Monday, May 27, 2019

Remembering Sam

This memorial day there are memories of a specific veteran on my mind, and I can't let the day end without finally sharing this story I've carried in my heart for more than 7 years. 


Sam Waller was a cousin on my husband’s side of the family – Rusty’s grandfather’s double first cousin. (For those wondering, it means a set of brothers married a set of sisters – making their children not just first cousins, but double first cousins!) Sam grew up very close to Rusty’s grandfather, and they made many special memories together through the years.

Sam served in the army, in both Korea and Vietnam. We knew he was a veteran, but didn’t find out until after his death that he’d been awarded 2 bronze stars and a silver star for his acts of heroism “beyond the call of duty”. We hang an engraved silver star on our Christmas tree each year in loving memory of him. 

You see… Sam was more than just a distant cousin to us. He is a man who changed our lives forever. After his time in the military, he retired to Thailand. And when we decided to move to Thailand for several months of 2011 to start a partnership there for The Sound of Hope, Rusty’s grandmother insisted that we look him up. She wrote him letters about us, and he was elated by the idea of us visiting. So he sent his contact info (via mail) and set up a friend to pick us up a couple of days after we arrived.

We weren’t sure what to expect. This was an 80 year old man living in Thailand, that we’d never met before… and we were nervous! But what we found was a family treasure.  (Those of you who followed my blog back when we lived in Thailand, may remember the posts I shared about sweet Sam!)

Sam wept when he met us, so thrilled to be with family (even through he didn’t know us). And in the year to come – we developed the sweetest, most special relationship with him and the precious nurse who cared for him like family, Thida. (He loved you Thida! And we are forever indebted to you for the ways you loved and cared for him.) He treated us like his grandkids (which I know Rusty’s Papaw would have loved). He took us to his favorite restaurants, out for “dips” of ice cream, and fed us loads of snacks. He sat up late telling us stories about his life, his travels and about the family. He liked to spoil us and surprise us. I loved watching him laugh… and watching him pray over his food with clasped hands and tears in his eyes. He had such a tender heart.

We told him our family stories, and stories about our travels. He loved hearing about our work, and became extremely interested in what he could do to help the kids in our care. I will never forget the tears streaming down his face one day as he watched a video of a new roof on the boy’s dorm in the refugee camp (that had been replaced with the donation he’d given). Before that, there had been water pouring in the damaged roof. He just kept telling us, “I had no idea so little could do so much”. He was a generous soul.

We introduced Sam to CDs (which he called “tiny records”) and a USB to play his favorite music. We skyped him to stay in touch when we were back in the US, and even managed some Skype calls between him and Rusty’s grandmother (both in their 80’s) – one from Thailand with Sam, and one from Arkansas with Rusty’s MeMaw! Those were quite the scenes! While in Thailand we took Sam out to our favorite place for dinner too, and brought over birthday cake for his very last birthday on this earth. I am so glad we got to be with him to sing and have him blow out a candle that day!

We knew Sam had cancer, but we didn’t know he’d be taken so soon after we’d gotten to know him. He’d been getting treatment in Bangkok, but took a turn for the worse while we were in the States, and quickly declined. But before he would allow them to admit him into the hospital ICU, he forced his friend to stop at the bank. That night, he called to tell us he was wiring us money (from Thailand). He wanted us to give some to 3 elderly family members he loved, to help take care of them in their final years. He wanted some to be used for our Girls Home in Thailand. He wanted some to be used for the Children’s Home we were trying to build in India. And the rest, he wanted us to have to “take care of yourselves”. 

In yet another act of selflessness (just like his silver and bronze stars) – he wanted to be sure others were taken care of. When he was at his weakest, and should have been taking care of himself, he was focused on everyone else – just like a true hero.

Little did Sam know, Rusty and I were praying about adopting a little girl from Thailand in those days. God had placed that specific desire into our hearts, and it was a calling we couldn’t shake. We’d told no one – not even our parents. Our greatest fear was the money. How could we fundraise for an expensive international adoption, when we were already fundraising for our nonprofit? How could we ask people to choose between giving money to adopt our child, and money to support the kids in our care? It seemed impossible.

