on being 16.

We have three sixteen-year-olds today.

Judsen, Joe, and Atticus. 

Our first meeting. April 2018.

Every one of our children brought new dimensions into our family. Each an important piece we never knew was missing.

I will readily admit that out of all of our adoptions, Atticus’ was the most emotionally taxing for me. Auggie’s sudden departure from this world left me raw and confused. Being Auggie’s mom was one of the sweetest and most difficult blessings. His death brought about an acute pain in my soul – I am not sure I can explain it adequately to anyone that has not lost a child. There is just nothing like it. 

A couple of weeks after Auggie’s death – my children had a “kids meeting.” This usually involves them running off to a room and coming back with a suggestion to go out to dinner or see a movie. They seem to think if they all agree on something that they can outvote the grownups, and they are frequently correct.

This meeting proved to be different than most. 

They all tromped loudly down the stairs and informed us that Auggie died and it was terrible and horrible and they were sad. But that they wanted to adopt again. This time someone terminally ill – because no one should die alone. That was when I sent them all away to do anything besides watch me cry my face off. 

You see, I get the credit for Atticus being here – but you should know it is ill-placed. Atticus joined our family because the big kids are brave. And bossy. 

And so we did this thing. This terrifying thing

We said yes. All of us. To whatever person we would meet on the other side of the paperwork. 

In this case, tiny Atticus. 

Atticus. After court. May 2018.

Atticus (15) and Mia (13) meeting during Atti’s pickup trip. 

And all of a sudden, we had ten children.

And we headed back to the U.S. The first stop being the hospital. Our tiny teenager needed medical supervision while reintroducing nutrition into his little body.

Celee (18) and Atticus (15) meeting in PICU

And then he was home.

Growing and gaining.

The boy likes to eat. 

Atticus (15) Adam (6) Asher (8)


It is a maddening world we live in – occupying the same planet are people dying from excess and from need. Where screaming about pro-life is really more accurately described as pro-birth and Christianity has ceased being about loving people radically and has warped into going to a building on Sunday and maintaining what is comfortable.

Why, church?

These little lives have always been just as precious and important as yours and mine. Children are aging out, living life entirely alone and even dying while we beg God for some kind of rescue, being sure that the rescue should come from someone and somewhere else. And while we are piously fooling ourselves, children wait. 

And I am not angry. I am truly devastated. Do you feel it, too? 

Because, Atticus waited for 15 years and 7 months. His skeletal roommates are waiting still. 

It is Atti’s birthday. We will loudly, obnoxiously sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY all day long. And Atticus will smile, because loud, out-of-tune-singing is entirely hysterical to the tiny boy. We will eat cake and help Atticus open presents. It will be his first birthday, first birthday cake, and first birthday  presents with his second family. Tragedy and beauty simultaneously encompassed therein. 

For Eastern European orphans, the day they turn 16 marks the day they are unadoptable to most of the world. They will merely breathe in and out until the end of their days. Never knowing a family. This will not be the ending for Atticus. And while we sincerely rejoice in his arrival, I will always grieve for the ones left behind.

Atticus is now our tiniest boy this side of heaven. We cannot imagine our family without his spitting, snotting, face-fart-loving, water-hating ways. Our once 22 pound 15-year-old is now 16 and almost 40 pounds. He smiles. He laughs. He learns. He bosses all of us around, and we let him. 

He, like all of us, is organically suited for a family. 
And we are so thankful to be his. 

Happy Birthday, Little Boy. 

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