What. A. Year.

Valentine’s Day is a day spent celebrating love but for the Tripletts, this day means so much more than cards and expressions of love. One year ago, today, our lives changed in the most exciting and amazing way – we got a phone call from an adoption attorney telling us that we were chosen by a Birth Mother to adopt their unborn child.

It is cliché to say that time flies but all things considered, it really has. As I sit back and reflect on the last 365 days, it is insane all that Brandon and I have experienced. For six months, we experienced the ups and downs of the adoption process, included coming to terms with the fact that I could not control anything in the process.

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Throughout this period of time, we would not have been able to survive without the love and support of our friends and family. Our small group stepped up and provided us not only the prayers we needed but the physical support whenever we needed it. Our friends called to check in on us and they always seemed to come just at the right time. (Side note: I don’t actually believe any of that was a coincidence. Looking back, the way God covered us and took care of us is nothing short of incredible.) Our families were there to hold us up.
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I still in awe of everything that transpired the morning of August 9th and it is still my favorite story to tell. Charlotte is a testament to how great our God is – I mean, He used the birth of our child as a way to tell me that He’s “got this” and that everything is under control. Who else can say that?!
Since her birth, we have been enjoying every second of being Charlotte’s parents. She wakes up with a smile which warms our hearts. She has the cutest, most adorable laugh. She is so easy going and so much fun to watch grow and develop. We are reminded daily just how lucky and blessed we are to be her parents.
As Brandon and I were reflecting last weekend about the last year and all of the highs and lows and the gambit of emotions we experienced, I began to realize that our story can (and is!) being used to help others. We did not know that our call to adoption and our story would be used to help others that are struggling with infertility. We have had friends come to us and ask us about our adoption experience as well as ask advice for how to go about the whole adoption process. We have had friends refer their friends to us to talk about adoption and maybe give them a glimpse of hope in their journey to become parents. Our past pain is being used for good. Never, in a million years, did I think that we would be used to help others. I am so happy and thankful that our story can be used for good.
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We cannot wait to see the type of person Charlotte grows up to be. We cannot wait go on all types of adventures and experience different things with her. Charlotte has changed our lives. She is something we wanted for such a long time but we could not have fathomed just how much she would change our lives. Valentine’s Day will forever hold a special place in our hearts and our lives.

Gotcha Day!

November 15th, 2019. This is our “Gotcha Day” – the day Charlotte legally and officially became part of our family. She is forever now a Triplett. FOR.EV.ER. (If you said that like Squints from The Sandlot, we can be friends) 

As I have had time to decompress and process everything that happened not only yesterday but throughout our entire adoption journey, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of support and love that has surrounded us. 

To the friends that sent sporadic texts throughout the adoption process to check in, see how I/we am/are doing, to the running friends that would go on a slower than usual run with me but just listen to me talk as I processed things, to the coworkers that checked in on me throughout the journey, I say thank you for listening and checking in on us. 

To our church small group that lifted us up in prayer constantly, who gave us shoulders to cry on and were willing to just be there for us in some of our darkest times, you will never fully know the full impact of your love and kindness. 

To the framily that rallied behind us when we found out that we had a Charlotte on our hands and not the Noah for which we had planned and prepared, I am sincerely indebted to you. You reached out to all of your friends and moms groups to give us the things we needed at such an important and special time for us. On top of that, the same people threw us a baby shower and did it will smiles on their faces and love in their hearts despite hectic life schedules. 

Thank you to the families that brought us dinner when were at home with a newborn and absolutely NO CLUE as to what we were doing. Trying to keep a micro human alive and happy is hard work so the visits were appreciated and to come with food was even more amazing!! 

To the friends of our families that have followed us throughout this whole ordeal either via our family or this blog, your kind words of encouragement were always noticed and appreciated. They helped us in our times of need. Your prayers were felt. 

I also can’t help but be reminded of a bible verse from 2 Timothy 4:7. It states “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. We went into adoption because we wanted to have a family and were unsuccessful naturally. We knew we would be able to change the trajectory of the life of the human we adopted and put in our family. We are called to take care of the elderly, the widows, and the orphans. We finished the race. Our Gotcha Day solidified Charlotte being our daughter and ended this chapter of our adoption journey. I have kept the faith. I only say that I have kept the faith, however, because of two important factors: the people that surround us and the magnitude of God’s love. I honestly do.not.know. how people can pursue adoption without knowing Christ – there were so many times I did not see an end in sight nor did I think I could continue. The prayers that surrounded and covered us, especially in the last 72 hours before paperwork was signed for Charlotte to be in our custody were not only felt but I am convinced that they are the only thing that kept me functioning and upright. 

Some of you may have noticed that our blog theme is “Raising Arrows”. This theme is derived from scripture, Psalms to be exact. The verse says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.” As her parents, we have the opportunity and the charge to mold her and shape her so that when she is old enough to go out on her own, she will be grounded in truth (and change the world if I have anything to do with it).

