Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Picture While I Process...

I have a few posts in the works but I'm finding it hard to get my thoughts together.... any ideas? Anything on your mind? I would love some inspiration ;-)
In the mean time... a picture that is just too amazing to keep to myself;
My Prince and my Princess.....

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Best 4 Years of Our Lives!

You turned 4 today.
4 years that went by entirely too fast.
4 years of lessons from you on how to be parents.
4 years of trial and error.
 4 years of watching you grow.

4 years of the best laughter of our lives.
4 years that we'll never forget....
But simply can't wait to add to!
A few 'Hannah-ism's' from your 4th year of life....
You; Daddy, I have 37 dollars!
Daddy; Who gave you all that money?!
You: Guys did!
Over-tired you threw a fit today at naptime and accidentally kicked me in the chest....

You: "I'm sorry Mommy... where did I kick you?"
Me: "In my chest (and I pointed)."
 You: "In your heart?"
Me: "Yes.... "
 You (very sad): "Mommy, did I kick Jesus?"
Me: "What do you mean, Baby?"
 You: "Jesus lives in your heart, Mommy... did I hurt Him?"

I was putting something up in the closet and when I backed out of it I ran into into you and you ran into Dee-O...

You; That was really not cool mom.
Daddy was out of town and you and I had pancakes for dinner for the second night in a row... last night was M&M pancakes and tonite was chocolate chip but I made plain for myself;

You: "I see that you have a chocolate chip pancake on your plate, Mama. I fink that one is mine."
Me: "I have 2 plain and 1 chocolate chip... I just wanted to try one. Ummm.... where did you learn to talk like that?"
 You: "I'm not sure, Mama... but I want my pancake back, please."
In one breath; "mommy, I spilled blue yogurt on the carpet and cleaned it all up with my foot but it's ok because Jesus said in the bible that mommys and daddys need to be nice to little kids and boys (??) so don't be mad, okay mommy?"
Me: Hannah, I have a Candy Cane for you when you poop on the potty!
 You: I don't poop for Candy Canes, Mommy... only for Chocolate.
You: "Mommy, did you sex daddy today?"
Me: "WHAT?!"
 You: "Did you sex daddy on your phone?"
 (since I'm not even sure we'll still be texting when you're old enough to read this, I'll mention that I'm pretty sure you meant 'text' ;-))
One morning in late March, you came running into our room screaming, "Mommy Daddy, Mommy Daddy... my baby brother's coming! He's coming and I don't know what car he'll be in but he's coming!"
We had been trying for a year to make you a big sister and it was so so hard for us to explain to you how God works, that He was working on making you a sister but wasn't ready to give us our baby yet. This went on all day and I finally asked you,

"Baby, who told you that your Baby Brother is on his way?"
You replied...
"Jesus did."
Your heart is as pure as gold!
Happy Birthday, Princess.... you're our world, our passion, our gift, and our dreams come true!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


There are so many different meanings to the term 'open' in relation to adoption;
As a hopeful Adoptive Parent;
~ You're OPEN to various special needs
~ You're OPEN to different races
~ You're OPEN to a history of drug or substance abuse
~ You're OPEN to a history of phychological disorders
~ You're OPEN to an open adoption
As a First Parent;
~ You're OPEN to letting strangers in to one of the most intimate parts of your life and heart
~ You're OPEN to divulging personal information to strangers (many of them)
~ You're OPEN to a couple who has kids
~ You're OPEN to an older couple
~ You're OPEN to a couple struggling with infertility
~ You're OPEN to a working mom
~ You're OPEN to a long-distance relationship with your child and his/her family
"Not closed."
"Having no means of closing."
"Having the interior exposed."
"Free of obstruction."
"To expand."
When did we turn 'open' into 'let's talk about it'?
And by 'we' I mean US... adoptive parents.

