Introducing… Joel Aaron Malachi!

September 2019

The first time we met Joel he had a big head on a tiny body and a pacifier labeled with his name (still not sure how the first foster family managed to only have two pacifiers, labeled with their names, and didn’t lose them).

September 2019

I don’t think Fritz had ever held a baby before. From the time he held the first twin, he was in love with his new baby brothers.

September 2019

Joel loved sink baths right from the start. He’d get in there and just totally relax.

September 2019

Joel is pronounced Joe-el. Most non-English speaking people in the world pronounce it that way.

September 2019

Oldests and youngests always have a special bond. That, apparently, applies in our family with both the oldest and youngest bio and the youngest adopted kid.

September 2019

Joel cried a lot when we first got him. He was still getting through his withdrawals (which were thankfully never too bad for him).

September 28, 2019 – 3 Months Old

Most of the time, though, Joel has always been a smiley, happy little guy. He started smiling about a month after we got him and has hardly quit since.

October 2019

I love that Joel’s middle name – Aaron – is the brother to Noah’s middle name – Moses. Giving them those names was pretty creative.

October 2019

My best friend came to visit over Christmas last year and she and Joel just totally bonded. So that’s why his second middle name is now Malachi. She always wanted to name a son Malachi so he’s named in honor of my best friend.

October 2019

Like his brother, Joel got huge very quickly in our home. At the CPS Christmas party our caseworker showed them to her supervisor, who helped bring them to our home, and he was so surprised they were the same babies.

October 2019

Often while Jamie was holding tiny Joel, the baby would be completely fascinated by what Jamie was looking at on his phone. You’d think it was a game or something brightly colored the way he was so into it. Nope. The news.

October 28, 2019 – 4 Months Old

It’s always been easy to get pictures of Joel. He smiles on command and will usually stay still while you take the picture.

October 2019

Even before he started eating table foods, we’d have Joel in a high chair at the table playing with toys. Sometimes he’d just fall asleep.

October 2019

Around four months old Joel’s hair started growing. And growing and growing and growing.

November 2019

The funny thing is the bald spot he had rubbed on the back of his head like most babies do stayed so much thinner than the rest of his hair.

November 28, 2019 – 5 Months Old

Even after cutting his hair short recently (which made him look so big!), that formerly bald spot still has less hair than the rest of his head.

December 2019

Joel has loved solid food since the moment he first tried it. He is one of the most unpicky children I have ever met.

December 2019

He has the most beautiful eyes. They are the darkest of all of his siblings and are just so full of life.

December 2019

Adrian and Joel both get to be the youngest, Adrian of Duk Family version 1 and Joel of Duk Family version 2.

December 2019

One of Joel’s favorite people is Fritz. Fritz is amazing with the babies so that is not surprise.

December 28, 2019 – 6 Months Old

The twins are fraternal, but without their hair as a clue, it’s actually not super easy to tell them apart if they aren’t right next to each other.

December 2019

Like his brother, Joel was sick at his six month checkup. He minded the breathing treatments significantly less than Noah.

January 2020

Starting at the time they began to eat solids and then continuing for several months, we let them play with bits of food during dinner on bath nights. They’d make huge messes. Joel absolutely loved food playtime.

January 2020

He didn’t, however, like the getting clean after playing in the food part. It took him a long time after switching to the big tub from the sink for him to start liking baths.

January 28, 2020 – 7 Months Old

I love Joel’s curls. Even with his hair cut short like it is now, he’s got the cutest little curls above his ears.

February 2020

Joel has always been the winner in the sprouting teeth contest. He’s already got all the teeth he will get until his 2-year-old molars.

February 2020

Like all of his siblings, Joel loves books. He pages through them and studies the pages spending much longer than I’d expect for a baby his age.

February 2020

Once Joel started being able to army crawl, we’d always find him staring out the back door. He loves the outside.

February 2020

At seven months he started crawling. He had been army crawling for quite a while by then. Getting places on his own was so exciting for him.

February 2020

The first time – only time thanks to COVID – we took the littles to Taco Cabana, he thought it was the best thing ever to be able to sit up in a high chair where he could see everything that was going on.

