Monday, July 30, 2012

Father's Day

So, now I need to get back to all of the posts that I never posted because of the craziness that was this last month.

First things first, I feel like a horrible wife!  This was Ben's FIRST official fathers day and I haven't even blogged about it.  For the record, he did have a pretty great day.  Benson and I went out shopping the day before and spoiled him with lots of fun gifts.  Sadly, I didn't take a picture of any of them.  We sent Ben on a scavenger hunt to find them, so i got video...but no pictures.  He got a new Blu Ray, a new shirt, the family got Oregon Beavers clothing, he got basketball shorts and a nice card.  I think there was more but now that it has been so long I honestly cannot recall.  I know, I am horrible!

I am not sure there is any way to really explain what an amazing dad Ben is.  One of the main reasons I wanted to marry Ben was because I knew he would be an amazing father.  Here we are six years later and he proves me right daily.  From the second he held Benson in his arms, he has been completely in love.  He sings to him, plays the guitar with him, reads to him, plays with him, talks to him, holds him, changes him, gets up with him in the night and just completely and totally adores him.  I am one lucky woman to have such a great man for a husband and Benson is one lucky little boy.  He could not have asked for a better daddy!

His first moment as a daddy!

Sierra and her sisters adored Ben

Just havin a chat

Our little family on Father's Day 2012

Ben and his son :)

Happy Fathers Day!  I cannot wait to celebrate many more with you!

Love you babe!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012


"Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name." D&C 20:70.

Sunday, July 15th, 2012 was Benson's blessing day in church.  His daddy had the opportunity to hold him and give him a name that he would officially be known on the records of the church and also to give him a priesthood blessing.  This is an honor for a father and something I know Ben was looking forward to.  Ben stood in a circle with 12 of our closest male family members and friends holding Benson in his hands and blessed him to know and understand the sacrifice and love that got him here.  He talked of the healing that he had brought in his entering our family and of the happiness and closeness he had brought.  He mentioned that Benson would be blessed to remember the feelings he had felt in the temple the day before.  He talked of him someday holding the priesthood himself.  One thing that I loved that was said in the blessing was that Benson would know me, his mother, and that he would cherish me. :) The blessing was short and sweet, but the spirit was strong.  They came back and sat down next to me and Ben leaned over to me and said "It's done, it's all done".  What a relief!  Since the day we were chosen to be Benson's parents, we have looked forward to his birth, then placement day, then being able to come home to Utah, then finalization, his sealing and his blessing.  This was it!!!  Now we just get to look forward to being a family and moving forward with everyday life.

We are so blessed with so many family members and loved ones that came to participate in and support us in this special day.  Ben's parents and siblings drove all the way from Oregon to be there and then provided all of the food after the blessing.  They stood by the stove practically the whole afternoon feeding everyone.  Our house was packed with so many people.  When my niece Avery walked into the house she turned to her mom and said, "How does EVERYONE know Benson?".  It truly did feel like that.  He is one loved little boy and that day was just a glimpse of the people who love him, who have been hoping and praying for this day, and who were finally there together to celebrate our forever family.  Thank you!

We missed Kristen and Nolan and their family, but lucky for us they came into town the next week.    

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I realized tonight that I have been putting off writing this post because it is so big and so important that I just want it to be perfect!  I am worried about my ability to truly express and share this day in the way that I would want to.  I hope I can do it justice.  (warning, this is probably the longest post I have ever written)

Sealing Day 
For as long as we have known that we wanted to adopt, we also knew that meant at some point we would have the privilege and blessing of taking our child to the temple to be sealed to us.  As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we know that families can be together forever.

"Through the power of the priesthood....husband and wife may be sealed, or married for eternity; children may be sealed to their parents for eternity; thus the family is made eternal"--Joseph Fielding Smith

July 14th, 2012 (9 months to the day after we were chosen to be parents) was the day that would finally make Benson ours,  not only for this life but for eternity.  I am not sure I can even express the excitement that I felt as this day approached.  The night before I honestly felt like it was the night before my wedding, but better because we were able to focus on the ordinance, the special significance of the day and that was what I was excited for.  We were also extremely excited because we had many family and friends that would be there to share this special day with us.  

