Friday, December 16, 2011

Music In My Heart...

I've decided to go forward with a somewhat unconventional post today. It has been a rough couple of weeks for me. As you may have realized by my last post, I lost my Grandmother. I have also had many other things going on. Hence the reason I have not been posting much lately. All of those things led me to the need to express something that means a lot to me.

Today I want to talk about music. It has been an integral part of my life since I was a baby. My mother has an amazing singing voice, my Dad plays guitar and his voice is clear and wonderful as well. Both of my Grandmothers are musically talented, and Gram (the one who died earlier this month) was an inspiring music teacher and played piano beautifully. So with all of that family history I'm sure you can imagine that my siblings and I all have some talents in that area. My sister's both played instruments, clarinet, flute, bassoon, and piano. One of my brothers has the most amazing tenor voice I have heard outside of professional artists. Another brother played trumpet, and all of us have a great love for ALL kinds of music. Growing up we heard classical, opera, oldies, rock, pop, country. I cant speak for my siblings but for me, this made me a lover of ALL types of music. I inherited my Mom's strong operatic soprano voice, and if I'm honest I haven't really been developing that talent very much recently. It's a sad reality that I am trying to work on, because Gram would have wanted me to.

I remember when I was in the midst of choosing a family for Dawson, and my only major requirement was that they have musical ability. I knew I wanted my son to grow up with the same musical surroundings that enveloped me as a child. I wanted him to have a love and understanding of the profound emotional connection a person can have with melody. An understanding of the balance in a good harmony, and the beauty in contrasting chords when trying to convey emotion. Music is the only language that can truly express our feelings, the highs and lows and all that comes in between. That's why I will never run out of posts for "Adoption Art of the Week", because there will always be a song or a lyric that brings my son to mind, that makes me feel the sadness or the peace again. I will have an endless supply of beautiful music to put forth and show how profound it is to my life.

So my challenge is this: The next time you sing along to your favorite song, don't just hear the lyrics. Try to listen to the music behind it and see how much it adds to those words. Our lives would be a very empty place without those notes and melodies. When that song comes on the radio that brings you back to your childhood, feel the awe in knowing how simple and how amazing that is. Understand that music is a powerful force at work in this world.

For me, music will always be a piece of who I am, just like my family shaped me, so did the music that surrounded me. I am grateful for a family who understood that teaching me to love music was about so much more than entertainment. I am so glad that Dawson has the opportunity to have that same love fostered in his life through his parents and sister. I am proud to know he has a strong musical family, on all sides of his life, and I know he will find the importance of it because of that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Color

It's time for another edition of Five Minute Friday!

Every friday there is a prompt, and in the words of The Gypsy Mama herself:

"For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This week's prompt is: Color

GO

Color is a strange way to think of it. This week my world has been splashed in shades of grey and black. Mourning the passing of a Grandmother and friend, trying to be there for my mother while still processing my own greif. I don't even know how to explain how I feel. I can't even bring myself to wear brightly colored clothing.

Always in my mind are the thoughts of what I should have done. I should have called her on Thanksgiving. I should have sent more pictures. I should have...

I couldn't bring myself to go to her house, to travel there and see her funeral and watch others mourn for her. I will not be there to see the flowers and the tears. I can't bear the thought of being in her home without her music filling it. Its too much to ask of myself to have to say goodbye again. She is here, in my heart and in my music, always. I have sung for her each day since she passed and I hope to continue...

I miss you Grams...

STOP

Sorry this didn't end up being very on topic. I still need some time to process things I guess. Thanks for being patient while I am going through all this. I will try to get back on the topic of adoption soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Grieving

Grief, I know many birthmoms who feel such debilitating grief during this time of year. Some people believe the pain fades away, but they are wrong. In the first few years my reactions to the pain were stronger, because the pain was newer and I had no skills to deal with it. In the same way that a strong smell is overwhelming at first, but as you sit in it you forget it is there. Only occasionally, when someone else comments on the smell, do you remember it was there. It's always there, always a part of the atmosphere, but you simply become immune to it's power over time. The amount of anguish I feel over missing the Holidays with my son has not diminished over time, as some would believe it has. I don't cry as often about it, that is true, and I have many more moments of joy than I used to. This is not because I have moved past it, it is only because I have felt these emotions so often that my reactions have changed. I certainly have a support system to turn to, and I also have more skill at looking through the grief to the happiness on the other side.

I love the Holiday season, I always have. I remember waiting impatiently for Christmas morning, shopping for my siblings and friends. Being so excited to see their reactions to my gifts. I can certainly find that excitement again, and I enjoy all of these things as I always have. With Cookie around, it's a little more easy to do, because I get to give her gifts and see her reaction to them.

I will confess, for a long while I have not sent Christmas and birthday gifts to my son. Some birthparents find a certain amount of relief in knowing their child will be able to get gifts from them. My enjoyment in giving has always been about seeing the joy that those gifts entice. I lost interest in sending gifts when I realized that I would not be able to see him enjoying them. I buy him things when we visit, and I love seeing him light up like that. Perhaps it sounds callous that I would not send anything, and maybe it is. I know my mom sends them gifts occasionally, and I know they don't expect gifts from me. Another problem the last few years has been my financial status, it's tough to get together the money for sending gifts when you are a single mom, or living on your own, surviving paycheck-to-paycheck.

This year things are different, so I made the resolve to send them something, even if it is something small. I sent them a picture already that Cookie colored for them. I also have a book to send as well. It's hard not to want to buy an entire store out for them, but I am taking it slow.

I know that this year will be just as hard as the last 7 have been, and I will miss seeing Dawson open gifts and participating in many other traditions. I will be able to experience those things with Cookie, and that is some help to me. I also know that A will be there to lean on when times get tough for me. I hope that those who are not part of the adoption world will understand a little better how these occasions can effect a birthparent. I also hope that birthparents out there will understand they are not alone. The sadness and grief are normal, and you will get through it. I wont give you false hope that this will go away, but I will say that it gets easier. I suppose that is the best we can hope for.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things I've Learned About Being a Mom

1. Toddlers will inevitably want your food, but not their own, so get used to eating food that is soggy from baby-saliva.


2. It's REALLY hard to teach your child not to do something when you are laughing at them.


3. Bodily fluids and excretions are no longer gross when dealt with daily.


4. Bedtime can also be known as "The threshold of Mommy's relaxation time".


5. Any object is a phone to a 20 month old.


6. Someone who rings your doorbell after your child's bedtime (even if it is 7pm) is a giant A-hole automatically.


7. Milestones like crawling, walking and talking are all so fun to think about before hand. After they actually happen you realize how easy you had it when they COULDNT run away from you or talk back!


8. Your children will always be the cutest, most beautiful, and most talented.


9. One of the hardest sounds in the world to hear is your child calling after you when you have to leave them.


10. Everything is more difficult, and yet more beautiful, with your children.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Tired

It's time for another edition of Five Minute Friday! Every friday there is a prompt, and in the words of The Gypsy Mama herself:

"For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This week's prompt is: Tired

GO


You're so tired, your tiny eyes droop and your little fists rub away at them. Signalling the end of another evening and the beginning of another length of "Mommy time".

You cling tightly to me and allow me to rock you back and forth. This is how I remember the early days. How blessed I am to have you to snuggle beside me and help me see the simplicity of life's joy.

After the babbling stops and the house is quiet, I find myself slumped into the couch. Tired. No, exhausted.

So much has happened for us and to us. So much has made life more promising, yet more difficult. I feel an ever-abiding sense of exhaustion, it seeps into each moment, but these moments are the worst. Letting my guard down allows such crippling fatigue to finally have it's way with me. I wonder when will come a time where I do not feel as if it has sapped each moment and each breath from my body. Will there come a day when I can simply revel in the feel of my child's head on my shoulder? Or the gentle hand of a strong man atop mine? So much ahead to get through, so here I sit, finally able to be and not just do.

STOP

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Changes...

I was having a nostalgic moment earlier today. I kept thinking back on who I used to be and what has changed in my life, especially in the last 10 years or so.