Yep. That hurts.
Joey and I have completed 4 home studies... you could say we're pros. We answered the same questions every other adoptive parents answers and pen didn't touch paper until we had prayerfully considered every single answer.
I'm learning that we're not the *norm*.
Why is that?
Why is it that someone can write 'open' when asked if they would consider a child of a different race but when the baby that was 'supposed' to be white comes out *a different race*,  they walk away?
It happens.
How is it that a couple checks 'open' to a child with CP or MS or Downs but when that baby is in front of them, they 'change their mind'?
(Now, don't get me wrong... a couple who walks away from one of those precious babies doesn't DESERVE that precious baby.)
But it happens.
What makes someone think that checking 'open' when asked what kind of relationship they want with their child's First Family really means 'let us take your baby home and then we'll talk about it'?
It happens.
How can a couple TAKE that baby home, knowing that they checked 'open', knowing the expectation THEY have given their child's First Family for an 'open' relationship, and then turn around and refuse visits and 'forget' to send pictures?
It happens.
It happens too much.
And it's our fault.
It's NOT the birth mom's fault, or the agency's fault, or anyone else's fault... the fault lies with the adoptive parents. They're to blame for the broken heart of their baby's First Mom... the woman who handed her baby to you, trusted you with his/her life, and trusted YOU when you said you'd like an OPEN relationship with her.
Is that you?
It's probably some of you....
"Each situation is different."
"We said we were ok with an open adoption before we met her."
"An open relationship isn't in our child's best interest, after all."
Let's agree that the definition of *open* when used in adoption-lingo has really become, "we'll think about it and let you know."
For some.
Not all.... but some. Too many, actually.
*OPEN* to special needs sounds really good (and easy) on paper...
Until you get 'that' call.
*OPEN* to a history of drug abuse sounds good on paper.
Until you get 'that' call.
*OPEN* to an open adoption sounds good on paper.
Until you know more, or meet her, or bring him home.
But the definition of *OPEN* isn't up for discussion....
it's closed for discussion.
And *OPEN* IS a discussion. It's many discussions... with your baby's First Parents. With your agency. Some might be relatively easy discussions where scenarios presented to you are no-brainers.... but some might not feel very good, where you're forced to dig deep and possibly admit that *that* relationship is outside of your comfort zone.
It's OK to admit that.
It's not ok to fake it.
While *OPEN* might have various sub-categories (monthly letters & pictures, multiple visits per year, texting, email, babysitting, Holidays, Birthdays, etc.), it's definition will always remain the same....
"Not closed."
"Having no means of closing."
"Having the interior exposed."
"Free of obstruction."
"To expand."
We can't do much about the adoptive parents who aren't living out the promises made to their child's First Family... I've realized recently (through the heart-break of too many First Moms I know) that only God can change those hearts.
But we can do something for the HOPEFUL adoptive parents; for the one's who are getting ready to put pen to paper and decide what they're *open* to.
Pray about those check-marks. Consider the best and worst case scenarios. Talk to your agency or attorney or social worker if you have questions or aren't sure.
For most agencies and attorneys, a family profile is shown to a prospective birth mom based SOLELY on those check-marks and how they do or don't apply to that specific mom.
You're messing with lives when your pen hits paper.
You're risking the heart-break of that mom; the one who falls in love with your profile only to learn days later that she can't meet with you because you're not open to an African American child, after all. The mom who entrusts her baby's life to you, only to find out months and years later that you weren't that trustworthy, after all.
you're also risking your child's life.
She may meet her First Mom one day and learn that you were kept from her. She may realize when she's older that she could have known her First Parents when she was young and avoided the painful identity crisis she finds herself in as an adult.
Don't risk it.
Be honest.
Even if that means you're *closed*, after all.
It's ok to be closed and slowly become open...
it's not ok to be open and end up closed.
 * What if a relationship with her/him isn't healthy for our child and us right now? She's making bad decisions and we feel the need to protect our child for now...

~ Send your letters and photos to your agency. Let them be the one's to determine when/ if to send those updates. Maybe it's not possible to maintain the level of openness that you first agreed upon.... but in this case, it IS her decision and yes, you ARE protecting your child. BUT... you still have an obligation to do what you can to be *open*. She may call that agency one day and want/need to know more about her baby.... and the agency will have that information to give her; from you.

* What if she's the one who has stopped contact with us? She isn't responding to us anymore... what are we supposed to do?

~ Has she asked you to stop contacting her? Then keep sending your emails, letters, texts, photos, etc. You send them *until*.

* We didn't specify the boundaries in our relationship before we brought our baby home. How do we know what and how much we are supposed to do to maintain a relationship with her?

~ Ask. Ask her. Ask your agency. Your attorney. Someone. And if no one has the answers you need, send letters and emails and photos on a regular basis... be predictible. A letter and photos once a month, twice a year, every Holiday... you choose but stick to it.

Nope. I'm NOT the best at always keeping in touch with Hannah's birth-parents. I try. I try hard! And life does get in the way, sometimes. This responsibility almost always lies mainly with the Mama.... and well, so do a lot of other responsibilities. When those *things* distract me from something THIS important, I never ignore the urge to text, or email, or send a picture... yep, I could do it more. But I do it. We promised we would... and we do; AT LEAST that much. We said we were *open* and we are.

Are you?

