Adoption Finalization Anniversary!

So I learned something new this week! There is a World Adoption Day, a National Adoption Day, and all of November is Adoption Month! How awesome to have all those occasions to celebrate something as special as adoption? We have one more date though, the same day as National Adoption Day, actually. It’s November 19th, the one year anniversary of CJ’s adoption being finalized!

There was never any doubt from the second we met him that he was our son. We didn’t need a judge to tell us that. Still, it was kind of nice when she did. 😊 Our “finalization day” wasn’t exactly like you see on tv or movies. You know, where the family gets dressed up and stands before the judge to hear the finalization decree. I honestly don’t know if we had the option to do that or not. It would have been kind of cool, but it likely would have cost me more money! Instead, sometime in early December 2015 we received a letter via courier that said CJ was our irrevocably legal son, by judge’s decree, official on November 19, 2015. I was wearing jammies and feeding CJ his bottle. Not exactly the glamourous look associated with such an occasion! It took me by surprise because I had been thinking someone would contact me with a court date, but then I teared up because there is just something amazing about hearing that your son is now legally your son. I had certainly never thought of him as anything less; I had pushed it out of my mind that to the courts he was simply “Baby Boy Doe” for the first two and a half months of his life. He had never been a Doe to the Hubs and I! 

CJ has made our lives so much richer and full of adventure. He made Ezra a big brother, which helped to bring him out of his shell as well as led to him developing a sense of pride around having a baby brother to “protect.” He makes me a better mother by keeping me on my toes and making my heart grow two sizes too big. The Hubs was already a great father, but he’s even more phenomenal now, always playing with or wrestling his two boys all over the house. When he gets home from work both boys just light up when they hear the garage door open. 

I hear about a lot of people in my adoption group that wonder if they can love a child that isn’t theirs biologically. The answer is a resounding YES! When you fall in love with your child, DNA doesn’t matter. You make a connection that is unique and separate from each other’s genes. It’s difficult to explain, but the love that is forged simply through the parent/child relationship supersedes any other. I love my boys equally, and in the course of each busy day I don’t stop to account for who is a bio and who is adopted. I just love them both with all my heart. 

This week, as we reflect on and cherish CJ’s Finalization Day, we are filled with gratitude and thanks that God chose us to be his family. We are so lucky. It could have been any other number of families, but it was us! That’s better than winning the lottery, and we are going to raise CJ to understand and believe that everyday of his life. 

The two cutest boys around!

Our Adoption Story, Chapter Five: A New Beginning

It may be over a year later, but there is more story to share!

About 40 hours after arriving at the hospital, we got the all clear that we could go home. We couldn’t believe it; we were prepared for a lengthier stay. However, as it turns out, CJ’s birth parents were also from Oregon, so we were allowed to leave. Since he was born in Washington we figured we would have to wait it out, since the paperwork to cross state lines with an adopted baby can take a while. Apparently what really matters is where the birth parents are from. It all played out very conveniently in terms of timing. After such a hellacious, agonizing wait it was hard to believe the placement was truly so simple! 

Our nurse came in to help us with final details and asked us if we had any questions. It was so embarrassing, but we had to ask how to feed the straps back through the lowest setting on the infant seat. Three years was enough for us to have forgotten how to do it properly! And of course, we didn’t want to wing it and just hope for the best! She technically wasn’t allowed to touch the car seat but she did anyway. That hospital and all the staff were just amazing. 

We successfully secured our little nugget after much ado.

The hospital chaplain had been visiting us regularly, and even brought in a second chaplain to share his experience as an adoptive father. It was really reassuring to hear someone else’s experience and to be given such encouragement. Shortly before we left, the first chaplain asked if she could bless baby CJ, and then she proceeded to anoint him with the most beautiful blessing I could imagine. It was all sort of surreal and magical. ​

Many couples find themselves in hospitals that aren’t adoption friendly, and they aren’t treated kindly by the staff. Our experience was the opposite; they did anything and everything they could to make us feel right at home and like we were part of something natural and really great. Perhaps because it was a Catholic hospital and they view adoption as a solution to abortion. That’s just my guess, but I think it’s a good one. 

