Happy Birthday, Mr. Incredible

September 19, 2017

I started writing letters to you before you were even born. At that point, we did not know if you were a boy or a girl, but we dreamed of meeting you and filled our time completing silly quizzes with old wives’ tales trying to predict whether you would be Hunter or Kaitlyn. We decorated the nursery and spent evenings watching you kick and move under the ice cream bowl resting on my belly. (My poor rib-cage could attest to your soccer-player potential even then.) I wrote you letters expressing my love for you and my dreams of what life as a Momma would be like. ❤ You were a dream come true, my son. I know that sounds sweet and nostalgic, but for real…my dream came true the day you were born. 😊

I would have to look back at my letter-writing journal to tell you the date for certain, but sometime around April 2002, I had one of many crazy pregnancy dreams. Usually these dreams involved really weird things like seeing the entire outline of a baby body bulging from my stomach. Some nights, I dreamed you were a girl. Other nights, you were a boy, but the dream I’m talking about here is the one that involved nothing more than dreaming you would be born September 19th. I woke up and told Daddy about it. It was so strange to simply dream a date, so of course, I wrote about it in my journal. You were due September 24th and first-time moms rarely deliver early, so it was worth a laugh and a journal entry, and then life moved on.

When labor pains began late at night on September 18, the realization hit Daddy and I at about the same time. As we gathered our things to head to the hospital, I said, “Do you realize what this means?! This baby is coming on September 19th!” We were both amused and amazed. You really were a dream come true in every way.

We felt like we were in a scene from a sit-com as we sped into town headed for the hospital. Labor pains were well under way with only seconds between contractions, when we heard a siren and saw flashing lights swirling behind us. I rolled my eyes and laughed in between breaths. Daddy talked quickly and the officer was observant, so we weren’t stopped for long. Instead of keeping us, he called ahead to the hospital, and the labor and delivery nurses met us at the door, ready to begin providing care. In a few short hours, we went from not knowing what to expect to holding a beautiful, perfect baby boy in our arms. You even came with a “little boy hair-cut” as Mamaw called it, your dark tresses parting naturally in a typical manly “do”.

Just as you gave us our introduction to parenthood, you have introduced us to each new phase of raising children and you have filled them each with joy. Your enthusiasm and zest for life are contagious. You are tough, hard working, determined, driven, and talented. You give 100% in everything you commit yourself to, and you hold yourself and others to a high standard. You are a go-getter and there isn’t much you aren’t willing to try. I love your sense of adventure and your courage. Just this summer, we rode a 200 ft free-fall ride together, and I suspect that someday we’ll share our first sky-dive together.

Today’s adventure was taking you to complete your written test to earn your driving permit. I loved sharing high-fives, smiles, and hugs with you, and then quickly sending texts to Daddy and family to share the great news.

You are such an amazing young man, and as much as I adored you as an infant, a toddler, a little boy, and a pre-teen, each phase of your growth has only made me admire you more and be more grateful for God’s goodness and grace in your life and ours. For the past three years or so, you have had a passion for learning to understand and defend Christianity. You’ve studied God’s Word and learned from some of the greatest apologists around. You have a deeper understanding of what you believe than many adults, and you desire to live a life of obedience to Christ. You are a reader and a thinker: an articulate, intelligent young man. You’re also incredibly talented, playing guitar and clarinet and attempting to keep your great singing voice under wraps. You are a strong soccer player and a fast runner. As a freshman in high school you’ve taken on the challenge of two varsity sports concurrently (soccer and cross-country) while simultaneously serving in your school’s student council, participating in Klife, and competing in debate and marching band. You are eager to try it all because you love a challenge, and because you are focused, driven, and determined to prepare yourself for your future.  You’re also a big goof who will entertain your youngest siblings or your friends and will occasionally let down your walls completely, allowing your sense of humor to shine through. You amaze us, son.

We take great joy in being your parents, and we are grateful for the privilege of guiding you through life. Your fifteenth birthday has been a special one, complete with a surprise party with some pretty awesome friends and the driving experiences you’ve been dreaming of. Lots of dreams are coming true for you, sweet boy, and many are still yet to come. Regardless of the details of the future, you can rest assured that we’ll be standing by cheering you on and thanking the Lord for the gift of you. Happy Birthday, Baby!

