Come here. Sit down and look at me.

I do this often. I’ll be playing around with my camera, figuring stuff out, and suddenly I need a face in front of me. I’ll call a child, whoever is closest, and he’ll stare at the lens. I click, adjust, click, readjust. My handsome boys, the test models.

Jackson in mid-June 2016

Two things about this I love:

First, I always have updated photos of them. Not just blurry phone pictures, but real, detailed, up-close images of what they look like RIGHT NOW. Every freckle, every inch of peach fuzz. This is Jackson at ten years and ten days old. This is Jeremy at twelve years, nine months, and twelve days old.

Jeremy in mid-June 2016

The second thing I love is that while I fiddle with aperture and shutter speed, we talk. We talk about random stuff, like Pokemon cards, football stadiums, swimming with friends. Though neither avoids conversation with me (yet), this is a time and space when we have each other’s full attention. I’m looking at him, he’s looking at me. Though there is a camera between us, we have eye contact.

I’m not sure how much longer they’ll let me use them for test models, and if I had to guess, I think Jeremy will jump ship first. But for now, I will continue. Every month or so, every couple of weeks, I’ll sit them down on the edge of my bed, outside on the porch, wherever, and say, “Come here. Sit down and look at me.”

And it will be worth it.

Throwback to when we met Jackson

To say we had little time to prepare for Jackson’s arrival would be an understatement. We found out about his impending birth and potential adoption on Saturday, June 10. He was born on Sunday, June 11, and we saw him for the first time through the nursery window that afternoon around 5 p.m. He was 16 hours old. He wasn’t legally ours yet, but in my heart, he was mine all mine.

The first time we saw Jackson

It wasn’t until Monday afternoon, June 12, that I got to hold him and kiss him and call him by his name.

TBT to June 11

Over an unsuspecting weekend in mid-June 2006, we became a family of four. Adoption is the coolest thing ever.

Allow me a moment to gush

Normally, when prompted to write a few sentences to display his understanding of grammar and punctuation, Jackson writes about football. He used to write about Marvel (ah, the good old days!) or some other obsession of the moment, but the last year or two has been all about football.

Packers fan

Imagine my delight when I discovered that one of last week’s assignments on commas and clauses centered around us and not Aaron Rodgers  or Cam Newton. He was supposed to write four sentences about “someone you admire,” beginning at least two of the sentences with after, when, while, before, although, if, and so on.

This is what he wrote:

  1. Before I loved my mom, I was not even born yet, but I came in 2006 and loved her.
  2. I think my mom is cool, funny, smart, and a good cook.
  3. If I could love two people, I would choose my mom and dad.
  4. Mom and Dad are the two best Moms and Dads in the world.

So what if the last sentence doesn’t have a comma in it. AREN’T THOSE THE MOST FABULOUS FOUR SENTENCES EVER?

Jackson's eyes

Yeah, I think so too. 

P.S. For those concerned about the wire Jackson swallowed on Veteran’s Day, all is well. A follow-up X-Ray this morning showed that the “foreign body” had passed.

Blog Challenge Day 24: A difficult time

Describe a difficult time in my life.

By far, to date, the most troubling time in my life was at 23 and 24 years old. I was newly married and freshly off all forms of birth control. We were going to start a family. With all that potential in the air – and it was palpable – we forged ahead in anticipation that I would have a positive pregnancy test by the beginning of 2002, if not by the end of 2001.

Nothing happened, so we upped our game. Still nothing happened, so we went to the doctor.

It was at this point that a dark cloud came over our two-bedroom apartment in North Chattanooga and settled there for the next year and a half. It was dark, so much that the darkness crept in my heart and pushed out all the happiness. There would be no pregnancies. Ever.

All around me, friends fell pregnant, and one-by-one, they hesitated to tell me. We weren’t planning it, they’d say. We hate to tell you this, they’d say. It was as if all they had to do was run into each other in the hallway and – voila! – pregnant!