But then Sam came through with the most extraordinary gift that still feels and sounds like a fairytale. While we were praying about adopting, a “distant relative in a faraway land” gifted us the money we needed. It was wired from Thailand in Thai Baht - while we were praying about adopting a little girl from Thailand!!! (So you can see why, when all the doors seemed closed to Thai adoption for the next year, we KNEW we were supposed to adopt from Thailand! THIS was our confirmation!) Because our process lasted longer than expected we did have to raise a little extra money for travel… but ALL of our adoption fees were paid in full by sweet Sam. [*When my uncle heard the story he remarked, "Paid In Full before you ever even needed it... isn't that just like Jesus?!"]

We got to talk to Sam one last time before he passed away. We told him we’d received the money, and that we were using it to adopt a little girl from Thailand into our family. I will never forget the emotion in his tender, frail voice as he replied, “Well, God bless you!” 

God smiled on our story again, when we were matched with a little girl from the city where Sam lived in Thailand. Out of ALL of the Children’s Homes in all the cities in Thailand - Kate grew up just a few miles from the home where Sam spent his final years.

One of our first family photos at the Pattaya Orphanage... just a few miles from Sam's old home.

When it came time to go for our adoption, it was to a place that felt like a second home to us - thanks to Sam! We knew all the best places to stay, and eat, and shop. Our very first dinner as a family was in the same hotel restaurant where we celebrated Sam’s last birthday. Being in such a familiar space made that stressful time so much easier, but also, bittersweet. We thought of Sam often, and wish so much that he could have met Kate!


There is a Children’s Home in India today, where 25 little boys live in safety with all their needs provided for – due in large part to Sam’s generosity. Without his donation, the land could not have been purchased. Because of him, this home exists and is changing so many little lives! 

Our Girl’s Home in Thailand was able to run for 2 years because of Sam’s support. Eight sweet little girls got love and opportunities for two years, because of Sam. (And their care continues on today!)

Rusty’s sweet MeMaw (a widow at the time) was able to take care of some important needs in her final years, because of Sam’s gift. And two other elderly family members were greatly blessed by him too.

Photo of Rusty's Papaw and MeMaw - and Rusty's mom - when they were young.

And our beautiful daughter is HOME with us today – because of Sam. He helped give us our greatest gift… our precious Kate. I cannot even begin to imagine our lives without her!

I know Sam was a hero in the eyes of our nation – with his medals and honors for his service to our country. But Sam was even more of a hero to us. We’ve seen how his legacy of true selflessness has saved lives – on the battlefield and out in this broken world. He changed our family forever, and his generosity and love for others will be what we remember about him. And so, each Christmas, we will tell Kate about Sam as she hangs his star on the tree. And on memorial day, his memory is the one we carry in our hearts.

Thank you Sam. For your service, and your selflessness. We are all so grateful.

Friday, November 24, 2017

One Year Later...

A year ago today, in an orphanage in Thailand, we met our beautiful daughter. After 1,748 days of waiting we finally held her in our arms, and our lives have never been the same! 💜

A very special family photo at the memorial for King Bhumibol Adulyadej 
with two of Kate's beloved caregivers - P. Lam & Khun Toy!

For those who aren't familiar with our story, we decided to spend a month together in Thailand for our adoption trip - because we love our daughter's birth country, and we hoped that time together there (in a place where the language, food, and people were familiar) might help her adjust a little bit easier. We made so many beautiful memories together in those first few weeks as a family of three... and we've been waiting a whole year to share this very special video with Kate (and with all of you!)

For years now, I've known that Kate's special song would be "Mine to Love" (by Dave Barnes). I knew it the moment I heard live for the very first time, and burst into tears in a crowded club. As I stood there with my husband, surrounded by strangers, I closed my eyes. As I listened to Dave sing these words I could see the moment I would meet my daughter, and the days to come as we took our first steps as a family. That vision (that I saw every time I heard this song in the years to come) kept me going... and now that vision has become a reality as I watched these precious moments from our life set to that perfect song (and a couple of other special songs too!)