Charlotte is our reward.  We have weathered this adoption journey together, with the village and army of people around us encouraging, lifting us up, and walking alongside us. 

We are finally three. But that does not mean our journey is over. Far from it. We are simply closing that chapter of our adoption journey and starting a new one as we navigate parenthood. Stick around – I have a feeing this is going to be a wild ride. 

The Final Countdown

Hey guys! Brandon here! I thought I’d take a stab at writing a blog entry, so here goes…!

Continuing with posts about Adoption Awareness Month, I thought it’d be a good time to actually share the adoption process.  We hear, all too often, things along the lines of “I thought you were done with everything,” “I didn’t know it took that long,” “I thought everything was final when you left the hospital,” etc.

Adoption is a LONG process.  Although the timeline can vary for everyone, from birth to finalization can take anywhere from 6-7 months before the child is placed in the adoptive parents legal custody.  Until such time as the “finalization hearing,” the adoptive parents are in essence just legal guardians.

The process, in short, begins with being matched to a birth mom.  This happened to us on Valentines Day 2019!  This process is simply the birth mom reviewing scrapbooks of potential families and choosing the family she thinks would be best for her child.  

Once matched, you go through the pregnancy trying to establish a relationship and provide the birth parents comfort that you were the right pick.  What this looks like varies, again, with each match and what is the comfort level of each couple. Then comes the birth at which time the birth parents have to make the decision to terminate their parental rights.  For Florida, this can’t happen until 48 hours after birth or at time of discharge (whichever comes first).  Some states then have a revocation period where the birth parents can change their mind but thankfully the state of Florida has a ZERO day period.

Following termination of the parental rights, the child becomes a ward of the state and is placed in the legal custody of the adoption agency.  The agency then places the child in the physical custody of the adoptive parents as legal guardians.  During this time, you have to have post placement visits which simply means a social works checks in to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the child.  

After the necessary number of post placement visits has taken place, the agency can then submit the final paperwork to the state.  This is where we are today!  All of the final paperwork has been submitted to the state.  Once reviewed and approved, we will go to a finalization hearing…meaning we will go before a judge who will make the decision to award us legal custody.  This is the part that usually takes 6-7 months to reach.  Bottom line, this finalization gives the child our last name, a new birth certificate, and is officially and legally a member of our family forever. 

The best news is that we don’t have to wait 6-7 months the from the time of Charlotte’s birth.  We were persistent with the agency and diligent with completing all requirements and are on our way to the finalization hearing.  That’s right, we are headed to the finalization hearing!  It’s on Friday!  We made it in only 3 months time.  As of November 15, baby Charlie will officially become a Triplett and we will be three!  My heart is whole and our family is complete.

This process has taken about 9 months from the time of being matched.  Many of you have kept up with the emotional rollercoaster we were on and we couldn’t have done this without all of your love and support.  We ask that you cover us with love, prayer, and support through this final day.  After Friday, let the celebrations begin as we welcome Charlotte into our army of family and friends!!!08D7233D-6245-404C-BBCD-4ABE8ACEDA2E.jpeg

National Adoption Awareness Month

“They may not have my eyes, they may not have my smile, but they have all of my heart.” November is National Adoption Awareness month. November also marks three months since our lives changed forever. What seems like the blink of an eye, three moths have passed since we became parents and now we can’t imagine our lives without our sweet Charlie girl. 

In the short time that we’ve had our baby girl, she has gone on a plane ride to Washington DC, gone to a pumpkin patch, been to Disney twice, spectated a half marathon when her dad was a participant, met her dad at the finish line of the most grueling marathon he’s ever run, and she lights up every room she’s in. 

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Before Charlotte, we increasingly found ourselves to be the only one in our groups of friends that did not have children. Everyone would tell us that they couldn’t imagine their lives without their children. Or that they didn’t remember their lives before they had kids. Their kids had seemingly overtaken their lives and radically changed their world. This wasn’t something that made much sense to us at the time. But now, we get it. Our lives are so totally different. Our lives have a different focus. Our lives have a different meaning. We wouldn’t change it for the world either. There are times when I wonder if she’s crying because we aren’t bonded as a mother and child because I didn’t carry her but then Brandon reminds me that she’s a baby and babies cry, it’s what they do. I sometimes second guess myself and my ability to be a mom but then she looks at me and smiles or nestles her head in my neck to snuggle and I realize that no one knows what they’re doing as parents. 

People decide to pursue adoption for many reasons; each path and story is different from the next. For some, it is the desire to expand their family after years of infertility and pregnancy loss struggles. For others, it is the family of 4 or 5 that wants to be the reason there is one less orphan in the world. We came to the conclusion that having our biological child may not be in our cards. We had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into with adoption but we did know that we were going to be parents through adoption. The highs, the lows, the ugly and the beautiful – all of it lead to us becoming parents to an amazing little girl. 