They hated to tell me, and I hated to hear it. The darkness got worse and I hated everyone. I was a horrible friend, a horrible person. Mother’s Day in 2002 was the worst. Pastors and preachers, don’t ever ask all the mothers in the congregation to stand up and be recognized with applause. I’m still surprised lightning did not strike me dead in the pew on account of my awful thoughts.

It was around Christmastime in 2002 that my best friend, Karin, cautiously, carefully told me she was pregnant. After feigning excitement for the duration of the phone call, I hung up and wept at Chuck’s feet. Not only was this the absolute lowest possible point I could fall, it was also the turning point. I resolved that I would enjoy pregnancy through Karin. If I wasn’t going to be a mother, I would at least be the next best thing – the auntie.

Starting in January 2003, I scraped myself off the floor, wiped my face, and helped Karin decorate the nursery. We shopped together and I helped host her baby shower. I put my hand to her belly and felt the baby kick. I did all the things.

The darkness in my heart was still there, but it had waned. Occasionally it resurfaced, like when we started the adoption process and the road felt long and hopeless, but I kept focused and diligent. I would be a mother eventually.

In August 2003, we met Jeremy’s birth mother. In September 2003, we were there for his birth. From the moment I decided to lift myself out of the fog to the moment Jeremy was born, it was exactly nine months. 

adoption quote

Chromosomes and Adoption: Not my favorite Science lesson

The subject of our boys’ adoptions come up rarely, so rarely that we all forget that that’s how we became a family. It’s a non-issue most of the time, and when it is an issue, it’s only a remark, like “I wonder if I’ll ever meet my birth mom/birth dad,” to which we respond with, “When it comes time for that, we’ll be right there with you.”

Every once in a while I’m caught off guard and don’t have a Standard Adoption Response on the tip of my tongue. That happened this morning and I’m still trying to figure out what to do about it.

Jeremy’s learning about blood and bones and what makes up our bodies, so it should’ve occurred to me that we’d eventually make our way to chromosomes. We were reading about blood cells and then all of a sudden wound up here:

Chromosomes and Adoption

It’s meant to be a fun experiment to see how a child could’ve looked with alternative traits from his parents, but all I saw was a BIG RED STOP SIGN. It would be cruel to have him fill in information about Chuck and me, knowing that none of our physical traits were passed down to our children. It would be more cruel to fill in his birth mother’s physical traits and leave the birth father’s blank, a reminder that someone didn’t take interest in his existence.

I didn’t have an answer at the ready, so – on the fly and in a panic – I turned the page and muffled something like, “Oh we’ll come back to that.” 

This must be dealt with. Jeremy needs to learn about chromosomes and blood type and do that graph thing where you figure out the probability of eye color, but I’ll have to get my words sorted out beforehand. I’ll have to find a way to celebrate his reddish hair, freckles, and long eyelashes even though we aren’t sure where they came from. Jackson too, with his zigzag hairline, tan skin, and eyes that smile.  So far, I think we’ve done a stellar job of reinforcing how much they were wanted and prayed for and how their adoptions fell perfectly into place for both our family and their birth families. Neither child, to my knowledge or intuition, feels short-changed or discarded. But this sort of Science lesson flies right in their faces and reminds them, “Oh yeah. I don’t have this information. It doesn’t apply to me.”

Maybe I’m not giving Jeremy and Jackson enough credit here. Just this afternoon I overheard Jeremy tell his brother, “I bet I could play soccer against ninth graders. I have soccer in my blood.” A true statement, I might add. His biological mother and half-brother are soccer pros and I have no doubt Jeremy is like them. Likewise, he favors his biological aunt in the same wonderful way Jacob favors me. Jackson, too, shares the same bright smile as his birth mother. Their childhood photos are incredibly similar.

Even with all of these parallels we’ve drawn, I still feel a need to patch holes, to pull them in a suffocating Mom hug and say, “IT’S ALL FINE! WE’RE ALL FINE HERE!” But then they’ll roll their eyes and tell me to calm down and that I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

UGH. Why does it all feel so HEAVY?

