Sunday, November 27, 2011

I have not been very good about posting lately--using the excuse that we are so very busy.  We are so very busy, so it works, but if I'm going to be honest, our 'open' relationships in our 'open' adoptions were not being so 'open' and I had no idea what to think of it.  I was distraught and couldn't really post about something that really isn't my story to tell.  I want open.  And from what other people say, we are pretty darn open in our adoptions.  And then all of a sudden....it stopped.  No calls, no visits, no emails, no responses--from any of our birthmothers.  I was crushed.  I know they all have their own unique reasons and our ebbs and flows are not always ebbing and flowing in sync with each other.  We chose to set some boundaries that caused one ebb to crash--and crash hard.  Out of respect, I will keep the specifics private but the result of no contact was not the outcome we were intending to happen.  I will never give up when things don't go as planned, but I will not push something that somebody does not want.  I'm sure there was a lot of anger that needed work.  The reason the new boundary was set is not something my husband and I are going to change our minds on and I'm sure it is not easy to take.  It does not change my love for her and my desire to have a close relationship and I hope we can work through that.

Another relationship is just plain hampered by circumstance.  Lack of internet.  Lack of phone.  Living a little bit too far to be more help.  Every time we had something set up to get together, it seemed to fall through.  That intense feeling of being crushed over and over and over again....and quite honestly, I am on the easier end of it.  I see my babies everyday.  I can only imagine the intense emotions that our children's birthmothers experience on a day to day basis.  

Then, out of the blue...I got an email from one birthmother and on the same day, a phone call from another one.  The good Lord knew that I needed to hear from them.  We were able to sneak in a visit in our crazy schedule with one and we are still working on the other one.  It seems everyone has a bit much going on lately.  I do not take my time with any of my babies' first mommas for granted.  Not one bit.  Reality warns me that it could be the last time--or a long time before we see them or hear from them again.  I hope they all know that I am here for them.  I do have their back.  I will support them as best I can.  I will stand up for them.  I will figure out how to help them make their dreams come true.  I will have rules...just like any other person that truly loves them.  Oh how I love them.  I hope they always know that.  Even when it may seem like I don't.  Here are some photos of our last visit.  Enjoy!   


Cousins 


Sleepy time on the couch! :0)


Lovin' up our kiddos! 


One of my favorites!  Momma and daughter.


Jenay and her birthmother!  Don't they look EXACTLY alike?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

OPEN ADOPTION BLOGGERS INTERVIEW PROJECT 2011

I know my blogging has been even more slim than the usual as of late.  I feel like this whole kindergarten thing is A LOT OF WORK!  I have no idea how I am going to handle first grade!  SO thankful that I am able to be at home allowing me a little leeway with procrastination if needed!  I am also currently in PILATES school to be certified to teach.  I am about 30 hours in to my 450 hours needed to sit for the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance) exam.  It seemed so appropriate that I was randomly matched with MAMA2ROO over at Letters to a Birthmother.  She too has been experiencing 'life' and has had to prioritize other things and push blogging WAY DOWN on the list!  I think we are both okay with that-- for now anyway--but didn't want to miss out on the OPEN ADOPTION BLOGGERS INTERVIEW PROJECT.  She is an adoptive mother and has a six year old son.  We have both experienced the ebbs and flows of relationships with our children's birth families and have come terms that what is going on now is not what it will always be.  I encourage you to visit her blog to find out more about her story.  You can find my interview answers over at Letters to a Birthmother. (If it's not up yet, please try back as I am posting this early....and well, we both have been crazy busy.)   AND please link to Production Not Reproduction to find the complete list of all participants in this projects!  Happy reading and I all hope we learn a little something that we didn't think we already knew! :0)

Here are Mama2Roo's answers to my questions!


So, briefly, what has been happening in your life since your last blog post in June?  I didn't look at the dates at first thinking that you just posted that! haha!  I am guessing that you are now living in your new house.....If you are too busy to blog, there's got to be something exciting going on! :0)

My first thought when you asked this was "OMG, I haven't posted since JUNE??"  My second thought is "I have no idea."  Time just gets away somehow.  Everything and nothing has happened since June.  I am constantly surprised by how little time and energy is left at the end of each day.  I work full time, then by the time we cook, eat, play, homework, bathe, and put to bed, I AM DRAGGING and often asleep before 10.  We've been in the new house since mid-June, but with it being a new home, there's plenty to do with the yard, decorating, organizing, etc, and we still have the old house that is on the market.  That means we have TWO houses to maintain on some level.  Additionally, this has been the year of family illness.  My grandmothers have been playing musical hospital beds/rehab units for the past several months and I lost one grandma just a few weeks ago, so that's been time comsuming as well.  Other than that, we've been enjoying our new neighborhood/neighbors and the beautiful weather we've had (after the spring monsoons were over).  You might notice that I didn't mention anything in there about adoption, and that's mostly because not much has happened adoption-wise in our family.  There haven't been any visits in a VERY LONG TIME, which saddens me and frustrates me, though its partially our fault.  We (us and Woob's mom) just haven't been able to pull it together so that it works on both sides lately.