It sounds like such a long time, 10 years, but it doesn't feel like it was that long ago that I was in my teens, pregnant and scared. Of course the first major things that come to mind when talking about changes in my life are the big ones: I can hold a job, drive a car, I live in my own home, and I am (what I would consider) somewhat successful.

What I really got hung up on though was my character back then. As a (pre-pregnancy) teen, I was a little out of control. I was definitely selfish, I had no respect for my parents or for myself. I was promiscuous, defiant, self-absorbed, entitled and a downright brat. I had no appreciation for anything.

Another tough part for me was actually after-the-fact. Even though I felt so much more grown up and responsible after I had my son, in many ways I wasn't. In fact, I may have regressed a bit (I am not saying this happens in every case of placement, but for me it was an issue). I relied on my parents, did not keep a job, leaned heavily on whatever person I happened to be dating at the time, I refused to get my license. I wasn't a disaster of self destruction, but in some ways I think I was scared of what "growing up" might mean. Would all my experiences as a fully grown human being be as painful as placement? Would it just be one hurtful thing after another? Would all my fairy-tale dreams and happy-ending expectations be shot down as the ones regarding my son were? It was too hard to face those realities, and so I stayed at home and stagnant for much longer than anyone else I knew.

I was still living with my parents on my 21st birthday. Still with no license, no place of my own and no sense of self, that was when it all kind of hit me. I needed to get out of there. Out of the cold winters that made my depression worsen, out of the memories of broken promises and missed experiences, and out of the constant reminders of placement. The whole city wreaked of sadness and pain for me, and it was hard to love a place so much while also hating it vehemently.

I took a leap, and I think it was the first in a series of truly grown up decisions I would have to make. I moved almost 2000 miles away from anything I had ever known, I got a job, paid rent, lived paycheck to paycheck. I had a lot of help along the way. Family I never really knew came out of the woodwork, and now have become my lifeline here in this desert I call home. I know I needed that space, and now when I go to my home town I can revel in the good memories, the love of my family, and the wonders I was too distracted to see before. I learned that while being grown up does mean you have to do hard things, it also means you start to realize the truths about life and about yourself. While I dont believe in fairy tales anymore, I can still make plans for my future knowing I will be able to be happy no matter what happens. Finding the balance of beauty after the pain was so rewarding.

I wont say that I was quite ready to be fully adult about everything after I moved. Relationships were an issue for a long time, and I had a really hard time trusting people (especially guys). I learned a lot more lessons, got the chance to have wild parties and experiment with who I wanted to be. Without the pressure of other's expectations I thrived and moved forward.

I think the final catalyst for my transformation came when I realized I was pregnant with Cookie. She was the kick in the butt that I needed to fully accept the role of adult. I needed to be the person she could rely on, someone who could make the tough choices and do the hard things for her. Pregnancy was scary and hard, especially when I was mostly on my own (although without my family and friends I never would have made it through). Once again my Mommy mode kicked in, and this time I didn't need to shut it down, I lived each day for the joy of my daughter. I breastfed as long as possible, followed all her Doctor's advice, and made sure she was healthy and happy. When we met Albert and he and I started dating, it was like all of a sudden all the pieces fit together perfectly. I know who I am, and he accepts me as I am no matter what. Knowing that this is possible makes it all worthwhile.

I'm glad I had the chance to learn some of these hard lessons, and I know that I still have a lot more lessons to learn in this life. At least now I understand that those hard experiences always make way for something more beautiful in the end.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

There is No Roadmap [or: A Belated Thanksgiving Post]

I'm having a really hard time writing lately. After writing out several rambling posts which had no real conclusions I have come to the realization that there are just some times when I cant focus on adoption. Sometimes I need to focus my writing on myself, and let it flow where it may. Adoption and placement are an inherent part of myself, and most of the time the writing comes to me easily, but today and all this week I am distracted. Darkling subjects catch my attention and drag it away from what I wish I could eloquently say. So I will say what has been on my mind lately, without regard for whether it is adoption related.

First: I would like to say a big fat F* you to cancer. This insane disease that seems to effect so many people has taken the life of a co-worker and friend this week. I will be attending services for her this afternoon. I am outraged at the brutal and random nature of this plague. At the same time I feel so helpless and out of control. No amount of human grief will make a difference, and I understand that. I wish I had the power to eradicate cancer from existence, but I also understand the balance in all things, and that for each light there must be a dark. I'm sure in it's place would come some other suffering for us to bear.

On this week which should have been focused on family, friends and celebration, I was focused on the grief of losing a bright soul. It gives me a profound sense of sadness to know she is not in this world any more. It also throws my life into sharp focus, of all the weeks for something so horrendous to happen, this was the one in which I had difficulty truly sharing how I felt. In a time when all are listing the many blessings they are thankful for, some being possessions, family, friends and other generalities. I wish I could list all the many pieces of my life that are so integral to making it whole. I know that this Thanksgiving, I was sad but also grateful to have known my co-worker and friend for the short time I did. She was a shoulder to cry on when we lost another co-worker and friend a few years back, and ever since that day I have seen her in an entirely new light. A feisty and outspoken woman of much character, who loved people deeply and truly cared for the well being of those around her. She was high strung and anxious, demanding and honest. She said bold truths without blinking, and knew the importance of remembering those we love.

Platitudes about being thankful for "family" and "friends" do not do justice for the true gratitude I feel for each person who has touched my life. I am astounded that I have been so lucky as to have known great and incredible people in my time. I was raised by two flawed but loving parents, who see the good in me no matter my faults. I have upstanding and amazing and strong and vulnerable siblings who help to ease my path as we each walk through life together. I was given the gift of being a birthmother to the most amazing little boy, I was also given all the tools to make the right choices for him, and to move beyond my grief when the time was right. I have the most gorgeous little girl, who touches my life daily and makes me see the simplicity of what life is. I was blessed enough to meet a man who truly complements me in every way, who sees me clearly and loves me through it all. A man who allows me to cry and talk about things openly in my own emotional way. A man who was willing to fill the hole in our little family and make it complete.

The human emotional experience is an amazing one. While I glory in the amazing and awesome experiences and relationships that have brought me to this point, I also mourn a loss and hope that no more are imminent. I wish there was an instruction book for these experiences, I wish there was a roadmap to make choices easier.

There is no roadmap. No easy way to know that your experiences and choices will be good, bad, or make no difference in the end. It is the hardship and also the beauty of life, to know that you will impact events, but to have no inkling of what that impact might be. I only hope that in the end my good outweighs the bad, and that I can be seen as the well-intentioned, if flawed, individual I am.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adoption Art of the Week: Ode to Love

This week I would like to share a piece of art that has touched my life beyond measure. It was a poem written for me and given to me after I placed. My good friend's mom became like a second mother to me throughout my childhood and into my teens. She knew that I placed Dawson, and she wrote this for me. She is so talented, so caring and so amazing. A true example of a wonder woman and a super mom. I think of her as an extension of my family and I feel lucky to have had the chance to have her as an example in my life.

This is going to be really hard for me to copy, and if I am being honest I was not able to even read through the entire poem for a long time after placement. It sits in a special place in my son's baby book which my mom made for me. I still often find myself looking more at the fancy font than the words because it is so hard for me to relive the emotions I was feeling during those times. So here is one of the sweetest gestures anyone has ever done for me (and I am already crying and I haven't even started copying it yet).

Ode to Love

By Andi McGrew


My baby son

I want you to know,

That your Mama

Loves you so.


My heart broke

As I watched you go.

I so wished I could

Watch you grow.


But son, I couldn't give you

All that you would need.

I wanted for you

The best life you could lead.


You'll be in my heart

For as long as I live.

Ensuring your future,

Was the best gift I could give.


When you read this someday,

Please know that I cared.

I mourn for those moments

We might have shared.


Grow up happy and strong

And my heart will rejoice

And always know

That I made the best choice.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Grow

It's time for another edition of Five Minute Friday! Every friday there is a prompt, and in the words of The Gypsy Mama herself:

"For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This week's prompt is: Grow

GO


Nurturing the love I feel for my family, allowing the growth to happen in a natural progression. Time passes, and as it does I see my babies slipping away. Into new adventures and new growth, new skills and new maturity. It's beyond scary for me. I have a child who is almost 9 years old. These are no longer times when he will not remember what is happening. No longer days when he is innocent and new. He is a young man, and soon will come into his own as a person.

