Nearly a decade has passed, but there are moments it feels like yesterday. Zoey’s birth didn’t seem real—too entangled with fear and disbelief that something so terrible could be happening. But she was born—on May 1, 2014. And time marched on, no matter how surreal.

I still miss her. I am continuously walking a parallel line between the deep sadness of her death and the elation of welcoming our boys to the family. Even in the moments that I’m fully engaged in the joy and laughter of our boys, the ache is there deep in my soul. One moment I’ll be laughing along with their antics, and the next, I’ll feel the pain of grief. I’ll remember that she should be nine. I’ll picture her playing with Barbies. Dancing in the living room. Helping me bake brownies. Because in my imagination, she’s unburdened by physical difficulties.

And that’s ok. I don’t actually want the pain to go away. If it went away, it would mean I’m forgetting. I don’t want to forget. I will continue walking the line. Moving forward, rather than moving on. Finding joy. Accepting the ache.

A few weeks ago, Jordan took a picture of Zoey off the nightstand. He asked if it was his sister. I nodded. He said, “I love her,” and kissed the photo. My heart exploded with love for these sweet little souls: my daughter who left us too soon and the boy who somehow knows her even though they’ve never met.

Today, I celebrate my tiny little human with her soft, bunny feet and piercing blue eyes. I remember the moment I held her for the first time, staring at her beautiful face, knowing life would never be the same.

Happy birthday, Zoey. We love you.

I’ll Be Eating Ice Cream in the Corner If You Need Me

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

For the last several months, stories like mine have been used for political fodder. And when I say months, I really mean years—it just simmers down a bit on occasion. And with today’s decision, the argument will flare up again—into a raging dumpster fire. Are you now wondering if I had an abortion? First, it’s none of your damn business if I did or not. That would be a private conversation between my doctor and me. But no, I did not. It was, however, an option when we learned of Zoey’s diagnosis. You will hear in the news much about “significant fetal abnormalities.” That is one of my stories. Many people know about our daughter, Zoey. They know she was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a condition considered incompatible with life, early in my pregnancy. Since I carried her to term, you may think you know my views on abortion. Then again, I might surprise you. But, again, that’s none of your damn business either. Joe and I had countless unthinkable conversations with our doctors, our families, each other, and therapists. Lots of research and testing was done. And one day we sat in the office of a genetic counselor at a Catholic hospital where they told us we had two options. Carry our daughter to term and “see what happens” or terminate the pregnancy. And while they would not provide termination, they would refer us somewhere that did.

For just one minute, can you stop shouting and think about that? Think about what that was like for two people to sit in a room with a stranger and be told that your child would probably die. As I said, we chose to carry our daughter. But I do not for one minute judge anyone who makes a different decision. Because, and I’ll say it louder this time, IT IS NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. We were told that Zoey was not in pain. But other babies suffer in the womb. And they suffer when born. I will not judge another person who decides not to put their baby through that. Don’t even come at me with any of the “There. That’s your proof that babies feel pain” rhetoric either. If you do, I’ll clearly see that you have zero idea what empathy is and I don’t have time for that. 

I’ll let everyone else share the other horror stories. Rape. Abuse. Life of the mother. Those are not my stories. But there’s a lot of them and they are very real. And very traumatic. 

Next up! Adoption. That’s the other option thrown around like Dum Dums at a parade. People look at our family and say, “There! That’s why. Because this couple now has two beautiful boys that are here because a woman chose life.” And YES, I am thankful for these amazing humans every single day. But once again, that’s not the full story. All adoption stories start with loss. Did you know there’s research showing that separation from the birth mother is traumatic to the infant? There can be life-long complications. And while, hopefully, that is manageable for my children, I think it is important to recognize it. Everyone wants to believe that adoption is so easy. It is not. Now let’s talk about the impact on the birth parents. I know there are arguments about how the positive (the life of the child) outweigh the negative (impact on the birth parents) but who am I to analyze the situation of the birth parents to know if that’s really true.  I just want to make it known that there is real trauma related to adoption even though things can look rosy from the outside. I carry an immense amount of guilt—both for feeling like the system failed the birth mother in the first place (yes, yes of course she makes choices too, but if you knew the full story, you’d know that society has repeatedly failed to help her.) I also carry guilt for potentially creating trauma for my kids by taking them from their birth mother. If you have trouble understanding that, please research empathy again. 

