Thursday, December 13, 2012

I don't always cry

This week our boys all moved into their own bedrooms.  Four bedrooms, four boys.  They were super excited.

While helping D move his things into his new room I told him he had to pick out the treasures he wanted to keep from the box of random things he had in his old room.

As we sorted through the box, we came across this small, pink photo album.

I smiled.  I love how he wrote in his young hand writing and filled it with pictures he likes of his little sister.  I also like how it made its way into his "special box".

See, I don't ALWAYS cry (even thought I want to).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dear Brit

It seems I have written you so many times over the past couple of weeks.   I guess that I've just had so many things to say to you.  It's probably the holiday season and the focus that the holidays gives us on the people who are important to us, our family members.  So since we cannot talk to you in person, letters it is!

I couldn't wait to sit down today and tell you about what happened last night.  BF did some Christmas shopping after he got off work and while I was gone at Lanman's basketball game.  He was a bit secretive about what he was getting so I assumed it was something for me for Christmas.

However, when I got home, I found a stack of gifts sitting on top of our dresser.  The entire stack was for you.  It was obvious.

So I after I changed clothes, I came out into the living room and told BF that I absolutely loved what he had chosen for you.  All of it is just perfect for you.

He followed me back into the bedroom and started telling me about why he chose what he did.  It was precious to see the sparkle in his eyes as he talked about each thing and how he thought you would be able to use it.

I had to leave the room and tend to Lanman and D, but from the other room I heard BF ask me what your favorite TV show is because he can never remember the name of it.  I shouted back the name of the show, not exactly sure why he wanted to know.

So once I finished with the boys, I walked back into the bedroom where he was still looking up something on the Internet.  He was determined to find something to go along with your gift.  It made my heart so happy to see how determined he was to find just the right thing for you.  I think I may have fallen in love with him even more at that moment just seeing how much it means to him to find just the right thing for you.  It brings tears to my eyes right now just thinking about it.

Anyway, he found what he was looking for and tonight will will order it and combine it with the gift that he already purchased.  My favorite part is that every bit of the gift was BF's idea.  Normally with the boys, I try to help him get ideas, or I will even buy things for him.  But this gift was all him.  No help from me.

And it is perfect.

I can't wait to send it to you.  I wish we could see you open it and play with it, but we will just imagine what that will be like since we will not be able to know.

We love you very much!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear Brit

It's been a tough week for me.  I have found myself in tears many days this week missing you fiercely.  We sure wish we could hear the sound of your voice or watch you play in the yard.  Your brothers and I have talked about you several times this week.  I am glad that you are part of the conversations at our house.  We got an email update at the beginning of the week with two new pictures.  Your hair is a very common topic of conversation.  It makes us laugh every time we see it.  You are so stinkin' cute!

Last night while sitting at LanMan's basketball game (just for the record, he is a fantastic basketball player) I was sitting with nana, BF's mom.  I was telling her about something that had happened that day as it related to you.  I can't tell you exactly what it was, but someday I will be able to tell you what a small world it is, especially when it comes to you.  Suffice it to say that people I know see you all the time and will tell me about you and how they see you from time to time.

Anyway, as nana and I were talking she looked at me and said, "I sure thought you were going to be able to have more involvement in Brit's life."  I shook my head and told her we thought so too.

I just want you to know, that we ALL love you very much, and we are counting down the days until your parents decide that we can be allowed more of a relationship with you.  Until then, please know that you were never more than a moment's thought away from all of our minds.

We love you so much!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Loving more than one...

Thank you Kelsey Stewart for posting this on FB today.  So very true...

The sweetest comment ever

Those who are friends with me in real life know that the last couple of days have been really hard.  Lots of tears and grief.  Yesterday even culminated in a marathon counseling session.

This morning I sat down at my computer, with puffy swollen eyes from crying myself to sleep last night, and was drinking in all of the kind comments you all have left over the past couple of days.  I am so thankful for each of you and your tender support of me.  Your kind words are the salve to my broken heart.  Each comment means so much.

But this morning there was one comment that really touched my heart, more so than usual. 

