Tag Archives: Unconditional love

“Son, You’re Adopted”


Many of you know that my kids are all adopted from foster care.  It has never been a secret…except for my youngest, now 9.  Up until a month ago, he did not know he was adopted.

All of his life, I have had very open dialogue about adoption and foster care.  He knew of his older brother’s history, and they had many conversations about that.  When we watched movies like “Annie,” I would have discussions with Ashton about what an “orphanage” was and how some parents either cannot or will not take care of their children and how they end up in foster care…etc. etc. etc.

I have always approached the concept of adoption as being a gift from God.  And it is…

About three months ago, I had a discussion with “my baby daddy” about preparing to tell Ashton the truth EVER.  Of course, he didn’t ever want to tell him, because he looks and acts so much like us that he just wanted Ashton to always feel like he was biological.

I, on the other hand, could not bear the thought of him finding out from someone else, and then hating us forever because we “lied to him.”  Which, by the way, we had NEVER done.  I refused to ever lie to him, but when faced with any sort of situation about biological relation, I always found a way to respond with “You are a blessing from God.”

So, Bryan and I talked and decided what we would say, just in case Ashton asked (he had recently been asking about “blood relatives” which left me seriously tap dancing around the conversation!)  We also both agreed that it was not the right time to just come out and tell him.  Our lives have been so stressed, and Ashton is already dealing with divorce and changing schools again.

However, God had a different plan than we did.

A month ago, Ashton asked me something about his older brothers, and I responded with something like, “no, it is because they were in foster care.”  Then it came!

“Was I ever in foster care?  Mommy, am I adopted?”

Wow!  I looked at him, let out a slight <sigh> and said, “have a seat, son.  Yes, you were adopted.”  I said a silent prayer that God give me the words to say.

Ashton and I like to “freak people out” so one of the fun things we do is try on super high heels at Goodwill. 🙂

I began to tell him “Our Story” about how Bryan and I could not have children, how sad we were, and how hard we had tried.  (I had always wanted to be a mommy…even when I was under 2 years old, I would use my own diapers on my baby dolls.  It is ALWAYS who I am) so I was very sad when I couldn’t have children.  

I continued with the story of how God brought him into our lives.  (Ashton’s Adoption Story)

I finished with how he ended up in foster care.  I will choose NOT to share this portion of the story, because it is really Ashton’s story to tell…but I will say this: He was in the hospital for the first month of his life, and with a medical foster family until he became part of our family.  His mother gave him up for adoption because she KNEW she could not take care of 3 children, and she was fighting to keep the two she had.  With what I have seen and experienced working IN foster care, I KNOW that is the most loving gift a mother can give her child.  (I have goosebumps right now…just typing this!) 

Once I had finished talking, Ashton asked several questions about his biological parents.  He wanted to know if I had ever met them.  I also let him know that he has a brother (4 yrs older) and a sister (5 yrs older) and told him some about his first foster parents (an older couple who cared for medical needs foster children). 

He then became very excited about looking through his baby stuff.  Fortunately, his biological parents had given him some trinkets while he had been in the hospital and his foster mother had kept a few momentos from his first 11 months.  I, of course, had added to the memoirs over time.  I showed him the first toy that Bryan and I ever bought for him, and the snakeskin cowboy boots that his Nanny bought for him when he was not even 18 months old.  He snuggled on the stuffed bear that his biological mother had left in his crib at the hospital, and he laughed at the cloth diaper that he used to chew on (instead of a pacifier).  He was shocked at the teeny tiny baby t-shirt he wore from the hospital when he was born.

This was NOT the first time Ashton and I had gone through his baby memories.  But this WAS the first time that I could be honest and tell him exactly from whom each piece came.  He was so curious and accepting…I was amazed.  Even now, I think of how incredible a little boy he is, and I am grateful each and every day for the blessing of Ashton in my life (ALL of my kids, for that matter!)  I am also thankful to God that He guided the conversation in a manner that comforted and nurtured Ashton.

