Worth It

It is our last night in this magical place. Big kids asleep, sun setting, wine in hand, perfect tiny baby snuggled in my lap while watching Hayes cast the last of his fishing line into the warm Atlantic. God saw this moment two years ago when I was awakened with that burden to adopt on my heart. He saw it when He nudged us along in our journey of faith, reminding us that it is always worth it when we trust in Him. Tears can’t help but flow. Oh, how He loves us so.

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Tomorrow we fly back to reality. New baby. New challenges. This has been quite the adventure. I am thankful for the miracle of life, and for God’s perfect provision. Dear God, help us never to forget this feeling of being in Your will. Help us to continue to put Your desires for us ahead of our own, and to remember that we will never be forsaken when we trust in Your promises. This. THIS. This was so worth it.

Perfectly God’s Child

Well Folks, we made it.

The countdown to adoption ended last night at 4:22 pm. It was awful and intense, grueling and painful. We will never be the same.  Baby Judson, what Eden and Wes call him (they met him today!) has changed the way we think about this world and the small and privileged bubble that we live in.

We know now that Judd was meant to be a part of our family always. God, in all of His omnipotence and sovereignty made perfectly constructed plans. We are so thankful that we listened to His still small voice to begin this terribly painful, emotionally paralyzing, and yet unbelievably rewarding process. Baby Judd is perfectly Eden and Westy’s little brother. He is perfectly Auston, Bella, Tessa, and Ava’s littlest cousin. He is perfectly Tony and Linda, John and Barb’s newest grandchild. He is perfectly GG’s fourteenth great-grandchild. He is perfectly Mike, Erica, Pete, Alli, Doug, Davis and Ariel’s most promising NBA-bound nephew (sorry Ston). And he is perfectly (insert your child’s name)’s sweet little buddy. But most importantly, Baby Judd is perfectly God’s child and we can’t WAIT to see what He has in store for him, because we know how much He wanted this for his life.

I told my NBFF about God and the plans I know He has for Judd. She is already moving on with her 18-year-old life, with her school work (she had a final today – I’m telling you she is incredible) her weekend plans to Busch Gardens, and giving her long-distance boyfriend the silent treatment. Think about all of the ways God constructed this adoption, matched us together, provided His supernatural peace, and provided thousands of dollars. All for one little baby Judd. And now think about all the ways God constructed YOU and YOUR life, and how He matched you with your situation/job/relationship, and provided for your needs. It’s an incredibly powerful and humbling thing to think about.  If God cares so much about Judd and constructed a plan to place him so perfectly into our family, doesn’t that make you wonder how much God must care about you too? It’s mind-blowing the love that He has for this world. He loves us so much.

My NBFF called last night an hour after we left the hospital: “Yup, he’s still eating, sleeping, and pooping.” She laughed at my technical and obvious report, but I didn’t want her to feel that way – it was important for her to feel the freedom to ask. No biology final or boyfriend drama is going to keep her from healing. And then today:  “Yup, he survived his first road trip, and met his sister and brother” and I sent her pictures of their first interactions that made us both cry (we are getting good at that – mutual crying).

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The First Meeting of the Siblings: Wes is pointing to Judd’s pacifier shouting “Oh noooo! He’s cryin’!”

I’m not sure how much longer she will call every day, or maybe she will take it down a notch to a text message, or an email. But if it helps her heal and if it helps her move on and feel better, I will be waiting and willing to report. She loves that boy, there is NO doubt about it. And someday, I hope when she asks, I will be able to tell her: “Yup, today Judd invited Jesus into his heart and decided to follow in His ways of love, peace, and kindness.” And maybe, JUST MAYBE that would be enough to change her heart too.

And 24-hours later, Judson Antonio La-Sean already fits – he’s got loads of friends, and a loving family, and to be honest, we already forgot what life was like without him, and we will be forever thankful.

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Thank you for following along on this journey. I am sure we will continue to update you as things come up. My hope is that God was glorified through it all, and that maybe through our openness and candor more people will understand the process of an open adoption and feel the confidence to  support others going through it like many of you did for us, or even answer that call to adopt for their own family. There is such a need, and it’s expensive and hard, oh MAN is it hard, but the good FAR outweighs the bad and that’s coming from me – fresh off the worst day of my life and on the brink of another year of no sleep. The redeeming power of Christ’s love is incredible.