Adoption is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. Domestic adoption and international adoption are both wrought with bureaucratic insufficiencies and frustrating barriers. Adoption is beautiful. It unites a child and a parent or parents as a new family. Adoption tested us as individuals and as a couple. It is my solemn prayer, however, that our story and journey to becoming three shows just how amazing our God is and how faithful He is even in our lowest of lows. 

November is a month that typically is focused on reasons to give thanks, culminating in a feast of delicious foods with friends and family. The biggest reason for which we will be thankful is Charlotte and it is not lost on me that the month of Thanksgiving and National Adoption Awareness are the same month. 

What a difference a month makes

One month ago, our lives changed for the better – we became parents to a beautiful baby girl. Since coming home, after spending 10 days at the hospital, we have learned so many things and our hearts have grown exponentially. 

Some of the things I’ve learned thus far are as follows: 

  • She is adorable when she is smiling, but chances are it has nothing to do with what you’re doing. There is about an 80 percent chance that she’s pooping when she’s looking oh so cute with that beautiful grin on her face. 
  • Burp clothes are so vital to the feeding process. Seriously. That stuff goes EVERYWHERE. Oh, and the same goes for poop. 
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. Trying to manage everything by yourself is great and all, but so is sleep. And rest. Which is a biblical concept, so there’s that. 
  • Don’t hold your spouse accountable for what they say when they are sleep deprived. I have a hilarious story about this but that is for another day. But suffice it to say, sleep deprivation is a real thing. 
  • Popcorn and chips and salsa are great dinners and all but so are meals that your friends bring you or have you over for. 

Being a mom and being parents have changed me and us for the better. I can honestly say that there are times when I still look at this beautiful baby girl and cannot believe she is ours. She already has a personality and makes the cutest faces.

I love watching Brandon be a dad to her as well. He dotes on her. He puts her to bed every night. He is always excited to come home and hold his baby girl. 

It is remarkable what a 7-ish pound little human can do to your life. We wouldn’t trade it for the world and while I still think about some of the things that stress me, when I am holding this beautiful (not fussy) baby, it seemingly does not matter. 

photo cred: kaylie marie photography (https://www.kayliemariephotography.com) If you find yourself in the Space Coast and want photos done – check her out. You will NOT be disappointed!

We Are Three

On August 9th, at 2:06am, our lives changed forever with the birth of our baby. In March, we were told that we were expecting a boy. Little did we know that God would have the last laugh when we heard the words “It’s a girl!” We went from crying tears of joy when we heard her first cry to belly laughs when we realized we were going to be parents to a little girl! Our lives were forever changed for the better when they placed our girl, Charlotte, in our arms for the first time. While the end result is one of amazing happiness and joy, the events leading up to us coming home with our little girl were those of extreme trials. 

On Thursday, August 8th, we got a phone call from “L” telling us she was in labor and that she was headed to Winnie Palmer hospital in Orlando. Brandon and I hadn’t left for work yet so instead of heading into the office, we jumped in the car with our bags and we were almost in sheer disbelief that our lives were about to change forever. We sat in the triage room with “L” and her boyfriend, the birth father, for hours, waiting for her labor to progress. From the time that we got to the hospital to Saturday mid-day when we got the news that the birth parents signed the paperwork forfeiting their rights, we were faced with an incredible number of trials and tests of faith. 

We were blessed to have someone walk through our adoption journey with us from our adoption consultant group that helped us through our difficult times at the hospital. She put things in perspective by saying that Satan knew he had 48 hours left to wreak havoc in our lives and make us question everything. He threw the book at us. In a time that we were supposed to be experiencing sheer joy and excitement, we were in the midst of a battle. We had to decide to choose our faith and joy over all the other things we were experiencing. And man, that.was.hard. 

What I am about to say is something I do not say lightly but I believe it at the core of my being. Brandon and I were broken. We were mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. We were spent. I am absolutely convinced that the only way we made it through those 48 hours was the prayers and support of our friends and family. There were times when I didn’t think I could make it through this. We were absolutely carried by our support system. It still brings tears to my eyes to reminisce on the pure love and support we were shown in this most exhausting time of our adoption. We had friends from our small group drive an hour to literally just sit with us at a restaurant to decompress from the day’s events. We had people call and text us throughout the 48 hours that came at just the right time to get us to continue to move forward. 

All the while, we were in extremely close quarters throughout the labor and post-delivery with her birth parents. This is an added layer of complexity because we still had to be careful with our words and how we acted because no paperwork had been signed. We had to hold our tongues and not say everything we wanted to. Romans 7:15 says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I wanted to be angry, I wanted to say things that were on my mind, I wanted to give people a piece of my mind. But I didn’t. I think I prayed more in those 48 hours than I had throughout the rest of the adoption journey. Brandon was my rock. Our friends and family kept us standing. Literally. The only reason we were able to continue to function was not of our own volition but because of those around us, covering us in love and prayer. 

