Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your white friend is telling you that white privilege is real.

*Deep Breath*

First of all, I have no business writing on this topic. It's way out of my league for one thing. Secondly, I'd venture to say we've globally heard enough from the "white mom of a black son." This isn't a blog post for the world though, I'm not trying to be the voice for this group or for this issue. It's mainly for MY peeps, MY community, the people I grew up with, the ones we used to attend church with, go to school with, work with, etc. I need you to hear this from me instead of an article by a person you don't know.

St. Louis is a mess right now. It's disrupted my faux-utopia and I can't stop thinking about it. I can't even begin to touch on the realities of what's happened to Mike Brown and in Ferguson or what it all means going forward.

And before 8 years ago I could have acknowledged it with a "this is awful" and moved onto something else. We're physically far enough away from Ferguson that I could get away from it all.

But now I can't. I have two brown boys that I love more than anything. And they won't always be holding a white lady's hand or being carried on her hip.

A trend I'm noticing as shrapnel of this whole event is the validity of white privilege. Not to distract you from the main issues of the main story, but I do want to address it.

My fear in all of this on a personal level is that everyone has filled in the blanks of the story already, no matter what facts come out. My fear is that people stop listening to those who finally have our attention, writing them off because of bad behavior. My fear is that the behaviors of a few have somehow cemented your beliefs (via your grandparents beliefs) of the many. My fear is that you don't believe in white privilege because look what "they" are doing to themselves.

I wrote an article about my process awhile back and never published it. Rather than rewrite my thoughts, I'll just post it here, even though it's a little dated.
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“What color are you?” I asked my 6 year old latino son after he brought up an innocent story from school.
“Brown.”
“What color is Dez?” I pointed to his african american brother.
“Dark brown.”
“What about me? and Daddy?” I asked gesturing to his white parents.
“You’re pink. And daddy’s hairy.”

When we started the adoption process for Desmond, the social worker finishing our home study asked how comfortable we were creating an environment for success as a trans-racial family. Feeling confident we knew what we needed to, we nodded and went to the next question. We got this, no problem.
How to Succeed as a Trans-racial Family in 4 Easy Steps (as we understood it):

1. Don't dress Dez in anything with monkeys on it.
2. Provide toys and books with matching race of each child in our family.
3. Learn how to work with his hair/skin.
4. Keep positive role models of his same race active in our life.

For the first 18 months, that was all we needed. Then Trayvon Martin was shot. Media exploded with story after story of how racism still exists. I stopped reading about co-wash products for 3B/4A curl types and started reading about The Black Male Code. I couldn't process it. I couldn't wrap my mind around those realities, those conversations. And I couldn't put my finger on why I kept getting so overwhelmed until I read an article on White Privilege.

It clicked.

I was sitting in the dissonance of my white privilege and Dez's black male code.

My boys will encounter struggles where I encountered favor.

Like a lot of adoptive families, I'd never really looked at either issue. Now parenting couldn't move forward without wrestling them both. I don't think I even realized that white privilege was a real thing. (Another example of my white privilege.) And my childhood only addressed racism in history class.

Our boys are growing up constantly hearing how amazing they are, how beautiful their skin is, how great their hair looks. They're hearing about successful people of all races in national news and local stories. They're being raised to be proud of who they are in every aspect and to love this country. They're growing up in a diverse school in a diverse neighborhood. The people they're practicing their dinner table manners with are of all colors.

But they're also being raised in a time when some don't think Marc Anthony should be allowed to sing God Bless America, and Nina Davuluri shouldn't be allowed to become Miss America. In a time when twitter and Facebook are places where racists find friends. They're being raised two miles from a zoo where a woman this week walked her children around the primate house pointing out how the animals look just like President Obama. In a city where a white policeman wrote a threatening, racist letter to a black policeman. Near a city where another foster mom accidentally booked a hotel for a getaway the same weekend as a KKK rally. It's still here, this racism crap.

As a nation we've come so far yet I'm still incredibly nervous to send my children out into it.

The balance will be tricky, teaching them to be mindful of their surroundings, about having to prove to strangers what type of person you are, about how their white friends can wear certain clothes that they maybe shouldn't, how they could get singled out simply because of their skin color while simultaneously keeping them from bitterness, anger, suspicion and paranoia of the general public.