Cookie grows so much with each passing moment. The months seem to slip through my fingers even as I try desperately to hold on. Talking, walking, learning, living, finding herself. This is a time of endless discovery and I am blessed to be part of it.

My love grows each day, for each of my beautiful children, and the man in my life who makes all of my dreams seem possible. The roots we have put into this sandy ground have become my constant comfort. I am in my own place in life, with no regrets. This is home. This is where we belong.

STOP

Sorry I missed the prompt last week, it's been a bit crazy around these parts (obviously). I'm glad I get the chance this month to find gratitude and joy in my family. I hope you will appreciate yours as much as I have come to appreciate mine. Having love in this holiday season is a wonderous thing. I hope all of my readers are well and loved this season, and all others to come. Thanks!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adoption Interview Project: Meet Kenna...

Today is Adoption Interview Project day! Its been an interesting couple of weeks, getting to know another blog and learning more about the blogger herself. For a more comprehensive list of the blogs that are involved please go visit this post at Prduction, Not Reproduction.

For the project I was paired with Kenna, whose blog is called iWrite. At first after reading some of her posts I was in awe of her strength. She has had so much hardship in her journey and she could have given up. Struggling with infertility, health issue, two failed adoptions, seems like almost too much for one human being to deal with. Now for her trouble she has a beautiful son, and a wonderful family. At times her blog reads as heart-wrenching, while at others you see the humor that she uses to diffuse the hard stuff. It's an amazing combination of insightful and funny. Very few pieces of writing can make me cry, and then laugh while those tears still fall. She has that unique ability. I hope that others who see this will come to understand how inspiring her writing is. I also know that many will just laugh at her hilarious antics. So here is our interview, which makes me giggle with glee:




Describe yourself in as few words as possible. What is the most important thing for people to know about you and your blog?

Insane but genuine.

As far as the blog goes, the most important thing I like people to know is that it is honest. Some people don't understand what this means, which confuses me, but I am very real is what I write and how I write it. Yes, I do understand that there are lines, but sugarcoating my experiences isn't going to help anyone, especially me, as I write because it is cathartic. No shame in having human emotions. I have found in so many instances people are ashamed of the more intense and I guess, 'frowned upon' feelings. I have been through some very horrible and painful experiences, and there isn't any reason to hide that. I figure, 'How can I expect to help anyone if I am not true to what I went through?' I have been chastised for it, but I refuse to be emotionally stunted because it's on a public forum.


Tell me about a memory you never want to forget. Give as much detail as possible.

Since we are on the topic of adoption I think about the day Boog was placed with us. After two failed placements, one of them basically torching my soul, it was such a healing balm to my soul. Boog was 12 months old when his birth mom first emailed us, and 14 months old when we were placed, so there had to be a transition period that isn't usually included when adopting a newborn. My husband and I were in Texas for one week before placement, and one week after, but something about the day of placement (December 10, 2010) is so very special to me. It wasn't like most placements I had heard about. We weren't at a hospital or the agency; just sitting on the couch at Boog's birth family's house. Sadie (Boog's birth mom) sat next to me, and the notary public and her caseworker sat across from us on chairs with dinner trays as their table. Her caseworker read aloud what Sadie would be signing, and Sadie signed with no hesitation. It was truly an amazing thing to watch. We knew she knew that she was doing the best possible thing for Boog. Then it was our turn, and the same thing went down. Caseworker read what we were going to sign, and we signed. It was notarized, and we gave Sadie a huge hug, and then she had to leave for work. Josh and I got into the car with Boog and kind of looked at each other like, 'ummm, crazy, right?!' I think that because we weren't leaving for another week that it wasn't as hard on Sadie, because she knew she would see him the next day. Same goes for us. We knew it wasn't necessarily goodbye yet (although when goodbye came we all LOST it) so we were able to prepare a bit more. It was just such a peaceful day. It was the first time I felt like I was breathing normally in years.

(insert my sobs here. can't write about that day without bawling)


Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Sadly I am allergic to all animals, but I have a dog. My husband and I both grew up with animals so I imagine we will always have some ourselves. Plus, our kiddo loves, 'goggies', so it works out. Also, I should probably admit that when it comes to grown up cats I see them as a football. Easy to punt. Then again, kitties are adorable! I feel so torn right now.


Tell me about someone in the adoption world who has inspired you. What about them would you like to emulate?

This seems almost impossible to answer because there are so many people in the adoption world. From fellow adoptive moms, to birth parents, my kiddo, my case worker, even my therapist (if it wasn't for her I would never have tried to adopt again after our failed placements).

I admit it. I can't pick one person. I have been inspired by all.

However, there is one thing all these people have in common. Love. Sound corny? Sure does, but it is completely true. Adoptive parents have so much love to give. Birth parents love their child so much they want it to have the best chance at life possible. My caseworker loved me enough that during the months after our first failed placement she checked in on me constantly, which included staying up until midnight to wish me a happy birthday. My therapist gave me courage and loved me enough to know I shouldn't stop trying to adopt.

This is what it's all about. Love, love, love, love, lovey love. It's pretty awesome.


How has being a parent changed your view of the world?

I think it has made me much more, er, scared. I was going to say pansy ass, but am I allowed? There wasn't anything I was really worried about before Boog came into the picture. Now that I'm raising a kiddo, I am terrified. So much evil and wrong and gross and sick things going on right now. Then again, I am a true believer of where there is dark, there has to be light. There are so many amazing things available to my son that weren't when I was a kid. I am surprised a lot of us made it to adulthood. From medical advances, to options for school and careers when he gets older, it's endless. The world doesn't have to be terrifying, and I try really hard not to convey my nervousness to my kiddo. Kind of intimidating when all you want to do is raise a good, caring, productive member of society. It seems these days it's always about taking the easy way. What's fastest. What gives instant gratification.

Oh man, now I'm scaring myself.


Tell me about your husband, how has he changed you? How has he changed because of you? What is the best example of how your relationship flows?

Basically I married a saint. I would have left my sorry self a long time ago, but for some reason he is still around. He must like a good challenge...

Josh is everything I've ever dreamed of in a husband, and more, which is you know, total bonus for me. I was a little, how do you say, rough around the edges when we met. His kindness and love for me helped smooth out a lot of issues I had with myself and the world in general. He has given me a lot more hope in the world, people, life. I think more than anything he has pushed me to be better in all aspects of my life. Sounds cliche, but it's completely true.

Ha, Josh would say that I corrupted him, which is partly true. He never used the word, 'douche bag' until he married me. He also never yelled and shook his fist at idiot drivers, but I figure that is a good trait. I just asked him if I have changed him for the good in any way and he promptly said, 'No.' What a punk.

How do you give an example of a relationship? Do you watch Modern Family? Claire and Phil? Totally like that, but with more kidney punches and open handed face smacks.

Okay, but really, we fit together perfectly and I am amazed every day that I got so lucky. He feels the same, because let's be honest, I'm a freaking catch.


What would you change about the adoption process if you had the power to do so?

Why do they have to look in my tub for the home study? Think I'm working on some booze in there? Keeping a pet alligator? If I had a pet alligator I would obviously keep it in my pool in the backyard, not in my tub. Have you ever tried to take a bath with an alligator? Yeah, it goes about how you are picturing it in your mind.

Seriously, though, I don't know what I would change. I see some things as kind of a pain, or frustrating (how much it costs, the paper work, the intrusiveness of it all) but I understand why it's that way. Of course we can say, 'Drug addicts have babies all the time and they don't have to have someone checking in their bathtub...' but this is a chance to give the child the best. possible. home. So, if it means becoming a parent, I will do whatever it takes. Even if that means my caseworker has to pry into my sex life, look into my tub, and analyze my every move.