To our darling girl... my goodness what a year it has been. The day we met, you were so scared, overwhelmed, and unsure... but you were also the bravest, strongest little girl we had ever seen! This year you have experienced so much. You've learned to love and trust us - even though we started out as strangers. Day by day and moment by moment, God has knit us together as a family. As we've cried together, grieved together, laughed together, celebrated together, and learned together - we have continually been amazed at how brave, strong, smart, kind, and compassionate you are. You, my darling, have the biggest heart of anyone I know. This has been a hard road for us all, but we are so proud of you. And the years of hard and heartbreaking moments were worth it all to call you mine! We thank God for the gift of YOU! You have brought so much beauty, laughter and JOY into our lives. I am so glad you're "mine to love"! We're grateful you're ours FOREVER, and we hope you'll cherish this video as much as we do.

God has given us rainbows as a reminder of His promises 
on some very hard days during our adoption journey. 
Today however - on a completely clear day - this one was an extraordinary gift! 
This perfect rainbow was in the sky directly over our house (like a smile from heaven!) 
I guess God is celebrating our "Family Day" in a special way too!

Mine to Love

You might wanna close your eyes
It’ll take some time adjustin’
Welcome to your life
You’re everything you’ll someday be
There’s a weight off my shoulder
There’s laughter in the air
You are the answer to every midnight prayer

You’re mine to love
We have all been waitin’ on you
You’re mine to love
Come into these open arms
It took some time to wait it out
But I see it now, you’re worth all the dreaming of
You’re mine to love
You’re mine to love

You might wanna take your time
Take in all this technicolor, yeah
We’re on your side
Let us be the one you need
There’s a life on my shoulder
Laughter in the air
You are the answer to all those midnight prayers

You’re mine to love
We have all been waitin’ on you
You’re mine to love
Come into these open arms
It took some time to wait it out
But I see it now, you’re worth all the dreaming
You’re mine to love
You’re mine to love

Every time that my heart was broken
Every time that I’ve lost my way
I forget when I look into your face

You’re mine to love
We have all been waitin’ on you
You’re mine to love
Come into these open arms
‘Cause I’m right here
It took some time to wait it out
But I see it now, you’re worth the dreaming of
You’re mine to love
You’re mine to love
You’re mine to love
You’re mine to love
So you might wanna close your eyes... 💜

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

She's ours... FOREVER!!!

So many of you have followed our story throughout our long, difficult adoption process. You rejoiced with us when we were finally matched with our little girl, and again the day we met her, and again when we took custody in Thailand, and then we ALL celebrated when we brought her home in December! But what you probably didn't know, is that our journey was far from over that day.

Our sweet girl wasn't truly OURS yet - even after she came home. We were simply her custodial guardians. The Thai Adoption Board requires a 6 month post-placement period where you must complete medical requirements, have a social worker visit your home multiple times, and send photos and reports back to Thailand. After that you are allowed to legally finalize your adoption - but only when the court has availability (which for us, was not until September). During this period of time when our adoption was not yet final we could not share public photos of our family, our daughter retained her birth name, and our adoption agency retained the rights to our child. The paperwork we were required to sign in Thailand actually stated that our agency could "report against the adoption" and either place our child with a different family OR send her back to Thailand if they chose to. While I knew that situation was highly unlikely (and that this contingency only exists to protect adopted children placed in an unhealthy/unsafe home) it was a terrifying thing to have in the back of my mind all these months. To know that someone else held that power over our family was frightening. To know that we completely adored this child, and would absolutely lay our lives down for her - but she wasn't legally OURS - was an excruciating thing. And I was reminded of that reality at every doctor's appointment (when they called out her birth name, instead of "Kate Jackson").

But today friends... today EVERYTHING changed! After a chaotic few days where we thought Hurricane Irma might knock out power in Birmingham and delay our court date by 4-5 more months, we finally stood before a judge TODAY with our precious girl (and her bunny) in our arms! 

After a few more hiccups that had our hearts racing (it wouldn't be our adoption case without them! Ha!) Judge Sherri Friday finally signed our Final Decree of Adoption - which made this little darling OURS FOREVER!!!

After all these years of hoping and praying and #waitingforKate, she is finally 100% mine to love! Once the paperwork was signed and the photos were taken with Judge Friday, I promptly burst into tears and hugged her. I'm not sure if that's proper protocol in a court room, but at that moment I didn't care! It's been almost 6 years since we first felt the call to start the adoption process, and today Kate is finally our daughter. I still can't believe it. I keep wanting to pinch myself just in case I'm dreaming!