At some point in their lives they will get pulled over, they will go to the mall with a group of friends, they will stay up late having fun with their friends, they will walk down a dark street (Or a street in broad daylight as was the case for Mike Brown), they will want to return an entree at a restaurant. These are all situations where two clicks into a google search, you could find articles on race being a factor of what went wrong. And these are all situations I've encountered and had no issues. I've spent my life easily getting out of any trouble I've brought upon myself, authorities seem to giggle at this silly white girl and send her on her way.

Like the scene in The Butler as they watch their eldest head off to college, no longer under their protection, I feel uneasiness about the times when they will no longer be with us. And honestly? I wondered if that was because I felt they receive some sort of extra protection being carried around by white parents. Like a racial version of an "It's okay, he's with me" card. I found myself wondering if that's why I hadn't wrestled through white privilege or the black male code yet. Like I'd subconsciously assumed the boys would escape racism because we had.

White privilege doesn't make it dangerous for my boys to walk down the street but it's evil twin, racial profiling, does.

At this point, they don't get it. Eliot thinks Dez will make a more successful ninja because being darker allows him to hide more easily. (And Dez? As I type this he's putting a piece of toast into the air conditioner, so we have other things to work on before we get to this.) They don't care about flesh-colored bandaids when a Batman one is also an option. They're not trying to get a job or date someone. Eliot didn't even notice that this photo op was odd:
I know the conversations are coming but they're not for now. And they may not even be for just us. They need a safe place to ask questions, questions that their white parents will not have the experience to answer.
We have storehouses of love for them, but we will only get so far as a trans-racial family if we don’t acknowledge aspects of their life that will be harder for them than we ever knew, if we don’t acknowledge our own perspectives being created through white privilege. And we know we’re just scratching the surface of what being a trans-racial family means, besides being pink and hairy, of course.
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When my black son turns 18 and is walking down the street with a friend, I desperately need St. Louis to be a different place by then. The only way to get there is by educating ourselves and taking a hard look at our hearts to see what's in there. What have you said out loud in front of your children about the rioters? About the cop? There's a lot of unhealthy on both sides here.

I needed you to hear this from me because I need you to realize it's true. Once you realize it's true you can start listening, REALLY listening to the voices begging to be heard. It's not to make you feel bad or to assume all other races hate you because you're white. Open your eyes, open your ears. Use your privilege to stand against injustice.

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Miss you, Google Reader…It's taken me this long to grieve you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This House.

We rented this apartment thinking we'd only be here a year.

That was SIX years ago.

In the meantime...

Eliot turned 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Dez came home to this house. And then turned 1, 2, and 3.

Russ was in a band for three years, a graphic designer for two, a free-lance designer for at least five and a worship leader at two churches for all six.
I ended my successful Arbonne business, and worked in the electrical industry (??) for two years before Dez came along, making me a SAHM.

ReSource was started here and after only a year+ we've served almost 200 families/children. (and given out 7 bikes already!)
We struggled with 5 real Christmas trees in this house, getting into a fight every year.

Russ and I celebrated our 10th and 15th anniversaries here.

We packed and unpacked for/from 6 trips to Guatemala in this house.

We helped plant a church.

We've accumulated 8 tattoos while living here…
I've trained for 4 half-marathons in and out of this house.

Eliot learned how to ride a bike, tie his shoes and asked what a "crush" was here.

There's been 6 teeth lost, 8 family photoshoots, 3 baseball seasons, 4 soccer seasons, 5 first days of school, 5 stitches in a forehead and a newly super-glued nose.

We've lost a great grandmother and a grandfather during this time.

There were date nights in and babysitters for nights out.

Two boys were successfully potty trained here.

We've completed 4 home-studies, fostered one kiddo and had one infant adoption fall through.

The hardest two years of our marriage were in this house.

I finished writing a memoir. It took almost all of those six years.
We said goodbye to one sweet dog and hello to another.
In this house we decided we were finished trying for biological kids.

Traditions were started in this house.

There was countless dinner table moments, dozens of cookies baked and burned, snowmen built, water guns fired, pancake breakfasts.

Uncounted time-outs served, band practices, wrestling matches, baseballs hit, Friday family movie nights.

Two boys born 1700 miles and 5 years apart became brothers. In this house.

A man and his wife fought for their marriage. In this house.

It's been great, 38XX Shaw. Thanks for hosting us.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

7 things you shouldn't say to people struggling with infertility. (as told by my memory) (and also my friends)

See this cute couple snuggling on the Goonies beach? They were only 2 years into their 7+ years of infertility. They had quite the road ahead of them and couldn't have made it out to the other side without their community. But it also wasn't without the deflecting of hearing the wrong things on the regular. Here's a cheat sheet for those of you with friends on that same journey. Hope it helps.