When it was time to leave, we left our room with the Hubs toting our precious cargo in the infant car seat. As we entered the elevator a nurse joined us. She asked us if this was the baby born two days ago that was to be adopted. With big smiles, we told her he was and that we were the lucky parents. She started to choke up, and told us she was the first nurse that held CJ after his birth and did kangaroo care. She struggled to speak, finally saying, “He’s special. There’s something special about your baby.” Needless to say, we were pleased to hear this and touched at the nurse’s kind words. 

As we got off the elevator we felt like the luckiest people alive. Imagine finally having your dreams come true, and the circumstances surrounding them being next to perfect.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude at how everything had unfolded. It seemed too good to be true, but somehow it wasn’t. 

Walking down the hospital corridors with our baby was a funny feeling. We both felt like someone was going to stop us and ask for proof that he was our son. No one did of course; people just smiled at us as we passed by. Less than two days before we had met this tiny, perfect creature, and now we were taking him home to be ours forever. Our son. It’s difficult to explain how hard it was to wrap our brains around all that had happened in 40 hours! 

As we pulled out of the parking garage and made our way to the freeway, it began to rain. I was driving at a crawl so as to protect my baby, but the increasingly torrential rains caused me and all the other drivers to slow almost to a stop. Less than five minutes after leaving the hospital, we were caught in the hardest rain we had ever experienced. It was still summertime! That kind of rain was highly irregular for early September, but there we were. When the rain finally let up and the sun shone brightly through the clouds, I took it as yet another sign that this perfect baby and this adoption were meant to be. God was doing his best to let us know He was with us on this journey! 

Here is a current picture of my little bruiser. Our 5.5lb baby is now 24lbs!

His smile melts my heart.

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The Red Dragonfly

This story is as true as true can be, I swear it. In fact, some of you may even remember the first part.

Late last August, probably close to where we’re coming up now, I was outside working on my pond. This should be unremarkable, but it’s not…because I’m forever working on that damn pond. The previous owners of the house planted a pine tree/bush/foliage-like thing right next to it, so you can frequently find me on my knees in the rocks by the pond, fishing out the pump and emptying out the filter of pine needles so that the water will continue to flow instead of becoming stagnant and stale and replete with algae. I share this with you so you will realize that I have spent enough time kneeling by this pond in the past seven years to be intimately acquainted with its flora and fauna.

I don’t remember the exact date last August, but I know it was in the last week of the month. If I wanted to, I could go look back on Facebook and it would probably tell me the exact day. For our purposes, near the end of the month will do. I was out at the pond, sharp rocks digging into my knees and my arms up to the elbow in gross pond water, when I had a visitor. A large, bright red dragonfly showed up near the water and just hovered there.   I stopped my work to admire it; I had seen many small, bluish dragonflies in the past, but never a red one, and never so large. It was really shocking to see something so beautiful in a place as ordinary as my struggling pond. It transformed me momentarily, taking my mind off the constant daily disappointment of our dismal adoption journey. I felt that disappointment in my soul all day, every day, but for a short time I forgot all that as I stared at that dragonfly. After a couple of minutes, I realized this guy wasn’t leaving, so I went back to my task at hand, thinking it was pretty amusing I had a dragonfly companion for my pump work. But then, it started to fly around me, and the pond, and just sort of bobbed and weaved around for several more minutes, as though it had no place to go. Eventually this beautiful crimson dragonfly did disappear, but I didn’t see him go; he went away while I was looking down at the pump, fishing for pine needles.

This was at an especially dark time in our journey; in fact, I think we had all but given up. I wasn’t so far gone though, that I didn’t realize the significance of an event such as this one. How had I spent all that time by the pond all these years and never seen a red dragonfly? Surely it couldn’t be a coincidence. I’m not an exceptionally superstitious person, but I was superstitious enough to believe God had sent me a dragonfly for a reason. I didn’t think it meant the stork was arriving the following week, but I do recall thinking that dragonfly meant I should hold onto hope and not give up, after all.

