Dear Olivia

Dear Olivia:

Today is Mother’s Day in many parts of the world. In Haiti they usually celebrate the week after, so really I get to think about it twice.

Baby girl (yes, I know you’re three, and not a baby and more, but you’ll always be my baby girl), you were the one that made me a Mommy in the first place. And while there are days where I sometimes wonder what we signed ourselves up for, I’m really so grateful that I got to start this journey with you. That you were where it began.

I know as you get older you’ll have questions about your adoption and things like that. I hope your dad and I can answer those in a way that helps you know how very loved you are. One thing that bothers be about adoption talk, or peoples questions about it, is that often people assume that adoption was a last resort. I want you to know that in your case, it was our first choice.

See, your Daddy and I had lots of talks before we ever got engaged about what was important to each of us. We had chosen to stay single for a long time, just waiting for the person to come along that we could see ourselves spending the rest of our lives with. It was  a serious decision on both our parts. We didn’t want to play around. When we found each other we wanted to make sure we were on the same page. One of those very important conversations was about our family, and adoption being a part of that.

For many people that consider adoption, it’s on the list somewhere. For us, it was at the top. Your Daddy would have been fine with only adopting because he’d lived in the third world long enough to know that there were many kids out there needing a family to care for them. I wanted to adopt, but also felt that stirring deep inside to have a biological child. Eventually we decided we would do both, but that we would start with adoption.

That started our journey to you. We worked for months on paperwork with the people at Heartline Ministries, and made sure we had what we needed here to bring you into our home. I remember sitting in your ready room just thinking about what it would be like to have you there, not even knowing exactly who you would be. The day we got the call I was sick with a cold and I remember your Daddy coming in the house and saying, “Are you going to be feeling well enough to go to Port tomorrow?” It was an odd question and as I asked why he would be asking, since I had no idea how I would be feeling, he said, “Because I need to know if you’ll be feeling well enough to go meet our baby tomorrow.” And then I started bawling. Your Daddy just hugged me and we knew you were on your way. When we met you the next day you were this itty bitty thing. You seemed so fragile that I think we were worried we would break you.

Now I look at you and see the fireball that you have become and I wonder how it is that God trusts us so much with your little life. I worry that we’re going to screw you up somehow. You’ve brought so much joy into our lives with your funny personality. And, in the moment of being honest, as you get older you test us too and leave us wondering some days if we’ll make it through this thing called parenting. But when I look at those days I see we have them because God has made you a strong person, one who knows her mind, one who will do big things in life. And I hope and pray that your Daddy and I can honor him and raise you in a way that harnesses those things for good, and in a way that doesn’t crush your spirit.

Because this blog is also sort of our family scrap book, and because these letters to you are a way for me to share what it’s like being your Mom I think it’s important for you to know some of the things you’ve been up to lately.

About a week ago you walked out of your room buck naked, covered in baby powder. I had spent time getting the baby’s side of the room ready and put out a basket of stuff on the top shelf of the shelving unit. I kind of hoped you would just ignore it. Wasn’t I being optimistic. As we went into your room to investigate we found that not only you were covered in baby powder, but so was your floor, your toys, your books, the change table, and the shelf itself. You had been very busy in a short period of time. We plunked you in your time out chair and then went to “clean up”. Really, we had to leave the room so we could laugh together. Sometimes it’s hard to be serious when handing out the discipline, especially when it really is sort of funny. There was a lot of whispering in your room as your Daddy and I swept and cleaned up. And lots of giggling too. As part of the discipline we wouldn’t let you smile when we took a picture.

Lately too, you’ve had lots of funny things coming out of your mouth. Sometimes they drive us a bit crazy, and others we have to stiffle giggles. This week one of your new phrases has been, “I’m having a hard time about you Mommy (or Daddy, depending).” What you’re trying to say is, “I’m having a hard time WITH you…” but, we’ll take it. The fact that you are three and are trying to communicate your feelings is actually pretty impressive and I have to admit, I would rather you just tell me you don’t like what I’m telling you rather than you having a tantrum. The other night while we were having a show down over you putting your toys away and my frustration level was rising, you sat on the floor slowly putting things in your play house and looked at me and said, “You’re angry, and I’m angry. We’re both angry.” And what do I say to that?

On the fun side of things, we’ve been watching some classic movies with you lately. Annie, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cinderella… You’ve loved all of them. The best part is that you love to sing your own versions of the songs from them. You especially like to do this into the knobs on the kitchen cupboards because you can see your reflection in them. That or you dance in front of the oven door because of the same reason. You are pretty much always singing. All day long. It’s really fun to see. Sometimes it gets a bit old like when we’re trying to have conversations with other people around the dinner table, but meh.

So, Baby Girl, know that this Mother’s Day, not only am I thankful for the moms and grandmother I have, I am thankful for you, because it was you that gave me the title of Mom. It’s not a role I take lightly, and I hope that we can raise you to be a strong woman. Please know you bring joy to our lives every day, and that we are so grateful for the fact that God entrusted us with you. Know that we have planned our family and God has allowed those plans to come to fruition. You weren’t an alternative to not being able to have children, but rather our first choice. The little brother rolling around in my belly is proof of that. And, he’s not coming along as a happy surprise in the sense that we didn’t think we could have kids, he’s coming because he was planned and wanted too, and God once again allowed that plan to come to fruition. Together I hope the two of you will always know that you were both important parts in the puzzle of our family.

You were wanted. You were chosen. You are so very loved.

~Love Mom

PS – I thought you might enjoy seeing some of your self portraits taken with my camera when you know you’re not supposed to be touching it. At least you fess up and put yourself in time out when you do.

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

2 thoughts on “Dear Olivia

  1. Leslie, this is a beautiful letter! Thanks for sharing so openly about your family. I was just reading this morning about some of the same things you were sharing. About how we wonder sometimes if we are going to screw up our children or how to navigate some of the challenges that they give us. I’m reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called “Am I Messing Up My Kids”. One thing she wrote that really encouraged me was “That’s why God gave me this specific child. God sees within me the ability to be the one He’s perfectly designed to raise up this strong little person.” Whew, I’m glad He sees it because sometimes I don’t. I love the stories of Olivia’s adventures. I am sure that if her and Caleb ever got together they would have a lot of fun but absolute caos would occur!

    • Aww, thanks! And thanks for sharing too. Seriously, it’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one that wonders if I’m messing things up. I love the quote too. What a great perspective. And yes, it probably would be chaos and mischief, just because I know the influence of the parents involved ;)

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