Yesterday morning I was startled awake out of a vivid dream. One of my older sons had shaken a container of sea salt all over my dining room floor just as dozens of guests were arriving for a party. Standing at the front of the buffet line I handed guests their plate while apologizing profusely for the crunch beneath their feet.

As I lay in bed reflecting on that dream, I couldn’t help but chuckle while simultaneously sensing the familiar feelings of anxiety rise up in me. That dream could easily be a harsh reality in my world. I thought back over the last three years.

This past weekend we celebrated three years since we brought our boys into our family. Three years ago we stood inside a judge’s office in Brazil meeting our boys for the first time. That day was the first day of a long journey we’ve been on together. A journey of learning how to live and love one another within our new family.

The first year was full of new challenges, realities, and learning life’s basics all over again (for all of us). The boys were learning to speak a new language and that when you’re a family, you stick together. They started trusting and they started school.

The second year was full of change and transition. We moved to a different part of our city and to a new school. While timing wasn’t ideal, I felt like if we could push through, the long-term benefits far outweighed the momentary instability. Fortunately it paid off and the new space helped us tweak bad habits and our rhythms as a family became much more healthy for long-term living.

The third year has been one of consistency and considerable growth. The boys respond better and anger episodes that used to last hours now last a few minutes. I experience a little less anxiety and have a lot more hope. We’ve had more good days than hard days, and life is characterized by more positivity than not.

While I still struggle for the right words to describe my feelings about adoption and all that comes with it, I can say with a lot more certainty that I am hopeful and that we are better for it. I fail regularly and I fail often, but I’m finding that God has me in a place where I have to depend on Him every single day. And that’s a good place to be.

Looking back over the last three years, I see two things that helped us make it to where we are.

  1. Extended Family- I feel so blessed to have a supportive family and extended family close by. It’s been a little too-good-to-be-true this year as all of Filipe’s family who live in California are now our neighbors. Having them close took us from surviving with to thriving. I’m sure we could manage without, but I don’t want to imagine it and fingers crossed we manage to make it last for a while. It takes a village to raise a family, and I sure am grateful for mine.

    Celebrating “Gotcha Day” with our family.
  2. Church Family- I can’t say enough about how grateful I am for our church and everyone who pours into our kids. Being a part of South Bay’s Sunnyvale campus is just as important for them as it is us. Watching the boys connect and serve with their friends is something they look forward to each week. I love how on Sundays they walk into service and head straight to the front row to sit with their friends/leaders. They feel at home there, like they belong.

    Rafa & Fe with their life group at Sunnyvale. They serve together, talk about what God’s doing in their life, and have a ton of fun.

Adoption is good; adoption is hard. One doesn’t outweigh the other. Those two truths sit side-by-side in my heart often.

A few months ago I was talking to one of my sons about love. I told him that love doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes love hurts. (He did not agree.) And while there’s more I’ll share one day about that, I’ve carried that conversation in my heart with me regularly this year as a reminder to myself. It’s helped turn a bad attitude into a better attitude. It’s brought me from anger to understanding. It’s moved me from having a selfish heart to a servants heart.

Love is good; love is hard.

I look back at the last three years and am grateful for this path we chose. I’m filled with awe at how God has worked throughout these last three years- not only in my boy’s life, but my own. All seven of us are different because of adoption. I am filled with hope that God will continue to work in the hearts of our boys and in our entire family.

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