Last and most importantly: If I gave you a Hippopotamus, what would you do with it? :D

Name it Kevin. Get a saddle. Ride around the neighborhood. "Oh, you have a Lexus? I HAVE A HIPPO! Sucka!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tiny Footprints... [An open letter to Cookie]

Your tiny footprints, treading water down the hall. Sweet cherubic cheeks splashed with spaghetti sauce. Watching as i clear the mess made by your squishing exploration. Fingers reaching up to add your tiny hand print to my arm. So many marks left, some on my heart as you took a piece to hold with you. Some on my face from the tears I shed for you, whether they be happy or sad or conflicted. Many marks left on my body from your growth, your life, your sweet baby kisses. Fluttering footsteps simply reaching out for a parent to follow. Mischevious laughter from another room brings curiosity and worry. Sweet smiles and joyful hugs I live for, and would gladly die for.

So simple, the art of parenthood. You must only give everything of yourself, to allow this tiny being to take control of your heart and your mind and your very life.

Today was hard. Impossibly hard, knowing I may never know what the truly right decision is for you. Starting on this path may be wrong, but sometimes life is not black and white. Please remember that, and know that not all decisions are easy to make. The only thing I know for sure is that no matter what may come of this you have a mother who loves you. You have a true father who loves you every bit as much as he would if you were his flesh and blood. Love is thicker than blood my darling, and I hope someday you will understand that as I do. Even as I fight for your interest with a person who has legal reason to call himself your "father" I see the strength and courage spread through our lives by the man who is our rock. I see your eyes light up as he leans to picks you up, and even on this harsh and incongruous day I see him warm at your beautiful smile. He sees the light within you as I do. He understands this ever present burning to protect and give and enjoy each second with you. I want for you to understand and know your history, but I also hope you will see the truth and know that no biological bond could ever take the place of a true parent.

Together we will laugh at your antics, clean up the messes, and live each day. We are your family, and we will always be there to pick up the pieces, but for now we will just smile and watch your tiny footprints evaporate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspirational...

I grew up in a mormon family. Large, loud, proud and loving. My siblings are spread between generations. Sometimes that makes it hard to communicate and understand one another. I didnt feel like I really got to know my oldest siblings as adults, because they moved away when I was young. As I've gotten older I have realized how important it is to foster these relationships. It's still hard, and we will always be in different stages of our lives, but we have become better friends as time passes.

This is my oldest sister, Jen. She has been a rock in my times of need. We have a special bond now because of adoption. I'm sure you've seen me mention my sister who struggled with infertility while myself and our other sister were pregnant. She has had alot of trials and dealt with them all amazingly well. She was the first to mention adoption to me when I was pregnant with Dawson, and she was the first person I thought of when I decided to place. We both thought and prayed alot about whether it would be a good idea to place my son in her home. In the end we didnt feel it was the right choice. I felt like I would have alot of negative feelings toward my sister, and I didnt want the added stress to our relationship.

In the end she did adopt, and her little boy Liam is a perfect addition to their family (full disclosure- I stole the below picture from her blog). She also has beautiful twins who were my first niece and nephew. They are an amazing example of how a great mom raises great kids, and I love the whole family. I know that what we all went through has changed us, and I have always felt like after placement she and I understood one another better. She is one of the best moms I know, so I talk to her when I want advice on how to handle tough parenting decisions. We both have come to eachother with questions about the "other side" of the adoption view. She's given me some great advice, and I even stayed with her for a month when I was 20 because of some hard times in my life. Not once during that time did I feel judged or looked down on. The time I spent with her was the reason I felt I could make it on my own and move away from home.

I'm sure we've both had times where we felt alienated from one another, but something always pulls us together again. I always seem to come back to her for her opinions and help. She was the first person I told when I found out I was pregnant with Cookie (I was at her house at the time). She was so understanding about it all. Even though our religious views and day-to-day lives are so different, I dont feel like she is trying to preach to me. She is straightforward but caring and sweet tempered. I cant imagine what my life would have been like if she wasnt part of it. I am so happy to have all of my amazing siblings, and I know sometimes she might feel left out because I dont get the chance to see her as often as some of my other siblings. I just wish I could express how important she has been in my life. Healing after placement is really tough, and knowing that she understood was so amazing. She has always been the person who inspires me to be better, and she will always be a wonderful example of motherhood.

Jen, I love you and appreciate you every day. I know how hard it's been for you to be understanding even when I made huge mistakes. I know that no matter what happens I will always have my sister to lean on. I love that you are willing to listen when I talk, and I wish I could see you and your beautiful family more often. I cant wait for you to meet your niece and I know she will love you and see how much you have inspired my life and my road to motherhood. Love you sister.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wonders Never Cease

So last night I called D. We had played phone tag a little this week, and when I got the chance after Cookie went to sleep I gave her a call. I always get a little bit of butterflies when I talk to her. It's not anxiety, more just excitement and happiness. We had what A called "a love fest" talking about how much we care about eachother and how amazing our experiences have been. I asked her permission to include some pictures of them on the blog. Her response was basically that she trusts me, and she doesnt mind at all (so here she is with Cookie- gorgeous right?). We talked about the blog, and how I am trying to build myself a group of other birthmoms with similar experiences. She said she thought it was good that I got that chance, and I told her about some of the things I've written recently. Seriously, every time we talk it's like she reaffirms my absolute love and respect for them. We talked about Dawson, how well he is doing in school and the things he loves to do. We talked about C, who is growing into a gorgeous young woman who is very mature and self-aware. We talked about D's new job and how much she is enjoying it, about all the birthdays that they get to celebrate in the winter. We talked about the first year after placement, and how hard it was for me to talk to them or send letters. She said she always knew I was just in too much pain to be able to say much to them. I told her how being around their family changed how I thought about my loss. She said she felt like her family grew by more than just one little baby boy that day. I told her how I always thought I would resent them, but I learned that I cant feel resentment for people I love so much.

We talked for almost an hour while she drove home, and when she got there she asked Dawson if he wanted to talk. "Nah" he said. Little stinker. The funny thing is that I didnt feel upset, I didnt feel hurt by him not wanting to talk. First of all he's a boy, and I understand how boys can be. Secondly, I felt so full already from just talking to D. She is the center of that house, and I know when I talk to her I am getting the whole story. She makes me feel like I am a part of their family instead of an outsider looking in on it. I feel like she is my long lost sister, and we are able to be honest and accept eachother for who we are. We talked about how Dawson talks about me, and sometimes wants to write me letters (yay!), and she said she never really felt the need to prepare for the conversations about adoption. She just seems to know what to say in the moment, and it always seems to be the right thing. I told her that Cookie practices saying his name and we point out pictures of them all the time and tell her who they all are. I want her to grow up knowing they are family, and loving them even though they are far away.

There was so much to say, and so much love to feel, and so much gratitude to express. We always say so many of these things when we talk, but it never feels like a repeated conversation. At least for me, I feel so full of emotion that I may burst if I dont express it to her. I wish there were better words to express how I feel for all of them, but I do my best with the limited means of communication I have.



This is from our april visit this year. From left to right: D, G, C, Dawson, Cookie, Me, Bubba



By the end of our conversation I had been on the verge of tears many times. After we hung up I let a few of those tears of joy fall. I am so grateful. So very lucky to be part of their lives. I know I would never change a single thing, because it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Each of them is a wonder to me, and D is my conduit to experience it all. So I dont care if it seems like a big "love fest" to everyone else, I'm being genuine and I cant say enough good things about my experience with this wonderful family.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mom, Mother, Birthmom, Real Mom...

Another post inspired by the Birthmom Buds Blog (I love those guys!). I was reading a post called Calling Someone Else Mom written by Coley (shout out!). She talked about how it took her off guard the first time her son said "Mommy" in front of her. This got me thinking alot about the words we use and how they effect others.