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1. "Oh my gosh, this pregnancy was a total surprise! Can you believe it? We totally weren't even trying!" (other variations include: "every time he looks at me we get pregnant!")

This might be the worst one. I know that I know that I know that you're trying to say "I didn't do it on purpose, I didn't get your dream before you on purpose" but that's not what we hear. We hear "Why is this so hard for you? it's really not that hard."

What to say instead: "Yep, we're pregnant! Due in ____. How are you guys doing?" Move along. Nothing to see here, folks.

2. "Please come to my baby shower?"

For the majority of women I know who struggle with infertility, other people's baby showers are the worst. The worst. It's not that we're not happy for you, it's the extreme isolation that comes from those events. It's impossible to compartmentalize our trauma. Even though we're no longer in the thick of it, I still try to avoid them. That may seem harsh but it's one of the worst triggers. Even after we adopted Eliot, I thought "I'm a mom now, I can handle baby showers!" but no. So uncomfortable with all the conversations about birthing plans and breastfeeding and how pregnancy affects your body. I just kinda check out.

What to say instead: "Ball is totally in your court on this one. If you want to come, please do, we'd love to have you but we understand if you wanna skip this one. If you don't come, let's go out to lunch this week instead."

3. "Sorry I didn't tell you earlier, I was scared you'd be mad."

Finding out someone (that you're somewhat close to) is pregnant in a big group announcement is rough. We can't hide our reaction. There were times I was legitimately happy for a friend but that happened to be the day we found out we *weren't* pregnant. There's no way to hide that. I never wanted to take away from their joy of that moment. We're never mad at you for getting pregnant. We're suffering and struggling with our own pain.

What to do instead: Opinions vary on this but I always told friends that an email was the best way to tell me. An email before the public announcement. That gives me space to receive the news and compose myself in private so I can join in the joy when the public moment happens. You rarely know where the friend is in their fertility steps and springing the news on them can often fall during a rough patch.

4. "It'll happen. Hang in there."

Um…no. That's 100% not true. You don't know what you're talking about. You probably don't know what else to say so you're just trying to make it better. A bandaid to make the bleeding stop even though the wound calls for something so much stronger.

What to say instead: "That sweater looks great on you!" Just kidding, but maybe don't worry about what to say as much as just listen. We're often nervous that people are weary of hearing our same ol' sob story. Especially after years of it. The wounds get deeper as the months pass and we just want to be listened to sometimes. A good ol' fashioned "That really sucks, I'm sorry you're going through this. What do you need right now? A night out for drinks? A hard run? A ridiculous chick flick? Say the word and I'm there."

5. "Want my kids? Jeez, they're getting on my nerves."

That's really not comforting. I know you're frustrated with your kids, that's the nature of them. Maybe vent to another mom about that, not someone spending all their money, time, emotions and strength desperately trying to even just get one. Downplaying the joys of motherhood for you doesn't take away the extreme desire to experience it for us.

What to say instead: "You look so tiny! Have you lost weight?"

6. "You should totally adopt."

Again, no. Not everyone should adopt. NOT EVERYONE SHOULD ADOPT. That's another post for a different day, just know it's not the answer to everyone's infertility problems. Adoption is complex and too many couples get into it as the solution to their problems. It makes the adoption about them, not about the child. The years of hard work trying to get pregnant can create a sense of entitlement once the adoption process starts. It's not healthy for anyone involved. We struggled with it and seen so many other couples struggle with it.

What to say instead: "I'm so sorry this is all happening. What can I do for you?" Stop solving. Start listening.

7. "You're still young, you have plenty of time!"

Every doctor visit, every month charted, every shot given, pill taken, our soul gets more deeply invested in becoming pregnant. Every month it doesn't happen feels hopeless. It is a constant roller coaster of deep feelings. This comment seems comforting, seems to offer perspective but really it's just dismissive of the legitimate pain we're experiencing. If we buy into that? Guess what happens every birthday that passes?

What to say instead: "I'm so sorry. Do you want to talk about it more?"


Some people don't get it, don't get social cues, etc. But most of these honestly came from people who truly care for us and just want to help. I don't fault them for their intent. No one ever intended to cause pain. Hence, the reason for the post. Hopefully educating and preventing further use of these common responses.

