For Jenny Marrs, there was no greater feeling than bringing her eldest daughter, Sylvie, home for the first time. Her journey into the family was “tumultuous” after the HGTV star and her husband, Dave Marrs, were forced to “fight bureaucracy, red tape and political posturing” during the two-year adoption process.

“During the wait, I spent countless hours sitting on our front porch swing, praying for her health and safety and for the miracle to take place that would finally bring her to us,” Jenny, 44, reflected on Sylvie’s adoption from the Democratic Republic of Congo in her new book, House + Love = Home, available now.

The porch swing was the “site of every photograph that marked an important milestone during those difficult years of waiting.” After 602 days of “clinging to hope,” Sylvie arrived in the U.S. and joined the family at their Arkansas farmhouse.

The Fixer to Fabulous star, who also shares kids Nathan, Ben, Charlotte and Luke with Dave, 43, will never forget her first morning with Sylvie on the porch swing.

“Time felt suspended as I held my girl and gently rocked her back and forth,” she wrote. “We didn’t speak. We simply sat together holding on to each other. She hadn’t been in my arms since the summer before when I had to leave her behind at the end of a visit.”

The mom of five continued, “I had often wondered if I would ever feel the weight of her toddler frame again,” adding, “That morning, under the glow of a summer’s sunrise, I rubbed her back and my tears fell. She was indeed here: This was real.”

The porch has been the place of so many incredible memories with her family in the years since, from sipping her morning coffee to spending time with Dave.

“The porch swing that had held so many tears of sorrow and grief and utter helplessness now held tears of sheer joy and unimaginable gratitude,” Jenny penned.

The Marrs family stands in front of the Eiffel Tower
Courtesy of Jenny Marrs/Instagram

Now, their 1903 home is a place full of traditions for the family of seven, including their picture-perfect Christmas mornings.

“Even though we are lacking in sleep on Christmas morning, Dave and I are fueled by anticipation and joy,” Jenny wrote. “As we sit together in the whisper-quiet house, we exhale and rest in the stillness. This little Christmas morning ritual of ours is one I treasure.”

Each year, after the kids pose for their annual holiday photo at the top of the stairs, they head down to open gifts.

“Eventually, we’ll all pitch in to collect the trash, and toys and clothes will be put away,” she added. “But for now, I ignore the mess, turn up the festive music and whisper a silent prayer of gratitude.”