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A Lesson in Judgment and Compassion


My best friend in high school said I was a snob to her for two years before we became friends.  I honestly didn’t even remember meeting her until we became friends.  I thought for sure that she was mistaken.  I was sure I was not a snob.

In my lifetime, I have met people and had friends who have had to make choices that I would never have made, some of which could be considered illegal, immoral, or both.  I never understood why people “liked” to or “chose” to live like that.  In the back of my head, I have just chalked that kind of behavior up to “personality.”

I know…pretty judgmental, huh?  Especially coming from someone (me) who cares TOO MUCH about what everyone thinks of her.

Well, let me tell you what!  The past few years have knocked me to the ground, made me beg, and then continued to kick while I was trying to get up.  It almost feels like I have been proverbially balled up in the fetal position for two years, trying to protect myself and my kids and grandkids.  Now, realize this, I do have a great job and a good salary, and I thank my Good Lord Jesus for that!  BUT, there were times when it was not so easy to be the sole provider for a family of 5, on top of other stresses and health issues.

I had to learn how to rely on someone else, or even groups of someone else.  I know what it is like to have strangers give you toys for your children (grandchildren) at Christmas, and was thankful for their kindnesses, prayers, and I now know what a food pantry looks like, and was grateful for it’s existence.  I have made decisions that I never thought I would have to make, but I had no other choice, because some situations called for a decision for the lesser of two evils.  If I met me a few months ago, well, let’s not go there!

Learning, growing, and becoming a better person. Follow the transformation at sunnimonk.com or get inspired on facebook

I have been humbled in so many different ways, but only recently realized that I WAS a snob (kind of).  Not because I thought I was better than someone else (I hope), but because I categorized people under circumstances, not as people.  If someone was in a certain situation, financially or otherwise, it must be a result of their own decisions, and sometimes it really is.  HOWEVER, that does not make the situation less difficult, nor does it make a person “bad” and it certainly DOES NOT disqualify them from needing help or assistance; love or hope.

Separating a person from their life’s situation(s) is one of the most enlightening things I have learned in my recent contemplations.  Admittedly, I have come to this realization by watching a show called, “Breaking Bad” (which totally rocks!)  Sociologically speaking, I am so fascinated by what this man has done…how far desperation has driven him. 

Very interesting…I have been in desperate situations as well, and have made choices that were not always the best.  Guess what?  That means I am human, not a “bad” person. 

All of this time, I am ashamed of having to even admit that I have had difficulties, and stresses as deep as I have…I FEARED being judged by friends and family.  That sort of reaction is familiar to me because… 

I have looked my nose down on people, including some of my dearest friends.  I have feared the same sort of response from friends and family…and I have gotten it in some cases.  I realized I don’t want to be the type of person who is so judgemental of a PERSON based on a situation.  Instead…Think first about the person, what they might be experiencing.  Think about how you can help or encourage them.  Extend a helping hand, without the shackles of judgement.  Help ANYWAYS! 

This, my friends, is what we call COMPASSION.  And I want to start living a more compassionate life.

Love at First Sight…Again?


It is so amazing when you meet someone in your life and instantly have a very deep and profound connection with them. Call it kismet (fate) if you like, but I prefer to think of it as Divine Intervention. Particularly when it is two people who seem to immediately become interconnected with your world.

You are instantly taken aback and in awe. So much so, that you feel as though you are losing your mind. But at the same time, your mind has never been so clear and so sure.

These are people who are put into your life for a specific REASON, not reliant on any particular time factor. You instantly learn from them, and you immediately want to help, love, and nurture them.

Sometimes these people are in our lives for what only seems like a moment in time. Sometimes they carry us to the end. NO MATTER WHAT, they will forever live within our hearts and our souls.

SunniMonk's Blog

Have you ever looked at someone and immediately knew that they would be a forever part of your life?  With one single momentary glance, your pulse races, your palms sweat, your mind and thoughts are obliterated, and you are overcome with a deep, mystical sense of familiarity and comfort.   Looking back at the memory, you study the details of the moment, and you realize that there was like a light behind the person, magnifying thier soul to your own.  The thought of that person consumes your every thought and moment from then on.  The thoughts of them might even drive you insane, or at least you will feel that way. 