I started thinking about it more and more and finally Googled “red dragonfly meaning” on my phone. I was certain it meant “hope” or “luck” or “faith” or something equally cool that would give me a reason to get excited about my lengthy visit from my dragonfly buddy. Here is what I learned:

  • Red dragonflies symbolize the transformation of death (someone who is visited by one may have just lost a loved one)
  • They are exceptionally rare
  • They do not dart away like other dragonflies, they tend to hang around their subject for a while, as if they are paying a visit

Don’t believe me? I bet you’re googling “red dragonflies” right now! Make sure to read more than one source for multiple interpretations!

I told a few people about the dragonfly visit, and I wrote a brief status update about it on my Facebook page, but I didn’t get too crazy about sharing what had happened. I wasn’t even sure myself. But then, on September 1st, the most wonderful thing happened: we got the call that our son was born, and to come pick him up at the hospital! Only one week after the visit from the dragonfly!

One dragonfly visit alone doesn’t prove much and it doesn’t even mean a lot…if it’s only one visit.

Last week, I was out working on the damn pump again (will those pine needles ever stop falling?) when I was visited by yet another dragonfly. Like last year, it was large, bright red, and it stuck around for quite a long time. It seemed curious what I was doing, and why a grown woman was covered in pond water and speaking unsavory words to a plastic pump piece. But it stayed a good while, and this time when I noticed it, I didn’t look away until it left. I felt like I owed him that. I do wonder if it was the same dragonfly as last year? Probably not, but maybe. Maybe. Stranger things have happened!

Sometimes there is meaning in something as simple as a visit from a dragonfly.

Present Day 

Nine months have passed since our beautiful baby was born. What once resembled a tiny little Sasquatch is now a strikingly handsome blue-eyed butterball. We love him so! 

So much chubbaroo goodness.

CJ, or Cam, or Campbell, is the happiest of babies. People often ask us, “Doesn’t he ever cry? He’s just so joyful!” Well yes, the truth is he is one joyful little bugaboo. During the daytime he is all smiles and sunshine and truly a happy-go-lucky little dude. It’s the nighttime where he unleashes the full power of his lung capacity to make sure the hubs and I understand his great displeasure with bedtime. The kid hates to sleep. He’s a wee social butterfly who loves to interact and suffers from some serious FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you were wondering). But we think that’s pretty typical, and he gets a free pass for screaming at us every night since he’s practically perfect in every way all the rest of the time. 

Big brother Ezra loves being big brother Ezra. He adores CJ and he is never happier than when his silly antics cause CJ to go into a giggling fit. This usually involves a dance of some kind followed by calling CJ “poopy Campbell.” For some reason, being called poopy is CJ’s favorite thing and he can’t laugh hard enough when he hears it. Unfortunately, this has led the Eldest Son to believe that everyone he talks to must find poopy talk equally hysterical, and has taken to greeting everyone with poopy in front of their name. I fear this is my reality now. I am a mama of boys, and I expect I have many years of “poopy” talk and bathroom humor ahead of me. Lord, have mercy on my poor mama soul. 

This is just a quick update to share how we are today. We are a blessed family, poopy talk and all! We don’t take anything for granted when it comes to our boys. I have many tales and anecdotes I can’t wait to share with you, as well as a couple more chapters of our adoption story. Stay tuned!

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Our Adoption Story, Part Three: The One With All the Fur

After our baby boy was placed in our arms, the rest of the world faded away. We were alone in the hospital nursery with just the head nurse checking in to see what we needed, but we could have been on our own little planet.  We were so astonished this little creature was ours. He was so wrinkly and furry. All babies have that thin, super fine downy hair covering them, but this kid had thick, luscious award-winning fur from head to toe. Fortunately it was very light in color, or he would have looked like Saquatch. He was three weeks early, so he had these awesome folds and wrinkles of skin basically waiting for baby fat to fill them out. On top of his skin being all wrinkly, it was also quite dry and flaky. It reminded me of a snake shedding its skin. He wee little face was vee-shaped as it too waited for baby fat to round it out. His blue eyes were kind of scrunched closed from labor and were covered in the ointment all babies have applied right after birth. He was absolutely beautiful. Probably not to anyone else, but to us he was perfection. 