Do you want the statistics on foster care? A quick google search showed more than 16,000 kids in Illinois alone. Nationwide—more than 400,000. Foster care, even when children are placed in loving, wonderful homes is awful. Full of trauma. Full of grief. And yes, I do also carry guilt for not choosing to adopt a child from foster care, but we made an educated choice based on what we felt was right for us and those reasons—yep—are none of your business. 

And now, I’m afraid for what the future holds. Because I keep hearing how contraceptives and even things related to in-vitro fertilization could be in jeopardy. Easy to say, “no, it won’t go that far,” but if you recall, we thought Roe v Wade was set too. 

Let me explain in vitro. I won’t go into all the details, but did you know we started with about 18 embryos? Some just failed. Some were genetically tested and came back positive for a mutation. We ultimately had three that looked good. They were implanted and did not ultimately produce a living child. But did you know that the genetically abnormal ones were stored? And years after stopping fertility treatments, I received a letter stating a choice needed to be made. Discard them or pay to store them. Within in-vitro, there are multiple ethical landmines. When does life begin? Should we allow pre-implantation genetic testing or “let nature” handle it? What happens to embryos that are not implanted (because some people may get a dozen viable embryos but sure as hell aren’t willing to have 18 children.) Are we going to ban in-vitro too? Does that sound crazy? I fear that the same people who were pissed about drag queen story hour may not think it is so crazy. 

Over the next few months, if you see my crying or shoveling a gallon of ice cream into my mouth at 2pm, know that my anxiety, fear, and trauma are flaring up along with the political arguments. 

If you’ve made it this far and still want to argue with me, check out this quick explanation of empathy from Brene Brown. It’s based on research by Professor Theresa Wisemann on the fundamentals of empathy: recognizing emotion, perspective taking, communication, and avoiding judgment. 

Look, I recognize that people on both sides feel very impassioned. Everyone has a right to feel that way. But I also have a right to be super-pissed that many people don’t stop to really think through the implications of what they say. And yes, I am aware that abortion has implications too. What I’m saying is that first, and foremost, IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS and two, turning on the news, the radio, social media, and even daily interactions with some people are emotionally triggering to many people who have had to make unimaginable choices. Think before you speak or post some bullshit on Instagram (because I go there to see cute kids and cats—not to see someone who lives in a cushy little bubble with very little traumatic life experience post some meme that’s full of inaccurate information.) 

It’s Quiet Uptown

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable

I went to see Hamilton this afternoon. I purposely avoided watching the version on Disney Plus because I wanted to see the show live in person first. But I knew this song was coming.

The moments when you’re in so deep

It feels easier to just swim down

I distinctly remember the first time I heard it. I was driving to work. Crossing the bridge over the Mississippi and Kelly Clarkson’s version came on the radio. It was two years after Zoey died. Two years after I held her as tight as I could. And pushed away the unimaginable. Until I couldn’t anymore.

And learn to live with the unimaginable.

I sobbed in the car that morning. I’m sure I was a mess by the time I got to work, but the rest of the drive was a blur. How could these lyrics capture it so perfectly? I often wonder how Lin-Manuel Miranda suffered to allow him to express it so profoundly.

Today I sat in the theatre, awaiting that song. And I cried as Eliza held her son. As the sound of his heart stopped. Just as Zoey’s had. I’m glad it was dark in the theatre. And I wondered if anyone else was crying the same way—the way only a parent who held their child as her heart stopped cries.

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There’s a grace too powerful to name

We push away what we can never understand

We push away the unimaginable


“Beginnings are usually scary and endings are usually sad, but it’s everything in between that makes it all worth living.