February 2020

Dinnertime before the babies started feeding themselves involved them sitting at the table in their high chairs and playing with toys while the rest of us ate (they were fed before we sat down at the table).

February 28, 2020 – 8 Months Old

By eight months, Joel’s hair was hitting peak craziness. I’d brush it down every morning and within a half hour it was reaching great heights once again.

March 2020

The circular thing Joel is holding is a mirror. He still loves looking at himself in the mirror.

March 2020

He was never much of a thumb sucker, very much preferring his pacifier. But when those back teeth started trying to come in that thumb was often in there providing the pressure he needed when he bit down to help his gums feel better.

March 2020

Sitting up on his own was the coolest thing to Joel. It was extra cool when he figured out how to go from laying down or crawling to sitting up.

March 2020

Joel is super smart. He and Noah come up with plans and then totally carry them out. The things they come up with are pretty impressive.

March 28, 2020 – 9 Months Old

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby quite as happy as Joel. He is truly the perfect baby of a ten child family.

April 2020

Joel thinks it is great fun to climb into the dishwasher. Bonus if he can pull out a few dishes before we get there to take him out.

April 2020

By nine months old he knew just how to pose in cute ways. As soon as he sees our phones in the picture taking position he immediately makes sure he looks cute.

April 2020

Eventually Joel’s hair got long enough to put up in a little spout ponytail while was seriously the cutest thing. That’s the only sad thing about his current short haircut.

April 28, 2020 – Ten Months Old

Joel is constantly moving. He’s so busy and tests the limits of his little body all the time.

May 2020

Banging doors is one of Joel’s favorite things to do. He has broken so many child locks.

May 2020

Joel loves food. I don’t think there’s a single table food he has rejected. He really, really loves pizza.

May 2020

He likes to eat his feet and thinks it is one of the funniest things ever.

May 2020

Every time we put him in the big bathtub he just screamed and screamed, so even though he was pretty big compared to the sink at that point, we went back to sink baths for a while.

May 28, 2020 – 11 Months Old

When we stopped putting the babies exclusively in onesies and started dressing them in shorts and t-shirts sometimes, they immediately seemed to become so much bigger.

June 2020

When Joel was ten months old he started walking. That’s when things had to be moved just a little higher and out of his reach.

June 2020

He has the fastest fingers in Texas. He can walk by something and grab it before we even see him move.

June 28, 2020 – 1 Year Old

He will also reach up on top of counters and pull whatever his little hands can reach down.

July 2020

If he thinks he’s done something cute, he’ll say, “Awwww!” just like we do. Which of course makes us say it back to him because, really, that’s just cute.

August 2020

All of his big siblings got backpacks for school and Joel felt very left out so we got the twins little toddler backpacks. Joel was quite please with his tiny backpack.

September 2020

This picture is a re-creation of a selfie Ani took with Joel right after he was placed with us. He took up a lot more of the screen at 14 months than he did at two.

September 2020

Then there came the day when I heard suspicious noises coming from the dining room and upon investigation found Joel up on the table. Once he could climb, absolutely nothing was safe anymore.

October 2020

One day I had to take Anthony to the ENT and left Ani in charge of the twins. Clearly they were all tired since when I got back all three were asleep on the couch.

October 2020

Joel loves the giant bear as much as his brother does. It’s a comfy spot from which to watch Little Baby Bum.

October 2020

This was the day, waiting for the doctor to get in the room, that Joel started saying “cheese” when he was getting his picture taken.

October 2020

For Halloween Joel went as a fried egg. He sure was an adorable fried egg.

November 2020

Ani often get fries from McDonald’s and Joel is always quite happy when she does. He’ll grab a whole handful and eat every bit of it.

November 2020

He was so incredibly well behaved when I cut his hair for the first time a couple weeks ago. He sat nice and still for me.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Joel Aaron Malachi!

Introducing… Noah Moses Christopher!

September 2019

Noah was so little the first time we saw him. He came from another foster home. They were already asking to adopt the twins so they decided to move them to a family that wanted to just foster.

September 2019

It’s kind of funny now that us not planning to adopt is part of why we were chosen given that he is ours forever now.

September 2019

He fills our entire sink now. It was bathtub to him just over a year ago when we got him.

September 2019

Noah loved his bouncy chair. He took naps in it regularly his first few weeks in our home.

