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america

In which Marie resumes blogging

By addysengrace, america, christian, family, mercyadoniyah, ministry, school No Comments

Yesterday, I was sitting. Reflecting. Thinking.

I haven’t been great at posting anything since getting to the USA. Not that I haven’t had time. Okay yes, I have been busy. But really I could have found time.

But my wandering, dreaming, creative personality has a hard time sitting still. I’ve never been great at “putting down roots.” and I realised something — after spending the last seven years traipsing over Eastern Europe, learning languages, learning to appreciate new cultures, learning to enjoy chicken heart soup — a “home assignment year” seems very much boring. Especially when we have move date “guesstimates” but nothing set in stone. That in itself is quite faith building!

The girls started seeing a wonderful counsellor in October. What a blessing and find she is. Her office is five minutes away, covered by insurance and she works so well with them. We’ve been digging deep, because our kids have some deep sadness and fears. We’ve been uncovering loss, death and fear. We’ve been discussing transitions and traumas. We also did some academic and behavioural testing (through school and the counsellor) and both girls were considered 2E. If you have heard of that, great. If you haven’t, great. I’m not going to go into it a lot, because this is the internet and that is their story. I’m digressing with a point. 😉 In Romania, it was suggested that Addy has ADD and I guess she was diagnosed “officially” although we never received anything. She’s known this and we’ve talked about it and she’s quite okay with the entire thing. We tease that we knew what we were doing when we named her ADD-y. 😀 Did you know it is all called ADHD now? There are three types and she is falls in type 2, possibly type 3 combined ADHD. I’m going to keep digressing because it will all makes sense in the end, ha! While discussing this with the “professionals,” the next statement caught me off guard. “Most likely, you or her dad has ADHD. Have either of you been tested?” I diligently read through some of the paperwork, “NOPE that is in no way her dad. He’s pretty much the polar opposite.” Then the next question, “actually let’s do this. I will ask you quite a few questions. ADHD in adult women looks very different.” Ten minutes later…? “Well, I would say the ADHD genetic link comes from you. I am going to send you home with quite a few resources to read. ADHD in girls and adult women looks very different than the ADHD we are used to hearing about.”

And now I have a great excuse for digressing. :-p

I’m joking. Actually it has been life changing! So many pieces of my brain make sense to me finally. So many of my “character flaws” that I really disliked make sense to me. Actually some pieces of me that I thought were “negative” I’ve realised aren’t really that negative. Different, yes. But also able to be used as my strengths!

The counsellor also gave Christian and I the Enneagram test. (We have also been blessed to be in counselling since December!) At the end she laughed and said, “there should be a category for resistance to categories.” Christian of course fit neatly into the boxes and received logical printouts. In the end we agreed that I am often a seven but when I am struggling or grieving I don’t become a struggling seven — I actually morph into a four. Christian and I read a million descriptions from a faith-based and secular view point. He even agreed, “honey you aren’t the ‘unhealthy 7’ ever. You really become the four instead.” He is this perfect little “2 wing 1.” But I already knew that I married perfection. <3

I was going to post more but if I am truly going to resume blogging while living here temporarily in the USA, I better break it up. I will end with this — we are homeschooling this year. It is an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my kids. We are also reading “The Girl that Drank the Moon” as one of our read aloud books and each chapter begins with, “In Which…” which is how my children now like to start conversations (hence the title of this blog). 😀 Also, no matter how hard it is to furlough, that USA library set up is pretty fine. 😉

addy’s baptism

By addysengrace, america, family, ministry No Comments

this little person is amazing. she turned ten years old in the midst of chaos and getting a new brother and sister. she hasn’t handled it perfectly but she’s been trying!

she also asked us if she could be baptised. we decided we loved the idea because the pastor that does the baptisms was a missionary for seventeen years, raising four third culture kids and really understand our family’s unique challenges!

then she asked for a feast afterward. 😂😍😁 we ended the evening with a christmas concert!

soooooooo nervous!

another kid getting baptised

a little wet 😂

special guests 💛

i realised this was her first concert! then when she begged to sponsor a child and was handed a ten year old girl from ethiopia…how could i say no? “i will write her in amharic and we can meet next year!!”

thanks for turning ten, following Jesus wholeheartedly and bringing a smile to my face every day, addy grace!