Bob Marley (maybe.. its been attributed to a variety of people but I’m sticking with Bob) 

After nearly 18 years, I am leaving my job at Bally Sports Midwest—formerly FOX Sports Midwest. I started when I was in my 20s and I was definitely scared my first day. I knew little about television, let alone live sports. But my boss took a chance that I could figure it out.  And now that I’m at the end, even though I’m leaving on my own terms, I’m sad. But it’s true—everything in the middle made it all worthwhile. 

My job had obvious perks.  Countless baseball, hockey, and basketball games.  The World Series. The Stanley Cup Parade. Glass seats. Photos of me with hall of fame athletes. Spring Training in Arizona and Florida.  I’ve been incredibly spoiled. Even many of my day-to-day tasks were exciting. I wrote copy that aired in Cardinals games.  I do not take those opportunities for granted because they were really amazing.  

But it isn’t those things that make leaving so hard. While it may sound trite, it’s the people that I’ll miss the most. They are incredibly talented, creative and dedicated.  They are also my friends.  They helped me through the darkest moments of life. They may not have even known they were doing it, but they gave me the perfect blend of empathy, calm, and humor. They shared my grief & made it a little easier to carry. They held me up and kept me moving forward. They shared my joy when we first heard about the baby who would become my son. They supported me when I was in Florida awaiting his arrival. And then again 11 months later when I did the same for Jordan. They made me feel safe when my life was chaos. 

I think it’s rare that one group of people shares the extreme roller coaster the last few years have been and even rarer to be colleagues sharing it. While a few people passed through, the core group remained. I know these friendships will go with me on my next chapter, but it won’t be the same if I’m not able to traipse to the office next door to laugh and cry—often simultaneously. 

Yes, I’m scared beginning a new adventure—I hope I’m good at my new job. But there’s great comfort in being around people who know your story.  My work friends know that there are times I have to fight back tears because something will trigger a memory. They know that everything is complicated. They know why my kids will always be first. There’s something special about the people who walked through this journey alongside me. 

I’ve cried more than a few times over the last few days, but that’s nothing new for me. Now it’s time for a new adventure at a new destination. But thanks to this place—and the people—that made the last 18 years so worthwhile. 

December sadness

I dread this time of year.  The daylight hours get shorter, the weather gets colder.  And I don’t feel joy around the holidays. I feel sadness.  I wake up and the all too familiar weight of grief sits on my chest.  My eye starts endlessly twitching. I look around at the twinkling lights and would love to be filled with cheer.  This year I’ve desperately tried to find the magic key that will unlock the holiday spirit.  I want my kids to have good holiday memories.  I want them to look forward to this time of year more than I do.  We set off to holiday light displays and breakfast with Santa. But nothing has worked. In fact, I think I’ve made it worse.  During the drive-through light displays, while I envisioned my kids looking out the windows in wonder, absorbing the flashing lights and in awe of the spectacle, my child kicked my seat and screamed “I want to go home.”  At breakfast with Santa, I imagined my toddlers’ eyes widening when they saw Santa… but instead one was moderately interested and the other stared blankly at him while requesting more Fruit Loops.  I know they are still a bit young, but the feeling I can’t shake off this year is that everything would be so much different if my seven-year-old daughter were here.  I imagine her excited to get dressed up to go to her grandma’s band concert.  We’d go pick up my grandma first and have dinner.  We’d stay out late so we could get ice cream afterward.  We’d sip hot chocolate while walking around the Zoo, stopping for photos where we’re both looking at the camera.  I see the commercials for princess toys and glittery purses, and I wonder which she’d like the most.  I love my boys. I love making memories with them. But I also miss my daughter and everything we should be experiencing together.

