Today a friend forwarded me an email that I had sent her this time last year asking for prayer as we continued to wait to hear from the Philippines about whether they would choose us to be Merritt’s forever family.
This time last year we were three months into a wait that felt interminable. We had seen a photo of our son, we knew his name, his birthday, a small part of his story. We loved him, but we had to guard our hearts and wait.
What a difference a year makes.
Today, my son – that little boy whose grainy photo I studied hours on end for months – is sleeping peacefully upstairs with his favorite stuffed animals after being tucked into bed by his mommy and daddy.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
I used to stare at his picture and try to find clues about his personality. I longed to see him move, to hear him talk, to watch him laugh. I wanted to know him.
These days I can tell you he has a big, funny personality that we adore. Our little guy is serious and sweet, cautious and curious, observant and interested in everything. He loves making his mommy laugh and has about a thousand facial expressions a day. He’s active like any two-year old little boy, but he’s not wide open. Mostly he’s pretty calm and content to play with his trucks, blocks, stuffed animals, and his favorite roll of duct tape (<– yes). He’ll sit next to me for long stretches of time reading books and learning about numbers, letters, and animal sounds.
He loves sitting on my lap while we flip through food magazines and point out different shapes and learn new words. And he has so much fun helping in the kitchen. As soon as I start pulling out ingredients, he pulls his little stool right to the counter so he doesn’t miss any of the action. He is becoming pickier about what he eats as he grows more comfortable in our home and trusts that food is always available and abundant. Right now he loves granola bars, greek yogurt, applesauce, goldfish, baked beans, spaghetti, avocado, any kind of bread, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ketchup, eggs, and anything sweet. And cheerios. My goodness the cheerios we go through.
When he came home in April, we could tell he had a lot to say, but he didn’t quite have the words yet. Now, as we near his third birthday, his chatter is beginning to take shape. Each day is a new word or sound and I love seeing his face light up when he masters a new challenge. He says “daddy” (all the time), he’s learning to count (he has 8 down pat and has no use for 9), and he has a long list of animals he can name. He said “mama” a few times back in July, but he’s been holding out on me since then.
Merritt is a great sleeper and he loves naptime as much I do! He takes a nap every day and almost always sleeps through the night. And the best part is he stays in his bed until we come get him.
We have a sweet bedtime routine that I cherish. After bath and getting pajamas on, Merritt and I sit on his bed while Garrett reads a story from the children’s storybook bible. Every night as Garrett starts to read, Merritt crawls into my lap, looks up at me, and says, “I love you.” I’ll take that over mama any day! After we hear our story, we say a prayer, and then finish with The Going to Bed Book. We’ve read it so many times that Garrett and I both have it memorized.
We have a lot of dance parties over here. Merritt is obsessed with music and dances all day long. He will literally drop whatever he is doing and start dancing when his favorite song starts playing. He loves country and bluegrass and dancing in the car while we ride. And whenever that 5:00 hangry toddler syndrome kicks in, we turn the music up loud and dance around the kitchen.
My little guy is becoming much more affectionate and allowing me to give him hugs more often. He’s even started leaning in for them himself. For adoptive parents, this is a big deal! So many of our kiddos come home unused to giving or receiving a lot of affection. Merritt loves when I give him kisses and when we tickle him and he is constantly crawling in our laps to sit and be held. After two and a half years of missing him and looking for him, we are as happy as we can be to have him sitting as close as possible.
Next month we’ll celebrate his third birthday (his first at home), six months of being a forever family, and the one-year anniversary of learning the Philippines chose us to be his family. Cue lots of sappy posts and happy tears coming your way.
I know the blog has been quiet for a while and I appreciate so many of you asking when I’ll be back and letting me know you miss the posts. I’ve missed it too and have had so much to share. We had an incredible summer and I’ve really enjoyed being unplugged as much as possible so that I can soak up every minute of my time with him. He is growing and changing so quickly and I’m so blessed and honored to be his mommy.
One last thing — If you feel the Lord calling you to adopt or have the slightest inkling that He may be, please pursue it! Ask questions, research, pray, ask God to make His calling for your family clear as day. Adoption can be overwhelming, exhausting, patience-testing, and challenging. But it is also beautiful and redemptive and completely worth every piece of paper, every moment spent waiting, every trip to a notary, every withdrawal on the checking account. If you have questions about adoption or how to get started, I’d love to help!
First four photos by Candice Wood Photography.