My dear sweet boys,

I loved you before I knew you. I just didn’t know how long the wait would be. God put a tugging in our hearts to seek out more children, but we weren’t quite sure how best to make that happen. We hoped for siblings for our little ones, already a boy and a girl. They, too, wanted a playmate, a companion.

Prayer and trainings and time as a foster family. Situations arose, roadblocks in the way—this must not be the path. Three years of ups and downs. Still the tugging. Then, it must be adoption. Yes, that must be the way.

More paperwork, additional training, and time. So much time. Waiting, and a connection, then the connection falls through. More time. Starting over. Another connection, weeks of promise, then another disappointment. So many emotions, so much money. Four connections, four yearsfour very long years.

We were ready to embrace our little family and try to ignore the empty space that felt like it was waiting to be filled. Then the phone call. A baby. A terminal diagnosis. Are we ready? Can we do this? Quick research, flurry of phone calls, then meeting the 7-week-old who was soon to become our son.

Saying yes, despite the questions. Saying yes, despite the doubt. Saying yes, despite the worry. The moment you were placed in my arms, I knew with all of my being, that you are the one God planned for us. Our family felt whole. We embraced your sweet smile. We laughed at the adorableness of toddlerhood.

RELATED: To the Waiting Adoptive Mother in the Middle of a Paper Pregnancy

Then the dream I believe was given to me by God. Another baby in need of our help. A sibling of yours. Was it wishful thinking? Was this worry about my ability to care for you manifesting in my nighttime subconscious?

A letter sent to the agency. “Thanks for letting us know of your potential interest if your son’s birthmother should ever reach out. We’ve not heard from her. We’ll put your letter in his file.” Two weeks later, another phone call. Yes, another baby, due in 5 weeks.

“Do you want to adopt again?” Hearing words on the other end of the line, silently nodding my head as your dad says yes. Paperwork, phone calls, doctor appointments—so much to accomplish in this tiny time allotted.

Another son is born. Our little boy’s brother. We welcome another sweet soul into our lives. God’s plan was bigger than what we could have imagined ourselves. What a surprise! What a blessing! What a gift! Testing pursued, the same diagnosis. A feeling of loss, but peace about raising you together. We’ll do this together. We’ll fight for your future. We’ll learn and advocate and educate. We’ll seek resources and assemble a medical team. We’ll give you a life as full as we can.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Those are scary words. The beginning feels normal. Nothing is different, but the threat of the future hangs over us, always.

You’re still young, boys. Clever and funny and ornery. Under the tough guy exterior, so very, very sweet. Your incredible vocabularies astonish me. Your knowledge of all things animal is vast. But those physical changes have begun. The effects of Duchenne on your little bodies are present. You can’t keep up with your peers. It’s more tiring to do everyday, normal things. A playground is significantly challenging. So we adjust. We shift our days to allow for breaks and rest.

You go to PT, so much PT. But you know it’s good for you—the stretching and balance work. And you enjoy playing the games. But your life is different from other boys at 7 and 9. A medical stroller and a scooter—mobility devices that make your lives (and ours) just a little bit easier. We make accommodations that I’m no longer even aware of on a daily basis: buying just the right clothing to alleviate your sensory issues, keeping a step stool in the van to make it easier for you to get in and out, allowing extra time for transitions, among so many other things.

Life is good. We are blessed. There’s so much joy in our family and in our home. But some weeks are hard and some days the future weighs heavy.

RELATED: So God Made a Mother With a Willing Heart

This week, the always seems too brief vacation time, has been glorious. Opportunities and adventures and fun! But my eyes have been opened again to the limitations we continue to face and how that will shift even more so as the days and weeks and years go by. Yesterday, I watched you sit in the sand, letting the waves come up over your legs. You both seemed at perfect peace. The sun was warm and the movement of the water was hypnotic.

This morning we followed your lead by getting up before daybreak for an early morning shell hunt on the beach. We carried you both up and down the stairs to the oceanfront. Walking can be exhausting. I watched you both as the sun came up over the horizon. Again, you seemed at peace. But then a pause was required. You sat in the chairs to rest.

Our future together has untold adventures that wait. We aim to live each day with hope and love, embracing the time we’ve been given together on earth. We’ll face each day as best we can. We pray those further changes are far away but will face them head-on when they do arrive. My dear sweet boys, I love you more than words can say.

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Christena Estby

Christena is a coffee lover, author, and a homeschooling, adoptive, special needs mama with four amazing kids. She is the household organizer, planner, calendar-driven lady who often drives her little crew nuts.

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