And I remember this day 24 years ago.  When my dad died.  And how for some reason, it just seems especially cruel to die right before Christmas.  Tragedy has hit so many people I know.  You can’t turn on the news without hearing more devastation. I think of the people who are finding out their loved one has died.  Instead of decorating their tree, they are heading to a funeral home to pick out a casket.  And, yet, everyone around is still bustling along, singing their Christmas songs and wearing holiday sweaters. Oblivious to your pain.  Maybe that’s why I find it particularly disheartening.  The forced joy.  The constant reminder that this is supposed to be a time of celebrations and togetherness.  And I will never be able to fully celebrate.  Too much is missing. Too much pain has been inflicted. Our society tends to push away grief.  To follow any bad news with “but..”  There’s this constant need to find the silver lining.  I worry about what that does to people because I know what it’s done to me.  It makes you feel like you’re not allowed to just be sad.  That you constantly must put on jingle bells and dance until you’re happy again.   But that doesn’t allow people to process. To feel.  So please, if you see me or any of the other people hurting, just allow them to be whatever they need to be.  Tell them you know that what they are going through really sucks. Don’t follow it with “but.”  They likely already know there’s joy out there and they’ll find their way to it again… but sometimes they just need to miss their dad and their daughter.


A few weeks ago, as I drove Sebastian to a doctor’s appointment, he sat in the back happily singing his “ABCs” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”  Traffic was slow as we were following a school bus.  The bus came to stop in front of a neighborhood.  Half a dozen adults were standing on the corner as one little girl climbed the stairs. They shouted, waved and took photos. I glanced in the rear-view mirror at my little soon to be three-year-old. It struck me how soon we would be those parents standing on the corner as my little human headed to Kindergarten.  And then the tears came.  Not because I’m sad about my little boy growing up, but because we should have been standing at the corner for three years already.  Zoey would have been in 2nd grade.

We were on our way to an appointment with a developmental pediatrician.  Sebastian has some motor and speech delays.  Those delays along with some physical issues, led us to get him an evaluation. If you haven’t been to an appointment like this before, all I can describe it as is exhausting.  The mental load is overwhelming at times. I often leave feeling like the worst mother in the world.  We spent two hours trying to answer questions about his development.  Does he point to objects, how many words does he use, does he do xyz?  I don’t know. I defend my inconsistent knowledge of my own child by explaining that we also have a little boy 11 months younger running around and I often get the two confused. Or I’m too busy changing diapers or pulling kids off the stair railing to analyze which hand Sebastian uses more often.  At the end of the appointment, the pediatrician and developmental therapist review their evaluation and recommend further treatment.  They mentioned having genetic testing done.  And I cried again. At which point I felt the need to explain that our daughter died of Trisomy 18.  They reassured us that they aren’t looking for something so serious.  Which I know.  I KNOW he’s fine.  I know we’re doing this to make sure we aren’t missing anything.  But just hearing the words “genetic abnormality” will knock the air out of your lungs.  I can’t remove the memory of all those appointments we sat through while I was pregnant.  Where each one seemed to deliver another blow of bad news.  Where each moment stood still as we met with expert after expert laying out devastating scenarios.

I took Sebastian to daycare and he happily went about his day.

He has been in the habit of taking off his pajamas and diaper at night, though.  I snuck into his room after he’d fallen asleep to find him, once again, half naked. I rolled him to his back and put his diaper back on.  And then tried to pull pants over a sleeping toddler without waking him.  It was easy. He’s apparently a heavy sleeper once he’s out.  But, of course, a moment of panic snuck in. Was he breathing? I rested my hand on his chest and felt the rise and fall of his breath.  After his pants were back on, he rolled back to his side, stuck his thumb in his mouth and went back dreaming about whatever it is toddlers dream about.  I left his room and went across the hall to his brother’s.  Where I found another sleeping boy, his arms tucked behind his head, but one arm bare. He’d apparently also tried to remove his pajamas but gave up after freeing one arm.  After I put his arm back through the sleeve, he tucked his arm back behind his head and I had to stifle a chuckle.  There were my two precious boys, one undressed on the bottom, the other partially undressed on top. But as I turned the knob of his door to leave, the giggles turned to tears once again. I’m sure its perfectly normal for every parent to check if their child is breathing or not.  But is it normal to know the difference between a skin that is chilled to the touch because of air-conditioning and the cold that sets in after death? I knew Sebastian was fine as I tucked his legs back in to his pajamas.  He still moved with me, despite being asleep.  I changed Zoey’s clothes after she died.  And her body had begun to stiffen. I tried to hide my tears from Joe as I got into bed.  Because explaining that moment before bed just didn’t seem fair. I couldn’t though.  Reality is just too painful sometimes.  It isn’t fair to know what it feels like to hold your child after they pass away.  After they die.  But seven years ago, I did just that.  I often wonder what the boys notice—do they know I’m filled with anxiety and terror at the thought of them dying?  Do I hide it well enough that I’m a functional–and not completely insane parent?   Do I give them enough freedom to fall?  Do I over-correct and let them stray too far? I’ll be sending them off on a school bus alone soon enough. And then to college.  And out into this world that is often terrifying.  I would have moved heaven and earth if I thought I could have saved Zoey.  I want to protect my kids.  But I also want to prepare them for this world.  And not smother them in the process.  I don’t want fear to rule my parenting.  I stuff the anxiety away as often as possible and let my kids climb the stairs at the playground—hovering more closely than some parents would. If you see me at the bottom of the slide with a cushion, just nod your head and move along.

