Colton is adopted. It has been a journey that has stretched us and grown us. It is a miracle story.
Colton’s birthmother chose us through a private agency. We walked through her pregnancy with her, went to doctor’s appointments, loved her and ached for her circumstances.
Three weeks before he was born she found his birth-father and decided she would raise Cole.
We heard from her just after he was born, when she learned that she would not be able to raise him she asked that we adopt him . . .
Then she changed her mind again and wanted to raise him and have him go into foster care. He did. His goal was reunification with his birth mother. We never got to see him or talk with her. All the doors closed.
Four months later, on the day we were closing on our new home we received a phone call from the Department of Children and Families asking us if we would still be interested in adopting Cole. We were overwhelmed and knew it was meant to be.
In January Colton’s birthmother, though she had been out of touch for months, went to a court hearing and requested an open adoption. It was then that she found out he was with us, we were all excited and were ready to enter into an open adoption with her . . .
But after that day we have never heard from Darla again. Once she knew he was with us, she never made contact with any one again . . .
We had agreed to letters and pictures and two visits a year. We have been out of touch all of this time because there is no way to be in touch with her.
For Colton’s birthday week we spent time together as a family reflecting on Darla. And Andrew and I wrote a letter to her, knowing she may never read it . . . hoping that someday we will see her again . . . .
A letter to Colton’s Birthmother:June 2011
We think of you often and are still hopeful for the day when we will be able to be in touch regularly. We named our little guy Colton Ian. His name means, “from the dark town into God’s grace.” We know that the months you carried him were challenging for you and that you carried him through the dark places into the light. We named him to honor you.
Colton turned two, and there is so much we would like for you to know. We have narrowed it down to three simple things . . .
The first is that he is healthy, Darla! He is so healthy and active. He loves running and climbing, and he hit all of his milestones. He is a wonderful talker. He learned baby sign language when he was little, and once he started talking he added words to his vocabulary daily. We know how hard you worked to help him start off in the world in a healthy way, and he is healthy. Thank you for all that you did do to protect and care for him.
We also have longed to tell you that you were most certainly right . . . you told us that you knew he would be a happy little boy, and he is! He is such a happy little guy. Colton finds the joy in everything. He loves laughing and singing and hugging. He wakes up happy and goes to bed happy. And if something happens during the day that is hard, he finds a way to joy so quickly. He shares with other children, and if they bump him or knock him down, he is quick to get back up and find joy. You knew him. He is just as you said he would be, he is a happy boy.
And we want you to know that he carries pieces of you. We see you in him all the time. When we first met him we could see you so clearly in his four month old face. And to this day we can see you and we think of you. I think he carries the best of you in him. We tell him about you and how you loved him and wanted him and protected him. He knows your name.
So as we celebrate Colton turning two, we also celebrate you, his birthmother. We celebrate all you sacrificed to bring him into this world. We believe that the world is a better place with him in it. He is amazing.
We all miss you. Love, Andrew, Liza, and Colton
Happy Father’s Day to you, Andrew. If Colton were able to articulate it, he would thank you and praise you for all you do.
Instead, in these days, he expresses all that love to you with that big, wide-open smile and by running to you with pure joy, his arms extended and giving you “big hugs.” He adores you.
And that love will deepen and I know his respect will grow.
You have stepped into fatherhood with such devotion and integrity. You live each day in a way that helps our boy know that he is valued and cared for.
You have never hesitated to participate in any part of parenting. You have loved him with all of who you are and I know that loving him has stretched you and grown you.
And the ways in which you father challenge me and stretch me.
So thank you for climbing boldly to places that I would not go without you. Thank you for giving Cole all different kinds of adventures and vistas.
We both love and adore you. Happy Father’s Day!
This Friday we decided to write about something the other has done that we have appreciated.
I always thought of myself as being a nice guy. I was never big on compliments though or making any real deal about special occasions. Don’t get me wrong, I loved a party as much as the next guy but never really put any thought into it and just went with what came to mind first.
Liza on the other hand has always had a lovely way about understanding others. Gifts, compliments, words all seem to strike a chord with the person on the receiving end. She is able to find a way to celebrate people and circumstances like no one I have ever met.
One of my favorite things Liza has done for me is taught me the joy of celebration. If you spend any time with the Sharpteam, you’ll hear quite a few “woohoos!”, random cheering and of course clapping. And when it comes to birthdays, we break out the singing and dancing.
It is something that has become part of who we are; we celebrate.
Big moments, small moments and everything in between. It has made life much more fun, much less serious and much more enjoyable.
So thank you to the love of my life for helping me learn how to celebrate, wherever we are!
Lesson for a Toddler:
Cole has started saying “want it” for various things…
We have been working with him to replace “want it” with “please” and then a smile.
We are getting there.
And he is starting to add the smile on his own.
It has been a great lesson for us that being intentional with Cole really does make a difference. And it doesn’t hurt to add a smile most anywhere.
Tonight Susan is at a group home. Tomorrow she will join our family indefinitely.
Andrew and I began doing foster care almost three years ago. We agreed that doing Emergency and Short-term care was the best fit for us in our condo.
Today is the first time we have really considered fostering long term.
The call came unexpectedly. I was tutoring. Andrew skyped me. And typing out our words to one another in between students we decided that this would be a good fit for us and that we were open to the placement.
Susan is thirteen.
Thirteen was the absolute hardest age for me.
I cannot imagine being Susan.
Most children that have come to be with us (with the exception of two) have come to us because of choices the adults in their lives have made. Susan is similar.
We started this blog to connect with our family and friends about foster care, so tonight we ask you to pray. Please pray for Susan, as she has so many transitions before her. Pray for her as she comes to live with us. Pray for us that we will be an encouragement and support to her. And pray for our little guy, that this would be a blessing to him and that he would be a blessing as well.
We will keep you posted.
I have worked with youth for over two decades now. I planned retreats, missions trips, events. I have lived and worked with students, and I always tried to plan for worst case scenarios. I hated thinking about what could happen, but it was always my goal to be prepared for a crisis.
I taught a course on Spiritual Disciplines with Development Associates International. I had practiced all the disciplines but one . . . I had worked on prayer and meditation, service and solitude, but the final discipline surprised me . . . preparing for adversity and crisis. It is a discipline that is not appealing, but one that, little by little, Andrew and I are choosing to face.
One of our “words” is foundations. This word has multiple meanings to us, one of them is that we want to be sure that we pay attention to preparing for security in the day to day and in crisis. So this week we thought we would highlight a couple of those steps that we are taking.
This picture is of Andrew’s parent’s home in 2007. It was taken by a bystander and appeared in the local paper. The source of the house fire is undetermined. What a reminder to us that any day everything can change. We are so grateful that Andrew’s parents were not home and were both safe. Today the home is in even better condition than it was before the fire. We are grateful.
One little goal this inspired was that we would purchase a firebox, a little fire and water resistant box to keep important documents that we would want to be safe in case of fire. We did some research online and thought about a safety deposit box, but decided that a fire safe would be best for us.
Two reasons that a fire safe seemed like a wise investment: it is a one time purchase and because, unlike a safety deposit box, it is more accessible. If someone dies a safety deposit box may be sealed for weeks.
Here are things that we considered putting in our fire safe box:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificate
- Social Security Cards
- Copy of health information
- College degrees and Certificates
Other Suggested Items
- Stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit.
- Original deeds to property and vehicles.
- Rare jewels or family jewelry.
- A list of bank and credit card account numbers
- Copies of prescriptions for life-supporting medications
- Spare keys to your car
- Videotape/DVD/thumb drive inventory of house.
- Receipts for big-ticket items like furnishings
We now have a fire proof safe. Our prayer is that we don’t need it. But we are choosing to prepare together for what might be around the corner. It helps us feel like our foundation is a little more secure.
Here is one of our “family photos” just before I left for college.
I have found myself peeking in on other peoples blogs in these days, and have been particularly interested in other people’s family photos. Here are a couple that I liked from ashleyannphotography.com
So for my 40 for 40, I thought it would be a great time to get professional shots of our family.
We started by asking a friend, that didn’t work, we found a photographer we liked, but that didn’t work. We asked another friend. And then we asked another friend, my mom’s husband Skip. But it wasn’t really fair . . . he had a lot going on, we met as the sun was setting, and Cole is a handful and then his parents could not seem to get on the same page . . . so our photo shoot was a beautiful setting, day, time of day . . . but the Sharpteam did not perform. Here are some out-takes from our “photo-shoot”
When it comes to sending out our Christmas Card, we are committed to being in the picture (for now), because I most like to receive Christmas cards not only of pictures of my friends’ kids, but with them in it . . . so we do have a Christmas card coming to you, but it is not any of these.
I am still grateful we did our little “family photo shoot”
And though he is hard to snap a picture of, this little guy is scrumptious.