The evening before we went out with Ben's family to pick out a white temple outfit for Benson and also a new temple dress for myself.  It was a fun excursion and when I put the little white jumper on Benson in the dressing room at Desert Book in American Fork I couldn't help but think he looked like a little angel.  We spent the evening preparing for the next day.  We put Benson down for bed and at some point finally went to bed ourselves.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep, but I did and next thing I knew the day was here.  Benson woke up and he and I spent some time together before he went down for his morning nap.  I bathed him so that when he woke up we could just get him dressed and be on our way.  I ran to get my hair done while Ben got himself ready.  It was good to get out of the house since Ben's whole family was staying with us and I don't know that I would have been able to really just take some time to enjoy the moment.  In going out to get my hair done I was able to listen to some music on the drive and just relish in the fact that my life was amazing and I was so happy!

Ben, myself and Benson needed to arrive at the Temple by 11 AM.  I arrived back at the house after getting my hair done at about 10:15 AM and we woke Benson up from his nap to get him dressed and ready to go.  We made sure we had everything we needed and off we went.  On the drive I asked Ben to say a little family prayer.  The spirit was so strong in our little car driving over to the temple.  The significance of the day had settled in on all of us and it was an amazing feeling.  Benson started to kind of whine in the backseat, so I did what I always do to calm him down (and it completely works) and turned on "his song" (see this post for more info).  I realized seconds into the song that it was probably a bad idea to turn it on with our emotions so close to the surface.  Ben even said "I can't look at you right now or I am going to start to cry."  It was finally the day we had been waiting for!

We arrived at the temple on time and went in where we were directed to drop Benson off at the youth center.  As we walked in there was another family just picking up their children after their own sealing and I realized that it was the cute couple that had been in charge of our adoption training for LDS Family Services last June.  I had to say hello to the wife and she was so excited to see us there and said "and wow, look at you guys, already here to be sealed"!  She recognized, as we do, that we are very blessed to have had this process go so quickly and smoothly.  Just another reminder of the miracles that have happened to bring us to this day.

After dropping Benson off happy and content with the adorable older women in the youth center, Ben and I were off to confirm paperwork and get ourselves dressed and ready.  I was walked back into the same part of the temple where they took me on the day we got married.  I was even allowed to dress in the Brides Room.  I was surrounded by these girls who were starting their lives as wives and I was there to celebrate my becoming a mother.  I thought it was very fitting.  Sitting in the room waiting to be told it was time to go I felt very "old" and "mature" but I didn't mind that I was surrounded by girls in their beautiful and ornate wedding dresses with jewelry and stunning makeup and hair.  I was in a simple white temple dress with no extra frills and felt more content than I can ever remember feeling in my life.  This is what that day was all about.  The wedding, the frills, the beauty is all secondary to the fact that a family is being formed.  This day we were truly becoming a family and I could not have been more excited.

They came and got me and I walked out to see Ben waiting for me and we got into the elevator where they took us up to the Celestial Room.  They wanted us to wait there until all of our guests had arrived and everything was ready for the sealing to start.  They told us it was our time to catch our breath.  As Ben and I sat there holding hands I told him that I was feeling the same kind of nerves and excitement I felt as we had walked into the hospital to meet Benson for the first time.  It was the best way I could describe the feelings that come with such an amazing experience.  We sat and waited and enjoyed the peace of the temple.  Then the workers came to get us and we were off.

Right before they took us into the sealing room where our family and friends were waiting, we had the chance to meet the sealer (the man who would be performing the sealing).  He told us that he had just been talking to our fathers and when he heard the name Crisanto it sounded familiar.  Come to find out he had served in the mission presidency as well as the Temple Presidency up in Alaska during the same years that Ben's older brother had served his mission there.  He knew him and remembered him.  If the tears had not started falling yet they did at that moment.  I lightly squeezed Ben's hand because I knew he was thinking the same thing I was.  We both felt at that moment that the Lord was completely aware of us and was providing us with yet another tender mercy.  You see, Cowdery had chosen to not be a part of this day with us.  It was hurtful to have him decide that and it was the one thing about the day that might have been "imperfect".  But here was this man who knew the best part of Cowdery who would be in the sealing with us, like a representation of the brother that should have been there.  It was perfect and Ben and I both felt the significance of it.  

