Tag Archives: joy

Adoption Day! (Part 1)

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Adoption day began in flurry of activity. Missing shoes, ripped panty hose, mismatched socks were the theme of the morning as we raced to get everyone looking presentable and out the door by 8:00am. Our court time was 9:30 but we were asked to arrive 30 minutes before hand. The drive down to Pittsburgh was uneventful. We arrived at the courthouse on time. As we were driving around the courthouse in search of a parking garage we passed Ozzie’s biological sister walking across the street with her family. She was also being adopted yesterday.

We parked and walked across the street to the courthouse. Our first stop was at security where we all had to go through metal detectors. We were surprised to see Elsa ahead of us in line. She took off her hat and gloves and winter coat and laid them on the belt to be scanned while she pranced through the metal detector. It was quite comical. As we watched her take off her winter gear Gracie leaned over and whispered, “Why is she wearing a coat? I thought ‘The cold never bothered her anyway.’ ūüôā

Ozzie was shaking with excitement as we exited the security area and were greeted by employees with an enthusiastic, “Welcome to Adoption Day!”

That is when my tears began. We had made it. We were at the end of a long journey and in 30 minutes he would be ours.

The employees asked us our names and informed us that there had been a change to the schedule. Our hearing would still be at 9:30 but we had been assigned a new judge. Our adoption would be finalized by Judge Ward. I couldn’t believe God’s good grace. After a rough year working with other court officials we would get our favorite judge for the final court hearing. Judge Ward is who finalized Tyler’s adoption. He is wonderful! As an adoptive parent himself he goes out of his way to make adoption day so special for his families. It couldn’t have been more perfect!

We were then sent up to the 4th floor to enjoy the festivities of the day while we waited. The courthouse was buzzing with excitement. Children dressed in their Sunday best filed into the elevators surrounded by loved ones. There were 47 children who received forever homes yesterday. That courthouse, which often is a place of great sadness, felt like holy ground.

Upstairs we found Zoey, Ozzie’s sister, waiting with the family that was adopting her. The sibling embraced and Ozzie greeted Zoey with, “Happy Adoption Day!!”

Adoption day for Ozzie and Zoey.

Adoption day for Ozzie and Zoey.

We took a moment to get some pictures before we let them loose on the cupcakes, pastries, cookies and juice that were set out for the waiting families to enjoy.

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My children. :)

My children. ūüôā

As we waited there were many fun activities for the families to enjoy. There was a man making balloon creations for the kids…

Ozzie

Ozzie

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There was another man making caricatures…

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And there were princesses walking around the courthouse visiting with the kids…

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Can you spot the prince?

Can you spot the prince?

The fun activities were enjoyed as we waited for the rest of our family to show up. My parents were driving in from Ohio and with them were Travis and Krista, my brother and his girlfriend. Travis and Krista¬†had come all the way from Texas for our special day. Mimi Joy and Aunt Beth also drove down to Pittsburgh for our special day. From the fourth floor’s glass walls the kids saw when they arrived at security.

The view from the 4th floor.

The view from the 4th floor.

The "Mimis"

The “Mimis”

A special day celebrated with family.

A special day celebrated with family.

In addition to family, we also had two very special people there…Karl and Christina. These two are the ones who have been with Ozzie and Zoey from the time they were removed from the home. These two are the ones who were instrumental in placing Ozzie with us and giving us our son. I am so grateful for these two social workers who, through their daily work, truly act as Christ’s hands here on earth.

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We were soon called into the courtroom. Ozzie was up first. Toby, Ozzie and I sat in the front while our family and Zoey’s family sat behind us.¬† The court honored our request of having their hearings back to back so that the siblings could attend each other’s finalizations. We felt that was important.

I wish I could adequately describe the feeling in that courtroom and Ozzie’s abundant¬†happiness as we sat before the judge. He was bouncing with excitement and pure joy. Later the judge and Karl both said that they had never seen a better or¬†more joyful adoption ceremony than Ozzie’s. We were crying, Ozzie was crying, the social workers were crying.