Even though Hurricane Irma gave us a good scare (and caused me several sleepless nights worrying about our court date being cancelled) - the "silver lining" (to the hurricane clouds) was that Irma brought my brother and sister in law to town! Jaron & Michelle had to evacuate since they live in Florida. So even though we thought my parents would be the only family close enough to attend, "Uncle Jaron & Auntie Shell" just happened to be in Alabama on the perfect day! Kate was thrilled!!! (and so were we - especially once we heard their home was left unscathed in Florida, and that all our friends - and theirs - survived the hurricane with minimal damage to their property too. We're so thankful!)

We're also thankful for our sweet friend Alison of Alison Wilkey Photography who took these beautiful photos. It's hard for us to get pictures of our family when we're always the ones behind the camera. But Alison generously gifted us this session, and it was such a blessing to have someone else "worrying" about the photos! I loved having her there with us, and I still can't believe she got so many great shots of our wiggly girl!

Today #myThaidarling officially became Kate Suwichada Jackson. As her special adoption gift, we gave her a custom locket with a family photo inside. The inside is engraved with her Thai birthname and her Thai nickname, and the back is engraved with her new initials. We wanted something to symbolize that she will always and forever be ALL of these names. Who she was for 4 years did not disappear today. Her identity is forever linked to her birth family, the wonderful caregivers she had in the orphanage, and now to us - her forever family! We want to always honor every part of who she is and where she has come from, and we hope this gift becomes an heirloom she will cherish for years to come.

Sweet Kate, today you are ours FOREVER. We promise to protect you, provide for you, and to do everything we can to help you accomplish your dreams! We promise to accept you no matter what you do, how you feel, or who you become. We promise to help you find ways to honor your past and embrace your present. We promise to always celebrate your birth country and culture, and to help you understand and appreciate it however we can. We promise to always have your back, and to give you every bit of support we have to give. We promise that we will always be your BIGGEST fans! But most of all, darling girl, we promise to LOVE you. Forever and ever. You are our greatest gift! 💜

Thursday, August 24, 2017

1 Second Everyday (Jan - June)

Hello friends and followers! I'm so sorry I've been MIA. I promise we're still alive over here! ;) We just had a really tough 6 weeks in May and June that caused a lot of stress and anxiety (for us all) and some major regression for Kate. Three out of state trips (work trips for Rusty that we went along for to minimize separation), a major water leak, our car breaking down twice (and ultimately having to be replaced), plus a handful of other smaller stressors in a 6 week window was just too much for our sweet girl. July looked like a lot of time at home - all trying to recuperate, refocus, and reconnect. So needless to say, I'm behind on my blog (and everything else in my life too)! But I am happy to say that this month has been much better. Our attachment is growing in leaps and bounds, our sweet girl seems more settled, AND I have been keeping up with "notes" from each month - so you can expect a fun recap blog for month 6, 7, and 8 coming soon!

In the meantime though, I wanted to share a little project with you! At the beginning of this year, we committed to try to capture at least one second of video of our sweet girl during each day of 2017 (her first full year home). So far we've done pretty well, only missing 3 days in 6 months! And using the incredible "1 Second Everyday" app, we've been able to merge those seconds into the sweetest little monthly videos. I'm really proud of us for keeping up with this - because I already cherish these short clips so, so much! I get all teary watching them. I love seeing how much Kate has grown and changed, and I really love hearing her sweet little voice speaking so much Thai those first few months home. I am grateful to have a happy moment from every day that we'll be able to look back on for years to come - and I can't wait to see (and share) our FULL video from the year on New Year's Eve!

For now though, friends and family with our password can view our first 6 months home with Kate in 30 second videos from January through June. Check them out below!



1SE :: February from Rusty Jackson on Vimeo.


- - - - - - - - - - - 

I hope you enjoyed these as much as we have! Keep checking back in for blog updates in the weeks to come! They'll be backdated for the appropriate month, so you'll have to look behind this blog to read our updates from May, June, and July. Thanks for following along on our journey, and please continue to keep us in your prayers!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Seven Months in Our Arms

June 29th marked 7 months with our sweet Kate in our arms! Here's our 7 month #KateUpdate (written in November, but backdated to June! I'm so glad I took enough notes to remember these milestones!) 