You’d think seven years in, I’d realize that grief has a way of showing up even when you think you’re doing fine.  Even in the years that you’re surrounded by the laughter of toddlers.  Even when you think enough time has gone by that it shouldn’t strike you down.  But this morning I still woke up up with a familiar pain in my chest. I’ve been short-tempered and sad.  I should know by now that anniversaries will be hard. While my day to day is filled with the joy of two little boys, the reality is my daughter still died. I know I’ll get through the day and tomorrow will be a little less hard.

We love you and miss you, Zoey Tamsyn.

Dad’s birthday

Yesterday was my dad’s birthday.  Special occasions like that are always tough—I often find myself thinking of him and missing him more than usual. I wonder how we would have celebrated. I wonder what kind of grandpa he’d be to my boys.  I like to picture him chasing them around the yard and playing with their cars. He’d take them for rides in whatever Mustang he had just rehabbed.  He’d point out every plane in the sky to them. And he’d love them fiercely, just like he loved my brother and I.

Losing my dad gave me a crash course in grief. It was more than 20 years ago now and I still grieve. While much has changed in those years, grief is an undercurrent. Its part of my soul now.  Its how I knew I’d survive the loss of my daughter, but would have to claw my way out of dark times.  Its why I chuckle when I hear anyone talk about the stages of grief like it’s a linear process to move through.  Those who have lost a loved one know this is ridiculous—sure the stages of grief are valid but grief certainly isn’t a straight line.  You can find yourself back in any of those stages years later.  I still feel his loss.  I still miss him. I still wish he was here.  As I get closer and closer to the age he was when he died, I’m acutely aware of how young he actually was when he died. And that makes me angry. And it scares the crap out of me.

This year, I decided to join Pedal the Cause and fundraise for cancer research in his memory.  I’m only doing an hour on the spin bike—maybe someday I’ll be able to sign up for the 100 mile bike, but now is not the time.  I still feel like it will be enough of a challenge since I haven’t been on a bike in a year!  If you’d like to support my efforts, cheer me on, or support research for people like my dad and my other friends that have been diagnosed with cancer this year, you can donate at

In the meantime, hug your parents if you’re still lucky enough to have them.  And dad, I miss you. I love you and I hope you’re watching over my baby girl until we meet again–and I hope you and Zoey enjoyed your Tang sandwich.

Mother’s Day: It’s Complicated

Its been nearly seven years since Zoey was with us.  Seven years since I’ve held her, talked to her, felt her tiny body against my chest.  Things change in seven years.  Friendships, homes, jobs.  My world has stayed similar—same house, same job.  But people have come and gone from my life.  To some, Zoey was real. A few were at the hospital anxiously awaiting her birth.  Some came over to meet her, to hold her.  To others—my new friends—she’s just a story. The daughter I talk about, but they never knew.  A photo above my mantel.  A name tattooed on my wrist.  To the world outside my little bubble from seven years ago, I’m sure she’s hard to comprehend.  Sometimes I wonder what they think.  Do they wonder why I still grieve someone we knew for so little time?  Do they believe that I’m healed and whole now that we have these two beautiful boys?  Do they think Mother’s Day is only a celebration with my sons?