September 2019

I had so much fun picking out clothes for the twins. We had a set of superhero onesies and a set of Harry Potter onesies.

September 28, 2019 – 3 Months Old

Noah was a very serious little baby. It took so long for him to smile. Even as a tiny one he would sit and observe everything going on around him.

October 2019

He has always liked to just sit and be held. He’s a real cuddlebug.

October 2019

Noah has always been extra congested. He probably has allergies which definitely fits right in with our family.

October 2019

He also snores which is just so cute coming from a baby. Of course when he doesn’t snore I get concerned about why he isn’t.

October 2019

The first time the caseworker came to visit after placement she couldn’t believe they were the same boys. They had already grown so much.

October 28, 2019 – 4 Months Old

One day we were at Wal-Mart and on a whim I bought this blanket toy. We named it Bear Bear and it became Noah’s favorite toy for the next few months.

October 2020

Once the babies were four months old we started them on rice cereal. Noah was a big fan!

November 2019

Cameron had a theory that holding a sleeping baby makes you fall asleep to. He tested this theory pretty much every day.

November 28, 2019 – 5 Months Old

By five months Noah was smiling for us if we worked really hard for it. More often he was given us this look like we just amused him or something.

December 2019

Adrian wasn’t sure what to think about these little ones at first. After a while he discovered he could play with them and Noah loved all the attention.

December 2019

It was an adjustment going back to babies after eleven years. We had a lot to learn quick including cribs and formula and bottles.

December 2019

Noah has always really studied things. Once I watched while he spent about thirty minutes testing putting things and then his own body parts through the doggy door. It was fascinating to watch him study it out and discover new things.

December 28, 2019 – 6 Months Old

By six months, Noah was smiling all the time and hasn’t stopped yet. I just love his mischievous little smile.

December 2019

When I took the boys for their six month checkup, they were both sick. Noah has always had a rough time with congestion and breathing. He did not like his breathing treatments, but he did like being able to breathe better afterwards.

January 2020

Noah loves being outside. The first time we tried to put him in the grass, however, he lifted up his legs and started crying like we had totally betrayed him.

January 2020

Noah has always loved baths. Once he figured out how to splash he wanted to stay in the bath forever.

January 28, 2019 – 7 Months Old

Noah’s favorite TV show is Little Baby Bum which is animated nursery rhymes. He asks for it, but he calls it Cars because that’s what Nicholas always asks for on the TV.

February 2020

We went to the zoo one day and he cracked me up with his silly faces and babbling. He was just in the best mood, probably because we were outside for so long.

February 2020

Noah loves toys. He loves Magna-Tiles and blocks the most. He also really likes the toy kitchen.

February 2020

Noah absolutely loves Fritz. He can often be found riding around on Noah’s shoulders.

February 2020

At some point he decided this book tasted good and proceeded to chew on it. He never tried to eat any other book, though he did taste several. We’re still not sure what was so tasty about this one.

February 2020

Noah learned how to army crawl when he was seven months old. And so nothing was safe and he didn’t stay on his big floor blanket anymore.

February 2020

The first time Noah sat in a highchair at a restaurant, he was so thrilled. He just knew he was so big.

February 28, 2020 – 8 Months Old

It’s funny to think we had to work so hard at first to get Noah to smile at us. He is still on the serious side, especially compared to his twin, but he smiles a whole lot now.

March 2020

Because they were in foster care, the twins had to do ECI. They had special skills training and physical therapy. They didn’t need it, though. Despite all odds, they have been consistently ahead and so far have showed no deficits in spite of their rough start.

March 2020

Noah’s favorite person in the world may very well be his new grandfather. He loves any attention from his Dada (my older kids call him Daddis and the little ones couldn’t quite say it and Dada has stuck).

March 2020

When we got the bouncer, Noah was so incredibly confused by it. Eventually he got it figured out and would just laugh and laugh playing in it.

March 2020

Noah’s hair took so long to begin to grow. Once it did, we discovered he has the most beautiful little curls that are as soft as a lamb’s wool.

March 2020

Once Noah got used to sitting in grass he would sit and pull on the grass and try to eat it.

