This week my baby girl will be celebrating her first birthday. Crossing over the threshold from infant to toddler.
This year has gone by SO fast.
Before the arrival of my other kids there was 9 months of expecting, waiting and dreaming before the arrival.
Even with a more typical adoption there is a lot of waiting, planning, preparing and expecting. Not that I'm sorry to have missed any of that.
I didn't plan. I didn't wait. I didn't expect. I didn't prepare.
In fact, on the day she was born I was not even in the same country.
I had no idea that 5 weeks later my world would change and I would have another daughter.
It is a strange to think back to this week last year. I wasn't pacing in a hospital, packing a bag, or putting the finishing touches on a nursery. I didn't even have a nursery.
This week last year we were saying our goodbyes to all our friends, celebrating spring, swimming at the river, and having a very special tea party.
Little did I know I had a little one waiting at home for me.
I wanted to stay in Mexico. God had another plan.
This photo was taken on the day Miss Cece was born.
Our family of 3 kids.
I had four kids that day. I just didn't know it yet. That makes me smile.
The day she was born was a wonderful day and holds some beautiful memories.
I spent her birthday working in the Learning Center for kids with disabilities. We had set up a home made water park for the kids. Baja sunshine, amazing kids and lots of laughs.
I can't help but think that beats timing contractions and episiotomies any day.
Although the thought of her spending that first week alone in a NICU nursery without a mama to hold and soothe her makes me a little sad.
It wasn't long after we returned home that we got the phone call.
The next day, this tiny black haired stranger was handed to me and I was thrust once again into parenting a newborn. A precious little girl with a whole lot of issues going on inside her tiny body.
At that time I had no idea what her case plan was. I didn't know if I would have her for 2 weeks or 2 months. I didn't dare to hope that she would ever be mine. In those first few sleep deprived weeks I would have cried both tears of joy and horror if you had told me we would be adopting her.
I remember so vividly the moment we met.
A little stranger being buckled into the baby car seat I had brought to the Social Services office. The man who met me there wore a tank top, reeked like cigarette smoke, and commented that she was a fussy one and I wouldn't be getting much sleep. I felt afraid of what I was getting myself into. I thought I must be crazy.
It was all so strange, yet so routine. I had done this before. There wasn't a lot of sentiment involved. I would get her home and then we would get acquainted with this new little one.
I wanted to rush out of that building that holds so many conflicting memories. As much as I wanted to escape the strange building where children are picked up and dropped off like packages at a post office, something inside me told me to slow down and really look at her. Take a mental snap shot, and remember that moment.
I remember a very strange thought ran through my mind.
This is the moment I meet my daughter I'd better remember it.
I quickly shook that ridiculous thought out of my head and brought myself back into foster mom reality.
Babies come and babies go.
This one would be no different.
Over the course of two days my world changed.
At the time it was all too familiar. Just another baby that would tear my heart out when she left.
Well baby, that was nearly one year ago.
Although the adoption process crawls along at the rate of a sleeping snail.
I am yours
and you will forever be mine regardless of paper, or courts.
You belong to each of us.
Happy Birthday Sunshine girl
You are the best unexpected gift I have ever received.
Our Father is a giver of good gifts and I can barely believe how much he has blessed me.
A gift that I could so easily have been to busy, too selfish, or too afraid to receive.
It makes me wonder how much we miss out on because we lack trust, because we fail to receive His blessings in disguise.
I didn't expect to have the privilege of celebrating her first birthday with her.
I have loved her as a mother loves a child that she knows she might lose.
When each day could mean a goodbye you learn to cherish the moments and love more intentionally.
I am so thankful. Not only that she is here with us but that she has been so healthy this winter.
In her first few months she struggled with health issues related to her drug exposure and the side effects of medication. Beyond that she battled constant colds, asthma, and lung infections. It seemed she would never be a healthy baby.
Her immune system finally caught up with her and for the past 5 months or so she has been completely infection free, the inhalers haven't left the closet, and she hasn't had more than a couple days of runny nose.
Maybe it's all the super baby food I'm feeding her.
Maybe it's the fact that her big siblings are homeschooling and have avoided this winter's viruses.
Maybe it's God's hand of healing and protection.
We are also so thankful that she has been completely asymptomatic of Hep C this year. We hope it will stay that way or for "spontaneous viral clearance" which does occasionally happen.
They want to check on her again sometime after her first birthday so we will have a better idea then what is happening inside her body.
By all appearances she is healthy, thriving and developing better than we could have hoped.
She is a clever, affectionate, happy, and silly little girl.
It's been so much fun to get to know her, see her personality unfold, and watch her grow over the past year.
I feel so blessed and as I watch her play I am filled with thankfulness.