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I know Zach doesn’t have much of a blog presence but I love that he takes the time to write out birthday letters to each of our children on their birthdays and that he writes out his version of each of their birth stories. I know these posts are going to be SO special to each of them! You can read my version of Spear’s birth story here!
By this point in Emily’s Journey of Parenthood you have meet
me on a few occasions. My name is Zach, and if you are a frequent blog reader,
then you probably know more about my life than I do. I love God, family, sports, and I am terrible at writing.
Also I am not as “PC” as my wife. People
are constantly looking for reasons to be offended in this day and age. Nothing
I say in this entry is to offend anyone. So if you get offended, that’s on
If you have read any of my other
entries (Bday letters or birth stories), then you are well aware of my writing
deficiencies. So all of you that are used to Emily’s amazing writing and
storytelling skills, just hold your nose and try to make it through.
That brings us to the main reason for my presence on the blog
today. My story of the birth of our fourth, and I dare say final, child. The
journey of each pregnancy and childbirth have been different.
There is always
small deviations and nuances to each story. But looking at it from a 1,000 foot
view they were all very similar. Emily tells me it’s time to have a kid. She
gets pregnant. We start hording diapers. I take the baby stuff down from the
attic. Emily and I work on the baby’s room. Emily makes me a gigantic list of
all the things that have to be done before the baby comes. I mark things off
the list. Emily adds to the list. Emily gets really upset that she hasn’t had
the baby yet. Then, she immediately has the baby. There is obviously more
involved, but that’s the cliff’s notes.
The journey we have embarked on in adoption has been
exceedingly different. I knew going in it would be a different type of
challenge, but I know that with Emily by my side we could get through it. I
don’t think I was fully prepared for how emotionally draining this could be. When
Emily is pregnant, I can physically see what she is going through. I am very in-tune to her needs. I can rub her feet. I can get her a special treat. I can
give her a shoulder message. I think it may be a man thing, but it is easy to
SEE a problem and try to make it better.
This go around was a lot different.
There was a definite disconnect. I am a very task oriented person who is an
expert in compartmentalizing. (Yes, I had to right click to get spell check to
fix that word, spelled it wayyyyyyy wrong) When I get home I turn off work. When
I am in a business meeting, I can turn off home. I have to do this in order to
be the husband and father I need to be. My job is stressful, like most, and I
don’t want it to affect my home life.
This attitude bled over into how I handled the adoption. I
would be very frustrated when we did not get matched, but I was able to
compartmentalize. Emily lived and breathed it almost every day while I was at
work. I didn’t recognize the strain she was under with no physical indicators
to see. I definitely struggled in this area.
Emily needed me to handle this process more
like a tradition pregnancy. I was of the mindset that she wasn’t pregnant and so I didn’t do the small things I normally would to show her I was there for her. I
know that she always knows that I am, but an outward show of those feeling with
small acts of kindness goes a long way.
Emily was struggling. She went through
more emotionally than she did with our other three and I failed to realize that
early on. There was no baby bump, struggling to bend over, or swollen feet. There was however, lots of broken hearted
moments and mental strain. Looking back I wish I had picked up on this quicker.
Adoption comes with a lot of steps. (You can read all the steps of our adoption journey here) It seemed like it took
almost a full year just to get to the point of starting the process of being
matched. Fingerprints, health exams, blood tests, background checks, it just seemed
to go on and on. I kept thinking, we have three kids that seem to be doing fine
is all this really necessary?! I know it is but you think, hey it’s me I am an
ok parent, can we just move on? The constant of having to prove things became very
I want to drive up a
peg her for a moment and sidetrack. I know that is probably NOT what you are
supposed to say when writing. (I am actually sitting laughing at myself right
now) I want to address something that I rarely talk about or like to draw attention
to, my Multiple Sclerosis. I want to say thank you to all of the prayers and
thoughts that all of you sent in my direction. I don’t have much of a voice on
here, and I honestly do not like talking about my MS. But the power of prayer
is amazing and I wanted you to hear from me how appreciated you all are. (You can read all about Zach’s recent diagnosis under the “Multiple Sclerosis section on this page)
The reason I chose this moment to say all that is because
this was one of the top two scariest moments in the entire adoption process. When Emily
and I made the decision to adopt, we went all in. I don’t like doing things
half way. We were very excited and it just kept building over the months. We
had gone through most of the process and were just waiting to start the clock
When my health issues first started, I never connected them to the
adoption. At first when I started having symptoms I assumed it was my vision or allergies…I never expected an MS diagnosis. When I was diagnosed I was very surprised. Then one afternoon, after my diagnosis, Emily
hit me with “we are going to have to let the case worker know.” As I connected the
dots in my mind, my heart began to sink, could this news prevent us from adopting?