“Now to him who is able to do far abundantly more than all that we can ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

We will be hiding out in the beautiful state of Florida while we wait for our state approvals to go through (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it). We can’t wait for you guys to meet our beautiful boy, and will be sure to invite you over or stop by to introduce you when we get back at the end of next week.

With Much Love,

The Murray Five

Hayes, Kara, Eden, Westy, and Baby Judd

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Counting the Hours

We woke up this morning feeling so tired. Not tired in the usual way parents of a newborn feel. Baby Judd did not stay with us in our room last night. He probably won’t stay with us tonight either. We are emotionally tired because this beautiful and precious birth is so very complicated and bittersweet. Last night was a night we will never forget. Our NBFF is one of the most brave people we will ever know.

Her labor was progressing so slowly throughout the day, that around 7:00 we thought we should run out to regroup and grab some dinner because we thought it was going to be another long night of waiting. While ordering food for her mom, she called, “How close are you? It’s happening.” We got back just in time, Judd was born at 7:44. When we ran in, she was hoping we were the doctor, disappointed and almost naked she yelled “WHERE IS HE?!?” and she raised up her right hand like a high-five and said “You! (to me) Momma, you hold this hand, and You! (to Hayes) Dad, you hold this hand.” (gesturing to her other hand). Once we were in our places, obedient to her every wish and desire she looked up at Hayes and said, “WHERE is the doctor? I’m tellin’ you…when he gets here I’m gonna KILL him.” Hayes and I glanced back and forth at each other, my eyes laughing and apologizing to him for the graphic scene before him (the poor guy was staring at the back wall for most of the time) and his eyes back at me in awe of this woman – her boldness and tenacity, and clear head (and humor!) in the midst of the chaos and pain.

The doctor arrived, she yelled at him, he yelled back in good fun…something about traffic, she pushed three times, and Judd was out. It was the most glorious and amazing moment. He was a bit bruised because the cord was wrapped around his neck. His apgar was a 7 when he was first born, an hour later he was a 9. Praise be to God for this unfailing gift.

Since then we have spent our time loving on them. I didn’t leave my NBFF’s side for a long time after the delivery. Hayes followed Judd wherever he went, but something kept me glued to her side, squeezing each other’s  hands as she delivered the placenta, and got clean and warm, shaking under her new blankets. I told her that she was amazing. I told her that she was brave. I told her that he was perfect.

She held him first, he was able to nurse for a little while. It didn’t bother me one bit. He was beautiful and was doing the thing that was best for him. She was loving him and doing what she could in the time that she could do it. Then her mom held him, we took pictures and laughed at his little nose and dimples. Her mom handed him over to me and took the same pictures and then I passed him on to Hayes, who hogged him for a little while. There was so much love in the room. I looked around feeling so privileged to be in their company. This little boy is so loved.

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Hayes the very proud father and baby hog

His grandmother looked at me and asked us what we thought about middle names. I told her about my father and the amazing man that he is, and our plan to name Judson after him, but took the cue to ask her why. She was wondering if we could add the name La-Sean, as it is a family name of theirs. Our NBFF’s middle name is actually La-Shea. “Of course.” I said. OF COURSE.

We fed him a bottle, he took it like a champ, and we said goodnight. I know he wasn’t put down for one single moment that night. They are cherishing these hours. They are counting them down until they are discharged. They don’t want to leave him. They don’t want to say goodbye. We are also counting down the hours. We can’t WAIT to be discharged. We can’t WAIT to have him all to ourselves. It’s bittersweet. It’s painful. It’s impossibly hard.

Yes, we are tired. Mostly because we are fighting our natural instincts to scoop him up, unwrap him, take off his clothes, and breathe in his little smells. But that time will come. We have a lifetime of breathing in his smells, and for now we need to respect their time. They will remember it always, it will help with their healing and grief, and hopefully bring to mind God’s loving hand in their lives.

The clock is ticking and we are thankful.

“Adopted” the Baby Brother

No baby yet! She is dilating, having contractions 1-2 minutes apart – she is one brave girl, my NBFF. Things are going slowly but smoothly. The doctor is coming to break her water soon, and hopefully after that the baby will come quickly! We will keep you posted. Thank you for the prayers and texts and emails. One funny story happened while we were face-timing with the kids, we asked Wes what we should name his new baby brother, and he answered (arms out matter-of-factly) “Adopted”. Duh, Mom.

