Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Letter to R and F

It has been nearly 6 weeks since you two came to live with us. Bubbie and I had been waiting for months to get another call about kids who might need to stay with us. We said no to several situations that felt like they weren’t great fits for us and then the call came for ya’ll. We were at a graduation night at my work at Circles. We were told there were two kids – 4 months and 2 years that needed a place to go. We said yes and began to make arrangements for ya’ll.

We learned that the place you’d been living wasn’t safe or clean. We were ready to help you be clean and safe and give you the things you need to grow. It makes us very sad when we know kids aren’t getting the things they need and aren’t being taken care of. We could tell that neither of you had had all you needed to be safe and to grow.

Since you’ve been with us we’ve been working on these things. You’re both growing in your bodies and your brains and your spirits. We’re watching you develop and mature and hit milestones you were missing.

Sam loves having you around – especially having a baby girl around! K is learning to love a playmate who is only a couple of months older than he is.

You’re learning what it is like to have appropriate food on a regular basis and to take baths. You’re getting used to sleeping in beds and having toys. It is a joy to be able to be your family right now.

This past weekend you had a visit with your 5 other siblings, your grandma, 3 great-grandparents, and an uncle. Everyone was so excited to be able to have you all together. You were happy to be there. We hope that those visits happen more often.

We have court for you soon and hope to have a better idea of what might be coming for you. We hope that soon there can be a place you could be with more of your siblings. We know they miss you. No matter how long you are with us, we promise to take care of you and make sure you have what you need. We love you both and want the very very very best for you.

Welcome to our crazy family!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Big Day for K

Dear K,
Today is a big day for you. You started swimming lessons…and didn’t cry at all. That was a really big deal – but not really why I’m writing this letterJ

The judge was scheduled to hear your story today. When we were there last month they decided we needed to come back and let them change the goal of your case. They were going to change it and start the process of filing some paperwork that meant you weren’t ever going to go back and live with your First Mama.

We’ve been talking to your First Mama a lot lately. She made a really important and big and hard decision. She made the decision to sign some papers that said it was ok for you not to live with her. This was a really hard decision for her to make because she loves you so much. Since you were born she’s been working on getting some things worked out so you can come live with her. She’s decided that the best thing for you is to let you stay with us. She recognizes that me and Bubbie are your mamas now and that we’ve been taking good care of you. She knows you’re happy and settled with us and wants it to stay that way. We’ve talked to her about making sure you always know who she is and that she knows how you are doing and she gets to see you sometimes. She’s going to have another baby next month and she wants you to know your little sister. She wants this to happen and we do too. Before she signed the papers today she made sure that we agreed to let her see you and she made sure this was going to be ok with the judge.

K, she loves you and your sister very much. She told me that today several times. She is sorry you haven’t ever been able to live with her, but she told me and Bubbie that she thinks we’re doing a good job being your Mamas. She wants you to stay happy and healthy and have the chance to grow up in our family.

We want you to grow up in our family too. You’ve already done 2 years and 2 months worth of growing in our family. We want you to be able to be here forever. We hope more than anything that this will happen. The next step is to find the man who is your biological father and give him the chance to sign some papers. If he doesn’t, then they will take away his rights to be your father. We’ve never met him and you’ve never met him.

After that happens a group of people in the state office will have to make a decision saying its ok for you to be adopted separately from your big sister, A. This hurts our hearts because we love it when siblings are kept together but you and your sister have never lived together and do not have a strong bond. We are committed to you continuing a relationship with your sister and always knowing that she is your biological family. We see her as much as we can with her foster mom. Our prayer is that this decision can be made and we can adopt you and Ms. S. can adopt A. and we can continue to redefine what family means.

K, we have loved being your mamas for all of your days so far. We are thrilled that today means we’re one step closer to being your mamas for all the rest of your days. Two years ago when I left the hospital with you as a tiny baby I had no idea we would ever be at this place. There are parts of this story that have been hard and parts that have been sad and parts that have been more delightful that I could have imagined. I am so glad we’re still in this together. We love you, K.