You have been blogging for a really long time.  It appears to have started out as letters to your son's birthmother and has slowly evolved.  Your posts have become less frequent this past year too (like mine).  Why do you think that has happened?  Have the reasons that you started to blog changed and what are your hopes for blogging in the future?  What were your first visions of open adoption?  Do you think you have grown away from your first visions of open adoption?


When I started blogging, it was basically me just sending my feelings out there.  We didn't know Woob's mom, N.,  aside from the time we'd spent together in the hospital over two days, and didn't know if we'd ever have a relationship with her.  She didn't really know how to wrap her mind around openness and I believe she was influenced by her mom and agency on keeping the adoption closed.  That was a hard time.  I found as I started to write that there were other people out there with some common experiences and they were finding me and joining with me and entering into the conversation.  Slowly, the conversation on the blog was less towards N., but with my new friends in adoption who "got it" unlike many in my real life who didn't.  And I was reading their blogs and learning so  much from those that came before me.  And feeling less alone.   It became a conversation with adult adoptees, first mothers and other mothers through adoption.  A few months later, we actually did begin a relationship with Woob's mom, so there was lots to be said about that, lots of feelings, and for some readers, it was a look into what open adoption could be, or they could commiserate or offer support or whatever.  Since I was able to have "real" conversations with N., I had less need to write the "letters."  Also, when adoption was so new, all these things I was feeling were so intense.  Now that Woob is going on six, I've chilled a little.  I see more ebb and flow, and have learned just because we might be a little out of sync now, that doesn't mean that is how things will be forever.  Many of my bloggy friends have gone on to either abandon their blogs, or we keep our connections more on facebook, so I'm not physically "there" on wordpress like before.  Our families have changed to "families," not just "adoptive families".  The blog is not something I really attend to the way I'd like, but I'm hesitant to get rid of it, because it has been such an important thing in my life.
My first visions of open adoption I think were pretty realistic (in my mind).  I don't remember having the common huge fears of "what if Woobs family is a bunch of ax murdering drug addicts". My biggest fears were, "what if they don't like us" and "what if Woob NEVER knows his family??".  Thankfully, I don't believe any of those fears have panned out.  I do worry now mostly that our relationship might fade, and he won't have the relationship with his sisters and mom if we don't keep at it over time.
I have read a few posts about the ebbs and flows of relationship contact with your son's birthmother and his sisters.  What part of the ebb and flow do you see your relationship being right at this moment?  How often do you have contact with her?  How far apart do you live from one another?  How is Woob in the processing part of what open adoption is?  Do you have contact with any other birth family members? 

Unfortunately, we're in a bit of an ebb.  We "see" each other through facebook (best invention ever!!), and she can keep an eye on our happenings and photos even when she's not able to initiate anything else.  We share occasional phone calls, but its been about a month since we spoke.  We are about 2 hours away, which seems not far, but sometimes it might as well be a million.  If their cars on on the fritz, they just can't get here.  We've got family illness, and they have some serious family illness things going on as well.  We offer to go there, but I think there are reasons on their end they'd rather come here now and then.  Since Woob was one, we've seen each other about twice a year.  Which is WAAY less than I'd like, but it is what it is.
I think Woob is really aware as much as he can be...he knows his birth story and who is who on mom's side.  He absolutely glows around his first family and enjoys time spent with them--always has.  We know N.'s husband and parents as well, though have had much more contact with her dad.  Woob misses them and talks about them, and still has the childhood happiness that surrounds his story, yet he at times voices sadness that we're not all together.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Twin Syndrome

Even though my kiddos all come from completely different gene pools, they have an incredible bond.  So incredible that I often say that Jakob and Jada have 'twin syndrome'.   Genetics is amazing to me.  I believe that my kids will be a lot like their birth parents.  Knowing all of their first mothers already proves this to be a fact (in my opinion).  I seriously think they have their momma's personalities.  They also all look like them too!  I often notice how much children look like their mothers and their fathers when we are out and about.  Maybe it's because my kids don't look anything like me.  :0)  Maybe it's just because I find genetics to be simply amazing.  I wonder if there have ever been any studies on 'twin syndrome' with adopted siblings.  I think it would be fascinating.  I know they have studies on artificial twining...but Jakob and Jada are 2 1/2 years apart.  I am still in awe when I see my kids together....




