The Beauty Of Adoption

Birthdays. We all have them and if we’re lucky and blessed, we will be given a good number of them as we spend our days on this earth. Kids eagerly anticipate them and often are planning them longer in advance than Christmas.

Even though I’m in the age range of “approaching older than dirt”  I guess I’m still a kid at heart.

I want presents. I want an amazing cake and my favorite ice cream.  I want balloons. I want all the good stuff.  I don’t subscribe to being old means you don’t need/get that anymore.

Nonsense.

In my family we are entering birthday season and yesterday we celebrated my youngest, my daughter.

She officially left the teen years behind. She was the last of my brood to do so.

I have grown adult kids.  Holy cow how did that happen??

Yesterday was her official birthday but we will kinda be celebrating her through out the week.  I will be making some type of wicked cake this Saturday, but yesterday we had monster cupcakes ’cause you need something to celebrate moving into a new  decade, right?

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Cupcakes are larger than they appear 😉

 

 

Kids grow up, that’s normal right?

Yep, they do. And as mentioned she’s the last one leaving her teen years so I’ve got a little practice on me with several ahead of her.

But here’s the deal.

We got her when she was 8 years old. Half of her childhood had gone by. Sometimes maybe, I have a hard time realizing she is now a young woman.  Maybe I’m still caught up thinking there should be more childhood years.

Of course add to it she’s a whopping 4’10,  I  sometimes forget that she isn’t a “little” girl anymore.

The choice to adopt.

born under my heart

 

We had children. We had three perfect, wonderful,healthy sons that we were quite happy with.  They were all big when we made the decision to add to our family through adoption. Our youngest son was 11.

We knew we were done with babies and wanted a child that could just get up and go with us and start to fit into our family. We were told adopting older children was fairly easy since there were so many and families tend to want younger children.

The labor begins

Adoption has it’s own labor as much as carrying a child and then delivering them. It’s just a different labor and delivery process.

We adopted our daughter through the foster care system. There are literally hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. foster care. We found an agency to work with and began the classes and working on home requirements, inspections etc that were required.

There was loads of paper work.

Some of the classes were painfully boring. Some things as a parent, we already knew and were just understood yet we had to sit in parenting classes.

We told the agency about the type of child we wanted. We settled on somewhere between age 7-10, race wasn’t important and of course, we wanted a girl.

The delivery

We got the call not many days after all of our official paperwork was done. There was a young girl who needed emergency placement within a couple days or she would be taken to the children’s shelter.  She fit into our criteria, would we want to meet her?

Well, of course we did.

We made arrangement for the next day, a Wednesday, to meet her and her foster family as well as the caseworker at a local restaurant.

It is a weird experience walking in and seeing a child that you know is going to be yours. It is weird knowing you are getting someone else’s child and are picking up the reins to raise and care for them.

There are a whole lot of emotions that are going on.

And not just for us, but for her too. At 8 years of age she had been through more than a lot of children. She also knew that something was up and was trying to be her most ‘impressive”.

We enjoyed our time meeting her and told the caseworker we were willing to move forward.

That was on Wednesday. On Friday December 1, 2006 our daughter arrived with a book, one stuffed animal and a small trash bag of clothes, most of which did not fit.

She was nervous, a bit hyper and desperately wanting to do all the right things.

You see we were her fifth placement since October of that year.

5 homes in a few months through no fault of her own.

Imagine being at your job one day. Your life isn’t perfect but it’s what you know. Then a nice man shows up and tells you that you can’t go back home but you are going to go live with some other nice people. He has stopped at your home and brought a few of your things but that is all that goes with you.

You leave everything you know behind to walk into a new home and life… immediately.

Imagine for a moment if you can, what that would feel like.  The complete uprooting of your life.

Now think of a child having to deal with it.

Is it any wonder they all have some sort of “emotional issues”?

The journey begins

It’s hard sitting here writing this, to think back to those early days when we got her, attempting to remember the way she was.

She’s always been sweet and loving. She desperately wanted a family and to be able to stay somewhere. She also was prone to immediate temper tantrums, biting, lying, and delivering words you might not expect from a child.

In the beginning any wrong move terrified her making her sure that she “would have to go”

I remember asking her one day what did she think was so bad that she could do that she’d have to leave… that we wouldn’t keep her.  In her child’s way she had all these reasons that I assured her weren’t reasons for us to get rid of her like a bag of trash.

How did that happen?

