19 June 2013

our family: an overview

For those of you who are relatively new around here, I suppose you may not know how our little family came to be. I've become more and more aware of how not normal we seem to the general public as we've ventured out more frequently, all kids in tow, during summer break. I get a lot of "wow, you have your hands full" comments. If I'm feeling charitable (always the goal, not often the reality), I respond with "I'm very blessed." Mostly I just give them a smile that I hope conveys, "you aren't helpful." I could go on for hours about the general commentary I get from the public, my utter disdain for it, and my hope that we could all use our words a little more wisely. But I'll save that for another post.

Nick and I have talked a lot lately, with each other, and with other families, about how normal this is for us. It's our everyday, and we seriously couldn't feel more blessed. But we are aware that it's not actually the norm, so here's the story.

When Nick and I got married, we knew we wanted a big family. I'd had a heart for adoption for years and when I told my soon to be husband about it, he was totally on board. That was amazing to me, and just another confirmation that we were meant to be. He wanted ten kids, I told him we could shoot for five and see what happened after that. 
We spent the first year of marriage figuring out how we worked as a couple, trying to solve great mysteries like why he hated clutter and why I couldn't keep my clothes off the floor. We also had lots of fun little adventures, got a scraggly rescue dog and just generally enjoyed being newlyweds. Not long after our first anniversary, I got pregnant with our first, Lute. We didn't find out what we were having, both of us convinced it was a girl, and happily surprised when he wasn't. Nick, as the youngest with two older sisters, always dreamed of a firstborn son.

We'd hoped our kids would be close together, and after trying for number two for what seemed like a really long time (in reality, only a year), much heartache and disappointment, we took it as a little nudge to get the adoption ball rolling. We applied to an agency that our friends had used, got the home study done, filled out a million hours of paperwork, and got on the list of waiting families. 

Two days later I found out I was pregnant. 

We opted to stay on the list and see what God did. And if you think God doesn't have a sly sense of humor, take one more look at that picture up there. We got a call from the agency 10 weeks later that we'd be chosen for a little boy to be born in late June. I was due with a boy in November. It all seemed like a fun new adventure, and we were nothing but excited. I think most people thought we were crazy, but we felt like it was all totally from God and couldn't wait to see how it all played out.

We flew across the country for Eddie's birth, got to bring him to the hotel right from the hospital, and proceeded to fall in love with our large, squishy newborn. We were quite the sight as a family of four and a half - a two year old, a newborn, and a big fat belly waddling along, Nick at my side. It was awesome.

Then George arrived four months later, and while it was an adjustment, it all felt easy. There were moments that were crazy: nursing George while Eddie sat in the car seat on the floor and I fed him his bottle. Everything took getting used to, but it was all good. And Lute fell into the role of big brother with ease.

Then Eddie and George became mobile. And then they started talking. And well, it actually was crazy. We moved when George was three weeks fresh, and our new house had doors that closed in every room. It was my saving grace, and my sanity saver. I stand by my conviction that 3 years old is the hardest age and they're both 3, so there you go. It's not easy around here with these boys, but they are my life and I love them so much my heart could burst. Though I'm also really ready for bedtime pretty much every night. But I digress.

We knew we wanted to adopt again, and we knew we wanted to have at least one more biologically, Lord willing. I had decided after all the anxiety trying to conceive a second time, that I was never going to "try" again. God would do it if and when He wanted to. We decided around the time George turned two that we were ready to adopt again. We did another home study, filled out millions of hours of paperwork, and waited. 

And waited and waited and waited. Finally, nine months later we were matched with a birthmother, and then she changed her mind the morning she went into labor. We were heartbroken. I remember sitting on the porch with Nick, early in the morning before the kids got up, tears in our eyes as we processed the news. While we both had faith that God was in control, that the baby we were meant to parent would come at the right time, we were both devastated, hurt, broken. Our home study expired and we decided to take a break from the adoption process.

Only I guess we didn't communicate that with our agency because we got a call a couple of months later that they'd matched us with another birthmother. We scrambled to update our home study before the baby was born, and got everything done in the nick of time. That's when sweet Frances came to be. I didn't fly out until she was ten days old and the parental rights had been terminated. She was in a caring home, and after an all night flight, a three hour road trip, and five minutes to freshen up, I met my daughter. Weary, exhausted, elated. It was one of the most magical moments of my life.

