Sunday, March 29, 2015

Another first, and more gray hair.

Hey Peeps—

Spring Break 2015!  According to 5 out of 6 Repennings, this spring break was wonderful!  I'm a fan of the "staycation" especially when that's all one can afford.  Besides, why do you need to go far, when we have the beauty of Colorado right outside the front door? 

Faith, Will, Little Sass, and I have spent the bulk of the week thoroughly enjoying our time together…picnic in the park, seeing Cinderella, a visit to Jump City, and hanging with friends.  Of course I'll never forget the day we played Rummikube, laughing our heads off, or sitting on the back deck eating lunch and remembering stories from years gone by.  These are the days  and the memories that matter most. 

While the rest of us were living the dream, 15 year old Jack, was occupied for four full days of Driver's Education.  His Spring Break wasn't very fun, if you factor in having to wake up early to get to a classroom to watch startling videos all day.  I will do you the favor and NOT describe what he saw on screen during his four days of education.  You are welcome.  His class was taught by a former police officer, and he said, "Mom, he yells at us all day long!  And by the way, you are a terrible driver!  You don't drive defensively at all!" I didn't think the last part was necessary to add, but he did and I forgive him for being so critical. 

I do think it's important to mention that Jack spent more money on lunch during his four days of class than I spend in a year on lunch.  He went to Subway, McDonalds, Sonic, Subway again, and then to King Soopers to buy candy to eat through the afternoon session each day.  By the 3rd day, when he asked for cash, I said rather abruptly, "get it from your own stash you entitled little snot".  I wasn't proud about my sharp tongue, but someone had to explain to the boy the importance of stretching a dollar. 

On the final day of class, Jack took his permit test and thankfully he was successful!  Some of the other parents tried to be cool when their kids came out with the test results, but I fear I was not one of them.  I greeted him a little too loudly as he walked out with, "How'd you do?  Did you pass?  Are you okay?  Do we have to pay to take it again?" He tried to fake me out with, "Mom I failed", but I knew he was lying.  His light bright eyes told me everything and I knew before the day was over, Jack was going to be behind the wheel. 

Once we were close to home in the safety of our neighborhood, I pulled over.  I told him it was time to swap seats with me.  Reluctantly he did, and as he slowly and fearfully pulled out onto the street I calmly reminded him he needed to buckle up.  While I guided him through the familiar streets, I had to focus on our safety rather than where my mind really wanted to go.  Instead of remembering the time he rode his bike into the mailbox, or how he fell going too fast on his scooter down the driveway, I had to stay the course and instruct him.  This was no time to think about all the crashes he'd experienced on these roads, the hundreds of times he came home needing bandaids and ointment, hugs and kisses. 

The stakes are so much higher now, and there's no going back to simpler days with our sweet Jack.  One of the hardest parts of accepting this fate, is that he longs for the past even more than we do.  Some kids can't wait to grow up, but not Jack.  At 15, he is mature and sweet, however, he retains the innocence of a boy who is content to sit down with a new Lego set for hours while his friends are meeting up at the mall.   His idea of the best night ever is watching a movie with his family and a never-ending bowl of popcorn in his lap. 

Just like all the corny songs say, as much as you might want, you can't turn back time.  They're right, dangit.  We are choosing to embrace the day, even though sometimes the fear rattles my bones.  Just this morning, Billy and Jack left the house before 6:30 a.m. to head to the DMV to beat the crowds and get his official permit.   All the while they waited, they froze their butts off, and did the weird dad/son thing they do when I'm not around.  They were in and out, back home before 9, to face the day just like the rest of the world.  Jack drove again, and this time he remembered to buckle up.  He wasn't as timid as the day before.  And as he grows in confidence, my heart grows with delight.   Tonight I will go into his room to say goodnight.  We will pray as we have done for the past 15 years.   I will pray for safety of all my children and loved ones.  I will thank God for His faithfulness.  And I will ask God to hold us all tightly, as we are all learning to let go.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Celebration on the 2nd Floor!