It immediately brought to mind one of my most precious memories:

I have had visits with Dawson, D, G and C about once a year since just after Dawson's third birthday. This was not something we planned, but we all found a cameraderie and realized we enjoyed eachother's company. Everything seemed to fit together each time. It was amazing, and I never felt what Coley describes when she heard her son call someone else "Mom". I always felt connected to D, like long lost sisters who share a special bond through this beautiful baby boy. She was precious to me as soon as we started getting to know one another. How could I feel resentment for such a sweet-spirited woman? The only thing I found hard was that I knew he didnt really understand who I was. We had another amazing visit in 2008 (Dawson was about 6 at the time) and once again I left elated and amazed at how wonderful they all were. That was a really hard year for them, and I am still so grateful they took the time to come and spend time with me and my family. Months went by, and in January of 2009 Dawson turned 7. I try to call around his birthday each year because it makes my time so much better. That year I talked to D for a while, I heard all about their day and how everything was going for them. She let me know that they talked about me, and she thought he might be understanding now. I was so happy, and then she asked if I would like to speak to him. I heard her in the background, telling him I was on the phone, asking if he remembered when we had our visit and if he remembered who I was.

*Gasp* "My mother?!"

My legs went weak and immediately there were tears in my eyes. I tried to choke them back as we talked about presents and his sister and all kinds of other things. He was so happy and excited, and my mind was reliving that moment over and over. After he gave the phone back to D and we said our goodbyes I revelled in that feeling for days. He knew me! He knew how we were related and he could understand what it meant!

I dont know if it hit me until this last year what that must have felt like for D. For her child to call someone else "Mother". I'm sure as my heart leapt hers plummeted. More than likely he just didnt know to use the term "Birthmom" or one that would put qualifiers in place to make it understood that I am not his "Mother". I have no doubt that Dawson knows who his Mom is, I certainly know who she is. I am not that woman, I did not feed him and love him and nurture him these past 8+ years. I hope she did not see that moment as an infringment on her role, because for me the excitement was more that he knew me, and less about the title (although I have to admit to feeling joy for that as well).

I will still cherish that moment as one of the best in my life, but I can look back on it now and see how hurt D must have felt.I know it can be confusing that I call Dawson "my son" in alot of cases. I've made it very clear that he will always count as one of my children to me. What matters is not how I see him, but how he sees me. I will never be his Mom, and I am ok with that. I FEEL like his Mom, because he holds a place in my heart, but he doesnt need to FEEL like my son. He doesnt need to call Cookie his "sister" even if she calls him a brother. He has a sister who loves him and is there with him being raised by their parents.

I never want to take away from D's role in his life, because she is his Mom, she COUNTS. Maybe I am overthinking this a bit, I just need to make it clear that I dont expect them to view me as I view them. That would be unfair. I can hope that they will trust that I care for them all deeply, and even though I will always count Dawson as my son I will also always refer to them as "his parents". I dont think of them as "adoptive" parents, I think of them as what they really are, his actual parents. Real, true, amazing parents.

I want D to know that I will forever be grateful for her friendship and caring. I will always think of her as a part of my family (along with G and C). I will never think of Dawson as separate from them, because they are a package deal, and I know that. I feel so strongly that we were meant to be in eachother's lives, and I can only hope that they feel a fraction of the amount of love for me that I feel for them. I'm sure it's hard sometimes, on that side of the triad. I will never feel like our visits and conversations are a requirement, and I will always be thankful to them all for including me in their lives when they dont have to. I love each of them more than I can say, and I want the world to know that I know how lucky I am to be part of this family.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Counting Children...


I love when I read another person's blog and get inspired to write about my feelings. So when I read This Post over at the Birthmom Buds Blog I was inspired to get to writing. Problem is, I sat down to get writing several times and nothing came to me. I found myself struggling to express how this makes me feel.

"How many kids do you have?"
"How old are your kids?"
"How does your son like being a big brother?"

Some of the toughest questions I have to answer are about my relationship to my son. I get alot of compliments on the framed photo on my desk at work. It's a very beautiful picture from our visit in April. Dawson and I are huddled close to each other on a bench and Cookie is partly on my lap and partly on his (picture is below and blurred for the privacy of the family). We are all smiling and leaning into one another. It is one of my favorite pictures, along with one where he is holding Cookie and they are looking at each other and laughing (which is on display as my desktop background at work). These pictures mean the world to me, they are the most precious moments of my life. Knowing that Dawson has the chance to get to know Cookie and seeing how natural he is with her was so far beyond my expectations of what could happen for us. I am always in awe of Dawson's parents for having the strength and caring to give me a chance to be in all of their lives, and for them to accept Cookie into that mix as well was incredible.



Here's the problem. I don't often tell people who don't know me well that I am a birthmom. It's not something I am ashamed of, but I have mentioned before that this is a close and personal subject for me. So usually only those I know fairly well will get the full skinny on my life as a Birthmom. Since putting up these photos more people have asked the hard questions. Some questions I can just nod or say yes to and people are ok with it. They go on about their day never knowing that they didn't get the full story. Others probe deeper, asking alot of questions that I cant answer without disclosing the details. Here's how one such conversation looked recently:


Co-worker (CW): "Those are some beautiful kids you have!" *points to picture* "How old are they?"
Red: "Almost 9 and 19 months"
CW: "Wow, that's quite a gap between them!"
Red: "Yep" *smiling uncomfortably*
CW: "How do they like each other?"
Red: "They get along very well"
CW: "I bet he is a big help with his little sister"

I'm not trying to lie to people here, it's not that I don't want to talk about it, it's just that I don't want to talk about it with EVERYONE. I also don't want to lie or be deliberately dishonest, so at this point I usually say something about my son living in Oregon. Sometimes they walk away and assume that my son lives with his father or some other such arrangement, other times they probe more and I have to tell them a brief synopsis like "He lives with his parents and his sister". I don't like saying things like "I placed him for adoption", for some reason I feel like that makes it all about me. I would rather make it clear that while I do have contact, he was not "taken" from me or anything like that. Either way I always feel like most people walk away from the conversation feeling sorry for me. I hate that.

It's a sticky situation, and sometimes when people do get to know me better and hear the whole story they think I was lying. I don't lie about my situation to anyone, but I do sometimes just nod and smile and let people think what they want to. I just cant get into the adoption conversation with every stray person who walks by my desk. It would be an exhausting waste of my time. I would never be able to convey to them how joyous the whole thing can be, or how even though it causes me sadness I still feel so much more good from it than bad. So I scoot around the subject as much as I can, and I usually only begrudgingly bring up the adoption if someone gets nosy. The people who know me well at work know my story, and that is quite enough for me.

I honestly don't know what the better course of action is. I just don't feel that I can comfortably talk about the adoption in everyday conversation. The only thing I know for sure is that both of my kids COUNT to me. When people ask me how many kids I have I always say 2. Yes, I am not parenting Dawson, but he is a part of me forever and always. That much will never change. I have tried to explain to people before, he will ALWAYS count as my baby boy, forever, but I will never be his Mom. Every time I think of the question of counting kids, it makes me think of my own Mom. Her first baby boy (Mark) died when he was about 4 months old from SIDS. I've never heard my mom say she was only a mother of 6, because it doesn't matter that Mark is not here anymore, he is still her child. I still count him as my sibling, saying I have 6 siblings, not 5. Some people may not understand that, since I never even met Mark, but he was definitely present in our house.

I want my parented kids to COUNT Dawson, and I will always COUNT him.

Most of what I want to get across is that I am not someone to feel sorry for. I see my son, I talk to him, he tells me he loves me. I get the privilege to be in his life, and I am humbled and grateful for that privilege. If you know me at all you know that my children are my greatest joy, both of them make my life brighter and more livable each day. Seeing them together was touching and moving beyond words. I am proud to be related to 2 of the most amazing little people on the planet. Even more proud to know that I did what was best for them both, no matter how hard it was.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I Didnt Read My "Birthparent Letter"

So here is a dirty little secret that very few people know about me: I didnt even read the "Birthparent letter" from D and G until Dawson was over a year old.



I know, *gasp* how could I not read it?



I just didnt. That's it (kind of anticlimactic right?).