I brought her home a week later, once we'd been cleared to leave the state, and we were now a family of six. The boys took to her immediately. Nick was smitten. We couldn't get over the ease of the transition. It was so filled with peace and joy, there was no doubt in our minds that this was our baby. The one planned for us from the beginning, our perfect Frances.

Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. Obviously. I mean, that's how it works around here. People ask me all the time if I'm nervous about doing it all over again, and I'm really not. There are days when I feel like I might not make it to dinnertime without keeling over, but that's only once in awhile. I have to say it, and I can never say it enough, I could not do any of what I do without my husband. I am constantly in awe of this man who loves us all so completely, and serves us to no end. He is the most amazing father and husband. When people ask me how I do it, my first response is that I couldn't do it without Nick and that is the absolute truth. But also, we do it because it's our life and we love it, even when it's hard, crazy and exhausting.

So, that's us. Our silly, wild, really really loud, family of six and a half. Stay tuned, because it's about to crazier.


  1. this story makes me so so happy. God is so good. I love his sense of humor and admire your attitude. It's my dream to have ten kids. I'm only fifteen so things might change in the future but that's what I want. I've always had a heart for adoption and I'd love to have them all mixed in versus having four and then adopting some. I can't wait until the newest arrival arrives.

    Also, question on adoption: I know the sweetest couple ever. She wanted twenty kids when she was little. She changed her mind once she was older but she still wanted a lot of kids. They weren't able to conceive so they adopted a little boy from birth. Two years later they got pregnant and now they have two boys. Five (adopted) and Three (biological). The youngest is just like the parents. Laid back, easy going and the easiest child ever. The older one is wild and rambucitous and you can tell he's not at peace.

    I know this couple loves them equally and each like they were their own. But is it ever difficult not to prefer one's attitude over the other? Because personalities are often genetic does it make it more difficult with some adopted children because of their birth parents?

    I'm just curious on your opinon of this.

    I love your blog and ya'lls hearts amaze me. God bless ya'll. xx


  2. your family is beautiful. your hearts are beautiful.
    the story God is writing is beautiful.

    so glad you shared this. :)
    i am excited to see where He is taking you!

  3. Carina I just love your heart. I think you're an amazing mother! Oh and I'm really interested in your adoption agency info!

  4. Aw, Carina! Reading this made me cry... and I actually already knew all of it haha. I just love how much love you can see just by reading your story. I'm thankful for friends like you who live the life God's calling you to and who are willing to share it with others. You and Nick are so blessed! You're family is beautiful! Also I'm just so ready for another baby in my life :) Love you.

  5. I showed my husband an Instagram picture of your boys (in superhero stuff, so he thought they were awesome) and explained how every time you adopt you seem to get pregnant. I think it's awesome that you guys have such a big family and they're all so stinkin' cute!

  6. such a good, good story the Father is writing!!
    i love that your sweet Frances has three older brothers {our little sweet pea has five of 'em!}
    & that your hearts are open to receiving the beautiful blessing of children ...
    i agree, three is a hard age, especially x 2.
    hang in there mama ~ His grace will hold you up. His plans are amazingly GOOD!!



  7. Your journey of motherhood is just beautiful!

  8. your life is a blessing to many. love your sweetie, wild gang. praise jesus! xoxo

  9. beautiful - your family is wonderful! :)

  10. I've been smiling through this whole post, and I burst out laughing in the last paragraph! Your family is definitely evidence that God has a sense of humor. What amazing parents you are--and what an incredible job God has given you, in raising all these beautiful children! Thank you so much for sharing your story. :)

  11. Thanks for the update, Carina! I totally dug this post and love following your family through social media. :-)

  12. Oh what a fun (and even more crazy than my family) story! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ahh! Love it! What a fun, crazy family! And, truly an adventure!

  14. What a beautiful story! I'm an adoptive mama too & we have 2 littles. 16 months & 17 months. We were waiting for a boy & 2 months before we were to meet our son we found out we got a girl too! Now we are wait g for god to bless us with a bio (gong on 4 years of trying) and ll my friends say "you are going to get preggo with twins". Gods timing is perfect! Www.theelderadventurers.com