I guess I don’t believe it is really love at “first” sight…but maybe more of a “rekindling of souls.”  I have been fortunate enough to experience this revelation a few times.  The first time would be the love of my life. …

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God’s Blessing of Ashton


Anybody who has ever known me has known that all I ever wanted to be was a mother. When I was two, I used my own diapers for my baby dolls, and when I was five, I would fall asleep praying to God that my baby dolls would come to life overnight.

So, by the time I was married and we had decided to expand our family, the anticipation was intense. Almost as intense as the emotional roller coaster of the many failed attempts that followed. I suffer from a medical issue that gives me a better chance of getting struck by lightening than getting pregnant (doctor’s words, not mine). After many years of watching our friends and cousins have babies, I did my best to come to terms that it wasn’t meant to be…or at least focus on other things.

In 2001, after a job lay-off, I found myself at the door of a foster care agency accepting a job. Within months, Bryan and I went through the licensing process to become foster parents for some of the teenage foster children I had met. Since finding a healthy baby for adoption in the state foster care system was near impossible, we didn’t really have that as a goal.

In February 2003, I received a call from child placement. They had an 18 month old boy named Gabriel that was going up for adoption. He had been born HIV-positive, but had recently tested negative (a common occurrence in babies!) therefore they were able to proceed with adoption. After a brief, but very excited conversation with Bryan, I called child placement and agreed.

I cannot even begin to explain the excitement! I went home that night, and the whole family (Bryan, James and I) set forth to turn our spare room into a nursery. We put together a crib, painted the walls light blue and hung Winnie the Pooh decorations. I pulled baby blankets that I had made out of my hope chest and put them in the crib. The next day at work, my friends had obliterated my office with blue streamers, confetti, and “It’s a Boy” signs. Then, I got the call…

Child placement informed me that the current foster family of Gabriel had decided they wanted to adopt him. Since he was already placed in their home, and had been living there, that foster family had preference as far as any judge was concerned. It was one of the lowest points of my life.

The door to the nursery was closed. I couldn’t face the empty crib. Many times, in bouts of sadness, I found myself in the rocking chair in the nursery crying and praying. Everyone knew to leave me alone if I was in there. I simply could not be consoled.

Many months later, during one of James’ monthly caseworker visits, the caseworker decided to investigate our house (something they do to document that James’ surroundings were adequate). Upon entering the nursery, she asked me if we had a baby or were expecting one. With a few tears, I was able to tell her the story of Gabriel and how I was not ready to “undo” the nursery…deep down, I still had hope.

She piped up, “One of my coworkers was just telling me about one of her foster babies that is going up for adoption. His current foster parents are older and aren’t interested in adopting. Would you like her number?”

The rest, as they say, was history. I made the call and within a few more months, we had our first visit with Ashton. Ashton was 11 months old, had gorgeous carrot-colored hair, and a great toothless smile. He said “mama” for the first time during that visit. Bryan and I fell in love with him instantly. He belonged with us and we knew it.

For three weeks, we did the required visits, first for an hour or two at the foster family’s home, then we were able to take him for a walk, and ultimately, we were able to take him for the whole afternoon. Finally, a week before his first birthday, he came home with us permanently. His first birthday party was also a baby shower.

Ashton had no problems adjusting…he slept great, ate well, and played hard. He looked so much like Bryan that I very nearly questioned his fidelity. He acted like us and is still so much like both of us that we have a hard time convincing anyone of his adoption.

It wasn’t for several months before something occurred to me…Gabriel is the Messenger Angel believed to have been the one to tell Mary about Jesus. In our life, that interpreted in a way that we realized if it had not been for Baby Gabriel and the empty nursery, Ashton would have never come to us. Baby Gabriel had been a messenger for us.

I once heard a saying, “Childbirth is an act of nature; Adoption is an act of God.” Nobody believes that more than us!