Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Honestly, this process has been crazy hard.  We know that adoption is born out of brokenness, and our process has felt just that.  Broken.

And it has broken us over and over again.

The justice seeker in me feels especially crushed.  For a year we have watched and felt helpless. Watched our timelines take longer than expected and watched a baby grow up from a distance knowing that the older she is, the harder the next step will be.  I have been unable to advocate for a little girl on the other side of the planet who I am hesitant to call daughter.  It is a confusing process where I am rooting for her birth mom to change her mind because I know that is what is best for Ru, but also knowing how hard that would be for my current nuclear family.  It's hard to love and want someone, while knowing you are third string.  Birth mom first choice, adopted in birth country second, and then us. Knowing I can never be Plan A, but having a strong desire for her to be a part of our family is like living on a seesaw and in the tension.  I long for redemption of the broken and also for more transparent and blatantly ethical processes.

Last week I sobbed in the shower.  You know, the most sacred place of my home.  The wait and our current season had leveled me. The hard days felt to outnumber the good, despite the solid evidence to the contrary. My bed seemed more attractive than normal every morning as I pulled myself out of it and then fantasized about sleeping the rest of the day. I was running at a sprint speed from October to February.  And guys, I can metaphorically sprint like a rockstar.  In real life I can't sprint unless someone shoots me up with some adrenaline, but metaphorically, I am a contender.  I was moving so fast, all I was able to hold was my anger.  I was angry about how long Ru had to wait and our experience along the way.  The sadness was just a breeze blowing by.  I knew it was there but didn't want to, or feel the need to, acknowledge it.  But then it all stopped.  In February I graduated and passed boards.  I hadn't yet gone back to my RN job as I was pursing NP jobs.  I went from doing clinicals 5 or more days a week to having way more free time than I have had over the past two years. So the breeze transitioned to sadness that was as heavy and as all encompassing as the humidity on a Chicago summer's day.  It has been sticky and permeating.  And last week I finally gave in and just grieved where we are.  Or where we were.  We were matched April 4th of 2018, and as of April 4th 2019 we still didn't have an official court date.

After acknowledging and sitting in the all my mess and sadness, joy came in the morning light.  We have a court date. We will meet sweet Ru on May 7th. We are so grateful.  And nervous, and excited.  We are all the things.  I am still tackling the sadness deep within my soul while I'm so incredibly grateful for the joy and hope that came to us this morning.

People have told me that once she is home I will forget all of this.  I know I am not yet on the other side.  I am not yet an adoptive mom.  But I don't think I will forget.  I do think I will further investigate and I will better learn how to advocate.  It has been so hard to feel so powerless.  I think everyone knows when you enter adoption you submit to the unknown.  But I do believe there are some things that can be done better. We all know I like a good sprint, so maybe this will be a part of our next race.

The first week of May we will travel to Korea and we will meet the little girl I hope to call daughter.

Because of the multiple transitions in our life, and the likelihood that I will start a new job in July, we made another crazy decision.  The boys and I will live in Korea for 7ish weeks.  Jon will join us for the first and last week for court and custody.  If we stay in Korea we will get at least weekly visitation with Ru, if not more time.  While once a week might not seem like a lot, it is huge for a toddler who has known nothing but her foster family, to at least recognize and be familiar with the people who will be removing her from everything and everyone she knows and loves. This is one of the only tools we have in our toolbox to help minimize her trauma.  So as insane as it feels, we are going for it.  We are trusting that in this season of career transition for me, stability is not far off in our future and we are going to use this season of waiting for her and our benefit. We will figure out how to handle these 7 weeks, to give our daughter the best we can, from the start.

The paper chain and countdown has begun.  26 days until we leave for Korea. We will return sometime in June as a family of 5.

Thank you for your love and support throughout this roller coaster.  We have felt so surrounded by hopes and prayers and have been so grateful for our community.  I have been a full on disaster on multiple occasions, and we still have friends.  It's incredible really.  We haven't shared much recently because it is hard to share over and over again that you are still waiting.  But we are excited to now celebrate alongside everyone that our wait is coming to an end.