Judge Ward :)

Judge Ward ūüôā

(Grace managed to quickly capture these photos from when the judge officially declared Ozzie a member of our family. The pictures aren’t the best quality but they beautifully capture the emotion of that moment.)

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We then rearranged seats and watched as Zoey was adopted.

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Zoey's new family.

Zoey’s new family.

After the judge declared Zoey a member of her new family, Ozzie raced up to embrace her and as he hugged her he said, “I’m so happy for you, Zoey!”

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Later that night as we gathered for family prayer and scripture study I asked each of the kids what their favorite memory of the day was. These were their responses…

Ozzie: When the judge said, “From this day on Ozzie will now and forever be known as Oswald William McCleery.”

Molly: I just loved and will always remember Ozzie’s enthusiasm and excitement as he sat before the judge.

Rusty: My favorite moment was after the judge was finished and Ozzie ran back and forth in front of the table jumping up and down with excitement.

Grace: My favorite memory will always be when Ozzie ran to hug Mom and Dad at the end of the ceremony.

Katie: My most profound moment was walking into the courthouse and seeing the ¬†“Welcome to Adoption Day” sign. The tears started to fall as the emotions of the day hit me.

Toby: The feeling as we left. The relief knowing it was done. He was ours and isn’t going anywhere.

It was a blessed day.

God is good!

(Stay tuned for part two)

Date Night

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We started a tradition a few years ago. It was a tradition that evolved from a problem that needed to be solved. Prior to Tyler joining our family Toby and I had date night every Thursday evening. It started when Gracie turned 12. She¬†was allowed¬†to¬†begin babysitting¬†and we no longer had to pay a sitter. ¬†It was¬†our chance to¬†run our errands, grocery shop for the week and have a dinner date. It was a perfect way to “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak. We had uninterrupted time together and it made grocery shopping something to look forward to rather than something I dreaded doing.

When Tyler moved in we were no longer able to go out on our date night since Gracie wasn’t allowed to watch him (as a foster kid) so our date night became a “movie in bed” date night and I was back to grocery shopping on my own. One day I realized I was wasting an opportunity to have one-on-one time with the kids and started taking one of them with me on Wednesday nights when I shopped¬†and thus was born- “Date night with Mom.”

The kids get their date night every 5 weeks. The cycle begins with Grace and goes oldest to youngest. Date night typically consists of my helper helping me fill the gas tank, clean out the car, grocery shop and run any extra errands that pertain to them and their most pressing needs. It is on their date night that we tackle shoe shopping, trying on swim suits, getting a haircut, etc. I find if we do these tasks (that are needed but that I often dread dealing with) when it is just the two of us it can be a lot of fun…much more fun than trying on shoes with 5 kids! Our date night also affords us the additional benefit of getting to have open heart to heart talks about the things they have been thinking/worrying/dreaming about. The kids talk openly and share in a different way than they do at home with siblings nearby.

The kids look forward to their date night and often give their restaurant and their shopping list a lot of thought in the weeks prior to their date. The benefit of being Mom’s shopping helper is the child on date night gets to make grocery decisions like what cereal our family will be eating that week, our Family Night treat and what fruits we will buy. So the benefit of date night lasts all week-long as they enjoy their food and drink ¬†preferences.

Last night was Ozzie’s date night. Our first stop was to get his hair cut. Although he really didn’t care for the haircutting he did love the shampooing. At first I thought he was excited to get his hair cut because of the novelty of the experience,¬† the sweet-smelling shampoo, or just the sensation of having his hair washed (I know that is always my favorite part!) but it wasn’t until he jumped down from the wash sink seat that I realized the real reason he wanted it washed.

“Now I don’t have to take a bath for three days..Woo Woo!!” he yelled as he skipped by me.

“How do you figure that?” I asked

He looked at me with his exasperated 16-year-old girl look and said, pointing at his head, “I have shampoo in here.”

To which I explained, “Unless you had your whole body washed in the hair sink you will still need a bath.” ūüôā

As the lady cut Ozzie’s hair she visited with him and asked him questions. At one point she asked him where he got his beautiful blue eyes from. He answered, “I was born with them.”

She smiled and said, “I bet you got them from your Mom. You look just like her.”

