Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy 14th Birthday, Mercedes

Dear Mercedes,

At about 1:00 this morning, fourteen years ago, your birthmom held the most amazing baby in her arms -- you. I am sure that she is thinking about you today, just like I am. And while I am wishing that I had been there on that day to see who you were then, I am sure that she is wishing she could be here now, to see what you have become. We are so grateful to her for giving you life and to God for allowing us to be a part of the life of this incredible person you are turning out to be.

There are no words that can describe how proud of you I am for the way that you have lived through the last year. Being thirteen is not easy.... it is one of the most difficult ages for any girl to be. And yet you have laughed and cried yourself through some very tough times and come out of them a better person.

When I look at you today I see a young woman who has learned who she wants to be. You have been so brave in becoming your own person, regardless of what your friends and your siblings expect you to be. Just in the past year you have made so many good choices about standing on your own two feet when everyone else is trying to force you to be someone you don't want to be.

Here are some of the highlights from the past year:

1) You earned money for the cell phone. Amazing how much character you had to make up a schedule and work all those hours for us. Nobody else has ever been able to do that.

2) You spent all that time with me early mornings at the YMCA working out this summer. While most kids were sleeping in, you were with me, bright and early.

3) You have brought your grades up this year, even math! Last year you were so convinced you would never get it, and now you have.

4) You have walked away from many not-so-great friends from sixth grade who you could see were a bad influence on you. You have chosen better friends and started 7th grade well.

5) You have maintained a good attitude about church and church activities even when it hasn't been easy. It's fun to have a daughter who doesn't complain about youth group or confirmation and who has a desire to learn more about God.

6) You got your braces and you are well on your way to perfect teeth, which will be the final touch on a beautiful body that God has given you. I am proud of you that you are slowly learning to respect yourself and your body.

7) You have always fixed things when there was a problem. Relationships are hard work, especially with your parents, and every time that we have had an argument, you always say your sorry. This is going to be very helpful to you when you grow older.

8) You are secure enough that you can love your parents and tell them so. Every night you tell us goodnight and that you love us, even when we go to bed early or when we forget to say it first. And you talk to us, telling us about your life, and keeping communication open.

9) You have paid attention to your older siblings who have made mistakes and you are making better choices so you don't make the same mistakes. This takes a lot of courage and you are not letting us down.

10) Finally, you have showed everyone around you that you can make it through a tough year. Our family had some hard things to go through with siblings that you cared for very much this past year. And yet, one day at a time, you kept putting one foot in front of the other, holding your head high, and taking things as they come. You have been amazing.

So today as you turn 14, Dad and I are so thrilled about the young woman you are becoming. When we are talking alone sometimes, we tell each other how proud we are of you, and how much we love you, and what a great kid you are. I hope that we don't forget to tell you too.

So today I am thankful for you and the awesome blessing we have been given to have the privilege of being your parents. There really aren't words good enough to explain how we feel.

Many times you have heard me say, "I have chosen you to be my daughter and nobody can take that away from me." But the other side of it, is that you have to choose to let people who are not related to you by blood, be your parents. Thank you, Cedes, for letting us be your parents.... it's not an easy thing to choose. We are so grateful and we love you so much.


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