Finalization // Milo Payton Peck

The day had finally arrived. After home visits, sleepless nights, lots of paperwork and a whole lot of blow outs, we get to officially become a family. I woke up on Tuesday morning not really knowing how I felt. It had been such a journey to this day and it almost felt unreal. I put on my favorite playlist as I started getting ready for the hearing. As soon as Milo's adoption song came on, I broke down into big ol embarrassing sobs.

A year of negative pregnancy tests, 4 years of paperwork and putting ourselves out there only to be rejected by expectant mother, 3 agencies, so much waiting and heartbreak...all of those feelings came flooding in. But this time, instead of feeling immense pain and despair, I felt overwhelming joy. Milo had changed everything.

That morning I hugged him harder, spent more time just sitting with him and soaked up every laugh and smile. We left ridiculously early for the courthouse because it was snowing and I have a terrible reputation for always being late. The whole drive down we barely spoke...and I could not help but break down into tears off and on for that entire drive.

We arrived at the courthouse and after speaking to multiple clerks, we found our courtroom. 1R...the same dorm number I lived in my first year of college. We sat outside of the courtroom and waited for our family and friends to arrive.

Finally it was 11am and time for all of us to enter the courtroom for our hearing. We sat down with our social worker, with everyone in the row behind us. Our judge walked in and totally set the tone for the proceedings. He had adopted both of his sons and made us feel at ease with his kind nature and in sharing his story. He walked us through how the proceeding would go and then started the hearing.

We did not even make it 5 minutes before Milo peed through his entire outfit. We had to take a brief recess and it was all hands on deck to get him changed and cleaned. Looking back now, that embarrassing start allowed us all to relax and laugh. It was the perfect start to our hearing.

The judge started by questioning our social worker....was Milo a good subject for adoption? Did we meet his needs...financially, emotionally, and physically? She responded adamantly YES! The judge then questioned me. I raised my right hand (shaking to my core) and swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

He asked me if I was willing to look after Milo, provide for his needs and be his mother indefinitely. He asked me when I first met Milo, what I loved about him, and why I wanted to be his mother. He asked me if Milo had been to all of his scheduled doctor's visits and received the care he needs to thrive. He also told me that this adoption would be permanent, and joked that when Milo was a teenager, I could not take it back.

After my questioning was over, the judge made Will swear under oath and answer the same questions. He did so proudly and with amazing confidence. I looked at Will and knew that Milo has the most amazing dad. I know that Milo will grow up to be just like him.

After all the questioning, the judge decreed us Milo's legal parents. He looked right at me and told me from here on out, you will forever belong to him.

For the first time in almost a year, I felt like I could finally breathe. From the moment we matched, up until we finalized, I had been holding my breath. Even though Milo's birth mom chose us, even after seeing me at my most vulnerable through my blog, I was so terrified she might find some reason to change her mind. When we met in person, I worried that I would say something weird or crazy and make her change her mind about us. At the hospital, even though she was confident in her decision to place Milo with us, I was terrified she would change her mind.

When we brought Milo home, I was worried that I would never measure up to the honor of being his mother. Just like most first-time mothers, I questioned everything....was he gaining enough weight...was he sleeping enough...why was he upset? I was worried about sharing too much or saying something that might offend or make me look like a sleep-deprived crazy person.

So each week and month passed and I was still holding my breath. We had our post-placement visits from our social worker, we filled out reports on his health and development, and waited for our paperwork to be accepted by our judge. Our paperwork was rejected by the judge three times which was so nerve-wracking.

It was nothing to do with us as parents but all to do with the fact that Milo was born in Utah and we were finalizing in Colorado. Each state has different laws and procedures when it comes to adoption, and our state is the strictest. Our judge was very thorough and now I am extremely grateful. He is a man of great integrity, who has adopted both of his sons, and can say with complete confidence that our adoption of Milo is forever. Nothing can overturn it or change who we are now...his parents.

We are so incredibly grateful to our family and friends (near and far) who have walked alongside us in our journey to parenthood. We have been truly blessed with a community who have supported us, prayed for us, showed up fiercely for us and encouraged us. They are the people who did not let us give up hope, who have reassured us when we felt unworthy, and who love Milo unconditionally.