Christian + BAM conference

By america, christian, He Writes, ministry, travel One Comment

A blog by Christian about his time at the BAM conference.

Do you know the first time in scripture the phrase “filled with the Spirit of God” is used (depending on your translation)? Exodus 31:3. God fills Bezalel with His Spirit … in order to work. God’s Spirit is connected with our work.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Business as Mission Conference in Philadelphia. The theme intrigued me, as our new venture will be to create a for-profit business in Ethiopia. I wanted to learn how business can be used as mission, and there was a lot to learn.

Many times, and this has been true in my life, the church has distinguished itself from business. Business is about money, and church is about God. There is a sacred-secular divide. There is an unspoken idea that business owners are *only* about making money. It’s about the bottom line. Business can’t ignore the bottom line of profit, but it can expand and have more than 1 bottom line. In fact, they have 4.

Profit. Obviously, if the company isn’t making a profit, it’s going to fail. Profit is important. It’s good even. But it’s not singular. Making money just for the sake of making money isn’t our God-given purpose.
People. A Business as mission cares about it’s people. Suppliers, employees, customers, and government officials. We ask ourselves, “Do I love my team/suppliers/customers/regulators as I love myself?” Business that ignores people and society is not doing mission.
Planet. We are called to be stewards of the Earth. We’re called to subdue it, not destroy it. Yes, we are supposed to use the things of the planet for our benefit, but not *solely* for our benefit. A business that destroys the planet is not glorifying God.
Eternal Purpose. This is the spiritual aspect. We need to be investing Spiritual Capital in people. We need to demonstrate a true relationship with Jesus and pray to the God of the harvest.

There were a few speakers that really stood out to me. One is a businessman in China. He has been working there for over 30 years, and has a manufacturing company brining in over $1 million every month. He also hires disabled people as a significant percentage of his workforce. He prays over his equipment and staff daily. He’s focused not just on revenue and profit, but also on the wellbeing of his people and their spiritual welfare.

We also heard from Shane Claiborne, who ministers in inner-city Philadelphia. He encouraged us to care about the poor. He shared stories of how they’ve ministered in their community with urban farming, providing low-cost housing, and non-violent activism.

Every speaker had great insights, from how we are seeing the lowest level of worldwide poverty ever in history, how we are combating human trafficking (a 32 Billion dollar “industry”), and how the church’s job is shalom – the flourishing of creation.

It was a great experience, and I’m glad I went. I was left with a few nuggets that I keep mulling over:
What will I personally do with my economic, social, and spiritual “capital”? Where will I invest it?
Remember that Jesus’ yoke is easy: the closer we are to Him, the easier the load for us.
I’m reminded of a comment from my missionary friend, who wasn’t at the conference: “Business can never be mission unless work is worship.”

Let’s remember that whatever we do today, we do it for His Glory.

A few pictures…

Marie went to college with Mike and Shannon. We lived in Moldova with them. To say that Marie and the girls were a little jealous is an understatement.

When you meet a mutual friend of your good buddy from Thousand Oaks. 🙂

Sight-seeing with new friends from the UK and Romania.

Philadelphia is beautiful!

Just a little liberty bell.

This is what you take when your wife says “please take more pictures!” :-p

Ended the week with another visit, this time friends from SoCal, plus we were able to present at their church!

life without dad

By addysengrace, america, christian, family, mercyadoniyah, ministry, school, travel No Comments

Whelp. We are three weeks into this USA homeschooling adventure and so far so good. It is weird not having kids go off every morning and come home every afternoon. There are some parts we really miss: the ease of uniforms, knowing that no matter what we are all ready for the day at 8am, and friends! On the other hand, there are some parts that are really nice: less stressful mornings, getting carried away and doing geography or science all day long and it doesn’t matter! And of course we are making friends. It just takes time and energy especially when you miss your other friends. We started gymnastics (Addy goes 5x a week and is finally…calm. Ha!) Mercy has karate twice a week and loves it, plus her Sensei said she is a nature and has the perfect personality for karate. We go to AWANA on Sunday afternoons at the church literally next door, Sierra Grace. Plus we will be going to field trips and activities through our school, Inspire Charter School.