March 28, 2020 – 9 Months Old

By the time he turned nine months old Noah was crawling. He was a little behind his twin so he was very pleased with himself that he could finally keep up with his brother.

April 2020

Noah has always taken food very seriously. He eats almost everything we put in front of him. For a while he didn’t like to be fed with a spoon, but he’s back to not minding which is useful for messy foods like yogurt.

April 2020

He does have his limits for what he’ll eat. Pureed chicken noodle soup was definitely not something he cared for. And eggs. Eggs have offended him from the first we tried to give it to him.

April 2020

Magna-Tiles are not something I would expect a tiny one to enjoy playing with, but Noah always has. He has experimented with sticking them to various surfaces and stacked them to see if they need to be the same shape to work. He’s tried to build things with them but so far he is still too little.

April 28, 2020 – 10 Months Old

Sometimes Noah’s face just looks like he knows so much more than everyone else. He probably does.

May 2020

Often when Noah wakes from a nap, he’ll just lay there happy as can be. Sometimes he’ll babble to himself. Or times he just looks around.

May 28, 2020 – 11 Months Old

By eleven months old, Noah could pull himself to a stand. He hadn’t gotten brave enough to let go or take any steps yet, though.

June 2020

The twins think it is great fun to climb into the dishwasher. Noah was so proud of himself the first time I found him standing in it.

June 28, 2020 – 1 Year Old!

Like his older siblings, Noah loves books. Sometimes he’ll just sit and page through a board book and study the pictures.

July 2020

Once Noah started growing, he didn’t stop until he had a nice, big, round belly. Now he’s not putting on much weight, but he’s getting much taller.

July 2020

Noah started walking soon after he turned one year old. Once he could walk, we were really in for it with the twins (creatures of chaos).

July 2020

The first time I put shoes on Noah he was so confused. He could barely take a single step without help. He couldn’t wait to get those shoes off his feet.

July 2020

Noah has an incredible vocabulary. He started saying his first word at three months which is insane (good). We kept track of the number of words he can say for a while and quit at fifty. He’s added a bunch more since and has started combining them into short sentences now.

August 2020

Noah can climb on the table now (his twin has been able to for a couple months). He thinks it is great fun to run around on it until we make him get down.

August 2020

Noah really likes climbing into cabinets. He’s also good at breaking the baby locks on the cabinets so this presents a bit of a problem and has led to us clearing out a couple for him to play in.

August 2020

The first time he ate a quesadilla it was like he had discovered a world of food he never knew existed. He loved it!

September 2020

Noah is generally a really good sleeper. He often sleeps from 9pm to 5am, drinks a bottle, and then goes back to sleep until our alarm goes off at 6:20am.

October 2020

His cabinet obsession leads to him doing some amusing things sometimes. Like sitting in a frying pan.

October 2020

Noah sit in a squat while playing or watching Little Baby Bum for long periods of time. It is clearly a very comfortable position for him.

October 2020

It’s kind of funny seeing Noah in clothes we bought for Nicholas when Nicholas was first placed with us. It seems crazy that the tiny little human could be this big already.

October 2020

One day Ani tried to teach Noah his colors using his blocks. He was much more interested in playing with her water bottle than picking which block was yellow.

October 2020

We got this giant bear years ago on clearance at Walgreen’s after Valentine’s Day. It sat in a closet until the babies found it. Noah really likes cuddling with it/on it, especially when he is sleepy.

October 2020

He was an alien from Toy Story for Halloween. He matched Elijah, though Noah was a lot less thrilled with the costume than his older brother was.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Noah Moses Christopher!

Introducing… Anthony Michael John!

December 2019

The first time we met Anthony, the first weekend we had them for an extended sibling visit/respite, he was so shy and quiet. I’m not sure he said even a single word to us that whole weekend.

January 2020

Soon after he was placed with us on January 8th, he became very attached to Jamie. Having a daddy was pretty much the best thing in life for him.

January 2020

He loves books. He loves to look at them on his own and he loves to be read to. We spent a lot of time the first few weeks reading to him. It really helped calm the storm raging inside him.

January 2020

We we first got him he wasn’t a fan of baths. He much preferred to wash himself using baby wipes. Over time he started to enjoy them much more. This picture was taken seconds before he took that cup full of water and dumped it over the side of the tub all over my legs.