Because it’s not. It’s complicated as are most things.  Today I did soak in being a mom to my boys.  We snuck in extra cuddles on the couch and I just looked at their beautiful faces a little extra today.  I’m so grateful to be their mom.  But I miss Zoey.  She made me a mother and I treasure the one Mother’s Day that I spent cuddling her.

Mother’s Day is hard for a lot of people.  Moms like me who are missing their child.  Women who wish to be moms but can’t.  Women who feel like for whatever reason, that ship has sailed.  Moms who don’t have a relationship with their kids—and the kids who don’t have a relationship with their moms. Those who have lost their moms.  The list goes on.  And I can’t help but think of the boys’ birthmother—what is Mother’s Day like for her? I wonder if she has regrets.  I wonder if she’s found peace with her decision.

I’m blessed to have both my mom and my grandma with me.  They have paved the way for me—persevering through loss and struggle and loving deeply through it all. I’m eternally grateful for the path they’ve paved for me and for their unending love and support as I make my way through motherhood.

To all those who find this day complicated, I hope you were gentle with yourself today.  Sending my love to you.


Seven. Do you love Moana like your brothers do? Are you riding a bike down the street to see your friend?  Would we be going to your dance recital this weekend?  Or would you prefer soccer because you watch the games every Saturday morning with your dad instead of cartoons?  Would you still enjoy holding my hand?  Would you still snuggle next to me to read?  I imagine we’d have moved on from “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by now.  Would it be too early to introduce you to Harry Potter?

Everyday I wonder what my daughter would be doing now.  But in the days leading up to her birthday, those thoughts overwhelm me.  Every moment I wonder just how different life would be if she was here. When I think about Zoey being alive, I don’t picture life with a child with Trisomy 18.  I picture her healthy and active.  I don’t imagine the hospital stays and constant appointments that I know would have been part of her life.

And I picture her as our only child.

I know that we would not have adopted two babies if Zoey were alive.  It’s part of the dance between grief and joy. My boys bring immeasurable joy to our lives and I don’t want to imagine life without them. But if I imagine life with Zoey, they aren’t there.

Today we celebrated Zoey’s 7th birthday by taking the boys to the Zoo and for ice cream. I hope she’s watching over us and celebrating with those surrounding her. There was a book I often read to Zoey and read to Sebastian tonight. It’s called Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. On the final page of that book is my message to her on her 7th birthday and every day:

“You are my angel, my darling, my star…  And my love will find you wherever you are”

Happy birthday my beautiful Zoey. We love you.

Stopping by Zoey’s brick outside the zoo

A few other notes: I often start writing days before I post.  I’ll put thoughts down and then add, change, delete.  I think most people who enjoy writing do the same.  And that’s what I did with this post.  Then, two days ago I read a blog post from a friend.  She wrote about her daughter’s birthday which was April 29th. Many of her thoughts were very similar to mine—in fact I was worried that if I wrote more about Zoey’s birthday, she’d think I’d stolen her writing.  But it also reminded me why I often go to other moms who have lost children for support.  Even though our journeys are different, and we process our grief differently, many of our feelings mirror one another. There’s comfort in understanding that someone else has similar fears and anxiety. There’s comfort in knowing I’m not alone. I’d love for you to read her blog post. You can find the link below. And while you’re there, you can learn more about Genny, her daughter, June, and the June Jessee Memorial Foundation.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about what’s going on in our lives.  I looked back and my last blog post was from Jordan’s adoption day more than a year ago.  Mostly I think I’ve stayed away because I’m just exhausted at the end of the day. These two little humans have boundless energy. I’m thankful for the bonus time I had with them last year.  But it also meant that I’ve focused nearly all my energy on them.  And that’s 100% where my energy belonged.  But now I need to spend a little time on me. I love these boys and have no regrets, but I also realize I will be a better mother to them if I spend some time handling the complicated emotions that come with parenting two living sons along with a daughter that died.  There has also been so much pain, suffering and conflict in the world, and much of it has left me struggling to process it all.  I need to spend a little time writing and a little time focusing on my health as well.  I’m slowing finding my way back to taking care of me. Finding time and balance is often a challenge. But long story short, I’d like to try blogging again and I hope I still have a useful message for someone out there!