I always, and I mean
always, try to stay strong for Emily and my family. In this moment I think Emily
could see the pain in my eyes. After all that we had gone through for this adoption and now my stupid
brain was going to be the possible reason we could not complete our family? I was
crushed. I was angry. I know that God is good, and He always has a plan. Even
so, situations like these are hard.
I had a moment by myself later in the car
were I just let it all out. It was something I didn’t want Emily or the kids to
see. When I was diagnosed I wasn’t even fazed. I knew that whatever the road
was, I would travel it. Whatever the challenges, I would face them. I looked at
MS as another opponent that I needed to battle and I was up for the challenge. Emily
was actually kind of frustrated with my reaction. I didn’t want it to define
me. I was still me. And I wasn’t going to let a disease change that.
realization that it put the adoption in jeopardy was different. I felt like I was letting my family down. I
felt that I was letting my wife down. Emily is the backbone of our family. She
is the greatest person I know. I want to give her everything. Not that this
baby or the adoption was just for her but I was the reason we may not be able to have this
precious boy and it hurt.
Thankfully it all worked out. We caught the MS early
and the doctors said I would have no issues at all the parenting. My drs provided the paperwork needed for our home study and the case worker didn’t see any concerns to prevent us from moving forward.
Now back to the adoption process! Once everything was in place and we were ready to be matched, one of the biggest frustrations of the entire process was not getting selected. I
mean we are decent parents. We have cute kids. Why wouldn’t a birth mom choose
us? The first few times we presented I could brush it
off. But as the “nos” kept coming it became harder and harder to stomach.
becoming distraught. I was scrambling with excuses to make her feel ok. We
finally turned a corner with contentment in the wait. when boom. We got matched! It was a great surprise. I was working out of
town and headed home for the night. When I open the door, Emily had some candy
set up the table and a weird look in her eye.
I read the candy and it all added
up to telling me we were matched! I had a pretty huge reaction. (You can see ithere) I was so excited and could hardly sleep that night. The whole process moved
pretty fast from there. We met the birth mom a few days later and we were on our way to a baby!
I know Emily covered every detail of our wait in her adoption posts so I will now jump way ahead to the morning of Spear’s birth. Ok, well, one more side note first… I absolutely love the name Spear. Emily may have already
explained the reason behind it. (The story behind Spear’s name is in this post!) But just in case, her uncle was an undeniably
amazing man and one of my favorite people. He was kind, caring, but firm and
strong when it called for it.
I hope that this honors him as much as it honors
me to be able to call my son Spear. And it sounds cool. Also I am not stupid,
it’s a different name. So when I tell people and they say ooooohhhhhh that’s
nice, I am not offended, even though I can tell they hate it. Although I don’t
think it ok to make fun of someone’s kids name in in front of them, but oh well.
Ok back to regularly scheduled program. In the two weeks leading up to his birth, I
had just started back trying to play basketball. I have drop foot from back
injury I had, so it was fun to play competitive sports again. I usually play at
6 am in the morning. We play for an hour and it is at a school that is about
half a mile from our house. Emily and I had just had a long conversation a few
days before about how it was getting difficult waiting on Spear to come. That
is exactly how our other three children came into this world as well. A few
days after Momma has a break down about waiting, that’s the cue for them to
come and Emily always goes into labor!
I went to basketball like normal and was in the middle of the game when
this crazy lady bust in the gym door and starts yelling. It took me a moment to
register that it was my mom. She said “you got to go, you got to go!” I knew exactly
what she was talking about. As I ran out of the gym one of the guys yelled “what’s
going on?” I yelled backed “I am having a baby!” as I sprinted out the door. I
have not seen any of these guys since that day. I am very interested to hear
what they thought. I am sure I looked ridiculous.