Ozzie quickly corrected her, “Oh, my mom didn’t born me.” Then with typical Ozzie enthusiasm he declared, “But she’s adopting me!”

I was thinking about her comment and Ozzie’s response after the fact and it brought to mind a quote I found online a few days ago:

Our skin doesn’t match. You don’t have my eyes or mouth, and our faces aren’t the same shape. I don’t know what it is like to look at you and catch a glimpse of myself as a child. What I see in you is far more beautiful than that. When I look at you I see the hand of God in my life.”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† – Christy Wagner

What a beautiful gift it is to look into my son’s eyes and see God’s hand.

After we finished shopping we headed to Pizza Hut for dinner. This was Ozzie’s choice. The kids get to pick where they want to go for dinner. The only rule is that they have to feed both of us for $10. At Pizza Hut we ordered the dinner box which included a medium pizza (Ozzie chose mushroom pizza), 5 bread sticks, and 10 cinnamon sticks for $9.99. As we waited for our food to be brought out we played the “get to know you” game and took turns asking each other questions.

Here are some of the things I learned about my son last night.

All about Ozzie 101

His favorite color: Blue

His favorite food: Pizza

His favorite candy: Rainbow Nerds

His favorite thing to read about: Weather

His favorite drink: Orange Juice

His favorite holiday: Christmas, because we celebrate Jesus’ birth

What he wants to be when he grows up: A construction worker who drives big machines

His best talent: Magic (making balls disappear)

His favorite thing about school: Lunch

If he could change one thing about himself: He wishes he were taller (95 feet tall to be exact)

His favorite movie: Cars or The Lego Movie

His greatest fear: Thunderstorms

The 3 things he would take to a deserted island: Big screen TV, video games, and a missile

If he could go back in time to any time in history he would choose: 1981 (because he always wanted to live a long time ago)

My final question was:

“What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?”

He replied,

“Having you guys adopt me and be my family forever.”

As I knelt beside my bed last night I thanked God for my many blessings

especially this little blue-eyed boy

who helps me to see more clearly

the hand of God in my life.

A modern day miracle!

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Tyler's welcome sign for his siblings.

Tyler’s welcome sign for his siblings.

Tyler has experienced more than his share of brokenness¬†in his short life here on Earth, far more¬†brokenness¬†than any 7 year-old boy should have to experience..a broken home, broken trust, broken relationships, and broken heart…but I have witnessed today the miracle of healing and the truth behind the quote, “Broken things can become beautiful things when you let God do the mending.” I had the privilege¬†of watching God reach down from Heaven and touch some of the brokenness in Tyler’s life and mend it. I witnessed a miracle today…

This miracle didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of years. It happened in God’s time. It happened¬†at exactly the right time. Four years ago Tyler and his four siblings were removed from their home and placed in the system. Tyler is the second to youngest with three older brothers and a younger sister. They were put into separate¬†foster homes and slowly they were adopted, one by one. As each child was adopted the court ordered visits would end and they ceased¬†to have contact with each other. When Tyler moved in with us he and his brother Brandon were the only ones not adopted so the two of them were the only two that still had monthly visits with each other. As we neared Tyler’s adoption day Brandon expressed to our social worker fears that he would never see Tyler again..fears that, like the other siblings, Tyler would disappear from his life forever. It was our desire to remain in contact but the foster system makes this difficult with all of the privacy laws. After adopting Tyler we didn’t have any contact information for Brandon so we began to pray for him instead. Daily I prayed for this lost brother, this child that the system had left behind and labeled “unadoptable.” I prayed that God would bring about a miracle not only for Brandon but for all the siblings. I prayed that He would heal the broken hearts and broken relationships brought about by abuse and that one day these siblings would be reunited. Well, God did provide a miracle and I had a front row¬†seat as I watched it unfold.