Christian had his first week of solo traveling for Hope Takes Root (brand new site coming SOON!). He was able to attend a very interesting and helpful conference called BAM in Philidelphia. It was everything and more: inspirational, helpful, challenging, a networking opportunity, the list goes on! He is still traveling so I will have to wait until he gets home to get all the details. More to come. 😉 He was able to start the trip by visiting our friends, Mike and Shannon (and their boys) in Titusville. We spent a year in Moldova with them and they are some of our most awesome+like minded friends. The girls and I tried not to be too jealous! He is now spending the weekend in Harrisburg with other friends, originally from Thousand Oaks. He gets home early Tuesday morning.

It started well but included a little bug. Whoops.

Thank goodness it was short lived so while big sister had a middle school activity (what the goodness?), this little person and I went on a date.

Yesterday we tackled the shopping. We went to a USA mall which confused the girls (“where’s the grocery store, mama?”) to get my phone fixed. Then we did Sprouts and WalMart. My children think the Sprout’s cart is hysterical. Then we found Ursuletul Tedi which made their day but they wanted to know why tedi was spelled “so weird.: :-p

And let’s be honest. Everything is new or interesting. Why did Sprouts need to tell me my corn syrup came from corn? Does corn syrup every come from beets or wheat? And what in the world are boiled peanuts? Did I just miss this growing up or has the South, USA come to California?

first day of school!

By addysengrace, america, family, mercyadoniyah, school No Comments

Today we started our 2018/2019 school year “officially.” I say officially because we tend to “do school” every day all day and all year long. We are blessed with slightly exhausting lifelong learners. (They might get that from their mama…or maybe dad too!)

You might notice they aren’t in an official grade. Technically they are enrolled in year 3 and year 5 in their UK program and grade 2 and grade 4 in their California charter school. Homeschooling is really going to fit our needs this year as we conquer 3rd to 6th grade math and 1st to 3rd grade English language arts. 😀 Transitioning from a completely different education system is interesting and unique!

A few quick photos for you to enjoy:

One month

By addysengrace, america, family, mercyadoniyah, travel No Comments

We passed the one month mark of being in America. I’d be lying if I said it was smooth but this past month was definitely filled with grace!

We hit some milestones. Both girls allowed themselves to be sad and grieve instead of forcing themselves to stay “angry” about all the changes. Both girls when asked the question, “are you enjoying home?” went from angrily replying, “my HOME is in Romania” to explaining, “I like my California home but my real home is in Romania.” Baby steps. This is an emotional step in the right direction as we allow them to process their feelings in their own timing.

We also took a whirlwind road trip to celebrate Grandma Ducky’s bday and see our good friend Katherine and her son, Josh (9). We stayed with our Auntie Barbara and Uncle Steve and even managed to see a couple special people like Auntie G and Great-Grandma Ruth. We didn’t mention to many people that we were down there and we promise we will be back SOON for much LONGER. We really wanted to see Katherine since this is the first time we have seen her since 2008 (she is a missionary to Cambodia). But we had to hurry home because we started school today!

fund raising here we go!

By addysengrace, adoption, america, christian, crafts, family, mercyadoniyah, ministry, romania, travel No Comments

Our Adoption Store

We wil be selling various handmade goods to raise money for our adoption! All donations will go through Lifesong for Orphans, an organization that takes 0% of what you give. We are very excited to start off by offering you these hand-drawn greeting cards by Marie, Addy, and Mercy!

Suggested donation: $3 for 1, $5 for 2, $7 for 3 + postage.

You are {always} welcome to donate more 🙂 . Please email Marie [marie{dot}burtt{at}gmail{dot}com] with which cards you want and how many. Then go to our mySTORY to donate.

birthday trio by Marie

car trio by Mercy

thank you by Marie

forever friends by Marie

leaves duo by Addy

kitty by Mercy

outdoors trio by Marie

kitty and fish duo by Addy

Other ways to help:

  • Share our mySTORY giving page
  • Donate handmade goods for us to sell
  • Buy coffee! 50% of your purchase goes towards our adoption plus 100% of profit goes to orphan care

the beginning of the one year

By addysengrace, america, christian, family, mercyadoniyah, noelantruth One Comment

dear son,

today is the day i didn’t want to come. i don’t know why but this one year mark feels so final, so complete, so deep, so real, so raw, so very much the end.

today is the anniversary of the day i decided to love you as my son.

sunday, february 14th, 2016.

