Sunday, May 10, 2015

It Shouldn't Be This Way: A Mother's Day Post

look at those tee-tiny little people!
This is a RePost I wrote a few years ago right around the time we went from a foster family to an adoptive family.  It's from an old personal blog I no longer keep up with, but was a comfort and journal of sorts to me when I was going through the process of fostering to adopt.  I hope this brings you comfort this mothers day if you are a mother on either side of this equation.  You are both loved and thought about today.

It Shouldn't Be This Way

As I listen to my children singing in the background- a three part tune where Disney Princess-like music meets Mongolian Monk-like Chanting- I am overcome with sadness at the reality of our situation.  It just shouldn’t be like this

I began my day by being deposed of sorts by one of the many lawyers involved in the upcoming trial for TPR (Termination of Parental Rights- to determine if our children will be legally free to adopt or go back with their parents).  It was grueling to say the least.  Why do I have to give 100 facts about how my children did not have a great start in life because of their mother and father?  What about the part where she did love them; and therefore, they knew how to be loved by us?  But if I say that part, will they make recommendations for our children going back into an arena of chaos and (unknowing) neglect?  Is this loving- speaking the truth in love or is it just trying to get what I think is best?  It shouldn’t be this way.

As I think about our childrens’ mother, I think about my oldest Baby Girl.  I see much of her biological mother in her, but there is a big difference.  My Baby Girl has been given much more structure, love, and chances to succeed as a healthy person than her momma was ever given.  If my Baby Girl goes back into that cycle, she would grow up and possibly chose the same life for herself that her momma did- get pregnant at 17 and end up having too many children too young with someone too unstable.   But that doesn’t make me want to fight against my childrens’ mother.  It just makes me sad that she is stuck- just like my Baby Girl would be if she went back to that life.  It shouldn’t be this way.

The kids' Disney-like chant singing has turned into more of a yell and they are now circling the couches.  David and I are reminded of the battle of Jericho when they do this.  We have 7 days until our family’s fate is decided, and sometimes I feel like I would love an occupation of marching around something and blowing a horn!  At least then I will be distracted from all of the things that feel so unfair about this whole process.

It shouldn’t be that our children are third generation orphan/ foster children.  It shouldn’t be that one mother is pitted against another one- when both have loved to the fullest of their capacities.  It shouldn’t be that a little girl is torn from her home at 3 years old and forced to be the parent of her younger siblings.  It shouldn’t be that no one ever loved the kids’ mama in a way that showed her the love of Christ.  Can I be that person- maybe?  But I have to keep boundaries, and think of my children at the same time.  What would that even look like?

We will press on.  We will raise our ebeneezer here at the final frontier of the promise land.  Yet we still don’t know if we will get to enter the land of being a forever family.  We have no promise of what is to be decided; just that He is with us no matter what.  And that by His help, love, and direction we have gotten this far.

Update: I can honestly say we have walked this out and the Lord has blessed me and my children's birth mother with an amazing relationship.  It is possible to have this kind of hard, messy, positive, live-giving friendship with her.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A New Take On Lemonade

Y'all I love lemonade!  I love it "ever in my life", as my son says :).  Yet, in all it's tart goodness, lemonade isn't exactly "healthy".

I recently watched this documentary on Netflix and it got me fired-up.  Not because I didn't know most of what was discussed, but because I feel like the people with the most money are winning.  I'm not going to soap-box, but bottom line: sugar is addictive.

And lemonade very much has sugar in it :(

I confess I frequent a certain Atlanta-based Chicken restaurant **ahem** for their Unsweet Tea with Lemonade.  I am also quite certain that a large one of these is not necessarily healthy just because it is made with half unsweetened tea and "real" sugar.  What other kind of sugar should there be?!  And sugar is sugar is sugar.  The body basically processes all kinds of liquid-no-fiber sugar the same way whether it be agave, high-fructose corn syrup, or white "real" sugar.

So what is a lemonade-aholic to do?

