Family

Puzzle Update (And A Few Other Words)

If you’re just joining in, a big Hello! We’re in the process of adopting our second kiddo from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising, whoop, you can read more about that one here. Much love.

Y’all. We’ve officially crossed the $10,000 mark. Say what!? I know. In just five weeks 337 puzzle pieces have been sold and $10, 110 has been raised. That’s so crazy awesome. We are so thankful and so grateful. Like, seriously. People are so kind and so generous. Believe me when I say it does not go unappreciated. Without you people who are giving we could literally not do this thing. So until someone comes up with a different way to say “thank you”… THANK YOU is all we’ve got.

People have asked how I’m feeling about everything this go around and my answer is almost always the exact same… I feel so fine. I feel heavy about it all but I feel fine about it, too. I feel the exact opposite of how I felt for the solid two years we were in the adoption process last time. I feel confident in what we’re doing and totally at peace. I just know this is right. There is literally no question about it.

Last time I felt anxious and worried and this constant sense of urgency and stressed times 4 billion. This time I just feel heavy about the whole thing. I know the reality this time, and the reality is what weighs heavy on my mind and my heart.

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The reality is there is another Wyatt, a living breathing human being out there, who simply needs a family.There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need anyone to come save or rescue him, but rather to come meet him where he is (in all his grief and anger and confusion and hurt) and just love him. There is another Wyatt who doesn’t need to be adopted so everything will be “fixed”, but rather needs someone to be there in the hard and the ugly parts of their story- to honor the losses, to celebrate the gains, to just sit with them in it all and tell them they’ll always be there. There is another Wyatt who is worthy of redemption and growth and healing. There is another Wyatt who is worth it.

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The reality that there is another baby- a baby who has eyes and fingers and toes and a heart- who just needs a family (a FAMILY for crap’s sake) and we can’t go to him without an insane amount of money. The reality that every day that passes is just another day that a baby goes to bed without someone to call mom and dad. And that’s the reality that keeps me up at night.

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And so sometimes (or all of the time) when I get embarrassed that we’re asking for money and I get tired of talking about this puzzle…

When I get frustrated when there are multiple days in a row where not one dollar has been given…

When I get mad that there are kick starter campaigns that raise more money than we’re trying to in no time…

When I feel like I’m pulling teeth and begging people to give…

When I want to scream that “liking” something on Facebook does not get us one centimeter closer to this kid…

When I think maybe we should stop and give up because, money…

… there is another Wyatt and he is worth it.

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Will you join us? Will you help us set another precious kiddo in a family? We literally can’t do it without you. $30/puzzle piece (buy 1 or a million of them, yes?). Click here to give via Paypal or email me for our address or our agency’s address (tax deductible, YEAH BABY).

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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.? 

Puzzle Update!

Hello, hi. If you’re just joining in, we’re in the process of adopting kiddo #2 from Uganda. You can read more about that here. We’re also fundraising. And all the people said, Hooray. You can read more about that one here.

One hundred and fifty seven (157!) puzzle pieces are gone. Like, paid and accounted for and GONE. That’s a whopping total of $4,710… almost the total of our first agency fee payment. (Insert all the praise hands.) What in the actual world? People are so kind. People are so generous. People are so good. They really, really are. Dustin and I are so grateful for the people who are choosing to rally around us financially right now. We’re honored and humbled and just so stinking thankful. The notes and text messages and emails that have come along with each donation have left me in tears exactly every time. We’re so proud to have each of you in this village. We really are. 

Do I think we can sell the remaining 593 puzzle pieces? Funny you should ask. That puzzle remains in it’s original bag, unopened, with the receipt attached to it because no, I’m not totally sure we can. It’s just so many. That number is ginormous, ya know? But we’re still believing and praying and hoping because that’s the only thing that makes sense right now. 

If you want in, we’d love to have you. You can click here to donate, you can email me to get our address, or if you’d like a tax deductible way to give I can give you our agency’s address as well. $30 per puzzle piece, $120+ gets you an Africa Christmas ornament Wyatt helped make. The first round of those are packed up and ready to go! We’re having to make many more batches because y’all are so good to us. Really, it’s humbling.

wyattIMG_2182Thank you times a trillion. Let’s keep this thing going, shall we?


Several weeks ago, like long before we knew we were for real about to do this thing, I had some burning thoughts about adoption and fundraising. Dustin and I talk about it often- how grateful we are for the people who financially rallied on our behalf- because if it weren’t for them Wyatt wouldn’t be here. Like, he literally wouldn’t be here. He would be with another family who had the money and that would be that. We talk about how brave people were to open up their wallets and buy into a story that hadn’t even really started yet. We talk about how kind and generous and thoughtful people were with their money. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with it all, the fact that Wyatt is here and it’s only because so many people helped make that happen. And so I scribbled down some thoughts and shared them with our people, because I so honestly believe them to be true.

Hands down my favorite thing about life right now is getting to introduce Wyatt to the people who took a risk and literally bought into this story at some point over the last two years.