i will never forget it. i will never forget how i felt when i knew in my heart the answer was yes. i will never forget the moment i loved you as my son.

i have flashed back to this day a million times this past year. i have wondered if i made the right choice. i have wondered if i should have protected addy and mercy better or protected my heart better.

many people have told me, “marie, you made the right choice. i truly believe you saved noelan’s life from someone threatening to hurt him if he wasn’t out of their home.”

but i realize something else, sweet boy of mine.

i realize that you saved my life.

you have taught me to love in a way i didn’t know possible. you have taught me to love addy and mercy and christian in a way i didn’t understand before i loved and lost you. you have shown me the heart of the Father in an intimate way i would never had understood without you. i have loved you and lost you and yet i still love you.

i will always love you sweet boy and i will always be your mama. but i miss you noelan truth. and i don’t think that i will ever stop missing you.

love, mama

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Processed with MOLDIV

Processed with MOLDIV

oh august

By addysengrace, america, christian, mercyadoniyah, noelantruth, romania No Comments

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Oh August.

Last fall we started planning our summer furlough. We would go in August, immediately after camp. We would spend the next five weeks soaking up the California sun (while enjoying the California air conditioning). We would swim in Grandma and Grandpa Ducky’s swimming and go boating on the lake with Grammie and Pops. We would have BBQs and picnics and sleepovers with aunties and uncles and cousins.

Then came Valentine’s day. Would we come to California and adopt Noelan? We knew if we went in February that we wouldn’t go in August. But can you really compare the two – – summer vacation or a child?

And so we went. “I can’t attach to him. I don’t love him. Will you attach to him? Will you be his mom and dad?” The mama in me, the daddy in Christian – – we had to respond. And I attached, we attached. We were asked to and so we did. Every ounce of me became Noelan’s mama and every ounce of him became my son. We know the difference between fostering and adopting. We were asked to adopt Noelan, not foster him. And because of that, we became a family and completely attached to him.

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Which is why I feel like a piece of my heart is missing.

Which is why two and a half months after loosing Noelan, I am still rocking my almost eight year old when she goes into an infantile grief. And it is why I still wake up in the middle of the night, panicked because I hear Noelan crying for me. And it is why Christian and I sit and stare at each other and have no words sometimes. And it is why my five year old tantrums and throws and hits until she finally voices “I want my brother back.”

Oh grief. Oh August.

The Lord brought me a new, unexpected friendship this summer. And she has already been an ear and a shoulder for me. She sent me this article and as Christian and I read it, we suddenly felt so much more “normal” during this process. I would encourage you to read it and remember it if the Lord brings someone into your life going through adoption loss. Just reading it has ministered to me, because it has reassured me that we are not alone in this process.

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i am proud of you

By addysengrace, america, family, mercyadoniyah, noelantruth 3 Comments

 

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dear addy and mercy,

the past two weeks have been horrible, haven’t they? you have had so much hurt, so much pain. i have felt so guilty, so responsible. daily my thoughts haunt me – – i didn’t protect you. i brought you into this situation. gave you a brother and then took him away. i know these are lies. i know someone else’s selfishness and sick choices have hurt you. but that doesn’t make me feel any less responsible.

i just wish i could hide both of you from all this pain.

but i can’t and baby girls, that just sucks.

tonight we talked about Jesus and how judas betrayed Him. we talked about what it would be like to have a friend walk alongside you, help you, serve you for three years and then sell you, betray you, turn you in, sign your death notice. we talked about how hurtful that is. we talked about how much anger we feel right now. you stared into space, mercy adoniyah and then you shouted at the top of your lungs, “i just want noelan back. i just want to hold my brother.” and as i watch you sob deep heart wrenching sobs, i wondered how you ever forgive someone that has intentionally hurt you and your family. it feels pretty raw to put so much trust in a friendship that so brutally betrays you. it feels pretty raw to realize someone you thought was your close friend for over eight years would be willing to intentionally tear apart your family.

betrayal is quite possibly one of the most painful things i have experienced. it is up there with death.