Please surround us with prayers and connections.  Jon will be home alone while we adventure and bond in Korea.  Someone has to bring home some bacon.  I will be adventuring but likely feeling quite isolated as I explore a foreign country and live all my moments directly with my 4 & 6 year old.  Bless.  They are a lot and there will not be a break.  We need our people more than ever.  Invite Jon out or dinner or a drink.  Message me if you see me on messenger in the wee hours of your night.  And please surround us and Ru in prayer as we move forwards towards custody.  While our wait is over, this is another trauma in her 18 month life.  If you feel inclined to support us financially, our Adopt Together page is still active. We are prepared to shake up our finances however needed to make this long trip possible.  Please feel zero pressure to support us financially.

Soon we will be able to show you this sweet face.  But in the mean time, might you swoon over those pigtails as much as I have.

Friday, October 5, 2018


There are 6,526 miles between Chicago and Seoul.  Today we will celebrate the birthday of a little girl 6,526 miles away. Honestly, I don't yet really refer to her as "our daughter."  Because technically, she isn't.  Her birth mom could still step back into the picture.  The government could change the rules.  So many things could happen.  I'm guessing part of it is me protecting my heart.  Adoption is so messy, hard, beautiful, and broken.  But today, despite wanting to protect my heart, we want to celebrate little Ru and her life thus far.  We want her to know when she is 16, that we were waiting desperately to meet her when she turned 1. 

Honestly, today is a struggle.  Not so much that we are missing this birthday, because we knew we would miss this birthday, but more so that we haven't had any movement since accepting the referral.  We knew we would be waiting.  Much of adoption, is all about waiting.  In 15 days, we will be beyond the time frame they said we would have to wait for our emigration submission.  I'll attach a timeline below for those that want to know the different steps we are waiting for.  We have been told that it is usually about 6 months from emigration submission until custody... so not yet having been submitted for emigration kiiiiiiiinda sucks.

But despite today's struggle, there is so much hope in our process.  Friends.  I cannot even find the words to type it in a way that matches my internal gratitude.  We received the full matching grant.  The full $5000.  WHAAAAAT? We were DONE fundraising.  We felt like people had already given so generously, that we felt guilty even bringing it up.  We are truly floored and so grateful.  We are grateful that people are willing to come alongside us in this beautiful broken mess.

So today we celebrate.  We celebrate the birthday of a little girl who turns one.  We celebrate the potential impact she will have in our lives.  And we celebrate the crazy love that surrounds us.  May we continue to give and live abundantly.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Happy birthday sweet Eliza Ruth. May you feel our love from 6,526 miles away.

Monday, July 16, 2018

an update and an ask

I wish, wish, wish I could post her full picture here.  She is such a love with squishy cheeks and porcelain skin.  I cannot wait to meet her.  She is 9 months old now.

Adoption is so strange and humbling.  Much like parenting in general.  Today I found a cup of pee in the bathtub, which was my son's solution to me telling him to not pee in the tub.  I did not realize that I needed to be so specific as to clarify that the toilet is the appropriate place to dispose of one's bodily waste.  Strange.

Being matched with a babe on the opposite side of the globe is emotionally confusing.  She has a life, personality, preferences, and emotions that we are not experiencing with her. She is not yet truly ours.   While many of the people in the same adoption community talk all about their sons and daughters and how desperately they want to bring them home, I am so nervous.  And I'm so sad, for her.  Of course I would love for her to be in my arms this instant.  And I would love even more so to have had her here as a newborn so that we could experience all of her firsts together.  But instead, we wait.  We have done everything we could, in the quickest time possible to help Ru come home.  We are now at the mercy of the Korean court system.  Before she can come home, she needs to be submitted for emigration, approved for emigration, we need to go to court (Korea trip #1), and then go for custody about 6 weeks later (Korean trip #2).  They say the average wait time for emigration submission is 3-6 months, and we are at about 3.5.

When we do ultimately go to Korea for court, we will be meeting a toddler who does not know us from any other stranger on the street.  Then at custody we will be taking her from the loving foster home that she knows into a complete new world.  While her little mind is trying to figure out if the world is trustworthy, we will be involved in part of her biggest trauma.  It just kind of sucks.  So while we are so excited to be matched with and pursuing sweet Ru, I'm also just so sad and humbled by the process.  From the beginning of our relationship we will be asking so much of such a young little babe.  In the waiting we will continue to swoon over every update sent to us, and we will continue to tell the boys about the sister we know nothing about, but in my quiet personal prayers I am pleading with God to have her heart filled to the brim with love in the waiting and praying that her transition to our family may be as soon and peaceful as possible so that the redemptive work and relationship building can start with her forever family.