PS - Your First Mama wore a shirt today with anchors all over it. Anchors for us represent the hope we have in Jesus in this whole fostering journey. I smiled at this coincidence! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bye Bye J!

Baby J,
You left our house yesterday for the second time. You're in Atlanta with your brother in another foster home and we're so glad! We heard from your new foster mom and she said you and your brother are getting a long and already have enjoyed being together.

Your last night with us we had my family over for a cookout and enjoyed a simple night at home. You spent your last morning here at daycare with folks who love you and have cared for you for months. They were sad to see you go.

S and K have missed you already. K misses his roommate and S is worried we forgot you somewhere! We're working together as a family to get used to you not being with us.

Rev. Grace offered a special blessing for you at the end of worship on Sunday. We prayed for you and for all the places your life will take you. We're praying you'll always be loved and know how much you're treasured and valued. We're hoping to stay in touch with your new foster mom and hope she will keep us posted on how you're growing and changing.

We're happy to have known you, J. We're better for it and we hope you're better too.



Friday, May 12, 2017

A Letter to J

Last week your case was heard in court again. It had been 6 months since the Judge heard your story so it was time for him to listen again. Some big changes are happening. Your mom is still working on some things to be able to get you and your brother back. She's not quite ready yet. People who have been paying attention to your case think its best if you go to live with your older brother in the foster home where he has been since he was a little bitty baby.

This will be a bittersweet move for us.

We will be sad you'll be leaving our family again. You're the tiniest baby (4lbs when we brought you home!) we've cared for and it has been a joy to be able to watch you grow into a healthy and happy and chubby 16 month old. You're the most easy-going baby we've had. You fit right back into our family and its been a joy for you to be back. We will miss you when you leave.

But we're also happy for you and for your older brother. We know the foster family who has been caring for him has been hoping to be able to care for you for months. We're glad you'll be able to live together and really get to know each other as brothers. Moving you to live when them now will be much easier than waiting and moving you when you're older. We're trusting that this is really the best thing for you.

We believe that children should be in families. We've been so happy you've been a part of ours but are happy you'll get to be with your biological brother.

You have a special place in our heart and have made your mark on our home. We hope we're able to stay in touch with your new family and follow your growth and development. Your brother here (K) and your sister here (Sam) will miss you for sure. Our dog will miss your messy eating habits. We will miss the compliments we get on how beautiful you are. We'll miss your deep belly laugh and the way you make tears faster than any other human ever.

We have loved being your Meggie and Bubbie for 11 of the months of your life. You are special. You are loved by us and by our village. They say you're leaving in the next three weeks. We'll spend those weeks doing life as a family - living and loving together.

Love you,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Birthday Sam!

Sweet Sam,

Today is your 4th birthday! You’re growing up into such a smart, strong, and sassy girl.

We’re stretching out our celebration this year. This weekend we will go to Eva to celebrate with Poppy (his birthday was last week!) and then the next weekend we’ll have a party with friends and family. You’ve told us you want a party at a playground and you want it to be for superheroes – so that’s what we’re planning! Your Bubbie is probably more excited than you are!

Today Sarah and Melanie came to celebrate with you. You visited the book store with them this morning and then we had lunch that you picked – “burrito and cheese.” You’re at the museum with them now!

You’re very excited about turning 4. You told me this morning you were getting too big for your socks! I’m not sure what that means but I am sure we will figure it out. You have lots of strong opinions these days. You’re really into wearing dressed and tights and boots. You love dress up clothes and anything that makes you feel like a ballerina. You also love to play outside at our house or any playground. You make new friends easily and have recently started asking everyone “what’s your name?” You still love baby dolls and usually have one with you. You’re a great big sister and love helping when we need a special helper. You’re glad to have a brother old enough to play with now.