There are some seriously big opinions out there in regards to fundraising and adoption, but so many days I look at him and am just floored with gratitude. He wouldn’t be here if we had waited until we had a trillion dollars in the bank. He just wouldn’t. He’s here because people said, “Here’s our money. Go do the big thing.”

Last night as we hung with a college friend who has her name on the puzzle in Wyatt’s room, I was yet again reminded of how proud I am. Proud of who Wyatt is and so proud of who our people are.

My heart could explode thinking about having a whole new round of people rallying around a whole new kiddo all in the name of family. Like, for real, it could actually burst. I also can’t wait to introduce y’all to him or her. What a gloriously fun day that will be. 

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. (!)

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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.

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying: Part 2

Because toddlers simultaneously make me want to 1) sob uncontrollably while laying in the fetal position 2) eat their faces off because they are so cute 3) laugh out loud 4) pull my hair out and 5) lose my will to live. You can read part 1 here.

I would like to ask my doctor for a Xanax prescription. Because, meal time with a toddler.

My husband and I have started having “second dinner” because 5:30 p.m., really? Unrelated: why did I have to unbutton my jeans while sitting the other night?

This afternoon I sat on the couch checking Instagram while my toddler blew a piece of trash around the living room. YOLO, ya know?

Why is Wyatt on the ground crying? I wouldn’t let him scratch a mole off my face. So there’s that.

Did you know you can “read books wrong?” Yeah, me either.

He asks for snacks all day and refuses to eat at meals. Again, YOLO! 

I don’t understand the whole: “I’ve been up all night for all of the nights with my toddler but I #wouldn’twanttobeanywhereelse” mentality. Have you ever heard of in your own bed asleep? Because that’s always the exact place I’d rather be.

But have you ever stepped on a matchbox car? Because that is the exact way my child is going to learn how to cuss.

Because what’s worse? Cutting your arm tendon like the guy from 127 Hours or trying to explain anything to a toddler?

Hate (v): to cancel a play date after your friend has already told her toddler about it. Used in a sentence: So. Yeah. Buddy. We actually aren’t going to play with Emma today because she is sick their hearts are full of hate. [56 hours later and we’re still talking about playing with freaking Emma] LET IT GO, FOR CRAPS SAKE.

I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy telling him he cannot bring 27 cars with him to church.

How many words can two ears hear in one day before they explode? Asking for a friend.

The good news? I finally finished blowing and filling up the kiddie pool in our backyard. The bad news? Summer is over.

Want to know what life with a toddler is like? Have a friend set 19 random alarms that will go off during the night. Run a full marathon tomorrow. This will actually be my next baby shower gift.

Do I work out? I carry around 30 lbs of dead weight because my toddler “fell and hurt knee.” Two week ago. So yeah, I work out. Is there anything else?

My favorite part about dinner is waiting for the bowel movement my toddler will inevitably have. Nothing wets the appetite quite like a runny BM halfway through the meal. Except the opposite of that.

Try to explain rest period at the pool to a napkin. That is life with a toddler.

Okay buddy, you can play with my thongs you pulled out of my drawer. Said no mom ever to her toddler.

One time I served a broken cracker. One time I peeled his banana. One time I opened the crayons at a restaurant. One time I gave him grapes when he asked for grapes… Surely this is what The Bible meant when it said, “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” No?

Why Are There No Black Emojis?

Dustin and I spend a lot of time talking about race. We’ve spent the last seven months reading books about being Black in America, autobiographies of influential Africans and African Americans, and books about Africa. Dustin started going to Vernon Winfrey’s (Oprah’s dad) barber shop that is close by our house to get his hair cut. We’ve had some candid conversations with our white, Black, and racially diverse family friends about race. We started watching Chappelle’s Show (HaHa), and we’ve made a point to have pictures up in our house that are racially diverse. We had to take online classes for our adoption agency that focused on race and being a non-traditional family. We aren’t trying to draw unnecessary attention to race or make something more of the subject than need be. We are trying to learn, prepare and understand, though.

It’s important to us that our son knows about his Ugandan culture and heritage. It’s important to us that he knows about being Black in America. It’s important to us that he never feels like he’s the only one with different color skin in our little world. It’s important to us that the toys, books and movies we buy are racially diverse. It’s important to us that he has Black role models and people who can speak truth into his life. It’s important to us that he has white, Hispanic, Indian, etc. role models and people who can speak truth into his life.  It’s important to us that he isn’t the only kid in our circle who has different color skin than his parents. We don’t plan on constantly pointing out that he is Black or that we are a different color than he is but we do want him to know that we love, value and respect his heritage, culture, and people that don’t look like us. If we ever have white kids we’d want the same for them.

