It is weird to adopt. Tori isn't pregnant, like several of our friends, but we are about to be parents like they are. We have all the same fears and expectations of what it will be like to have a child, but we don't have any part of her yet. She isn't growing before our eyes. We can't feel her move. We have a few images of her and that's all. It's just weird. I had a friend whose wife went to the hospital today because of some concerns with her pregnancy and we have another friend who got to hear her baby's heartbeat the other day. As scary and worrisome as this time is for them, they have the opportunity to check on their kids who aren't here yet. When something doesn't seem right, they have medical professionals check their babies. If they need to, they can change their diets to help their children receive the proper nutrition, they can wrap up in a blanket if it is cold or take medicine if they're sick. We know that Zoe isn't getting everything she needs, but we can't do anything about it. We recently learned that it probably isn't hot in Ethiopia at night and now Tori goes to sleep concerned that Zoe isn't warm or cozy. But we can't help her, snuggle her or tuck her in tight. We just have to wait, fill out some more paperwork, look at her picture and dream of the day she will be with us. Everyday that we wait, we know that it's one more day of her life that we miss out on. There are millions of firsts that we will know absolutely nothing about. We don't know her first word, we missed out on her first step, we never saw her first smile, we didn't give her first hug, we didn't witness her first breath. No matter how many firsts we will be blessed to have with her, the first years of her life have been absent from ours. 

I have been thinking lately about how I have learned so much in this last year from the precious preschoolers at church and watching Matt and Carrie parent their 3 awesome kids. I see how amazing, unique and special every single child is. I think about how we want to raise Zoe as our child, not our "adopted" child. She will be just as special and wonderful to us as the biological children we will have one day. The story of her arrival here will be extraordinary, but the arrival of each and every child is extraordinary. 

It kind of freaks me out to think about being a dad. This would probably surprise a lot of people, since I am a kids pastor, but it really does freak me out. I absolutely love teaching and entertaining a huge group of kids for an hour once a week. I have a degree in Family Studies and I have been training other adults to lead children for years. But the thought of being responsible to raise an entire human and prepare her for life is quite daunting. What if I work too much and how much is too much? How will I give her the attention she deserves so that she will grow to be a confident woman? Will she trust me? How will I let her know that I truly love her unconditionally? How do I keep her away from boys? That makes me think about the fact that Zoe is a girl. Yikes! Of course, I've been told that I will be a good dad to a little girl...I think that's because I am more of an artist than an athlete, but still I have almost 29 years of experience being a boy and none as a girl. I don't really know what dolls do or why a tea party is fun. I do know that this stuff is really important along with pink and sparkly things. I realize that all first time dads are completely clueless, too, but I guess that working with kids shows me how much and how easily I can really screw her up. I just don't want to screw her up, you know? 

It is a huge relief and ginormous blessing to know that Tori will be her mom. She will be a truly amazing mom. Really the best. Seriously, no little girl could be luckier than Zoe. Tori is amazing with all kids. I watched her love on our nephew, Will, today and thought about how lucky Zoe is going to be. Tori will hug, play, cuddle, sing, kiss, bandage and do more for Zoe than she could ever dream of. She will make our little girl feel like the most important person in the world. She'll ask her ten million questions about the simplest thing and listen to every detail, celebrating the mundane and honoring the ordinary so that her every moment feels special. It is a blessing for me to watch her as we go through this journey. Her heart breaks everyday for Zoe in a million different ways. I am blessed, challenged and humbled to hear of her concern for our little girl. I am blessed to be taking this journey with my best friend and love of my life. I have learned so much about love from Tori and I can't wait to watch her teach Zoe to love, give and celebrate.

Thanks for reading our blog, talking about it with us and sharing it with others. It is so encouraging to hear you say that you are excited for us and that you are praying for our little girl with us. We're also really honored that you are buying shirts to help share our story and raise awareness about the many children waiting for forever families. There are lots of these kids out there from all over the world and right down the street who we would love to help you connect with if God has prepared and called you to adopt and you just don't know where to start. We would be so happy to help you take the first step. We've taken many steps in this wonderful journey. Thank you all for walking it with us!

1 Comment

  1. Sarah on September 23, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    Praying for you guys Derek! Adoption is a beautiful thing. Both of my nephews are adopted (I can't remember if I have already told you if I have..sorry!) I think that you will definitely be a wonderful father, and from what you have said of Tori, I am sure she will be a wonderful mother. I am so happy for you both. Our little girls will be about the same age. I think Zoe may be slightly older than Kailey (she will turn 3 on Dec. 5). That is pretty neat! :)


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