I loved you as a 3 year old and I can’t wait to get to know 4 year Sam. A lot of times parents talk about wanting time to slow down so they can enjoy their kids being little forever. I don’t really feel that way. I’m not in a rush for you to grow up – but I am so curious about who you will become and what you’re going to do in this world that I am excited you’re getting older. Keep growing, my love. Keep learning and watching and listening and loving a caring and dancing and running and swinging and drawing and laughing.

I am so glad to be celebrating you today and so glad to be your Mama!

I love you!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

An Overdue Letter to K


I haven’t written you a letter since last March and  when I wrote that letter we thought you were leaving us soon. It is almost a whole year later and you’re still here and we are so glad.

We had an important court date for you this week. The judge made the big decision to start the process to terminate your mom’s rights for your sister. That means that more than likely your big sister won’t ever live with your mom again. When she was a little baby your mom did something that hurt your sister and she hasn’t seen her in almost 3 years. We’re sorry that this all had to happen and we’re sad when families can’t live together. Even though we are sad we are also hopeful that your sister will be able to be adopted by the foster mom who has had her for nearly 2 years and who loves her dearly.

That same day, the judge made the decision to not make that same choice for you. He wants to give your mom a little more time to learn how to take care of herself and you. He made this choice because your mom has been visiting with you and has been doing some of the things she needs to do in order to be able to care for you.  He thinks you have a bond. Recently your mom made some sad choices that mean she can’t see you right now and likely won’t for several months. We go back to court to see the judge in June. We’re not sure what will happen then. You’ll be a big brother sometime at the end of the summer and we’re not sure how that will change any of this either.

All foster kid cases are complicated but yours is especially so for a variety of reasons. Separating your case from your sister’s make it even more complicated but it also means you’re a little free-er. You’ve had at least 9 case workers in 21 months of being in foster care and every time the case manager has changed, details and plans have been lost and changed. We hate that the system has failed you in these ways. You deserve better than this.

What I want to make sure you know is this: your mom loves you a whole lot. I can tell that she is proud to be your mom. I know she is sad that she hasn’t ever been the one to take care of you. That’s been really hard for her. Your sister loves you a lot too. We’re going to make sure that you keep having an opportunity to see your sister as she finds a permanent home.

I also hope you know that we love you a whole lot too. I am sure that you know this because of the way you light up and call our names when we come in your room in the morning. I am sure you know you’re loved by Bubbie and by me and by Sam and MaeMae and Steve and friends at daycare and church. I need you to be sure. You’ve never known anything but this love and I hope that makes it dependable and trustworthy.

You’re almost 2 years old. You’re saying more and more words but hate to repeat things when we ask you. You’re a great sleeper. Even though you got a bit of a late start you’re a great runner! You still have some major food hangups but we’re all learning how to deal with your allergies and preferences. You relish being the middle child right now and love learning from Sam and showing J the ropes. You are super charming and give the best grins. You also have the most expressive “mean mugs” of any child I’ve ever seen!

We’re still not sure how long you’ll be around and a part of our family. Our hope and prayer is that we are able to be your forever family. I would love to be your Mama forever and for you to be my first forever son. You’re the first babe we brought home from the hospital and we’ve had you longer than any other boy we’ve parented. Now we just have to wait and see if that can be.

In the mean time we’ll do what we’ve been doing. We will feed you (mostly pretzels),  teach you, love you, bathe you, discipline you, hold you, change you, fight with your hair, dance with you, sing with you, laugh with you and do all the other things of life while we wait.

A lot of life happens in the waiting K. That’s one thing you’ve for sure taught me. I am happy to be doing life with you.

Mama Meggie

Thursday, December 29, 2016

This is Your Village


We knew that when your adoption happened we wanted to have a big party so we could all celebrate together. One of things I wanted out of the party was a picture of your whole village together and we got one!

After Rev. Grace offered a blessing for our family and gave others a chance to voice their blessings – we shuffled everyone to the stage and gathered for a picture. I was delighted that everyone played along – but of course they would – you have the best village!

