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Our Impossible Adoption Story

If you're looking for the unbelievable account of how "impossible" became "done" in 5 business days, start here.

Eulogy for my pawpaw

29 August 2021

I had the great privilege of officiating my grandfather’s memorial service this past Saturday. I have performed and preached in front of people more times than I can count, but I was nervous about this one. Nervous that I wouldn’t do him justice (I’m not sure anyone really could) and mostly nervous I would ugly-cry in front of a room full of people I didn’t really know that well.

I got through it. (If you saw my IG story and prayed for me, know that I felt it.) Part of the reason, I think, was because I actually wrote down every word. I usually type up an outline, or some notes, because I don’t want my face to be buried in notes, but I knew I would need all the words for this one. When I started to lose it, I buried my face.

Anyway, I have all the words, so here they are, for the people who have asked for them.

Disclaimer: This was written to be spoken, not read. Believe me when I say that the editor in me does see all the run-on sentences and improper punctuation. The poet in me insisted on keeping them so the reader might feel the movement of it.

Words for my Pawpaw

Good afternoon.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Alexis — or Lex, Lexi … or Kate, depending on whether you knew my great-grandmother — and I had the esteemed pleasure of being Mick Sullivan’s favorite granddaughter. (The boys will say it’s because I was his only granddaughter, but I maintain that it’s a trivial technicality.)

Some of my earliest memories of my pawpaw are of him sitting on the edge of one of the two twin beds, in an upstairs bedroom, in their old house on Main Cross. Whether we were here for a week or a weekend, my little brother and I slept in that same bedroom, and he would come upstairs every night, once we were in bed, to tell us bedtime stories.

There were one or (maybe) two pieces of fiction in his repertoire, but he mostly told us stories about the gas station that his father ran, about life on the farm, about being the only 5th grader in his one-room country schoolhouse, about his dogs (Tate and Blackie) …

But there was one story that we (mostly my little brother) asked for every night. This story has always been catalogued in my mind under non-fiction, but I don’t really know if he told us it was true or if I just assumed it was — because most of his stories were.

The story begins the day someone in town got a monkey. (You see why I’ve started to doubt it’s veracity.) Not an ape, but a small monkey, and it was kept in a domed cage/enclosure. And the story goes that the kids in town took to teasing and pestering the monkey, until one day when the monkey had had enough and it climbed up on the inside of the cage … and peed on all those children.

We laughed every time.

Because no matter how many times he told it — and he told it almost every night — he delivered it flawlessly. He set the stage so well you could see yourself on it. And even though the details remained consistent (which may have lent to my thinking it was a true story), he would just masterfully vary which details he shared or left out on any given night and push that rising action until the tension was just right to deliver the punchline*.

I will grant that we were not exactly a tough crowd, but I think everyone in this room will also grant that the man was a storyteller.

So many of us here, and scores more people besides, knew him in so many ways. Not just as a father, grandfather, brother-in-law, etc. … but as a teacher or coach, as a coworker or a soldier, as a hunting buddy (or fishing buddy … or golfing buddy), as a church member and elder, as a neighbor or helper … but I’m willing to bet that all of us also knew him as a storyteller.

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Why adoption is expensive and why that’s okay (and what you can actually do)

19 June 2019

Or, How my opinion on adoption costs completely flipped by the close of our adoption.

When we started our adoption process about a year and a half ago, I was outraged at the price tag. It wasn’t a surprise, of course. We reckoned ourselves to it before signing the first batch of paperwork, but that doesn’t make it go away.

I fumed at the injustice of the hurdle. How many more children would be in safe, loving families today if it didn’t cost a year’s salary to put them there? How many amazing parents get stuck at the starting line because of the scandalous price tag?

Normal, natural reactions from a family long-burdened for another child to love.

And lately I see the cost of an adoption held up against the cost of an abortion as a way to say, “This is why adoption is not a good option.” Which is just inaccurate.

It has also highlighted to me that my passion on the matter has completely reversed. I knew it was changing even before we brought our son home, but it’s been in my face lately.

So allow me to explain.

Why adoption is expensive

Short answer: Because we’re dealing with vulnerable, traumatized children.

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Six Months: Grieving, Growing, and Surgery

4 March 2019

I cannot believe that it’s been six months since we were in China. It feels like yesterday, but it also feels like we’ve been four forever.

How are we doing? What’s new? How is everyone … I’ve had requests for updates and I’m sorry it’s been two months since the last time. Here we go:


Having been successfully fattened up, he’s now stretching. (Both of them are.) We have a few pictures from China on our bedroom wall and it struck me this past weekend that he went from being a toddler to a little boy in six months.

Which is 100% not fair.

Not quite 6 months later

(Also, he’s now a Ninja Turtle.)

He’s getting better at jumping, but it’s still not necessarily inspiring to watch. Cute and hilarious, though.


We’ve also had a couple months of swim lessons now, and both the boys looove it. They started out in the same class, but at the end of the first session Niah “graduated” to level two … and Jude did not. (Which was a good call. He is not ready for level two.)

So Jude did level one again while Niah moved over to level two. They love it still.

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Four Months Home

2 January 2019

Four years old and four months home.

Sometimes I still can’t believe we’re already here. Sometimes I watch him sleep and I’m astounded. Did we really do that? Are we really one of those families? But I guess new identities take time to settle in.



Not only are we one of those families, we have been for four months now. A friend recently posted one of those cute pics of her new baby with the monthly marker for how old the baby is. And I remembered doing chalkboards for my meatball. And I was bummed for my chubby dumpling at first, but then I thought, “Naw.”



‘Cause I think his development and progress in healing and learning a new language and adapting to life on the other side of the world is just as impressive than a newborn growing into his environment.


Husband and I look back at pictures and videos from China, and we cannot believe that we didn’t once notice or remark about how tiny and skinny he was. I mean, all of China is kind of a blur and most Chinese toddlers are smaller and Husband was very sick for at least a week and we were probably as close to “survival mode” as we ever have been. But still …







Look at that belly profile. I love it.

We have fattened him up and I’m super proud of that. Especially because we don’t eat much fast food or sweets, so he is 98% healthy chubby. He was wearing 2T clothes when we got home, and he is now growing into 4T. That’s serious catch-up.  Read more…

The Adoption Trip Video

19 November 2018




There is SO MUCH that I couldn’t squeeze into five minutes. I may have to throw together an outtake reel or something, but this is a snapshot of our 2.5 weeks in China this year!