I intended to post something like this 4 weeks ago. But the last few weeks have not been easy, and I felt like it would have been hypocritical of me to post something celebratory and happy when I was actually going through a rough patch.
But this week has been good!! The Lord has been gracious to send me lots of encouragement. So now I’m ready to catch you up… I have some good news! On Sept. 8, the girls and I went to court, and I was granted guardianship of them. This was a big decision for everyone involved. It means that the DCS case has closed, and the girls are no longer wards of the state. Instead, they are entrusted to me, and I legally have the authority on making decisions for their wellbeing now. It is not adoption because the girls’ mom still has parental rights, and of course, she is a very important part of our lives. But she asked me to become the guardian for her daughters, and she embraces the fact that the girls now have two mothers who love them. (She wrote that in a note to me a few weeks ago, and I definitely teared up.) Their mom tells me thank you every time she talks with me, and I will continue to believe that God has greater things in store for her life as well.
So even though it’s not adoption, it is the spirit of adoption in the sense that we are committed to each other as family, and we no longer need to have social services involved.
However, our situation can still feel unsteady sometimes because there are other factors involved that are out of my control. I’m recognizing now that Satan tries to use the uncertainty to discourage me. Even though it’s long-term, I still have no idea how long they will stay with me or how things will resolve. I hope for the best, but to be honest, sometimes I worry about the worst. And when a difficult argument produces knots in my stomach for days, it is hard not to despair.
But then—after lots of tears, texts to friends, desperate prayers, and a few days to regain my strength—I’m reminded that God is sovereign, and He has the girls right where He wants them to be right now. I really can’t afford to wallow in weakness; it’s not fair to the girls, and it’s not healthy for me…God has called me to be courageous, to walk by faith and not by sight. So I meditate on Isaiah 26:3: “You keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Today that all seems so clear to me, but some days, it’s not that easy. I don’t know the future, but I just need to focus on being faithful to parent and love them during this season.
I know that this year with them is such a gift from God. I have one year until they and their close friends receive their driver’s license. I’m cherishing this time of driving them and their friends around, going with them everywhere simply because they need me to drive. I’m praying that this year will continue to provide opportunities to teach them important things about life and about how to treat people.
I would like to share more in the future about what the day of receiving guardianship meant to me. But today I just want to gush over my girls as a proud mama! I can now legally tell you their names and show you photos of them. I celebrate that God created Gabby and Anna in His image—they are fearfully and wonderfully made! I get a front row seat right now to see how God has gifted them with talents and strengths.
She is a powerful mix of energy, boldness, and affection. I need you to know that this girl is an OVERCOMER. Satan intended to destroy her life, but she is popping up like a daisy in the spring. I don’t forget this because whenever I pray for her, God keeps impressing on me that He has called her to be an OVERCOMER. She has physically grown an inch since she’s been with me, and I feel like that’s an outward sign that serves as a reminder of her inner growth.
Gabby can be pretty fierce and stubborn sometimes, but she amazes me at how she also has kept her heart tender. She is patient and caring when helping with little children. She loves to be around people, and she loves hugs. Family and friends are important to her. And she has been really brave to open her heart up to me. She was so angry the first night she came to my house and met me. She later told me that she had figured I’d be an old lady who was fat and rude. But then she got to know me, and she has really embraced having me as her mom. She sometimes desires space from me, but most often she wants be in the same room as me, sitting next to me, chatting with me, or just having me there to help her with homework or cleaning.
Sometimes I feel like Gabby is watching my every move. A few weeks ago, she was complaining about an adult at her school. I said to her, “Well, whether or not you like him, you still need to respect him.”
She looked at me and said, “I knew you were going to say that!”
I laughed. Several times since then, she has said, “Mary, I know what you’re going to say even before you say it!” Lol Oh goodness. At least I’m in her head now.
Gabby is really fun and playful. She loves to dance and play games and be active instead of sitting around. We have played Uno together at least 100 times, and she is so competitive. She is all about turning up the volume of her favorite songs in the car. Her eyes light up whenever she talks about her celebrity crush, Justin Bieber. One time Gabby was talking to my friend Sarah about going to the Bieber concert, and she was so animated about it. Sarah didn’t know her very well, but Gabby seemed so full of life and excitement during that conversation, and Sarah told me, “I can see why you love her so much!”
I have no doubt that God is calling Gabby to be a leader and to spread hope to others. There is so much for her to learn, but my goal is to help her to become a leader who is confident while also self-controlled, influential while also compassionate and considerate.
P.S. I love it when Gabby wears light bluish-green shirts because she looks so, so beautiful in that color!!
Anna! Our Anna Banana.
She is only 11 months younger than Gabby, but their personalities are complete opposites. Anna is very observant and organized. Anna would be a great office manager or store manager one day because of her organizational skills. But she would really love to be a veterinarian because she loves animals so much. She begged me to get a dog, but I was just not ready for having a dog in my house. Then she asked me to get a chinchilla, and I said yes to that! Anna named him Chinchy, and she loves to cuddle with him and feed him.
Anna has good critical thinking skills. She is a planner. She likes to do a lot of research on stuff she hopes to buy one day: clothes, shoes, cars, etc. Anna is really good about taking care of her stuff. She is meticulous about cleaning her shoes with a toothbrush. She begs me to take my car through the car wash. This weekend on her own initiative, she cleaned out our refrigerator and reorganized our pantry!! :)
Justice is so important to Anna. When Anna sees victims of injustice, she gets really angry. She really wants to help homeless people. Whenever we see a homeless person, she always voices her compassion for him/her. One day she told me, “Mary, I’m tired of me saying that I want to help homeless people, but then not ever doing anything for them.” I thought that was a sign of good self-awareness on her part. I believe that God has a calling on Anna’s life to help protect those who are being oppressed. She is very protective of younger children, and I believe she will be an advocate and defender for vulnerable children in some capacity.
Anna’s dad’s side of the family is Mexican, and she is very proud of her Mexican heritage…except that she blames it for her being short! :) Anna is 5’ 0” and much to her disappointment, the doctor does not expect her to grow anymore. She has the most beautiful eyes—deep brown with long, dark lashes. Her complexion is gorgeous; bright colored clothing looks so good on her tan skin. Anna is all about style. (Both girls love to pick out clothes for me, and now I just let them do it because I actually have always wanted a personal shopper.)
Also, I LOVE the sound of Anna’s laugh. Sometimes I’ll be in a different room, and I can hear Anna just giggling from her gut as she thinks something is funny on TV or Youtube. It makes me smile so much. Also, whenever she takes a bite of food that she loves, she does a little dance in her seat. :)
The fun thing about having conversations with Anna is that when we are discussing a new perspective, I can often see it in her eyes that a light bulb is going off. I know that the wheels are turning in her brain, and she’s considering things that she’s never thought of before.
P.S. I have to tell you that Anna is a very talented artist!! Drawing, painting, carving pumpkins, whatever…this girl impresses me every time! :)
Thank you so much for praying for us! xoxo
Mary is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.