Tag Archives: birthday letters

The Boy Who Would Belong

“He’s a lucky boy” they say. As if we were doing you a favour by adopting you. What they don’t know… What we didn’t know… Is how much we would need you. To brighten our days. To keep us laughing. To soften our hearts and stretch our empathy. To shake us out of ordinary and tweak our priorities, over and over and over again.

You saved me this year. This horrible year of your sister’s cancer diagnosis and long hospital stays. I know this year was hard on you, you’re still uneasy without the whole family together under one roof. And our calm routine was shattered, which made life unpredictable and uncertain. Except for you, I could always count on you to make me smile. It’s impossible to despair with your little body wrapped around my neck, and squeals of “I missed you so so SO much mommy!” and “This is a special, special day!”

You have a nonstop, megawatt, irrepressible grin that spreads joy in your wake. You don’t walk and run through life, you hurl yourself at the world. You have a genuine sweetness, a kindness that most of us can only simulate.

This year you discovered fear, though not always in the best places (for instance, running into the road is supposed to be scary, Mario-kart characters are not). I hate to see you react with terror, though I’m proud you are learning to be brave. Best of all, I’m relieved that you turn to me, to your dad and sisters, even friends and teachers, for comfort so confidently. I promise I will always be your safe place.

You’re just a little boy, even now at five years old, you’re still my baby. I wish I wasn’t such an exhausted, overwhelmed and distracted Mom, but I hope you will never doubt how unshakeable my love for you is.

Parenting isn’t about the getting, but the rewards often come all the same. You are the answer to prayers I never put into words. You are a gift.

Happy birthday!



And now, a word from your father…

Dear S,

Happy Birthday, Big Guy! 5 is a huge year – you are ready to take kindergarten by storm! (Hope they’re ready for what’s about to come their way!)

What a year it has been for you. We’ve watched you grow by leaps and bounds in front of our eyes. With age has come some wisdom. We were finally able to take down the guards from our second floor deck railings, and I haven’t caught you balancing on top of them yet!

Of course, your default speed is still set to “Go fast, think about the consequences later… or maybe never at all.” As much as it causes me gray hairs (like last summer when you escaped my eye and went missing at the State Fair for 20 minutes), as someone who tends to overthink everything, I think I actually have a little something to learn from you about seizing the moment. (But let’s not get too carried away, okay?)

You may not remember this when you get older, but it’s also been a tremendously difficult year for us, with B getting very sick and spending lots of time in hospital. For way too many nights and days, you were missing Mommy or Daddy as we took turns taking care of your sister. I’m sorry for all the time we weren’t able to spend with you Buddy. But, I’m proud of how you rolled with things, never knowing who might pick you up from preschool on any given day. You did amazingly well with all the chaos. Thanks for pitching in!

Things are going to be a bit different when you go to school. You’ll be spending more time away from home, making friends and starting to build a life of your own. I’m so excited to see where it leads you… and I promise I’ll be right beside you every step of the way.

I love you Buddy! Happy 5th Birthday my son!



So here begins another round of birthday letters… To the world, so they will know how special you are. To the someday future you, so you will never forget.

Raising You is an Art, not a Science

Dear 12-year-old,

Before you, I thought parenting worked like science – laws and equations, inputs and outputs, theories to be proven and disproven with clear, quantifiable results. I may not have used those words. I may not have been aware that I believed this. But my first few years as a mother, and my experience as a daycare teacher, led me to calmly assume that I could manage and mold, if not control, my children.

Your sister, who’s always been predictable, logical and mostly straightforward, strengthened this approach. I had Opinions. I took Positions on the Issues.

Then you came.

You came in a swirl of colour and emotion and self determination. You knocked us out of our neat, manageable orbit. You made us laugh. You made us cry in frustration. You made us see things differently and pay attention to what matters most.

You still do.photo 1

For the first 8 months you refused to sleep in a crib, ever, peacefully slumbering the nights away in your car seat. As a preschooler you INSISTED on wearing a plastic, gold-foil tiara all day, every day, for more than a year. By school age, you eschewed nightgowns and pjs, sleeping fully clothed, occasionally with your back pack strapped on your back.

You have always danced to your own off-beat tune.

You still do.photo 2

I love that about you. There’s so much I love about you. We butt heads a lot. Me parenting you and you being parented by me, is not something that’s ever going to be easy. We’re too much alike in temperament. But I see you, and even when we’re completely at odds I see the great and amazing person you are becoming too.

