Monday, May 30, 2011

Thank You Heroes of America

Days like today, remind me of all that I have come through in my quest for motherhood. Memorial Day has always been a tradition for my family. We always attend our community parade, which brings out thousands of people. War veterans, servicemen, red, white and blue every where you look. The kids decorate their bikes and ride in the parade. Brownie, Daisy and Boy Scout troops proudly march to the beat of our very own high school band. The tap dancing elderly ladies, (that was new this year). Baseball teams and County fair princess in decorated floats line the streets. I can't forget all the local firetrucks as well, blowing those horns. I love it. Every hot, sticky moment of it. Families everywhere. The smell of hot dogs, and fresh popped popcorn wafting through the heavy summer air. Tattooed little faces show their Memorial Day Spirit. I look around at all the familiar faces and some not so familiar faces, but all were there to celebrate our heroes and share in the pride for our country. A valuable experience for all. These are the moments that remind me that we are blessed in this country. We are blessed to have the freedom to have dreams and to go out and achieve them. Days like today remind me that Jerry and I had a dream.....and we are living it. We have 4 amazing children, who bring joy to our lives daily and we share them with an incredible community. Thank you to all who fought for our country, so that we can make our dreams come true.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Memorial Day

Enjoy your families as you celebrate and honor the heroes of our country. I wish you a very happy and safe weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Defending your Heart

Defending Your Heart
Just wanted to follow up with how my talk with Jacob went.  I didn't get into it in my last post, since my Mama Bear Instincts were in full swing.  He fully understands after our talk that his birthparents were not bad people.  I focused on the explanation that, many people in the world do not understand adoption.  I told him that through out his life he will experience many comments from people that may not sound "right" to him.  That is when I decided to explain it in terms I thought that he could relate to.

Soccer Goalie.  In goal, your job is to defend the goal.  You can catch the ball and toss or kick it back on the field.  Meaning, receive the comment and respond appropriately. In goal, you can use your body to bounce the ball  back onto the field.   Meaning, ignore the comment and walk away.  In goal, if the ball scores on you, you pick yourself up and get back in the game.  Meaning, if you are hurt by a comment, remember the source, love yourself and move on.  He really understood after that.  He is an amazing boy, and I am the luckiest mom in the world.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bad People

Sitting in Starbucks in downtown Ann Arbor this morning. I had some testing done today. It is exhausting to go through brain testing. I had no idea.

I can't get my conversation with my Jacob out of my head. Yesterday, he asked me to tell him "the truth" about why he was adopted. I asked him "what do you mean truth?" Does he think that I have been untruthful? Quite frankly, this was not the best time for an in-depth conversation, as we were headed to the swim house for my Cameron's swim tryouts. But, as I have mentioned before, you have to seize the moment when your adopted child comes to you, because it is so hard to get them to talk when you are in a more "appropriate" moment.

Anyways, he said that he wondered what the "real" reason mind started racing, because you have to keep the conversation age appropriate, as well as informational. I try to ask questions of him to isolate the core reason for him asking the question.

After digging for a few minutes, I finally got to the bottom of it. Someone at school told him that the only people who get adopted are people who's birthparents are "bad people".

This is the hard stuff. When they are little, you are in control of all of the information that they receive. Out in the BIG world, they are going to hear what every child hears from their parents about adoption. I realize that this is their reality and must learn to deal with all of it. My plea to the parents of the world, is....maybe you are not directly in contact with a child who is adopted, but your children may be and please use caution when speaking to your children about adoption. It matters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

...being adopted.

Kids go through so many things on a daily basis that challenge their confidence.  It is like a rollercoaster ride.  Some days, I think that I am not doing enough to help build my children's confidence in being adopted.  But at times, I worry that I am trying too hard and should just SHUT UP.  My 10 year old son J is quite good at letting me know the latter.  Its a look.  When I see that look, I just shrink and try to remember that I am an adoptive mother, but I can't possibly KNOW what it feels like to BE ADOPTED.  We can't just live in the glow of the 'wonderfulness of the adopting".  We must live in the reality of who they are and how much ...being adopted will define them.