TBT: The old morning routine

I didn’t intend to be a stay-at-home mom, much less a homeschooling stay-at-home mom, but stranger things have happened. Eight years ago, these two were my daily companions:

TBT January 2007

Obviously, they are still my daily companions, but their faces and needs have changed greatly over time and they continue to challenge me in every way possible. When I see photos like this I’m reminded of the sweetest parts of having little ones – and a tiny piece of me yearns to have it again.

But then I snap out of it because having a baby at this stage of life would cause a crack in the Earth. Did you know it was at our age now that Chuck’s parents spontaneously got pregnant with him after being told they couldn’t have children?

Yeah, we’re taking steps to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.

TBT: Meeting Jackson

This was our first time meeting and holding Jackson. He was one day old and prior to this moment we had only been able to look at him through the nursery window.

It was on this day that I realized miracles can happen twice.♥

TBT meeting jack

Novel progress and a baby, unrelated

The novel is sailing along at more than 32,000 words. No doubt I’ll hit the 50,000-word limit by the end of November to meet the terms of NaNoWriMo and my creative writing class, but this book will be well over 50K when it’s finished. I’ve employed my dearest friend, Corey, to read it and advise me, and by “employ” I mean that I’ve cashed in 20-plus years of friendship in exchange for her expertise as a creative person. She has no idea what she’s agreed to. HA! Sucker!

Yesterday was a labor of love, but not with writing. I agreed to babysit our littlest cousin for the day, so in addition to the boys (and their school work), the dog (and his nonsense), graduate school (Lit Theory sucks), and really, really cold weather (hello, winter!), we had a tiny blue-eyed visitor. Seriously, why would you say no to babysitting this guy?

Connor at 11 months old

The boys thought babysitting Connor meant a day off from school, but nope! HA! Suckers!

School with Connor

Connor was a complete angel, and I’m not just saying that because his parents and grandparents will probably read this blog entry. He really is a calm, cheerful baby. He did not cry or whimper or thrash around or vomit or explode in his diaper, all of which I was geared up to handle. The boys can vouch for my babysitting report. They were even trying to convince me to adopt another baby, and I was all, “NO WAY.” We are just fine here, thank you. Have you met Major? The dog who ate your Mandarin action figure last week? Who steals your peanut butter and jelly sandwich of the plate? Yeah, we’re good here.

Speaking of the dog, he was oddly very sweet with the baby. After sniffing every inch of Connor’s tiny little body (he’d never seen a human that size before), Major followed him around everywhere he crawled. When Connor sat still, Major laid down next to him and waited. It was a nice display of canine loyalty and protectiveness that made me think, “Okay, we’ll keep you another week.”

Major and Connor

Nature talk on a nature walk

While Jackson was at a church activity last Wednesday, Jeremy and I took Major for a nature walk at the Greenway. By nature walk, I mean I didn’t calculate anyone’s heart rate or attempt specific mileage. We strolled. We looked. We chased squirrels. Nature-y stuff.

Just when I thought our conversation was safe and comfortable with hawks and their prey, Jeremy swung us in another direction (as usual) by asking why specifically Chuck and I could not conceive a child. Not generally, mind you. Not in a “God wanted us to adopt you” kind of infertility answer, but a real, biological, uncomfortable, and blushing kind of answer.

Yeah, I told him. I said all the words I needed to say so he could understand biologically why we were infertile. We also talked about DNA, explaining why his physical features resemble his biological aunt, why my face is similar to Grandma’s but my height is from Grandpa, why Chuck is the spitting image of Papaw. We talked about how he may get mannerisms from us simply because we live together and our habits rub off on one another, to which he replied, “Which is why I’m funny like Dad.” Yes, exactly.