  • You are creative, not only in the art you make, the strange inventions you think up, but lately in the stories you tell (in serial form to eager classmates); the Unhappily Ever After novella you wrote was dark and snarky, but vibrant and descriptive in a way that warms your writer-parents’ hearts.
  • You are passionate, feeling all the feelings deeply (and loudly).
  • You are sociable – an extrovert in a family of introverts, who genuinely enjoys people and values that interaction above whatever task or activity is happening.
  • You are funny, so cleverly, sarcastically, mature-beyond-your-years funny that guarantees we laugh more than most families. Wit is a hallmark of brilliance (that and your newfound appreciation for science fiction – bravo).
  • You are beautiful. And I know that you can’t see that most days. Which might be your age, or your desire to be tall and willowy, or this stupid, plastic, air-brushed world we live in – but I hope that every time you look in the mirror you see past all that, and see the beauty that I do. If you can do that, I will promise to stop call you “cute” which I know you hate.

It’s not easy being a middle child. Especially not in a family like ours. But you are strong and spirited and that bold personality refuses to fade to the background. Since I first began coaching your 4-year-old sister NOT to let the baby (you!) push her around, I knew you’d be a force to be reckoned with. From day one you’ve challenged us, and though it can get bumpy and intense, I believe that in the end, it’ll be a good thing, both for you and for us. It’s possible that my personality is just a smidge ‘strong and determined’ too, so I have to take some credit/blame.

The world needs more good, strong women – and you have all the makings of a great one. I’m so glad to be your mom!

Happy Birthday!

And now a word from Dad…

Dear C,

In so many ways, I feel like we’ve learned more about you, and the woman you are becoming, in the past year than in any year that’s come before.

I see it in your artwork, which stuns me with each new piece. You have so much creative talent bottled up inside you, and now that it’s spilling out onto the page (and your bedroom door), I’m absolutely astounded – and so proud. I just can’t wait to see what you will produce as you continue to learn and grow in your skills and passion.

I see it in the Once Upon a Time story you wrote for school which, let’s face it, was really more of a novel. I didn’t know whether to be disturbed by the darkness of your tale or excited by your ability to spin it with a vocabulary that far outstrips your age, but I chose the latter. I know you don’t see yourself as a writer, but in a family of writers, it’s clear that a little something has rubbed off.

I see it in your wicked sense of humor, in the movies you enjoy, the books you read, and the songs you sing. You are a ton of fun to hang out with, which makes it all the more sad when you take off on us for three weeks, like you did this summer for Chicago. And yet, I’m so glad you got to have that amazing experience.

I see it in your dance, where you worked so hard and stuck with a class that you hated, just so you could do the ones that you love. That willingness to persevere and go after what you want will serve you very well.

I see it in your love and patience with B and S: how quick you are to forgive when he unintentionally hurts you, and how you always choose to play with the kids rather than put away the dishes.

And I even see it in your desire to make up your own mind about church. I know that our change has been hard for you to accept, and while we do want Nexus to be a family thing for now, and for you to give it your best shot, I greatly admire you for standing up for what you believe, and really owning it. I will always support you in that, whatever path it leads you down.

I love you C, and I’m proud and grateful to have you in our family. Happy 12th birthday – next year’s a big one!

Love, Dad

The Big One-O

To my zany, brilliant, girly, funny, non-conformist offspring:

These AMAZING hamburger cupcakes were courtesy of Aunt Erin… the birthday girl loved them!

Today is an important day. The big one-O. Now that you have that first decade under your belt, we can see more clearly the kind of human being you are becoming.That is not to say that any of this is written in stone. You can certainly change your path along the way. After all, you love to be unpredictable.

But I hope you don’t, because you are shaping up to be a pretty cool person. Possibly cooler than me… a fact you vehemently remind me of, quite often. If eye rolling were an Olympic sport, we’d be cashing endorsement cheques right now. Do me a favour and cut me some slack now and then. I bet when you are 36 you will look back and realize I wasn’t quite as lame as you thought. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s kind of fun to push your buttons. If you didn’t protest quite so loudly, I wouldn’t have to sing/dance/act like an idiot quite as enthusiastically. Embarrassing our kids, well, it’s sort of a family tradition. I have a feeling you will one day do it also. With gusto.