Make her own!

honey simple syrup made with YL essential oils
But home-made lemonade just seems time-consuming right?  Juicing and squeezing lemons?  Well this recipe cuts down on the amount of lemons needed since much of the lemon flavor comes from the lemon essential oil.  And I like my lemonade tart, but my kiddos like it sweet-sweet.  The customizable honey simple syrup helps Mama have it her way and the kiddos have it their way :)  You also can just add the whole simple syrup recipe to the whole pitcher or keep in in a separate glass container to add in as needed.

And bonus, this relaxing lavender lemonade was a hit tonight at dinner and relaxed the little ones nicely right before bed ;)

Lavender Lemonade

makes 2 quarts


  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup raw honey (can sub turbinado sugar)
  • 5-8 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil
  • 1-2 drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil (can replace with Grapefruit Essential Oil for a more invigorating drink) 
  • 4-6 lemons


  • In a large 3-4 quart glass pitcher, slice 2-3 lemons to flavor the water.  You can squeeze or juice 2-3 more lemons into the pitcher as well.  Set aside to let flavors meld.  
  • In a pot on the stovetop, gentle melt the honey on low.  Just until combined with the water.  Be careful to not over-heat so that you keep some of the benefits of the raw honey.
  • When the syrup cools, add the essential oils and stir with a wooden spoon or stainless steel spoon.  Store in a glass container (not plastic!).  You can add all the syrup to the lemonade pitcher (if you like it sweet!), or you can keep it to the side and pour in to customize each glass.
  • Fill the rest of your glass pitcher with water.  Pour a glass and add the syrup to taste.  Adjust the syrup with more lemon or lavender flavor if needed.  The lavender can be overpowering if you use too much, so I would start with 1-2 drops for the whole syrup recipe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Farewell Hope Street

We have just a couple more days left in this house.  The place where we became a family is slowly becoming a bare-walled home lined with boxes and dishes waiting to be packed.  Little of "us" seems to be here anymore.

As we prepare for this Great Transition of 2015, our move to Memphis, I am putting up some pictures of the house we have been blessed by so much.  It's important for our kids to have pictures or physical memories of their past, a baby blanket, or stuffed animal.  Or for my daughter, who is 6, a pink toddler-sized booster seat that she used the first year home here with us!  We had to rescue it from the Goodwill pile the other day because it was "so special" to her :)  I think she wanted a piece of her past and her story to go with us to the new home since she has so very little from her early years.  These kinds of transitional objects are so important for kids from hard places.

Me, I wish I could take our kitchen with us!  We worked on transforming our 80s laminate kitchen with blue and purple wallpaper (see before pictures!) into exactly our style.  The transformation didn't happen immediately and it went in several stages as most home projects go.  But our kitchen reno represents other transformations we had here in this home, something worn and burdened into functional and flourishing, kind of like our little family.  We created it together and worked on it as a family, finding surprises and having to problem solve along the way.

So this is me "taking our home" with me and keeping the memory, a memorial stone, of what God did here.  Not just within the walls but within our hearts together as a family.

I haven't formally documented all our hard work in our Hope Street Home so bear with all the pictures!  I know a house is not a home without my family in it, but we will miss you Hope Street home and the wonderful street we have lived on the past few years.  Cannot wait to make new memories in our new house in Memphis!

(And I promise to blog some recipes soon once we get re-settled!)
Our DIY Kitchen!
This was our kitchen before, all that linoleum and laminate!
Please don't judge the laundry area in the Before ;)
Our deck space outside.  Many birthday parties were had here! 
Oh Farm Sink, how I will miss you!
Laundry area transformed into a second sink/ bar area
Girls' room from two years ago.
This room was another renovation we did.  So many dark rooms we were able to bring some light into!