3 John 1:4


I know that feeling…
the feeling that people are waiting for you to fail.
You’ve taken on too much, they say.
It can’t be done.
It’s not possible.
The task before you is great.
The hard work and gut-wrenching effort required is not lost on you.
You are made of hard-work, determination, grit that others don’t fully understand.
You get it.
You know.
You believe you can do it anyway.
So do I.
So do I, Son.
I am not waiting for you to fail.
I am standing by to watch you FLY.
~Julie G.
September 6, 2017

Adoption Anniversary

Today was our Adoption Anniversary. It has been ONE YEAR since we took the vow that made our precious little ones “ours” forever, in a legal sense. How exactly does someone adequately celebrate an occasion like this?

We tried to decide what to name the day…”Adoptiversary” was my choice, but we discussed names like “Gotcha Day”, “Family Day”, and even “Pink Glitter Sparkle Day”  or “Twilight Sparkle Day”. Even though the big brothers got a laugh out of offering those suggestions to a wide-eyed, excited little girl, I assured them they would NOT want to be stuck with that title for life. 😊 We didn’t really settle on a great name, but we did decide on a fun way to celebrate. A wonderful local organization just happened to be offering a “Saddle Up” event for foster and adoptive families. Most of us put on jeans and everyone who could wore cowboy boots, and we headed to the farm. There were horses to ride and bounce houses to jump in for the littles, s’mores and snacks for the big guys and a fun family photo opportunity. We stayed until our allergies and our biggest kiddos had enough, and then we headed to the famous “Home of the Throwed Rolls” for a celebratory meal. As I sat in the waiting area with baby boy, a mom walked by carrying an infant who looked to be just a couple of months old. Cue the flashback. I told little man that’s about the size HE was when he came home to us and he grinned joyfully as I commented on how BIG he is now. “I bigger to ride the rollercoaster?!” He questioned for about the fiftieth time in the past week. 😊 (His current obsession is being big enough for the rides he was denied the last time we were at the amusement park. If sheer willpower could increase a boy’s height, he would be about 6 feet tall, for sure!)

My mind struggles to process all that the past few years have brought…the past year in particular as our family officially grew to 7. The kindness the Lord has shown us is simply mind-blowing. The privilege of parenting these kids overwhelms us in the most beautiful way, and the burden of pointing them to Christ and the Truth of His Word weighs on us as a treasured responsibility…the weight of gold: pure, solid, invaluable. These are not treasures laid up on earth where moth and rust corrupt (Matt 6:20), but rather heavenly treasures that cannot be stolen or destroyed. We pray our kids will give their lives to follow the One who gave His life for them; there is “no greater joy” than to hear that our “children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

A year ago, I cried on the way to the courtroom. I cried because I was so grateful the Lord had brought us to the place of adopting our babies. I cried because our fears had been overcome. I cried because my sister was not able to be there when she and her family had played such a HUGE part in welcoming our littles home and supporting us, while loving them. I cried because our parents, our church family, and our closest friends joined with us to celebrate and experience this occasion that was foreign territory to all of us.

Our Adoption Day was much like the birth of our biological children…we laughed, we cried, we tried to learn and understand the process that was new and different, we held our breath while we waited, we smiled nervously at friends and family who surrounded us, we took pictures, and ultimately, we marveled that “just like that” it was over and they were “ours”. I wish I could go back to it all and listen again. I wish I had a transcript of the words the judge said as he told us this legal and binding decision made it as though these children were born to us, with all the rights of biological son-ship. We already loved them in this way. To have the state officially seal our love with a binding decree, was simply overwhelming.

Though we love these children as if they were born to us, and no external clues would suggest that they weren’t, we still hold the beauty of their story close to our hearts. We tell them their story frequently and we’ve been privileged to maintain an open adoption with the biological family members who love them dearly. The past year has been different because we’ve no longer had monthly team meetings, or weekly in-home visits from workers supporting them. We’ve no longer had mandated weekly visitation, and we’ve no longer had to seek permission for routine decisions and care.

It has been freeing.

They are ours. We are family forever.

This is true in one sense, but really, they are God’s.

They have always been His. He is writing their story, and it is colored with His Goodness and Grace. He has gifted us the opportunity to be their parents, and no words – no amount of celebrating – can express our gratitude for this gift. This is amazing grace. ❤