I could not be the mother and wife that I am today without these people.

This journey has been one of the hardest, but it has been the absolute best. It has brought the most wonderful people into our lives. People who understand the heartbreaking struggle of infertility and the absolute joy that is in adoption.

We are so thankful to God for his faithfulness and for the joy that we now get to experience as Milo's parents.

Milo Payton, we are so honored to call you our son.

xoxo Ashley

Milo Payton Peck // Officially

Ithas almost been a year since we were first introduced to the agency and theexpectant mother that would change our lives completely.

A Photo from our Match Announcement // March 2018

February26, 2018, we were contacted by a friend about a potential situation. It was outof agency, out of state, and completely out of our control.  Three days later, after anxiouslycorresponding with Payton (the expectant mother) and getting to know herbetter, she decided to choose us! Then began the waiting game for Baby M to beborn.

I remember those two months like they were yesterday. I was so excited for him to be born and so terrified that she would change her mind. I remember thinking how we had waited for him for so long (over 5 years) and how each day leading up to his due date felt like forever.

Despiteall of my planning and preparing, Milo made his grand entrance into the world amonth early. Eight months later and he is still doing things in his own timeand on his own terms.

The whole time we waited to become parents we imagined our future child. We pictured who they would be and all the things we would do as a family. Nothing could have prepared us for the joy that is Milo. He is better than anything we could have hoped for or imagined. We thank God for him every single day.

Nothing about our journey to parenthood has been easy or direct. Infertility almost destroyed our marriage and the long wait to adopt almost destroyed us personally. But I would not change a thing because it brought us to Payton. I still am in awe of her bravery and her love for Milo.

Our relationship with Payton and her family has been the biggest surprise and the biggest blessing. We had no idea how much of a bond we would feel with Milo’s birth family.  We are so thankful that she changed her mind and chose an open adoption with us. She encourages me daily and it is an absolute joy to share pictures and videos with her. Open adoption is a beautiful thing.

Milo is so incredibly loved.

So how can I sum up the last 8 months, well really the last 5 years. We started this journey full of hope and completely naïve. We assumed we would match quickly and become parents, despite the statistics and long agency waiting lists. We had no idea how long the entire process would take.

Forthe most part we remained optimistic, even after the first agency ended upbeing a complete waste of our time and money. After months with the second agency and multiple rejections fromexpectant mothers, we started to loose hope.

We survived each holiday thinking it would be the last one we would experience childless. We watched all of our friends get pregnant and start their families. We ignored all the unwarranted advice and suggestions from naysayers. We focused on building our home, adventuring to new places and spending intentional time together.

Our home and our hearts were ready, we just had no idea who we were waiting for.

All of the paperwork, the waiting, the longing, the rejection, the brokenness and despair were completely worth it. I can look back now and see how God was preparing our hearts for Milo. He had chosen Milo for us and I would do it all over again just to be his mother.

Andnow here we are…8 months later and we get to officially call him our own.Social worker visits, court ordered documents, judge approved paperwork, andall the hurdles have been completed. We will sit in that courtroom with our sonand legally promise to care for him (physically and emotionally) for as long ashe needs. The honor and the responsibility are not lost on me.

Finalizing Milo’s adoption feels like the culmination of our adoption journey, but really it is only the beginning. One signature cannot capture a lifetime of parenthood. Its in the big and the little things of life….the nighttime feedings and the first steps, packing lunches and learning to read, the conversations and the heartbreaks, the comforting and the celebrating,  the hugs and the goodbye waves, the school dances and the college essays.

We get the honor and responsibility of raising him, of shaping him, providing for all his needs, and most importantly, loving him.

We get the opportunity to declare in front of our family and the judge all the promises we have made from the moment we said yes. Milo, we will be there for the ups and the downs, the firsts and the lasts, the trials and the triumphs. We will hold you when you cry, help you get back on your feet when you fall, and guide you as you grow. We will share all of the things: laughter, adventures, rugby, french fries, and a love for DIY.