You know what else is humbling and strange? Fundraising.  I have level 10 insecurity discussing it, but I keep coming back to "not saying someone's no for them."  So here I am, in all my anxious transparency.

We were unexpectedly given a matching grant for $5000. After our awesome fun fair (where the community and attendance of our friends made as big of an impact on my heart and soul as everyone's generosity), our t-shirt fundraiser, and interesting garage sale, we thought we were done fundraising.  We had closed that book, and I was and am ready to work extra shifts to bridge the gap of the finances we need to travel to Korea twice in this next season.  Working more sounds easier than being vulnerable and again asking for support.  I like my job.  I don't love being vulnerable.  BUT, we were given a huge unexpected gift.  For us to receive the $5000 grant, we need to raise $5000 more dollars.  Every donation will be matched dollar for dollar.  The grant is from a crazy generous local family through an organization called Lifesong for Orphans.  This family has adopted on their own and wanted to continue to support those adopting. We have been able to use the funds raised previously to help cover a portion of our adoption fees when we accepted our referral for Ru.  We needed to pay all fees to Korea and our agency at that time. If we are able to receive the full matching grant, a large portion of our travel costs will be covered.  We anticipate our travel will cost between $12,000-14,000 depending on the timing of our flights and how much warning we receive from the Korean government.

We would love it if you could support us through this organization.  We want to again thank everyone who has already given so generously to our adoption.  Your love and generosity is not lost on us. While it feels crazy hard to ask one final time, we are so thankful to the family that gave us this huge blessing.  It may not have been the timing we would have planned for, but we are continually humbled by how we have been encouraged and supported in this process.

Thank you.  Thank you for the support in all the ways.  You have been so generous with your prayers, encouragement, time, and finances.  We have an amazing and loving community to bring this sweet girl home to, and we are so thankful for it.

If you’re interested in supporting us through a tax-deductible donation

By Check:
1. Make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans
2. In the memo please write: 7686 Noto
3. Mail checks to Lifesong for Orphans PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744

With Credit (Online):
1. Go to https://secure.lifesong.org/give/donate/
2. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family”
3. Complete online form and in “Family Account Number” enter 7686 and
for “Family Name” enter Noto

I'll leave you with this sweet picture.  They were supposed to be sleeping, but how could I possibly interrupt this moment?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

she has a name

She already has a name.  And that name is important, because it was given to her by her birth momma.  The amazing woman who placed this baby for adoption after caring for her both in the womb and then for a period of time after she was born.  We are so thankful to her.  Though we may never meet, her birth mom is so very precious in my eyes and gave us such an amazing gift.

With the love that her birth mom likely invested in choosing a name, we wanted to honor that and include it in the name we will ultimately give her as our daughter. Her life began somewhere else, and we want to honor that as well.  Her Korean name is translated phonetically as Ru-a.

Even before we were pregnant with Grayson, Jon has a dream where he wrote a book and the forward was to his daughter.  So for 5 plus years we have been holding onto a girl's name for the potential daughter I truly believed would never come.

So we decided to name her...

Eliza Ruth Noto

And we will call her...


I love that the name we have been saving for our daughter is now able to be given.  Eliza means oath from God.  For those that deeply know our story over the past year and a half, know how insane and incredible it is to have arrived at this merciful place of waiting to meet our daughter.  We could not have seen this coming.  I would walk those roads a million more times to get to this place if needed.

Ruth was my mom's middle name.  So when the referral came through and we saw sweet baby Ru, my heart melted.  How amazing is it that in one name we can honor two significant women in her life who she may not meet/remember this side of heaven?  Sweet Ru you have been surrounded by strong women. From your birth momma, to your foster momma.  We have learned that Ru's foster mom has been taking care of babies in the foster system for many years.  She repeatedly loves these little ones knowing they are ultimately heading to their forever homes and are only in her care for a season. And the sleepless exhausting newborn season, at that.  One of the best parts of adopting a toddler is never having to have a newborn again.  