It took day after day of love, care, patience and showing her that in families people make mistakes or do things wrong but you love each other and keep moving forward. There wasn’t going to be something she’d do that would make us send her on to another home.

It took day after day of love, correction, discipline, and showing new examples for changes to occur.

Since we did the foster to adopt route and she was older with parental rights already terminated, we were able to move forward in a quick way with the adoption.

In May, 5 short months later, she officially became ours. But even then it was a long time before I think she really believed she was truly home and no one could take her or make her leave.

We had to develop routines and consistency and set boundaries. We had to show her love in ways our boys never needed it. We had to work through some negative behaviors that are really more survival skills kids pick up going through the upheavals of changing homes and being in foster care.

After about the second day of having her I realized I needed to handle her just like my own kids. For awhile it seems like you’ve got the neighbors kid and you find yourself allowing or even giving them little things they request.  So that’s what we did. If we were committing to make her our daughter then we would handle her like our own.

And then the years move by

Day by day, moment by moment you’re living life. And somehow this new life merged into ours.

Love, patience, training, teaching. helping, more patience and she began to blossom.  The more secure she became the less talk there was she might have “to leave”.

She made friends, was doing well in school was liked by her teachers and was living a normal life a kid should have.

As I contemplate the young woman she has turned into it’s hard not to feel a little proud. Her dad and I consider her no less ours than the ones that biologically were given to us.

She went through her entire high school career on the dance team, maintained awesome grades, worked, kept a close circle of friends and was an overall good kid.

She has finished her first year of college and heading into her second. She has goals set for herself. She is focused and determined. She has continued to work and has arranged her school schedule around that.

She is sweet, compassionate, loving and giving.  Oh, and she still has a strong little stubborn will too haha  But she is also always grateful, always thankful for the life she was given.

I’ve tried to show her how to be strong, how to do things for herself and how to be proud of who she is and not compare herself to others.

I want her to be a woman who knows how to get things done and can see ways to make it happen.

She always says she is blessed and grateful but we remind her we feel the same way.

Adoption.. things to know

We did it more than once. In fact we did it three times. Like pregnancy and delivery each one has their own story and out come.

If you feel led to pursue adoption consider doing it through the foster care system. A little known fact is that it costs next to nothing to adopt.  This could vary state by state but for ours it was nothing.

There are tons of myths about kids in foster care and adopting them. Yes, some do have serious issues. You would need to know and understand your level of abilities and care giving skills if you felt called to care for them.

Overall, there are more kids that are like yours but unfortunately they are in situations they didn’t ask to be put in. They’ve done nothing wrong to be there. They just want to be kids and do kid things and be safe and loved.

The children are many and they desperately want the same things your own kids do.

Love, security, family, a sense of belonging, birthday parties, friends, holiday celebrations etc.

Many “issues” are from the emotional trauma of what they’ve been through. With love, care, patience and a little time these behaviors leave.  Our daughter exhibits none of the behaviors she came with all those years ago.

You can pick the age, sex, race and level of behaviors you think you can handle in a child. You can ask for a single child or a sibling group.

We found the agency and workers we dealt with to be very helpful and encouraging. To this day I maintain connections with many of them.

Keep in mind, you might be excited about the adoption idea, but when you share it with family they may or may not be immediately on board with the idea.

Don’t worry about it.

This is about you and the calling you and your family have. The rest will eventually come along you may have to give it time. Even if they entirely don’t, this is about your family. Just focus on that. Adoption will take all of your positive energy.

Finally, adoption is simply a most beautiful way to not just add to your family but to give a child their forever family, something they all long for.

It’s a beautiful gift you both give to each other and there is nothing more rewarding than that.

Todays post is more of a life post. Sometimes I’ll spend some time sharing things that impact us in our lives. Have you had any connection or interaction with adoption?

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Oh Baby!

“We interrupt the usual programming of health, fitness, cycling, running, and all things athletic for this important message….”

So this is just gonna be a fun post. Let’s call it a life event post. You know those cool things that happen in life that you want to celebrate and rejoice over?

It’s baby time in our family. Actually, it was baby time last Monday as my son and his wife were delivered of their beautiful baby girl, Trinity Ally, who made her entrance into this crazy world.

I really am having a hard time grasping she’s here since it honestly seemed like yesterday that we got the excited news from them.

And October seemed sooooo far away…

So when the news started coming to me that a baby would be arriving sometime Monday and as I made my way to the hospital, I had some time to think and reflect on all that was happening.