Our ten year old is growing up fast. Since he is quickly unsatisfied with simple answers, Chuck and I have chosen to give Jeremy more information regarding these mature topics much sooner than we anticipated. We already know that Jackson is readily able to accept answers like, “Ah, buddy, you don’t need to worry about that stuff right now.” But Jeremy is wholly insulted by such a reply. He is mature and almost an adult, because being ten is being a pre-teen, which is almost a teenager, which is practically an adult. (As you can see, Jeremy is nearing retirement.)

All this is to say that I can no longer assume that a nature stroll with this child will be casual. Instead, it’s Jeremy’s primetime. It’s the opportunity to ask questions without little brother around, without other distractions, with Mom’s full attention.

Our conversations, as a whole, are shifting in this house. Case in point: On the way home from the pumpkin patch Friday night, we didn’t talk about autumn things. We didn’t talk about Halloween or costumes or the corn maze. We didn’t talk about carving the pumpkins we just picked.

No, we talked about what it means to be a wingman.

It all started when Jackson lovingly said to me, “Mom, you’re my wingwoman.”

Oh really?

“Where did you hear that word?” I asked.

“On Wimpy Kid,” he said.

“Do you know what a wingman is?”

“No,” said Jack.

To which Jeremy piped up and answered, “I do. It’s a guy who helps you get a girl.”

“Well, yes, I suppose that’s right,” I said.

Then Chuck entered the conversation and explained more fully what a wingman is, and I just sunk deep into the passenger seat wishing for the good ole days of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Did you try out other babies?

There I was, driving down the street and singing my little heart out with the new Killers album when Jeremy pipes up from the back seat.

“Mom?”

I heard him but kind of ignored him because I was really digging the song and wanted to finish the chorus.

“MOM?” He yelled louder. I couldn’t pretend twice so I paused the iPod.

“Yeah?”

“Did you try out other babies?” he asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You know, in the hospital. Did you try out other babies and hold them?”

“Try them out for what?” I ask.

“To make sure I was the right one.”

Continue reading “Did you try out other babies?”

A Rude Awakening

Indulge me for a second, because I had one of those moments that stops you in your tracks.

We were driving home from running errands and the boys were asking (for the gazillionth time) about buying something or playing something or doing something that required permission. I was over it.

So from the front seat I yelled, “Do you guys understand that ALL OF OUR CONVERSATIONS involve YOU asking ME for SOMETHING? Seriously. Give it a rest.”

They didn’t answer me, and even if they did, I didn’t hear them because instead I heard an audible vibration from the depths of my soul that whispered, “Well that sounds familiar.”

I sat there at the red light in a stupor, hands on the wheel, embarrassed and replaying my last hundred prayers. When we adopted Jeremy nearly nine years ago, I remember feeling that by becoming a parent it took me to another level with God, that understanding this parent-child relationship gave me the tiniest idea about what He must feel for me. It was one of those “A-ha!” moments, and now I’d just had another one.

The boys and I didn’t speak to each other until we got home, when I asked them to help me bring in the groceries. In the silence of the short drive, I asked for forgiveness and thanked Him for all of this, for these people He gave me, for this life He created, and for waking me up in a place where I’d obviously fallen asleep.

A Chattanooga Recharge

We left for Chattanooga Friday afternoon and I have to say – it was the most amazing weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect in the Tennessee Valley, which meant nearly everything was done outside. Playgrounds, grilling out, and a fabulous run along the Riverpark Saturday morning. (Oh how I’ve missed that!) But what made it especially wonderful was everyone we got to see.

Friday night Chuck and I stole away for dinner (at J Alexander’s) and a movie (Limitless at the Majestic), which we haven’t done in, oh, say a year or two. Seriously. After we reintroduced ourselves, we had a good time – especially in the VIP theater room. Recliners, drink menus, waiters, the whole bit. I never realized how fun it would be to watch a movie while sitting in a recliner. I’m sold.