And here is my third beauty.  She fits right in.  Jakob and Jada both adore her to no end.  I could not be any more blessed to have children that love each other as much as they do.....and then the screaming will start! haha!  I hope they love each other this much forever.  I know I will.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

World Vision

About a year ago, I was introduced to the book, The Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, through a blog reading challenge.  I cannot tell you what blog it was from as I was linking around (probably when I should have been doing something more productive around the house).  I wish I could link you to the challenge....I was moved by the post.  I left a comment saying I would read it and see what happens.  I was intrigued after reading the premise of the book:  "This is a story of how a CEO faced his own struggle to obey God, whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Believing that the “good news” is more than a private transaction between God and us, Stearns challenges readers with this question: What does God expect of us? Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again."  I was told it would probably change my life.  I ordered it on ebay and started to read it as time allowed.  To be honest, I still haven't finished it...but it has truly impacted my life.  Wow, what an amazing book and even though I didn't finish it yet, there are a few things that I think of every time I see the book sitting by my bed.  I think of how our world looks at helping others defined by politics.  (I'm not willing to get into a political argument so I will just leave it at that.)  It is not about being a democrat or a republican.  It is about being a human--and for me a Christian--and how I believe we are responsible for helping other people.  I also believe how we choose to do that is by God's will and the talents He has given us.  Sometimes God seeks us out more than we are willing to admit.  I think Richard Stearns is a perfect example with his book A Hole In Our Gospel and God's calling of him to work at World Vision.  I thought that his journey was truly inspiring and moved to learn more about World Vision--and then my life kind of got in the way...you know, three kids aged 5 and under...financial responsibilities....laundry....diapers....work....bills....etc.  

Fast Forward:
This past Friday, we went to the Third Day concert!  We bought tickets way back in June when we were at the Joyful Noise Family Fest sponsored by KTIS.  We got tickets for that through Living Social and our family of 5 was able to go for just $37!  They were selling Third Day concert tickets there and my husband splurged since the concert was on my birthday.  When we walked in the church that was hosting the concert, the first thing I saw was a huge World Vision banner and I kind of started to hyperventilate.  I don't know why.  We went right to the table.  I thought, you are kidding me, I've been wanting to know more about World Vision and had kind of forgotten about my quest, you know, with life, and here we were and there they were.  I should have finished reading my book! :0)  

They started talking to us about their program.  I was already feeling overwhelmed as we have been trying to clear out stuff and clutter from our house.  Dressers full of clothes, toys, stuff, stuff and more stuff.  We have so much stuff!  I have already donated so much stuff to fundraiser garage sales, charities, and friends, and we still have so much stuff.  My mother and I had been sorting all day in between 'life' and I was still feeling like we hadn't made much progress--and still thinking about it on the way to the concert--so much stuff.  And then I look at this table full of children's photos--knowing that they pretty much don't have anything.  And not only do they have hardly anything, they probably don't even have clean healthy water to drink or food to eat on a regular basis or medical care or access to medicines they need or school or supplies for school.  I was so overwhelmed that I started to cry.  How is it that I can have so much stuff and they have nothing?  And probably not a whole lot of opportunity to change that.  I don't think everyone in our country completely understands what it means to not have opportunity.  There are plenty of people willing to do what it takes to 'make it'.  Sometimes they just need a little help to get to the starting gate.  (And maybe sometimes a little help to the finish line too!)   It was as if God had led me to World Vision at the moment I needed to be there.  I am humble and I know that I cannot change the world....but thanks to World Vision, I believe I can change one person's world.  My husband let me pick out the child that our family will be sponsoring and I am excited to be on this new journey.  We are just an ordinary family with an ordinary income and I will gladly pass on some of the things our culture has deemed as ordinary so that one child or family can have something we take for granted.  I challenge you too...

Just check out the book....The Hole In Our Gospel, by Richard Stearns.  It may change your life too.  Just look what it has done for me, and I haven't even finished reading it yet! :0)  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Open Adoption Round Table #29

"The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them."

I don't write with the prompts very often...I am not a gifted writer, per say, and always feel like I can't get my feelings accurately portrayed with my writing--well that and the simple fact that blogging is not my first priority even though I wish I had more time to do it.

Here's the Open Adoption Round Table #29

"I thought it could be fun to do an open mic style roundtable. Our group is growing and a lot of us haven't "met" each other yet.  So point us to a favorite post on your blog. It doesn't even need to be about adoption. And tell us a little bit about why you picked the one you did."