There were lots of people who wanted to be with us that afternoon to celebrate and couldn’t be but I wanted to tell you now who was there and who the people are in this picture. I want you to always know who they are and why they matter to our family. (No one else will probably care about this list – but I hope from it you can see the variety of people who love you and are happy to be in your village.)

You’ve got some very familiar people on the front row. There’s Steve and MaeMae who are basically some of your favorite people. Next to MaeMae is Poppy. He came all the way from “where the cows live” (what you call Eva) to be there! He’s the best Poppy! Then there’s me and Bubbie. And next to Bubbie is Ms. Cheryl. I’ve worked with her at Open Door for almost eight years. She’s been a good friend to me at work and is always very interested in our lives.

On the next row back you’ll recognize Rev. Grace holding K. Rev. Grace is the priest at the church where we worship and I work. She’s been an important person to us. Before Bubbie and I got married we met with her for pre-martial counseling and really appreciated her wisdom and guidance. She’s holding K. K has been your little brother for 20 months. You love being a big sister to him and all the other “babies” who have come into our home. Being a Big Sister is an important part of who you are.

Next to Rev. Grace is Ms. LaSaundra and her kids. Ms. LaSaundra is one of my favorite people I get to work with in Circles. She’s worked really really hard to make things more positive and stable for her kids and now she’s a volunteer with Circles helping others make the same sorts of changes. She also works in the office that has made sure your day care is paid for through the state. She’s an important person there too!

Next to them are Anna and Nikki. They’re your cousins from Alabama. You love going to their house to play when we’re there and will follow “your big girl” Anna around for hours. They’re taking really good care of Poppy right now which is a huge gift to Bubbie. We’re glad they’re in your family and glad they’re in the village.

Next to them are Aaron, Sarah Jane and their 3 kids. Sarah Jane and Aaron are also foster parents. We’re happy we’re in this together. Fostering is a crazy and beautiful thing and its made such a difference to have folks on this journey with us.

Next to the boys are Lyndsey and Ashley. You’ve gotten to spend lots of time with them at Circles while Ashely worked with me and Lyndsey was an Ally. Bubbie first met Ashley in the Counseling Program at CSU. We love how they always make us laugh and both genuinely care about education and making the world a better place.

Next to Ashley in the red shirt is Ms. Donna. Ms. Donna goes to church with us now and used to be a foster parent herself. She has a great big heart and uses her time in service to others.

Next to Ms. Donna is Mr. John and Mrs. Vicky. Mr. John is the lawyer that worked with us to finalize your adoption. We were grateful his name will always be on your paperwork and that he was there with us in the process. Before she retired I worked with Mrs. Vicky at CVEM. She was the Director and I led Infusion which meant I got to work with teenagers. Mrs. Vicky was such a great leader in that group too. She’s such a strong example of a servant leader and has given lots of her time and energy to starting great things in our community. She helped me tremendously with the work we did in Circles. She cares more about justice than anyone I know. We also go to church with them now.

Next to Mrs. Vicky are Jar and Mia. Jar is your favorite Uncle and Mia is your favorite Aunt. We can’t wait for their baby to be born and for you to get to meet “Baby Cousin.” You’ll learn lots of thing about family. Some family you get to choose and some family you don’t. I am glad that my brother is someone I would choose to be in the village even if he wasn’t my brother. I am also glad he brought Maggie into our family and her family too!

Next to Mia is Aunt Sarah. I’ve known Sarah since she was in middle school. One day I’ll show you pictures! My friendship with Sarah is one of those things I would never have predicted 15 years ago when I was hired to be a youth ministry intern at the church where she grew up. Life is funny and the relationships we make and keep along the way are surprising. Sarah is an important and special person to you and we hope she will be for a long time.