It all began two weeks ago when God used a compassionate¬†therapist to get the ball rolling. At a therapy appointment Brandon told his therapist that all he wanted for his birthday was to see his brother, Tyler, again. That heartfelt desire led to her tracking down my email and making contact. She asked if we would be open to a visit and I replied with an enthusiastic “YES!” This was the answer to my prayers. After setting up a day and time to meet we were ready for Brandon to come and visit, but God had other plans. You see I had been praying for Brandon and Tyler to reconnect but God had bigger plans. God was planning on bringing ALL the siblings together for the reunion of a lifetime. I didn’t realize it at the time but He was already laying the groundwork for this miracle. When God put the idea on my heart¬†to track down the families of all the kids and bring them together all at once I questioned the logistics¬†of how we would pull it off. Once again I was reminded of the truth that when¬†you are doing¬†God’s will there is no mountain He can’t move, no miracle He can’t perform, so I began by calling the number I had for Tyler’s brother Sean. The response I received¬†from Sean’s mom was unbelievable. She shared that she had been praying for this for years and to just name the date and place and they would be there. From her I received¬†the contact information for another sibling and the result just snowballed. Everyone responded with the same eagerness and gratitude for this miracle. As we got closer to the actual day we watched as God cleared schedules, blessed us with perfect weather for our visit, and even help one lost family find our home two hours after the party began. Nothing was going to stand in the way of this special day..

As we prepared for the visit I was concerned that Tyler might struggle with mixed feeling about seeing the siblings that he hasn’t seen in 3-4 years but he responded with enthusiasm, eagerly joining in with the party planning and helping to decide what we should serve for lunch. (He wanted to roast hot dogs on the fire and drink root beer) The night before the visit we were talking about how special it was that he would have all 3 brothers and his sister here at once. He corrected me, “No, I will have 4 brothers and 3 sisters,” as he included Grace, Molly and Rusty in the count. Yes, Tyler…you are right. ūüôā

At 1:00 on Saturday we gathered around the fire and said a prayer. We prayed that God’s hand might continue to be on the day, that He might be present at this special event, and that He would heal that which was broken. A few minutes later our first guests arrived. It was Brandon. His foster mom had driven him and his two foster brothers two and a half hours to get to our home. For the last 10 minutes of the trip Brandon’s eyes were covered. He didn’t know where he was going, he only knew it was a birthday surprise. You can imagine the emotion when he opened his eyes and saw Tyler. He was then told that all his sibling were going to be there, some of whom he hadn’t seen in 3 1/2 years.¬† He fought back tears trying not to cry.

Brandon about to see his birthday surprise..

Brandon about to see his birthday surprise..

Tyler and Brandon ran off to jump on the trampoline and about 15 minutes later Sean’s mom pulled in. The two boys ran to greet Sean. You could tell everyone was a little nervous as they greeted¬†each other¬†but within minutes they were playing like they had never been separated.

Brandon, SEan and Tyler

Brandon, Sean and Tyler

The next family to arrive was Michael’s family. Micheal is the oldest brother and was the first to be adopted. We didn’t think Michael was going to be able to make it. We had received¬†a call the night before telling us that a friend of theirs¬†had died and they wouldn’t be able to make it, but God provided a way and at noon we received¬†a call saying that they would be coming after all. It was so neat watching Michael with his younger brothers as he took on the role of nurturer and protector¬†when someone got hurt. When Michael arrived the boys began playing football together as the parents sat around the fire and visited. It was wonderful visiting with everyone and we gained a lot of insight as we discussed the kids and their struggles/behaviors/strengths. I feel like I gained a new perspective as well as a lot of pertinent¬†information on Tyler’s history as a result of talking to the other parents. As I visited with each Mom I felt such assuredness that each of these kids are exactly where they are meant to be and it wasn’t by chance that we each were brought to the child that we adopted. Each of their stories were amazing and a testimony¬†of God’s love for these children.

Michael

Michael

Brothers playing football.

Brothers playing football.

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Roasting hotdogs.

Cheyanne was the last to arrive. Her poor mom jumped on the turnpike going the wrong direction and drove for a while before discovering her mistake. Luckily she made it before anyone left.

The brothers running to greet Cheyanne.

The brothers running to greet Cheyanne.

