Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Wrong Answer

So last night, my hubby Jerry and I were sitting with Jacob (10) and Cameron (9), watching American Pickers http://www.history.com/shows/american-pickers, on the History Channel.  We all love it.  Jerry is a budding picker and it is great for kids to see treasures from the past.  Anyways.....on the commercials, we kept seeing a trailer for the show that was to follow.  It was called, "One Born Every Minute".  It was a show about births.  They showcase 3 stories of babies coming into the world.  In the trailer, they mention that one of the stories was about adoption and how a birthmother has 72 hours to change her mind.   After the third time that it came on, my son Jacob says, "hey Mom, can we watch that"?  No, I said, since it came on at 10:00pm.  Cameron says, "hey Jacob, don't you think that if a birthmom signs a paper to give her baby away, that she should not have the right to change her mind?"  Jacob did not comment, but I could see the wheels turning in his mind.  Cameron asked again.  Jerry and I were like little flies on the wall waiting to see how this conversation would develop.  Jacob looked at me to see my reaction.  He's the one child that has the most curiosity about his birth family.  Instantly, I knew that he was not going to answer honestly for fear of hurting my feelings.  So, I looked at him and said, "you know, Jacob, there is no "wrong or right answer".  You can be honest about your thoughts and feelings.  Every adopted child will have different feelings about that subject."  He looked at me and said, "really????"  He then looked at Cameron and said, "I think that it is ok to change her mind."

None of this surprised me, but it was interesting to see them take different sides of an issue like this and handle it with respect for the other.  I can only hope that they will continue to grow and be confident in their feelings about where they came from and to respect each others feelings.  As an adoptive mother, I always worry whether I am giving too much information or not enough.  The only gage is the kids and how they process the information.  I feel that you have to present it and then step back and let it process.  My experience has been that, most of the time they won't have question immediately after you give them information, but often it is a year later.  It goes in, and you have to just wait for them to ask.  Many times, questions come right out of the blue and you have no idea what prompted the question.  I always react calm, cool and collected and if I need time to think, I simply say that, I need a little time to think and could I get back with them before bedtime.  I don't believe in sharing any negative information about birthparents.  It serves no purpose.  There is plenty of time when they are older to share those details and they will have a better understanding of such information. 

So, once again, I am enlightened by the process and the journey that we are on with these amazing children in our lives.  Everyday is a learning experience.  We are so lucky to be a part of their lives.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hallelujah! He likes her!!!

I will tell you that since the day that our little nugget Amanda PLOPPED into our lives, things sure changed around here.  Her first year, she was this perfect little angelic bald little baby girl, whom we could not get enough of.  The boys embraced their little sister whole heartedly.....until......she turned 2.  Whoa!  We didn't know it then, but she would become a force to be reckoned with.  I don't mean this in the way that you might think.  Mostly, it was that she was going to be HEARD and NOT ignored.  Until she came, this family was...sorta geared towards....boys!  She  was about to change all of that.  She is what they call a tomboy in a princess dress.  She was not going to let either part of her be ignored.  I won't lie to you, it was tough sometimes.  Her personality was FIERCE.  She has strong mothering instincts and she practiced on the boys, which they did not take kindly to.  As she grew, I noticed that she was becoming quite competitive in sports....and everything else as well.  She wanted to kick their butts in everything and quite often did.  I still think to this day that she is the best wide receiver in our family...no joke.  Anyways, I was so worried that the boys were never going to LIKE her again.  They wished her away.....everyday.  Since the boys understood adoption and how it worked, they wanted me to call the agency and see if we could return her and try a different sister. LOL.  NO JOKE.  Cameron had had just about enough of this sister stuff.  It makes me laugh now, but I remember feeling so frustrated.  These two boys were going to be her protectors when they got older. How is that going to happen if they can't stand her?  Anyways, we adjusted through all of that and melded everyone's personalities together, but today, my heart was touched.  Jacob wanted to read my blog from the other day, because my husband mentioned it in front of him.  So, I let him. 