Baby C at a couple days old. Our beautiful shedding fur monster.


So furry. How I love this baby boy.

 The nurse was indescribably awesome. She recognized the magnitude of the moment and gave us time to just stare in awe at lil’ Benjamin Button, but she also knew right when to hop in to help. After a few minutes of the staring she suggested doing some skin to skin, or “kangaroo” time. We were all for it of course, we did a lot of it with E and it’s about as bonded as you can be with a new tiny human. It’s sort of a gift you give yourself and your baby, and it feels amazing. However, kangaroo time requires getting nekkid, at least from the waist up, so it felt a little odd at first. It’s different if you’ve given birth. When you give birth, you and shame part ways. Everyone on the L&D floor has seen every part of you unclothed and in the most unglamorous fashion, so whipping open a hospital gown in the presence of God and all creation to kangaroo your new joey is a task completed without hesitation. When you have not just birthed a baby, there is a moment of pause before you start to undress. First of all, I could definitely not blame my leftover tummy pooch on pregnancy. Second of all, our nurse was female, but it still felt a little strange when she handed me my baby as I sat in the rocking chair, wearing only my jeans, shoes and socks with a gown draped over us. Any awkwardness I felt quickly faded as I clutched my boy to my heart and, within seconds, began to hear his heartbeat keeping time with mine. I felt as connected to my baby boy as if I’d been the one to carry him for nine months. 

We stayed in the nursery for quite a while. I know this because my phone was dinging with a new text every three seconds from my parents, who understandably wanted an update. I knew they were incredibly anxious and I feared they would interpret my silence as another heartbreak. Unfortunately, we were in a brick encased nursery within a brick encased building in a location that already had poor cell reception. Communication back out was impossible from this place. I could receive delayed texts, but that was it.  The hubs was having issues of his own, having chosen to wait until making sure this baby was ours for real before calling his mother. Now that we knew, he was dying to call and tell her but there was no way to do it. 

The nurse had given us our space again, and it felt rude to buzz her to ask if we could go to our own room. We knew we had one, but no one had given us any directions beyond kangaroo care in the nursery. As we later discovered, our son’s birth mother was also on our floor, recovering, and they were moving her to a room down the hall so that we wouldn’t be right next door to each other. That needed to be accomplished before we stepped out of the nursery, so that we didn’t run into one another. In this tiny hospital, only she and the hubs and baby and I (plus one other woman plus baby) were occupying any rooms on the maternity floor, so it would be pretty obvious if we were to encounter one another. After about an hour and a half we were moved to our room rather covertly, and that’s where we stayed for the next 24 hours. That’s when the birth mother checked out, and then we were allowed a bit more freedom, like to get our bags from the car. The nurses brought us toothbrushes and anything else we possibly needed while we were confined to the room. 

The hubs was able to finally call his mom about three hours after we arrived and it was the sweetest slash funniest conversation in the world. I should preface this by saying that the hubs is the youngest of six, the baby of the family. When we finally conceived our sweet E, the MIL could not have been more excited for another grandchild, and she was so happy for us that we were going to have a baby after years of trying. Three weeks before his due date she decided to take a short trip to Idaho to visit her daughter and be back in time for our son to be born. Two days after she left, I had an emergency c-section. She missed all the action and I know she was disappointed. So it must have really been a trip to find out about her next grandson this way:

Hubs: “Hey mom, I hope it’s not too late. I have news for you.”

MIL: “Good news or bad news?”

Hubs: “Good!”

MIL: “Okay, let’s hear it!”

Hubs: “You have a new grandson!”

MIL: “(…silence). Wait, what? I just saw E this morning. Are you playing a trick on me?”

Hubs: “No mom! Would I joke about that? 

MIL: “I don’t know, you have a strange sense of humor sometimes.”

It took a little convincing but after sharing the story she was ecstatic to learn she had a new grandbaby! He also had to explain why it took so long to call, what with the concrete walls and all. I was able to also call my parents, who must not have been anxiously awaiting the call because it took my mom almost a quarter of a ring to answer the phone. 

