Remember this

Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania are among the most beautiful places on this planet. Anybody who has been there will tell you. They are beautiful because of the exotic plant and animal life, and also because of their insanely gorgeous landscapes. They are fascinating because of their history overcoming challenges and strife. 


But - as anybody who’s been there will tell you - these African nations are deeply exquisite because of the sweet people within. Women who are mentally, physically, and emotionally stronger than any American politician could ever hope to be, children who rise above more hardship before breakfast than most of us do our whole lives, and men who are fighting in every way for their families to have hope and a future. 

Our family had experienced the greatest hospitality, warmth, and love in these African nations. We have taken boats on the Nile River, experienced The Great Migration on the Masai Mara, and stood in an endless field of 4-foot grass admiring how God perfectly provides for His creatures. We have had the most extraordinary experiences of our existence in some of the African countries our President just insulted, because it is in one of these that we met our beautiful Pearl Girl.  


We met her, and we fell in love with her birth country. We were represented by an African attorney who helped us stand in front of an African judge and commit our lives to parenting her. A significant part of that commitment is giving of our time, attention, resources, and love to this place we hold so dear. We deeply love her country of birth, and we honor it in every way we can conceive.


Today, we honor it by speaking up to say - African nations are NOT “$h!th0le” places. 

Pearl’s home country and all the nations of color our “President” has spoken so poorly about are precious treasures in our world, and our both lives as Wilsons and our collective life in this nation as Americans would be so, so dull without them.   


Any dim-witted, racist politician who calls these - and any other nations in our world - a “$h!th0le,” speaks out of ignorance. He should ask someone who has been there. Or better yet, make an effort to see these amazing countries for himself, and try it through eyes of understanding and love rather than fear and disdain. 


To all our African friends: We love you dearly. We are embarrassed by and wholly condemn President Trump’s remarks about your nations, and we want you to know that this is not the heart of America. We are a country made of loving people, just like you. My hope is that it is our voices and not his that you remember. 


Way Back Wednesday

Adoption blog, star date March 2009

What's Way Back Wednesday?

The Wilsons are going where?

Yep, that's right. We're going to Africa. Before you start start flipping out, let me clarify by saying that we are going to Africa only temporarily, and we are going to adopt a beautiful little baby girl.

Why beautiful? Because God made (will make) her.

Why a little baby? Because we feel like maintaining natural birth order is important to both Sassafras and Pearl. We wouldn't have a problem with bringing home a big beautiful girl, but Sassafras would and that's enough for us.

Why a girl? Because kids in almost any country in Africa are suffering, but girls are REALLY suffering because there is such little respect for women. The US Representative in Pearl's country has even spoken out to the African people about violence against women.

Now the big question that's on most of your minds...WHY AFRICA? Because God said so, that's why.

We have talked casually about adoption for a long time, even before we got married. Only two people knew this before I posted it here, but it took us so long to get pregnant with Sassafras that we had actually already received and partially completed an application for adoption right before we finally saw a positive sign on a preg test!

Once (years ago), there was a little kindergartener at my school whose foster family was mistreating him and DHR was involved. It broke my heart and I wanted to bring him home. We even tried, but because at that time we were only 24, we were ineligible to act as foster parents.

Again (about a year before Sassafras), we were talking with a family about the possibility of adopting a very unexpected baby they were struggling to care for. All that to say this...adopting is not a big deal to us.

Some people say they couldn't do it and treat the child exactly as though they were biological. Don't get me wrong, we know this is going to be no walk in the park, but we also know that this is clearly something the Lord has for us in His plan for our lives, therefore, we are going to be obedient!

At this point, we are trying to gather our plan of attack, so to say. We've talked with the international social worker at our agency several times, and have been to at least one informational meeting. Don't even ask me how much time we have put into our own independent research for this thing.

However, it does seem to be that with every question we get answered, there come about 3 more in its place, so this (from the get-go) is going to be both an educational process and a faith journey for our family.

You may be wondering what we need. I'll tell you. We need you to pray for us. Pray already for a smooth process, for Pearl's health and safety, for Sass to be the best big sister in the world, and for safe travels while we are in Africa.

Please continue to check back here for updates, and strap yourselves's gonna be quite a ride!

*Oh my, was it ever. Worth it, though. Worth every single bit.


The middlest

The Captain and I had multiple opportunities for international and domestic mission trips during our college years. He went to Wales, I went to Nicaragua, and we both came home turned inside out. Through all that we saw, smelled, heard, and held in those countries, God used indescribable poverty to begin to break our hearts for orphans. Nearly seven years before we would begin the process to adopt, God planted seeds in our hearts to do something for the most vulnerable in our world.