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the complexity of this process.  My son did not want me to wear my "Adoption Rocks" sweatshirt to his soccer game. Two months ago, he thought it was a "sweet" sweatshirt.  I have always worn it proudly.  I love that sweatshirt.  But I love him more.  So until he is ready, the sweatshirt will lay low for a while.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ever evolving embrace

Our family is constantly evolving. The kids absolutely adore their birth brother who happens to have a different mommy and daddy. We are getting to know him and his lovely parents on a regular basis. Baby I has become an important part of my children's future and he shares the same past. Fortunately for us, M&M share the same feelings as Jerry and I do, about keeping them all together...forever.

I won't lie. It has been difficult in many ways. Baby I could be my Amanda's twin. Not only in their looks, but in their spirits. They both have a fire burning inside of them to live life with gusto. The kids had a tough time as well after the first few visits. They wanted to take him home with us every too.   Over time they have accepted things as they are, and they couldn't love him more. M&M and Baby I have become family to all of us. 

Secretly, I hope for another baby to come for M&M. I know that sounds crazy, but then he won't be alone. That is the thought that haunts me. What if he was the last one? How do I explain to him that he is the only one that we didn't adopt. I mean, it isn't impossible that it could happen, right?  There have been five babies, that none of ever saw coming, so it could happen.  Yes, I know that he is going to have a wonderful life and he has his birth siblings in his life, but those thoughts keep popping up in my mind.

Moving forward...
Jerry and I are truly blessed with these 4 children and now, thankfully, we get to share in the life of this 5th little angel and watch him grow and bond with his siblings. When I see baby I with M&M, my heart is lifted at seeing the joy in their eyes. I know that the three of them belong together.  Little Baby I is healthy, happy and loved by so, so many

One of my favorite quotes....

Our family is a circle of love and strength. With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love. Every obstacle faced together makes the circle stronger."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Journey on....

In the days that followed M&M taking Baby I home to be their son, never in my life had I leaned on my faith that God would carry me through more. 
Everyday moving forward became easier to accept that he was theirs to keep.  My moment had passed.  He would not be mine.  But I wondered if I would ever really let go.  Only time would tell.  In the first few months, I kept busy, trying not to think of him.  No one really knows just how much that I pained over that decision.  That little boy will forever hold a special place in my heart.  I tried to find ways to keep it in perspective.  I kept in touch with M&M by phone and she sent pictures to us.  He was growing fast and he resembled my Amanda so much.  I saw quite a bit of my Jacob in him as well.  They are all so beautiful.  M&M are a beautiful loving couple and my hope for this baby could not have turned out better.  He has love.  He has brought so much joy to this very deserving couple.  I know that the day is coming when they will invite us to see him.  I can feel it.  I am not sure how I will feel.  On one hand, I can't wait to see him.   But on the other hand, I am worried about how I will feel when, I have to leave.......without him.  I know that the kids will bond with him right away.  They can't wait to meet him.  Especially Jacob.  He gets it all.  He was very disappointed that we did not adopt Baby I.  That was a heartbreaking conversation.  I realized that in the last8 years, Jacob had witnessed Jerry and I bring home babies to keep and he just became accustomed to that process and accepted it as part of our life, so all of this was an adjustment for him as well. 
Just after the Holidays of 2008, when everything settled down, we got an invitation to visit Baby I's home and parents.  We were about to embark on a new leg of our journey. I didn't know what the future had in  store,
but WE were ready to take it on.

Mommie or Bust!

Friday, May 13, 2011

They Fell

October 2008

One of the most awkward moments of my life.  I picked up the phone, my hands were shaking. I heard this very nervous voice say, "Hi, this is Monica's friend". 

The agency went ahead and put M&M in the group of families that were shown to our birthmother.  They told me that if she chooses them for one of her top three, then they can mention to her that we have a connection to that family.  She chose them. 

When M&M called me, they were on their way to the hospital to see the baby.  It felt weird.  I wanted to tell her a million things, but I have never met this woman and I've been on that car ride to the hospital when your mind is racing and you are realizing the magnitude of how your life is about to change drastically.  So, advice from this crazy woman (me), is the last thing you need.   All that I needed to do really, was to comfort her in her place of fear, mixed with excitement.  We talked for several minutes and by the time I hung up with her, I felt like a had just met and amazing woman.  We exchanged information and hung up.  She said that she would call me back to get to know each other better.  I felt this HUGE sigh of relief. 

