Around 850 days of waiting. But today.. Today she is officially Marionah Hope Joens! I can not even begin to explain all of my emotions today. But i think my strongest feeling is that of thankfulness. Mari has been a gift since the day she came into our home, and I am forever thankful that God allowed us to take care of Her. Today is the day when I can finally feel at peace calling her my daughter. She is first and foremost God’s and that lesson is drilled into my being, but now God has allowed me to take care of her in this place. Thank you all for the prayers and care during this whole process. Now I want to write to Mari 🙂
You are simply a gift from God. You have been Hope when I had none, light in my darkness, and the only Joy I was able to cling to. Being with you has given me life and purpose. God has already done mighty things through you and will continue to do so. One day you will understand the significance of your middle name and the person that poured Her life into you, you will carry Hope with you forever and you will honor that namesake. You will make mistakes and so will I, but we will carry each other through those mistakes and we will not let each other go. You love without bounds and you teach me how to love in that same way. Hope taught you all of these things, she set that tone in your life. I could not be more proud of you, nothing you can do can make me love you more and nothing you can do can make me love you less. My love for you has no bounds Mari. I’m so excited to be apart of your story and your life, God has knit us together and we will honor him all of our days. Let’s make the most of this adventure! I LOVE YOU.
We give thanks that you created the world,
Though it turned from your ways.
We give thanks that you began a people
to bless this world,
though it did not always bless.
We give thanks, with greatest reverence,
for eh gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who indeed blessed the world.
Thanks be to you for the signs and glory of the Lamb of God.
In him, we are all adopted children of God.
We are brought into the divine redemption,
which now subsists in each embrace,
each extensions of love.
Each sacrament, each kiss and act of service.
May the adoption of this beloved child Marionah Hope Joens be blessed.
Almighty God, you adopted your people in Egypt,
and they came out into the wilderness to pitch a tent.
May we the family of this beloved child enjoy the presence of God
in the tent of life together as they look toward the pillar of fire by day –
a sign of your coming glorious redemption; and the pillar of cloud by night –
a sign of your presence amid our trials and darkness.
In Christ, the Son of God, There is neither adoptive nor natural parents and children.
We are all born again in the Spirit of God.
This Spirit redeems us with the substance of faith, hope, and love.
May this child be blessed by the mysterious presence, mercy, and grace of the Trinity.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This first picture below is from the day when we picked Mari up from the hospital here in SF.
365 days have passed since we brought that little five month old baby home. 52 weeks have have gone by since that phone call, that changed our lives forever.
Today is a very special day for us. We are celebrating and remembering every moment, every laugh, every tear, every joy and every pain. We have looked through the hundreds of photos taken. We have watched videos of her learning how to clap, crawl, walk and the first time she laughed. Each memory is special, and each memory I will hold on to forever.
I have briefly written on here what it is like being a mother. And although I could write on that subject for hours, that’s not what I am going to do today. Today I am going to write a letter. A letter to our daughter.
My little Darling,
I sit to write you this letter, and before I have even begun, tears have filled my eyes. There is so much love in my heart for you, there is so much I want to say, words will never suffice. But I will try.
Years before you were born, you were prayed for. I knew I was made to be a mother. I didnt know when, and I didn’t know how, since my body couldn’t make babies, I couldn’t have my own, but I knew that one day I would have a child in my arms. So every night I prayed for that child, I cried for that child that would one day need my love. And that child is You. I prayed that you would be safe and protected, that you would be healthy and strong and above all, that you would love Jesus with all your heart.
On January 23rd I received the call that would change our lives forever. It was from our social worker, and it was the call we had been waiting for. It was the call for you. She quickly told me about you, a five month old baby girl in the hospital that needed a home the next day. Before she even finished, I knew our answer would be yes. I called your Dad at work, he was as shocked as I was when I told him the news. We quickly prayed about it, and even though we didn’t know how long we would have you, a week, a month, a year or forever, we said yes. I called the social worker back and told her our answer, she gave the address of the hospital and told us to be there at two o’clock the following day. We couldn’t sleep that night because we were so excited. The next day it seemed the hours took longer, and the minutes passed slower. Finally two o’clock came around and we found ourselves in front of your hospital room. You were sick with respiratory distress and your little lungs suffered from asthma. We had to sign dozens of papers and talk to several people before we could meet you. When it was time, my heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty. When we saw your face for the first time we were both silenced by your beauty. Your eyes were so big, and your lips were so sweet. When I was finally able to hold you in my arms, you clung to me right away. You looked into my eyes and I told you I already loved you. Because I did.