Afterwards we drove around North Chattanooga to see what’s changed, what’s new and what’s still the same. Why oh why didn’t we buy a house in North Chattanooga all those years ago? What used to be the questionable, up-and-coming part of town 12 or 15 years ago has become the hipster epicenter with gorgeous remodeled craftsman homes, walkability to restaurants and entertainment and an amazing view of the cityscape and river. I went for a run Saturday morning and parked midway down the Riverpark so I could run towards downtown. It’s the same pathway I trained on for six half marathons and one full, 26-mile race, and it was just as beautiful as ever.

We spent Saturday afternoon at Matt and Amy’s house, our Fred and Ethel Mertz, and I also got some one-on-one Amy time Sunday morning for coffee and shopping. Later in the afternoon, Jeremy and I scooted off to another park to meet his biological aunt, uncle and cousin, which is something we discussed prior to arranging. (More on that later.) Jeremy was thrilled to meet them and I was happy to see him happy. Here’s a snapshot of us waiting for them at the playground.

Saturday night was a long overdue dinner with Karin, and Sunday morning was coffee with Amy followed by lunch with Kathryn (my high school bestie). When it was all over, I bid a sweet farewell to Chattanooga and got back on the road towards the Foothills. (Chuck and the boys left for Knoxville with Bill that morning.) I probably smiled the entire way home. This weekend was just the recharge I needed.

While Chattanooga is a really great town, I’m happy to be home in the mountains. It’s hard to explain how a place you’ve never lived before feels like home, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Like I told my dad on the phone a few weeks ago – as an Army brat, home was wherever the Army sent us, and after Dad retired, home was wherever my parents lived. I’ve never had an actual hometown. Until now.

A little spot in the February Issue

(see Amarillo Magazine article here)

Then I Knew They Were Mine

I remember that Sunday quite perfectly.

It was Mother’s Day, 2003, and my husband and I were in our second year of reeling from infertility. We longed to adopt a child. We were surrounded by friends who were getting pregnant with ease, and on this particular Sunday we were surrounded by a congregation of mothers at church.

“We want to recognize all of the mothers in this room,” rang the pastor. “So if you’ve had the privilege and joy of being a mother, please stand up!”

The room erupted in applause, but I sat bitterly in the pew with my hands clenched. I couldn’t raise my eyes for nary a second. I choked back tears and steamed with jealous anger.

To be told you cannot conceive a child is something out of this world. The words come out of the doctor’s mouth and float around the room before stabbing you right in the heart. What once represented hope and anticipation was suddenly a ripping of what should have been natural and easy. You grow up, you get married, you get pregnant and make a family. It felt as if we’d been robbed.

What I didn’t know, as I pouted in the church pew, was that there was a plan already in motion. Unbeknownst to us, our son was already growing in his birth mother’s belly, and in early August, we were introduced to her by a mutual friend. By September, she gave birth and placed in our hands a most treasured gift. Finally, I was a mother.

All of the bitterness I held on to for two years was instantly replaced by an immeasurable well of love. I had not carried him tenderly inside me for nine months, but from the moment I laid eyes on Jeremy’s tiny body, I knew he was mine.

By his fourth month, I had to defend my position as Jeremy’s mother. He was scheduled for a minor day surgery, and on the early morning of his procedure, we sat in the hospital room filling out all of the standard paperwork. When I arrived at the spot to fill in his social security number, I called for the nurse. We were two months from the adoption being final, so Jeremy didn’t have a number yet. The nurse went across the hall to the physician and my face went flush as I eavesdropped.

“We can’t do this surgery,” said the doctor, “unless we have permission from his real mother.”

Instinctively I stormed into the hallway and before I could censor myself, the words flew out of my mouth for the whole floor to hear: “I am his real mother.”

They stood there in shock before gently explaining their legal dilemma. The solution was an early morning phone call to our lawyer who provided custody documents on our behalf. Though Jeremy’s surgery went about as planned, I fumed for a solid week on the doctor’s tactless slip of the tongue.

Nearly three years later, we were delighted again to receive a second son. This time, instead of having the luxury of four weeks to prepare for a baby, we had 24 hours. We woke on a Saturday morning an oblivious family of three, but by Sunday night we had grown to a family of four. Even in the rush of his birth, being chosen as his parents and meeting him for the first time, from the moment I saw six-hour-old Jackson through the hospital nursery window, I knew he was mine.

Fast forward seven and four years respectively. Our house is busy, noisy, and, depending on the day, it is a galaxy far, far away, a battlefield for Army men or a super-speeding race track. It is a place where laughter fixes nearly every problem and table manners may never be achieved. It is place of properly set boundaries, where hugs are given free and clear, and one bite of your vegetables is good enough for now.

It is also where we talk openly about their adoptions, using words like sacrifice, gift, and, above all else, love. It is because of love that you are here.

With Jeremy, we’ve reached a pivotal place of starting to answer hard questions, and we agreed a long time ago that we’d always answer them as honestly as possible and with age-appropriate information. Our conversations are sweet and mostly benign, which confirms that the hardest challenges are yet to come. It is never far from my mind to affirm both boys of their place in our family.

In the quieter moments of this bestowed motherhood, I imagine my boys at an age of rebellion, when they are looking for answers that I cannot give, and it’s then that I imagine the worst. It’s a fear every adoptive parent harbors. There could come a day, when in anger, they might yell at me, “You aren’t my real mother.”

Now, I can’t say for sure what the context of this argument may be, and I can’t say for sure how I will respond as a whole, but if my instincts are correct and my love is still strong, then I’m certain I’ll begin with, “Oh yes I am.”

 

Love Makes a Family

I’ve continued to seek and find on Etsy this week and stumbled upon these adorable nursery prints from Barking Bird Art. I love how simple line drawings are, especially when paired with a muted color palette.

Because it takes love to make a family (and in our case, a subsequent court date), this one is my fave:

You can see the full line of nursery art pieces here.

And do not read into the “nursery” flavor of this post. That ship has sailed, people.

How Much Did I Cost Anyway?

So the boys and I were sitting in Cracker Barrel tonight for dinner when Jeremy took the conversation in a different direction. (What else is new?)

It all started when the pair of them hounded me for toys from the Cracker Barrel store – specifically, two new Webkinz. (Because six isn’t enough!) I kept them at bay until we sat down to eat, and the pleading continued when Jeremy told me he already named the limited edition turkey he so desperately wanted. Please, Mom, please.

“Jeremy, we don’t have money to buy things like Webkinz and toys this week. We’re buying food and gas and that’s much more important,” I say matter-of-factly. No sympathy, no jolly “Christmas is coming soon so let’s wait and see what’s under the tree” speech. I continued to tear apart my baked potato blankly when he continued.

“Well I know something that’s more important than food and gas that you had to pay for,” he says with a smile. He nods his head in my direction trying to bait me.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I say, not playing. This mama is tired.

“Something MORE important than food and gas,” he repeats. He glances at Jack and back at me. We don’t get it.

“Us!” he says, beaming. “You bought me and Jack and we’re more important than food and gas.”

I pause to imagine Chuck and me at the check-out line holding two babies.

“We didn’t purchase you, Jeremy,” I say. “I mean, there wasn’t a shopping cart or anything.”

“But you did buy us, right? From the nurses?”

“No, more like from the lawyers,” I say, giggling at my own little private joke. “Seriously, we payed legal fees to adopt you, but we didn’t buy you. It’s just like when other moms and dads have to pay the hospital for giving birth to their children.”

“Well how much did I cost anyway?” His big blue eyes had long since abandoned his hamburger and were fixated on me. He was looking for a number, something tangible he could apply as a reflection of his worth and importance.

“It doesn’t matter what we paid,” I answer. “You and Jackson are priceless.”

Satisfied, our conversation turned back to Webkinz and robots and all the little treats they wanted and I wouldn’t buy. Though we managed to escape the Old Country Store without toys, I did buy one thing, aside from our dinner: an Advent calendar. I’m not a total Scrooge, you know.