This should have been an easy one...just go through and find my favorite post. Whoa, time, life, and all of that kind of got in the way.  As I started to aimlessly look through my past posts, I stumbled upon this post written while we were in the process of waiting to be chosen to adopt our second child. It reminded me so much of where we were, how far we have come, and how much further we have to go. Open adoption is an ever evolving process and I hope anyone involved in any situation continues to have hope and never gives up when things are not going as they thought they should be. This post made me cry--even 3 years after the fact.  I'm sure there's another one I might love more, but this was the start of my foundation.  My reminder of my life with three adopted children--all open adoptions--all completely different--all in my heart each and every single day, every minute, every hour.  Wishing that things didn't always need to be so complicated, so confusing, and so far from simple--and perfect. 

My Wish For You

Don't forget to click the  OPEN ADOPTION ROUNDTABLE #29 link to read more of everyone's favorite and heart moving posts!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kindergarten!

Today was my son's first official day of kindergarten.  He has been quite intrigued with school and riding the bus to get to school, although last week he did mention that he was a little bit scared to ride the bus by himself.  He is my first of three children going off to kindergarten--so it has been equally emotionally interesting for me too.   It has been a long year of great accomplishments for him.  (He jumps into a pool now after being terrified of the water.  He has been in gymnastics and has advanced to the next group,  I am really behind on posts....) Did I mention that this was the first time he went somewhere on a bus without either Craig or me being with him?  He was tested last year (and the year before and the year before that with emerging scores putting him on the border for qualifying for help) for a multitude of delays.  Jakob is developmentally delayed in his motor skills, receptive language, expressive language, and has sensory sensitivities--so it didn't surprise me when one of the first things he told me about school was that the bell was very loud, and that he heard the storm whistles blowing, and that there was a boy who was taller than "Nate", a very tall friend of his from preschool last year--I was amazed he remembered Nate's name since they have moved and we haven't seen them since school let out last year.  I was happy he didn't bite anyone at school--since he bit his sister twice before going (probably anxious) and even happier that the teacher remembered to just tell him to go to the bathroom rather than wait for him to ask.  (He wet his pants the first three classes of preschool last year because he was afraid to go.  He still tells us he is going to go while at home!)  I was amazed that he remembered his room number and his teacher's name!  He also said there were no other kids named Jakob in his class, but that there was a Jada!  I think the girl's name is actually Jade, but he remembered a name!   We got a new pair of shoes for him yesterday that light up and I think that helped him make it through day.  All these little things that I would have taken for granted.   I decided to take some photos before lunch since I didn't want anything to feel rushed and I'm so happy I did.  Before we went outside to wait for the bus I just rocked him one more time--and maybe cried a little--okay, maybe a lot--and he just smiled at me.  And Jada said it would be okay.  The kids ran around outside and then the bus came, I gave him a hug and a kiss, we crossed the street, I took a couple of photos, he got on the bus and sat down, and just like that, he was off to school.  And then, Jada freaked out.  She started wailing, "He's gone, he's gone, he's gone."  Crying and screaming and wanting to tell him something.  My poor poor Jada. I kept telling her that he was coming back after school was over.  I think she may have thought that he was gone forever.   Both girls were able to actually fall asleep and take a little nap.  Good for all of our souls after an emotionally rough morning.  We all walked to pick up Jakob at the bus stop.  The driver almost left without letting the kinder kids off the bus!  I said give me a thumbs up if you liked it--no thumbs up.  haha!  He said he had fun playing with the kids.   When we got back to the house, he went straight for his NUNU and the thumb went in the mouth.  We were going to go out to dinner to celebrate and he asked if dad could just go pick up food and eat at home.  Lots of decompression needed.  We got outside for a little while but spent most the night vegging out to a movie.  I peeked in on him in bed and he looked like he was going to cry.  I asked him what was wrong and he said he loved me.  He said he liked being with me.  And then asked if he had to go back to school tomorrow.  I said, "yes, but it's just for part of the day."  He said, "It was a very long time today."  I am so happy that he is expressing his feelings more--verbally.  I am so happy we are only 1/2 day kindergarten in the afternoon so we don't have to stress and rush around in the morning.  We'll see how tomorrow goes....I'm happy it's a short school week!  I am so proud of his accomplishments.  He is small, he is quiet (at least when he is not at home), he is a kid who tries as hard as he can, he is smart.  He may not be able to express himself like other kids his age, but I feel like I know just what he needs and when he needs it.  I will continue to encourage him with all of his new adventures and try to challenge him without pushing him too far too quickly.  And let him be Jakob.  And let him suck his thumb at home.  And let him wear his light up shoes all night, on the couch.  Did I forget to mention that his choice of take out food was McDonald's?  The kid ate a cheeseburger and three chicken nuggets for dinner.  If you knew Jakob, you would know he must have been hungry!  That's like a whole day's intake for him--and he usually doesn't eat meat!  He will probably be sick tomorrow!