Go and read my adoption story, there is not a mention of that letter in there anywhere. Dont get me wrong, when we started I read through each letter with a fine-toothed comb. I analyzed each sentence for level of intelligence, empathy, love and expressiveness. Those first 10 packets were almost memorized, I could have told you stats, positives and negatives on each of those couples. None of them really felt right, and I even remember having a conversation with my SW about how I just didnt feel anything for these people. She said to find one that I felt "the least negatives" for. I did, and we scheduled a meeting, and it didnt work. We got word the day before that they had moved. I couldnt wait months for them, and it just never felt good to me. So more packets were given to me, something like 25 in the second pack. Still nothing. I began to lose hope that I would find the right people. The last group of packets came and there were only about 8 in that group. My SW said if I didnt find what I was looking for we would start looking at families with more than one child, or families that lived farther away.



By that time I was so tired. I was 7.5 months pregnant and scared and exhausted. I didnt want to read any more letters, or skim over any more touching words that did not penetrate my heart. So with this last packet I didnt read anything but stats, and then I looked at pictures.




I cant tell you what was in that letter. I'm sure they agonized over it and wrote with care and concern. I dont know if they would be offended to know how little that effort really mattered in the end. I cant even remember the gist of it now, and I have it saved in a baby book that I look through often. What I can tell you is that D's smile was vibrant, and G's love shown brightly. I can tell you that C looked so happy to be spending time with her parents, and every fun location made me wish I could jump into the setting of those pictures. It felt familiar, and it felt like I could not help but come back to those pictures.



I didnt read the letter, maybe partially because I was so wrapped up in my own pain that I couldnt experience those emotions with them. Mostly I think I just didnt need to. They were my family, in a way I could not (and still cant) explain. I didnt need any more confirmation than that.



When I finally did read the letter, I remember feeling like it was unneccesary. It was shortly after our first visit, which means he was over a year old. I knew by then that my choice was right and good. I knew that he was with his family and that they were everything I could have asked for. There is no way a letter could have changed that for me.

Adoption Art of the Week

This week's post will be a fast one. I actually bought this book when I saw it because I was so touched by it...















It is a really touching book, and I am thinking of sending it to D, G, C, and Dawson for Christmas. It's a little young for both of the kids, but the message is timeless. The illustrations are amazing and the words are so touching...












It starts off with this line...




. . . I wanted you more than you’ll ever know,
. so I sent love to follow wherever you go. . . .




I'm sure you can imagine the rest. It's a beautiful and well written piece, I have read it to Cookie a few times already. I have a hard time getting through it without tearing up.




I think the best part about this is that it touches the emotions from all sides of the adoption triad. I really hope you will all go out and read it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

It's time for another edition of Five Minute Friday! Every friday there is a prompt, and in the words of The Gypsy Mama herself:

"For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This week's prompt is: Remember

Go


Remember the days when court dates didnt loom over your head? When diapers were less a piece of your lifestyle? When sweet baby faces didnt greet you with tiny dimpled cheeks that make you want to melt? Remember the days of nights on the town and no need for babysitters?

Of course you do, it wasnt all that long ago. Memory is such a precious gift. I wish mine was better. I wish I could remember what I had for breakfast 3 days ago, but alas that is not to be. I am the forgetful lady with reminders galore. I am the mom who would forget her own birthday if Facebook didnt remind me.

I wish I was less stressed, I wish I could write down each new word my baby girl says. She is less and less a baby with each passing moment and I feel so helpless, sitting here at my desk at work, waiting for the clock to show 5:30 so I can clear out and go find that piece of myself that hides in her tiny arms. I want to remember, I want to make memories, I want so much more. But I sit here stressing about the upcoming fight with her bio-dad instead of being able to cherish those amazing moments.

I love my sweet baby face, and I cant wait for the whole process to be over so I can stop feeling sick to my stomach about it...




Stop

Thursday, November 3, 2011

50 Random Facts About Red...

1. I like the word "Ukulele", it just rolls off the tongue

2. I have a habit of thinking up and searching names for future kids, not because I plan on having one anytime soon but just because I feel the need to.

3. When I was a teenager I got along well with my Mom and didn't like my Dad. As I've grown up my relationship with my Dad has become easier, whereas I feel I have to work harder with my Mom.

4. I wish I could stay home with my daughter every day.

5. I also wish I had the gumption to be a stay-at-home Mom, cause it is hard work.

6. I am the 6th of 7 children (my oldest brother died at 4 months old).

7. 3 out of those 7 kids are redheads.

8. Any strong emotion makes me cry, doesn't matter what emotion it is, (anger, happiness, excitement) all emotions are hard-wired to my tear-ducts.

9. I love to use parentheses (have you noticed?).

10. When I was in middle school I used to sign all my notes with "Love, Peace, and bulletproof marshmallows". Pretty sure I stole it from someone at some point, but I still enjoy it :D

11. I would rather listen to Broadway show tunes than any other music.

12. Did you know that strawberries are in the Rose family? I repeated this fact to everyone I knew when I found out in High School.

13. I love Huckleberry Jam (go out and get some NOW)

14. I prefer even numbers but all good things seem to come to me on odd dates (both my kids have odd birthdays)

15. I live with the coolest dog on the planet (Heidi- she is awesome and irreplaceable) but most of the time I prefer cats (I used to own Munchkin cats-- look them up they are ADORABLE)

16. I cant own a cat now because A is allergic (sad day!).

17. When I am sad I watch Cinderella. Any version, doesn't matter, the story itself is what I need.

18. If Hollywood made a movie version of my life, I would want Emma Stone to play me.

19. I am arachnophobic.

20. I love nutella on toast.

21. I pick at my fingers and hands, it annoys the crap out of A.

22. My favorite author is Dean Koontz, I think about 80% of my book collection is written by him.

23. I love to sing, I was in choir in High School and it was some of the best times I've had.

24. I want to start taking voice lessons again soon.

25. Someday I want to own a baby grand piano like the one my Gram has had forever (seriously that thing has survived going back and forth from Africa and from coast to coast and it still plays the most amazing music I've heard).

26. When I was young I was in alot of community theatre and musicals.

27. I have been in 3 different versions of "The Wizard of Oz" in my life.

28. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is still one of my favorite songs.

29. I was in a musical in 8th grade (Showboat) with the guy who did the original "Day-o, one day sale" commercial for The Bon Marche.

30. When I laugh really hard I snort and squeak.

31. I moved to Phoenix on a spur-of-the-moment decision. I decided to move and 3 weeks later I was here, 2000 miles away from my home town. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

32. I met my boyfriend on an online dating site :D

33. I love good Chinese food, but there is NO good Chinese food in AZ.

34. When I travel back home I usually come back 10 pounds heavier between my Mom's cooking and all the food I go out to get while I am there.

35. I also really miss all the good coffee in Washington, AZ is a primarily Starbucks kind of place.

36. I have a serious crush on Johnny Depp.

37. In middle school I wore a necklace that said "NSYNC". LOL

38. I tend to plan out conversations in my head (but they never go the way I plan).

39. I also tend to think through every possible scenario in my head. This can be very nerve-racking.

40. I hate seafood, as in, ALL sea food. Texture, smell, look, it's just gross.

41. I could not live in a world without cheesecake (YUM!)

42. < this is my favorite number.

43. I think my daughter has the most beautiful eyes ever! They are brown on the inside and blue on the outside, very unique.

44. I think all facts about my kids count as facts about me :D

45. I once had a crush on a gay guy (in my defense I did not know his orientation when we met).

46. I have one of the worst memories, I don't remember things so I have to have reminders and alarms set for everything.

47. Sometimes I wish I lived closer to my parents.

48. Then I have a conversation with them and I realize its probably good I only see them once a year or so :D

49. I'm a little dense. As in, my good friend and I from high school used to get confused by jokes, and then we would burst out laughing 20 min later when we figured out the punchline (at the same time). Said friend is a blonde :)

50. I hate feet (ewww!).

Thanks for hanging in there for this :D

Love, Peace and Bulletproof Marshmallows!

Red

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Adoption Art of The Week...