I hope you're noticing a theme. Stop defaulting to phrases that try to solve or dismiss or take away our pain. We can be hard to love, I get that. My needs from you changed daily, sometimes hourly. You're always safest to just say "That sucks, I'm sorry it's happening to you guys, what can I do? Here's some ice cream, you've gotten too skinny."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Little House on the Prairie. And by "on the prairie" I mean in the City.

For my records years from now I need to document what's going on. Cuz it's a lot. And details will slip through my memory.

About a year ago we heard about an organization called Ribbon Cutters. I dismissed it, assuming it was some scheme. But then we met with them and saw their work.

When we moved into this apartment, it was out of urgency because our house sold so fast. We were only going to stay a year. That was almost 6 years ago.

We met with Ribbon Cutters early spring and started looking for houses. They were working with us to find a place that was structurally sound, within our budget, and was in our current neighborhood. (We're obsessed with our neighborhood but it's hard to find houses anymore…) We'd looked for weeks, finding nothing so I finally threw out a FB status asking if anyone knew of anything rehab-ish in our hood that wasn't on the market but should be. A friend commented that there was a vacant house across the street from them so I stalked it like Sherlock would, noting the snow had zero footprints up to the front or back door and it hadn't snowed in five days. Not even mailman footprints. I emailed RC and they researched but couldn't find the owner info. About 20 minutes after getting that text I got a message on FB from an acquaintance saying she and her hubs own a rehab property and were thinking of getting rid of it. I asked her the address and guess what she told me? THE EXACT ADDRESS I just heard we couldn't get info on, the EXACT ADDRESS I stalked in the snow.

Lots of little steps later and our contractor approved THAT EXACT ADDRESS as something that could work! (insert dancing jig by Russ and Katie)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our current landlords put our house on the market and weren't completely honest with us about it. We've had a "good faith" lease (which I don't recommend) for the last couple years. On our drive home from spring break we got a call from our new landlords (nice nice people that didn't know we didn't know) saying they needed to move in by May 1. Surprise! That gave us roughly 5 weeks to pack and find a new place to live. Our rehab wasn't set to be finished til end of summer. Two kids, a dog, a house full of stuff and about 120 tubs of clothing with foster families coming to and fro? For a four month lease? Should be easy to find, right? Not to mention convincing our social worker that we're not *really* homeless.

Lots of little steps later we were able to move just downstairs in the same building. We had until Aug 1, which should have been plenty of time. The original time line had them finishing by the end of July but construction didn't actually start until July 15. The hold up had to do with permits and government hoopla. (insert PTSD symptoms, me rocking back and forth saying "This is not PGN in Guatemala" over and over.) Our new landlords gave us a two week extension but the new tenants need the place by mid-august. The Rehab is a total gut so there's no chance of living in it while it's being finished. So, we're putting most of our belongings in a pod and living on the simplest of basics in an apartment for (hopefully) only a couple weeks until the house is done. RC is flying through the renovations (not hastily, just efficiently) and the new estimated date is end of August.
(Living room/kitchen/bathroom area when we bought it. The shine? It's rain water. Coming through the second story from the roof.)
(Same area, after some demo.)
(Again, same area but with beautiful progress!)

The demo crew had a bit of some attitude…
The flooring guy offered to work for marshmallows, so that helps.


Back in early spring we packed our winter stuff knowing we wouldn't be here winter of 2014.

In April and May we packed everything we wouldn't NEED until August, moving only the minimum to this apartment. Even cutting the boys' books and toys amount. Storing the rest.

Now we're packing again, going down to the absolute bare minimum (think: suitcases and mattresses and paper plates) to get us through this next apartment.

I'm handling this like I do when I get a tattoo. The process sucks and is super difficult but is worth it afterwards. I can do anything for a few months, right? I know that about myself after Guatemala, right? Only I feel like there were more margaritas involved in that process. Im'ma need to change that for this one.

*The house isn't huge but it'll meet all our needs. And its in the location we wanted. We're super happy with Ribbon Cutters, they've been a huge blessing in this process.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Triangle. (or Triad)

For those of you peeking into the adoption world through the glasses of our life, you probably get an overall happy, fuzzy feeling about it. Our boys are cute and silly and we have endless adventures. I talk about adoption often but it's always from the side of the adoptive parent. I rarely talk about the hard stuff. But it's there. Always. It's as much a part of the story as anything else. 