I mean as far as babies being born and all that, it happens every day, and has for a zillion years.

Circle of life and all that, right?

But it’s not every day that babies come into my family so that well, makes it a big deal.

I guess one of my thoughts was… how can my child already be a grown man having a baby?

Oh, I did my baby time. I was fortunate to have three beautiful sons with easy pregnancies and deliveries.  I loved the process. I loved nursing them and those sweet, precious baby days in the weeks following the deliveries.

The days seemed long in front of me before I would have to worry about them being a grown up and having their own children. I had well meaning people tell me to appreciate and enjoy them because it would go so fast. Yet, when you’re caught up in the day in and day out moments of raising them somehow that all seems so very, very far away.

Yet here I was in this moment as I waited for the arrival of his daughter. Years rushing by in my thoughts and ponderings.

I was getting ready to put the “grandmother” hat on again ( this would be my 4th one) time to get into the present…

My daughter in law had pretty much sailed through her pregnancy glowing and beautiful, staying slim with her little baby belly, and embracing the journey of carrying her daughter.

My son, well, was a total goof with her most of the time watching him pet her tummy and wait for the baby to move under his hand. He was so fascinated with the entire process it amused me watching him.

By the time I arrived at the hospital her labor was progressing well and we were all excited at the prospect of baby girl arriving later that evening.

I said 10 pm. I also said 7lbs….

as deliveries go, we stayed and hung out with expectant momma till she was ready to be alone and then we retreated to the waiting room to… well.. you know… wait.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long when we started receiving news that little baby Trinity had made her arrival.

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In the nursery after, I couldn’t help but pet her tiny foot.

 

 

At 9:55 p.m. weighing 6.14.

WHY didn’t we have a betting pool?? I woulda won! Hahaha

Of course, knowing she was there and having to wait while they did everything that needed to be done with mom and baby… was hard!

But finally, I got my moment to go back to the room.

What is there about entering that room when a baby has been born that’s almost hallowed and sacred?

A new life. A process as old as time yet, as miraculous and beautiful each time it occurs.

More beautiful when you’re gazing upon your child’s, child.

Tiny baby girl laying on her glowing mothers chest, I’m not sure there is anything more lovely, or overwhelming.

After months of watching her move actively in her mother, she was here.

Tiny, beautiful,  perfect and healthy. She also has a good set of lungs 😉

I know I swallowed twice to keep my wits about me.

I teased my son about surviving the birth process. His accounts of things later would have us all laughing. There had been a common joke about worrying he’d pass out on the floor…. 😉

Yet, like all new parents, they had made it through the process, basking in the glow of a miraculous experience.

I think, the thing that almost overwhelmed me was when my daughter in law asked me to take her off her chest and swaddle her. It was then made known my son hadn’t held her yet as she had been on mom since the birth.

Swaddling that baby, and then placing my child’s ( child ) in his arms was one of the most precious things I’ve ever done.

Yes birth is a process as old as time yet, still so mysterious, magical and always amazing to see a new life ready to unfold full of promise and dreams.

And most of all in it, this gentle reminder,

 

baby-gods-opinion

 

Mom 101

Moms. If we all share one thing in common, we don’t get into this world without one. If we’re fortunate we grow up with one that we manage to use and abuse, torture, and love and share life with.  Ideally, we learn from them in the ways of living life and lurch out into the world as somewhat well behaved, respectful, and productive citizens.

That’s the plan.

I remember  years back during a long day that felt really demanding having this thought slam into me at the force of a F5 hurricane…..

“OMG…. I’m the mom now……”

My heart was racing and I broke out into a sweat sinking into a chair as that thought washed over me.

Well, not really, but it was definitely one of those moments. Not that I hadn’t been a “mom” already at that point it just seemed that the light bulb came on.

I was going to be the room mom, project manager for all those lovely school projects, comforter during illnesses and relationship break ups, washer of mounds of clothes, baker and chef, chauffeur, etiquette teacher, counselor & advisor, maid of a neat and clean home for them to inhabit, lunch maker and slicer of apples and crust removal…. or my favorite… I can’t create a major school project out of a few toilet paper rolls the night before it’s due because you “forgot” even though they assigned it months ago 😛 Oh gosh, the list can go on.

We take care of those creatures… meet their needs and hopefully give them stability and a good life.

BUT in the mix of offering yourself up like a sacrifice to these creatures… perhaps they get to comfy with how well we take care of them.