When we brought you home that day, we couldn’t stop staring at you. We watched everything you did, and smiled at every sound you made. Those first few weeks are a blur. A blur from total bliss and total sleep deprivation. It was a big change and huge adjustment for all of us. You didn’t laugh or smile for a week. You were so scared, you didn’t want us out of your site for a second, in fear that we wouldn’t come back. You would only sleep on our chest, with your head on our heart. We would take turns holding you during the night, I would have you the first half, and Dad would have you the second. You would sleep, but we wouldn’t.
Finally we found a rhythm. We knew what made you happy and what made you sad. We figured out what you liked and didn’t like. We got you on a sleep schedule, life became easier and we all become happier.
And now, here we are..12 months later. And you are the sweetest, happiest and funniest little girl, and truly the joy of our lives. It has been such an incredible year. You have changed us…for the better. I have never loved, like I have loved you. I have never experienced such joy, as I have experienced being your Mother. We have learned so much this last year, but the thing we have learned the most is the thing that has been the hardest. Surrender. When we brought you home, we didn’t know how long we would have you, we hoped it was forever, but you still had a Mother and Father out there who loved you, and wanted to fight for you. As I write this now, you still aren’t officially “ours”. But what we have realized is, you will never be ours. You are Gods. You are Gods beautiful and perfect daughter. He can choose to take you to be with him at any moment. He can choose to send you back to your birth family, but for right now…he has chosen to intrust you to us. He has given us a gift, and that is you. There have been others who have fought for you, many court hearings have been had to determine where you should go. Days have gone by that we thought for sure we would lose you. On those days, it felt as though our hearts were being ripped our of our chest. I would spend hours crying, begging God to keep you. But then I realized I can’t beg the creator for what I want, when he knows what is best for his creation. I can’t even ask that you would be ours forever. But what I can do, is love you…with everything inside me and every fiber of my being. I can love you even though that love may never be returned, because thats how God loves us. We can be fully yours, even though you aren’t fully ours. And I can pray for you. I can pray for your heart and your mind and thank Him for everyday we have had with you. I can tell Him how much I love you, that you are the desire of my heart and the joy of my life. And at the end of every prayer I can lift my hands in surrender, and say Not my will, but Yours be done. Thats what I have done..everyday.
One day you will realize that the color of our skin is different. One day you will know that you came from someone else. You will ask questions about your Mother and Father. And I will always tell you the truth. They loved you. I know that, because I could see it in their eyes when I met them. But as you will learn in life, sometimes when you love something, you have to let it go. They wanted what was best for you, and at this time, it is with us. I only met them briefly, but you have your mothers eyes and your fathers smile. And maybe your kind heart comes from them, because when your father said good bye to me, he also said “thank you, for loving our girl”. I pray for them every night, I pray that one day they will experience Gods love and His forgiveness, and that by us loving you, they will experience His love as well.
No matter what happens today, tomorrow or in ten years from now, please know that you have been loved so much, and by so many people. You are surrounded by it, you will never escape it, and it will follow you everywhere you go. You have Grandparents who adore you, you have uncles, aunties, cousins and so many friends who love you. You have a family here, all of our friends have become your aunties and uncles as well. You have a church who loves you and pastors who pray for you and have dedicated you. You have LOVE, so much of it. And you have a Mommy and Daddy whose world spins because of you.
As you grow up, life will bring so many things. You will find happiness and you will feel sadness. You laugh and you will cry, you will learn joy and pain. But in all these things remember this, the greatest thing you will ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.
Your Dad and I were made to love, and you my little darling, were made to be loved.
You have our hearts-
Momma and Daddy
There are hundreds of photos I could post of our first year with her. Here are some of our favorites.