We had a busy, busy month in June - full of trips and events! Our 3 out of town trips were all work trips for Rusty... but we decided that (although it would still be stressful) it would be easier on Kate to go with us than to be separated from her Papa for that many days and nights.

We started the month with a trip to Arkansas to Tutu and Pappy's house! Rusty was shooting a wedding video in Mississippi - but luckily the venue was only an hour away from his hometown. So Kate got to spend some time with her Tutu, meeting Tutu's friends, and playing with her kitty cat, Rocky! (Though I'm not sure Rocky enjoyed it as much as Kate did... just look at the shot below of our mischievous girl to see what I mean! Haha!)

(For those wondering - I managed to stop her right before she stepped on his tail! But now you'll understand why this kitty decided to hide up, up, up in a tree in the video below! Poor Rocky. Kate sure does love him! She followed him everywhere.)

Unfortunately our trip lasted a day longer than expected when we had major car issues (including a tow and extensive repairs). It was a pretty stressful experience on Kate's first BIG trip away from home (more than one night).

To try to make the trip a little easier though, she got her first scooter (since her bike was too big to bring along). She LOVED scooting around! Within the first few minutes of having it she was already balancing incredibly well and going down ramps! She loved riding it through the halls of Tutu's school too (just one of the perks of having a Principal for a grandmother!) She also had fun playing in Tutu's office, meeting our dear friends the Flemings, and eating her first cheeseburger at Ray's! (It was the first time we heard her say "delicious" in English! Haha!)

Playing in Tutu's office!

This month Kate also had her first night away from us with her Yaai and Dtah. They decided to try to keep Kate overnight in a hotel (closeby) to give us a little break. Of course we were a worried wreck all night, so it ended up not being much of a break! (We didn't expect to spend our first night away from her missing her so much and so worried about how she'd do!) She surprisingly lasted all night with them (she's SO brave!) but really struggled in the following days. It was a little too much too fast - with it coming right after her longest trip out of town.

Next up for Kate was her very first Miss Alabama Pageant week! She didn't make it to the pageant (I don't think she's quite ready for that yet) but she did come to the luncheon. I was SO excited to introduce her to my Miss Alabama family!

This group of people mean so much to me... and they have prayed for Kate for years while we worked and waited to bring her home. It was extremely special to finally hold her on stage and introduce her as my little girl! (And it was very special to have Auntie Beth there with us! After all, the Miss Alabama Pageant is what brought us together too!)

What we never expected though, was the show she put on! We actually thought she'd be afraid of the crowd (she still doesn't do well around strangers). But as soon as she saw the stage and microphone, she was ready to perform! She pushed her way over to the mic and instantly launched into a rousing rendition of Jesus Loves Me (that didn't stop - even after we pried the microphone out of her hand and put her down! Haha! 😂) But ultimately she did help me present our scholarship winner with her special rose and plaque.

You can see the video of her introduction and her debut Miss Alabama Luncheon performance above (so cute!), but I wish I had video of what happened next - because it was the most extraordinary thing! Kate got shy as soon as the cameras came out and hid her face for the award photos. So the Miss Alabama contestants and volunteers began to sing (the whole room, together!) "Jesus Loves Me" back to Kate! The look on her face was one I won't forget (nor will I forget all those sweet voices lifted up together in an effort to put our little girl at ease!) It was incredibly touching!

We are pictured here with the 2017 winner of our 
Miss Alabama IMPACT Award, Chandler Shields!
Kate isn't smiling because she has just joined the crowd 
in singing "Jesus Loves Me" again! It was so sweet!

Next up for our little family was a trip to the beach! This was once again for work, and we had to drive down separately (which was really tough on Kate). But once we got there, we had a great time with Uncle Jaron & Auntie Shell!

The moment she realized Uncle Jaron keeps gummy bears in his pocket!

Swimming in the "big water" with Uncle Jaron & Auntie Shell!

One last pic before we left... these two spoiled Kate rotten the whole trip!