If you aren't, for whatever reason, please explore the 'other side'. Maybe it won't end up truly *open* but for your child's sake and for the sake of his or her first parents, please explore. Talk to another adoptive family, email ME (I have LOTS to share soon about my family's adoption experiences... we cover them ALL!), talk to a counselor, a social worker, somone... just promise to at least be *open* to being truly OPEN!

If you're a hopeful adoptive parent and you checked that box, the one that said *open*, are you ready and willing and excited to be somewhat exposed, not closed, and ready to consider what might feel *out of the box*?

If not, uncheck that box. Please. Let's not be responsible for this hurtful definition of *open* anymore.

If you are in an open adoption, adoptive parent or first parent, would you mind sharing the *level of openness* you agreed upon and the relationship you currently have? It's ok to be annonymous but I think it would help so many if we could share the various ways we can be open!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Tutorial: On Baby Showers

Just one more thing that seems ... unfair (?), different (?), annoying (?) about adoption;

Baby Showers.

Every woman dreams of her baby shower, much like they dream of their lingerie shower or bridal shower. It's a right of passage, so to speak. It's symbolic of a new start and just adds to the excitement of a new baby.

I've always tried to be sensitive to adoptive moms in this area and well, if you don't ask you won't know! As I've done so many times before, (;-)) I thought I'd shed some light on showers for adoptive moms so if you know one, you know how to support them;

. Some of us are comfortable planning and purchasing the absolute necessities in our wait to bring baby home... we buy diapers in every size, both boy and girl outfits, bottles, wipes, burp cloths, blankets, and so on. Some choose to prepare a nursery but some are also uncomfortable with what an empty nursery symbolizes (I SO remember that feeling!)

I was a planner in our wait for Hannah.... partly because our agency had certain requirements in order to be officially waiting with them (new car seat, some kind of crib/bassinet, one boy and one girl outfit, etc.) and partly because .... well, what the heck are you supposed to do?!?!

Most friends of waiting moms don't know how to broach the subject of baby showers so I wanted to touch on a few things I've learned, from experience;

* 'Sip N' See's' are a great thought... but if you've read this post, you'll understand why this kind of shower after baby comes home might make an adoptive mom uncomfortable. Some moms might love a chance to show off her baby but traditionally, a baby shower is about the Mama... a 'Sip N' See' might bring with it expectations that a new mom just can't meet. Ask your new mama-friend what kind of shower she has dreamed of.

* There is NOTHING wrong with hosting a shower for Mom after baby comes home and NOT expecting baby to be present. With no expectations, Mom can choose to leave baby home with Daddy or have baby make a surprise appearance for everyone to see. This way she is also allowed to enjoy her shower and the attention that is being shown to her ;-)

* If you're unaware of any plans for a shower but would like to show your support and excitement to this new family, ask what they need the most. If the couple has prepared somewhat, they still might be in need of some of the more expensive baby items (second car seat, crib, double stroller, changing table, etc) and could use gift cards to a specific store to help them in purchasing those things. We also all know what it feels like to see that completely adorable, can't live without Coach diaper bag and have NO justification for purchasing it... you might just be the perfect person to help her with a gift card so she can purchase that one special splurge item!

* If you can't make it to the shower, stop by with a meal. Don't offer to have them over but ask what night would be most helpful and bring them dinner.... and always make sure it's freezable as we all know that nights don't always go as planned. Sometimes it's easier to ask what their favorite take-out is and get them a gift card or call in their order.... delicious food, a huge helping hand, and someone else delivers; win-win for you! PLUS, this more intimate setting makes that new Mama more inclined to let you snuggle that sweet baby!

* If you do know a waiting adoptive mom and would like to celebrate her and her baby with a shower, ask her what she prefers; a shower before baby comes where gifts and theme are gender neutral or involve just baby necessities? Or a shower after baby is born at a time when life has calmed and she has a better grasp of what their specific needs are? Let her be part of the planning so when that fun day comes she is able to bask in the excitement and not stress over things that might make her uncomfortable.

* Last but not least, no one can stop you from accessing some of the most popular baby stores online and searching their registry. Adoptive parents often-times register in order to get the same perks that other new parents get (10% off anything on the registry after one year, high-value coupons, freebies, etc). Searching their names on some of those websites might give you a good idea of what they like, what they might still need, and how you can help them prepare or settle in with their new family member. You don't need permission to check out those registries once in a while ;-)

Adoptive Moms dream, too. With all of the unfair differentiations between pregnancy and adopting, it's quite possible that an adoptive mom might slip between the cracks. Be the friend of her's who steps out and offers to lavish her with the love and support from friends that she so desperately needs... I promise she will NEVER forget your heart and sensitivity for her!