Hey Peeps—

It's a James Taylor kind of day.  In my mind, although I've never been to Carolina, I'm pretending to be.  "Can't ya just feel the sunshine?"  The warm sun does feel like old friend, as the simple melody fills my room.  Also the Peanut Buster Parfait from DQ completes my near perfect atmosphere. 

Been a busy couple of weeks around here.  Between birthdays, winter retreats, art shows, and one kid moving to the basement, you would think our lives couldn't handle any more excitement.  But that's not all, if you dare to believe it!  The highlight of 2015 took place on February 23 on the second floor of the Jefferson County Courthouse.  Little Sass told the Judge, "I'm ready to get adopted!" 

That snowy morning all six of us packed into the car and headed South.  The weekend before it snowed and snowed, and we weren't even sure the government was up and running.  Nobody told us not to come, and even then, we Repennings don't take No for an answer.  At least not gracefully.  We were early, and so were our family and friends.  When it was time, we all piled into the elevator and made our way up to the second floor. 

The atmosphere on the second floor is unlike most of the other long hallways of the courthouse where there are bitter disputes, sentencing for unspeakable crimes, victims, and victimizers.  The hollow sense of desperation is nowhere to be found on our small little section on the second floor, but rather it is where hope abounds!  While standing and waiting for the other families to make their request for adoption there is a kinship among moms and dads, brothers and sisters.  We all know what it took to get to that day:  the ups and downs, the hopeless tears, the devastation, and then THE CALL.  Adoptive families have a connection like nothing else I've ever known.  I count myself blessed to wear this identity. 

We were the last family to go in and sit before a Magistrate.   Our family and friends filled the rows behind our seats, and Jack, Faith, and Will all sat directly behind Billy, Little Sass, and I.  The Magistrate asked for some history of our case, given by our friend and amazing caseworker Cheryl. When it came time, he asked Billy and I why we felt like we ought to adopt.  Billy proudly stated, "God put it in our hearts" and I said something goofy to the effect of "we had an extra bed".   The judge asked if there were any reasons we should not be allowed to adopt, and the chorus of loved ones all loudly declared, "NO!"  We raised our hands up and swore to promise it was all true, while ZHM sat between us playing with a bracelet, oblivious to the sacred moment yet blissfully aware she was the reason we were there. 

When it was all said and done, we walked out to the hallway for hugs and laughs.  Grandpa Gary offered to take us to lunch, and like I said, we rarely say no.  Besides, we wanted to prolong the celebration as long as possible.  We let our kids miss the whole day of school, and when we got home, ZHM went down for a nap, and the older three went outside to play in the snow.  Nothing could have made me smile more than to see them outside, playing together in the snow.  They were celebrating in their own way, knowing that they are part of something very special. 

Adoption always begins with loss.   Even in the most beautiful of situations, there is loss.  It is real, and hard, and wounding, and the reality is our life on this earth is not  a fairytale.  There will be long and sad conversations in our future.  There will be grief and sadness.  There will be a realization that life is more than simply unfair.  But the beautiful truth is there can be redemption to any story, if one will allow.  Little Sass might have some hard days as her life unfolds, and her beginnings are discovered. We won't keep one thing from her eyes, as she learns of her roots, and we will always tell her the truth.  There will be hard truths, as well as serendipitous ones. 

Just the other day I was going through a stack of paperwork from human services, and looking through every bit of information I could find.  Most names associated with her birth were blacked out, except for one that was mentioned at least twice.  It was a name I recognized instantly.  I learned that my sweet young daughter, the one I met when she was almost two years old was delivered by a man I knew very well.  You may call it a coincidence, but I believe in a God who cares about my details.  My youngest child and my oldest child were delivered by the same doctor, a man of faith and integrity.  Her very first touch in this world was by a man who loves God and who cares deeply about human life.  And when he saw that newborn baby girl was not in the safest of hands, he cared enough to make a phone call.  One that changed the course of her life.  

People have told us "congratulations" quite a bit the last couple of weeks.  Sometimes they say how blessed Little Sass is to have us.  We don't see it that way at all.  We are the blessed.  We've been part of a process that has taught us, stretched us, challenged us, and has made us more aware of God's presence in our lives.  We know it won't be perfect, and we know we are flawed.  But we know we have been given a gift.  And we know God is good.