I saw a tear in his eye and he said, "Mom, I see Amanda in the hallway everyday because I am a Safety, and she is always helping someone.  On the playground, she helps anyone that gets hurt. I think that I am lucky to have her for my sister".  Hallelujah!!!  He likes her.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Moments

It's been a long week.  Many things are going on.  Jacob finished his Travel Basketball Season yesterday, and he got his first 3 pointer in a game.  It was an awesome moment in which I am so glad that I did NOT miss.   Cameron's swimming finished their season last week and he recieved his first 1st place ribbon...I've never seen such pride in his big brown eyes.  Moments to never forget.  My little Amanda discovered that even though there are people in the world that drive you crazy, you can still feel compassion for them in times of trouble.  I have never been more proud of her.  She struggled all year with a little boy that had behavioral issues.  No matter how bad he acted, she would say, "it's ok, Mommy, he can be better, today was just a bad day for him."  When no one else would be his partner, she would step up.  She is SIX.  He had to move to Texas last weekend, because of divorce and was flying alone.  She came home from school in tears.  She was so worried about how he was going to feel while alone on the plane.  This is the same child who came home in tears from the mean things that he did to her.  She is amazing and is a constant reminder to me, that we all can learn to be more patient with those who are struggling in life. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birthmother letter to Lifetime Adoption Center

I love reading letters from birthmothers.  I thought that I would share this with you.

Lifetime Adoption Center recently received this note of gratitude from a birthmother who recently placed with a Lifetime adoptive family:

"Thank you for the note. I am doing ok. We said our goodbyes yesterday and it was a very emotional time. I truly love my little girl with all of my heart! Looking back at everything I have been through over the past year and the mess I have made of everything. Seeing her and seeing the beautiful family I was able to create out of it is a double reward. It is amazing to see first had beauty come from ashes! And God is so good!! I of course miss seeing her and holding her already but I have never had any second thoughts because I know that's where she is supposed to be. And the peace I have when I see her with them is beautiful!"
http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150120478258719

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Huge CHUNKS!!

I have been asked the same question lately, so I thought I would share my answer here.  The question is, "How did you know that you were ready to give up on biological children and move forward to adopting"?

That is such a loaded question.  First of all, you NEVER give up on that hope, but at some point, you have to sit down and evaluate.  What have I done to make biological children happen?  How much time and money has gone into that?  What is the Goal?  At the end of your life, will you be content if you are childless?  For me.....I wanted children BAD.  I knew that there was NO WAY that I wanted to be on my death bed, looking back on my life and seeing no children.  When I met my husband...the desire for children only increased.  I could not believe that I had found this amazing man to share my life with. A man that shared all of my hopes and dreams of being parents.  I longed to have children that had a piece of him in them and a piece of me in them.  Like everyone else, we wanted little people just like us.   I wanted the connection between a mother and child.  I wanted to experience them learning to walk and learning to read.  See them go on their first bike ride with no training wheels.  Take care of them when they were sick and to experience all of  those feelings that only children can bring. 

As we went through all of the ups and downs of  the infertility journey, we slowly came to realize that all of the things that we were hoping for, we could have with any child.  The child did not have to be biological.  It was then that our focus started changing.  We knew that there could always be that chance that a biological child would come, but we no longer saw that as the primary focus.  The focus became, finding a child to love.  Ten years later, I can tell you that there is not just little pieces of Jerry and I in these children, but  there are HUGE CHUNKS in all of them.  Jacob makes the same looks that Jerry makes when they are mad at me.  Love that. Lol.  Amanda mimics my gestures constantly.  She is my mini-me.  Cameron and I have the same sense of humor and Benjamin is all of us rolled into one.  I can honestly tell you that we forget that these children are not our biological children. 