 :0)  Maybe I will have more time to blog if the girls nap while Jakob is in school.  You know, cause getting the house clean and organized seems kind of daunting........

 Capturing all their personalities. 

 One of my favorites!  Little Jenay is not so little anymore!

 Jada could not stand still for even one second.  I think her anxiety for Jakob leaving was at an all time high!

 Waiting for the bus!

 And just like that, he was off to school!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Jada!

My little miss Jada turned three this weekend.  I can hardly believe it!  We've chosen not to have big birthday parties at this point.  Our kids seem to enjoy the quiet chaos of our little family of five.  Time to ponder each gift and really play with the toys.  We had a super fun and busy day....first gymnastics, then the LIFEFEST festival held at a friend's church.  Super cool bounce houses, free games and food!  Perfect for a birthday!  Then we headed home, out of the 100 degree day in into the air conditioning right about melt down time.  Jada took a much needed nap and so did daddy.  Then we made home made pizzas for dinner--ate some cake and opened more presents.  The kids did well together with sharing for the most part.  While they were playing with the ponies, my son was talking and says, "They adopted another baby."--and then he neighs like a horse.  Adoption even changes how my kids play.

Jada does not like going to bed and begs for me to sleep with her.  Being that it was her birthday I crawled right in.  We were having girl talk....well, I was actually just listening to her talk because she always has amazing things to say.  She went on about how there were two people in our family with brown skin and three people in our family with peach skin.  And then she asked me if she was three now, and how old was I (of course I answered honestly), and how old is dad, and how old is Jenay, and how old is Jakob?  I asked her what her favorite part of her birthday was and she said, "cake!"  And she asks me if I'm her only mom.  I say, "No, Carmen is your birthmom, you grew in her tummy."  Jada says, "Oh, Carmen ate me when I was really little?"  "I wonder what kind of food I was with."  She certainly is a hoot!  I said, "Well, actually, you grew in her uterus and not her tummy."  Jada asks, "What is a uterus?"  I thought to myself--we are not going there tonight.  haha!  For now, talking about adoption with my kids is WAY easier than trying to explain the actual process of how babies are made.  We haven't even gotten into female body parts yet.  I am so thankful that we have all three kids' birthmommas in our lives!  Whew!  I know things will probably get more complicated--but maybe not--since it is just our life.  Simple chaos--totally!









You will probably rarely find me in any photos anymore.  I received a really nice camera for our anniversary and am learning how to use it--therefore, nobody else will probably ever be able to snap photos of me!  haha!  I don't mind being a behind the scenes mom.  I am a home body who loves spending time with her children and certainly don't need to be in the spotlight.  I have so much to catch up with on my blog....sorry about my lack of posts.  AND lack of posts that are about us!  It has been a crazy busy fun and wonderful summer so far and I'm trying not to waste a minute of it before school starts!  Ahhhhh, kindergarten, that's a whole post of it's own.  My blessings are incredible!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot Hot Hot

It is so hot outside...and I am a winter girl.  Tonight, Jakob and Jada went outside to play for a short stint.  As they walked out the deck door, hubsters told them not to get soaking wet.  HA!  They ventured out to the uncovered sandboxes.  I think there is more water in there than sand.  We got some MAJOR jungle style rain on Saturday.  First, Jada was 'stirring' the water, then she got in, then Jakob followed, then they were dancing, then they were sitting in the water, then they were laying in it (remember, there is sand in there too), then their white clothes were brown from the dirty water, then they took their shirts off, then their shorts, then the diaper and underwear came off.  It was funny--until you remember we have people in the neighborhood who I certainly don't want to catch a glimpse of my children in the buff.....then I went out to tell them to come in, and THEN, they started running around the yard so I couldn't catch them.  It was the most hilarious thing ever, but I couldn't laugh, and I couldn't take pictures, but all I could do was think how awesome it is that they are having such a fun summer and that I can't wait until Jenay is out their running with them and I hope and pray they are all the best of friends forever.  Childhood innocence....I hope we can hang onto that for a very long time! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

3 Peas Photography and Celebrating Adoption

If you didn't know, there is a program out there called Celebrating Adoption.  Briefly, it is a program where a photographer is willing to donate their time and talent to offer a family that has adopted a free photo session and in our case, we also get 15 free 4x6's and then 15% off anything else we order.  I'm not sure if all the photographers are current on the list link but we used Amy from 3 Peas Photography--twice--when we adopted Jada and then again with Jenay.  She is simply an AMAZING photographer and has been incredibly generous to our family.  If you click on the 3 Peas link, it will take you directly to the sneak peek of our photo session.  Absolutely incredible!  It is going to be difficult to choose, but she is worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY!  Thanks Amy!  You will have to visit her site to see our gorgeous babes!  She is also on facebook.....Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gift of Adoption

Here are a few lives that Gift of Adoption has truly made a difference in the past year. These are awesome stories and hopefully you will be inspired to give to this charity that truly helps to change lives. I should know, they've made a HUGE difference in ours! We are truly blessed!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dark Girls

I have a lot to learn.  I came across this AMAZING documentary that is being created right now.  Being the mother of two brown babies after growing up in a white privileged world makes me really really really naive about racial issues.  I want to believe that the world is changing for the better....I hope to be a part of that change.  Here is a link to a preview of the Dark Girls documentary.  They are in need of funding to continue filming.  If you feel compelled to donate--you can click the link on the right hand side of my blog.


Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

You can also help create awareness too!  Head on over to DARK GIRLS on facebook and give them a little love!  

And if you are curious where I got my fabulous connection....head on over to MY BROWN BABY!  You will not be disappointed!!  Thanks Denene for all your time and kind hearted support answering all those questions that every white momma is afraid to ask!  You are very much appreciated! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Little things.....more precious than life!

Sometimes the littlest things are so big in your life!  Jenay took her first baby steps today.  I was able to catch some on video.  The sweetest thing EVER!  I'm not sure if I would have ever appreciated something as small as this if I wasn't given all the complicated circumstances in my life.  All I know is I'm thankful that I was here to witness what I believe is truly a miracle! YAY JENAY!!  And just a note:  we are dog sitting for the dog...we are not crazy enough to add a dog to our lives right now, especially when Jakob is not a big fan of dogs anyway.  AND, there is something to be said about a poop free yard with three kids 5 and under!  Sorry about the turned video....I'm unable to rotate it on this computer.  It's not very long anyway.....


video

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Party train!

I guess you have to get creative when you have an odd number of kids.  Thanks to my dad (whom can build anything), I can now get out with all three and enjoy the summer weather.  We got a lot of double takes tonight, but I figured it was because of my orange socks.....right?  I'm used to my family drawing a lot of attention anyway--so it's really no big deal.  I suppose there is room for one more since both trailers seat two...  I suppose technically, Craig could hook another double trailer to his bike and we would have room for even more!  I suppose I would have to okay that with him first! haha!  So far, we are having a pretty great summer! :0)




Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthmother's Day!

I know there is a lot of controversy about Birthmother's Day.  We celebrate it in our family.  All three of our children's birthmothers  celebrate with us.  We want them to feel honored, loved, and respected.  We want them to know that we feel so blessed that they have chosen us to be their children's parents.  We want them to know that we are forever grateful that they chose life for their babies despite their circumstances.  We want them to know they are part of our family.  We want them to know that we will make it through life's challenges--good and bad--together.  We want them to know that we understand that it will never be easy and that we will all ebb and flow throughout our lives.  Most days we will fit together easy as pie and as with any other family member, there will be challenging days too.  I hope they know that they pretty much made all my dreams come true when ALL THREE of them were able to come over to our home on Birthmother's Day.  There is no possible way that I could put into words what I was feeling on that very special day.  I hope we can manage to do that again in the future.  I have the BEST photo ever of all three together with their babies.  I will cherish it until no end!  I can't post my favorite for privacy reasons...but here's a couple more of my favorites!

Tanisha and Jenay
Jenay was so happy to be around Tanisha!  She was chirping and talking up a storm the ENTIRE time!  We are so very blessed that she was able to make it!


Kaiti reading to Jada and Jakob.  I'm surprised they are not both on top of her!

Kaiti and Jakob--they have the same smile!


I love this one!  Proof that Jada's beautiful birthmother was here....but yet, maintaining her privacy. 

I certainly would not have been a mother without these three extraordinary women.  I certainly would not have been the same kind of mother I am now without open adoption--without having the privilege of knowing these women (Jada's birthmother started out wanting a closed adoption).  It is truly a miracle that we were all together for a day and I will cherish that in my heart FOREVER!  I feel every ounce of heart ache and pain that comes parallel with the joy and celebration of our children.  That is why I believe that these mothers deserve recognition on their own day.  And we celebrate with their blessings. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #25

Production, Not Reproduction has a new Open Adoption Roundtable prompt.  I have never participated in these prompts before.  I've always wanted too.....but I guess my free time was lacking in focus (it still is) and my lack of effort to write about open adoption was maybe my way of taking time away from it.  If you know me, open adoption is pretty much the focus of my life in some way or another.  We speak on panels for training, we've mentored hopeful adoptive parents one on one, we recently spoke at RESOLVE about why we chose domestic open adoption, we've even tried to help educate expecting parents on ALL their options when thinking about choosing adoption.  But mostly, my time with open adoption is doing my best to maintain relationships with those involved with our three adopted children.  Getting to this point was a process of ebbs and flows--it still is--which is why I was drawn to this prompt:

"Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?"