I still couldn't concentrate, because, I wanted to be at the hospital, but it wasn't my place.  He will be their son...if they can get past the pain that they hold in their hearts from their recent misfortune with adoption. 

I just prayed and
 prayed for them to find peace in their hearts and to FALL  in love with him IMMEDIATELY....

They fell, head over heels.

Do you believe in Devine Intervention?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

He is Waiting

Upon returning home from preschool, I knew that the agency was waiting to hear from me. One comment they made during that pivotal phone call, was that, I shouldn't feel obligated. Obligated???? Obligated never entered my mind. In my heart, that baby belonged with us. You have to remember that at this point, I have only known about this baby for about an hour. My husband made his feelings clear. The only way that I would get over that stumbling block, would be to tell him, that regardless of his feelings, I can't walk away from this baby. He would do it. But at what cost? I value my marriage greatly. No, he would never leave the marriage because of something like this, but I don't want to do anything that would be unhealthy for our well being as a couple. We have been through a lot together on this journey, and I know that we still have great things ahead of us.

I set Ben and Amanda up watching a video and headed for the phone. At this point, my heart is begrudgingly starting to listen to my head. I called the agency back and asked them about M&M. I was told that, they are not sure that M&M are ready to dive back in yet. They have been terribly hurt. M&M are still in the adoption pool, but they are very leary, they told me. Who could blame them? What a gut wrenching experience for them.

I hung up with the agency after telling them that I needed just another half hour to sort through my thoughts before I officially decline to adopt this baby. Amanda and Benny were giggling with the Wiggles and had no clue that mommy was upset.

I kept praying for strength. I could feel Him, he was there with me. I fell to my knees in my foyer. My body crumpled to the floor. The tears gushed out of me and I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, "I CANNOT WALK AWAY! I had not experienced this kind of emotional pain since my miscarriage. I knew that once the decision was made to bring another family in, that would be it. There would be no turning back.

You must know, that as strongly as I knew that I could not walk away, I knew that I was not capable of going through another infancy. I was at my limit mentally and emotionally. The intensity of the emotion for both decisions was swirling inside me until I just lay there on the floor lifeless fully surrendering this to my Lord. I cried until I was empty...and then I got up, walked to the phone, dialed the agency and said, "We will not be adopting this baby, but please let the family that is chosen know that my husband and I and our four children, would love to be a part of his life, if they are willing". I hung up the phone. One hour later my phone rang was M&M calling.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Want to Know More

I must have called Jerry at least 2 more times before I got to the preschool. There was no hiding that there was something wrong, but I didn't want to talk to anyone about it, because, I would break down. I grabbed Amanda and bolted out the door, but before I could get into the car, a mom friend stopped me and asked what was wrong. All I could get out was "there is another baby and I don't know what to do". Then, I jumped in the car.

Before I even got out of the parking lot, my cell phone was ringing and as I looked down at the caller ID, I saw my very wonderful friends name. We will call her Monica. I picked it up immediately, since she has been there with me through 3 of my 4 adoptions and has been a great source of comfort for years. "I heard" was all she said. Wow. Now that is what I call News traveling fast. The mom in the parking lot called Monica immediately. I broke down at the sound of her voice. She listened, as good friends do. She understood my dilemma. After I settled down, she said, "Amy, just listen to me for a minute."

She reminded me of the time about a year ago, when she asked me for my agency information for a couple that she knew who was looking to adopt. Apparently, they signed up with our agency.

Monica told me that this couple, who we will call M&M, just recently had to give a baby back, because their birthmother changed her mind. I cannot even imagine that horror.

Through my own pain and uncertainty, I began to feel great compassion for this couple, who I know nothing about, but I could feel their pain. I wanted to know more.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mommy

Today is a celebration of mothers everywhere.  I am blessed with an amazing mother as well as a lovely mother in law who treats me as if I were her own.  The list is long and endless on how many great things that I could say about my mommy, but I want to share the most important thing that she ever gave me as mother.  No matter what the time of my life or the situation that we were in, my mother always listened with an open heart.   In my mind, I could not surprise her with the level of mischief that I would get into.  I could not say anything mean enough to rattle her.  No sex question through her off guard.  She was my rock.  I am sure that inside she wanted to lambaste me a few times, but she always exhibited great self control.  I admire her for that, because as a mother, I now know just how hard that was.  Through the years, I must say that I challenged her self control quite a bit, especially in the 15 -17 year old time frame, but she never showed signs of breaking.  