When I got to the house, what seemed like 14 seconds later, Emily filled me in. She did not take the time to stop what she was doing but I
got the jist Momma E had texted around 3am and Emily had not woken up. She saw
the text when her alarm went off. She called me over and over again. My phone
was over on the bleachers and I had not turned the ringer on as I usually have
it on vibrate to not interrupt any of my meetings.
Of course it happens at
about the only time I did not have my phone on me. I took an insanely fast, cold
shower. I was very hot and sweaty and a hot shower you will just keep sweating
afterward so I went cold. It doesn’t matter I was only in there for 2 min. I
promise I still washed properly. I grabbed my go bag and we were off… almost.
I hadn’t cleaned out my car and had all the car seats, golf clubs, and work
stuff jammed in. I grabbed everything and just tossed it on the floor of the
garage. I vividly remember thinking “you
are going to regret this later”. And I did. Awful mess to clean up.
When we hit the road I immediately started calculating in my
head. I realized that this being Mama E’s 5th kid + her already being 6 hours or more in labor = We ain’t making it. I felt so guilty thinking
I should have turned my phone on ringer. I was looking forward to being there
when Spear was born and was truly worried it was not going to happen.
a friend who is a member of law enforcement and asked about
speeding. He said to hit up 911 and let them know. This would alert them so
that if we did get pulled over, at least they would see the report and let us
go quickly. I was flying! I normally drive 9 over. I set my cruise and that’s
the max I will go over the speed limit. That day I was averaging well around 95 to 100. Honestly it didn’t even feel that fast. But that was fast enough for me. I wanted to get there, but I
didn’t want to jeopardize our safety (that much anyway!).
We were in frequent contact
with Mama E, and by the time we hit Jacksonville city limits I knew we would
make it. We rushed in and parked and headed up to the maternity ward. My
adrenaline was pumping and I was so excited to meet our baby boy.
Then we hit the boring part. I was so jacked up to get there.
HURRY, HURRY, HURRY! Then bam it was like hitting a wall. Although it was a
bummer it took so long for him to actually be born, I was still so glad we got there when we did. I felt like we
needed to be there for Mama E. She was all alone. I remember whispering to Emily when we got there, “Is
she alone?” I know everyone’s life situation is different. In that moment, I
was just so sad for her.
I know the births of our other three children were all surrounded by such joy and happiness. That moment, walking into the hospital and
seeing Mama E all alone, instantly forged an image of Mama E and her journey in my
mind. How strong do you have to be to do that? How difficult to be alone with
your thoughts? The physical pain is bad enough, but having to go through that
decision over and over as you sit alone in a hospital bed has to be
So I did what I usually do to try to make people
happy…FOOD! I was definitely the “Do Boy.” that day and I didn’t mind at all. Hospital staff usually don’t
like mothers to eat in the delivery room. Well who cares it was taking forever for him to be born and Mama E was hungry. So I went to grab food.
People, I love Jacksonville Beach, but
holy cow my Jacksonville experience this time around was awful. I went to McDonald’s
and the line was out the door. The reason? They only had one cashier. There were 14
people in line. Two employees outside smoking and on the phone. Oh and they
were standing next to the people in line.
Fast forward a bit here but since I’m talking about food… the biggest
surprise/letdown/ridiculousness of the trip: The girls wanted Chick-fil-a the
day after Spear was born. So I went to get Chick-fil-a. I drove across town,
got there and it was closed. ON SATURDAY!!! Well I figured I have gone this far
so I looked up another location. I drove to the other side of town to another CFA. And OMG
closed as well. When I asked someone that was walking past why they closed they
said there is no work traffic on sat. What kind of excuse is that? Well I ended up
getting Hardees. My delicious sausage biscuit was unable to wash the bad taste
of Jacksonville out of my mouth.
So back to the important stuff. Mama E slept most of the
day. Emily and I had a weird thing going because we had so much we wanted to
say, but we didn’t want to wake Mama E. We would whisper some, but for the
most part we just got a little work done and I watched football on my phone.
I said earlier, I am so glad we were there with her, but it was also an awkward
situation. There was an element of excitement with a cloud of sadness hanging
over it. It was a very strange vibe. The nurse was in an out somewhat frequently at
first. As the day went on her visits became less and less. Mama E was not
making much progress. We tried to keep her distracted, but you could tell her
frustration was understandably growing.