You are passionate. This will be both a blessing and a curse. I speak from experience. Passionate seems a lot like emotionally volatile sometimes. So watch the temper. It isn’t wrong to feel angry, but it can give birth to all sorts of wrong (and stupid) reactions. That’s been my experience all too often. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Take a breath. Use your head and not your heart before you speak. Passionate can be a lot of work. BUT, worth it, because: You love fiercely. You laugh with abandon. You take risks. Passionate is an important ingredient for greatness.

You are a leader. I remember when you were a toddler and you would boss your older sister around. I had to tell that almost 4-year-old not to let her baby sister bully her or push her around. You know your own mind and are not afraid to share it. I know it doesn’t always seem like this is something we appreciate. But we do. Strength of will is something to be admired, but used wisely. Pick your battles. If you are always contrary, then people (and by people, I mean your Dad and I) will stop listening to you. Save your strength for the issues that really matter. The best way to win, is to win people over. You have the wit and intelligence to do it.

You are unique. Yesterday at your birthday party, you played volleyball with a fish (whom you named Bob). You waded in a pool full of blue jello. You threw balloons full of milk at your dad. You had a whipped cream fight with your friends. Instead of a cake, you had hamburger cupcakes. Because you don’t want just a regular old birthday party. You love to be different. The world is more interesting when you are around. I think anyone else would be lost in the shuffle as the middle child in our family, especially with another special needs sibling in the mix. But it is impossible to overlook you. You were designed to stand out. With teenage-dom already breathing down our necks, you’ve begun to follow the fashions and trends of the friends around you. Which is fine. As long as you don’t lose that one-of-a-kind flare that is all you. Don’t be afraid to be silly. Or weird. Or different. You can totally pull it off.

You are loved. It seems like you and I go head to head more often than any one else in the family. Both of us are emotionally volatile passionate people. This year, I promise to try to be more patient and to listen better. I’d like it if you could do the same. Because, life is better when we’re friends.

But first and foremost, I’m your mom. So we won’t always be pals. And that’s okay. It might even be necessary. But no matter what happens, I want you to know that I am passionate about how much I love you. And how important you are to me. And what a gift you are to the world. I think you are an amazing person. I’m pretty sure you always know that I love you (on some level), but I think you should know that I like you a whole lot too. You are one of my favourite people in the world!

I’m not a perfect mom. And you aren’t a perfect kid. But I think we’re a perfect match. I’m so glad that God made you a part of my family. I can’t imagine my life without you.

Happy Birthday!

Love Always,



Happy 10th birthday, and welcome to the double digits!

What a year it has been for our family – a year of change, which is not your favourite thing.

For three years, we talked about adoption. We renovated our house to make room, and we dreamed about what kind of child would join our family.

All along the way, there was one girl in our family who wasn’t so sure that this was a great idea. She worried about what the changes would mean. Would the new kid fit in? Would she like him? Would he wreck her room and mess up her stuff? Would there be enough time/attention/money to go around? Weren’t we too busy already?

In case you haven’t already figured it out, that girl was you. And, truth be told, you had a much more realistic view of the situation than your big sister did. You knew that there were going to be major changes, and that it was going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice and patience to bring a whole new person into the family. You were right.

I’ll admit, I was worried: what if C hates adoption? What if she resents him – or what if she resents us for making this decision?

But here’s the thing: I have never admired you more than I have in the past three months. As we’ve gone on this new adventure together, I have seen the wonderful, accepting, loving, giving young lady that you are becoming. It all started when you helped paint his room. From that moment on, C was on board the adoption train. I saw that you loved S the first day we met him, and that’s when I knew everything was going to be okay. The feeling was clearly mutual, as a few weeks later it was you who caused him to laugh harder and more hilariously than I’ve ever heard a child laugh.

Since then, you have patiently endured every change. You’ve given up things that you wanted to do, to play with him and keep him entertained – and you’ve done it without complaining. You’ve come back to him again and again after every time that he’s accidentally hurt you – and that’s happened a lot. Last night you spotted him on the couch looking at a book, and you said, “I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity,” and scooped him right up onto your lap for a cuddle.

I am so unbelievably proud of you. I tell everyone that I don’t know how we possibly could have survived the chaos of the past three months without C and L. You have been incredibly helpful, and surpassed all my expectations for how you would handle this. Thank you. I love you. And I will carry you to bed for as many years as you’ll let me.

