Sarah turned one a couple Sunday’s ago. Her birthday was a little different than any we’ve celebrated for Josh or Grace. While there were cupcakes and Grace made the sweetest decorations, there was also a different feeling of awe. We celebrated Sarah’s birthmom, her life, and God’s faithfulness to lead us into adoption in the first place. For God to entrust this child to two imperfect people is a reflection of His love and grace. This little girl is something special, and her story is too. We are so grateful!

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I haven’t done a family post like this in a long while, so I thought it might be sweet to capture the memory of her first birthday—and a few thoughts on our adoption a year later–here on the blog in words and photographs.

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Before we adopted Sarah, I scoured the internet for adoption stories. At the time, I didn’t understand why some blogger friends didn’t post about their adoption stories, or if they did, it was months–and sometimes years–later.

Now, I understand.

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Adoption is often private in many ways. There are many details of Sarah’s story and her birthmom’s story that are sacred and private. I wrote a bit of the story in Cultivate, but only the portions God told me to share to encourage others.

Adoption is hard and beautiful at the same time. We experienced so many emotions in the adoption process and after. For me, having just had a baby a few months before Sarah’s birth (Josh and Sarah are six months apart) gave me heightened feelings of tenderness for our birth mom. We were blessed with unexpected time—hours and hours of beautiful time–to be with her in the days after Sarah’s birth. I carry her with me often, thinking of her selfless love for Sarah, and genuinely missing her. She chose to make our adoption closed, asking that we send letters and photos through our agency every few months. But, our agency told us throughout this year that she hadn’t contacted them to get the letters. We prayed and prayed that she would one day ask for the letters, and feel encouraged by reading our prayers for her, and how much we all love her and think of her. I kept sending the letters anyway. Maybe at a year she would request them. But, when I emailed the morning of Sarah’s birthday to see if she had made contact, she hadn’t. (I have an update on that at the end of this post…)

Adoption is refining. Nothing has drawn us closer to each other and to God than the experience of the last year. The season of having a newborn and adopting another was unexplainably challenging, and it is in the hard moments that our faith grew. Good things came out of the hard things!

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Adoption is a gift. We get to see God’s miracles unfold in ways we couldn’t have imagined. We get to watch Josh and Grace pour love into Sarah. We get to watch our neighbors and family pour love into Sarah. We get to watch our friends pour love into Sarah. And all of this love feels like God pouring love on our whole family. It’s like God is saying, I see you. I love you. I am with you all.

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Grace spent two weeks making decorations and asking me about Sarah’s party. Every day she sat and made crafts and banners and cards for her.

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She wanted balloons for her and lemonade and purple plates and cups (Sarah’s birthmom’s favorite color is purple).

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We decorated with jasmine vine and daffodils from the garden.

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And as per our new yearly tradition (started at Sarah’s Sip n See last year that I have yet to blog!), we put a board of seed packets up.

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We asked guests to put their names on the seed packets and we’ll be naming each plant after them! This was such a meaningful touch for our garden last year. Here are a few of last year’s garden markers, lettered by my good friend Lauren

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We used some of our favorite Floret seed packets for this year’s board.

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Guests loved this! We’ll send them a pic of their special plant when things start sprouting.

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Grace begged me for this lemonade stand, and I am glad I said yes. She had so much fun serving everyone pink lemonade.

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Sarah loves our long-time friend Joslyn (who has been helping me pick out a few new classic wardrobe staples after several years of being on a clothes-buying hiatus – more on that soon)!

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And Josh loves his sister… and strawberries (the red stuff all around his mouth).

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There’s something magical about a house full of friends who have poured so much into your daughter’s life.

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Josh’s little legs in the bottom right of this pic make my heart smile.

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We kept this super simple since it was 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. We served cookies, cupcakes, strawberries, and some crackers for the kids. Oh, and lemonade of course!

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At the end of the party, Ari offered a prayer for Sarah, and in thanks to God for our friends. It was a special moment.

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After the party, these two were sufficiently filled with love and sugar, which made for an extra enthusiastic bathtime!

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It was a sweet day celebrating a very sweet girl and the God who made her!

Like I mentioned, I haven’t written much here about our adoption because it’s not just our story. It’s Sarah’s story. It’s her birthmom’s story. It’s also a story I don’t quite have words for. It’s beautiful and messy, but God is in it all. I’ll share a little more in Cultivate in a few months, but I hope this little post was encouraging. Here is a video I put together of her first year and her birth. I cry every time I watch this!

2016: The Year Our Family and Hearts Grew from lara casey on Vimeo.

And remember how I emailed our adoption agency on Sarah’s birthday and they said our birth mom still hadn’t contacted them? Well, an hour later she did. She asked for all of our letters. I’m tearing up typing this. Her message to us: “I am well and I love you guys so much!” God, you are good! 

15 Show Comments
  1. Jess Metcalf

    Your update at the end. Oh my. All the tears. Praise God for his goodness!

  2. Em

    I love that first picture of you and Ari so much! And how exciting that she’ll get to read your letters after all!!

  3. Ashlee

    Praising the Lord for little Sarah, for refining moments in her first year of life, for grace (and Grace…and Joshy!) and for the Lord’s providence. So glad that your letters and updates were received!

  4. Kristen

    I love this!! Where did you get the print for sowing seeds for Sarah

    • Kristen Money

      Oh and tears flowed reading the update on her birth mom!! Praise God, he is so good!!

    • Lara

      I’m so glad you like it! I made it myself using Adobe Illustrator : )

  5. Becca Atchison

    Love this post so, so much and crying happy tears reading it. Praise God for all of His perfect goodness!!! Watching your family grow and thrive is a true joy and this adoption journey you’re sharing is such a testament to His faithfulness. Love you! XOXO

  6. Zoe

    Oh Lara this is beautiful to read and your video is so full of joy. It’s intense having three little ones as I know but your attitude and reliance on the Lord always inspires me.

  7. Erin (thismommywrites)

    This post is everything! I smiled, I laughed, I cried (and then read the update at the end and really cried!) Such great pics (smiling baby!!!) and that video… did you sob along while you were putting it together? You have really done an incredible job of balancing what you share with the outside world and you have honored Sarah’s first year so beautifully. Here are so many wonderful moments to come!

  8. Alyssa

    Absolutely beautiful. God is so faithful, and this is so evident in your story. Happy Birthday, Sarah!

  9. Katie McC

    That’s so amazing that her birth mom asked for all of her letters! I’m tearing up as I re-read it. So sweet and wonderful and awesome! It really is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for being transparent and sharing -Katie

    http://www.katieskronicles.org

  10. Kristin Schroeder

    Thank you for sharing ❤ Praising God for his goodness and faithfulness alongside you!

  11. Emily DeArdo

    This is SO sweet, Lara! Thank you for sharing.

  12. Emily

    Lara – I have been hoping you would write an adoption post and this was perfect timing. My husband and I have one little girl (10 months old) and God has put it on our hearts to consider adoption. I decided to check out your website tonight, and was so delighted to find this post. Hoping you share more on this journey, as God has already used your obedience to encourage me.

  13. Lindsay English

    I have saved reading this post for a time when I would be least distracted! Lara, you are so beautiful. Your family are so precious and the way you love them is such an encouragement to me. Thank you for loving and leading with grace and faithfulness. (Also, I noticed the new clothes ☺️ Looking good!) x