Then Bam! Emily and Mama E were mid-conversation when she
said “Ok, this baby is coming.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. She said it
as if was commenting on nice pair of slacks she saw in a department store
window. We contacted the nurse. She was a little skeptical that she would be
ready since she had just checked a half an hour before. But, sure enough, it was
It was a little bit of a blur like it always is. The biggest
difference was all the people coming in and out. Usually there are 3 or 4 main
people at the time of the birth. This go around there was probably 8 or 9. Many
were standing off to the side. It was a learning hospital so I am sure they
were observing for educational reasons. It was still a little strange. It
wasn’t long after Mama E said it was time that Spear was born. It is a moment
that I will never forget.
My favorite part was standing back (wayyyy back against the
wall, I wanted to make sure I was properly positioned for minimum exposure) and
just watching Emily. She was able to see the miracle of birth from an entirely
different point of view. Emily has
always been the one giving birth. She has only experienced that side of things. I have
always been the one giving the encouragement and handing out crushed ice.
sure when you are in that much pain all the small details are blurred and
unimportant. There are so many little things going on around you: tools put in
place, bed being transformed, preparing the area for the baby after birth, doctor-nurse communication. It is very interesting.
Only a few minutes after Mama E said it was time, Spear was
here. Our fourth child was born. I was so excited! He looked healthy and my
heart was full. I watched as Emily cut the cord. The first and last time that
will happen! They laid Spear on Mama E’s belly and she held him for a moment.
I was a little concerned during that time because I know the love for a child,
and I know that Mama E has experienced that love before.
After a few moments they
took Spear over to the warming station to check his vitals and clean him up a
little and I had tears of pure joy running down my face. In the next split
second my emotions were jerked in the opposite direction. I saw Mama E. She
had her arm covering her face and her body was racking as she sobbed. It broke
I was filled to the max with two separate emotions at the same time.
It was some weird internal struggle. I saw Emily crying and she mouthed “it’s just so
sad.” Emily went to her and tried to comfort her but couldn’t reach over the
rail of the hospital bed. I replaced Emily and just rubbed Mama E’s head. I
did not say anything. Nothing I thought to say seemed appropriate. Nothing I could say
could quail her pain. I just wanted her to know she wasn’t alone.
back to the moment when we walked in and she was by herself. I did not want her
feeling like that. I am not sure how long I was there. Time seemed to not
matter. I watched as one of the nurses handed Spear to Emily.
I saw the joy she
had as she smiled down at him. I thought of that as I rubbed the head of a
mother who was placing her son in a place that she thought would give him a
chance at a better life. I don’t know if I would be able to do that. Have a
child grow inside me for 9 months. Feel him kicking. Know that he hears my
voice. Suffer the pain to bring him into the world, and release him into another
Looking back I am very surprised at how the feelings I had
for Spear were identical to the other kids. Of course the sadness of watching
Mama E was still there but the connection with Spear was the same that I felt with Kye, Britt and Tess on the days they were born. I was
always worried when we decided to adopt that I may feel different or not feel the same kind of love. I actually
felt guilty for about having those feelings of concern.
But the moment I held him, it was no different.
He was my baby boy. I was his daddy. It gives me so much peace knowing my love
for him is no different. I hoped it
wouldn’t be, but having never done this before, I was scared. Looking back I feel
so silly thinking it could have been any other way.
I finally stepped away
from Mama E as the doctors had to get her fixed up. Her sobbing had slowed
enough for them to start stitches. I finally got my chance to hold Spear. He was
so handsome. Thoughts of his future flooded my brain. Him meeting his siblings,
all of us around the dinner table, having guy time with me and Kye. All of
these thoughts were flowing with a small twinge in the back of mind knowing
there was a chance in the 2 days to follow that the adoption could fall through.
After Spear was born time crept by even slower than before he
was born. The vibe in the room became even more awkward. Our boy was here. He
was in the room with us for the most part. The problem was they had not moved
Mama E to a postpartum room yet.
We were all together with an elephant in the room.
I didn’t know if I should comment on Spear. Not say anything. Ask Mama E if
she wanted to hold him. Talk about something completely different. I was truly
at a loss. If you know me personally then you know that is a very rare feet. I wanted to be
so excited and show it outwardly. I wanted to comment on all the little things
about Spear I was already in love with. But I felt like if I did that, every
comment I made would be twisting the knife in Mama E’s emotional pain.