yesterday, addy grace, you were really struggling. you are suppose to be doing school here in california so that you aren’t held back in romania. your smart little brain is hurting so deeply right now, that even simply tasks are grueling. you broke down sobbing, “i just want you to be proud of me, mama. and if i am not smart anymore, will you still be proud of me?” and i held your sweet little quivering chin and i looked deep into your dark brown eyes and i told you this: you don’t have to be smart. you don’t have to be strong. you don’t have to be athletic. you just have to be kind and you just have to do good, and i will always be proud of you. and i know sweet baby girl of mine, that you will always be kind. you have been hurt deeper than any child should ever be hurt. you have learned what true betrayal is. and because of it, my miniature scientist, you will be kind to others and you will always do good.

we are going to go back to romania soon, sweet babies. it is going to be hard and painful but your daddy and i think it is the right thing to do. you have been away from your own home, your own comfort for over three months. you said goodbye to all your friends, your school, your toys, the language you speak more comfortably and you blindly followed us to california. you selflessly loved on your new little brother for three months, you lovingly gave up so much, you graciously allowed us to give your new brother much more time and attention than you got during those three months. you didn’t complain, you didn’t tantrum, you just loved noelan the way daddy and i did. you helped clean house, fold laundry and play with your brother. you did school in the car, in the doctor’s office and everywhere in between. you wishfully mentioned gymnastics, swim lessons, your bicycles, your friends – – but you never complained. addy grace, i will never forget you telling me, “i miss my home. but the bigger picture is that we have a brother.” your wisdom is way beyond seven years old. mercy adoniyah, tonight you looked deep into my eyes and you said, “i close my eyes and pretend that my brother is coming back. but when i open my eyes, noelan is not here, mama. i don’t have enough power to bring him back.”

i look at you and your sister and i think, “i keep closing my eyes and trying to take away your pain. but when i open my eyes, it is still there.”

oh babies of mine.

i am so sorry.

i love you both more than you will ever know. and i miss your brother so much. i wish there was some way i could take this situation and make it all better.

but know this, i will always be so, so, so proud of you both.

 

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noelan truth

By addysengrace, america, christian, eisleyhope, family, Foster/Adoption, mercyadoniyah, noelantruth, romania, travel 18 Comments

I didn’t think I would write about this honestly. Part of me wants to close up and not share a word. Yet the questions have come quickly but out of love. Why?! I don’t get it! Can’t you do something?! Can I help?! I am not sure where to begin. I have been quiet – – we have been quiet, because we were doing quite simply what we were asked to do – – parent. Last February found us in no way planning a trip to the USA. Christian and I packed up our family and moved to Eastern Europe on January 16th, 2012. We didn’t do it because we are amazing. We did it because the call is real and we consider ourselves disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. And then that push comes to shove, you go. And so with a whole lotta awkward, no idea, we packed up our three year old, our six month old, eight 22 gallon plastic sterilite containers, a carseat, a stroller, a sewing machine, and a few other random things. We were blessed to be surrounded by very loving, very forgiving people as we blundered through culture shock and insensitivity, being homesick, grief mixed with excitement and so much more.

Fast forward from January 2012 to March 2015, when our world changed in every way. My niece, Eisley Hope was born on March 23rd and twelve days later, her brave fight to live was over. We had experienced adoption loss before and we had experienced the death of grandparents and friends, but this was something we had never experienced before. Addy and Mercy were shaken. We were shaken. They were crushed and bruised. We were crushed and bruised. After a whirlwind come back to the USA just three weeks after our 2015 furlough, we found ourselves back home in Romania with a huge hole in our hearts. So we did what we know best – – we kept going. We can look back now and see all the amazing people that walked alongside of us, making sure we were okay. We found Mercy the resources she needed and after two very scary months with our precious little girl that had stopped communicating, she started trying again. we saw her slowly emerge from the dark shell she had disappeared into. At Christmastime, DohDoh (my sister) and Uncle Tanner came to visit (Eisley’s parents). As I stood back and watched the chaos of laughter, fun and life – – I saw our family healing. I saw a new kind of “okay” where Eisley’s death doesn’t define us but it changes us into better people. I saw hope and joy in our family again.