This week I want to focus in on depression. It is a huge part of what a birthmother goes through after placement. For me it felt like if I stopped being depressed it would somehow be like I stopped loving my son. It took me a long time to get past that feeling, and even longer to allow the hard days to be just that, hard days. Every day doesnt need to be a mope-fest and every day does not need to feel like trudging through deep mud. I can love my son and not be sad about placement every day. In fact I feel like I am doing better by him when I allow myself to be happy. I feel like if he grows up believing that this is something I am sad about he may think I somehow feel it was a bad thing. I dont. It is sad for me sometimes, and that is ok, but it isnt a bad part of my life. I am who I am today because of placement. So here is a sad song that I hold dear:




Just Me (Hidden Track): Blue October



I lost a piece of me in you
I think I left it in your arms
I forget the reasons I got scared
But remember that I cared quite a lot

You see but lately I’ve been on my own
Yeah one, but one by choice
You see that’s a first for me
There's only me, yeah there’s only me
And now I realize for once, it’s just me

It’s just me
It’s just me and I’ll find a way to make it
There’s no one left to stop me,
Here I go, can we take it from the top

So wide, so long, so sad I want to be strong
Don’t try to take this from me
I’ve already spent living half my life undone
So wide, so long, so sad I want to be strong
Don’t try to take this from me
I’ve already spent my life living half undone

I’ve been talking to my aunts and uncles, Mom and Dad again
I’ve been finding out that I have what this world has called friends
I’ve tried to push them all away
They pushed me back and want to stay
And that’s one good thing I have

I’m gonna feel a peace in me
I’m gonna feel at home
I’m gonna make this cloud above me disappear, be gone
I want to feel a punch inside
My heartbeat on the floor
I don’t want to hurt no more

Yeah it’s just me
It’s just me and I’ll find a way to make it
There’s no one left to stop me,
Here I go, Can we take it from the top

So wide, so long, so sad I want to be strong
Don’t try to take her from me
I’ve already spent my life living half undone
So wide, so long, so sad I want to be strong
Don’t try to take her from me
I’ve already spent my life living half undone

It's me, the one who won before
I used to smile but don’t no more
I'm living just to watch it all go by...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Is Adoption Relevant?

I've been intrigued by these in the past thanks to my new friend Monika, who has a very open writing style. She got me hooked on The Gypsy Mama, whose writing I also very much enjoy. Every friday there is a prompt, and in the words of The Gypsy Mama herself:


"For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not."

This week's prompt is: Relevant



-------------

Go...

Are my experiences relevant to normal life? No. Is adoption a relevant subject to the everyday observer? Probably not.

Some days it really feels the only people who find my story relevant are those who dont really need to hear it. The people who are already educated and already know the adoption world. How can I educate people when they have no interest to know more? So I decided I dont need to be relevant to the world. I only need to be relevant to my life. My goals, my dreams and my plans for the future are all that matter. When I write here it is purely for my own edification, to search out new places in my soul that I have left undiscovered for so long. To allow me a place to relive the pain and the joy, to give in to my need to write and use these words that are bumbling around in my brain. These memories that seem to just flow from me are sometimes so unfamiliar, things I have tucked away because of how painful or how tender they are.

What is relevant about me? Nothing and everything. I am the pain you see in the world, and I am the joy in your childs eyes. I am the love I have for my children and I am the deep, abiding happiness that comes with knowing I did right by them. They are my world, and for nothing else would I give so much of myself.

STOP.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Twist in My Story...

I have an older sister who is a roudy and rambunctious ball of energy. Possibly one of the most fun people on the planet, she can turn any errand into an adventure. She is the closest to me in age out of all of my siblings, so we have been stuck together like glue since I was born. When we were young this was a chore for her, but as we got older we became friends. She is one of the only people I feel like I can say ANYTHING to. She tells it like it is, no sugar coating, and I love that she can cut any issue right down to the bone in a quick second. She and I were also pregnant together with our sons. She was due a few weeks after me, but she ended up being early and I ended up being late and so Bubba (her son) was born 6 days before Dawson. The discrepancy in their size was huge, so we called them Timone and Pumba (that's Dawson's foot on the left compared to Bubba's on the right). One of my biggest fears in placement was that the boys would not get to know each other. I always wanted them to be close, best friends, like my sister and I have been.

Many people wondered how I would deal with having Bubba around. I will admit, even I was scared of how he would make me feel. Since I had a C-section I had to have someone in the house to help me for the first week or two. Since both my parents worked and there was no one else, my sister had to be the one to stay with me. I didn't have a chance to avoid being near Bubba. I thought it would be so hard. My heart was still aching so badly from the blow of placement. I thought for sure that this little baby being in the house would kill me. How could I see him, hold him, be near him, watch my sister with him without my heart breaking all over again? The first morning they arrived I tried to just ignore them, I hoped my sister would keep him quiet and away from me. No such luck. He cried and moved and caught my attention. My sister was obviously exhausted from nights awake with him, so somehow at one point I ended up with a little lump in my arms. He fell asleep, and shortly after that my sister fell asleep too. I lay down on the couch with him still wrapped in my arms and I just watched him for a while. This was so different than I imagined. Shouldn't this hurt? Shouldn't I be wracked with sobs from just seeing him, let alone holding him close? How was it possible I could still get attached to this bundle of chub?

I don't know how it happened, and I certainly don't know why, but somehow that baby boy did not hurt me by being there. Somehow he did the opposite, he held my wounded heart together while it scabbed over. He stemmed the bleeding of my tortured soul. I still cant express how important my nephew was in my grieving. He wasn't so much a reminder of what I was missing as he was a way for me to connect with Dawson and know what stages he was in. I babysat him as often as I could, often having him sleep in bed with me at night. Cuddling his soft, warm, baby body against me and loving every minute. He was a gentle nudge of happiness during an otherwise despondent first year. Maybe I am just imagining it but I always felt like I had a special kind of bond with him. He will always be one of my favorite people.

As time passed and I moved beyond the grief, Bubba has remained an important piece of my life. Every time I have a visit with Dawson and his family I make sure that Bubba can go too. The boys amaze me with how they seem to just pick up their friendship like it is so familiar. They don't see each other for months or years and yet they play together like no time has passed. I'm so grateful that they still get to be the friends I always imagined they would be.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Adoption Art of the Week...




I've been listening to a ton of show tunes lately. This one has become a fast favorite, and certainly helps to express my feelings directly after placement.





"Without You" from Rent




Without You
The Ground Thaws
The Rain Falls
The Grass Grows

Without you
The seeds root
The flowers bloom
The children play

The stars gleam
The poet's dream
The eagles fly
Without you

The earth turns
The sun burns
But I die
Without you...

Without you
The breeze warms
The girls smiles
The cloud moves

Without you
The tides change
The boys run
The Oceans crash

The crowds roar
The days soar
The babies cry
Without you...

The Moon glows
The river flows
But I die
Without you

The world revives
Colors renew
But I know blue
Only blue
Lonely blue
Within me, blue
Without you

Without you
The hand gropes
The ear hears
The pulse beats

Without You
The Eyes Gaze
The Legs Walk
The Lungs Breathe

The Mind Churns
The Heart Yearns
The Tears Dry
Without You

Life Goes On
But I'm Gone
Cause I Die

Without You
Without You
Without You
Without You...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fear

Time for another Open Adoption Roundtable!

This round's prompt?:Write about open adoption and being scared.


As a Birthmom, I think fear is a base for almost every emotion in the process. Fear was a catalyst for me to want to consider adoption, it was a prominenet piece of my emotions for a long time during and afterward as well. So I think I will break this up into lists of fears during those 3 times (before, during, after). Here goes:

Before: I had a fear of my child ending up in a bad place because of the limited resources I had. My greatest fear was that he would take on some of the traits his birth dad was demonstrating during my pregnancy. I wanted him to have a father who would teach him to respect women and understand their value, not use them and throw them aside depending on how he felt that day. I also knew that I was unprepared to deal with any of the pressure of being a mom. I was still dealing with adolescent worries and had no idea how to be mature about any of those parenting decisions. I also had a fear of adoption, because I mistakenly believed that it would mean I would never get the chance to know my child.

