It may seem strange you just received a Christmas card from us days after Easter. But then again, if you've been clued into the past three years of our lives, maybe it's not so strange after all.

No, the post office didn't lose it. Let's just say we've been waiting for the right time.

If you need to know anything about foster care, you must know it's unpredictable and it changes by the day. In fall 2023, I was hopeful our adoption process would be complete and we could send out these precious cards. In fact, I ordered them on a pre-holiday sale in October with those high hopes. 

Haha, joke's on me.

I'll spare you the details of the ups and downs, and just say the whole "slow to suddenly" concept applied mid-March. We were able to "officially" make Joe a member of our family on March 15. To say we're all relieved is an understatement.

As much as I want to use this space to both fill you in on this journey in case you're not too familiar, I don't know that we're ready yet. We weren't expecting to get a text about Mae's birth mom being pregnant three years ago. Then, we really weren't expecting a sitution that led us into kinship foster care. Over the past three years, I could often be found saying, "This is the hardest thing I've ever faced." 

Which, you know, three cases of colorectal cancer hasn't been a cake walk either.

So we're still processing what we just lived through, finding words to the big emotions that took us down to our knees. But, we are still standing. There's probably a visible difference in Mike and me, our load is lighter and we're more settled. Relieved.

We couldn't have survived the past few years without the support of our family and close friends, and especially our parents and our flexible and gracious employers. While the circumstances were so challenging, we were also paired with the most amazing case worker who stayed with us the entire time, and a beloved parent aide who helped make the trauma of each week a little less harsh.

In a way, we are pros at getting through hard things, and so dare I say our marriage feels even stronger. "In sickness, in health, and in foster care" is a new vow all couples should consider.

Mae's overjoyed that her little brother is also part of our forever family. She's in 7th grade, 13 years old, and still creative as all get out. She's into makeup, music, and her bedroom. We feel fortunate that on most days, she still talks and opens up to us despite being in her middle school season. She's still playing the cello and trying to convince us to get another emotional support animal. (We keep saying no - that's why we got our dog, Chef.)

Joe is a delight. No longer our little baby, he's 2 1/2 and growing up fast. He's super into playgrounds, crafts, anything that has to do with cooking and kitchens, building stuff, and Blippi. His name is Joe because God told me to name a son Joe years ago (long story - not for now), and also because my dad's middle name is Joe. (Yes, just "Joe.") Lee is his middle name, following our pattern of naming our kids after our siblings. 

Mae Brooke after Mike's sister, Laura Brooke, and Joe Lee after my brother, Andrew Lee. (If you know Andy, I know naming Joe after him was a risk, so we shall see how this plays out. Pray for us.)

Yes, maybe one day I'll write a book about this experience, as several of you have suggested. But for now, this little blog update will have to do.

So, from our family to yours: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Easter, Happy Spring, and PRAISE THE LORD that He always, always, always comes through.


The Burgesses