Back on the other end you’ll see Ms. Kim behind Rev. Grace. Ms. Kim has been my friend since I was in college and I’ve gotten to work with her as my boss at Open Door. She’s one of those people who has “the minister-vibe.” She’s a great listener and something about her makes you want to tell her all you think and feel! She’s a visionary and leader in our community and I am so grateful I’ve gotten to work in ministry with her.

Next to Ms. Kim you’ll recognize Aunt Pissy (your name for her) holding L. I’ve been friends with Melissa since high school and am glad we’re in this foster family together. She got interested in foster parenting after she saw us doing it. Melissa has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She is a very good friend and I’m grateful for the longevity of our friendship. We can’t wait for L to be your forever cousin too! Next to them is Nana B. Nana is Melissa’s mom. We’re glad she’s in the village too. She was one of your first babysitters!

Next to Nana B. are Shelley and her daughter. Shelley and I grew up together in school and church and now she lives in another part of the state. Shelley and her husband are adopted parents too. I have appreciated her support and encouragement as we’ve fostered and adopted. It was such a great surprise to see them at your party. Your village reaches far and wide!

Behind Shelley you’ll see Ms. Laura and your new church buddy Wyatt – or Max as you call him. Laura and I grew up together at church and had lots of fun (and got in some trouble together) as teenagers. I am glad she’s back here and especially glad she and Wyatt are coming to church at St. Thomas. I am sure you two are on the way to having the same sorts of fun we did. Just know – that if you try to copy his personal testimony for a writing assignment or if you two are standing next to each other and get the giggles during a choir performance Ms. Laura and I will know how to handle it. Just trust us.

Next you’ll see Ms. Courtney. She and I met in seminary and there are so many thing I wish you could learn from her. Courtney is good with money and sticking to her word and being careful about boundaries. She’s thoughtful and she’s smart and she cares about people. Seminary was an interesting time for me and I am so grateful for the friends I made then.

Behind Ms. Courtney you’ll see Mr. Denny and next to Ms. Courtney is Mrs. Carol. They have known me since I was a bitty baby! They are good friends to MaeMae and Steve. MaeMae used to keep their son while they were at work so we have lots of memories together. They also go to the church where I grew up and Mr. Denny was my Sunday School teacher and an awesome youth volunteer for years. They have been so excited to help MaeMae and Steve welcome their first grandchild into the family and they have thoughtfully encouraged us along the way.

Next to Mrs. Carol you will see Mrs. Charlene. If Baptists had Saints I would nominate Mrs. Charlene. She’s a very good friend to MaeMae for a long time. Her daughter is my age and we grew up together at church and in high school. Mrs. Charlene is one of the kindest and most generous people I know – and I know some pretty kind and generous people. Her husband is also in your village – he’s your doctor!

Next to Mrs. Charlene you’ll see Ms. Ann. Ms Ann came with Ms. Martha who you will see down the line. Ms. Ann and Ms. Martha go to Epworth where we used to go to church. It’s the first place Bubbie and I took you to church and we went as a family. It is a wonderful place with wonderful and kind people who loved and cared for our family well. Ms. Ann helped in the kitchen and made great meals we enjoyed and Ms. Martha took care of you in the nursery. We were delighted they came to the party to celebrate with us.

Next to Ms. Ann you’ll see Mrs. Diane. Diane was Bubbie’s boss for a while when they both worked at the domestic violence shelter. I also worked with her when I taught Sunday School at Victory Mission. She is a thoughtful person who works to make the world a better place. Bubbie and I are both better people because we’ve gotten to work with her.

Next to Ms. Diane you’ll see Marth, Avery and another Mrs. Ann. (I know its confusing that there is another Martha and Ann.) Their family and our family have been friends since before I was born. MaeMae was friends with Mrs. Ann when she was young and Marth and I grew up together. We both had parents that worked at First Baptist and it seems like we were there together all the time. Avery and Marth and Ann have celebrated your birthdays with you and holidays and my birthdays too. With them – you don’t get just one you get the whole crew and that’s a good thing.