For example, they develop a blind eye to glops of toothpaste in the sink, and learn to skillfully and carefully balance a single piece of trash on the (obviously) overflowing trash can. I’ve watched to see how long a roll of toilet paper could be left to wander around the floor before someone might take the 1.2 seconds to pop it in place ( note… sometimes the empty roll is all that’s left 😉  An empty dishwasher is certainly an invitation to leave them on the counter…

They must believe a magical fairy lives among them providing a clean home for them to live in… 😉

Then I had this thought… maybe… it’s me. Maybe I’m the odd one. No one else seems troubled by all the things I mentioned above. Like… not at all. They move through their days seemingly oblivious to the things that make me twitch.

I did an experiment the other morning. During the night it was obvious one of the dogs had lifted some trash from their bathroom trash can… it was like… right in the walk way to get into the bathroom…. I decided I’d leave it and see if someone would pick it up… or if they would just continue to step over it…I figured if no one got picked it up it would still be there waiting for me 😉

After awhile one son mentioned it and I casually said I was doing an experiment to see if people would continue to walk around it, or actually go ahead and pick it up….

To my surprise, after awhile, I realized it was gone.

There. Is. Hope.

I do know this, that even if my kids aren’t overly worried about housekeeping at this point, they can cook and do laundry, and have a working knowledge of managing their money, they have manners and know how to be respectful and polite. They are funny and kind. They understand the importance of working and investing themselves into it. Yeah,and they really do know how to clean ’cause I’ve seen them get after it before their friends come over haha it always impresses me that they keep those cleaning skills so well hidden 😉

So yeah, it is a rather non-stop, often thankless, hard, never ending job as a mom…. but then when you see your kids turning into adults and realizing that they really are getting it, makes you realize all that work, time and frustration over heaping trash and goopy toothpaste was all worth while .

They make you laugh. They make you cry. They frustrate you to the point of no return and you have had mental images of wrapping your hands around their throat 😉

Have you had those “mom” moments? I don’t want to leave the guys out either. But have you had moments in parenting that you…really…wondered? And yet somehow you’ve managed to get your kids to adulthood and want to celebrate that fact ’cause honestly, at times, you just weren’t sure you were gonna pull it off ?

Things My Mom Taught Me

My mom passed away last year in the early morning hours of April 24, 2014. I won’t ever forget the day she quietly stepped out of this world as it was also my daughters 16th birthday.

I miss her.

I miss her sometimes in ways that crush my chest and leave me feeling breathless. There are moments I still can’t believe she isn’t with me. Grief is a weird animal and yet, another blog I have yet to write on. I think perhaps, in a way, I’m still kind of afraid to sit down and write about it. I don’t like pain but I also understand there is healing in pain too.

Ah well dear reader in another moment I will feel up to tackling that topic because I know there isn’t a person on this big planet who won’t walk through the avenue of grief at some point in time.

But for now… for this post… I’m reflecting on things my Mom taught me. Maybe in a way, some type of tribute to her for what she invested into me and my life.

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Circa…. mid teen’s…….

Her first born and only daughter ( my brother would come along 15 months later) we shared a close bond and enjoyed many similar things. She was always proud of me and supported me in everything I did. I can’t tell you the times I’d show up at the hospital and some member of the hospital staff  (whom I’d never met) would see me and say… “you’re that marathon runner, aren’t you?” My mom had pics of me running hanging in her room and she took every opportunity to tell a new victim  person about my activities.

Marathon running ( and training) of course requires a tremendous amount of strength, physically and mentally. I learned a lot about being strong from my mom.  I am grateful in the last few months of her life I was able to recognize that strength in her in a new way and see how I had been blessed to have that as a part of my makeup. I don’t mean strong physically, although I am, I mean the deep strength of a woman who goes through difficulties and can stand under them. One who learns to move through the storm and grow in the process. A woman who chooses to keep seeing good and joy even in the face of hardship and difficulties.

A woman who makes a choice to fight back and not curl up and die. Strength. My mom embodied that and I’m grateful to be molded in a similar way.

Moving into fall and the approaching holidays makes me miss her more acutely ( I encountered this last year) the changing of seasons and upcoming festivities reminds me how much she loved and embraced all activities from now through New Years.

I’ve missed her enthusiasm and planning of dinners and activities. The plotting of menus. The brainstorming over gift ideas. She approached the “holiday season” with a childlike enthusiasm.