Graduation gave way to launching our careers, which turned into years of furthering our respective educations. Finally, we were ready to become parents. Funny how we thought that making that decision would somehow instantly make us pregnant. So funny.

A little infertile while later and days after we had begun to fill out our first adoption application, the Lord blessed us through an unlikely pregnancy with one of the purest miracles of our lives: our sweet Sassafras. Then one day, she turned 18 months old.

And we remembered that we still wanted to adopt.

And we knew it would take a while to complete.

And we suddenly felt that the time to begin the process was very urgently NOW.

Now, as we look back with all the facts before us, it is quite stunning to grasp that at that very moment, Pearl was conceived...both in the flesh and in our hearts.

In flawed yet impeccable harmony. 

We did our own research about all the options and at one point I had a spreadsheet comparing the requirements for 27 different countries. We weren't eligible for many of them due to income requirements, the fact that we already had a biological child, the ages of children who needed families and were eligible for adoption, and our own ages (we were too young for some). More time went into research and prayer and meetings with the agency we selected, and finally we were sure. Our daughter was in Uganda.

Our adoption process entailed mounds of paperwork, hours of adoption education seminars, at least 25 specifically intense highs and intense lows involving inter-country glitches and delays and modifications to this requirement or that new law. For a normally stoic mama, Pearl's adoption drained me of buckets of tears...but God also filled me up with chapters of Scripture and thousands of the most intense prayers I've ever experienced. Any mama who has begged for the safety and health of her child (half a world away or not) will understand.

The day we finally met our beautiful little Pearl remains one of the most intense I'll ever see this side of heaven. The day we stood in court for her and the day we got our "yes" are also on that list.

Because of what we have learned and what we have seen with our own eyes during our trip to Africa, orphan care will always be a part of who we are. Using this little spitfire of ours, God ignited a passion in us for advocating for orphans, and for families to rise up and provide a loving home for other precious Pearls around the world. Further adoptions and/or foster care are definitely in our family's future, though we will wait for God's guidance in how and when to move forward.

Remembering the way Pearl came into our family is hard but beautiful. Hard because for us to be a part of this sweet honey bun's story, we were refined in the fire but also because in order for us to be necessary in her life, Pearl's one-time status as an orphan means she has experienced loss on a level that even adults aren't emotionally equipped to handle.

Lord, help me remember.

Oh, but it is beautiful...because yes, she is now safe and happy and healthy, and for crying out loud we get to love her. Long as I live, I'll never understand how I get to be her mama.

Most of the beauty in Pearl's adoption is part of a life she hasn't even seen yet, for her earthly redemption into the family God chose for her before time existed will bridge her understanding of spiritual redemption into His.

Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date September 2010
What's Way Back Wednesday?

After 30 hours of travel across 8 time zones, we finally arrived in Africa last night! Sassafras was magnificent along the journey, and we had the opportunity to see just how long our little sleep-hater can go without rest. The answer? 24 hours, folks. That was 24 hours of pure family togetherness.

Before we left I was dreading the extended travel, but I loved having all that time for us to pour into Sassafras. It was a very, very special time, and we are so thankful that we had that opportunity before bringing home her baby sister! She was definitely focused on the mission of our journey, however, and asked no less than 15 times where Pearl was. Our two bigger planes had TV monitors installed in front of each seat back, which (among many other things) played a GPS screen shot of our progress across the Atlantic and then down over Europe into Africa. The moment that we saw our little place icon coming into the capital city, I was already choking back the tears. Granted, the weariness of all that traveling may have been taking its toll on me, but all I could think was that after so long of staring at my child's birth home on maps and Google Earth, and having studied so many aspects of the country, it was just overwhelming that after all the paperwork, all the waiting, all the heartache, we are finally, truly, really, completely, HERE!

We could barely hold our eyes open long enough to get our bags in and settled to our temporary home, and it took surprisingly little explanation for Sassafras to accept the fact that we are sleeping under mosquito nets while we are here. All our sweet little insect-fearing girl had to hear was "they keep the bugs out" to be totally fine with the whole net thing. Actually, I suspect she will demand a net of her very own when we get home! :)

After being awake half the night (because our bodies thought it was mid-day!), we dragged our bleary-eyed selves into a van to go to Pearl's orphanage. As soon as our van left the main road to turn up a side alley, I began thinking back over all that we have gone through the get to this point. We passed a sign with her orphanage's name, and my heart started pounding. Then we passed another sign, and pulled up at a big gate and waited a few minutes for someone from the orphanage to come open it.The van door opened, and there were two of the women who have poured all their energy for the last year into keeping our child (and so many others) healthy and safe. We hugged and cried a few moments, and then we made our way up the steps to the front door.