IT TOOK FOREVER to get
to a room. I understand there are always circumstances that can cause delays.
Especially in the hospital. But we were stuck in the delivery room until after
midnight. It was almost 7 hours after the birth. The reason was the rooms were
not ready. They had to be cleaned. Ok, I can understand that. But I like to see
things for myself.
I walked down to the rooms and the 2 ladies that were
supposed to be cleaning were sitting on two beds talking to each other while
looking at their phones. Surprise! I was so aggravated. But in this day and age
it’s almost expected. The nurse finally came in and told us our rooms were
ready. It was a huge relief, until we got to the room.
This hospital supplied a room for the adoptive family. That
is super nice and makes things a lot easier. The problem was that the room was
4 ft. by 8 ft. It had a hospital bed and a folding chair. Ha-ha. I am six foot
five, and I am not the guy who will take the bed and make my wife go sit in the
chair. I told Emily to get ready for bed and I would figure something out. I
went and talk to the nurses and they showed me a room that had just a couch
that would fold into a bed. A very short bed, but a bed. They asked if that
would be ok and I said absolutely!
This hospital was different because Spear
was able to be with us the entire time. If was a great way to bond. Emily and I
would switch of going to the spare room to get sleep while the other would
watch Spear. I have never been able to hold our newborns as much as I did with
Spear. He slept and slept in our arms. It was so sweet.
As the hours past the anxiety of the situation seemed to ease
a bit. I knew that there was still a chance the adoption could fall through,
but everything was running smoothly. Emily was in the spare room sleeping and I
was watching Spear. We were actually watching the Florida State Game together
when Emily bust in the door. “Is everything ok?” She was in a bit of a panic.
She told me Mama E had texted her and that the birth father had showed up. I had no idea!
We were literally in the room next to Mama E’s. I was so confused as to how he
didn’t come in our room. I won’t go into too much detail but I had a very bad
taste in my mouth about this guy. I know God must have been at work, because if
he came in my room it might have turned ugly.
Mama E told him we were gone
already and he believed her and left. I am sure Emily will, or has gone, into
more detail about this part of the journey because she was the one
communicating with Mama E. This situation brought back the anxiety in a huge way.
Later that day they moved us into a big room. It had two beds
and we could put Spear right between us. The larger room was great for when the
kids came as well. There would be plenty of room for everyone when they finally
meet their little brother. Mama E was out of surgery. getting her tubes tied. and we invited her to eat dinner in our room. I went out and got O’Charley’s.
When I got back I had to cover my reaction when I walked in our room. Mama E
was feeding Spear.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want her to; it was just the fear of
her bonding with him. Emily handled this so well. She was very mindful of Mama E’s emotions and was all about her getting time with Spear. My initial response
was just a gut reaction to the moment. That fear. Those concerns. But I got over it pretty fast. We all sat
around and ate, talked, and it almost seemed normal. Key word “almost”. Mama E
left to go to bed and Emily and I tried to get some sleep.
Everything was going so amazing. It almost seemed too good to
be true. Spear was eating and sleeping great. Emily and I were as rested as you
could expect. The only thing left was for Mama E to sign. Before the papers
were signed came a super nerve racking hour and a half. Emily is amazing. She
is great at putting herself in others’ shoes. I always envy that trait.
faithful Sunday, she did something I thought was one of the most amazingly
selfless acts. She asked Mama E if she wanted some alone time with Spear
before she signed the papers. Yes, I know she birthed the child. Yes, I know the
child was hers. I just don’t think I would have been able to ask that the way Emily did. Emily
knows a mothers love. I have never birthed a child. I have never felt that
Emily knew it was a risk, but she also knew it was important for Mama E to have that time and
that it was the right thing to do. I was thinking selfishly in that moment. I was thinking
about our feelings and our emotions. I was focused on the worst case scenario.
Emily was thinking of Mama E. (You can read more about the entire 40 hours of waiting here)
As the time past I became more anxious. Even though it was
Emily’s idea for Mama E to have that time, she felt anxious about it as well. Finally, after a longgggggggggg hour and a half.
A nurse brought him back. The tightness in my chest released and we were just
waiting on a signature. Our lawyer arrived and spoke with us for a few minutes.
