It’s official!

Words can’t quite describe the weight off of us!  We thought we weren’t going to be able to finalize as of the night before, and we were filling out paperwork still at the court house that morning, but it’s DONE.   The actual hearing was pretty quick.  Our parents, siblings, and nieces/nephews sat in the row behind us, so that was really neat.  Jax was 100% obnoxious…shouting out “correct!” when the judge would ask us questions, spinning around in his chair, facing backwards, shouting “peek-a-boo” to his cousins, etc. etc. ETC.   The judge did a nice job of including the kids (“Is this what you want?”  “Are these the names you want?”  “Are you happy?”  “You need to understand that these are now your Mom and Dad forever”).    Charlie and I wrote vows, and read them in court, and it was very emotional.

I, Mom, take you, Jacob and Alyssa to be my kids. I promise to keep you safe to the very best of my ability. I promise to be your Mom during the very best of times and at the very worst. I swear that nothing you can do will change that. I promise to always make sure you have everything you need, and I promise not to let you have everything you want. I promise to always help you see the good in others and in yourself. I promise to always be honest with you, even when it hurts. I promise I will help you find your birth family if you tell me that’s what you want someday. I promise I will still be your Mom if/when you choose to do that, like it or not. I promise I will never leave you, and that we will be a family forever.

Alyssa and Jacob,
I am your dad.
I will always be your dad.
I promise to keep you safe
I promise to play often and laugh even more with you
I promise to help you grow physically, mentally, emotionally
You can ask me life’s questions and I will answer them to the best of my knowledge
I will do all that I can so we are happy and healthy.
We will laugh. We will cry. We will sing!
We will experience different and exciting things together
We will make so many memories as a forever family.
Through thick and thin, through happy times and sad times, through your early years to teenage years and beyond, I promise to be a constant of love, guidance, and fun.
I will never stop loving you . . . ever.
I am your dad.

We were expecting mixed emotions after court/that weekend, but all we got was sheer relief.  Alyssa must have said 10 times that first day, “I’m just so glad this is forever.”  That night, when we tucked her into bed, she said – “Good night officially Mom and Dad!”  I am headed to school first thing in the morning to show them the court order that declares their new names, Alyssa Brooklyn Joy Kent and Jacob Jett Kent!

We had the most fabulous weekend ever celebrating…Bounce Adventure, water park all to ourselves, fantastic hotel room with a kids suite, amazing cabin in Crosslake, paddle boarding, lots of swimming, bonfire, etc.  A perfect ending to a less-than-perfect process!

IMG_1045 IMG_1050 kent love

’twas the night before adoption day…

‘Twas the night before adoption day, and all through the house

Not a creature was calm, not even a mouse

Adoption day clothes were set out with care,

Parents asked the kids for the 18th time to share.

The children were now nestled all snug in their beds,

And parents stressed and signed paperwork until their faces were red.

And Mama with her wine, and Dad with his glass,

They cursed out the system, and one bottle won’t last.

When from under the couch, there arose such a clatter,

Mama’s phone is ringing, better see what’s the matter.

Social worker says that something’s awry,

Is this a joke?  You surely must lie.

So away with the drinks, and back to the pens,

Adoption has given us a whole different lens.

Desperate to make this family forever,

Ready to take on just about any endeavor.

For love makes a family, and family we are,

See you in court, tomorrow’s not far.

don’t forget to play

First off, t-5 days to adoption day!!!!  The kids know, and are very excited (and are pretending they are not nervous).  Bounce Adventure in St. Cloud has very kindly invited our family over to bounce out all the big feelings after court (check them out at http://www.thebounceadventure.com/).  We really want to read vows in the court room, but I (literally) can’t think about Thursday without tearing up, so I’m not 100% sure how that’s going to work.  Anyhow, after the bouncing we are headed up North to stay at a waterpark (one of our family’s very favorite things) before headed to a great cabin for the weekend.  Lots of exciting things coming our way!

I spoke at an adoption training today full of about 50 families wanting to adopt out of foster care.  It’s so hard to even know where to start.  I badly wanted to communicate approximately 800,472 things in a short window of time.  It’s a tricky balance to equally convey how absolutely life-altering AMAZING it is and also how insanely challenging it is.

Before I left, the kids asked where I was headed. I explained that I was going to go tell other families thinking about adopting how great our family is and help answer any questions they might have.  Alyssa said, “I hope you get some people to adopt.”   Me too, kiddo.

Before I spoke, I asked J and A what they thought future adoptive parents needed to know about adopting kids from foster care.  J easily responded with, “the main thing is they need to know how to be safe.  And tell them not to forget to play.”   Daniel Hughes (a great adoption educator) developed the PACE model, which stands for playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy to heal children.  I think J was pretty much right on!  “A” basically said that kids need to know it’s okay to talk about their birth families.  (YES!)  Oh…and also that parents need to make sure kids get enough sleep so they aren’t crabby.  She wouldn’t know anything about that…

I’m excited to give an update sometime after court this coming week!  Meanwhile, don’t forget to play.  🙂

Father Lifting Young Son

a letter to my children’s birth mother

Dear birth mother of my children,

It amazes me that while we are strangers, we are so very intimately connected. I have never seen your face, but I have cried for you many tears. I have attempted to put myself in the unimaginable position of losing one’s child, and I have grieved for you. I look at my beautiful children and I wonder if J gets his infectious laugh from you or if A’s beautiful eyes are yours. The truth is that I have also felt an anger for you that I didn’t know I had me. I have held your children, my children, as their bodies shook and trembled and cried all of the pain out. Most days, I know deep in my soul that you didn’t set out to hurt your children. I know that you loved them, and that you were doing the best you could given your skills and struggles and experiences. I know that there isn’t a day that goes by you don’t feel unimaginable pain and wonder where they are and if they are okay.

I want you to know that I love those kids with every ounce of my being. I want you to know that I feel their pain as if it’s my own, and I root them on in every aspect of their lives. The best part of my day is when they come home from school. Each night, we read books and give hugs before tucking them into their cozy beds for the night. I want you to know how J’s excitement for life teaches me each day what’s important, and A’s willingness to keep trying is beyond inspiring. I want you to know that they love their little brother, and he loves them, like nothing else in this world. I want you to know that they will never be hungry or alone or scared or hurt again if their Dad and I have anything to do with it. I want you to know that we will always teach them that love is bigger than hate, forgiveness is important, there is good in everyone, and compassion should be free.

I hope that you find peace in knowing they are safe and happy and LOVED. Know that we don’t speak poorly of you in this house, and we always answer their questions with as much grace and compassion as we can. We have told the kids we will help them find you when they are 18, if that is what they want. I hope you can become the person you want them to find at that time.

Grateful beyond words to be their Mom,

Ann