During: Once I was able to accept the fears I had and move past my pride, my fear was that I would choose wrong. I would somehow choose a family that my son would forever feel disconnected from. Or worse, a family that would lie to him or keep me from him. I was also afraid of how placement would effect me, in a way I was already grieving, and if it was that bad while he was still with me then I knew the aftermath would be unthinkable. I was also afraid of how others would judge me (typical teenage fears I suppose).

After: For a while I lived in constant fear that I would be disconnected from Dawson and his family. I feared his parents and their power over my emotions (if they took away contact I just knew I would have a break down). I felt powerless and like a pawn sometimes, not because they ever treated me like one, but mostly because I created dramatic scenarios in my head (which would never have come true). If I am being honest, I also feared my own reactions to them and to Dawson. I did not write to them very often (even though they wrote every month of that first year just as promised). I was too overwhelmed, and I was so scared of even thinking about it, I hid behind my shell of grief and sadness. J and I had a visit with them just after Dawson turned 1, and for me it was like the sun had come out for the first time that year. I thought it would be so hard to see him with them, see him bonded with another woman and family. It wasnt hard at all, it was so easy and so beautiful.

Now I have far less fear. Most of the fears I have now are to do with Dawson and his family thinking badly of me. I know they care about me and I love them all dearly, so I dont feel like I need to fear that they will dissapear from my life. We respect eachother and know our boundaries. It's a beautiful feeling to have that peaceful relationship with them. I still have moments of fear of the future. I am a little scared that one day I will have to answer hard questions from Dawson. I am scared of how he and my daughter will see eachother, and that they will have misconceptions about my choices for each of them. I also know that I will be there to talk to Cookie about it, and Dawson will have D and G to talk to. None of us are going to be going into these situations blind. Just knowing that makes all of this alot less scary.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pressure of Parenting After Placement


Sometimes I feel such a back-breaking pressure. Pressure to be the best possible mother that has ever lived. I'm sure most moms feel pressure to be more patient, more loving and kind and more humbled than they are. For me, because of Dawson, I feel like I am somehow failing him (and Cookie) if I am not the most wonderful person and mother.


Ok, so here it is: I'm not perfect.

Far from it actually. I get beyond frustrated when Cookie does something I have told her not to (I mean is it really neccessary to throw the dog's food into her water every night?). Some times I wish I could throw in the towel (no, I cannot hold you every second while still stirring dinner and trying to get you juice at the same time). I feel guilty for being away, even though I know that working is what I need to be doing right now. I find myself feeling lazy for not going on lots of outings on my days off (Who needs the zoo? You've got Mommy's bed head to gawk at). I dont have the time or energy to make her home-cooked meals every night (hello microwave!). I probably feed her more junk food than what I should (another cookie? Sure, as long as mommy can finish folding this laundry). I get angry and yell sometimes, I used to have such a long fuse but she seems to know just how to shorten it.

Most days I come out of it all feeling like I have won the battle but am losing the war. How do people make this look so easy? What am I doing wrong here?

Honestly, the worst part for me is my own self-flagellation. I find myself thinking awful things like "what if I was just not made to be a mom?" and it hurts. I can write all of the posts in the world about how other people hurt me, but in the end the person who berates me most is myself. My heart aches for this little girl with huge eyes all day long, and then when I finally come home to her I find myself so tired and run-down that I cant enjoy being with her. I count down the minutes until she goes to bed and I can sit still for a few moments. I worry that by being a "bad" mom I will somehow dissapoint Dawson. I know he wont know right now what kind of mom I am. I guess I just feel like my choice to parent Cookie needs to be validated by me being the best mom. It seems silly now that I think about it. I guess lately I have just felt so burnt out. It feels like a huge effort just to get out of bed in the morning. Getting through the day is like trudging through quicksand. I'm stressed because of thinking of court with R coming up, and wondering what the outcome will be. I'm tired of working at a job I can no longer feel any joy in. I'm frustrated that I cant spend more of my time doing the things I love, like watching my Cookie-bug grow and learn. It's all coming to a head, and I am truly scared of what will happen if I dont get a break from some of this pressure soon.

When I was pregnant with Cookie, my mind was filled with all the wonderful things we would do together. All the things I would be a part of that I never had the chance to experience with Dawson. I'm learning through time that my best laid plans are bound to go awry. In some ways I am ok with it, and in others I wonder if I can keep my sanity through it all. Dont get me wrong, there are plenty of moments that make my efforts worth it (like her clinging tightly to me after waking in the middle of the night, knowing that having me close is a comfort to her as it is for me), and I love my Cookie for always. She is just getting to that age where she cant decide if she wants to do it herself, or have me by her side for everything. It's very frustrating (for both of us).

I know that many mother's have gone through similar struggles, and I know that this too shall pass. I know that there will be times when Cookie is more frustrating and times when she is a perfect angel. I know that I have some unhealthy feelings about myself to work through. I'm hoping that being able to write about it will be a healing process.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adoption Art of the Week

I got a little distracted and forgot to post one of these last week. So to make up for missing one, I am going to post the ultimate adoption song. I literally cannot read, hear or think of this song without crying (I'm tearing up as I write). It is a very perfect representation of what I wish I had the words to say to D. I made this image a long time ago in paint so hopefully you will be able to see it ok...



From God's Arms to My Arms to Yours



I love this song, I remember hearing it for the first time while I was pregnant with Dawson. I was watching a video about adoption and it was playing in the background. I cried so hard that day. I had already chosen to place, but hearing this just made my heart swell. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not The Same

You remember that game, "One of these things is not like the others"? I was looking through pictures from just after Dawson was born today. I felt like I was playing that game as I looked back and forth between the pictures of meeting him, and the ones I had from meeting Cookie. It struck me that there was a huge difference in the emotions and feel of those pictures compared to the one's from Cookie's birth.

Here is the first time I held Dawson (you should recognize this one from the left of the page):



Here is the first time I held Cookie:




As I looked through the other photos I realized there is a distinct pattern:







Idont have a huge frame of reference because I dont have all of the pictures online. I dont know if it is really as obvious as it seems to me, because I have emotions tied to all of these pictures that I am sure cloud my view of them. I do remember my dad taking TONS of pictures while I was in the hospital with Dawson, and I still have alot of them in a photo book my mom made for me. They are all precious and bittersweet memories of those 3 days I had with my precious boy. For some reason today I have been thinking about it alot (probably from reading my previous post). Comparing my days with him and my first days with Cookie. First off, I was in alot more pain after Dawson was born. I had a C-section with him and was on alot of pain meds (one of the reasons I think I was sleeping so much). I couldnt hold the baby on my own, so had to prop him up on pillows to hold him. He was a giant 10 pound and 11.5 ounce baby at birth. I saw him for a brief second after he was born before I passed out. Then I didnt get to see or hold him again for almost 2 hours (at my own misguided request). With Cookie, I had a VBAC (look it up if you dont know) and she was handed to me right away (still a hefty 9.5 lbs, but nothing I couldnt handle). My best friend snapped those awesome pictures as I held her and counted her fingers. While seeing Dawson for the first time was so poignant and bittersweet, seeing Cookie for the first time was like breathing clean air for the first time. It was magical and wonderful and miraculous. My heart was full in all of these moments, but while I held Dawson I was full of not only love but also sadness, fear and many other conflicting emotions. Honestly, the entire experience with Cookie was less stressful and much less difficult. I was in the hospital alone with her, had lots of bonding time, learned to breastfeed and got to have her all to myself. With Dawson that was not even a choice, there was always someone with me, partially because they were trying to be there for me and partially because they wanted to be part of those memories too. I couldnt bond as well because he was so big and I was so pained. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. I'm not really sure. All I know is that with Cookie I was riding an amazing high, I didnt feel pain, I didnt feel bad at all. I felt so very happy.

It makes me a little sad that the first time I experienced bringing life into this world I couldnt really enjoy it. I am grateful for my time with him, and I cherish it, but it will also always be tainted by the sadness and grief. I am so glad that with Cookie I was able to experience the pure joy of it all, without the cloud of depression to go along with it. Dont get me wrong, both of my experiences in the hospital are dear to me, and I wouldnt trade them for anything. Plus I got some beautiful babies out of it...