Behind Marth you’ll see Mrs. Susan. She works in the office next to me at Open Door and we go to church with her family. You like her husband Mr. Spence because he is silly with you. You also like her children because they are big kids and pay attention to you at church. Mrs. Susan always makes an effort to sit with our family at church meals. This is a big deal because our family is usually messy and loud at church meals and not the most ideal place to sit for a relaxing meal. Bubbie and I both appreciate this thoughtfulness and the experiences we share as Baptists at St. Thomas now. Mrs. Susan also hosted a baby shower for me and Bubbie before we started fostering. That was a kindness I won’t ever forget.

Behind Mrs. Susan and Mrs. Ann you’ll see Aunti O. You call her “T.O.” most of the time now. She’s your favorite babysitter! She works with me at Open Door and has for lots of years. She’s concerned about people in the world that others sometimes forget about. She also gives the best presents! We’re glad she’s in our village and appreciate her being a part of our family.

Next you’ll see Mrs. Martha from Epworth that I mentioned earlier.

Then – almost taller than anyone else is Melanie. Melanie is Sarah’s girlfriend and we’re real glad she’s in the village. You think she’s the best book reader ever and enjoying singing along with her aquarium song! You also let her braid your hair and it is beautiful. We’re glad life brought Melanie and Sarah together and even more glad that she’s in the village.

In front of Melanie is Mrs. Lauren. She’s married to Mr. Daniel who is standing next to her. I went to seminary at the same time they did although we weren’t really friends until we all ended up back here. Lauren came to my ordination even though we didn’t know each other well and I remember her saying “Even though I don’t know you well I wanted to be supportive.” Lauren has been a chaplain and is now a middle school teacher. She also used to work with me in Circles. I’m glad she brings all of those skills and gifts to your village. Daniel has worked with homeless families and is now working as a chaplain. They’re coming to church at St. Thomas now which we’re very excited about. We care about lots of the same things and are looking for ways to work together on things that matter.
Behind Daniel is Mr. Taylor. Mr. Taylor is Rev. Grace’s husband. We sit in front of him most Sundays in church and you enjoy his singing. We’re grateful he’s in the village and that he shares his knowledge and passions with us at St. Thomas.

Next you’ll see Mrs. Jennifer. Mrs. Jennifer has sons my age that I grew up in school with but she’s in the village now because she goes to St. Thomas and we’ve worked together there. She’s a great teacher and leader. She is someone that gets things done! She also cares a lot and knows a lot about new babies and we’ve counted on her several times for good advice!

Next to her you’ll see Mrs. Godwin. I can’t really call her anything else because that’s what I called her in 2nd grade when she was my teacher’s aide! She has a daughter named Meg so we’ve always had a special connection. She goes to St. Thomas and was one of the first people to make sure we were welcomed when we started going to church there. We sit near her in church too and we appreciate her patience with us! She also makes the BEST cookies and sweet treats and maybe one day she will teach you! One thing that I really appreciate about Mrs. Godwin is that she speaks truth. Truth telling is important and we need more of that in the world – so I’m glad it is in your village.

Behind Mrs. Godwin you can barely see Uncle Richard’s head. Uncle Richard is MaeMae’s brother. You enjoy going to his house and playing with his dog with MaeMae sometimes after school. Auntie Diana is next to him and you appreciate that she gives you nice baby dolls! She just gave you a Cabbage Patch for Christmas that you adore! Being able to grow up in the same area as your relatives is not something that everyone gets to do. I am thankful I got to grow up around grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles and cousins and aunts and uncles. I am glad you’re getting that too!

Next to Auntie Diana you’ll see  Kati. Kati and I have known each other since middle school when we were in church together. We also lived together for 2 years while I was in school in Atlanta. Next to Kati is her sister Christie. It has been good to reconnect with them since we’re all back in Columbus. They babysit sometimes and invited us to their house when they trusted you with a drink on white carpet. That’s love, kid.

