Once upon a time we were a little family with three kids and two cats.
Sure, life had its ups and downs, but we were cozy and comfy.
My kids could all dress themselves and feed themselves. I had “alone” time.
When we had money, John and I went on dates…. and we could always find time for a quiet cup of coffee or to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie.
And then the Lord began stirring our hearts with a desire to adopt. So we did.
A tiny little baby…. she was perfectly divine.
Elia was born on March 7, 2007. She headed straight to the NICU due to respiratory distress.
She was in the NICU for 10 days. We sat by her bedside, loved her, prayed for her, and she got all better.
Oh the things we know now about NICU stays!
Adoption #1 has been affectionately referred to by my husband as our “Disney Land Adoption.” It was pretty carefree and easy. Sure, we were “newbees” and we had our fair share of worry and stress, hoping and praying it would all turn out ok. It did.
Our marriage was stretched only a teeny tiny bit. In retrospect, surviving sleep deprivation and finding time again for dates and communication was about all we struggled with during our first adoption. Nothing that any couple adding a new baby to their family doesn’t have to work on, but we were intentional about making time for each other.
And baby makes 4….
A year and a half went by and our hearts were captivated by the face of a little guy on a website. His eyes drew us in and we decided to make him our son.
We entered the world of international adoption.
When we left for Ukraine, someone said to us, “Oh this is so great that you’ll have this time as a couple. Like a second honeymoon.”
Well, not so much….
International adoption is hard. Oversees travel in the midst of adoption stress is not easy at all. We did not “reconnect” or have our marriage “revived!”
We tried to keep our sense of humor. We had a bunch of fights. Thank God we really do like each other, because it was no second honey moon, I assure you.
Adoption can be hard on a marriage.
We survived 39 days of orphanage visits two times a day. We lived a “Ground Hog Day” life for over a month.
We left the orphanage with two children who had never been outside the gated property, had never been in a car, and who certainly didn’t know what to think of us quite yet.
They were sick. We were exhausted.
But gosh, we look so cute in that picture don’t we?
Of course their was joy, of course there was adventure… we laughed from time to time.
But we sure did cry.
Did I mention it was hard?
She didn’t love me or trust me. She was scared.
So was I.
I can only imagine what they were thinking.
And we got on a plane with them. John is faking a smile, mind you!
We traveled for a million hours. One flight alone was a 22 hour flight.
They were sick, they were scared. They slept only 45 minutes of a nearly 36 hour journey.
We were exhausted.
Somewhere across the Atlantic, we almost got a divorce. We glared at each other and muttered mean things under our breath.
Adoption is hard on a marriage.
The not so happy disaster walking off the plane.We were flipping exhausted and were barely speaking to each other!
One big, trying-to-be-happy, utterly exhausted couple who were beyond thrilled to be on US soil with all of their children together in one place.
Adoption can cause a marriage to grow and become deeper than ever because the intensity of the journey either forces you to quit or to go deep and survive.
We choose the later.
It has not been a fairy tale, but it does have a happy ending.
And eventually we looked like this.
The two years following Aiden and Emma’s adoption forced us into the place of talking, healing, and growing in our marriage.
If we hadn’t done that, we surely would have self-destructed.
We are a good team. A team of 2.
And then came adoption #4. Matthias Samuel Loux entered our family on October 20, 2010.
He came into our lives and turned our hearts into mush in an instant.
And then as you know, things got hard. There is nothing worse as a parent than watching your child in pain, sick beyond words, and struggling to hold on to life itself.
The first 10 weeks of Mattie’s life, John and I were separated by distance. One of us with the kids at home, and one of us 4 hours away with Mattie. We connected for dates on the highway, switching cars and parental positions. We had a few family weekends together in St Louis. Life under that kind of pressure was beyond hard.
We fought for love. We fought for each others hearts.
And we fought for his heart.
We walked as a couple, parenting a child through surgery after surgery, near death illness after near death illness.
We were scared together so many times I’ve lost count.
At times we spoke it aloud. At times, we looked at each other with silence, “What we would do if we lost him. Can we survive much more of this?”
Remember the crazy summer last year, when John was in a wheel chair after knee surgery.
Yeah that made it easier!
Day in and day out for 11 months, we alternated visits between us, so that Mattie had both of us for part of each day. We made many trips with the whole family or took turns with various siblings so that Mattie could know them, and they could know him. We did “family” the best way we possibly could.
John and I spent a lot of time together that year. We made it a point to have a date at least once a week. We talked a lot. It was vital to our survival.
Mattie’s adoption caused our marriage to deepen. We were all we had most days. I had him. He had me.
We needed each other and our family needed us to be strong
We brought our boy home almost a year ago and then learned how to do life at home with a medically fragile child.
We were home. Together. All of us.
It was unbelievable.
The past year we have been very hedged in and we have needed each other more than ever.
I’m so grateful we fought hard for this thing that we have, because it’s a good thing.
We have celebrated so many things this year.
Including 22 years of marriage.
We did it and it was no small feat. Marriage is not easy, but it is the most amazing gift in the world.
John and I have survived, and ultimately thrived, by leaning hard on Jesus, laughing a lot, and learning to truly listen to each other.
Each adoption that our family has walked through has added a deeper level of love and appreciation to my heart when it comes to my husband.
People say that they “fall in love” all over again when they see their husband hold their child(ren) for the first time.
Parenting and adoption have caused my heart to see so much more deeply into my husband’s heart.
We walk through hard stuff and have pushed into each other even harder.
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” – Steel Magnolias
I’m just stubborn enough, just bull headed enough to not give up on a good thing. I’m a fighter by nature. I fight for what I love.
I love this man.
I love my family.
….. and we lived happily (most of the time) ever after.