We were then led into the sealing room, to the faces and so many amazing friends and family members who have been with us as we have finally made it to this point.  I looked at every single face in that room and thought of how truly blessed we are to have these people in our lives.  They made me emotional.  We have the best friends and family ever.  Becky (my jr high and high school best friend) made her way down even though her kids had soccer tournaments, Jenny and Woodson Lynes left a family reunion and drove 2 hours each way just to be there for the sealing, Adam and Tonna flew all the way from South Carolina, Kimmie flew in the night before at 1 AM and flew out the next morning at 6 AM just to be able to be there.  Everyone that was there is so special to us and we are truly so grateful we got to share something so special with them.  It was so awesome to see everyone and feel their love and excitement to be there with us.  

The sealer spoke to all of us about the ordinance, about the blessings this would bring to Benson's life, about the blessings of the gospel and the temple.  I could not help but think of Benson's birth family.  They did not know about the temple or about being sealed together and here this little boy was about to be sealed for time and all eternity to the family that they had placed him with.  He was here, the Lord had led him to our family, and I just had this impression that through him they would be led to the saving ordinances of the gospel.  

After the sealer talked for about ten minutes Benson was finally brought into the room and there were oohs and aahs all around.  We all know Benson is a beautiful baby but his skin and hair and eyes against the white of his outfit and the white of the temple looked more gorgeous than ever.  Plus, he was so sweet.  He just layed his little head against the chest of the temple worker when they walked into the room.  The sealer then had Ben and I go and kneel at the alter.  The temple worker handed Benson to Ben's mom who was also dressed in white and would be the one to hold Benson at the alter. He actually did cry for a second, which we all thought was quite funny.  It was a pretty good indication of how much he was enjoying the temple workers.  He calmed right down though and for the few minutes of the ordinance he sat there peacefully and just watched my face, Bens face and the face of the sealer like he was somehow aware of what was going on.  It really seemed that he understood the significance of this day.  I guess if we think about how recently he has been with our Father in Heaven, he probably was the one person in that room that truly knew exactly what was happening and the importance of it!

It was done and over extremely quickly and we all left and were able to greet and hug our guests.  We handed Benson back to the worker and went down to get changed.  That was it, we were done.  On the way down we did stop to thank the sealer.  Ben broke down in tears and just thanked him for representing his brother that could not be there.   It was a significant moment and one that I don't think we will ever forget.  Just like every other part of this day, it was significant and memorable.

We went down to get ready to go outside and greet our guests and get pictures taken.  As I said earlier, I felt like this day was as significant as our wedding day and it deserved to be treated as such, so we had hired a professional photographer.  I am SO glad that I did.  She did an amazing job at capturing the feeling of the day.  We spent a bunch of time taking pictures while everyone made their way to my parents house for food.
(Photos by Heather Telford Photography)

our amazing friends!



After pictures we were excited to make our way there and spend time with everyone!  When we arrived back at my parents house Benson was definitely asleep.  He was so tired from the big day and all the pictures.  I was sitting there talking to friends and guests when Ben came down and handed me a box. I opened it to see this beautiful statue of a mother holding her baby boy.  

The statue is called "Child of my Heart" and with it came this saying:

"Child of the world,
Into my heart you came
Bringing sun into my life, 
Making family our name"

I started crying before I could even get through the saying.  This day was perfect and this little boy is perfect.  He is the light and joy of our lives and has truly made us a family!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


The past week has probably been the most significant and meaningful week of our lives.  The most important and sacred events have taken place and here we are on the other side of it.  Life does that to you.  It seems that the things we plan so long for, pray so hard for, work so hard for happen....and then they are done with and you move forward and life just goes on as it always did before, but in this case better.  