So when February 2016 rolled around, we didn’t see ourselves doing much or going anywhere anytime soon. Gosh, we were just proud that we made it through most of winter and spring was on the way. Addy is doing brilliantly in Romanian public school. She is funny and energetic and social and bright and loud. She is creative and joyful. She speaks Romanian better (proper with amazing vocabulary) than many seven year olds born in Romania. Christian and I have felt a tiny bit of jealousy a few times, listening to her flawless language skills. Mercy is doing simply amazing at her new kindergarten. After a rough spring/summer 2015, we were so blessed to enroll her in a brand new kindergarten where we watched her become a new child. She is fierce and intense but loving and kind. She is freakishly smart and can already out argue her parents through logic and persistence. Every morning, she would wake up ready for school and life. I can honestly say the girls were thriving and I think Christian and I were doing pretty good too.

Let’s face it – – we are surrounded by kids without parents. It comes with the job. If I wanted to go find myself a child to make “mine” it wouldn’t be legal but it wouldn’t be difficult either. My life is a mixture of family, church family and kids without a family. Our holidays and weekends include extra kids on a regular basis. I can’t pick up Addy from school without giving 14 million hugs and receiving 29 million crushing squeezes. I go to the mini-market and find 1 or 2 kids I know that shout, “hey Meeeerrrrrrryyyyyy!” I say this because we weren’t looking or even really considering growing our family just yet. Our desire has always been to adopt while living in Romanian after we receive citizenship (the legal way for Americans to adopt) and citizenship takes time. So when Noelan found us, we weren’t sure. Noelan’s story is “simple” enough yet filled with trauma. He was born in Africa and quickly shuffled around from orphanage to foster mom. His California family began his adoption and asked us to be his godparents. We began praying for him while he was just an infant and I love that part of his story.

Like many, most, all Africa adoption, his hit some major bumps and he ended up living with his sweet foster mama for the first three years of his life. Many times it was thought his adoption would not take place but then in January it did. And we found ourselves peering through FaceTime watching him arrive in SoCal and we were full of excitement and joy. But as we know and have experienced and lived, adoption is not an easy nor simple way to add a child to your family. It is a decision to love a child that might be “broken” according to the worlds standards but I would argue that the world is what is actually broken. Adoption is parenting a child with a complex and confusing background, understanding that they might look “fine” on the outside but on the inside they are carrying very deep, very real, very painful wounds. And Noelan’s new legal parents found themselves unable to care for him, to which I say, that is okay.

So in February when they asked us to come and be his forever family, we found ourselves very, very conflicted. Everything in us said we needed to go and yet nothing inside of us wanted to uproot our lives for an unknown time. We wrestled and sought counsel. I still remember my older brother saying, “my fear is that he is too much to for them to parent while he is living with them but once he is gone, he won’t be too much to parent and they will think they can do it and then they will get him back and he will be too much for them to parent and a vicious cycle will start.” And we knew he was 100% right because let’s face it – – we are all awesome parents until we actually have kids. Heck I was the world’s best parent before Addy was born. Yet in our heart of hearts we still felt the urge to go. Our sweet little godson was in danger – – this isn’t stuff you make up. His new legal parents were crying out for help, confessing that they wanted him out of the house, their marriage was in shambles, their home was dangerous and toxic from him – – all words direct from their own mouths. Christian looked at me and said, “if we don’t go, we will always regret it.”

My parents rearranged their lives and schedules to pick him up from SoCal with less than 24 hours notice – – because from the mouths of his new legal family, it was for his own safety. My sister and her husband rearranged everything to provide emergency respite for him. And on the night of February 18th, they got my precious little boy, shell-shocked, numb and turned off to the world. He wasn’t in good condition. He was very dehydrated. He drank and drank and drank water until you had to take the water away and he would tantrum for it. His lips were scabbed and peeling. His skin was dry and peeling. He was simply numb to the world and life around him. DohDoh rocked him for hours those first ten days. Tanner sat on the floor and played cars over and over and over. Pops would get him from DohDoh’s office and drive him up to the “big house” (our name for Grammie and Pop’s house) and Grammie would watch him during the day. He had a non-stop “cold” for the first week.

And we furiously paused life in Romania. We got out cash time and time again (ATM’s have limits you know) and prepaid bills for a couple months as customary in Romania. We started praying and rearranging money to come up with the needed adoption fees (let’s be honest, missionaries and humanitarian workers don’t exactly make big bucks). We pulled Addy out of school and her gymnastics class just a month before starting competitions. We pulled Mercy out of her kindergarten and her swim lessons. Tears of confusion streamed down her cheeks on her last day at school with her sweet best friends Tibi and Iusti. We tried to explain to our “other” kids that we would be gone just for a couple months and we would come back but I knew in my heart “gone” means “forever” in these kids’ hearts and the tears that welled up broke my heart. Our ministry director was encouraging through it all – – reminding us that God would take care of the ministry while we were gone. So with time we didn’t have and money we didn’t have, we came to California on February 29th and we met our son.

