adoption (n.) - when you grow in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy [kilgore]

i had the honor of doing a shoot with the kilgore fam a day before a wonderfully momentous occasion: the adoption finalization of their second child, anna cate. i met mom, selina, over five years ago. i remember having a brief conversation with her about adoption, and she mentioned that she and her husband ben had always felt led toward the process, and she asked a few questions about our situation with lucy. a few years passed, and i ran into selina at the park. there she was, chasing a gorgeous, cherubic, vivacious blue-eyed blond named cole. she explained that they were in the process of adopting this precious boy, and selina was simply glowing. there is no other way to describe it, and i was, of course, delighted for her. when i discovered a short time later that they were in the process of adopting cole's little sister, anna cate, i was doubly thrilled! i so enjoyed my morning with this family. i was with them for over two hours, and i don't think mom & dad ever stopped smiling. and when i first walked into their downtown bungalow and spied anna cate in her pink seersucker dress, i felt a little lump in my throat.

five years ago, my little lucy sat in an an almost identical summer frock, awaiting her hearing. as you can imagine, the finalization day brings with it a multitude of emotions, from elation to relief ... to perhaps a tinge of trepidation. our hearing took place in the state of lucy's birth, oklahoma, when she was six months old. even though every aspect of our adoption situation went smoothly, i still had that nagging "what if" feeling floating around in the back of my brain somewhere during those waiting months.

on the day we finally entered the old courthouse in downtown bartlesville, we had a private courtroom waiting for us. my husband and i sat at an old mahogany table, nervously shuffling little lucy back and forth between us, trying to avoid looking back at our audience of friends and family that had trudged through our seven year journey with us. i knew one glance would have me melting into a puddle of tears reminiscent of a scene from" the wizard of oz". my dad was our attorney, and the first thing he did was put my husband on the witness stand. i must say we were not expecting this. i wish i had a picture of poor shane's color-drained face as he was being sworn in, facing the judge, about to be questioned under oath by his father-in-law! have you seen "meet the parents"? anyway, there he sat in the witness seat with our baby in his lap, awaiting his questioning. and for those of you that know my dad, you know he has the orneriest cheshire cat grin in washington county. looking back, this HAD to be a tad intimidating. thankfully, my dad took it easy on shane, and kept it light, funny and to the basics. however, for those of you that know my husband, you know he has a tendency to shed tears with the ease of any soap opera star. (sorry, honey, but i think we both know that's no secret....). i think he cried throughout the majority of his testimony. he wasn't the only one, though. echoes of sniffles bounced from the wood paneled walls as our daughter was officially "lucy mame LADUKE".

in honor of the occasion, i wrote a book for her, "an angel called lucy". in it, i explained her adoption story through rhyming lines and basic illustrations peppered with little pictures of our family and her birthmom. the cover and a couple of pages are at the beginning of this post, and the words of her book are at the end. i wanted to share for many reasons. i believe it's vitally important & healthy for our family to keep an open dialogue about our adoption chronicles. i want to erase the mystery. i want her to not only be aware of, but proud of, her story. and her story is pretty cool. not only did two people pray for her and wait for her for many long years, but one person loved her enough to make an unfathomable sacrifice. lucy's birthmom, liz, loved lucy more than she loved herself. she loved her enough to give her a home with a mom and a dad. people often ask, "are you going to tell her she's adopted?" they are always a bit shocked when i tell them it's her favorite story. of course, it's mine too...

here's to a happily ever after at the kilgore bungalow. i think their expressions in the first shot say it all...

"an angel called lucy"

long long ago on a warm summer day,

two people met to ride bikes and play.

they soon fell in love and shared a few kisses,

and the very next summer they were mr. and mrs.

happy happy were they but their hearts felt a tug.

they wanted a baby to cuddle and hug.

so they dreamed and they planned through sun, rain & snow,

while they waited & watched for their baby to grow.

the days turned to weeks, then to months, then to years.

their hopes and their wishes were turning to tears.

but God had a plan and told them, "please don't be sad.

i promise one day you'll be a mom and a dad".

great news finally came with the ring of a phone

and a voice that said, "you'll soon have a girl of your own!"

the call came from a birthmom, and their hearts skipped a beat.

her name was elizabeth and soon they would meet.

liz had made a decision that was selfless & brave.

a family she'd make and a life she would save.

they traveled to tulsa to meet liz face to face.

they all shed a few tears and shed an embrace.

weeks later the couple was in tulsa again,

in the hospital awaiting their new lives to begin.

their adorable baby they could not wait to see,

but it took twelve long hours to shake her angel wings free!

at 9:20 that night, the couple's hearts about burst

as they proudly watched liz hold their baby girl first.

the new little angel now needed a name...

her wings fluttered softly as she was call lucy mame.

at last they were handed their baby to hold.

they were so thankful to watch God's plan unfold!

this mom and dad knew that from there ever after,

their home would be filled with smiles and laughter.

so we loaded up the car, daddy, you and me,

and we drove home to hot springs as a family of three!

the end. coming soon: "ruthie: the sequel"....

carpe diem (latin) - seize the day

sometimes i get those little reminders to pay a little extra attention to the small stuff. the little moments that today, seem simply ordinary. the ticklish butterfly kisses. the sweet, quiet secrets. the tired head resting against my shoulder. the wild backseat air guitar. the "mommy!! watch this!!". the sticky, adorable popsicle grins. you know - a reminder to quit saying, "okay, in a minute", or "well, maybe later". little reminders to never take those minutes and "laters" for granted, as we can never know what tomorrow may bring...