One of my primary goals for this visit, in addition to having everyone exchange contact information was to get photos of the kids together. None of the kids have pictures of each other. Tyler’s only picture of his siblings is one that his social worker had taken¬†from a visit¬†at¬† her office years ago. It is black and white and printed on computer paper. It isn’t a good picture but since it is the only one¬†Tyler has of his siblings it sits framed in our livingroom. My goal was to get a lot of pictures of the kids, print out copies, and put them in¬† photo books¬†to send to each sibling so they all have pictures of each other.

Tyler's only picture of his siblings.

Tyler’s only picture of his siblings.

These are some of the pictures that were taken..

Michael and Cheyanne

Michael and Cheyanne

Tyler and Cheyanne

Tyler and Cheyanne

Sean watching Tyler and Cheyanne hug..

Sean watching Tyler and Cheyanne hug..

Brandon and Sean

Brandon and Sean

I wish I had the words to adequately¬†describe the emotions, feelings¬†and spirit of the day but words like “incredible” and “amazing” cease to do it justice. It was… holy. The emotions I felt were comparable to Tyler’s adoption day. I was humbled as I watched God work. I saw him take the broken hope, the broken hearts, and broken relationships of these children and mend them. You can’t tell me there is no such thing as miracles because I witnessed one, as real as the parting of the Red¬†Sea, in my own yard today.

“Our God is still a God of Miracles! There is NOTHING that is impossible for Him. Whatever your need is, come lay it at His feet…reach out in faith and touch the hem of His garment.”

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Together again!

Caution: Explosive!

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Some days parenting¬†is effortless. The day just flows with ease and you make the mistake of thinking, “Boy, I’m pretty good at this parenting thing.” Beware! Don’t let those thoughts sit too long and whatever you do don’t say them out loud because that is when the wave of chaos and disaster will crash down upon you.¬† I have learned the biggest mistake I can make in my parenting is thinking we have “crest the mountain and are now traveling down hill and¬†the journey should be a breeze from here on out” because as soon as I think that another Everest rises up before me.

These last two weeks have been eye-opening¬†to me. I really thought that signing the adoption decree would only solidify the relationships that had already been built. It was just a piece¬†of paper, I thought, a legal declaration of the love and unity that we have spent the last year developing but that hasn’t been the case. For the older kids that paper meant it was supposed to¬†become easier. They thought that adoption day was the finish line of the struggle. ¬†The adoption was finalized and so the conflict was supposed to¬†disappear. For Toby the adoption decree represented freedom..freedom from someone looking over his shoulder..freedom to parent as he would naturally. I don’t know what I thought would change. I guess I thought that other than more flexibility with my schedule I really expected things to remain the same. For Tyler this adoption represented security. For a child that has moved 7 times in his life… first from his biological family, then through a series of foster families who asked for his removal due to him being “uncontrollable,” to¬†the foster family that he was with for 2 1/2 years and was¬†told was his forever family, to our home¬†..he struggled from the beginning with¬†believing that this was his forever home. Signing that decree confirmed it and brought about the security that he has longed for. That security has manifest itself in his behavior these past two weeks…

He is more affectionate than ever. He hugs and kisses on everyone more..especially Toby and the girls. He is also more disobedient¬†than ever before. It has been an interesting couple of weeks as I have tried to wrap my brain around this contradiction in behaviors. It is like living with a pregnant¬†woman..only he is a lot faster :). One minute he is loving and affectionate and the next minute he is angry and crying. I know that these are both good things. They both are manifestations of the same truth..he is feeling secure. Secure enough to love without fearing we will be gone tomorrow and break his heart again. Secure enough to show the ugly side of his emotions and know that we will still love him. I know that is what we have witnessed these past two weeks. I know this is all good..really good..but that doesn’t mean it is easy or that my reactions are always correct…which is why I now come with a warning label.

Let me explain. Friday was a catch up sort of day. With school looming just over the horizon I have felt a push to accomplish some of the cleaning/organizing tasks I had planned for summer. One of those jobs was to organize the schoolroom, pack away last years books, toss dried up glue, wipe down bookshelves, etc. As we worked together in the schoolroom Tyler came across a lighter and brought it to me. My hands were full of books so I told him to hold onto it until my hands were free. He patiently held it for about a minute and then with great concern in his voice said, “Momma, please take it. It really wants me to play with it!” ūüôā I took the lighter and dropped it down my shirt because my hand were full and I had no pockets. We continued to clean and organize until it was time to get Tyler ready for football practice.