Kate LOVED the "big sand" and "big water". She remembered the quick 5 minute stop we took to the beach in Pattaya (before we had to leave for Bangkok) and asked about the "lots of boats" last time (which was the case at the beach in Thailand!) We asked her if she'd ever been to play at the beach before though, and she told us no. I guess I'd never really thought of how difficult (and dangerous) it would be to take a group of children from the orphanage to the beach. I always referred to her as my "beach baby" - but the truth is that despite being born in a beach town and spending her whole life 1.2 miles away from the beach - she'd never seen it before we adopted her! That realization is still completely shocking to me. There is so much she's never done or seen!

(You're not a Southern woman unless you have family beach photos taken all in white. Haha! We took our photography gear to the beach, and I'm so thankful my brother was willing to snap a few pics for us! The trouble with being photographers is that we're always behind the camera - and never get shots of all three of us together. But these turned out so sweet!)

During our trip Kate also saw what we believe was her first rainbow! I know there are rainbows in Thailand... but she was only outside during scheduled times each day, and I guess no one ever thought to point one out to her (if there even was one in the sky during her outdoor playtime!) The wonder in her eyes was incredible... that's another "first" I'm glad I got to witness!

Kate's 1st Beach Trip! from Rusty Jackson on Vimeo. [Password protected - for friends & family only.]

She may have hated the drive down (12 hours is tough!) but Kate really loved playing at Uncle Jaron and Auntie Shell's house, chasing waves with Mama, playing in the sand, and dancing with Papa at the tiki bar we'd go to for dinner! She was pretty afraid of the ocean at first, but Uncle Jaron and Auntie Shell finally got her to go underwater on our last day! She also flew her first kite (though she lost interest after about 30 seconds) and got her first "bikini" on this trip (she's been BEGGING for a purple bikini since seeing my 2 piece swimsuit last month!) She was pretty excited about it, and hearing her say the word "bikini" had us all giggling!

Our last night at the beach... we stayed and played until it was completely dark!

We ended our beach trip with Rusty's first Father's Day with Kate home... and a stop by Ocala to see Pappy's new little Florida house (and to give him his Father's Day gifts too!) We gave Dtah his Father's Day gifts early. It wasn't a very relaxing Father's Day since it was a travel day - but it was still a special one for Rusty!

A few of my favorite shots of our favorite "Papa" and his little girl!

We're so glad we were in Florida and could see Pappy on Father's Day!

My favorite little sequence of Kate and her Dtah - they love their matching overalls!

The day after we returned from the beach I had a princess event. It's been more than a year since I've done an event as Princess Beauty, but our local Chick-Fil-A made me an offer I couldn't refuse, so I pulled my yellow dress out again! (Why yes, I will be a princess for your event if you pay me in cash and CFA giftcards! Haha! Guess where we'll be eating 3 times a week for the next few months?! 😉)

Photo credit & copyright: RJackson Media

I had a wonderful time at their "Daddy Daughter Date Night", and Kate came at the end dressed up just like Mama! We got to take the last carriage ride of the evening, which was another pretty magical "first" for her too! (Video above) She loved seeing Mama as "Belle" (and being "Belle" herself too!) And she really loved the horsey, "Casanova"!

As if that wasn't enough excitement for our month, we ended June with a trip to the mountains! For those who don't know, in addition to our work with The Sound of Hope, we also shoot video and photography to supplement our income. (Check out our business page here: So the last weekend in June we headed off to Cashiers, North Carolina so Rusty could shoot another wedding.

Playing with Papa under her first waterfall!

This was another big first for Kate, as she's never been to the mountains OR seen a waterfall before! We had an amazing time exploring with her and with my parents (who came along to help us out, and to make it an even better family trip). Rusty's work schedule was more stressful this trip, but we tried to make the best of it. We even got to feed some goats! (I seriously think that was her favorite part. This baby loves any chance to be with animals!)

Hiking to "Dry Falls" together! (Spoiler alert: They aren't dry!)

On the way out of town we stopped to let Kate go "gem mining"! She found some great gems, and we had one particularly beautiful amethyst cut into a necklace for her (since purple is her favorite color, and also her "birth color" in Thai culture!)


If you're reading everything above and thinking we're crazy - then you're right. We didn't plan to put that many out of town trips into the same month... but when extra job opportunities came our way we had to take them (especially after dialing everything back for the past few months in what we'd call a modified maternity/paternity leave, because Kate needed so much attention during this difficult adjustment).

