On September 28th, 2017, Vanessa was tragically killed as a result of domestic violence.
She was 36 years old.
She was the mom of three children that called us both, “mom”.
Below are the words that I read at her funeral.
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, please reach out for help.
Adoption from foster care.
What will that look like? What does it mean? Is there a manual?
What does it mean to have two moms?
What will that look like? Please, HELP there be a manual!
It was almost six years ago that three of our children came to join our family.
We were getting used to having five kids and they were getting used to calling “Sam” and “Sarah”, “Dad” and “Mom”.
Our adoption was a closed adoption based on the court documents. But we knew that we wanted the kids to stay connected to their birth family, we just didn’t know exactly how. At first we were just focused on adjusting to life with 5 kids. The kids were little and we wanted them to have time to adjust as well.
After some time Sam and I met with Vanessa to see if we could set up a time for her to see the kids.
Her very first question when she saw us was, “How are the kids doing?“
We told her what each one was up to, the things that they liked, the ways that they had grown.
As we were preparing the kids for their visit with their mom, I was scared.
I didn’t know what to expect.
As far as I could see there was no manual that came with this whole adoption thing.
We talked with the kids about our first time getting together with Vanessa and they had questions about what that would be like and even asked what to call her when they saw her. Do we call her mom or Vanessa? My first response was how about “Mommy Vanessa“. But then even as I said that I put myself in Vanessa’s shoes. I wondered how I would feel if the children that I had given birth to called me “Mommy Sarah”.
I said, why don’t you call her “mom.”
I won’t get confused.
It was about every 6 months after that, that we would get together. Enough time had passed between visits that Vanessa would eagerly ask the kids each time: “How are you doing!?!”
They would each rattle off the things that had changed since they last saw her…what new activities they liked, sports they liked or how they were excited to be in the school choir.
What was so evident each time we got together was how much she loved her kids.
And what they walked away with every time we saw Vanessa, their little brother, grandma, great-grandma, aunt and fun cousins was just how much they were loved…and by SO many people.
The last time that the kids saw their mom was this past May, right around Mother’s Day. Naomi knew how much she had grown since the last time that she saw her mom. She was excited to show her (and stand next to her) to see if she was now finally taller than her.
I snapped a picture of that day in the park.
That day that once again, they were reminded of how MUCH their mom loved them. And she knew how MUCH they loved her.
As I stood beside Vanessa’s hospital bed on Thursday, I just wept.
My heart was broken.
They need TWO moms. I can’t love them as much as we both could have together.
Then I thought about what Vanessa would ask in this moment if she could.
She would ask, “How are the kids doing?”
So without her having to ask, I just started telling her…
Naomi LOVES baking now. She loves to play the piano and she has started to sing too.
Ben LOVES playing with his LEGOS. He builds for hours and comes up with some great creations.
Eli LOVES playing basketball and playing tag with friends…he just loves RUNNING!
They love you SO MUCH!
Besides our visits twice a year, Vanessa would text me on birthdays.
She would ask if I could give them a BIG hug and if I could please tell them Happy Birthday from her.
“Absolutely!” I would reply.
Yesterday, Eli turned nine.
I kept looking at my phone. I kept wishing that that text would come through.
I became emotional, but I knew exactly what to do.
I pulled Eli aside, I gave him a great BIG hug and I reminded him of just how MUCH his mom loved him.
He looked at me and smiled.
He knew what I meant.
He wasn’t confused.
He knew just how MUCH he was loved.
This world is broken, but it is not without hope.
It is our faith, trust and love for God that has gotten us through this horrific week.
We can love because He FIRST loved us.
Vanessa, we will ALL miss you.
And for the rest of my life I will be reminding the kids just how MUCH God loves them and BOTH of their moms.