In January I was able to be a part of the historic moment of this little dude (that’s right – I said dude – I still live in the 90′s) hitting American soil with his parents’ Brian and Leslie Word. I cannot even explain what a wonderful experience it was to watch this family head home from Atlanta to Montgomery. I think I may have been weeping in the Atlanta airport while strange onlookers poked at my loud child.
To be honest, I am not really sure what to say other than I am so thankful for this family. Thankful that I have been able to watch a tiny view of this family being built. Leslie and Brian waited over 22 months for this little man. I know I hoped and prayed for them which could only be a tiny fraction of a way that they prayed and waited and hoped for Tyson. I know when we brought Emerson home we felt like the luckiest people on the planet – not to put words in the Words’ mouth (he he) but isn’t it great that love makes a family? Isn’t it great the way God builds families?
On another note…what are these two looking at? The grown ups did a very good job at posing and the two little ones look cute and they don’t even have to look at the camera.
Thanks to all our friends who helped us with the ornaments in November and December. Leslie and Brian, thank you for letting us be a SMALL part of bringing Tyson home. I am so thankful for you and your family and your perspective on family. #TEAMBABYWORD #THOSEARESOMECUTEBABIES #ARETHEYLOOKINGATUSHER
If you haven’t had a chance to check out her blog. DO IT! DO IT NOW! Seriously, despite my aggressive blog pushing, do it. http://waitingonaword.blogspot.com
My heart breaks for Russia, Russia’s children as well as the parents waiting to bring their children home. These aren’t just children that people want to “help” these bonds are as strong as flesh and blood. I watch E and how much I love him as if I had carried him for 9 months – he is my heart. I am sure you have seen the news about the new law about Americans now unable to adopt Russia’s children. If you would like to read more here is an article. #TeamBabyRussia. That may be a weird hash tag but let’s pray and think and HOPE for these children in orphanages and family who are still awaiting to bring their children home.
“We adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued.” -David Platt
Ornaments of Hope are ceramic ornaments containing the words hope, faith and joy.
They are ceramic with a pearl paint and lacquer and contain the words hope, faith and joy pressed into the ceramic. The size is a circle of 2.5 inches (diameter) and hangs from a colorful string.
100% of the proceeds from the Ornaments of Hope will go towards the Words’ adoption.
If you order from Paypal they come in a set of three: hope, joy and faith.
A few ways to be a part of the fun:
1. Order a set of ornaments on Paypal – we will ship those suckers to you the day after Thanksgiving
2. If you are lucky enough to be friends with the Words and in Montgomery order from them and they can hook it up
3. If you are friends with the Sykes shoot me an email and we can figure out how to get you some ornaments
This is how awesome they look on a tree:
Last year at this time we were in the thick of saving and raising money for our adoption. One of the fundraisers we did was making and selling Christmas ornaments. Ornament factory 2k11. Well guys, we are back at it again but this time it is for our friends Brian and Leslie Word. They are so close to bringing their son Tyson home.
Leslie is a blog friend. As we continued the adoption process I was always looking for people that had a heart for adoption and ultimately a passion for people and I found this in Leslie’s blog. I remember being so passionate about adoption but not really sure how to to clarify how I felt and so often she would verify and write things I was feeling and take it one further. They are waiting to bring their son home with a home full of babies, teenagers and four legged friends while also fighting for the teenagers and children of Montgomery. I encourage you to spend some time on Leslie’s blog: Waiting on a Word and read about what they are doing with the foster care through ONEfamily. Our community fought for us as we were bringing our son home – let’s fight for the Words as they bring their son home from the Congo.
Below is Brian and Leslie’s story. And also a picture of the cute couple. Seriously, aren’t they the cutest? Can’t you just imagine their cute little man with them? Join us on this journey! Let’s fight for Tyson with Brian and Leslie!
Think about Christmas and your tree and how you want some ornaments that are awesome that also help bring a little boy home to his mom and dad. COME ON BABY TYSON! TEAMBABYWORD!
We are your average, American couple raising a rather non-traditional family. We are foster parents of a giggly, energetic one year-old baby boy, “J”. He has been a part of our lives since he was two weeks old. This past summer, we became legal guardians of an 18 year-old young man named T.D. Though he’s had a rough few years, he is now in the process of finishing high school and has been such a joy to add to our home. We are also in the process of adopting our son, Tyson Henry, from the Democratic Republic of Congo! He is a few months old and such a cutie pie!
We started the adoption process in December 2010, expecting to bring home our child by the following December. Not so much. After switching agencies, we then decided to we venture out and complete an independent adoption. In August of 2012, after 20 months in the adoption process, we were matched with a child and saw our son’s face for the first time. Since then, the process has moved quickly, and we are hoping to travel to get Tyson in early 2013!!!
We are trying to raise the funds to help cover the cost of our airfare and travel expenses while in the country for 7-10 days. As our family unexpectedly has grown over the past year, we’ve found our finances have tightened and it’s become necessary for us to fundraise to cover the remaining costs. (Who knew 18 year-olds eat so much???)
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second poorest country in the world and has been labeled the “Worst Place in the World to Be a Woman.” It’s a country riddled with years of civil war and brutal attacks on its citizens. As we researched various countries from which to adopt, our hearts connected with the beautiful people of the Congo and broke for the horrific past they have endured.
After a two-year adoption journey with a lot of bumps in the road, we are very excited to be close to bringing our son home and holding him in our arms for the first time!
If you’d like to follow our journey, please head to our blog at www.waitingonaword.blogspot.com.
When we first started the adoption process we were absolutely not going to raise money. We had done things fine on our own in the past and really felt we could do this adoption thing on our own.
Those of you who know me/us know that we are the cheapest people on the planet. We have always had a budget and we have tried our hardest to stay out of debt. When we decided to adopt we cut everything possible and explored every possible avenue for adoption.
I talked with a few friends and they continued to bring up the same adoption consultant. I gave her a call and told her our financial situation and that we really didn’t want to raise money and something she said struck a chord with me. “You would be surprised by how many people want to be a part of a successful adoption story.” I almost started crying when she said that. And OH BOY was she correct. The week we announced we were adopting we had friends across the country wanting to be a part of bringing our kid home.
We signed the papers to begin the adoption process and packed to go to California for a long vacation and work trip. We had saved some money for adoption but not a lot. We had enough to start the process, sign the papers, begin our home study and have a good head start on saving money. The day before we left for California my “new” (2008 Jetta…new to me) car broke down on the side of the road and we had to have it towed to the auto shop. The mechanic called while I was in California. The transmission needed to be replaced in our car. The cost would be our entire savings account.
I didn’t really know how we were going to raise/save the amount of money we needed to raise but I just remember thinking that if this is what we were supposed to do the money would be there. Through the entire process I just continued to hear a very audible “Do not fear. For I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.” I know it sounds crazy but in Young Life we sang a song that contained that scripture (Isaiah 43) and I couldn’t get the darn song out of my head those 9 months.
During the entire process I felt like I was reaching into an empty basket and money continued to be there. Now don’t get me wrong, we didn’t just sit around and ring our little bell and money appeared we busted our ass. Greg worked around the clock. We sold almost everything we had. We sold almost everything our friends had. We made things to sell them. Our friends busted their asses. I spent the entire holiday season working a full time job then coming home to make ornaments until midnight. Family and friends would come to be a part of the ornament sweat shop of 2k12. Thanks to one of our friends, we had a stay in bed 5k with t-shirts and other treats. We spent one late night in Atlanta mailing out envelopes to about 100 friends, family, co-workers, friends of friends, and friends of adoption. I had a surprise Christmas stocking from my fellow workmates. We had a night of beer, bonfire and fun with friends to raise money. We accidentally did illegal gambling in a couple fundraisers….oops. Seriously I didn’t know it was illegal when we did it. We received 3 grants that matched money we raised. The list goes on and on. Our friends became our sweatshop…thanks guys.
I have heard people before make comments about raising money for adoption and if it was ethical to do that. That people who get pregnant don’t raise money. Well, I guess that is correct – most people who get pregnant don’t ask for financial support. We don’t deserve the friends who helped us out, the WONDERFUL consultant who comforted me when I cried impatiently nor do I deserve our son who has changed our world. We don’t. We raised money because we had people who wanted to fight for our family. When people ask us why we raised money my response is, because we could and our friends wanted to be a part of it. Because we are a part of a really big family. And goodness we are thankful.
I can go on and on about helping orphans and loving orphans…all of which is true and important and we passionately believe but we aren’t special or saints or wonderful people. We are just surrounded by EXTREMELY wonderful family and friends and strangers who wanted to help us build our crazy family. They believed with us that our kiddo was out there and a God who didn’t say no. AND as I look back I couldn’t have made a better kid.
In the end we raised and saved enough money to adopt through a private agency, love a woman who was carrying the most precious, genius, wonderful little baby in the world, stay in Florida (20 freaking days) and wait for his arrival, live through a tropical storm, and much more. We are thankful. We are left indebted to friends, family and strangers who love us. Those 9 months changed me. The hurt, loss, impatience, waiting and the prayers changed me as a person.
I am still a mess. I leave my wallet at home once a week. I lose my debit card once a month (this is no exaggeration). I am a big ol’ mess. But thank you. Thank you for being our community – for sacrificing for our family. We raised money because our friends let us.
Our little man is 1 month today. We have been home not quite 3 weeks. We are just so in love with him. He has spent the last few weeks winning our hearts with his smile, laugh and cries. We are tired and learning how to be parents just like any people with a newborn in the house.
We have received MANY questions about Emerson and adoption and we LOVE that. We love answering adoption questions. We mostly love that people love Emerson.
I always tend to air on the people pleasing side of life. I try not to ruffle feathers but since bringing E home I have realized that I do that to a fault and in the future not correcting people may hurt my family. SO I am going to work on correcting people when it comes to adoption. There are a lot of terms to consider when asking questions about adoption. I know that education is necessary so here I am guys…with my limited education about terms to use when referring to adoption.
We have been asked a lot who Emerson’s mom or dad is and what we know about them. Well, I am the mom. I change his diapers every day. I am up at 2 am feeding him and he follows my voice around the room. He does…it is one month and he can recognize my voice in a room…mostly he’s hungry and knows I hold the food but I will hold being the food bearer with honor. I am the mom because of a selfless decision another woman made whose story and reputation I will protect with my life. I cringe a little when asked about “who is the mom.” I know in the future that question will confuse my son but I hope he wears adoption proudly because we couldn’t be more proud of our little man and the story he has.
So when asking who the mom is just rephrase it a little. Ask who the birth or biological mom or biological father is when referring to adoption. Those adjectives are very important. You may not understand why but they are and please respect that.
Also know that when asking about the birth or biological mom or dad that there are some things we don’t want to share. Not because we are ashamed but because we are protecting the story of our son and of a selfless woman. Not one person wants to put their baby up for adoption…not.one.person wants to “give away their baby.” I get the question, why didn’t she want him. This question is the hardest. Her decision was the hardest. It sometimes makes me want to cry a little because this question couldn’t be any further from the truth. Emerson is loved by us as well as his biological mom. She loved him so much she carried him for 9 months and made a painful adoption plan so he could have a better life. I can’t think of many things that are as selfless as this. Please don’t ask me why his “mom” didn’t want him. It makes me very sad and I think eventually if said in front of my son it will make me very mad. There is a lot of pain on both sides that binds this family and Greg and I will both protect that. And honestly…sometimes it isn’t your business and I will politely decline to answer.
And goodness…I know explaining adoption to children is difficult. I know children say the darndest things. So it is OK if you don’t know how to answer some questions and say the wrong things. I get that. I have received some funny questions from other children. Please don’t apologize if your kids says something wrong to me. It’s OK. I will try and answer questions to children as much and as well as I can but even I can’t answer things perfectly. Heck, I say the wrong thing a lot.When your children are curious about why he was adopted inform them that some people can’t raise their baby because of grown up reasons. Please reinforce to your children that Greg and I are Emerson’s mother and father whether or not I carried him via utero (he he) or in a child’s term in my belly (saying this always remind me of that famous Mike Myers character Fat Bastard).
There is much more I want to say on this issue but my point with this story is to tread lightly. We are trying to figure out how to be parents. Ask us how we are sleeping. What it is like to have a newborn in the house. How we feel about being home. How we feel about adoption. How much we love having running water after Tropical Storm Debbie……….Did I mention we spent over 24 hours without running water with a newborn. If they gave out merit or girl scout or mom scout badges I think I deserve one.
It is even OK to ask us the correct terms for things. We aren’t mad about the questions we have received. Please don’t apologize or feel uncomfortable…I understand that this is new…It is new for us to. We are learning a lot and sleeping even less. I don’t have your name on a list I promise. I am not thinking of one person as I write this. Heck, my brain is so sleepy I can’t really think of who is asking us what these days or even remember to eat. We get that this isn’t what everyone is doing and so here we are trying to inform people and we are OK with that. We are learning grace in situations like this. And we love that you are curious. I promise we know your hearts mean well.
Please help us defend our son and his story. When people ask you those questions inform them of the correct terms and how to appropriately ask questions. Imagine our son at a picnic when he is 7 and someone asks him who his “real” mom is…wouldn’t that be confusing? Doesn’t that just make your skin crawl?
Help us protect Emerson. He is loved. He was called by name to be our son. Just because it didn’t happen in my belly doesn’t mean it isn’t special or real…because I think it is overly special. And isn’t he cute? I think he is awfully cute.
*Note this is how we feel about adoption…every adoption is different just like every birth story and family is different. If you wonder how to refer correctly to adoption terms just ask.
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Well he is here. Emerson Gregory was born June 20 at 9:08am. He was born 7 pounds 7 ounces and 22 ½ inches. When I saw him I automatically fell in love. I literally ran to the nursery and started beating on the doors for them to let me in. The first sight of him was a bundle of receiving blankets and once I ran into the nursery I unwrapped them and couldn’t stop crying and touching him. The nurses had to remind me that I could not pick him up yet.
His due date was June 9. We arrived here on June 7 hoping to get some rest and be as close to the hospital as soon as he arrived…well we were…for a week and two days.
We are honored to be the parents’ to this little guy. We are undeserving. We found peace beyond understanding while we were waiting for him. This was nothing done by our own power. Emerson. This. Family. is something that was done by a Creator who loves us. This journey was hard and many times didn’t go as planned. Many times I looked to the future and really questioned a plan. But as I look in hindsight I see who we were waiting for. Isn’t it funny how that works?
If I can be cheesy for a moment they say it takes a village to raise a child and with us it has taken a village to bring him home. And he is here. Thank you for being our village. We hope you will continue to pray and love on Emerson. We just love him so much. We hope you will continue to pray how you can be involved in adoption. Adoption is so good. As I type this little E is asleep in my arms (yes I can type and hold a baby) and I know without adoption and the hard pains and waiting we have gone through that this little man would not be in my arms. OK now all my friends can call me and say I told you so…Greg has a few times.
We are still waiting. We are actually 15 minutes from the hospital of our soon to be son. We are excited. We are anxious. We are thankful. We are hopeful.
We knew we couldn’t do this without our community surrounding us. I cannot wait to post that he is here. I literally want to run to everyone’s house holding this kiddo saying “HE’S HERE! HE’S FREAKING HERE!” But he’s not here yet AND I hear it is bad to run quickly with newborns. I think they need to be inside for while and kept still…so I won’t do that.
So hold on with us.
And while you hold on I want to ask you to email your senator (I know weird transition). There is an adoption tax credit right now available to those who are adopting. After 2012 it will no longer be available. This adoption credit is a breath of fresh air during a very difficult process.
I am going to forward you to this fabulous blog because she is a much better writer than me. BUT in this blog I am going to include a link to find your senator. Email or write a letter or quit going to work and protest…I will probably not being doing the latter (I am in another state about to adopt a baby guys…I can’t protest right now, come on, let’s be realistic). The blog I am including actually has a letter you can cut and paste. Use our names in the letter if you would like. Know that when you are fighting for this tax credit you are fighting for our family. And thank you. Can’t wait to give you some REALLY good news soon.
Find your senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
This comes from Maggie over at Pink Shoes – this is lovely blog that I encourage you to check out. Below is the letter:
The adoption community is begging you to write to your senators and plead with them to pass legislation that would protect and extend the federal adoption tax credit. Here is a link to a list of senators per state (write to them all!) and below is a sample letter that you could e-mail them. The letter was written by a fellow adoptive mama named Callie, who blogs over at “Crazy Beautiful Life.”
Dear Mr. Senator:
I am writing you to petition that you would please campaign to save the adoption tax credit. This tax credit is something that helps thousands of children find love and permanency and provides substantial financial aid for the families involved.
The adoption tax credit provides financial benefits to families that open their homes to children through adoption from foster care, inter-country adoption, or private domestic adoption.
The adoption tax credit with a maximum of $12,650 in 2012 has helped to offset the high cost of adoption for hundreds of thousands of families since it was established in 1997. The IRS estimates that the credit benefited 96,949 children and their families in 2010. With more than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care available for adoption and countless millions of orphans and abandoned children around the world the continuation of the adoption tax credit is vital to providing love, safety, and permanency through adoption to as many children as possible.
The current adoption tax credit is set to expire on December 31, 2012. If that happens, adoption may require a cost insurmountable for many American families, resulting in fewer children finding love and permanency through adoption. Although the credit remains through 2012, many families will not benefit because it is not refundable. In 2013, the credit will decrease to only $6,000 and will be available to very few adoptive families.
Congress must act now to pass legislation that will protect and extend the adoption tax credit and encourage the right of every child to grow up safe and loved in a family of their own.
Would you please make this a matter of importance for your office and pass the word along to your fellow Senators? Your action in this matter will make a difference in the lives of thousands of children and families. Please act today to positively affect the lives of these precious children.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter, it is greatly appreciated.
And if you aren’t convinced by me or Maggie maybe Dwight Shrute can convince you. 3.2.1 184.108.40.206. Now. Do it Now. Do it.
We really can’t tell how close and we can’t even really tell exactly what “it” is. This whole thing could go any direction. We’re really hoping that “it” means we have a family of three in a few weeks.
When looking at our calendar the other day I came to the realization that this weekend could be Jess and I’s last weekend as just the two of us.
I couldn’t help but reflect on what the last seven years have been like with just the two of us. It’s been really good. We’ve grown so much together and have had more fun than any two people should have together. We’ve traveled a lot and we’ve played a lot. We worked a lot and got ourselves a home. We grew our careers and started a business together. Then we played some more.
It hasn’t all been fun and the last few years have been a little bumpy (very very bumpy), but we exercised the freedom that comes with being young and crazy about each other.
I hope I don’t seem disappointed that this is coming to an end. It’s time to put those adventures behind us and begin this one. It’s time for us to be parents. It’s time for this adoption process to be over.
I’m really tired. We both are. We haven’t taken a real vacation in years because we’ve been saving up money and vacation days so that we can take time off for this when it happens. So we’re tired. In preparation of leaving on… paternity… maternity… whatever, I’m trying to get as much work done and as many jobs coded as possible since I will be MIA for a while. And now I’m trying to make the most of these last few weeks.
After the realization that this is coming to an end I decided to do the little things that I’m going to have to put aside for a while as a part of becoming a dad. I’m playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 (my favorite video game, it’s free if you care to join me), and I’m trying to get as much fishing done as possible. I’m trying to relax and be useless a little bit too. I’m trying to enjoy quiet while we have it.
it’s all very hard to do because there is so much still to do for the adoption and so much work to get done. But that’s what I’m trying to do.
I’d ask Jess to join me but I think relaxing is very stressful for her.