February 2020

When we first got Anthony he was in nursery at church. He always wanted one of us to stay with him in there. Since we haven’t had in-person church since March, the next time they have primary he’ll already be a Sunbeam!

February 2020

Anthony has trouble with speech. When we first got him this caused a lot of meltdowns. When try to tell someone you want something, after a while you get really angry that they don’t understand you.

February 2020

He’s a good helper. He helps clean up toys with just a little direction. He loves to help in the kitchen. He is even helpful with his baby brothers.

February 2020

He started preschool at a place near us a month or so after we got him. He has been in daycare since birth and loves the structure and learning. He even says one girl in his class is his “girlfriend” (he’s actually quite popular with several of the little ladies).

February 2020

Over time we’ve gotten better at understanding him and his speech has gotten better. He’s on three allergy medicines to try to help since a lot of his issue is non-infected fluid stuffing up his head.

March 2020

Understanding him better has really helped with the meltdowns. Sometimes we still don’t understand him (about 25% of the time at this point), but he can show us what he needs now without words when can’t figure out what he’s telling us so that helps a lot.

March 2020

The first time his hearing was tested, he had moderate hearing loss (that’s when the third allergy medicine was added). He’s still at the bottom of normal, though.

March 2020

At first, Anthony did not like me at all. He depended on me to feed, clothe, and diaper him (he was attached), but he was very angry that he had yet another female caregiver in his life (he was not bonded). After a couple months he decided I wasn’t horrible. It took another couple month for him to start really liking me and another couple months after that for him to actually begin bonding to me.

April 2020

Because Anthony bonded with Jamie very quickly, a lot of the non-technical part of caregiving fell to him which was exhausting for Jamie because Anthony was understandably high needs at that point and Jamie was dealing with what the doctors believe was the after affects of undiagnosed COVID.

April 2020

Sleep is a big issue for Anthony. He wakes often during the night. At first he would cry for 2-3 hours every night. Eventually he stopped crying when he woke up but he was just awake. He’s staying in his bed until at least 5 now 3-4 nights a week.

May 2020

He had a sleep study a couple months ago and he has mild sleep apnea. The theory is he wakes up from that and is hungry and can’t fall back to sleep quickly (he has delayed sleep issues no matter when he goes to sleep). Even if we feed him in the middle of the night it still takes a while for him to go back to sleep.

May 2020

Since his sleep apnea is almost definitely related to his giant tonsils and his speech issues are likely related at least in part to his swollen adenoids, he is having surgery next month to remove those so hopefully we’ve got a plan that will help his speech and sleep to improve.

June 2020

Most of the time Anthony is truly a joy to have around. His smile just lights up the room. His belly laugh is super contagious, too.

June 2020

He’s a big fan of sweet things. Ice cream, cake, donuts, you name it, he likes it. He was really picky when we first got him, but that is getting better over time as he is introduced to different foods and finding his actual likes and dislikes.

June 2020

Anthony is less than a year younger than Mayci. Not only do they have practically the same face, they are very close. The first thing they did when Mayci was placed with us was hug for about 5 minutes. They had missed each other so much.

July 2020

Anthony’s birthday is a palindrome which is almost as awesome as Elijah’s birthday being Ultimate Pi Day. He was born on 7/18/17.

August 2020

In August, he moved up to Room 7 at preschool. He loves his class, though he’s sad he lost his favorite teacher last month. He’ll get to see her again next year, though. She’s now working as an assistant teacher in Mayci’s pre-k classroom!

August 2020

He loves playing on the playground. Slides are his favorite thing. He is pretty happy that he gets to go out and play on the playground at school a couple times every day.

September 2020

When Anthony gets frustrated he doesn’t exactly cry, but rather fuss hums in a very irritating way. When he first arrived he was almost constantly doing that. As the storms inside have calmed down, he hardly does it anymore.

October 2020

For Halloween he was a skeleton. He loved dressing up both for the parade at his school and for trick-or-treating.

November 2020

Anthony enjoys all aspects of school. He likes playing in the center and he also likes the seatwork. They don’t push at the preschool he goes to and if a kid wants to scribble instead of trace, that is okay. They are still very little. At first Anthony would just scribble, but he’s getting really good at tracing now.