On Tuesday, July 10th 2012 at 9 AM we went to the Fourth District Court in Provo Utah to sit in front of a judge and finalize Benson's adoption.  This is when all of the paperwork, background checks, home visits and post placement visits are reviewed by a judge and the court decides that Benson can finally be ours, legally and lawfully, forever and for always!  My mom and dad as well as my sister, Rachelle, and my sis-in-law, Tiffany, all came to be there with us and support us.  We are also lucky enough that Tiffany is a photographer and was there to document the process.  It was such a special morning.  I was so nervous leading up to this week.  I was worried about my hair, what I would wear and just knowing how to react to everything.  When it actually happened, none of that mattered.  All that mattered was we were now a family and Benson was ours!  

I want to document for my own sake some of what happened during the proceedings.  The first thing was we had a tiny scare that we didn't have all of our paperwork.  The clerk came in and asked our lawyer, Dorothy Gillespie, if she had a letter from the Department of Human Services verifying our background checks.  She didn't have it.  The clerk then said "The judge requires that.  I will talk to him".  Oh my, I was a tiny bit concerned.  I was thinking that if it was something with our background checks that messed this up I might hurt someone.  We had to do SO many background checks during this process.  One in Utah, one in Nevada, one standing in the heat and then the rain in the Philippines, the National background checks, etc.  I could not believe that might be the one thing we didn't have right.  She did came in a few minutes later and said he had said it was o.k.  What a relief!  By that time we had been waiting for the judge for about 15 minutes and Benson ended up having a stinky diaper so Ben went to change it really quickly, thinking we would have time.  Well, not 30 seconds later they come to let us know the judge was on his way.  He walked in, we all stood...and then the clerk had to tell the judge "the dad is changing the babies diaper".  So we waited.  It felt like a long time sitting at that table with the judge just waiting on us.  But they returned quickly enough and things proceeded.  I didn't think I would be nervous, but sitting in front of a judge is completely nerve-wracking.

Our lawyer asked us some questions that they are required to ask about our willingness to adopt this child and also our willingness to have our spouse adopt this child.  They also asked us if we had anything else to add.  Neither of us said much at that point. Then the judge asked us a question.  He said "I read through the report that you have had some struggles trying to have a child of your own, so what has this child brought to your family?"  Um, how do you answer that?  I honestly don't think there is any way to put into words what Benson means to us or what he has brought to us.  But I did my best to try and express a little bit.  My response was "He has completed our family in every way.  I kind of sometimes feel a little bit bad for him because he is going to be the child that we prayed for, we hoped for....he is everything we wanted.  But I don't want him to feel like he has this burden of being this child that we waited for.  But really in every way, he has just brought so much happiness to us and our families!"  It was short, but I was emotional and wasn't sure I could really say much more.  

Next came the best part. The Judge said "I am excited and honored to be a part of this adoption proceeding with you.  I know it doesn't take long to get through this, but lasting consequences go with adopting a child today. I can see that he has brought a lot of happiness and joy to your family and is just what you guys needed I guess.  Again I am happy and want to congratulate you."  He then proceeded to say (I have bolded those things that really stood out to me and hit me with such power that I could not hold back the tears) "What I need to do now is make findings right now with regard to what happened today.  All laws of the state of Utah regarding adoptions have been met and the necessary documents have been filed.  I also find that the petitioners, Mr and Mrs Crisanto, understand the legal significance of what you are doing as well as the solemnity of your act and that it is in the best interest of Benson to be adopted by you this day.  And from this day forth he will now be known as Benson Kekoa Crisanto."  We then had to sign the final adoption decree and that was it!  He was ours.  

Again, I do not think there is any way to truly express the significance of this day or to truly share what was felt in that courtroom.  This little boy has always been ours.  He was meant to be in this family.  The Lord knew he was coming and guided and directed us home from the Philippines to be ready for him. I remember getting the email from the agency with Sierras information asking if they could show her our profile.  I remember looking at her beautiful face and thinking how much she looked like Ben's family and that she was having a baby boy December 30th and I just felt it, deep down, this was our baby.  Two days later she chose us to be the parents of her child.  One week later when we met her and found that we had all chosen the same Hawaiian name for this baby boy there was a special spirit there witnessing to each of us that this was meant to be. Each and every step of the way the Lord was directing us and directing Sierra to make sure that this little boy made it to our family. On July 10th at 9:28 AM it was made legal.  Benson Kekoa Crisanto is our son!