It comes from a commentor that I have never met in real life.  She lives thousands of miles from me and has absolutely no connection to adoption.  She is a mom of two young children and somehow happened upon my blog.  She has been a faithful reader ever since.  We have even become FB friends and I love being able to watch her life through her blog and her FB page.  She is the sweetest, most tender hearted person.  I wish she lived closer so we could be IRL friends! I know she prays for me all the time, and there is nothing more touching than to know that someone cares enough to lift my worries up to God.  That alone shows such character as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, here are the sweet words she left this morning...

As I was praying this morning for your family, I thought to myself, as I often do, "Gosh, I really hope that I'm friends with Lisa forever, because I can't wait to be a part of the day that Brit is reunited, forever (not just once a year) with her family!" What a joyous, beautiful day it will be! And although none of us know when it will be, just know that I'm certain it will happen, and she will know how much you all love her!!! :)

Love and prayers,
Melt my heart.  Yes, Christina, I hope we are friends forever but I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dear Brit

Just wanted to write you a quick letter to know how you were a part of our family Thanksgiving, even though you weren't actually present.

I was way ahead this year when it came to Christmas cards and I brought a Christmas card for all of our family members to our family Thanksgiving dinner.  Inside the cards for your grandparents, I had our card with pictures of all the boys and I also included a precious photo of you for each of them.  They loved it! 

We all stood around the kitchen table and talked about how much you look like BF and me.  Your eyes, your hair, your smile.  You are the spitting image of both of us.  Both of your grandmothers studied your face and talked about all the ways that they could see the similarities to our families.

I also brought some extra pictures of you that we laid on the table that we all looked at from time to time.  Even the cousins and your brothers would pick up the photos and talk about how adorable you are.  We all think you are pretty amazing.

We wish that you could know all of us.  And we are holding out hope that someday your parents will allow you to know us.  But just because you don't get to come and spend time with us doesn't mean that we don't talk about you all the time.  We have your pictures everywhere and we let people who visit our house know that the beautiful girl in the photo on our end table is you, our precious daughter.

You are very special to us and we love you very much.  And this Thanksgiving we are thankful for you.  And we continue to hope and pray that soon you will know us too.

We love you so very much and we continue to hold out hope that we will be allowed a relationship with you soon!


Lisa, BF and all of your extended family

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do the right thing when nobody's looking

I just picked up a pizza at our local pizza place.  You wouldn't think that would trigger an adoption related memory, but let's get real, anything can trigger a memory.  And here is what did it.

As I was standing at the carryout counter, I looked up and above the door to the manager's office, and in plain sight for those making pizzas there was a large sign that said "Do what is right when nobody's looking."

Such a great saying.  I love that the national pizza chain I was patronizing had those words posted in their place of business and I also liked that I could see it while standing there as a customer.  It reiterates what we know as the definition of character as stated by many including Mr. J.C Watts: "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking."

A little back story for this post, it is important to know that I have been thinking for a couple of weeks about whether or not to post about the following story.  Up until today (actually until I saw the sign) I felt like I would continue to hold the story close to my chest.  It was just very personal to me.

You see, after my interview for the Open Adoption Bloggers project, a reader posted the following question to me on my blog.

Just read the interview you gave on the other side. Made me wonder...and I know I am probably asking an impossible question: When you look back now, are you able to identify any moments where you had a gut feeling that the A-parents would not continue in a fully open manner with you? Do you think it is possible to warn other potential birth mothers of certain behaviors, etc.? Or do you think there is no way to know in advance?
I know in my story--as lies and manipulation became clear to me (the attorney), I am able to look back and I know that I FELT she was untrustworthy--though I denied my intuition, obviously. I couldn't make an exact case for it, but I just felt it in my heart that I should not trust this person.
Just wondering if you are now able to identify any doubts you may have had prior--or if you felt totally secure.

My short answer to her would be this, I did not have any serious doubts in advance.  I felt a little twinge of insecurity when I mentioned the family bbq idea sometime that summer and they said nothing in return.  But I attributed that to us just not knowing what our relationship would look like.  I am certain that I was so convinced that what we were doing was the very best for this little girl that I was blinded by my good intentions to recognize any warning signs.  And let's be honest, we were all on our best behavior in our relationship at that time.  They would have never done or said anything to jeopardize their potential adoption at that point.  So to answer your question Jennifer, it's hard to tell how things are REALLY going to be when everyone is walking on eggshells, making sure they do not offend.