During our 24 hour quarantine something really awesome happened. One of the nurses came in and let us know our baby’s biological aunt wanted to rock him one last time. Apparently, the day before, she had rocked our baby briefly, shortly before we arrived, after receiving a call from her sister stating that she had just given birth and was placing the baby for adoption. The nurses wanted our permission to take baby to the nursery for her to have one last visit. Instead, we invited the aunt into our room to personally meet her, and offered her our rocking chair to rock away for as long as she wanted. This was truly a unique experience, not only because his aunt was such a neat lady, but because despite the fact the adoption is closed, our son will be able to have a biological connection if he chooses and if she chooses. We only exchanged first names, but we left the possibility of future visits open if she was interested. We have exchanged emails via the agency, all the while preserving the integrity of the closed adoption. It’s very special. I hope that she will continue to want to email and also want to meet baby in the future. I think it can only be wonderful for him to have a biological relative that cares about him and takes an interest in him. I love that he won’t ever have to truly wonder “where he came from” or “who he is” because through his aunt, those questions will be answered when he’s older. At least that is my most fervent prayer for him. 

Stay tuned for chapter four! More (good) shenanigans to come, including naming the baby twice and the arrival of le petit prince to meet his baby brother.

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Our Adoption Story, Part Two: Living in a Moment

“Oh my gosh,” I babbled to the Hubs for the 136th time, as we drove north into oncoming gridlock, “can you believe today is one of the two greatest days of our lives? How weird is this? How did this happen? Is this happening? Is this real life?”

We spent the first hour of our drive giddily bantering back and forth about our mutual disbelief. The Hubs will be embarrassed to be described as giddy, but hey, if ever a man has a right to be giddy, it’s on the day his son is born, am I right? Plus, his giddiness was guarded. It would shine through here and there before quickly disappearing. The same could be said about me. We were used to our hopes crashing as rapidly as they had risen in this adoption world. But, this was different. We knew it was different. 

There were quite a few emotions keeping us company in that car. The first was elation, obviously. The second was terror, since by now our minds were set to Doom Mode: Code Red whenever it looked like something was going to go our way regarding family planning. The terror began to recede ever so slowly as we received texts periodically from our coordinator, updating us on the situation. 

The birth parents have signed the papers. 

They are eager to leave and want to make sure you are all in and aren’t going to change your mind. 

How much longer until you arrive? 

Finally, with about a half hour to go, we allowed ourselves to feel that this was it. We didn’t say what we both were thinking until days later; the reason we had experienced so much heartbreak in this process was because we were meant to be right where we were, on that very day, headed north on I5 to meet our son. 

What should have been a one hour and twenty minute drive turned into two and a half hours, thanks to our 5:00 pm departure. We had to sit in stopped traffic on two bridges for lengthy amounts of time. A quirky little thing about me: I hate bridges. I freaking hate bridges. And I was stuck in traffic on TWO of them! On the way to meet my son. And I needed to pee. More importantly, I was physically aching to get to my baby. When it clicked that this was a go, my heart immediately synced with his and all I could think was, “He needs me! He’s been on this earth for twelve hours and he needs to be in his mother’s arms. Now.” 

I was a real peach to be trapped in a car with until we finally cleared that last bridge, amen and hallelujah! From there it was only a couple miles to the hospital, a small brick facility in the center of town. As we drove, we passed the Applebee’s where we had met our first expectant mother after she “chose” us to adopt her baby. Yes, it’s true; fate had called us back to the very same small town and right by the same stupid Applebee’s where a duplicitous young lady had taken us on a wild, painful ride a few months earlier that taught us that adoption is, above all other things, an unpredictable industry where people are not always as they appear to be. As we drove by, we did what all mature, sophisticated parents would do on their way to meet their newborn son: we both flipped the bird at Applebee’s and laughed hysterically as we did it. I’d say it had been a good twenty years or so since I had partaken of any bird-flipping. Hey Applebee’s, it’s nothing personal. You guys make the best French Onion soup and I would never disrespect you with hand gestures unless I had a really solid reason. You understand.