November 2020

A few weeks ago, he had to get his blood drawn in preparation for his surgery. He was so good about keeping his mask on and he was cooperative when they actually took his blood even though it hurt. He’s such a good, sweet kid.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Anthony Michael John!

Introducing… Mayci Celia Kerry!

December 2019

Mayci is the princess. She’s sassy and funny and full of life. She can be very dramatic, especially when she doesn’t get her way. She’s got a beautiful smile and a dimple in the wrong place.

January 2020

She loves pink. She’d wear pink every day if we let her. She is seriously the most girly girl.

February 2020

Mayci’s original middle name is pronounced with a short e. Sell-ee-uh. She was born on August 2nd, the same day as Jamie’s mom. She turned 4 this summer, but she keeps asking if she is 5 yet.

February 2020

Mayci loves having a daddy. She’s not sure what to think of Jamie’s stubble. She always tells him he can’t kiss her if he hasn’t shaved recently because she doesn’t want her cheek to be scratched.

March 2020

Mayci is super smart. She’s already got most of the letters down and the sound most of them make. She’s a leader in her pre-k classroom. Her teacher has nothing but good things to say about her.

May 2019

When she arrived at our house permanently, she was wearing size 3T. She quickly progressed to size 4T and now, just 6 months later, she’s in size 5.

May 2020

When she got here I had no idea how to do it or care for it. I’ve learned over time and now her hair is growing and so healthy and is cute, too.

May 2020

When she arrived at our house, Mayci had been extremely spoiled and was used to getting her way no matter what. Elijah even told us the most important thing was to keep Mayci from crying no matter what.

May 2020

It wasn’t easy for her to get used to not always getting her way. Sometimes she didn’t want to be here. She regularly told us we just weren’t fair to her. Over time she has gotten used to our rules and has become a much more pleasant little girl.

`July 2020

Ani always wanted a sister and was really annoyed I never produced one for her. Little did she know her little sister wasn’t to be born until 2016 and she wouldn’t meet her until she was 3. They are both pretty happy to be sisters forever.

August 2020

For her birthday we got her hair braided. She loved picking out the beads to go on the ends of her braids. She just picked random colors and loved the result so much.

August 2020

She was just ever so pleased with her braids and beads and felt super pretty. I am working on learning how to braid (with the help of a haircare course I highly recommend to white adoptive parents from Tutus and Tennis Shoes) so next time I can do a fancy braid myself.

August 2020

In August she started pre-k. All kids who have been or are in DFPS custody get free pre-k in Texas. She absolutely loves going to school. She loves her teacher and she loves learning. She’s disappointed when the weekend comes and she can’t go to school.

September 2020

Mayci loves anything related to beauty. She more or less willingly wears her satin bonnet at night to keep her hair from getting frizzy and to protect styles from getting destroyed over night. She loves getting her nails painted and watching Ani do her make-up.

September 2020

She loves bows so much. Big bows, little bows, one at a time, two at a time, matching or not, she just loves to have bows in her hair.

October 2020

When Mayci first came to us she really needed a nap every day. Over time she no longer absolutely needed it so when she turned 4 we told her it was up to her now whether she naps or not. Sometimes, though, she still needs a little extra sleep.

October 2020

Every weekday she does great walking about a half mile home from school. She does great wearing her mask in school keeping it over both her nose and mouth, too.

October 2020

For Halloween she dressed up as Anna. She loves Frozen so much. And, man, she is one beautiful little girl!

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Mayci Celia Kerry!

Introducing… Elijah David Ezekiel!

December 2019

Elijah is the sweetest 5-year-old ever. He’s so loving and caring. He was born on Ultimate Pi Day which seems so perfect for a member of our family.

January 2020

The first time he spent the weekend during a pre-placement visit, he did not want to come. He didn’t know us and had barely seen us when we dropped off and picked up the twins for visitation.

January 2020

Before COVID hit, he came to stay four weekends. He eventually got used to us and our house. He started getting comfortable. And then COVID hit.

February 2020

Because of COVID we no longer were able to have him come spend pre-placement weekends with us so we started visiting via Skype. Elijah does not like to visit via Skype.

May 2020

Finally, on May 15th, he arrived at our house permanently and was officially placed on the 18th. The children were reunited and our family was all together.