 

Happy Adoption Day, Jack!

Four years ago today we stood before a judge who declared Jackson legally part of the Miller family. It was all formality, of course, but I knew that boy was mine from the moment I saw him through the nursery window. And though Jackson still doesn’t understand what “adoption” means, much less the significance of this day, he’ll be thrilled tonight when I let him choose what we’re having for dinner.

This photo was taken Friday afternoon while in the car pick-up line outside Jeremy’s school. It is in this arrangement – me in the driver’s seat and him behind me – that we have some of our most serious conversations. Topics range from “Can I watch WALL-E?” and “Can we listen to The Killers?” to “What’s your favorite color?” and “I didn’t get in trouble today!”

Happy Adoption Day, Jackson! There is no one like you, and that’s just fine with me.

Good Morning, Mommy. I’m four.

There was truly no better way to start the day. Upon waking the boys up at 8 a.m., Jackson rubbed his eyes, sat up in bed and announced his age. I teared up immediately because I cannot believe this child went from newborn to FOUR in just days.

You mothers know what I mean. One minute we’re changing cloth diapers, pureeing baby food and counting the hours until the next feeding. Now I’m breaking up fights, teaching table manners and watching my language. HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Continue reading “Good Morning, Mommy. I’m four.”

Preparations for Four

My youngest turns four years old tomorrow, and while he and I snuggled tonight I thought back to the first time I saw him through the window of the hospital nursery. He was only hours old, wrapped in a newborn blanket with a cap. I wasn’t allowed to touch him yet, but I knew he was all mine. I quick-sketched his name on a blank sheet of copy paper and added an “I love you,” and the on-duty nurse affixed it to his bed. It would be one full night before I could hold him, but I wanted him to know he was already taken.

Preparations were made tonight to make tomorrow special for Jack, so stay tuned for birthday photos.

Column: Miracle makes a family of four

You lucky ducks get to read this Sunday’s column right here, right now, before the rest of the city gets a chance. Don’t you feel special?

Miracle makes a family of four

When I was preparing for my previous column six weeks ago, I had no idea that by the time it ran on Sunday morning my life would be changing forever. Again.

On that early morning in June, our second son, Jackson, was born. We had no knowledge of his existence until a few short hours prior to his arrival. His birth into our family is nothing short of a miracle.

There is very little predictability in adoption. With the adoption of our first son, we had about four weeks to prepare. We found his birth mom through a friend and met with her and her entire family. Everyone was supportive and encouraging. This baby was who I longed and prayed for. Jeremy’s adoption was flawless. The fact that God gave us a miracle was more than I could fathom.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t believe God would do it again.

And to be perfectly blunt, I thought I could do it on my own.

Last fall, I told my pastor about my struggle to believe a another miracle could happen. When I informed him we’d be signing up with an agency to adopt a second child, he quickly asked me why. I gave him run-around excuses, something about adoption being a long process and wanting to get on a list.

“But why not go for another private adoption?” he asked. I gave him more excuses, but this time, he called me on it.

“Don’t you believe God will give you another child the way He did with Jeremy?” he asked.

“No,” I responded with certainty. “I know He could, but I don’t think He will. It’s just not logical. Two miracles in one family? I don’t see it.”

He disagreed with me, but didn’t push. I left his office in tears, struggling to hold my head up. Weeks went on and we started the adoption process with an agency. We barely got to the formal application before backing out. It didn’t feel right for us and we couldn’t move forward. Our file was closed and baby No. 2 seemed more out of reach than ever.

Fast forward to the Saturday night before Jackson was born. We had dinner plans with another couple who were considering adoption and they wanted to get the inside scoop. I was happy to meet with them, though I knew my heart was still dealing with bitterness and confusion. I wanted a second child and felt like we had no where to go. How in the world I could inspire someone else was beyond me. Nevertheless, we met at the restaurant and eventually ended up back at our house to continue the conversation.