Tonight the rain has come and is spilling down the window. The drops sound like a metronome, casting me into a rhythmic trance. The house is warm and comforting, and the candle creates a soft glow on the wall. I’ve just put the little one to sleep. I’ve read her four books, prayed over her, and sang her the same song my mother used to sing to me. As she lays on my chest and listens to the melodic notes coming from mouth, I am overwhelmed with joy, and overcome by love. I lay her down and cover her head with kisses, I tell her how much I love her, and thank God for giving us this perfect and beautiful gift. Because a gift is exactly what she is. I cherish this gift and these moments.
In a of couple days I will be having a birthday. I will be embarking on another year, I will be 29. I am no longer in my mid twenties, hardly even my late twenties anymore. Now I am in a category all in itself “almost 30”. As I think about embracing this new year, I can’t help but think about the one I’ve just lived. When I was approaching 28 not so long ago, I felt as though life was being lived too fast, and moments that should be made memories were being missed. I wanted to embrace my late twenties, instead of ignore them. So I made a list. A list of 28 things to do while 28. Places I wanted to go, books I wanted to read, and things I wanted to accomplish. This wish list included things like; go to New york, go sailing, cook every recipe in a cookbook, see a musical, go skinny dipping, start a blog, and many more. I was determined to complete every one and have the greatest year yet.
I did have the greatest year, just not how I planned.
What I didn’t write on that list, was the one thing I truly wanted. The thing I secretly wished for at every birthday for the last six years. To become a Mother. I didn’t write it down, because I didn’t think it would happen. But it did.
We had always known we wanted to adopt, we just didn’t know when or if it was possible for us. After a long year of Fost-Adopt certification through our local agency, we were finally certified and licensed in december 2012. They told us it would still be another 4-8 months before we received “the call” for what would be our foster baby. And since we didn’t know the age or sex of the child, we were told not to buy anything and just to “wait”. So we waited. And every night we prayed for the child that would one day fill our home.
Four weeks later, we got that call. In a whirlwind of less than 24 hours our lives completely changed. I quit my job, we put up a crib, baby proofed our house, bought diapers and formula and brought home the most beautiful five month old baby girl. We picked her up from the hospital as she was sick with a respiratory infection. When we walked into her room, we saw a nurse holding a crying baby who was wearing a hospital gown five sizes too big. When we saw her face, we were both silenced by her beauty. Holding her for the first time is a moment I will never forget. She stared at me with her big brown eyes, wondering I’m sure, if I was someone she could trust, and if these arms that held her were safe. I looked right into those eyes and said “I have been praying for you for so long, and I already love you so much” Because I did.
When we brought her home, her future was unknown. We didn’t know if we would have her for a week, a year, or forever. Either way, we were so happy to have her now, no matter how long or short it was. We already loved her so much. Ten months later she is still with us. We are still hoping and waiting for adoption finalization. It is not promised, but it is hopeful. And until that happens, we are going to continue to love her with everything we have.
Becoming a Mother is a dream I always wanted to come true, but didn’t know if it would. And now that it has, it is greater than I had ever hoped or dreamed. I may not have done everything on that list, in fact I probably only checked off a few things. I didn’t make every recipe in the cookbook like I wanted, and I definitely didn’t go skinny dipping, or visit New York. But its ok, because I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do, what I was meant to do. Be a mother and love this little girl who needed love so badly.
This last year has been amazing, exhausting, and at times really hard. But it has also been so rewarding. I look forward and anticipate this next one, and this new age. I don’t have an agenda, and I don’t have a list. Maybe I will make one, maybe I wont. Either way I am going to enjoy it, I am going to embrace 29 and end my twenties with the two people I love more than anything, my husband and my daughter. I will enjoy every moment with her, and I will delight in every laugh and every smile that comes from her mouth.
I’ve come to realize, as I’m sure we all have, life is unexpected. Somedays it is incredibly wonderful, and other days, overwhelmingly hard. But its the small things, the little moments in life that make all the hard days ok. Like that moment when I’m singing to her before bed, and she reaches her head up to find my lips in the dark, and kisses me. At that moment I know, no matter what happens to her, to me and to us, everything is ok..right now.
So happy birthday, to me.
This photo was taken a few days after we brought the little love home, it is still one of my favorites.