I can give you our address. OR if you would like to send a check directly to our agency (that would be tax deductible) you can email me as well, and I will give you that address.

4. Once all the pieces have been purchased (IF they are all purchased?) we will put the puzzle together and write each of your names on the cardboard side of the puzzle. And then we’ll hang it up with the names facing out in this little one’s room and it will make me cry and be my other favorite possession.

As a bonus… we really wanted Wyatt to be a part of this in some way. So, if you buy 4 or more puzzle pieces ($120+) Wyatt will send you a homemade Africa Christmas ornament. (Christmas will be here in one hot second and we would love for you to have a tiny piece of this story hanging in your house over the holidays.) It was super fun to make these with him. I only lost my crap once when he bent the cookie cutter so bad that it looked more like a shoddy Florida than an Africa. And we only had one tantrum when he thought they were cookies and I had no earthly idea how to explain a Christmas ornament to a child who has never experienced Christmas before. Fun times! But for real, I could cry thinking about Wyatt having a part in bringing his sibling here.

We’d be honored and humbled and consider it such a privilege to have you be a part of this story. Let’s do this. Who’s in?

Go Forth And Have No Fear

I have straight up agonized over this post… Thought about it, prayed about it, talked circles around it, put off writing it. What do we say? How much do we say? How do we say it? How do we really do this again? Will people rally one more time? What if they don’t? What.If.They.Don’t? And every time I started to panic about it, I just felt this gentle nudge that said: “Go forth and have no fear.” And so this post is just that.

Part of me wants to tell you about how we’ve always known our family would grow through adoption, like multiple ones. And then I kind of want to tell you about how we’ve always wanted Wyatt to share the same skin color as other people in our family, how that’s just so important to us. I thought about telling you that I so desperately want Wyatt to share something with a sibling, and how I so desperately want that something to be Uganda. I wanted to tell you about how many times we’ve almost talked ourselves out of it, how many times we’ve looked at each other and said: “Are we crazy? Are you still okay with this? Are we about to F everything up?”

And then I thought about sharing how we got to right here- how many months ago we started talking about doing this all over again and how much research we did before being pulled right back to Uganda. I kind of want to tell you about how many hours we spent looking at other countries and talking to people in the foster care system and then how close we were to saying yes to four siblings in Ethiopia. And then another part of me wants to just list the ways Wyatt has changed and grown simply by being in a family, and then how much he has changed us just by being in ours. But at the end of the day I just don’t know how much any of that really matters right now. Maybe if we were having this conversation over coffee or you were at my kitchen table or we were sitting on my front porch with a glass of wine, then maybe. But even then I don’t know.

But what I do know is this: Kids belong in families. They belong in Black families and white families and Hispanic families. They belong in American families and African families and European families. They belong in Christian families and Catholic families and I don’t believe in anything families. Kids belong in families. Every time. They just do. (Obviously they also belong in safe families.)

The hard thing about adoption for me is that it’s so easy to say no. It’s so easy to agonize over it and overthink it. There are a million different ways you can talk yourself out of it. There are four trillion legitimate reasons to be scared and apprehensive and to want to just call it quits on the whole dang thing.

But when I look at our life- our house, our families, our people-there is so much laughter and love and goodness to go around. And I can’t stop thinking about how much it’s not that crazy to want to share it all with another little human being who needs a family. I don’t think it’s all that crazy to say: Alright I’m willing and I’m able, here I am send me. I’m scared and I’m nervous and I don’t know exactly how this is all going to work, but here I am send me.

And so here we are… paperwork has been filled out, background checks have been run, fingerprints have been given, physicals have been had, birth certificates have been ordered, and our one and only home study visit has been scheduled… officially adopting #2 from Uganda. (!)

wy

Can we talk about his cheese game, though?

We’re excited and nervous and expectant of what is to come. We’re all of the things right now. Every last one of them. A friend texted me the other night and said: “Excited to see God weave another beautifully broken and redemptive story into your lives again.” And that made me tear up because, yes. That though. Because kids belong in families, you know?

P.S. The puzzle fundraiser is making another appearance. (And all the people said, “Hooray!!” Right? You totally just said all of the hoorays.) But seriously it is. Because we can’t do this without you guys, on the real.