My prayer is that the fingerprints that these women have placed on her heart will be there forever.    I don't really believe that my mom is watching me from heaven, or that she knew about Ru before I did.  I am not sure how the veil between heaven and earth works, but I do hope and pray that the true, strong, good, and loving things that my mom invested in me can be passed down to sweet Ru in a way that only a mother and daughter can understand. 

Guys, I'm so freaking excited to turn in my "boy mom" card.  I LOVE my boys with every fiber in my being.  We fully expected this third child to be a boy.  I have saved all my boy clothes and had bought a couple new 18 month old boy things for our 3rd boy from Korea.  (Korea adopts out almost all boys to international families). I intended to hold that "boy mom" card my entire life.  But, after being matched with Ru and allowing myself to truly embrace the thought of a daughter, I think I can fully admit how much I wanted this and how incredibly generous God is.  

Seriously I could just cry saying "it's a girl" for the millionth time.  It's a girl.  

Annnnnnd cue the water works.

And as incredibly excited I am to have a daughter for myself, I am equally as excited to see Jon with a daughter.  I think it will jack him up in so many wonderful ways.  Also, Grayson's excitement for a sister is contagious, but not quite contagious enough for Asher to get on board.  Asher found some rogue blue confetti that the cousins were playing with and ran to me excited that it was a brother.  Sorry little buddy.  He will come around eventually.

So here we are.  In the waiting.  The average time until custody is 9-12 months.  We knew this when we signed on.  We knew how hard the wait would be.  Many people ask why it takes so long.  Politics.  We have submitted everything we possibly could as quickly as we possibly could, and now we wait for the Korean court to push our case through.

We would love if you would support us, pray with us, and love us in the waiting.

In my previous post I talked about our family's motto of sharing our abundance.  The deeper we get into this adoption process and just life in general, the more I want to cling to that standard.  I want to build the longest table and have the shortest fence.  Our friends and family have been so incredibly generous.  With our fun fair we were able to reimburse ourselves for our home study and get back up to baseline.  We cannot thank everyone enough for how freely they gave and how loved we felt.

In accepting Ru as the referral for ur family, we had to pay up front the majority of the fees to both Korea and Holt.  God has been so faithful to us in growing Jon's practice that we were able to write that check.  6 months ago I would not have imagined that to be possible.  

What lies ahead are our travel expenses and a handful more minor fees.  For a Korean adoption you have to travel to Korea, twice.  We hope that our remaining fundraisers can help us to raise money for these expenses when they arise and are hoping to raise approximately $5000 more dollars.

If you want to come alongside us in our adoption journey, here is what we need :)

1. Your crap.
Well really your decent things that I can sell at a garage sale, and maybe baked goods.  We are accepting any and all decent crap until May 17th.  If you can drop it off at my house in Des Plaines I would love you long time.  If you are an excellent baker I would also take you up on some baked goods.  Who doesn't want to buy lemonade, baked goods, and garage sale crap from these hooligans?

You know you want to.

2. Buy some t-shirts, share the page, and live the motto. 

We are going to run a bonfire campaign starting in the next couple of days. Here you can buy high quality t-shirts, sweat shirts, and kids shirts that support our adoption and will help us to be able to hop on a flight the second they tell us we can come get our sweet baby Ru.  We made the shirts simple and the link is meant to be shared.  If you have other friends and family who also hope to share their abundance, they are so very welcome to buy a shirt. I want to make it a movement, but I wasn't creative enough to come up with the longer table quote myself.  This abundance thing is all I got, but when lived out, I think it is all I ultimately want and what I want to deeeply instill in my children.

3.  Pray for us.  Please.  These are precious times before dethroning Asher, who is the best youngest child ever.  He's so squishy and cuddly and whiney.  I mean really he nails the "baby of the family" role. I want to be so very present with these boys and with Jon before our family is wonderfully interrupted by a baby girl.  

So there it is.  Her name, an update, and more requests. I'll leave you with this.  The sweetest fat bracelet you have ever seen.  I love Ru's chunk so very much and hope her wrist is still buried deep in the pudge when we meet in real life. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Noto Family $5 Rule

Friends, fundraising is humbling.  Super humbling.  Especially when you sit in a place of great fortune.  Without fundraising could we still be adopting?  Yes.  We could take out a HELOC on our house and use our savings and we could make it happen. Once it was clear that we were meant to pursue adoption, we were and are willing to make all the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. We know that day to day we can afford another child, and not many people have $40,000 plus dollars just lying around to toss into an adoption process.  When your path is crystal clear, you have to be willing to just jump in and not let a big number scare you away.  Eyes on the prize, baby. 

So here we sit in this humbling place of love and support.  We could  take on some debt to make it happen all on our own...but we are blessed with friends, community, and people in our lives who are willing to share our burden.  We have friends who have been willing to give of their own time and money to help lighten our load, and who support us in this crazy adventure we have been called upon. We are the lucky ones. 

Sometimes I want to take the more comfortable and less humbling walk of the HELOC.  To quietly and privately move through this stretching and hard process without sharing it.  Because of the lies I sometimes listen to, I worry that we will burn out our friends, or that people will think less of us for asking for help.  Our independent, can-do culture runs deep in my veins. 

But this isn't my first rodeo in asking for help.  When my mom was sick and the responsibility of caring for her financially and physically was given to my sisters and me, we ended up asking for help.  We created a go fund me page and asked for help to cover her impending funeral.  People showed up.  Family, friends, and strangers helped to lighten the load that was so, so heavy.  We were so incredibly blessed in that humbling experience. The rent was paid and we didn't have to fret about covering the costs of cremation and a funeral.  We could just be with my mom in those final weeks. 

The amount of pride I had to swallow to ask for that help was immense.  As is the amount we had swallowed in this current fundraising process.

Having sat on the receiving side of the crowdfunding now twice, I want to hug and love all those brave enough to ask for help.  And I want to help.  And I want to raise crazy generous kids who give without a second thought.  Grayson asked the other day if someone was cold, could he give them his coat to keep.  "Absolutely,"  I responded.  After a few quiet moments (which rarely happen with G) he asked what he would do when he got cold.  "Buddy, if you feel in your heart that you are supposed to give your coat to a cold friend or stranger, you do it.  And we will figure out the rest."  Keep that heart open, sweet boy. 

In a world where we are not encouraged to share our needs, and where we are supposed to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, I want to acknowledge that not everyone has boots.  Nor does everyone have friends and community like we do.

To whom much is given...

So we have a new rule that was instilled in our house a couple months ago.  Every crowdfunding request that has been shared on my Facebook feed, at work in a break room, or wherever, we will give at least $5.  If someone is brave enough to ask, we can give.  We cling so tightly to our money, and don't want to jump in the mess with others... especially strangers.  But, life is messy.  I am the queen of mess.  I don't need to vet your cause and make sure you are putting your money where you say. I don't need to analyze your past decisions that got you to this point.  You have a need, and we have excess.  Share your abundance.  The end.

The thing is that Facebook monitors the links you click on... so now it suggests crowdfunding sites I may be interested in.  Thanks Facebook. Time to slightly reign in my social media usage.

If I can afford take out, and soccer class for my 5 year old, and my large enough house, and a full fridge of groceries, and two working cars, and heat, and AC, and all the extra crap in my life...  I can afford to give people $5 whenever they need it. And if we all gave what we could when people needed it, I think the world would be better.  Truth is, not everyone has the luxury of the $5 rule.  I didn't grow up with it.  I was on the receiving end of scholarships for church camp, grants for my undergrad education, and many other blessings along the way.  When Jon lost his job we had friends come around us, and they gave us respite and relaxation in crazy generous ways.   In those months we were not sure the direction our lives and finances would take. We were provided for and we refuse to just sit in this new found comfort without being willing to do the same for others, even if it is not on as grandiose of a scale. While I do not always have the capacity to get in everyone's mess and be everyone's friend, we can give at least $5.

So that's the Noto family $5 rule. 

Thank you for your generosity to this point in dispelling the lies that I hear telling me to not share, or be private, and to take care of only our own.  I call BS.  Thank you for joining us.  We hope to continue to fundraise both on Adopt Together and with a massive garage sale in May.  We are getting close to being able to eliminate that HELOC and using only our savings to bring our child home.  We would LOVE to be able to adopt debt free. 

I'm thinking of doing a T-shirt fundraiser as well.  The shirts would say, "Share your abundance".  Would anyone be interested?

Also, I'm putting this is writing so that if it happens others can see God's crazy faithfulness.  Grayson and I are praying we are matched with twins.  Yep.  I said it.  Jon is agreeable, but thinks I'm a bit insane.  This is not abnormal in our relationship.  Ultimately we are open to being a family of 5 or 6.  We think we have the capacity for 4 children. Why not just be efficient about it and bring home two kiddos at the same time?! (This would raise our adoption cost by about $25,000. Minor details.) So twins are rarely adopted our of Korea.  RARELY.  So if it happens, to God be the glory.

If anyone has stuff I can sell at my garage sale, I would love it.  Let me know how I can get it.  If anyone wants to instill the $5 rule, then all the praise hands.  Be the change friends, be the change.

(Side note, please know that we vet all organizations that we give larger sums of money to ;), but ultimately this is just money... we are just here to make Earth more like Heaven... and if we can do that in $5 increments, we will.)

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Life has been full.  I did not fully realize how much work it was going to take to pull off that fundraiser...  but it was worth every minute.

Obviously the goal was to raise money.  And we did.  We made about 17% of our projected adoption cost.  Our friends and family are so, so generous.  We are so grateful.

What turned out to be as important and meaningful to us is how incredibly loved we felt.  There were people there we hadn't seen in a long time.  New friends and old.  Family and strangers.  It was another redemptive moment that I would never have imagined a year before.  With little people life gets busy and your social life starts to lack the luster it once had... but our party helped to remind and reinforce to us that we have so many people backing us.  We are the lucky ones.  Those with privilege and support and it is not lost on us how fortunate we are.

While G was waiting in line to have his face painted I squatted down next to him and told him to look around.  Look around G and see how many people love our family.  This kid spun his head around and gasped like a kid on Christmas morning.  And then my face leaked. 

To whom much is given, much is expected.  There is much expected of us. 

Thank you for joining us and giving so richly to our lives.  "Thank you" seems to not fully encompass the gratitude in my heart.

Also.  I took no pictures.  Nada.  Biggest party I've ever thrown and I took zero pictures.  PSA if you throw a big party delegate this responsibility to someone and snap at least one family picture.

So because I hate to post without pictures... Here's our joy boys. 

Our next fundraiser will be a garage sale in the end of May.  Save your decent crap for me please and thank you ;)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

5 and 1

I am not the first person to lose a mom, nor will I be the last.  Yet it still sucks.  It has been 5 years since my mom took her final breath. 

My sister said today that my mom has missed a sixth of her life.  The best sixth.  What crap.

I miss her so.  

Just like my sister wishes my mom could have witnessed these last 5 years of her life, I so wish she could have witnessed the last 5 years of my life.  

She has missed out on squishy Asher snuggles, hysterical Grayson jokes, my pursuit of my midwife calling, an unexpected job transition for Jon, two moves, and most recently an incredibly painful and hard year that unexpectedly led to our decision to adopt.

We are fortunate to have family and friends that have surrounded us in the last 5 years with love.  But big transitions have definitely led to some lonely nights where I wished more than anything I could call my mom.

Grayson was conceived intentionally when my life felt just fine and comfortable.  An ideal time for us to become parents, we thought.  But then when I was 6 months pregnant my mom had the initial heart attack that led to 8 of the most challenging, painful, and rich months of my life.  No one would chose that road, but I do believe that those roads are the ones we are meant to walk.  They are the roads that bring us to our knees, the roads that help us realize what really matters in life, the roads that help us truly connect with other humans both in those hard moments as well as when you later walk alongside someone on their hard road. Grayson was such a sweet gift in those hard months.  If I knew my mom would get sick and require what felt like all my heart and care, I would have never chose to get pregnant when we did.  But of course, looking back we wouldn't change a thing.

This last year has been more privately painful.  It has been one year since Jon started his transition out of ministry.  It was hard, painful, and lonely.  I have wanted to be able to call my mom more this year than any other since she has been gone. I was created as an unfiltered, truth telling, open book kind of gal.  It brings peace to my soul to be able to share my story and our lives to be able to connect with others.  Alone is not something that I do well, adding to the difficulty of this last year in which I often felt that way. 

5 years ago I was praying for my mom to walk through the veil between earth and heaven.  I wanted her pain to stop.  And my prayers were answered.  While there was so much grief, there was also so much relief and joy for my mom.  