I get the feeling sometimes that people are afraid that adopting will leave them feeling like something is incomplete when developing their relationship with non-biological children.  That is so far from the truth.  We could not feel more connected to our children if they were biological.  I so hope that if you are considering adopting, you will take my advice and go for it.  You won't be sorry.  I understand that you feel afraid to "give up" on having biological children, but I do not think anyone really gives up on that. Instead  I believe that we evolve towards our goal, by taking a different road.  Get to the core of what the goal is.  Is it a biological mini-me that there are no guarantees of having......or is it to become a parent and to to live the dream with a child who needs the same thing that you do....the parent/child connection.  Anyways, that's how we got to where we are today.  Evolving.  I still miss the fact that I didn't get to experience a full pregnancy and delivery, but that is only 9 months in a lifetime.  To me, the pain is gone.  My life is full.  My life......well, I wouldn't want it any other way.  The journey made me a better person.  I truly believe that God intended for Jerry and I to be adoptive parents......for a while, I just wasn't listening to Him.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

...where he came from.

Hey all.  I haven't fallen off the planet.  Just had some knee surgery on Tuesday and I am still recovering, but doing quite well.  It is tough to keep me down.  I am a fighter.  My 9 year old called me brave this week.  That touched my heart.  They don't see me cry very often, but when they do, it freaks them out a little.  I am always tough in their eyes.  It is good for them to see that I am NOT invincible.  Since I have been sitting still in a chair most of this week, I have had some good conversations with the kids.  One in particular, has my mind working overtime.  I won't say which child, to protect his privacy.  The  child asked me about their birthmom and their birthday when she was making her decision.  He asked my "why didn't she try me out" for a couple of days before putting me up for adoption, maybe she would have decided to keep me.  That one hurt.  What do I say to that?   My wheels were spinning fast, I must admit.  Usually, when they throw a question like this at me, I ask them to give me some time to think about it and get back with them, but something told me that I shouldn't go that route this time.  His little eyes were searching my face for a reaction.  I smiled at him.  I told him to come closer.  I told him that she had made her decision before she had ever met him because, her life at the time was not what would be best for a little baby.  She knew that you would need a mommy and daddy who could spend lots of time hugging and kissing you and giving you all the things that you would need to be healthy and happy.  She picked us because she trusted us. She told mommy how much she loved you and that it hurt her heart that she could not be what you needed, but she hoped that you would never forget that she loved you from the minute she knew that you were coming.  He teared up and hugged me so tight. His tears were not for himself or for me, but for her.  He was sad that she felt any pain when she had to let go of him.  He doesn't know much about her, but instinctively, he feels love for her.  I will forever support that.  I am a big part of his story, but she was the beginning and no one can change that or make him feel better about it.  It is my job to make sure that he  knows that I respect that beginning and never shield him from what is rightfully his....the details of where he came from.

Please remember, when you meet an adoptive parent, that along with all of the typical challenges of raising a child, comes many conversations like this one.  There is also the fear of the conversations that your child may be having away from you and if people are compassionate and sensitive to the child.  We have experienced both positive and negative and it is harder the older that they get.  My experience has been that, the more open the communication with them, the more well adjusted the child is about all of their story and sharing their feelings.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Love this

“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”




I found this quote about 11 years ago, and it is still a favorite of mine.  Love it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Big Brothers Forever