Sharing His Life

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Obligatory airplane selfie

We arrived in Tallahassee this afternoon and met our NBFF and her mom. They are both beautiful clones of one another with big bright smiles. We weren’t sure what to expect, as we arrived after our social worker’s scheduled hours so we didn’t have her there as a buffer BUT I had a gift with me (because that is what all good gift-givers do!) so we felt a liiiiiitle bit more confident walking in holding something. She was induced five hours before we got there, but we weren’t sure how far along she had progressed, sometimes these things can go quickly, or it may take some time. Of course we didn’t want to announce our arrival while she was in active labor: “Hi, it’s nice to finally meet you, thanks for pushing out our baby.”  We also wanted to be sensitive to her as I’m sure she wasn’t feeling well, and probably wanted to give us a good first impression (as we did for her!) and so…we knocked quietly, walked in carefully and announced ourselves humbly. Once her mom realized it was us, she jumped out of her chair and hugged us both: “We are SOOOO excited to see you!”

Phew. Our NBFF was still in the beginning stages of her induction and we were fortunate enough to not only meet them under normal, although carefully monitored circumstances,  but we were also able to spend time with them and got to know more about our baby boy’s birth family and history.

I have to admit, it has been difficult listening to all of the details and complexities of their lives and the road that has led them to this decision to give up this child for adoption. Of course it’s a tragedy, when would it ever not be? They spoke very openly and honestly about their hopes and dreams for him, mostly things that they could not give him, and we told them about our mutual plans to follow through. After we left to grab some dinner, our birth mom’s mother pulled me aside and whispered how much more comfortable she felt with the process, especially now after meeting us face-to-face, and how she thinks they will decide to continue on with our relationship after the birth with an open adoption.

YES. That has been our prayer all along, that we would be able to share our lives with another family through an open adoption. But they were always very skeptical and I can’t blame them. We were relatively strangers before today. She explained that she doesn’t want to say “goodbye” to the baby once he is discharged, she wants to say “see you later” knowing that we are committed to sending them pictures, and updating them throughout his life.  I thanked her and explained what an honor and privilege it would be to share his life with them. There have been many tears shed already, and the baby isn’t even born yet!

Right now we are resting in our room right next to theirs in the hospital. The day did not end the way I thought it would, with our baby in our arms, but I am thankful. Thankful to have been able to spend that time with them, and help them begin the healing process. I think this time will also help me be a better mom to our adopted boy. Tomorrow is another day, and is probably THE day. It’s bittersweet. Of course we are elated and over-joyed at the prospect of adding to our family, but it comes at such a price, and is such a loss for them.

Thank you for praying for us, for our NBFF, for our baby. Please continue to pray for every detail, that the Holy Spirit would continue to give us the right words at the right time, and to show them the love and kindness that Jesus would.

Goodnight!

Stopping to Smell the Daffodils

Hi Sweets Friends!

Our baby’s birthday is not today. Our birth mom’s doctor decided to reschedule her induction for either Thursday night or Friday morning. Either way, Hayes and I will most likely be flying out on Friday morning.

Thanks for the texts and emails, prayers and thoughts today. Keep them coming a little while longer!

Meanwhile, we are stopping to smell the daffodils (or for our yard, just one daffodil) and enjoying the next two days of gorgeous weather with our little family of four.

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With Love,

The Murrays

The Length and Width, Height and Depth

The end is in sight! I talked to my NBFF’s mom last night, and she told me if the baby doesn’t come on his own by the 15th (this Wednesday! THIS Wednesday!) they will induce her. I mean, by this time next week we could be fully submerged in the sweet and sleepless newborn stupor – you moms know the one – when you never know what day it is, when 5 am feels like 11am, and when you watch an entire season of Friends on Netflix in one day. The anticipation is mounting and it’s almost too much to take. Almost.