He explained what he was going to say and he was very confident. He left the room
and Emily and I just waited. In a very undramatic fashion he popped his head
back in and said “it’s done.” He said a few more things then closed the door on
his way out. And like some sort of sitcom scene Emily and I had a silent whisper scream celebration in our room. It was official! Our baby was coming home
with us. (You can read more about our family being complete here!)
Not long after Mama E signed there was another sad moment. Mama E was being dischared and her dad came and picked her up. He seemed like a good
man who was struggling with the idea of not being in his grandchild’s life. At
first he was not going to come in our room.
You could tell he had a heavy heart.
He stopped the wheel chair outside our room. He walked in slowly. He was
staring into my eyes intently. Not out of anger or anything like that, he just
was so focused on not looking at Spear. I don’t think his heart could take it.
was almost like one of those movie scenes where an adult wants a child to focus
on them and only them so they do not see the things happening around them. He walked up with his intense gaze and told me
how much he appreciated what we were doing, that we were great people and he
was happy for “the baby” and us. He knew he was going to a great home.
him thank you and he turned around with his eyes welling up and walked out. It
was one of the many powerful moments in this journey. The emotional tug of war
that many of us had to play was hard to fathom. He only said a few words but
his actions in that moment told a story. He wheeled Mama E out of the hospital
and we sat waiting for our other kids to arrive.
My parents and sister were bringing the kids and they were
going to arrive around twelve. They called and asked if they should get the
kids something to eat right before they got there. I told them yes. And boom
Jacksonville struck again. They went to…the same McDonald’s I did. It took
forever!!!! Not surprised. When they
finally arrived I ran down to the parking lot to guide them up. My mom, dad,
and sister (Casey) came down with the kids. I showed them the waiting room so
they could wait a few minutes so we could have the kids meet Spear.
It was such a special moment. It was like Christmas morning on crack. I
literally had to hold the kids back at the door until Emily was ready for them
to come in. Kye was crying so hard. He said he was so happy he couldn’t stop.
Britt was smiling from ear to ear and Tess kept repeating “My baby brother”
over and over.
They immediately started competing for his attention and my
heart was full. I love that moment. Looking at our completed family, together
for the first time. All smiles and joy. It gave me a small window into the
future. (You can see all the photos from the siblings meeting here).
Casey, Mom, and Dad came in a few minutes later and were all
in love with Spear right away. They all held him and got pictures. It meant a
lot to have them come. For some strange reason, still can’t figure out why,
there have been people who haven’t supported our adoption. They may not say it
out loud but the little comments they make, the way they look when it’s talk
about, and just a disinterest in the child is so strange. But there are, of course, those who have been there with love and support and it was nice to have three of
them there that day.
We visited for a while and it was time for the kids to go.
I was going to miss them because the three days we’d been away seemed like an eternity. The great
thing was we were getting to leave the hospital too! Emily and I prepared for at least a 5 day
hospital stay. We were told to expect that. But with all the prayers and God’s
will, we were able to leave 40 hours after his birth. I was shocked to say the
As we packed up to go it was almost surreal. The process had
started so long ago and we had reached the end of that journey. Spear had
completed our family. There were so many twists and turns along the way. We were finally getting
prepared for normalcy. But we still had to wait on ICPC. That was just a waiting
game. The anxiety was gone. Spear was legally in our family and a layer of
contentment settled over me.
ICPC was difficult. It was not an easy two weeks.
Emily struggled with not being home and I struggled with her not being home. (By
the way shout out to all the working single parents. I only did it a couple
weeks. If you live that life full time you are AMAZING.) As I sit in prison
writing this, O yeah clarification, I am doing benefits in a prison not locked
So…As I sit here in prison I know that when I get home my family
is waiting for me. My complete family. I
feel whole and content. Although it has been a strange and difficult road to
travel I am so glad we chose it. So we are at six. And six we shall stay, just in
case you are wondering.
I want to close with a thank you. For all those prayers. For
all the comments of support. They may only take a few seconds to ask God to be
with us or to type a comment of encouragement, but they carry so much weight.
The world is full of negativity and haters. So all of you that are positive and
spreading that positivity to others, you are making a difference. Please keep up
the good work!
You can read Zach’s birth story for our other children here: