Happy birthday Joseph!

Happy Birthday Joseph!
I wish there were words to describe the love I have for this son of ours.  Words adequate to portray a mother’s love really do not exist. 
Happy birthday boy!!!

Birthdays bring mom’s back in time…

We had 5 children:

In 2011, the same week the picture above was taken, our oldest son, Liam (above) prayed for a little brother who looks like his beloved littlest sisters, Sierra and Alyssa.
(Later, that prayer changed to “two little brothers who look like my little sisters.”)
I don’t know why he had such a specific prayer. Yet, I believe it was God placing that desire into our hearts because He was preparing us for Joseph (and Mohale) who had not yet even been conceived at the time of that prayer.

What desires are in your heart?
“The Phone Call”
January 22, 2014, when “the call” came, we were shocked.  Our family was waiting to be matched with two little ones from Lesotho, Africa.  Yet, this phone call came from the foster care system in San Diego.  We were in the Costco parking lot when my iPhone spilled a social worker’s voice into my heart and mind…”We have the newborn, biological brother of your daughters…..can you foster him?”   
Awareness of a miracle unfolding was smothered under the sting of grief and suffocating brokenness that courses through every adoption story. 
(And, I was deeply afraid.)
Adoption is always born of broken hearts.  This call meant another mother’s heart was being broken.  We will never take lightly.  Daily we pray for her.  Our children are being raised aware of her love. 
We got our little brother at “Baby’s R Us!”
Our littlest daughters, when asked about their baby brother, often tell listening ears “We got our Joseph from “Baby’s R Us!”  They are absolutely correct.  When we were chosen to have the honor of loving Joseph along with his biological sisters, our daughters, the social worker gave us his foster mother’s phone number.  Recalling the emotion I felt when dialing her number still takes my breath away.  His foster mother was protective and caring as she described this little one’s special needs.  She arranged for us to meet her at a “Baby’s R Us” parking lot.  Two hours later we parked in front of “Baby’s R Us”.  Her white minivan was nearby.  With my heart and hands shaking, our family approached the foster mom’s van.  She introduced herself and asked each of our names.  Then, she slid open her van door to reveal the tiniest baby boy.  At 5.5 lbs, his dark, tiny face and thick raven black hair seemed to be enveloped by his carseat.  She told me to unstrap him.  Oh how carefully I unstrapped and gingerly picked him up and held him close…tears flowed.    Tenderly I held this teeny tiny, immensely precious treasure close as she went on to describe his struggles- bloody, acidic stool that burned his skin off into the bloodiest diaper rash I’d ever seen, sores on his tender skin all over his torso, continual acid reflux…the list continued.   Names and numbers of specialists were written down. It felt unreal as we walked through Baby’s R us” shopping for basic preemie supplies and clothes as he slept tiny in my arms.  He was too precious-  frighteningly vulnerable.  Here are pics:
In his car seat on the ride home from Baby’s R Us.
The next morning…

Treasured and protected.
Immediately adored
The Valley of Treasures:
Treasures are found in darkness…Is 45:3

As anticipated, that first year was painful for sweet Joseph. His body struggled.  Ianna recalls his foster mom telling her “your parents won’t be sleeping for a long, long time.  They are going to get huge bags under their eyes.”  She had cared for numerous children who struggled with what our treasure was struggling with.  She was right.  Treasured Joseph struggled with every single feeding.  He vomited each time he ate so I held him all night long, every night, for the first nine months of his life.  We were deeply afraid he’d aspirate.  (That fear still lingers- I check him often every night.). His tummy hurt horribly and he needed to be comforted.  We could not stop his pain, but we could be with him in it.  At nine months old there was enough improvement to allow him to sleep in an infant car seat- propped up so he wouldn’t aspirate on his vomit.  I’d hold him and then place him into his car seat to sleep awhile.  Our treasure continues to struggle at night- but nothing like he did that first year. 
During the days he continues to struggle.
And he has a lot of fun climbing, laughing and making us all laugh…
He loves people, cars, Starbucks, animals, loud drums, dancing and singing
(he’s got a powerful voice.)

(This boy is going to bring life and joy to many.)

No one can touch this boy’s Starbucks…
Hugging his Liam

Amazing therapists come several times each week to work with our treasured son.
He enjoys their visits.  We enjoy seeing him overcome obstacles with incredible strength and confidence.  We enjoy watching challenges turn into perfected, refined strengths- that likely would not have been so incredible without the difficult times.
These are more treasures that came from darkness. 
Through difficult times with several of our other children, we learned to savor.  I savored every second of those sleepless nights through his first year of life.  Through those long nights, I’d pray over tiny Joseph as he struggled, screaming in my arms.  He’d sleep on my chest between bouts and I’d sleep propped up- until his next bout started.  There is no doubt that being held and comforted helped him pull through.  At his 3 month psychiatric evaluation that was required by the County, his psychologist said she’d never seen a child at his age so connected with people.  I knew it was a reminder of hope- that gifts would come out of his pain- he had learned to use eye contact with me during those painful months to cope with his pain.  Struggles of his infancy have since translated into amazing social skills.  Joseph adores people. He enjoys animals…From a young age he was gentle and nurturing.
Hugging Cat.

Hugging Buttercup
Joseph and the kitten video clip:
J and the Silver Cat:

When we were in Lesotho last October and November (link) to bring sweet Mohale home,
Joseph was a beautiful, unexpected source of comfort.  Joseph comforted Mohale in ways the rest of us could not…
In the pic above, Mohale had been watching Joseph do “pull-ups” on a bar in a linen closet.  Joseph wanted him to play, yet Mohale was still in shock and confusion.  Joseph stopped and went over- slowly- one step at a time and carefully put his arm around him.  By the next day, Mohale was doing pull-ups in the closet with him.
Mom’s of babies with long lasting challenges that pain and rob your treasure and you of sleep- 
The nights seem unbearable and tears are inevitable.  I cried buckets with our screaming boy. 
Strength and beauty beyond your imagination will grow up through this pain. 
Another gift our son has is amazing physical strength.  This is no doubt genetic.  And, his muscles are unusually tight from what he experienced in his early infancy- like a continual workout.  It’s so darling the way he gravitates towards activities that require physical strength. 
Joseph delights in lifting heavy objects.  Last week I caught him trying to lift the house!  Here he is in Africa lifting 6 liters of milk- just for fun.  He spends hours pushing furnisher around our home.  
Happy hunk baby!

Everyone is given gifts, strengths and talents
Precious Joseph is strong in body and personality. He connects with people and wins them over easily.  He’s a beautiful, strong child filled with gentleness and a strong, undeterred will.   
Joseph, you are 2 and already growing into a gentle, powerful, compassionate, and undeterred warrior.
Tears of deepest love and gratefulness come when I ponder the honor it is to be your mom.
Precious Joseph you are loved beyond human comprehension. Your life was designed and created for a purpose.  Never have you been out of His care.  We have loved and prayed for you for years before you were even born. 
At 2 years old, you, our little world changer, you are already changing hearts.

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