But that many trips definitely "cost" us when it came to Kate's well-being emotionally. In addition to all our trips, we ended up having to tow our car twice this month, and ultimately scrap it and buy another vehicle completely unexpectedly. (Kate and I both cried over the loss of our beloved "Pippa"... the sweet little car we brought her home from the airport in, and planned to drive for several more years!) The stress of all of that - on us, and on Kate - was absolutely too much. By the end of June she was in a very fragile place. Her fear and anxiety went through the roof - and most days it felt like we'd just brought her home again. THIS is why adopted families are encouraged to "cocoon" for at least 3-6 months after they come home... and then to re-enter "normal life" slowly. (Which of course was our plan... but sometimes plans have to change for financial reasons.)

For those who aren't familiar - cocooning is the name adoptive families use for the season where we focus on keeping our adopted kids' world small (like a tiny cocoon holding a butterfly!) Of course with the life-cycle of a butterfly... if what happens in the cocoon is skipped, they can never fly. Their time in their cocoon is vital for their future health. The same is true for adopted children. If they never have time to adjust to their new life/language/culture... if they never learn to feel safe at home... if they never learn what "home" is... if they never attach to their families - then they cannot "fly" in the great wide world! We'd been cocooning SO much for 6 months, and we hoped Kate could handle more time away this month. But our trips each held a level of stress we hadn't anticipated (and the car issues put us all over the edge!) It was way too much too soon for our sweet girl. Next month we're going to have to dial back (majorly) to help Kate re-set.

 Love these shots from our beach trip! We ALWAYS stop to smell the flowers!

I'm so lucky to have a wonderful photographer for a husband!

Photo credit & copyright: RJackson Media


In the midst of all the regression, we're thankful that her language is continuing to progress! This month Kate began putting together more phrases, and even some sentences in English! She's also finally started to like books again, and has actually enjoyed me reading to her. We've heard her praying by herself often while she's playing... with a mix of English and Thai words (but again, more and more English phrases) as she talks to God. It's the most precious thing! She often prays for Meow (her best friend in Thailand), Bpa and P. Lam (her caregivers), and also for Baby Mae in Ethiopia (the little girl our neighbors are in the process to adopt!)

With her language progression, she's started talking more about Thailand too. She can tell me so many things in detail that I never expected her to remember from our time there. This month she even recognized the song we played the very first night she spent with us ("When Love Takes You In") and told me it was from Thailand, and "Kate sad" (which was very true. Our poor girl was very sad and scared the first night she spent with us!) She also talked often this month about how much she missed Meow.

A few more things about Kate...

This month Kate got more updated vaccines, and we found out she's recently grown more than 2 inches AND gained a couple of pounds too! (No wonder her pants are getting shorter!) She also had her first trip to the ophthalmologist (who said she has perfect vision!), and an appointment with the geneticist - because of a little health scare. Thankfully the (very serious) concern was ruled out. We are extremely grateful she's healthy!

These days Kate is in LOVE with Daniel Tiger (the cartoon version of Mr. Rogers!) It's so much fun to watch her loving the characters I grew up with, and singing songs that are so familiar to me. It's been a wonderful teaching tool - and we've incorporated lots of the little songs into our daily life!

On the few days we were home this month we spent more time outside under our pretty purple tree. It's always been a favorite of mine, but I love this little tree even more now that our little girl is home - and her favorite color is purple! It's so sweet to watch her play beneath those blooms. And of course she's still excited every single time she finds a "wormy" or "roly poly" outside! (If you don't believe me, check out the little "roly poly" dance she's does below with her Auntie Beth! Haha! We love you Auntie Beth! 💕)

This month also held a huge adoption milestone... our last social worker visit! Since Kate came home, we've had to complete reports, see a doctor, and have a social worker visit our home every 2 months - to be sure we were a "good fit" as her family before we were allowed to finalize our adoption (and become her parents legally). Even though we LOVE our social worker (and we know this is just a formality to make sure children are placed in safe, healthy homes) - it's still a bit nerve-wracking to feel you have someone constantly looking over your shoulder as a parent. It was a wonderful feeling to know we'd met all our post adoption requirements at the start of this month! Now we can meet with a lawyer, and file for a court date to finalize our adoption!