As we were gathering up his football gear the phone rang. I answered it and was greeted¬†with an enthusiastic hello. The woman calling introduced herself as the adoptive mom of one of Tyler’s biological siblings. I had given my contact¬†information to our social worker months ago to pass on to the other adoptive families of Tyler’s siblings with the hope that we could get the kids together. Gail, one of the moms, got the call that day with my information and called me as soon as she hung up with the social worker. We had a wonderful visit and talked about getting the kids together soon. Tyler hasn’t seen that brother for 2 1/2 years. When I hung up the phone I shared the good¬†news with Tyler. As soon as I told him I could see that the idea of seeing¬†his brother brought about mixed emotions.

It was time to head to football so I told him to start heading to the car. It was then that all chaos broke loose. Toby was working late and Tyler informed me that he wasn’t going without Daddy. I told him that skipping wasn’t an option. He then threw down the gauntlet in the only way a six-year-old can..he stuck his hands to the side of his face, stuck out his tongue, waved his football padded bottom back and forth and taunted, “You can’t make me go if you can’t catch me!” With that he was off.¬† I, in desperation, began yelling out all sorts of ineffective threats. As I followed him around the yard, knowing very well I didn’t stand a chance of catching him, I watched time pass on my watch and the time for ¬†practice pass by.¬† After an hour of this he made the tactical mistake of passing between me and the car and getting trapped. A rookie mistake if I ever saw one. I grabbed him and he proceeded to play every dirty move he knew..shin kicking, hair pulling, arm biting..so I did the only thing I could think of to cool off his temper. I walked to the pool and dropped him in..football pads and all. He made a nice big splash and so while he floated in the pool shouting at me I walked to my room to change my wet shirt. As I removed my shirt the lighter from earlier in the day¬†fell onto the bathroom floor. I looked up and in the mirror I saw my warning label. Right there, stuck to the center of¬†my chest, was a small piece of paper that read,

“Warning: explosive. Keep away from children.”

Well, I just had to laugh at God’s sense of humor. Perhaps we should all come with warning labels… “Caution: Emotionally unstable,”¬† “Beware: Biting tongue,”¬† “Danger: Crumbling¬†trust.” We all have our struggles. There are days that it all comes so easily and then there are those days when it is just hard…when we realize that we can’t do it on our own..that we are¬†only human and we should come with warning labels and we need divine assistance. After I was done laughing at God’s sense of humor I prayed. I prayed for endurance.. emotional, physical, mental and spiritual¬†endurance..because my journey with Tyler isn’t a sprint. It is a marathon. It is a lifelong journey and like a marathon there will be times when we will be coasting..when the sun is out and the breeze is cool and the path is smooth but there will be times when it is a steep uphill climb in a hurricane. Having an adoption decree doesn’t change that. I signed up for this run and I will finish it, but more importantly I will enjoy the scenery as I travel, because isn’t that what it is ultimately about..finding joy in the journey.

The next morning I¬†awoke to little fingers tapping me¬†on my back. As I rolled over I was greeted by a jack-o-lantern smile and a good morning kiss.¬† As Tyler threw his arms around my neck and squeezed he said, “I love you Momma,” ¬†and I felt God wink. ūüôā

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Our family has grown by two feet!

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Our family has grown by two feet!

Our family has grown by two feet!

There are certain moments in my mothering journey that are ingrained in my memory forever. Moments when time stands still, when I am completely present and aware of the magnitude of the blessings, moments that will stay with me forever and will be replayed and enjoyed as I reflect on them years from now.. Yesterday was one of those days.

As I sit here in the darkness of the night I have the joy of reflecting on the day. With the births of each of my children my favorite part of the day was the night after giving birth. After the sun went down, and everyone went home and I was left alone in the hospital room with my new child. My heart overflowed with gratitude and relief that it was done and all was well. All the worries about what could go wrong were set aside as the enormity of the miracle was laid before me. Tonight I find myself feeling those same emotions. Labor is over, the worries about everything that could have gone wrong were unfounded and I am humbled by the miracle God has laid before me. Tyler is mine. It is done. I feel the weight of worry lifted from my shoulders and my heart overfloweth.