Meanwhile, I want to share a few of my favorite moments that have happened this week:

imageWe received some fun gifts  to help us prepare for and celebrate our growing family. These are a few of my favs (some of which made me cry! Do you see the onsie that says “LOVED” across the chest? I. CAN’T. EVEN.) Thank you, sweet friends! Our little guy is going to be stylin’ in the cutest (and most meaningful) wear!

imageAnd then this letter came in the mail. I don’t have to say much about it because the note alone speaks volumes. It makes me think about the length and width, height and depth of God’s love for us (and you!) and our little boy. And because I can’t mail a handwritten  personal response, Oh Anonymous and Lovely Sibling in Christ, here it is: THANK YOU for your generous gift and for taking the time to encourage us.  It worked. You blessed our socks off. Completely off. I mean, I can see my newly painted toes. THAT’S how sock-less my feet are because of your thoughtfulness. Thank you for listening to The Lord’s leading and for being faithful to put a stamp on that envelope. I know that kind of thing can take courage because of the vulnerability you may feel. You are a part of our story now. We will use your donation for diapers (oh yes!) and formula.

And finally, THIS scene. Warms my heart.

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Teacher Eden reading her favorite book to her students, Weston and (creepy) Spider-man. “A Mother for Choco” is a book about Mrs. Bear who adopts Choco, a bird who doesn’t have a mommy, and even though they don’t look alike, she takes care of him along with his other siblings. They hug and kiss him and eat pie together – such a sweet story with a relatable message. It has been perfect for my sweet kiddos as they embark on this journey that can be hard for their little minds to understand. If you are adopting, or just want to introduce your kids to the concept of taking care of others who may look different or act differently from you, this is an amazing read. We highly recommend it, although Wes has asked several times if his “adopted baby bruffer” would have “feet and wings like Choco”. Nottttt exactly.

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As always thank you for caring enough to read our updates. We will continue to post as we know more and as Wednesday draws closer. We covet your prayers now more than ever as my NBFF is nearing the end of her pregnancy and I’m sure is feeling all kinds of emotions that most of us will never be able to grasp or relate to. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s super-natural peace for her decision – whatever it may be – and that He would continue to use us for His glory and greater kingdom. He is good, this we know. We are blessed immeasurably by our incredible and vast support system – I pray for that for her too. That she would come to know the length and width, height and depth of God’s love for her and that she would find a christian friend and maybe even a church or bible study to encourage her. I know it’s a lot to ask, but God is able to do “far more abundantly than we can ask or think according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21.

Waiting Still

Our baby is not ready to come out yet! My NBFF had her final scheduled doctor’s appointment yesterday and was told that even though she is having contractions, she isn’t dilating. She is only 39 weeks, but is still very uncomfortable. They promised to induce her next week – and how perfect would that be for US? It would be nice to be able to schedule and plan (and fly!) with a day or two of notice!

She told me last night that she and her mom walked the beach for hours – seeing as we got snow here in Massachusetts last night, I was only slightly jealous – jealous of the weather, not of her very pregnant condition (let’s be clear!).

Thank you for your continued prayers. We will keep you posted!

Update: The Best is Yet to Come

Our birth mom’s doctor has put her on bed rest. She is still having contractions, but nothing too close together. Her next doctor’s appointment isn’t until Wednesday – please pray for her sanity as she waits! I’m sure it’s extremely stressful for her. Her mom has been a godsend and has been in constant connection with me. I’m so thankful that she has the gift of a supportive mother helping her.

Also please pray for us as we do all of the last-minute things we need to. I spent yesterday running around in hopes to be 100% ready when the time comes: Duke got a haircut, our bathrooms were cleaned (what baby wants to come home to dirty bathrooms?), I did laundry and packed, and we went shopping for our birth mom’s push present. We are feeling the reality of our final days as a family of four. I spent extra time with Eden and Wes doing puzzles and playing Chutes and Ladders, and Hayes read FOUR stories at bedtime last night (gasp! TWO books over the two-book limit? Unheard of!). We want to cherish these moments – we have GREAT kids and even though we will only be away from them for 3-4 days, when we see them next, everything will be different, but we know and trust that the best is yet to come. Praise you Lord, for your unfailing promise found in Romans 8:28: “…all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

Thank you for your continued prayers, and for your supportive texts and emails. We are crossing our fingers for an Easter baby (how cool would THAT be?) and will update you ASAP if anything changes.

imageEden and I had some fun quality girl time together and got our toes painted today, and spent the rest of the evening with friends cheering on the men’s Duke basketball team – Go Duke! So many things about our life are still normal, but can feel the anticipation of the adventure before us. Yes, I think the very best things are yet to come!