At the base of every adoption story is a triangle. The adoptive parents, the adoptee and the birth parents. 

There is no other time when that triangle is more present to me than this week in May every year. Within days of each other we have Mothers Day, both boys' birthdays and Eliot's Family Day (Gotcha Day). All super fun celebrations if we're sitting on the point of the triangle of the adoptive parents. You were born! I became a mom! We became a family! Adoption is awesome! Let's get donuts! 

If we sit on the point of the triangle of the birth parents this week is the anniversary of the hardest decision we ever made, the day it happened, the day everyone celebrates motherhood, and the day the government made it all final. That's a heavy week. Beyond heavy. Adoption is heavy.

If we sit on the point of the triangle of the adoptee this week is confusing. It provides as many questions with no answers as it does answers to unasked questions. It is loss and gain. It is beautiful and broken. It is a tension unlike any other. Adoption is complex. 

We're not doing anything differently this year. We're still celebrating all week but as the adoptive parents we're not tied to the idea that this will always be a week of Nothing But Joy for our boys. We're taking each year as it comes, letting them guide us as they process all that it means. 

I met a birth mom this week (18 years after the fact) and she teared up when talking about Mother's Day. Just 12 hours before, I was excitedly filling out an adoptive family's recommendation form as they start the process. Joy and pain. It's not one without the other.
"He is mine in a way that he'll never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood." -Desha Wood

Monday, April 14, 2014

Birthdays are good for the sole.

Remember Eliot's birthday last year? Super fun party and all his friends brought Hot Wheels cars that he was able to take to Guatemala and pass out to children?


It was impactful enough that he still talks about it. More in a processing sense than anything. Still trying to wrap his mind around kids his age that don't have thousands of toys to fight over with their brother.

This year he's not having a party (we rotate every other year for the big parties) so don't be sad when you don't get an invite. BUT he still wants to collect stuff to take (after a little nudging, lets be honest). His other love language? Shoes.

Starting soon, we're collecting kids shoes. Practical and sturdy, not cheap flip flops, etc. Shoes that were made to last. Kids sizes. New or gently used.

Deadline is May 10.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring is the time for COLOR!

(This is the shape of Guatemala, if you're not sure)

I got this today. Sorry for the gross pic but it's not going to look great for about another week and a half as it heals so you get the fresh pic.

I could have just gotten the outline of Guatemala but knowing all that came from that experience, both our adoption and every trip since then, I felt like it needed to be as impactful as the effect that country has had on me. On my family.

If you're unfamiliar with Guatemalan textiles, that's what this tattoo was based off of. I chose all my favorite patterns and my amazing tattoo artist combined them all.

My favorite part? Each region/town in Guatemala has their own pattern that are worn by the women on their huipil (traditional guatemalan tops). Like these below:
I researched which pattern came from Eliot's birth town and we strategically put that pattern over top of that town.

I love it. Each section reminds me of different amazing things that have come out of our experience. Our amazing first child, the love for the country, the friendships (!!!!), the growth in my character, the growth in my faith. I am a different person because of this country and all it gave me.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just a guy on a ladder.

We lead mission trips back to Guatemala. Russ leads music at the church. I run the foster/adopt clothing ministry. We volunteer with the orphan care group at church and at Eliot's school. We have adopted and are planning to again, an older child this time.

When any combination of these facts about us are told to a new person, we're met with a reaction of "You guys are amazing." Usually someone shaking their head. I cringe every time. And I never know what to say. We're not amazing, we're not extraordinary. We're regular people. Given what we've been given, seeing what we've seen, this is what we do. If you see a lightbulb out above your bathroom sink, you change it. If you see someone drop their stuff, you help them pick it up. It's quite simply us filling needs presented before us that we are able to. There's way more impressive things being done by way more impressive people.
Desmond is obsessed with firetrucks right now. Last week we were driving on a major road in St. Louis that runs through a college campus. On the edge of campus was a large red truck with a ladder/stairs attached extending to a huge sign welcoming you to campus, a guy at the very top, changing something on the sign.

Dez started shouting "Mom!! A fireman guy! A FIREMAN GUY!"

"Oh, no, Dez, that's just a guy on a ladder."

And that's it, friends. I don't know how our story will hit you, but we're not fireman guys, we're just a guy on a ladder. This isn't a false humility post, we really are just doing what we do. Everything sounds more impressive than it really is. And really, the minute we start thinking of ourselves as "fireman guys" we're all in a lot of trouble...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giving good gifts.