June 2020

When he arrived, he had a hurricane going on inside his little body. Meltdowns had been a near daily occurrence for a long time for him. He was an angry little boy.

June 2020

Slowly, he relaxed. Slowly, he started to trust us. From the start he and I just clicked. He’s a words of affirmation like I am so showing him love the way he understands it just came naturally.

July 2020

Soon his meltdowns pretty much disappeared (he still had a couple related to CPS visits, but that’s because he was afraid they’d remove him from our home and so totally understandable). He settled into life as our fifth little Dukling.

July 2020

When he arrived at our house, he had long, beautiful hair that he would use to hide behind when he was feeling anxious. After a month or so he always wanted his hair in a ponytail with his face showing. And then he asked to get his hair cut.

July 2020

I was so surprised when he picked a short style. I was thinking maybe he’d go for shoulder length since he was used to it long. But no, he wanted it short. As adorable as he was with long hair, he’s super adorable with short, too!

August 2020

He started kindergarten, virtually, in August. He’s working so hard learning his letters and numbers. He has a few educational struggles related to his early years, but he’s catching up so fast.

August 2020

Elijah is so much fun. He is enjoying learning taekwondo. He loves to organize his very large car collection (especially the cars from Cars). He enjoys drawing and coloring, both things he is quite talented at.

October 2020

He has grown so much since we got him. In May size 4T was loose on him. Just 6 months later and I’m thinking it won’t be long until he moves up to size 6!

October 2020

His favorite color is red. He looks amazing in jewel tones. He’s just a seriously happy kid now. The hurricane has been calmed.

October 2020

For Halloween he was an alien from Toy Story. He got so excited when I found that costume in a pile given to us by a friend because there was also one that fit the babies so his little brother could match him. He still asks if we can go trick-or-treating again “tomorrow.”

November 2020

Because of COVID, we’ve been having church at home. Even though we could go to the building for Sacrament Meeting now, we’ve decided to keep doing it at home for now. A couple weeks ago it was Elijah’s turn to give the talk in Sacrament Meeting. He told us all about who Jesus is.

November 2020

He and Fritz share a first middle name (Fritz was given the name David after my brother) which is pretty cool. Ezekiel is because my dad had a hard time remember his name is Elijah and it just fit. We almost picked T’Challa, though.

November 2020

Welcome to the Duk family, Elijah David Ezekiel!

Almost There!

Tomorrow we will be adopting The Six. Tomorrow with a simple signature from a judge we will instantly go from a family of 6 to a family of 12.

We’ve got the t-shirts made and the cake is set to be picked up in the morning. The yard sign will be delivered some time before we pick the kids up from school. We have rented a theater to celebrate by watching Despicable Me (we had originally thought going to Disney World would be a great way to celebrate, but COVID squashed that idea). I’ve got posts packed with pictures ready to go up introducing each of our new Duklings.

After all this time waiting, almost a year since the caseworker jokingly asked if we wanted to adopt not just the twins, but all six of them, it seems unbelievable that it is finally almost here!

The Wall

A couple weeks after E moved in, he got mad at something, we don’t remember what, and threw his crayon box at Jamie’s head. It hit the wall and left a good size gouge. Eventually we will fix it, but for now it reminds us of just how far he has come.

When he first arrived, he was angry all the time. So angry. And, seriously, that anger was totally justified. He had good reason to be angry. Meltdowns were common. So many normal every day things would trigger him. His insides couldn’t have felt very good.

Over time, however, that has changed. E hasn’t had any super meltdowns in the last two months that are not related to CPS visiting (he’s worried they’ll remove him again) and I don’t count those. Now he only gets angry when he’s hungry or tired or mad at a sibling. Things every kid melts down sometimes over. It’s truly amazing how far he has come in such a short time.

In 2015…

fiveyears

This goes extra for us. Not only did we not guess we’d be pretty much just staying home and wearing masks when we go out thanks to a pandemic, we certainly didn’t guess we’d be foster parents and wouldn’t have come up with adopting six kids five and under in our wildest dreams. Add to that the adventures of public school on-line and in person rather than homeschooling and I think it’s safe to say, as my friend put it, we win at this meme.