In between Kati and Christie is Sig. Sig is married to Audrey who is next in line. Audrey has been one of my best friends for more than 18 years. We went to church together in middle and high school and then lived together while we were in school in Atlanta. She’s a person I trust with my secrets and who give logical level-headed advice. She gives thoughtful gifts (like a night of babysitting for Mother’s Day) and is one person in the village I believe that I could call at 2 am and she would come without asking questions. We all need a handful of those people. While we don’t see enough of each other as I would like, she is important to me and important to the village. She brought Sig into the village and we’re glad about that to. He’s fun and funny and builds beautiful things!

Behind Audrey  you’ll see Mrs. Barbara. I met her when she started volunteering with Circles as an Ally. She’s a great Ally. She’s a great Ally in the program to her Circle Leaders but she’s also been a great Ally to me. She’s been encouraging to me when I really needed it and when she didn’t even know – and she’s inspiring to me as she loves her family and her friends so well. She’s been on this foster journey with us and we’re so delighted she came to celebrate your adoption.

In front of her you’ll see another Katie. She goes with Stacey who is wearing plaid behind Sarah. Bubbie and I have known Stacey for a long time and recently met Katie when they started dating. They are both very brave and courageous and do the right thing even when it is really hard. They made you a special quilt for the day that folks signed for you. We don’t get to see them as much as we would like, but they’re an important part of the village.

Between Katie and Stacey you’ll see Colleen. I lived with Colleen while I was in Atlanta for school and we worked together at an afterschool program. Colleen is hilarious and thoughtful and an all-around nice person. It sounds generic to say but it is not something you can say about everyone.  We were surprised she came for the party but that’s just how she is. She shows up and you’re glad she’s there!

Behind Colleen you’ll see Uncle John. Growing up I called him Uncle Little John. He’s Steve’s younger brother. (I also had an Uncle Big John that was MaeMae’s older brother.) Uncle John lives in Mobile but we see him often because he comes to take care of Grandmama.(Here’s a good place to say that Grandmama and Aunt Beck would have been here but they were at the beach. Grandmama likes to go in October!) Uncle John grows things that are beautiful and things that taste good. We’re glad he brings those skills to the village. He makes you laugh and chases you and tickles you and hangs you by your ankles. He did the same to me. Ah, the circle of life!

Last, but not least, you’ll see the Revells on the end. You can barely see Mrs. Suzy’s eyes above Stacey’s head. Mrs. Suzy has known me for a long time but we reconnected when we were at Epworth. Mrs. Suzy makes beautiful things with her sewing machine. She’s helped me to learn to applique and embroider too! She’s made you some pretty cool clothes and a quilt to celebrate you adoption too! We also reconnected with Mandy and Carson at Epworth and their kids. Bubbie played softball with them and you liked playing with Crosby in the mud and dirt and the practices and games. Now you go to school with them and we see them almost every day. They came to your birthday party last year and Crosby’s birthday party was the first you ever went to when you came to live with us. It’s nice as a parent to have parent friends. We’re glad they’re in the village!

Whew. It has taken me longer than I thought to write this down for you Sweet Sam – but I am glad I did. I want you to know and remember who was at this party and who the folks are in this picture. You should also know that there are lots of folks in the village who weren’t there to celebrate with us that day but are important to us.

Most of all know that love looks like all kinds of things and all kinds of people. We need to make sure that we always have people around us with different gifts and knowledge and experiences. Looking for those things in others and sharing those things that we have with others makes life so much richer. Bubbie and I believe that it really does take a village to raise a child. We are grateful for the villages that raised us and the village that is forming to raise you. Look at these faces, kid. They are your village. You’ll add people to this group as you grow and we will add some people too, but these are the people who celebrate you now and celebrate our family. Learn from them. Pay attention to them. Know them and listen to them. The world is a better place because they are all here and you’ll be a better person because each of them is in your village.

I love you, Sweet Sam.