There was a time when I wondered if I was cut out for all this open adoption stuff.  Maintaining relationships is difficult enough as it is.  Then add the complexities of a highly emotional and traumatic experience of adoption (I believe the act of adoption is a form of trauma for all those involved), a first baby for both us and a young birthmom and out to sea we all went in uncharted waters.  We were definitely not equipped to deal with all the difficult emotions that came along with the rolling sea.  Partly because our agency didn't equip us with the resources (the first agency we used was not the same one that we used for the adoption of our two girls), partly because they weren't helpful when we asked for help (we actually asked them for help!), partly because the outside professional help wasn't equipped with the knowledge to help us and partly because EVERYONE we went to for help was telling us to WALK AWAY--close her up!  Licensed professionals.  We were confused, hurt, grieving, traumatized, and our hearts were still crying for our son's birthmom.  If we felt this way--WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS HAPPENING TO HER?

Obviously we both (birthmom and us) had the guts to keep going.  To eat our shame, forgive each other's mistakes and keep on sailing.  I look at her like she is my first born.  (Well, she is my first born's birthmom! haha).  She has paved the way for our second and third children.  What trauma....I look at her now and see how she has grown but I still see her pain.  I see it because I choose to see it and she chooses to show it to me.  That's a true relationship, real love.  I think we still do the boundary dance--still sailing in uncharted waters.  Still unsure, and yes, it sometimes feels like too much--but we have no choice but to face it and move forward. 

When we got the call for Jada, we were given every opportunity to walk away from an open adoption as her birthmom wanted it to be closed.  I cried.  We kept trying, got her email, started emailing and now have what I think is a pretty amazing relationship.  I think about what we would have missed out on had we never pursued contact.  I think of what she would have missed out on.  I think of what Jada may have missed out on.  I am thankful she is in our life......her mother has started to see us too.  A blessing since the pregnancy was a secret and still is to most of those who know her.  That's a terrible weight to carry.   

Sadly, we've been struggling with communication with Jenay's birthmom.  We are not sure why.  Another great excuse for a family to "walk away."  I assure you we are doing anything but....I feel lost, sad, worried.  I don't want her to slip through the cracks.  I don't want  to lose her.   I don't understand, but yet, I do.  It's so complex.  It's exhausting.  It's devastating.  It breaks my heart.  I can only imagine what she is going through. 

So, everyday, there is something more that I take on that I never thought I would have had to deal with.  I am not good at setting boundaries and I hate confrontation and I hate feeling like I'm hurting someone and my own life isn't perfect either and sometimes I have to take care of me and my family before I can take care of the relationships that have come from our open adoptions but I have NEVER EVER EVER wanted to walk away.  I never will--no matter how difficult and complex and complicated things may get.  I will figure out a way.   Sometimes it does seem like too much.  I'm not going to lie about that.  It is an ongoing balancing act that my husband and I are continuously working at.  AND getting better at.  Maybe it's the simple fact that we are starting to get more sleep.  Sleep deprivation is, well, deadly, on so many levels.  We know that we will be facing challenges forever, and that we will probably have to set and reset boundaries many times--on a continuous basis--with differences between all three adoptions at any given time.  I know that I will probably muck things up at some point too.  I'm good at that.  But I never want to let go of these angels that have made me the person that I am today.  So, too much and all, they are stuck with me.  I just hope I'm not too much for them! :0) 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Paperwork paperwork paperwork

What to post. . . I'm so far behind in EVERYTHING!  And, I'm okay with that.  I've been up to my ears with paperwork.  You would think that we were trying to adopt again with all of this paperwork! :0)  Jakob is getting some assessments done at school to see if he needs some extra help in school--so with that comes a TON of paperwork.  Jenay was assessed by a public health nurse as she is a bit behind in her motor skills which equals more paperwork.  She will also be seeing a neurologist in May for some shakiness--guess what, more paperwork.  She also was having some physical therapy for her neck and there were some insurance issues with the prior authorization lapsing--so even more paperwork for the appeal.  I really despise all the new automated phone systems that businesses have now. It took me about two hours after getting transferred, cut off, and dropped and having to go through all the prompts again before I was able to reach the right people to talk too.  A person really has the time to be on the phone with three children under the age of 5 that need STRICT supervision!  HA!   I finally completed the taxes too--oh yeah, more paperwork with a very large return coming our way.  We still had carryover from Jakob's adoption in 2006, all of Jada's carryover, and we finalized Jenay's adoption on December 30th, 2010.  I know it will be awhile before we actually see the ENTIRE return. . . but we have big plans of paying our house off.  Don't bother giving me the "you need the interest to write off on your taxes" speech.  We take the standard deduction.  It is ridiculous to pay $250 a month in interest.  Financial freedom baby!  :0)