The other night we received our first gift for the little guy. My parents had taken my youngest sister to visit the college we graduated from and had picked up some sweet ACU swag for him. We were excited and the clothes were precious so we took a picture. I wanted to post it on social media and include an emoji (see picture below) with the picture. I had just downloaded the app and wasn’t familiar with what my options were but I was thinking I’d put a cute picture of a Black child or one of a family that is racially diverse.
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I scrolled through every single one of the above pictures. No Black people. Surely there is a mistake, I thought. There’s a salsa dancer and an octopus but no Black people? I scrolled back through. Nothing. There’s a camel, for heavens sake, but no Black people. I scrolled through one more time thinking I could at least find one that was just not white. Nope. Well, there is one that is not white but he’s wearing a turban and that didn’t fit my picture anyways. I could have put a picture of the white baby but that’d be stupid because my baby isn’t white. I could have put the picture of that white family but that’d also be dumb because that isn’t what my family looks like. So, I settled on the smiley face with the heart eyes. I didn’t even know at this point.

I spent some time today reading articles about why there are no emoji faces of color. Because this isn’t just about the fact that there are no Black faces; there are no non-white faces, and that just doesn’t make any sense. I’ve read that it isn’t Apple’s fault, they didn’t create the app. I’ve read that people in Japan created the app, and the defense is the fact that Japan isn’t a very racially diverse place, so that’s why all the emoji faces are white. I hear all of that, and I get it. I’m not mad at Apple; I realize the people who created the emoji app have nothing to do with Apple. It’s not Apple’s fault, but Emoji’s, that this app does not promote racial equality.

In reality it just made me sad. Sad that it’s almost 2014 and we’re creating and using apps that are so racially homogeneous. Sad that my friends who are of color can’t fully use that app if they wanted to. Sad that people are left out based upon the color of their skin in an iPhone app. Sad that people really think that kind of thing is over and done. It’s just absurd and sad to me.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I signed this petition. I’m not really into signing petitions but what the heck. Maybe something will happen.
http://www.dosomething.org/petition/emojis

I realize that the emoji app was not created to have a picture of every single thing on this planet. As a friend pointed out, there are also no band aids on there. So, that isn’t the point of this post. I guess the point is just that being left out based on your skin color still goes on. I get so frustrated when people say that doesn’t happen anymore. It was so in my face looking through that app that I couldn’t not say anything. It also makes me so prayerful for the conversations that I know at some point we will have with our son about race and color of skin. Because if it’s happening in something as stupid as an iPhone app, it’s happening in real life, too. I just hope that we can all be aware, sensitive, and pro-active on the things that really matter in life.

Thanks in advance for being gracious with us and giving us this space to navigate and process the things that our family is facing and will continue to face.

Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

In case you missed it – we have begun the process to adopt a child from Uganda!!!! You can read more about how we came to this decision here.

Adoption is expensive. Like stupid expensive. There is a finance page in the adoption information packet that makes us both want to die. I have had multiple undiagnosed panic attacks while looking at this page. Dustin’s hands get seriously sweaty when he looks at it. We turn into unstable psychos whenever we discuss the finances of this adoption.

The thing that we’ve argued the most about is whether or not we would have to do fundraising. In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to. It sucks to have to ask people for money. It’s not fun. People get awkward. It’s vulnerable. The more we talked about it though, the more it became not so much about asking people for money but asking them to be a part of this story. Our kid’s story. So, we’ve settled on a fundraiser and we’re both pretty excited about it.

We’re doing a puzzle fundraiser. It works like this:

1. We bought a 550 piece puzzle. Do we have 550 friends? I don’t even know and I can’t even think about that.

2. We are going to sell the puzzle pieces for $20 a piece. You can buy one for yourself, your spouse, every member of your family, etc. You can click the PayPal link to purchase one or you can email me (courtney.koctar@gmail.com) for our address and send a check via mail.

3. When you purchase a puzzle piece, we will write the name of the person(s) on the cardboard side of the puzzle. Once every piece of the puzzle has been bought, we’ll put it together and hang it up (the name/cardboard side up) in our kid’s room.

I can’t even wait to get to read the names to our kid and tell him/her that these are all the people who loved you before we even knew who you were. These are all the people who stood beside us and helped us bring you home. These are all the people who are a part of your story. So cool, right!?

In the name of transparency, so you’ll know why we’re asking for money in the first place, and exactly where your money is going; here is the layout of part of that God awful finance page mentioned above. In the next couple of months we will have to pay the following:

Application Fee: $250.00 (PAID)

Home Study: $1,775.00 (PAID)

USCIS Fee: $890.00 (PAID As of 7/4!!!)

Acceptance into Program: $3,500.00 (PAID as of 7/15!!!)

Home Study Completion: $3,500.00 (PAID as of 7/26!!!)

Dossier Completion: $3,500.00

Travel Approval: $3,250.00

For a total of: $16,665.

As I’m typing this, no joke, my heart is pounding and I literally just said to myself, “Don’t hyperventilate.” Gah. What is wrong with me!?

So, our goal with this puzzle fundraiser is to sell every piece for a grand total of $11,000. We’d be honored and humbled to have you be a part of this story. Want to help us bring a kid home from Uganda!?

Click here to purchase a puzzle piece or make a donation. If you wish to make an additional donation above the $20 price of a puzzle piece (first of all, that is awesome!), simply put the desired donation amount in the box and proceed to process your payment.