We love you to the moon and back , Milo Payton, and we are so thrilled to officially call you our son.

xoxo Ashley

Lately...

So I am gonna be honest....its been awhile since my last post. And that is not because our adoption journey has been delayed in anyway. In fact it is moving along quicker than I had hoped at this point! But I guess I should bring you all up-to-date with a few changes we have experienced recently. Back in August my husband got a new job...and I was left to manage the stores on my own (The UPS Store servicing hall residents at CU Boulder). It was not a great time for him to leave but it was a good move for us as a family. He is working for a small business that relocated to Boulder and is loving it. However, I had to deal with one of the busiest times of the year without him being by my side. But despite all my fears and anxiety about it...I rocked it! I can honestly say it went smoothly and I didn't cry or lose my cool at all (which is HUGE for me!).However...the stress and responsibility took a serious toll on my health. If you do not know...I suffer from severe migraines that come on for various reasons. I also have a head condition that makes the changing weather and pressure here in Colorado really difficult for me...like in bed all day can't do anything difficult. Now...I am not a complainer. I am blessed beyond reason in so many aspects of my life. I don't even like talking about my health (or lack of sometimes) as I know there are those who have to deal with much more than I do. But I got to a point where I knew I needed to make a few changes to get my health back to functioning.IMG_8510  Before I moved back to America, I used to work as a teaching assistant supporting children with learning difficulties. I have always gone back and forth between becoming a fully-qualified teacher but have realized that I absolutely love working more one-on-one without all the paperwork and stress of running an entire classroom. So I decided that the happiest and healthiest I had been job-wise was working in that capacity. I applied for a ton of teaching assistant (para-educator) jobs and thanks be to God I was invited for an interview at a local elementary school in the town where I live. Well I guess I made a good impression because they hired meand were willing to work with me transitioning from my current job.{Fast forward 5 weeks}I LOVE my job! It has taken pretty much the last 5 weeks to really get into the rhythm of the job and to enable my students to get familiar and comfortable with me. It wasn't easy. I had to deal with quite a few tantrums and chasing students down the hall or around the playground, but I did not give up. And believe it or not...I have only had 2 migraines since starting my new job (thats two migraines in 5 weeks when I was getting migraines 3-4 times per week!!!!!). I have also found a doctor who totally wants to figure out why my body just doesn't get some things right and that is so awesome!

{Our Adoption Journey}

IMG_8444  We completed our Core training in November with Adoption Choices of Colorado. What.an.eye.opener. The weekend training (required to adopt in Colorado) was fantastic! Our trainer focused on the differences between open, semi-open, and closed adoptions, what questions to ask when called about a potential match, and what to expect and hospital etiquette when the baby is born. We have always been pretty sure about wanting what is best for our baby first, and then making sure the birth mother is included in a way that is good and healthy for the baby. I would say that we had a few "definites" change to "umm...we are open to discussion" as we were made aware of very possible realities with the birth family and how that can affect the emotional development of our baby. We also were completely naive to the harsh reality that our baby would most likely be subject to alcohol and drugs for any sort of time period, depending on when the birth mother finds out she is pregnant and when she alters her habits for the benefit of the baby.What was so reassuring was our complete trust in God as we follow our calling to adoption. As much as I would like a stress-free match and placement (including the relationship with the birth mother/family) and as much as my heart desires a happy and healthy baby, I know that this world is broken and imperfect...and our baby will be loved no matter the circumstances that have brought them into this world. We cannot wait to meet our little baby...I feel like we already know them and are just waiting for them to be given to us forever. I imagine seeing their little face...holding their little fingers...counting their tiny toes...and loving them with everything I have to give.IMG_8506 So we have decided not to worry about the details...that we will know when we get offered the right match...and we will go into it with open hearts and a desire to do what is best, not only for our baby, but for their birth family. I have no idea what that is going to look like...and frankly thats ok with me. What parent honestly can say they had everything figured out prior to their first baby being born? If you did...please share some of your wisdom!Baby (M) we cannot wait to be chosen to love, care, and parent you for as long as we are given (hopefully forever). You are already so loved my darling...and your mummy and daddy are longing for you to be home.largeAshley xoxo