Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's her birthday!

Happy birthday, sweet girl.
 Our Hannah Brielle Smith turns one year old today. This day will always be a day I celebrate because it's Hannah's birthday (obviously), but it's also one that is marked by a reminder of my humility. A year ago today, I looked at a young girl and prayed with her, prayed that God would be able to give her the courage she needed to follow through with decision to place her baby girl with us, to be raised by us, as our daughter.
I'll never understand fully the miracle that the Lord did in our birthmother that day, but I'll never forget the feelings that overwhelmed me that day. I was humbled. Courage had never had so much of a face as it did that day, and it took on the eyes and face and shape of our birthmother. I remember well, after being at the hospital for about five hours, being overcome by the reality of it all. This young lady, after growing a baby for nine months, knowing when that baby moved, how she kicked and carrying that life inside of her, was going to hold her for a few days, then place her in our arms and let us raise her as we saw fit. She gave up all rights to the days and weeks and years of the baby she gave life to. It was so huge to me, and it humbled me. I knew in that moment that I never would have been able to do the same thing. I never would have been able to move so beyond myself, to set aside my desires for my baby, to give her a life that I couldn't. I would have been stubborn, selfish and self-centered. Our birthmother was none of those; she was gracious, she was inclusive, she was gentle, she was (and is) proud of Hannah.
So, today, as I celebrate the fact that our Hannah girl reached a very important milestone, I'll also tearfully celebrate holding her for the first time, watching Justin give Hannah her very first bottle. I'll celebrate the courage of our birthmother, and remember how sweet of a time we had with them in the hospital for those first few days. I'll remember all the love that was in the room as Hannah was brought into this world, how full of joy that room was that she was (and is) perfect, that her birthmother loves her, her biological grandparents love her, that we love her, that her big brothers love her, that our parents and families love her. It was truly a magnificent day, and I'm humbled to know that God entrusted us with this precious baby girl.

Now, to the fun stuff. Here's what you need to know about Hannah.
'Hannah' is a name we chose that means favor and grace. We love the name, the promise of it for her whole life. 'Brielle' is a name that her birthmother chose, and the meaning she cited was 'God is our might'. We love the significance of this for our Hannah, for the day almost a year ago when God had to be mighty for our birthmother, as she officially gave her daughter to us.
Hannah Brielle is a fun-loving and active little girl! She rolled over just in time, she crawled just in time, and recently started "big girl crawling" exclusively. Hannah is fun-loving, like I've never known a baby to be! Her first word was "momma" (After two "dadda"s, I was praising Jesus for this!), and she waves and claps very enthusiastically! Well, the wave comes after she's examined a new person for a good long while, but once you get it, you get lots of them! When someone new comes in the room, they are greeted by a "hi" from Hannah! Doesn't matter if you just came in to the room again after a ten second absence, you get a new hi for being present!
Hannah Brielle is a busy, busy baby! Whoever told me girls weren't as busy as boys didn't know my Hannah girl! She has eight teeth, all that came in without a peep from her. We had to daily examine her mouth to see if there were any new teeth because teething really didn't affect her like it did with the boys. She loves to explore, loves to do things herself and is a silly, sweet, beautiful baby girl. She loves music and to dance, and she has eyelashes that go on for miles! She's a wonderful eater, and didn't have any trouble transitioning from bottle to sippy cup! She's...quite possibly...the best. baby. ever.
Hannah started sleeping through the night the day she turned two months old and has never looked back. She's the one who wakes up the latest in our family (a girl after my own heart) and doesn't use a pacifier. She's wonderful, and we are in love with her.
The thing I love the most about our family with Hannah is seeing everyone interact with a girl; all the boys (Daddy included) are so tender with her. It's heart-melting on an almost daily basis.
The second thing I love most about our family with a girl is the way that the boys just accept Hannah as sister. They don't qualify her as "adopted" sister; she's just our Hannah girl. The adults we meet for the first time, when Justin's not with us, are so curious about her, why they don't remember me being pregnant or why her hair is darker. When Justin is with us, they never ask because she favors his color so much.
When we move, we'll go to a foster and adoption play date at the church across the street from our new house so the boys will always know other kids who have adopted siblings, and so Hannah will always know other adopted kids. But, for right now, there's a bliss about it, a protection of naiveté, where the boys don't know the difference and it's just our three kids, siblings, just as if she were born into our family. And, right now, before the world interferes, I love it. I'll always treasure this time; our kids are too young to understand and so many people here know our story, that we're living as if she was born into our family. I know that there are trials ahead, but I trust in the God who humbled me, who gave us Hannah, who prepared Justin's heart before he met me, and my heart before I met him, for our family. It's really a miraculously humbling thing, adoption, and we are so in awe of the work of the Lord in our family.