So I’ll start with this… she put a love in me for all things holiday. With the first crisp of fall air pumpkins, scarecrows and her homemade pumpkin bread showed up. Thanksgiving was always accompanied with some new recipe she wanted to try and her “gifting” was to deliver pies to suit every tastes for each person who would be there.  When I say they dragged like, 12 homemade pies over to my home, I’m not exaggerating. Last year her gifting was sorely missed. I bake but don’t put the spread of pies out like she loved to do.

Christmas? Oh my goodness. It was a time to bless not only her family, but anyone in need she could find. Christmas was (is) about giving, sharing and family. She baked goodies to share with everyone she had connections with. Our home was always decked out ( no wonder I’ve grown up and my home is always all dressed up. Imagine my shock when I learned not everyone went through such effort to celebrate)

Special cookies. Stockings gently used from years of being hung with care. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival.  Putting cookies out. Late night Christmas eve service. The picking of just the “perfect” tree. ( to this day… I want a big one. I have 12ft ceilings so why not ??) The lights. Evergreen. The Nativity set carefully arranged honoring Christ’s birth. The old cardboard village with the ( lead!)  Barclay Santa and skaters nestled around it (this is my FAVORITE Christmas display which I’ll share in another post) Every area with something tucked into it.

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Mom and I our last Christmas together December 2013

My kids have grown up loving it and their friends have viewed it as going to a Christmas shop at times 😉 It makes the work all worth while. There’s something magical…. and that is the thing I guess my mom ( and grandmother) gave to me and I’m glad to give it to others.

I do so many similar things… traditions. Traditions that now my grown children want to do… there is something satisfying in that. Traditions involve family and a sharing of events that have been passed along from each generation.

She taught me how to invest into my family, my husband, to cook, bake, sew, keep a home, artfully arrange flowers, and make beautiful things. To be a cheerleader and encourager. I learned a Mom keeps things spinning.

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My wedding, 31 years ago. Can I mention, she made my amazing dress? And did my flowers ?

Random things were meant to be celebrated. A good report card? It was Friday? Nailed a new job ? Successful on a test or something challenging? Whatever… there were simple moments that were worth something celebratory.

She modeled loving sacrificially in marriage. She went through many difficult things with my dad, one of the biggest was his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few years ago. She would share some things with me about dealing with him but as a mom, I know, sheltered me. Since I’ve had the responsibility of caring for him in this last year I see some of what she dealt with and feel bad I didn’t really understand to offer her more support in the difficulty of what she dealt with.

She taught me as a mom, that a mothers love is bottomless and that no matter what she was always there. Even in her last days she was concerned about some difficulties I was currently going through and insisted I talk about it. I miss being able to share those things with her.

She taught me how to love and be loving. How to give freely and from whatever I have.  To be generous and selfless. To be kind to others.  I learned to be content with what I have because if you aren’t content, then you are ungrateful for all you do have. I learned about working hard for what you want and not having an attitude of expecting to have things handed to you.

She told me about God and faithfully took me to church. She put me in a place that in the years to come would allow me to move into my own relationship with Him. She taught me how to love and trust Him.

She taught me to embrace life and that every single day we are given is a pure, sweet gift. She encouraged me to see the beauty of the world around me and always pointed me to the fact we had a Creator who had fashioned all we see.

On being a woman… she taught me things that I value so much now….

How to be a lady. To act classy. To stand up straight ( in my …younger years… I hadn’t embraced or become confident in my 6’0 frame and sometimes tended to…slouch) I’m grateful I learned how to carry myself with confidence thanks to her “encouragement” 😉

She taught me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments and to always keep trying no matter what.

I was raised to be polite, courteous, and respectful.  On the flip side, I was also taught to stand up for myself and take nothing off of anyone.

I learned how to use makeup so I enhanced my looks without ( in her words) “looking like a clown”. I was schooled in the wearing of high heels so I didn’t “clop along like a girl who fell off a tractor” haha (My mom always had some lovely visual illustration to use)

let me tell you… today….I can rock a pair of high heels like no ones business… thanks mom…..

She often reminded me that being a woman, wife, and mother required some time to step away for myself and that was an ok thing to do.

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A Sunday afternoon hanging out. Me most definitely pre-transformation days…

My mom was an amazing,strong, passionate, loving, generous and giving woman. I’m so blessed to have had her and her influence for almost 50 years of my life.

I do miss her tremendously. However, if somehow, I can carry on and share the things she taught me, her life will continue to live on as well.

And hey… if you still have your mom.. right now… call and tell her you love her and thank her for what she’s taught you.