It was blurry in the beginning, jumping into mama and daddy to an adorable but freaked out little boy but it was so worth it. The nights were long and the days even longer but it was worth it. The first snuggle, the first “I love you mama” that came in April made it worth it. The girls reaching out and hugging and tickling and loving their brother made it worth it. And with time we saw him start to thrive. He began using words instead of wails, eating healthy portions of food and using the potty for pee and poo. Yes, these are life’s little successes. Don’t get me wrong, for every two steps forward we would take a step back. This is normal development for an adopted child. Noelan’s three and a half years of life are filled with loss, pain, goodbyes, fear and failures. But we were blessed to know a little better this time around how to meet his needs. So we took every day as a new start in this weird pretend life we were living in California. We morphed into homeschooling Addy and Mercy in Romanian (hello challenge) while blending a family of three kids that were strangers one day and siblings the next.

And we kept waiting. It gets tricky here but you asked, so here is the “simplified” answer. Noelan’s legal family was not completely his legal family – – because he was in the middle of an uncompleted African adoption. So his legal family couldn’t sign over parental rights until they legally completed his adoption. Maybe Christian and I are dumb, maybe we just love and trust too much, maybe we just need to have faith that Noelan needed us. But the problem is that we simply believed their word. So we plowed ahead with nothing more legal than a Power of Attorney. We did medical appointments, blood work, vaccinations and minor surgery. We did play therapy and TBRI (Karyn Purvis’ trust-based relational intervention). And we waited for April 5th when his legal family would receive the paperwork they needed to relinquish parental rights.

But they didn’t sign. We asked them why and it was a new excuse every day. We tried to explain we couldn’t stay here indefinitely while they let us babysit Noelan. We tried to remind them why they asked us to come. We tried to answer questions and be 100% open and vulnerable. All the while, the stress just grew in our little family. We tried to hide it from Addy and Mercy but they are just too smart and they would overhear something, see something, know something. And meanwhile, the love and bond between us and our new son simply strengthened. He became a mama’s boy with a deep love for daddy’s tickles. He found comfort in his relationship with Addy and mischief in his relationship with Mercy. He asked daily to visit Grammie or Pops or DohDoh or Tanner.

And we kept waiting, trying to financially afford two lives, one here in California and one in Romania. And we tried to give a grieving family time and space and love. When May rolled around and we were told that no paperwork had been signed, we were confused and devastated. There is nothing quite like loving and pouring your life into a child that you have no “legal claim” to. Our watching in desperation, knowing he has attached to his new family, us. Watching his behaviors show the beginning steps of healing, watching the successes begin to outnumber the setbacks, all the while knowing that a family he wasn’t attached to was weirdly obsessed with him. And finally, waiting as his legal family was told by the adoption agency, “You need to make a decision because Noelan is attached to his family and Noelan deserves permanency” and instead being told, “Nope we changed our minds, we want him back, we are attached to him.” Because you know, 20 days of “this child is in danger in our toxic home” is more beneficial to Noelan that 93 days in a unconditionally loving and stable environment. (sarcasm) Please don’t get me wrong – – I won’t claim perfection, simply unconditional love and safe stability. And that is what Noelan needed and deserved.

Why is he gone in a blur? Why weren’t his aunties and uncles, other grandparents or friends able to say goodbye? Maybe because on Thursday we chose Monday to take him to the adoption agency (over an hour away) and on Friday at 9a we received a call from our social worker telling us they were demanding him that day and we needed to have him in Sacramento by noon. I am so grateful that in that blur at least his Auntie DohDoh and Uncle Tanner were able to drop everything and race up to see him. And I am more than grateful for Uncle Tanner and Pops that bravely drove him to Sacramento and handed him over to a family that was acting out of selfish gain without a single concern for Noelan. And I am so grateful for Pops, that bravely tried one last time to advocate for Noelan.