Dear Jordan

Dear Jordan,

Today you legally joined our family and will now share our last name.  To us, this is a formality as you actually joined our family months ago.  You became our son the moment we heard the news that you were arriving.

I wrote to your brother before he arrived, but somehow you joined us before I had the chance to do the same for you.  I’m actually glad though.  This way, I get to tell you a little more about how you already fit into our family. There are a few things you should know about your adoption, the family you’re joining, your birth family, and about life.

First, we are amazed by you.  We did not plan for you.  We were not expecting to adopt again especially within a year of your brother!  We didn’t know we needed you.  But it is clear to us every time we look at your sweet face, that we did, in fact, need you in our lives.  I also want to be clear: unplanned does not mean unwanted.  You are the most amazing surprise. I have a feeling you will bring balance to our family.  You and your brother are going to have so much fun.  He has a big personality and is loving life and I hope you develop the same sense of wonder as he’s showing. You already love watching his antics so I have a feeling you two will share the same zest for fun and laughter.

We want you to be raised in a house full of love and full of laughter.   This isn’t always easy for us since your sister, Zoey, died.  Her loss is felt in our home every day.  She was a beautiful spirit and a beautiful soul and that’s what we want you to know about her.  She showed us what the love between a parent and child should be like.  And we hope we are better parents to you because of that love.  We can’t always control or plan the moments that grief catches us so you will see us crying or you’ll watch the pain cross our faces.  We want you to know that sadness is normal. It’s a part of our life and will be a part of yours at times as well,  but love is worth it. We know there will always be heartache, but that does not diminish the joy you have brought to us.  We’ve often said that grief and joy dance together.   We need both and you help fulfill that need.

We also know you have another family out in the world.  While you won’t be raised by your birth mother and birth father, we want you to know they love you too.  We saw it firsthand when we were in the hospital for your delivery and the days they spent with you following your birth.  We are obviously thrilled they chose us to raise you, but we also understand that you will have questions about why they chose adoption.  We will go into more detail as you get older and I know the answers won’t always be easy to share or easy to hear.  We don’t know everything, but we will share as honestly as possible what we do know.  But please always remember that love was the driving force. I don’t know what the future holds for your relationship with your birth parents or siblings, but we will guide you and help you the best way we can.

We also want you to know that we’ll do our best to help you learn about your culture and heritage.  It’s a new world for us, and I’m sure we will fail at times.  There are parts of who you are that we will never completely understand, but we will do our best to find mentors and guidance when needed.  We will try and we promise to change, learn and grow along with you.

Every adoption story is different. Every family must do what they think is best for them and their children.  Even your journey will vary from your brother’s. We will navigate it the best way we can. We will probably make mistakes along the way, but we want you to remember that we are doing the best we can. We know there will be room for improvement and if you feel we are failing in any way, we want you to be honest.  We will reach out for help, we will try something new.  We want you to feel safe and secure in your story, in our family, and in your place in the world.

We know that our job is to protect you, guide you, and most of all to love you.  We also know that we can’t protect you from everything.  The world you have entered is sometimes harsh.  It’s sometimes ugly and it’s sometimes really hard to take.  As we’ve learned, loving others inevitably leads to heartbreak.  We want you to know it is worth it.  We would do it all again for the moments we shared with your sister.  And we hope the fear of loss doesn’t keep you from loving deeply.  We want you to take any moment that’s difficult and use it to become resilient and empathetic.  And we will continue to believe that love wins. It’s stronger than hate, stronger than fear, stronger than grief.  It’s the most powerful thing we have.

Welcome to the family, Jordan.  We love you.