What we talk about when we talk about family

November 22 is National Adoption Day. Did you know that? Before this time last year, I wouldn’t have.

But life,  I continue to learn, is full of surprises. No plot twist is too farfetched to be true. The story of my nephew, Waylon (aka “Spud,” as we affectionately called him in his potato-faced pre-adoption days, when we couldn’t use his real name), is one of those farfetched-but-true ones.

November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

The folklore has been repeated over and over again the last two years, usually ending in a response of disbelief and declaration that he is a “miracle baby.” I first met Spud on Christmas Eve 2012. At that point he was barely past his due date, though he’d already been alive since August. Weighing just 19 ounces, born to a family who couldn’t take care of him (a lot of those details have to remain vague—but this is the Ozarks; you can probably venture a guess), he spent his first four months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—this acronym another bit of trivia I didn’t know until I had to) at Mercy Hospital, where my sister-in-law is a nurse.

Baby's first Christmas Eve

Baby’s first Christmas Eve

Daniel and Lindsey had only been engaged since September at this point—another kind of too-perfect story, ps: My brother proposed in Central Park, one year to the day after they met…at a wedding. (I won’t cut it out! I won’t!) They had discussed the possibility of this kind of adoption, maybe years and years down the road, since stories like Spud’s are sadly more common than they ought to be. But none of us anticipated this sort of timeline.

Our family was fast-forwarding at an unheard-of speed, but still the whole process felt unbelievably normal. It felt normal to accept this little guy into our lives. It felt normal just a few months later, when we found out they were having a baby of their own (Spud’s “Big Brother” onesie temporarily stumping Mom & Dad: “Like the TV show?!”).



It felt normal when I officiated their wedding that June, outside on the farm where my mom grew up, on my brother’s birthday, on an abnormally mild and perfectly sunny June day. And it felt normal one year ago today, when I sat in the courtroom and heard the name “Waylon Lee Jenkins” spoken for the first time. (Daniel Lee and Lindsey Lee and Wayon Lee, ps—I won’t cut it out!) I remember the judge said something about being pleased to witness such a happy ending—I imagine his days are too often filled with kids who aren’t so lucky.

Aunt Sarah

Aunt Sarah, willfully holding a baby. Do not adjust your screens.

So here we are, a year later. Waylon and his sister, Jolene (yep. We’re well on our way to a honky-tonk Brady Bunch at this point), are healthy, happy, dare-I-say just unreasonably adorable kids.  They bring joy to so many people just by being alive…and they both still poop in diapers. Imagine what they’ll be capable of once they’re potty trained, y’all!

Too often, life’s unpredictability adds up to more curse than blessing. But then sometimes it all makes sense.