We shared our story about Jeremy’s private adoption, how quickly it all surfaced and how were there for his birth. We told them how much prayer and faith adoption required, and certainly, how unpredictable it can be. You just never know, we said. There’s no real way to prepare, we told them.

I received a phone call during their visit, but I let the voicemail pick it up.

They left around 9:30 p.m. and I went upstairs to get ready for bed. All the adoption talk left me thinking about another child. I longed for another boy, and I wanted our second adoption to mimic the first – private, comfortable, and through someone we knew and trusted. Before turning down the bed, I remembered the phone call. I went downstairs to check my voicemail and nearly dropped the phone as I listened.

“There’s a woman in labor,” I told Chuck, who was sitting on the couch. His face went blank.

“What?” he asked, as if I had spoken in Greek.

“Yes, there’s a woman in labor and wants to place the child for adoption! Is this really happening?” My hands were shaking and my heart beat heavy in my chest. I returned my friend’s phone call and got more information. In a matter of minutes, we got our neighbor down to stay with Jeremy and were out the door to the hospital. We had no guarantee that this baby was ours, but we were surely going to find out.

Four hours later, we returned home still unsure about what lay ahead. We met with the birth family, making them aware of our desire for another child, and left it in their hands. Neither of us slept. Every second was longer than the last. By mid-morning, we had lawyers on the phone. By early evening, we were able to view the baby through the nursery window. By Monday morning, we were awarded temporary custody and were able to hold him. Now we are awaiting a court date to make it final.

In a matter of about 36 hours, we became the parents of another beautiful blue-eyed baby boy.

Jackson is not just a second child for us. He is what my heart desired, even when I struggled to believe. He’s proof that God really does perform two miracles in one family.

Now I wonder if He’ll do three.

The Waiting Period is Over.

Now we wait for paperwork to be processed and a court date to be assigned. Legally, we’re in the clear.

Here are a few pictures from this past week… I’ll get more edited this weekend and I hope to take a family picture! Until then, here you go:

Thank you for all your prayers and well-wishes. We are in love with Jackson and in such awe over how God’s blessed us. Even in the midst of our doubt and frustration, He still chose to bless us. I will never understand it.

Continue to pray for our dog, if you feel led. He’s staying another night at the vet. We’re just sick over it.

Jackson Thomas Miller

So here’s where we stand: Both birth parents have signed away their rights and have until Friday, June 23rd, to change their minds. Everyone (literally) has said they believe it’s a done deal, but I’ll feel much better after midnight next Friday. Our home study is being updated as we speak, and once it is, we’ll be able to come home to Georgia. Because Jackson was born in Tennessee, we have to stay in state until the interstate adoption agency signs/approves everything. Currently, we are staying at our church’s mission house, located directly behind the church. WHAT A BLESSING!!!!

Jackson was morning at 1:06 a.m. on June 11th, weighing 7 lbs. 3 oz. and 20 inches long. He’s a gorgeous, healthy baby and a joy to have… Jeremy is learning to love him, and we’re giving him lots of mercy and grace right now! Most siblings have 9 months to get used to the idea of a baby invading their space. Jeremy had about 30 minutes. He’s gentle with him, kisses him sweetly on the head, and goes on with business.

Now onto the good stuff:

Last picture as a family of three…

The first time I got to *touch* him…

Soaking it all in…

Father and TWO sons…

Introducing the boys…

Taken last night, around 2 a.m., at five days old…

Naturally, we are already in love with Jackson. Everyone is, of course. We still realize things are not final and there is a slight chance we could lose him… But we are praying FERVENTLY that this adoption is a done deal. God has been very present in all of this, and once we are able to come home, I’ll type it all out. This is a testimony you won’t want to miss!

Keep praying on our behalf – that social workers and lawyers keep moving paperwork along, that the birth parents don’t change their minds, and that we can adjust as a quickie family of four.