Jenay turned one this month!  Woot woot!  I still can't believe she is one already.  It has most definitely been an emotional year!  I was over joyed when Jenay's birthmom and her sister called us on her birthday!  FINALLY!  We have not heard from her since August.  We have made efforts with no success.  They did call me on my cell phone (Yes, we finally paid off the minivan so we were able to budget a cell phone for me) so I know that she is receiving our letters and updates.  I gave her my cell number as another option to reach us.  I write our numbers in every letter I send.  We made tentative plans to have her and her sister and her sister's baby come over to our house this weekend to visit with us and we never heard back from them.  There are some complicated issues. . . but we called their residence and left messages on the home phone and a cell phone number.  No call backs.  I'm not convinced that it is because she is not ready for another visit yet. . . and I'm kind of at a loss if there is anything I can do.  I am going to keep sending letters and updates with encouragement to contact us--any way that that is comfortable and available to them.  I may even send her a book of stamps.  Would that be weird?  I seriously wish they could just come live with us.  I am so sad inside about this that I can't even write about it.  I am not giving up, though, ever.    I was really pumped because I thought it might actually happen. . . and that there might be a serious possibility that all three of my angels would be able to be here at my house for Birth Mother's Day.  I'm already so excited that two will be here. . . and they haven't met in person yet.   I will do my very best to make it work.  These women are such an important piece of my life that I don't know if I could live without any one of them. 

I will try to get some photos up soon. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friends

God has sent me some pretty amazing friends throughout my lifetime.  Friends that can call randomly through the years and it's like we were never apart.  Friends that I have met recently and connect with like we've known each other forever.  Friends whom I wish lived closer whom I only know through the internet and phone calls.  Friends who have carried me through the thick and thin.  Friends who have no clue what I have experienced.  Friends who are experiencing the same things as me.  Friends who know.  Friends who get it.  Friends who don't.  Friends who show up when I need them the most.  Friends who bring a meal just because.  Friends who send things in the mail just because.  Friends who email or call just because.  All serving their purpose for whatever reason in my life.  Gosh, I am so very lucky and I appreciate each and every one of them!  My biggest wish is that my kids will someday feel as blessed as me to have the awesome friends that God has brought to my life.  At the very least, I feel confident that they love each other.  Gosh I love them all so very much!  sniff sniff  (my kids and all of my friends!)




Friday, February 25, 2011

God's plan

Well, so much has happened in the last month! Here are some family photos of our fun day at the Mall of America. It was the day BEFORE we all got sick. Since then, we have all been on antibiotics, Jenay has been to the ER and diagnosed with RSV, and we are still getting up in the middle of the night to neb her. Grandma and Grandpa came to visit--well, to help us build a 2nd bathroom--and now Grandma is sick too. They got stranded here for a couple extra days because we got a dumping of over 12 inches of snow. My hubby has managed to stay well with this round of sickness. . .although he has been snoring like crazy the last couple of days. I have been sleeping on an air mattress in Jenay's bedroom so I can monitor her and I can hear him loud and clear like he is right next to me. It is a blessing in disguise that I am so freaked out about her coughing and feel the need to be in her room! :0) Just before all this was happening, Craig and I were feeling the stress of life, parental responsibilities, relationships, personal needs, and how the heck you manage it all. God sure has a way of putting things in perspective. Even though I am exhausted and pretty much home bound with the sick kids, I feel like things are back on track. I think we all have that tunnel vision and kind of feel trapped from all this snow. It reminds me how important it is to lean on others. My table leader from church brought us a meal last night--just because we have been so, well, sick and busy and exhausted here. I cannot even tell you what such a simple and loving gesture did for us. Small things speak very loudly. God is good and all things that happen are part of some greater plan. I really believe that.






Saturday, January 22, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKOB!

I can't believe Jakob will be 5 tomorrow. He must be excited--the kids would not go to sleep tonight. I hope they sleep well--we have a lot of fun planned for tomorrow! Happy birthday my sweet baby boy Jakob!!! Tomorrow we will honor your beautiful birthmother too for choosing to bring you into this world! We love you both so very much!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minnesota winter fun!

Here's a few of our pictures from our FIRST winter storm back in mid December.  We do actually love the winter for the most part.  We even thought about moving to Alaska at one point of our lives.  Maybe someday. . . . but it seems Minnesota is doing the trick for us now.  The kids were able to do some sledding with Grandpa while we visited them for Christmas.  I knew I should have run out there with my camera, but watching them from the window was the most precious thing ever.  I will never forget that.  Grandpa dug some tunnels for them too.  I'm so happy that my kids enjoy being outside!