One of my favorite parts about our last little bit here on Hope Street is living near the Amazing Ashley Woodson-Bailey.  This is one of her prints.
Sweet Bubs' Room minus most of his toys!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Guest Posting at No Hands But Ours: The Burden of Expectations

Have you heard about No Hands But Ours?  This site is a great resource for adoptive parents, especially those who have special-needs adoptions.  Founded by adoptive families, there are many who contribute to No Hands But Ours.  I have enjoyed learning from fellow adoptive mamas.  I'm guest-posting over there about attachment in the first few months of bringing our children home.  

"I will always remember the first time I made an attachment blunder. My three children had only been home a week.
It was a traumatic moment for both my daughter and myself.  She was two and I was trying to “set limits” by telling her what she can and cannot do with the toys. She proceeded to “disobey” and so I said ....."  Continue reading over at NHBO.

Also, Part II to this post can be found Here: How to Get Out From Under Our Expectations.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye and Empowered to Connect

A few days ago we had a sweet visit at a park playground with birth mom.  She is someone I hold dear and is a precious soul.  I wish I could put the love, protective instincts, and respect for her that has grown in me over the last five years into you so that you could know this amazing feeling it is to love the woman who birthed your babies.  Adoption has its messy parts and our relationship with her is most definitely that.  But the beauty of our relationship and how God has grown something so special between us is a miracle and I wish everyone could experience it's beauty.

At the park Alisa met a friend (which frequently happens because Baby Girl never met a child she didn't want to befriend :) and then I saw her immediately get nervous.  I asked her what was up and she explained she didn't know what to call me since she already called Birth Mom "Mom" in front of this new park friend.  I felt her dilemma of not wanting to confuse her friend and feel too "different", but I also wanted to assure her that it was totally OK to call us both Mom.  So I simply said, "You can call me Mom too if you want.  You have two Moms that love you :)."  Then my eight year old proceeds to explain she has a birth mom who "carried me in her tummy" and an adoptive mom who "takes care of me and I live with her now".
Play and swinging then proceeded as if nothing were amiss.

It was a wonderful, challenging, sad, happy day, and then we dropped her off.  We exchanged several rounds of long hugs and as the kids were all telling her "goodbye" over and over she said this:

"I will see you later.  I don't say goodbye."

Looking back I don't remember her ever saying, "Goodbye."  I realized what an impact that word has on a woman who had already lost so much, long before she became a mother and then lost her children too.

Goodbye.  There's really not much "good" about this type of "bye".

Instead she chose to see the hope in our next get together; "seeing us later" was something she wanted us to reassure her of in our last words.  If she focused on all the loss and leaving I think it might crush her.  It crushes me at times and its hard to breathe if I think about all the loss that has happened in their short lives, in her longer life.  And I bring my own loss to the table that makes for even more loss and it just keeps adding up.  If I focus on all the loss I cannot bear it.

Thankfully, I believe in Someone Who Can.

So I follow the example of my teammate, the other mother, and look to what I can do- not about fixing the loss but what I can do to point them and myself towards the One who can.  What kind of parent I can learn to be like that will help ease the loss and point them towards an eternal "see you later".  The day when all the loss gets wiped away.  Forgotten about.  When the loss becomes insignificant.

In the mean time, I hope to parent in a way that honors both the past AND the possibility of another future for them.  A future where they can freely express themselves and are not ruled by their loss and fear.  One of the most life-changing times in mine and David's life was our attending Empowered to Connect.  If you are in the Atlanta area, we are hosting the live simulcast here in Marietta, GA.  Details and Registration are here.  Dr. Purvis and the Empowered to Connect team have tested and true practical ways and things to think about that can help us be the best parents for our children.  This was The Thing that prompted us to open our doors to our non-profit a couple years ago and we so very much hope you can join us for this rare simulcast event.

If you aren't in Atlanta, please check out to see if one is near you here.  The details vary by location.  This conference is usually only offered a couple times at only three cities a year.  Don't miss the simulcast if you are an adoptive or foster parent.  And I would recommend any church worker, teacher, ministry leader, therapist, anyone who works with those from hard places attend!
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