Today I have the privilege of sharing part of our story with Lauren from Sobremesa Stories. Every Wednesday she features women who are willing to share their stories of joy and struggle, pain and happiness, in a very real and honest way. I'm so honored to be among these women who've had the opportunity to tell their story. 

I sit staring at the last Christmas card envelope I need to address. Next to me, a completed stack for family and friends sit ready to go. I pull out my daughter’s card, look over her note again, the one she thought up by her seven-year-old mind alone –it’s addressed to her birth mother. She’s wondering if she would care to come to Christmas, “if she’s not too busy.”

A sad smile crosses my face as I see, once again, the tender heart that is my daughter clearly displayed across the colored note to her birth mother. I set it aside and start to write my own note to a woman I’ve never met but somehow feel connected to. I tell her that Jasmine came up with the note on her own but Kyle and I are in full agreement; we’d love to have her come for Christmas. We’ve sent cards in the past and her birth mom has responded with letters and presents of her own, offering Jasmine encouragement and love from a distance, but this is the first time we’ve invited her over for an actual visit.

I send Jasmine’s note along with our card and an extra picture of Jasmine, licking the envelope, hoping we still have the correct address for her and that she’ll receive it. Too scared to tell anyone else what I’ve done, fearing that they’ll tell me I’m crazy to invite her or try to talk me out of it, I let no one know of our note to Jasmine’s birth mom.

Every once in a while, being a foster and adoptive mom is a lonely proposition (like I shared about in this post). I have wonderful mama friends who have supported me on all fronts, who love my kids well, and who listen to all my successes and failures. But sometimes it’s hard to quite put into words the balance we try to strike with our adopted kids about birth families and adoptive families.

The bond with both sets of families for my kids is undeniable and I would be discarding a part of themselves if I ignored this other half of them, their birth families.

You can read the rest of my post here

“We are NEVER getting a dog.”

These words had been spoken countless times by my husband and I over the past ten years. Although we’ve always liked our friends' dogs, we’ve never considered ourselves animal people, and with providing foster care to countless children over the years and now taking care of our own four little people, the timing never seemed right to have a dog.

All that changed over this past Christmas break.

Our daughter Jasmine has always been drawn to animals, particularly dogs. There is something soothing for her about being around animals. As Christmas break approached and I attended her conferences, her teacher showed me a report Jasmine had spent hours on about a dog named Goose. And while her teacher thought it a rather funny name, I knew immediately that Jasmine was referring to the fun-loving dog who lives on my aunt’s farm.

Then, on New Years Eve, we enjoyed the holiday with friends who have a couple of dogs. Jasmine spent most of her time with the dogs—playing, petting, and just loving on them.

Kyle and I were struck again by how being with animals does something for Jasmine, how it calms her and comforts her in a way that little else does.

The next day we started looking for a dog.

I knew immediately that I shouldn’t have read it. The headline caught my eye, and a simple click had dragged me into a Pandora’s Box I wished I hadn’t opened.

The story was one I’ve unfortunately heard before: A child, abused at the hands of those who were supposed to care for him. In this case, a 5-year-old tortured for months by his mother and another adult in ways that make bile rise in my throat, even now. I have a vivid imagination, and it’s to my detriment sometimes.

I read the news story on my phone while standing in my kitchen, and as I exited the link with shaking hands, I looked around at the supreme normalcy of my life. A discarded rubber duck on my dining room floor. A crushed piece of rainbow cereal. My 9-month-old swaying to the music of the movie currently enthralling my 4-year-old, lying sprawled across the couch. Focusing on my children, on the everyday details surrounding me, I tried hard to replace the images my mind conjured.
We at The Ruth Experience love having guest bloggers share their hearts, passion, and words on our blog. Hearing different perspectives and joining together on issues is what we are all about; life is just better when lived with others! Here is a look back at the amazing women who shared their stories with us this past year:

A tea party with Scarlet and Shelby, their dolls
I dismissed the crying when I first heard it. I had just finished laying Ashlyn down for the night, and figured I'd give our 9-month-old a moment to calm down before intervening.

But after a minute, I realized that it wasn't her, after all. Leaving the office, I hurried to my older girls' room and found 4-year-old Noelle huddled in her small bed, coughing and crying inconsolably. Hearing the barky seal cough characteristic of croup, I felt dread even as I brushed aside my husband's worried exclamations and headed to the bathroom to turn on the shower. Gathering her in my arms, I carried Noelle into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub, rocking her gently. After a few minutes, when she failed to improve and seemed panicky about breathing, we decided that Tim would bring her in to the hospital to get checked out.

It was an unexpected twist to our night yet, on its own, it wouldn't have been that memorable. It was only afterward, when things fell apart, that I started to feel exasperated with life:


No one told me the tears I would secretly shed over these little-ish bodies, these souls whose care my husband and I have been entrusted with for such a short/long time.

There are days when I lay my head upon my pillow with a contented sigh, knowing that I rocked it, that I hit the grand-slam, that I was on my parenting A-game that day.

And then there are the remaining 360 days (not really, but it seems like it sometimes!) of the year when I wonder whether we were are on the right track, whether we are handling discipline with the correct balance of sternness and grace, whether we are balancing jobs and family and activities and everything else in the proper ratios.

I find myself constantly evaluating, adjusting, readjusting, experimenting and then course-correcting on my motherhood journey.

And that is okay.

I've realized that to be a parent is to live with a constant tension about how to do it better.