Fast forward to Saturday August 10th around noon, our social worker came out of a room to let us know that our birth parents had signed the appropriate paperwork and we were going to be parents!!! If anyone ever wants to see what pure joy looks like, get your hands on the security camera footage of the 6th floor lobby in Winnie Palmer hospital around that time – that is when all of our emotions from the last few months all finally surfaced. I was sobbing. Brandon had to physically hold me up at the beginning. It was finished! We were parents to this beautiful baby girl!!

While I would love to say that we are done facing tests, we firmly believe that we are still being tested to this day. “L” has contacted us a handful of times since signing the paperwork, asking about the baby girl. She left the hospital as we were left to walk through our baby girl’s withdrawals from drug exposure in the womb. We were the ones that were there when she was given morphine every four hours to help her cope with the pain and withdrawals. Do we respond with the hate and anger in our hearts? OR. Do we continue to show “L” the love and grace that we showed her throughout the pregnancy? Do we continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus, potentially the only exposure of God in her life, or do I tell her the honest truth? Do I tell her how angry and hard it is to watch her shake and experience tremors? Do I tell her that she’s the reason that this innocent baby girl is experiencing all of this? Or do I answer her with the same grace that I am shown on a daily basis by my friends, family, and most importantly, by God? We never anticipated that we would continue to be tested even after the paperwork was signed. We do know, however, that just as we are loved, we are to love. Love is a choice. It is not always easy but it is something we are called to do. 

After the paperwork was signed, we spent nine days in Arnold Palmer hospital as Charlotte went through withdrawals. We had so many visitors and each visit meant the world to us. We had friends show up after work just to check on us. The first day Brandon went back to work, I had two friends divide the day into shifts so that I would not be by myself. There were multiple times that Brandon and I both said we didn’t know what we did to deserve these people in our lives but we sure were grateful. We still sometimes cannot believe that we have a little baby girl at home with us. It still brings tears to our eyes. The Tripletts are finally three. 

Patience is a Virtue…

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The rest of that saying should be “which I do not have.” While the majority of the time this is said in jest and humor, today it took on a whole other meaning for me.

For those of you that go to church, have you ever sat in a service and felt like you were being spoken to directly? Like the pastor should’ve just sat you down and talked to you instead of making it an entire sermon? Well, today, that was me. The four main points of the sermon on being patient were as follows:
Being patient in difficult circumstances
Being patient with difficult people
Being patient in the face of senseless suffering
Being patient with God
As we sit in the final days of “L”’s pregnancy, I find myself consumed with fear, anger, and anxiety. With adoption there is zero guarantee that we will leave the hospital with the baby for which we have prayed, prepped, and celebrated. The fear is strong. “L” has not only not gone to doctors appointments, but she has lied to me about going, only for me to find out later. The anger of not taking care of that baby and being lied to is strong. The anxiety of the unknown – what is his detox going to look like, will she sign the legal documents for us to take this baby home – is strong.
I could list reason upon reason as to why each of these four points is so incredibly difficult for me to do, now more than ever. But not to belabor the point of adoption being difficult, I won’t outline them. I will say, however, that in the midst of my struggling to make it through church today, I was reminded of an amazing, yet simple truth. As I sat during the worship part of church (yes, even the music was causing me to fall to my knees!!), tears pouring from my eyes, two complete strangers in church placed their hands on me, speaking words of love, concern, and prayer. They don’t know me. For all they know, I am some rando that stumbled into the church doors but that didn’t stop them from reaching out to me.
I am reminded that, even though these emotions that most people would say are completely valid and normal, my faith has taught me that God has never failed me. He didn’t fail Job. He hasn’t left me. I might have thought I could do this all on my own but without the people in our village and being covered in prayer every step of the way, I would’ve had a colossal breakdown months ago. I am also reminded that it is okay to ask for help. I am asking that in the coming days you pray for me. For the reasons listed above as well as many, many other unspoken reasons.
I also know that I am not the only one struggling, mostly internally with things. To those, I say, you are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are loved and you are important. Find someone to whom you can be raw with and lay everything out on the table. Internalizing things will seem okay at first but they will manifest themselves in your daily life in so many ways. Also, I have included the link to our church service (https://www.churchatviera.com/) from this weekend. It is my prayer that even if you are experiencing the highs of the mountaintop that you hear the words and listen to the music and find meaning.
One song in particular that resonated with me today is called  Even When It Hurts The lyrics pierce through my thoughts like a rod through bone, shattering my conception of how I’ve been dealing with everything as of late. The link to the song is below. Give it a listen. Dwell on the words and it’s meaning.