Now, as the grandmother of my children,  I am amazed how easy it is for her to just throw it ALL OUT THE WINDOW.  What the hell happened to that woman that I grew up with????  She lets my kids just bulldoze her right down.   lol

I am just kidding.   Anyways, today I celebrate my mentor, my friend, my confidante and most mommy.  I love you MOM.

Mother's Day 2011

My Heart Won't Surrender

I hung up the phone and for a moment, my brain was paralyzed. What do I do? Amanda is at school and needs to be picked up in one hour. Who do I call first? My mom or Jerry? I know that probably sounds crazy, but my mom has a way of bringing me down to a place where I can think clearly. So, I dialed her up and said the same thing to her, that I said the 4 other times that I made this phone call to her. "Hello Mom, are you sitting down?" She immediately knew what was up. I could hear the fear in her voice, because she knew that this time would be very hard. She knew that I needed to be done with adopting more children, but she knew me. She knew that I would want to adopt this little boy. He is apart of my amazing little babies. He is their brother. My mind and heart were racing. I could literally feel the blood raging through my veins. Why? My heart says yes. My head says no. My husband will say NO!

I listened closely to  the words that mom was saying to me, "how do you know when she will stop having babies"? "Are you done, when she is done.... or can you decide when YOU are done? I heard the words, but I had no answer. Our birthmother is in her mid thirties. She could feasibly have babies for 10 more years.


"Hello Honey!" he said.  I paused, before I said...."you are not on an escalator, are you?" He laughed.  He knew.   I said, "no joking, honey, there is another baby".  He paused for one moment but the silence seemed like five minutes, then he said, "we can't honey"........I know, I said. 

If you knew Jerry, you would know that, those 3 little words were not easy for him to say to me.  He is the "level headed" one in this marriage, and I am the one who will try to save the world. 

That is it. He has played his hand. Now I have to figure out how to accept this and how on earth I can go through this life not knowing where this child will end up. We hung up and I grabbed Benny and we headed to pick up Amanda. Tears were gushing down my face.  Benny was singing in the backseat and oblivious to the fact that I was living my most feared moment since we began to adopt.  My head was saying to pull it together.  My heart wasn't giving up yet. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Picked it UP

After standing there for a while, I was realizing that the dilemma was not going to go away.  My first thoughts were, that, if there was a baby......I had already been thinking about all of this, just in case.  I had become more and more secure in the decision that we were done adopting children.  Our family is complete.  That said, I know myself, and if there is another baby, my first instincts are to hop in the car and run down to that hospital to claim that baby for my own.  After all, if their birthmother does not want to mother the baby, of course, it is mine.  Right?  In my heart YES, but in reality, the baby is no one's....yet.  

So, I picked it up....I squeaked out a shaky "hello".   "Hello Amy."  I sat down in my favorite kitchen chair and listened to the boy.  I know that I must have looked like a mannequin, I didn't move.  My body was stiff as a board.  The tension setting in, mixed with the excitement of a new baby in the world.  My head and heart started battling before the call ended.  They gave me two hours to make a decision.  Two hours.  A life changing decision in two hours. 

There was no way that Jerry was gonna go for this.  He is done and ready to move on to the next chapter with our kids.  I am too, but.....there is a baby that needs a mommy and daddy at the hospital and he is waiting....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Can I NOT??

I was standing in the kitchen just looking at my phone.  This phone and I had become long time friends.  You see, this is how I find out that my next child is waiting for me.  Mother's who deliver their babies, hear the doctor say, "it's a girl"or "boy".  This phone has become the messenger in the delivery of my four children.  Everytime I arrive home, I check the caller ID.  I do it unconsciously.  Especially after my youngest child passes 18  months.

So, when I looked at those familiar letters on that ID and read......Forever Families Adoption Agency....I took a step back and literally stared at the phone.  As long as I stood there, then nothing has changed, right?

The moment that I pick it up, I will be thrown into mayhem.  I couldn't move.  My body would NOT walk back to that phone.  My knees were wobbly and the bottom to my stomach dropped.  Benny was playing in the floor in the living room.  I looked at him and suddenly, my mind went haywire.  I have 4 children and I am already at my wits end most of the time.  What if that call is about another baby?  We are DONE.  We have no money, no room in this house and I have no brain cells left.  I looked at the phone again. 

