It's been a year since you left your mothers womb and were welcomed into this big scary outside world. The circumstances surrounding that day are mostly fuzzy to me, and even if they weren't, I wouldn't share those sacred details here. What I do know is that you were a tiny very vulnerable little girl, not quite ready for this hostile world, but yet God's plan for your life began to unfold.
Despite being born from and into less than ideal circumstances your life was preserved and protected. Your life has value and purpose and is not an accident. When I think about the day of your birth I ache for the woman who carried you.
When I laid eyes on you at just one week old, weighing just a little over 4 lbs and hooked to various tubes, wires, and monitors I fell in love. I will never forget that moment when we first met. I was instructed to wear a paper gown and gloves, an uncomfortable barrier between your skin and mine, and was encouraged to take you into my arms.
You astonished me with your strength, trying so hard to hold up your own little head and look around. I spent the next week either sitting and holding you while you slept, or longing to be at the hospital sitting and holding that tiny raven haired girl. You needed to know that you weren't alone in the world. You weren't alone in this world. You have never been alone.
At two weeks old a case worker drove you out to your new home, and you arrived looking so hilariously tiny in your baby carseat. All your siblings were so obnoxiously eager to meet you. You have been fiercely loved by each one of them every moment since.
Every day, since the moment we first met, you have been our delight. I can't even express what an incredible privilege it has been to be your family these past 12 months. We are technically "just" your foster family, but in every way that matters we have been a family. A real family.
There was a time when I grieved over the fact that we wouldn't get to witness this birthday milestone and know your little toddler personality. Now I revel in each moment of it.
Your 1st Birthday is such a sweet celebration. A celebration of this amazing little girl that was so wonderfully created.
I don't know what our future holds my Darling but I do know that we have poured as much love and nurture into each day as is humanly possible. You deserved nothing less from us. It has been our absolute joy.
My sweet girl, we have today...and 364 yesterdays.
God holds tomorrow.
Even if I don't know what sorts of joys or sorrows tomorrow will bring I trust that He is good and that He has a loving purpose in it all.
So we continue to trust and pray and sing -
"Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong"
At 12 months old you are full of life and and mischief. You have a nearly constant smile on your face and a quick bubbling giggle. I don't think I've ever known a baby to have such a well developed sense of humour. You love to play games and make us laugh. You are joy, sweetness and innocence in one squishy little bundle. Your curiosity and feisty tenacity keep me on my toes, and keep us all cheering as you try out new things with that "check this out" grin.
At 12 months old your hobbies include pulling books off the book shelf, running water out of the drinking water jug onto the floor, snatching (and using) the ipod or phones where ever they are carelessly set down, splashing in the toilet, taking baths, searching for tasty Legos, and emptying kitchen cupboards.
Mostly you like to play with and soak up attention from anyone in the room.
At 12 months old you have 6 adorable little teeth and are a good eater. You weigh 20 lbs and have the sweetest little squishy legs.
You aren't walking yet but you cruise along the furniture like a pro, and crawl like you're trying to win a race. You are adventurous and ambitious but have a sensible cautious streak. You have just begun to stand alone...holding both hands up in the air, with a huge smile on your face and an expression that says "Hey guys, look what I can do!"
You love to give hugs, snuggles, and smushy kisses. We are all eager recipients of your generous affection. Your happy place is still curled up in my arms with a bottle. This happy place usually puts you to sleep. In fact you enjoy this so much you wake at least a couple times a night for a midnight snuggle (last night it was six times ...which reminds me that we need to renegotiate this whole night time snuggle thing). As exhausting as our midnight rendezvous have become, I will remember them fondly in the years to come. That quiet house has belonged to just us. We have brought up a years worth of sunrises together. It is a bit ironic that one of my biggest apprehensions in taking a newborn was lost sleep (I'm really quite attached to sleeping through the night), but here we are 1 later and you've slept through the night about 3 times. That makes me laugh, and cry...because I wouldn't trade you for all the peaceful nights and late mornings in the world.
You and Daddy have your own sweet relationship too. You have him all wrapped up around your finger. He would do anything for you. You get so happy when he comes home from work, and burst out in a breathy excited laugh anytime the phone rings because you expect his voice to come out of it.
Precious Annie, you are loved. Endlessly loved.
You are loved as much as any parent has ever loved a child, even if we have no actual right to call your ours.
When you strip away all the titles, qualifiers, prefixes, and legalities we are just "Mommy" and "Daddy". We are family, not born of blood or even legal documents, but because we are in this together.
We are so thankful to be a part of your life and to watch you grow.