Now that I just typed that, I also remember one other thing that was just a little thing at the time, but should have been a big indicator.  I tried to friend the adoptive mom on FB after we had met and decided that they would be the parents of our child.  She declined my friend request.  I re-requested again later, also being declined.  Again, I attributed that to wanting to keep her personal life private, thinking that she was probably posting about how excited they were to be chosen to adopt.  I never asked her about it.  I probably should have...

So, that being said, what HAS happened since the adoption that significantly made me contemplate my relationship with Brit's adoptive parents is something that just happened a couple of months ago.  I did not post about it at the time, because I thought it would make me sound vindictive or whiny since I have been told that Brit's parents read my blog.  But now that the question has been posed and I just read the strange sign that speaks directly to this situation, I have decided that I will relay the story, because it was a very profound moment for me (and BF).

I needed to pick up something in my office one Saturday morning.  I work in an office located behind the door of a large community fitness center.  So when I walk from my office down to the main office of the building, I walk through the fitness center.  That Saturday morning I was distracted as I walked through the fitness center, with my head down looking at my phone. I don't even remember making eye contact with anyone working out.

I walked down the stairs in into the main office which was dark (because it was not a normal work day).  I stood behind the desk and continued to try to read a text message on my phone.  Now mind you, I am standing in the dark (not easily visible to a passerby), but I can see out past the front office counter which just had a pull down gate (similar to what you would see in a mall when a store is closed).

I happened to look up, and low and behold, who was coming down the stairs from the fitness center but Brit's adoptive dad.  However, he was not just walking down the stairs, he was sneaking down the stairs.  Looking left and right like a panicked man.  He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and peeked around the corner to make sure no one was there and he BOOKED it out the front door.  You would have sworn he saw a ghost, or maybe a hit man.  Either way, he was on the run, and it was obvious.  His workout had been cut short and he needed to get the heck out of there.

Yes, Brit's dad was running from me.  That panicked look on his face was because he was afraid I might have seen him lifting weights in the fitness center and I might possibly come back and talk to him.

It took me a minute to fully process what had just happened.

The man who I trusted to adopt my daughter was doing everything in his power to avoid me.

I had a few of reactions all within a matter of seconds.  The first was to be horrified.  The second was to cry at the betrayal. The third was to chase after him and REALLY make him uncomfortable.  But I went with my final, most reasonable reaction and I called BF.

As I relayed the story to BF, I actually started to chuckle.  It was just so preposterous to me that this physically huge man was terrified of a 5' 5" woman who didn't really even know he was there.  I can't remember the exact words I used with BF, but I know his response to me was along the lines of he was glad that Brit's dad reacted like that, because at least it acknowledges that he must recognize that they way they treat us is not OK and engaging in conversation with me is probably a very horrifying thought.

But COME ON, what did he think I was going to do in a public place like a community fitness center?  Especially the place I WORK?  Was he afraid I would create a scene? (I never have.)  Was he afraid I might bring up anything personal about our relationship? (I never have any other time we have crossed paths at the grocery store.)  Every interaction he has ever had with me in public has been cool and non-threatening.  I don't cry, or focus on Brit.  I simply ask him how their family is doing and I share what we have been up to.  Nothing different than I would say to any other acquaintance I might run into at the same store.

That moment made a huge impact on me.  It spoke volumes about how Brit's parents perceive us.  We are a threat.  And we are to be avoided at all costs.

Makes you wonder what will happen someday when they are walking down the grocery aisle with Brit and they spot us on the other end.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Open Adoption Interview Project 2012

I know it is silly, but I love the Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project.  The ability to connect with another person who is intimately involved in the adoption world, and specifically open adoption, makes me nearly giddy with excitement.

I just love getting to know new people and this year was no exception.  Traathy at Happily Ever After has been a complete delight getting to know.  She gets open adoption.  Totally gets it.

Traathy is the adoptive mom to a 9 month old little girl who was adopted at birth.  Traathy and her daughter's birth mother have an exceptionally open adoption.  They talk regularly, share meals together and have even attended family events together.  They treat each other as extended family.