Journal Entry dated October **, 2004 - Getting ready to go to bed. Ha Ha.  This may be my last good night sleep for a while.  The house is quiet.  The boys are sleeping.  Jerry passed out immediately.  How do men do that.  Our world has just been rocked and he can fall asleep in a blink.  My mind is racing and I can't stop it.  The boys waited up for us to come home.  We told them about Amanda.  They were so excited.  They are 2 and 3 years old.  I think they were more excited about getting to stay up than anything.  I can't wait to bring her home to them.  Things are gonna get crazy around here again.  I really need some sleep.  I have been running on adrenaline all day.  How can I possibly sleep.  I called the hospital at 12:30am to check on Amanda and the very lovely nurse in the nursery said that Amanda had just taken one and a half ounces.  Woo Hoo!  No one was awake to share my excitement. The nurses have been so wonderful.  They love to see the happy stories and when they do, they relish in it, for they see so much that unnerves them.  Babies going home with teenagers or drug addicts.  They really embrace you with such warmth and generosity.  One of their volunteers made a beautiful pink blanket for Amanda.  She also knitted a cute little pink hat for her.  It is so amazing how I feel.  There is no way that I am gonna sleep.  I wish the hospital was closer, I would hop in the car and go right now.  One of the most difficult parts of this is leaving her there, but we have to get our physicals and clearances tomorrow and then we can go hang there all day.  I  can't wait. 
**
Journal Entry dated October ##, 2004 -OMG! We got to bring her home tonight.  It is 10:30pm, but we got to spend the whole day with her and then bring her home.  The boys were all over her with excitement.  She is home.  Her forever home.  What an amazing day.  It had its challenges, but we made it.  We are now a family of five.  I am so proud of my family.  I never dreamed that I would be so lucky. 


Big brothers welcome Baby Amanda home.

Big Brother Jacob


Big Brother Cameron


Friday, March 4, 2011

I have nothing PINK!

Jerry and I sat in the hospital room that the nurses gave us and looked at each other.  They said that we could stay as long as we would like.  It is amazing in that quiet time how much it hits you......we are taking this baby home.  It was then that I remembered....I have nothing PINK.  She has to have PINK.  Right?  Then, I remembered that since time was running out on our one year home study, I started getting rid of things that I NOW would need.     We are not prepared to bring a baby home.  Yikes!  My mind started racing.  It is now 10:00pm and we are at the hospital.  The kids are at home with Grandma (thank GOD for grandmas).  We need to get a plan together.  We would need to do some bedroom shuffling.  We need to get the crib out of the attic.  We need to get physicals.  Diapers.  WE NEED DIAPERS. We have to call everyone we know and tell them about our little girl.  They will all be Shocked Again!  Although, I would imagine that Jerry and I can't really shock anyone anymore. LoL. 

So, we kissed our little angel and left her with the nurses, so we could go and GET READY.  On our way home, I called my best buddy and told her all about Amanda.  She had a new daughter as well, and would understand my elation.  Jerry called his brothers and a few friends.  Everyone kept saying the same thing.....you should write a book, this is amazing.  I realize that to everyone else, this is crazy, but to us it is the "norm".  This is all we know.  This is how babies come in to our life.  We get the call, jump in the car, pick a name, sign the dotted line, immediately fall in love and then head home to prepare. 

When I arrived home....my Mom grabbed me and hugged me so tight.  It was the best hug I ever had.  I really wanted a daughter, but didn't think that I would ever have one. My relationship with my mother is so beautiful and it was a dream to maybe, share that  same kind of bond with a daughter.  Now I will get that chance.  
My two favorite girls, my beautiful mother and my beautiful daughter.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hello Little Amanda

Here we go again with the long silent walk down the hallway towards the door that would reveal our daughter to us.  Honestly, when we are on this walk, a quiet solitude comes over me.  No thoughts.  Just anticipation.  We haven't seen our birthmother in almost three years now.  I wonder if she looks the same.  I wonder how she has been.  We didn't get to see her after Cameron was born.  She didn't want to see us.  We were never told why, but we naturally assumed that she was uncomfortable with seeing us that time.  As the door swung open, I could hear her talking to Amanda.  She was cradling her.  She looked at me with a huge smile, and tear filled eyes, and said, "you got your girl".  We chit chatted briefly and then, she looked at Amanda and said goodbye and extended her out to me.  When I took her into my arms, I fell in love immediately.  She was so beautiful.  She looked like Jacob.  I saw that right away.  I looked at Jerry across the room and once again, he had that Proud Daddy look in his eyes.  I love that look.  Even though this was our 3rd time in this position, every time is like the first.  This amazing little being is here.  Here to explore the world and we get the honor of watching her do so.  We are the two luckiest people in the world.  How did we get this lucky?  We said our goodbyes and as we left the room.....I heard our birth mom cry.  I know that she is in pain, but she is confident in her decision.  I could see that in her eyes.  A part of me wants to console her as a mother would, but I know that the best thing that I can do for her is to honor her decision and to be the best MOM that I can for these children.  That, I WILL DO.