"Why is there a dog in our backyard?"

Eliot looked at the dog, at me, at Russ, back at the dog. Maybe the huge foolish grins on our faces started his mental processing of what just happened. Maybe it was my unintelligible squeak saying "It's OUR dog!"

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Because we know good people, we have several friends who foster dogs. Every time they posted pics of their latest foster over the last six months, Russ and I would have "the chat." Eliot has been asking for a dog for the last two years. We've read articles on how they promote healthy brain activity and teach basic life responsibility in children. (and by "we've read" I mean I post these articles generously to Russ' inbox…) Every time a pic would pop up on my newsfeed, I'd screenshot it with some emotional plea and text it to him. He was all...

I could see that over months of this I was wearing him down. Every once in awhile he'd nibble. He'd ask a noncommittal question. I'd scurry to find out the answer. Then he'd say no. I'd casually mention that Dez and I went through the Humane Society after pre-school. He's say "Fun!" and change the topic. You may hear a "no" in that but me? Those were gateway to a "yes." Not to mention Eliot's sincere plea. Without knowing it, he was working Russ. Sharing memories, unprompted, of times he had with Daisy, talking about how Daisy was his best friend, etc. We could see there was a legitimate void in his life.

Right around the start of November I could see Russ was on board. So much so that we were both checking almost daily to stray rescue sites and other dog shelters websites. We'd see a potential dog and both agree it wasn't the right one. I emailed back and forth with my fostering friends and before we could make a decision, their foster dog would be adopted by someone else. Then one day in early December a friend posted a link on her FB newsfeed of a neighbor who needed to find a new home for a couple of her pets. I texted Russ, "I found our dog." He had meetings all day so I didn't exactly get the reaction I was hoping for. Without his consent I called the owner and set up a meet-n-greet for Russ' day off. Sometimes ya just know.

We met her. And she was perfect. Any doubt we had about taking on the extra responsibility was gone. She was perfect. The timing was perfect. It was just weeks before Christmas.

We set up the date for the drop off at just a few days later. For days we knew what was coming. We snuck out to a pet store to stock up on stuff but got distracted by the cool dog toys. "Eliot would pick this one!" "Wait, he'd love this one!" We were giddy.

For the next few days it took everything in me not to tell him what was about to happen. He was mad about having to do homework, he was frustrated with his brother for ruining something of his, he didn't feel good one day, etc. I'd just hug him hard as my non-verbal way of saying, "BUT YOU'RE GETTING A DOG! THE PERFECT DOG!" With every down he felt, my smile got bigger. He must have been a little confused.

The drop off was set up for Friday afternoon so that when he came home from school, she'd be here. I was busting at the seams as I drove him to school. HE WAS FINALLY GETTING A DOG! Who cares about practicing your spelling words for the test that morning, you're getting a dog! THIS AFTERNOON! AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

We came up with an elaborate scavenger hunt with clues and gifts, starting with a clue wrapped and under the tree. Russ hid the dog outside while I picked E up from school.

"Hi El, how was school?"

"Eh."

"Well, what do you think of getting an early Christmas present?"

"Really?"

He took a sweet forever taking off his coat and putting his backpack up. And then asked for a snack. And that's when I riggled and jiggled in impatience and yelled, "OPEN YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT!"

He S.L.O.W.L.Y. went through each clue, annoyed that we'd try to answer it for him, just to move on. FINALLY the clues led him outside and to the back yard.

"Why is there a dog in our backyard?"

Our clues were obviously not very obvious.

Eliot spent that entire weekend obsessing over our new dog. We've had her for three months now and at least every other day he's says, "Can you believe we have a dog? Marzipan, can you believe you're our dog? Mom, can you believe how perfect Marzi is?" She's the first thing he looks for every morning. He tells her how beautiful she is when she walks by him. He truly loves loves loves this dog.
Being on this side of good gift giving feels like nothing else.

I imagine this is how God felt right before we opened the email with Eliot's referral picture. How did he feel as he watched us pick up the phone to hear, "Katie, check your email, I sent you and Russ a referral. I think this is the one." I've never thought about God feeling giddy but I can't imagine him feeling otherwise the morning we left to go strawberry picking and ended up getting the Dez "phone call" on our way there. He knew what our family would look like and what amazing gifts our children are. That's not to oversimplify the complexities of adoption, but God knew and I really believe he was pretty excited for us to finally meet these two turkeys.