I recognized the door from some update pics we had received (and I of course have studied to the most minute detail!), and then we saw more workers coming out with literally a small sea of toddlers pouring out onto the steps. We dropped our bags and began scanning the crowd for OUR little familiar face...And suddenly, there she was. Wearing a denim dress that was so big it reached her ankles and a blue knit sweater. Toddling along with her little BFFs wondering what was up at the front of the line.

It took my breath away, seeing her standing there. In the flesh. This child who we have prayed for since the time she was in the womb. This precious little girl whose face we have stared at and kissed pictures of for months. This perfect treasure for whom God chose US, (for some reason we will never understand), to be her parents. Our daughter. Standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. It was almost too much. I bent over and looked at her and smiled at her, and she smiled right back. I held out my hands, and she lifted up her arms and walked to me. I picked her up, kissed her face, and held her close for a few moments taking in the hugeness of the moment. And crying/snotting all over her, of course.

Eventually, The Captain reached for her and held her, then we gathered Sassafras over and knelt down so they could get a good look at each other. It was sweet, even though neither of them really knew what to think.

Over the next few hours, we had the pleasure of being able to feed her lunch, bathe her, put her in a dress of her very own, share some gifts and donations for the children, play with her and the other children (each of whom would get a hug and a kiss and some love from their Mama, if I know you!), and spend a little time just with our little family. A few times we would be interacting with Pearl and then look around to check on Sassafras. Before I could even begin to worry that she might feel left out, we would see her in a corner, giving a bear to a crying little boy. Or handing a toy to someone who wanted to play. Or organizing a game of ball with some of the older toddler boys. It made me so proud of her that I almost couldn't (and can't right now) stop the tears. To see her little 3 year old self sharing love with these children, and to know that she was making it her personal mission to brighten the lives of these babies, makes me so unbelievably proud. God has a huge plan for both our girls, and I saw today that Africa has a lot to do with that plan.

It's all so overwhelming. And I am just so very thankful.

After lunch and bath time, it was nap time. We went to a separate room for some quiet time alone with Pearl, and Sassafras "read" her a book. At one point, she laid her head down on my shoulder and drifted off to dreamland. Oh, it was so amazing holding her in my arms and praising the Lord for bringing her into our lives! We laid her in her crib and ate a yummy lunch made of peas/squash/avocado/rice with the orphanage workers. The Captain especially enjoyed the moment when I was asking one of the workers if there was a name for this dish and she (sweetly) responded, "Um, just Peas and Rice." ;)

Meeting and talking with all of these orphanage workers was a huge blessing today. I have never taken lightly the fact that they have been working their tails off for the past year caring for so many little children, including my own! It is a testament to their love for her that she is so strong, healthy, and sweet. I had a few candid chats with some of them, hearing them talk of how much they loved her and how much they thank us for our love for Pearl. I asked a few of them if they were going to be sad when she left to go home with us. I told them we have been praying for them to not be sad when that time comes, and that they will know that we will love her and take very good care of her.

One of the mamas responded that yes, she would be sad, but that she viewed her work with these babies as the way one would in planting a garden. It is good and important work, and others would benefit from the fruits of her labor. She is a very wise woman, indeed. Another worker told me that he had prayed hard for Pearl to have good parents, and only two weeks later he found out she had been matched with someone. He says he will continue to pray for her. What a blessing these people were to us today!

What a day filled with so many blessings! It has been truly one of the most profound days of our lives. I think Sassafras has summed it up best. When we ask her what she thought about Pearl, or what she thought about today, just trying to help her process it, she responded with one word: "Beautiful." Well said, baby girl. It was a beautiful day indeed.

A Whole New World

Raise your hand if you sang Jasmine and Aladdin's infamous duet. By yourself. Into a hairbrush.

Yeah, me too. Rapunzel might have a sweet story, but her melodies will never get the Classic Diz sort of notoriety.

I've been taking Sweet Love on a magic carpet ride lately. Thus far her diet has consisted of breast milk, formula, and a wee bit of oatmeal. Avocado was on the menu a few weeks back, and sister has been about five different kinds of excited. I can sense already that the force is strong in this one. Sweet Thang loves some eats, just like her mama.

One half is just the right serving for Sweet Love. 

Smooshed up with a bit of oatmeal and formula. Juice, too, if we're feeling jazzy. 

Done and done. 

When we were in Africa for Pearl's adoption, I was flummoxed that the babies were fed this mixture of avocado, rice, and boiled egg. The more I considered and read, however, I learned that avocado was a fairly excellent choice as a first food for babies. It's simple to mush, too, and here at the Casa de Wilson, easy always makes us happy. Next up, bananas. Then, perhaps carrots. 

It appears that I'm going to have her eat her way through the alphabet.