Finding the hospital and parking was blessedly easy. Navigating to the seventh floor was not. It was one of those deals where you take the elevator to the third floor, (as high as that elevator goes) then walk a hundred miles to find the elevator that will take you to the fifth floor. The next one might get you to the top if you’re nice to it. All very complicated for a small hospital, but likely exacerbated by my at-capacity bladder. The Hubs and I were both wild-eyed, looking for maps or signs and wondering how to reach the seventh floor and our baby boy. 

A nurse saw us and came to help. That’s one of the benefits of smaller hospitals, I truly believe. She had nothing to do with the labor and delivery floor, but she came on over and gave us step by step directions how to get there. It was the first of many acts of kindness we were shown during our stay.

Upon reaching the hallowed seventh floor, we were greeted by our adoption coordinator. She needed to debrief us on additional information prior to taking us to our baby. Bathroom breaks had to occur first so that the Hubs and I could focus on the paperwork and not our bladders. Finally, we sat on a bench right outside the door of the nursery. We couldn’t see in but we could hear excited nurses and hushed voices. Our coordinator mentioned there were only two babies on the whole floor right now. It had been a slow day for births. She informed us that the nurses were bursting with joy that an adoptive family had come for the baby. Apparently, at this particular hospital many babies are born addicted to heroin and are taken by social services as soon as they are discharged. I imagine it must be heartbreaking as a nurse to see babies born every day that are headed directly to the foster care system. Granted, the mothers of addicted babies also have a right to make an adoption plan and place their baby with a family. However, almost all  choose to try to beat their addiction and reclaim custody of their babies, eventually. Sometimes they win and sometimes the addiction wins. This is the reality these amazing nurses deal with every day, working in a little hospital in a little town that was overthrown by heroin and other drugs during the recession. Once drugs get a hold of a town right off the freeway, it’s hard to get it back. 

And that is why when we finished our paperwork, we entered the nursery and were immediately greeted by EIGHT overjoyed and teary-eyed nurses. Two babies on the whole floor that night. Eight nurses. We learned the backstory later: at our son’s birth, neither birth parent chose to hold him or see him. It was too hard, knowing what came next. He was not born exposed or addicted, he was healthy as could be and desperately needed what all newborns need: to be held. So each of these nurses took shifts all day long, rocking our baby boy and doing kangaroo care nonstop, as he waited for his mama and dada to arrive. They did this for 15 hours, after their paid shifts were over and they could have gone home. When they learned we were close to arriving, they dressed him in an adorable preemie outfit they had to work hard to find, and wrapped him in the nicest blanket they had, knitted by a hospital volunteer. Then they stayed to greet us and witness the moment this little 5lb 5oz baby was placed in the arms of two parents who wanted him so very much. 

The nurse holding our son walked slowly towards us and gently transferred him over to me with the Hubs standing as close as possible, arm around me, without actually standing on top of me. I stared in awe at the little face peering up at me, his eyes wide open and strangely alert for a newborn. And that’s what I continued to do. I stared, taking in every detail of his face, his fuzzy duckling hair sticking up, the layer of light colored baby fur covering most of his body. I gazed into those precious blue eyes until my eyes swam and my vision blurred. The moment stood still, perfectly still, as I held this furry little creature that was always destined to be our son in my arms. I was aware of the presence of others in the room and the Hubs holding me as I held our son, but just barely. I could hear nurses sniffling and camera shutters clicking but nothing could truly break through the moment. 

Moments like this are rare, I’m told, and in my experience it is true. You know it when it happens to you, because it is like no other feeling on earth. It is something that is branded onto your heart and soul and is almost impossible to adequately put into words. Here are a few pictures that might show the magnitude of this moment better than I could hope to describe it! 


Continue boldly in the direction of your dreams. The quest to build a family can and will test you emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. All of it will seem so very worth it when you find yourself living in your own “moment.” I absolutely promise this, and I have the experience to back it up! 🤗

Chapter Three is on the way! Don’t forget to read Chapter One of you haven’t already. 

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