Love from,

Your Daddy

Birthday Letters for The Boy

Birthday Cupcakes specially decorated by the Big Sisters

Once again our family tradition is going public. Each year both of us write a birthday letter to our children on their special day. The pitfalls of having two writers for parents…

One day we hope they will cherish the encouragement, advice and wacky memories we recount in these epistles. Or at the very least, their spouses/kids/biographers will appreciate the historical significance and goofy photos.

Today’s guest poster: Daddy!

Dear S,

Welcome to a new family tradition – the birthday letter! You’ll get one of these from both Mommy and I each year on your birthday, as we look back on the year you’ve just finished, look ahead to the year that’s just beginning, and celebrate the boy (and someday, man) that you are becoming.

It seems so strange to be writing a letter marking the end of your second year, when we haven’t even known each other for two months yet. But that’s okay – it only took me about two minutes to love you!

I thought I might never get the chance to write a letter to my son, since your big brothers never got to come home to be part of our family. After 12 years of being surrounded by girls, I wasn’t sure if I had any boy left in me! I feared I may have lost it under a pile of doll clothes, princess outfits and ballet slippers.

But it sure didn’t take you long to make me man up! You’re energetic and fearless in a way that the little girls never were. Before you even came home, we played our first hockey game together, and we haven’t stopped playing ever since. I can’t wait for the day when we can stretch out on the couch with some pizza and a couple of pops, game on the television, and tell the girls to pipe down so we can hear the play-by-play. Which reminds me, it’s about time I gave you your first Canucks sweater….

When we’re not playing hockey, we’re usually wrestling, as manly men like us are known to do. Sure, the girls used to wrestle me too, once upon a time, but not like this – with a fierce growl, and a look of destruction in your eye. This is new to me, and new to you too, since you’ve never had a daddy until now.

Maybe that’s why we hit it off so well, so fast. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when we met each other. Would you like me? Would I like you? Would you be afraid of me? Would you even look at me? Would you run from me? Would you annoy me? Would you spend all my money? (Well, yes, probably to that last one.)

After one ear-to-ear grin, I knew the answer. I had nothing to fear. Sure, it may take a while… or maybe not. As I put on my shoes to go home after that first meeting, you reached out and let me pick you up. I may never put you down… at least not for a while. Happy Birthday buddy! (Oh, and have I told you about our cake yet? It’s good.)

Love from,

Your Daddy

And now, a word from Mommy:

Dear S,

I can’t believe that it was only 2 months ago when I first laid eyes on you. You were so much smaller than I expected with big blue eyes and a shy grin that lit up the room. I loved you already. I would have even if you weren’t insanely cute, but it didn’t hurt. I had loved the idea of you for years. Before you were even born we were praying for you and imagining what you might be like. It was thrilling to finally meet you.

You did not have an easy start to life. You came into the world 3 months early. The file they gave us was 4 inches thick and by the time we read through it all, we realized that was only your medical records for the first month! It did not look good for you. But you were 3 lbs of fighter, possessing absolute determination. That hasn’t changed.

Your birth mom loved you and wanted you, but she wasn’t able to take care of you. When you were 2 months old your foster mom started visiting you in the hospital, after 2 more months she was finally able to bring you home with her. She is a very special lady: a nurse who takes care of babies with complex medical problems until they can go home with a forever family (birth or adoptive). You did not like to be touched or held at first, but she taught you how to be loved and to give love back. Soon you were a cuddly little charmer. That hasn’t changed either.

You have officially been part of our family for 1 month. Our lives have been turned upside down, but no one’s more than you. It hasn’t been an easy month, but it has been a very good one. Your Daddy and sisters have discovered that you are the best thing they never knew they always wanted. I wanted you all along, but even I am blown away by how important you are to us all. We are enjoying you so much. You are so much fun: so much mischief-making, full-tilt, maniacal laughing, enthusiastic fun. I’m so glad you are part of our family!

Today you are 2 years old!

Those 2 years have helped shape you into the amazing mini-person that you are now. The tough little trooper who overcomes the odds time and time again. The sweet, loving boy who sticks close to family and has bonded with us so quickly. The smiley monkey who keeps us laughing, and on our toes.
Even though it makes me sad that we have missed so much time with you, I wouldn’t change you for the world!

You have such a bright, happy future ahead of you and we will be there with you every step of the way. Always, always, always…

Happy Birthday!

Love Forever,


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