 I can't do it.....But, how can I not?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear Lord

Journal Entry dated October 28, 2008 - Dear Lord...I need your help more than ever before.  The pain is unbearable.  I am not sure how to proceed.  Lead me.
It has taken me awhile to get to the point that I could share this part of my story. While on my road to mommyhood, there have been many trials and tribulations.  The most difficult moment in the whole journey, came on the day after celebrating my daughters fourth birthday.  I was at my daughters preschool, dropping her off for the afternoon.  Benny and I went home to try to get him down for a nap.  The nap never happened.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

No Stone Unturned

If I had been able to be pregnant and deliver a child, I know that I would have taken the utmost care during my pregnancy.  Eat right.  Do everything the doctors told me. Prenatal vitamins, etc.  That is why it is so hard to not get frustrated about the fact that my kids weren't given their best shot at a healthy life, by starting in the womb.  Our birthmother did not seek prenatal care throughout her pregnancies with all four of my kids.  Like I said, I can't dwell on it, because I had no control, but it is a source of anguish when I know that some difficulties, that they are dealing with,  may have stemmed from the pregnancy care.  Fortunately, there hasn't been anything serious, with the exception of Jacobs SPD (Sensory Process Disorder) and Benny's Asthma.  He deals with Virus Induced Asthma.  We have had 9 visits to the ER for Asthma, 2 bouts of RSV, one hospitalization with RSV and Pneumonia and endless battles with medications.  My point is this...we all love our children and want to protect them, so it starts the day that you find out from that little + sign on a stick.  That is a luxury that most adoptive parents do not get to have.  Maybe that is why, I will leave no stone unturned when it comes to my children's health.    I make my husband nutz, but I am driven.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feelin Lucky

Today, my baby turned 5.  UnBeLiEvAbLe.  I never saw myself getting here this fast.  I know, I know everyone said it would come.  Years ago, when I was hunkered down in the trenches with a 5yr, 4 yr, 18month old  and a newborn all at the same time, sanity looked so far off in the distance, that it was difficult to imagine this time.  Its here.  In the fall, all four will be in school.  Today, I took him out to lunch to his favorite place and we stopped to get a treat.  I was looking for the right moment to begin my "5 year old, step 2 adoption discussion".  We are at step 2.  When they are 4, I discuss the word adoption with them and keep it simple for most of that year.  At 5, I ask them what they think adoption is, based on their years experiences.  He did pretty good with his explanation, which tells me that he has been absorbing our talks.  Here's how it went.....

I asked, "So, Benny, do you understand what the word adoption means?".  He said, "yes, it means that you growed in a different mommy's tummy and when she woke up she asked God to call you and tell you that I was ready".   Is that stink'en adorable or what?   He goes on to say, "I sure am glad that you said yes, four times Mommy, otherwise, I wouldn't know where I was." 

This year, he will start to ask more detailed questions about his adoption.  I always keep it simple.  I only answer the specific question and I don't elaborate.  That's tough for me, since I over explain everything.  So I'm told. (lol) 

As most mom's do, I have spent his birthday making googlie eyes at him and realizing just how fast he is growing up in this big family, and how lucky Jerry and I have been to have Benjamin in our lives.  I can't help but to reminisce the days when, I thought that none of this would come to be.  It is a privilege to have these children.  They are so precious to us. 

Benny is 5 today

It saddens me so much when I read blogs written by adoptees who were not adopted into the ideal situation.  I want to reach out to them and make it better for them, but I realize that I can't, support and love is all one can offer.  They have their own journey.  Every child deserves love and a family.  If you know adoptees that are on a journey to find their answers, please help them.  Reach out to them with love.  They haven't had the support system that they deserved.  One person can make a difference in a life, no matter how small the gesture. 

If you are a adoptee searching for peace in your heart and mind check out this site.

Sherrie Eldridge: Your Adoption Coach

Sherrie is a passionate educator and advocate for individuals and families who have been touched by adoption. Her tireless efforts to inspire other adoptees by sharing her own personal journey illustrates her strong Christian faith and extraordinary character. We need more voices like Sherrie's to join in the effort to spread awareness for the uniquely complicated emotions and relationships embodied in the adoption triad.

Thanks for looking!