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Today couldn’t have gone any better. I saw God’s hand in this beautiful day from beginning to end. Our scheduled court time was 1:30 but we were told to arrive at 1:00. Mimi Joy followed us down to Pittsburgh where we¬†met my parents, my grandma, and my sister and her kids for the ceremony. It was so special to have the people most important to us join us on our special day and it was with great love that they¬†traveled from New York, Michigan and Ohio to join us.

We arrive!

We arrive!

When we arrived we went through security and then took the elevator up to the 9th floor. Tyler was quieter than usual and I could tell he was nervous. As we walked into the auditorium where we would wait with all the other families adopting that day we were greeted with a sign that read, “Happy Adoption Day!” ..my tears began. The reality that we made it, that we were in the home stretch, hit me.

When I walked into the waiting room I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer joy that filled the room. The room was full of families and children that were there to finalize their adoptions. The atmosphere was one of celebration. There were cookies and cupcakes. There was a photographer taking family pictures as well as taking pictures of the children being adopted and making them into buttons. There was also a woman doing balloon animals for the kids. She was amazing and the kids all had fun getting  balloons made.

Tyler picked Mickey Mouse

Tyler picked Mickey Mouse

Lydia picked Ariel

Lydia picked Ariel

Gracie picked Belle

Gracie picked Belle

It was soon time for us to head to the courtroom. The entire family came in. Toby and I sat in front of the judge with Tyler on Toby’s lap while everyone else sat behind us. The judge introduced himself and welcomed us. He was wonderful. He joked with the kids and put us all at ease. He also told us that he personally knew the joy of adoption day because he had adopted his child. The hearing itself consisted of a series of questions that we had to answer and then a series of questions that the social worker had to answer. Within minutes we heard the judge declare, “From this day forth Tyler will now be known as Tyler Jacob McCleery.” Even now I find the tears falling as I think back on the emotions I felt at that moment. He was ours..finally ours.

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The judge then presented Tyler with a teddy bear he had signed with Tyler’s new name on it and a goody bag of treats. ¬†He then invited us up on the stand to have our pictures taken with him. He joked that¬†our family¬†beat the previous record for the most people up on the stand at one time.

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As we filed out of the courtroom there were tears,  hugs of congratulation and goodbyes as we said farewell to the social workers who have been such a big part of our lives for the last 10 months.

The social workers who have been walking side by side with Tyler for the last few years..

The social workers who have been walking side by side with Tyler for the last few years..

Afterward we all drove to Saga, a Japanese steakhouse, to celebrate. It was so much fun. We did the hibachi dinner so we sat around a grill and watched our food be cooked. It was perfect. The little kids loved the show and we all enjoyed the food. It was a special way to end a very special day with the people we love most.

Cousins!

Cousins!

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Dinner ended with a happy birthday song for Tyler in honor of “being born” today!

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As I sit here and reflect on this adoption journey I am amazed at the difference a year makes. Last year at this time we didn’t even know Tyler existed and here we are today with a son.¬†It feels like he has always been ours. We have witnessed first hand¬† God’s goodness as He laid the foundation for this day over the course of many years. He put upon our hearts the desire to adopt 10 years ago and from that moment on¬†¬†He provided opportunities to grow and prepare for this moment¬†so that when the time was right, and we were ready,¬†our son would be placed in our arms. It was a long pregnancy¬†and a long labor but the blessing of watching God’s miracles¬†along the way made it a journey of joy. When I started this blog.. soon after Tyler was placed in our home.. it was so you could walk beside us as we navigated this unknown¬†terrain¬†called adoption. We are grateful for all the prayers you have prayed on our behalf, for the words of encouragement that always came when they were most needed and the support we received from so many. It is with great joy that were share this day with you. God is Good!

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“He may not have my eyes or smile but from that very first moment he had my heart!”¬†