Now, being 1 year out from last February, I am so grateful that there is once again joy.  In the last year I have wanted my pain to stop, but I also wanted to practice what I preach and sit in the shit.  I wanted to learn what I needed to learn.  To seek healing and wholeness, not just escape. I knew we needed to do the hard work of this year, and not just survive it. God's redemptive work in our lives is so very sweet.  I am so grateful that God could use the pain of a job loss, transitions in community and friends, a miscarriage, the stress of grad school, and just the nitty gritty of life to again bring us to our knees.  

It was in this sacred space that we found our next steps.  1 year ago I never would have thought we would be in this crazy, joyous, and exciting place with our adoption journey.  1 year ago, much like 5 years ago, I was spending a great deal of time crying in the sacred space of my shower.  I prefer to cry where I cannot differentiate between the water and my tears.  I am so grateful for seasons, and that there is always a hill on the other side of the valley.

The adoption process is quite the hill to climb, with so many bumps and challenges along the way, but we know the end result, and we are confident once again that this is our road to walk.  Our hill to climb.  We know there will be joy not just in the end, but also in the process.  We are so thankful for those willing to walk alongside us.

Next week we are hosting a big party and fundraiser that is breaking down my pride in all sorts of ways.  

Remember how I don't do alone well?  I know that this adoption process and journey is a road where I want people next to me, in front of me, and behind me.  My deepest self wants that.  My prideful self wants to just do this all on our own and act like it ain't no big thang.  I am scared to once again chose openness and vulnerability. My inner self is super confusing, welcome to crazy town. 

I love helping my friends.  I love celebrating with them.  I love standing behind them and supporting them in a multitude of ways.  Why wouldn't I think our friends would want to do the same for us?  

When I was open and vulnerable during our last challenging season, people showed up.  I am trusting that it will happen again.  We can do hard things.  I will continue to chose to do hard things.  And I will continue to do them in community. Because in the depths of my soul I think this is how we are supposed to live.  I think we have an abundance in our lives, and it is meant to be shared. 

I so wish my mom could be at my party.  I wish she could celebrate this season of redemption and our growing family.  But I am so very grateful for what she instilled deep in my soul.  That she encouraged this open book girl to live how she was created.  My mom loved birth and was pursuing becoming a doula.  How proud would she be that I finally owned my midwifery calling?  She always created space in our house for others.  Whether it was long term or short term, there was always room in our family for those who needed it.  I am sure this planted the adoption seed long before I knew it was our future. While my mom may not be here, her fingerprints are all over my life, and the ripples of her love are continuing to spread.

You are welcome to join us at our party.  Please do.  I can use all the hugs, and love, and support you are able to share.  Adoption, especially the finances, feel challenging.  But we are not alone. We have room in our house and our family for another babe... maybe you have room on your calendar for a party and can love us in the process.  

This is a picture of my mom and I at another celebration.  Gosh I miss her.

You are welcome.  In our lives and at our shin dig.  If you are free and can join us, please do :)

Feb 24 5p-7p
52 E Northwest Hwy, Des Plaines

Come celebrate our upcoming adoption with us while enjoying
-walking tacos
-amazing raffle prizes (drawn at 6:45)
-fun fair games
-beverages for adults and kids
-face painting and balloon animals

If you cannot come to our party but are still willing to support us financially, there are tickets for the larger raffle prizes available for purchase online here.

There are over 40 other raffle baskets available at the event.  How incredible is that?  Our friends, family, and community have been so incredibly generous.  Both 5 years ago, and now. 

If you are reading this, thank you.  Thank you for praying for us, for coming along side us.  For bearing witness to our hard roads and knowing we are capable.  Thank you for pulling us up and pushing us on towards good things.  Thank you for walking this journey we call life with us, even if it is only through prayers on a screen.  Please know that I am always here to connect through email if you too need someone to come alongside you, or if my hard roads are similar to yours.

Happy 5 year Heaveniversary, Mom.  All my love.

**Update:  My brother has written a tribute to my mom.  Being 5 years older than me, I enjoyed hearing his different perspective.  He gave this to my sisters and I, and he wanted to share it with anyone wanting to learn a little bit more about her.  Link below.

Noah's Story: Memories of my Stepmother, Nancy