Welcome Beautiful Baby Amanda!

Very Proud Daddy

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guardian Angel over my Shoulder

October 2004
I am standing at the nurses station looking at this sheet of paper that is asking me what my child's name will be.  I can't see her until this paperwork is signed.  Hmmm.  We touched on a name or two on the ride over, but this is a huge decision.  I can't just whip one up.  I seriously thought that this child was going to be a boy.  What should we name her?  I don't know.  We both like Elizabeth.  Nope, that's not it.  He likes Stacy......Nope, that's not it.  Every time I said a name on the way over, Jerry had some reason to shoot it down.  He kept recalling kids from his elementary years and there was some negative thought connected to the name.  I know you've heard people do that.  We all do. 

As I stood there, trying to think, my wonderful husband looks at me and says...."you decide.  I will support whatever you choose."  DUMP. (just kidding) That really didn't surprise me.  He just wants me to be happy.  In 15 years of marriage, I have learned that when he says that, he means it. 

So.... I know that my name comes from the name Amanda.  I have always loved that name.  Amanda is Latin and means, precious thing.  Perfect. It is feminine.  Its not common, but not obscure.  Somewhere in the middle.  That's IT. Amanda.  Tonight, our precious little pink angel was sent down from heaven to forever change our family.  As I wrote her full name on that sheet of paper, I got a chill down my spine.  Someone was watching over me in that moment.  Someone helped me get here to this moment.  The moment that my daughter came into the world.  Thank you Guardian Angel.  I won't let you down.  I will cherish her and keep her for as long as I live on this earth.

We said, YES!

October 2004
It's 8:08pm, and Jerry stepped away to get us both a coffee.  It could be a long night.  I can hear so many different sounds buzzing around me.   I still haven't been able to catch my breath.  I feel so nervous.  The nurses are looking in and pointing at me.  This all feels so strange.  I keep thinking back to earlier today.  I was running around all day with the boys getting ready for Halloween.   It's only a few days away.  We had a blast looking for everything that we needed.  They both love Halloween so much.  What kid doesn't?  Jerry and I still love Halloween like when we were kids.  Yep, we sure are lucky to have these two in our lives. 

Jerry sure is taking a long time with those coffees.  Where is he?  I don't want to sit here alone.  What if she comes back to the waiting room and he isn't back yet?  That would be the worst.  He can't miss this.  I told him not to be long.  Every time I heard that "Ding" and the elevator doors opened, I looked and .....nope, not Jerry.  I am in this little waiting room all by myself.  Suddenly, there she was standing in the door, with this HUGE grin on her face....It's A Girl!!!!  I lept out of my chair and dove into our social workers arms and we hugged for what seemed like forever.  "Where's Jerry"?, she said.  Oh my gosh, he missed it.  One minute later, here he came, two coffees in hand and he said, "I was right, wasn't I?? It's a girl"?  He called it.  He is always so calm, cool and collected.  On the way to the hospital, he said, I have a feeling that you better pick a girls name.  I had only chosen a boys name, because I was sure that it would be another boy.  Yes, once again, we received one of those crazy phone calls that would change our lives forever.  Jacob and Cameron's birthmother once again found herself pregnant and unable to care for this child on the way.  So we hopped into our car and headed to the hospital to welcome baby number three.  This was the first time that we would have the chance to arrive at the hospital before the baby was born.  WOW.  What an amazing experience for us.  One that we will forever cherish. Once we settled down from all of the excitement, I asked if we would get to see her soon.  We were told to sit tight for just a bit and they would let us know.  My body was filled with excitement and at the same time, I was so scared to take it all in.  A girl.  Whoa!  Didn't see that coming. 

Thanks for looking!