And now we are here. In California without our home, but surrounded by some of the most amazing and loving family and friends. I lay awake last night, unable to sleep for most of the night, as my mind whirled and swirled, as I, Noelan’s mama, cried myself to sleep wondering if he was ok, as I woke up panicked over and over hearing his phantom cries in my head. To be the parents of a young, innocent child but not have any legal rights over him has got to be one of the worst things I have ever felt. I don’t have a lot of answers or resolution to this blog post. I would just ask that you would pray for Noelan Truth, his safety and his heart. I would ask that you would pray for Mercy Adoniyah because she feels so deep and so strongly. I would ask that you pray for Addy Grace because she loves so intensely. And I would ask that you would pray for us, our family and everyone around us. This pain is deep.

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one year of missing you

By america, eisleyhope, family One Comment

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memories are weird. i can’t tell you what i ate last week. but in a moment i can flashback and be re-living last march. and all of a sudden it is the weekend and i am chatting with my sister and she is saying, “i don’t feel great – – do i have the flu? could i be in labor?” and i am reassuring her and telling her “i don’t think so – – klein baby girls are late. you probably overdid.” or two days being awaken in the middle of the night, trying to process the voice on the other end saying, “marie, sarah is getting ready to have an emergency c-section” and me breathing in as deep as i could before saying, “okay – – can you give her the phone?” and trying in all my fake bravery to tell her, “everything is going to be okay – – babies are born healthy at 31 weeks all the time.” and then i am sitting there at my kitchen table all over again, staring through my imsg, willing it to tell me that everything would be okay. two days later i ran through frankfurt with mercy to make my connecting flight. i barely made it. i watched the movie “boyhood” on the airplane ride from frankfurt to sacramento. i still listen to the song “hero” to fall asleep. cacey met me at the airport, took me to sarah and took mercy for the night. i met my eisley hope in the nicu at uc davis on a thursday night.

and then there are entire months that i do not remember. i can’t tell you what i did in april or may. i am told i went to work. i have pictures of me at the orphanages, me and the girls, me and christian. i don’t remember a single day in may. i don’t remember if i wished my mom a happy birthday OR a happy mother’s day. i can barely remember my middle child’s 4th birthday. in may, i wondered if we would ever be the same, ever laugh, ever relax, ever stop worrying. i made deals with God – – while my heart froze every time i received a text from anyone in my family. there were times this past year where i stared in the mirror and didn’t recognize what i saw. there were times this past year where i wondered if i was living one big made up joke. there were times when i just didn’t know.

and then i have memories here and there. summer memories that slowly brought small moments of laughter. my children were the beginning of my road to healing. grieving like a child is so simple and yet so powerful. my kids TALK about eisley. my kids CRY about eisley. my kids have zero apprehension about telling someone “my cousin died. her name is eisley. she went to heaven to be Jesus.” the biggest thing i learned this summer is that there is no “returning” to “normal” but there is finding a new normal. and that new normal will include laughter and smiles and jokes and happy moments but that new normal will always be missing a strawberry blonde little girl names eisley and that new normal will always have a little bittersweet because we have experienced loss and death.

this post really has no end. it has no moral or amazing wow moment. it isn’t even finished. we still have a lot of pain. and we still have days where we wonder why and struggle. there are still moments when we doubt. and then there are days when we laugh and smile and giggle. there are days when we forget for a moment. i don’t think there is a earthly end to this story. march 23, 2017 will be the same and yet different. we will still miss eisley and hurt and wonder why. and maybe next year it will feel easier. but who knows – – maybe march 23, 2018 will be the hardest of “anniversary-birthdays.” i don’t know and i am pretty sure sarah and tanner don’t know either. i think grief is a strange kind of song. sometimes it gets stuck on repeat, sometimes it plays without a problem, sometimes it freezes and doesn’t play at all. i guess that is simply grief.

but today, well it was the most beautiful way to spend a day i never wanted to spend. never in my wildest dreams did i imagine celebrating my sweet girl’s first birthday without her. but today i stood around a beautiful headstone, covered in amazing flowers, surrounded by some of the strongest people i know. and today we let balloons sail up to heaven, carrying sweet messages to our little girl. and then we enjoyed dinner and strawberries for our little strawberry blond munchkin.

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happy first birthday sweet girl. we love you and miss you more than words can describe.
uncle christian, auntie marie, addy, mercy and new cousin