I wish that Canada and the US Midwest weren't so far apart because I want to hang out with Traathy in real life!  If you would like to see my interview responses to Traathy they can be found here.

Sit back with a cold drink, because Traathy and I had lots of questions for each other.

1.       Your perspective on being pregnant and having a child seems a bit atypical compared to other bloggers who talk about the yearning to have a biological child and the lifelong struggle to suppress those feelings and just enjoy their path to becoming a parent through adoption.  You almost seem to hold a grudge toward being pregnant since it never resulted in a viable pregnancy for you.  Is that an accurate assessment?  Do you think that someday you might change your stance find yourself dealing with the ugliness of infertility again, or do you think you have processed that and have moved on?

It's totally an accurate assessment.  I'll be brutally honest - I hated everything about being pregnant and still have feelings that somehow I caused everything to go wrong with Jacob because of the lack of respect I had for being pregnant.  I was one of those "all my friends are having babies so it looks like I'm up next" girls.  It sounds trite and probably is.  Truth is, once she died, it was this psychotic race in my head to try to get pregnant again and I truly didn't grieve for her until almost a year later - once we began the adoption process and three additional shitty miscarriages later.  You see, starting the process for adopting was like such a lightbulb.  We were never going to have a biological baby in the traditional way in first place and to this day I can't believe everything we went through to get right back to where we started almost two years earlier.  New readers can read about that here: 

It sounds like bs, but I always was ok with never being a biological mom because of the circumstances of how my husband and I started dating.  However, having gotten to 22 weeks with her and never feeling her kick is something that makes me catch my breath and tear up.  When I see pregnant bellies, that's what I wonder about...what does that feel like?

We'll never try again.  About a year ago we wound out that apparently I'm in Peri-Menapause.  Sorta a joke finding out that four pregnancies later.  A) I wouldn't dare fuck with our DNA baby genes again and B) I'm finally happy.  Truly and completely :)

2.       You have the kind of open adoption that my heart desires.  You obviously embraced the concept that there cannot be too many people who love your child and who can be involved in her life.  It is also obvious that your family does not have this same philosophy of open adoption.  As far as I can tell from your blog you have lived that kind of openness from the beginning.  Most people I have come to know have grown into their open relationships over time.  You are already living complete openness and your child isn’t even a year old.  How did you come to this belief system? 

Both feet in.  I honestly believe when we said we were "open" it was because we honestly could not fathom ever dealing with anything as horrible as what we had already been through.  We both said if we do this (adopting) we do EVERYTHING for this baby to be happy, healthy, and loved by all.  No matter what the circumstances of her history is.  Still holds true.  I know I'm going to open a can of worms with this statement but I truly believe there is a huge difference between parents who adopt who've been through infertility and those who have been through infant loss and death & miscarriages.

I knew first hand what it felt like to walk out of the hospital without my baby (boobs leaking milk and nobody to feed).  I knew that emotional pain.  I am in no way comparing the loss to be the same but I knew that feeling.  I have a respect for our birthmom to the sky and back.  She gave me a life to care for.   I'll give her whatever she needs to be secure in that decision forever.   No matter how many times I have to clean my floors before she comes over ;)

3.       What do you envision the relationship between Lil K and her sister O looking like over time?

They are so cute together right now.  O is four and such a sweetie.  Since finding out Lil K was her sister she's soooooo protective of her.  We were out to lunch a few weeks back and she would NOT let anyone else hold her!!  "She's my sister" she kept saying :)  

I think because of proximity and the fact that we see each other about once a month they'll probably grow up like cousins (or so I hope).  Lise's little sister is 20 and has a year and a half year old daughter who is so close in age with Lil K that they will probably have more of a cousin relationship until thy can start building relationships on their own.  Lise's eldest brother and his wife are due soon with their first child so Lil K will have cousins all around.  That makes me the happiest.  I can't give her that.  But she has it so long as I work hard to build those relationships.  

4.       What do you call Lise when you refer to her to Lil K?  How would you feel if at age 8 Lil K decided to start calling Lise by a different name, such as Mama Lise?  Does Lise refer to Lil K as her daughter?  If not, would it be hard for you if she did?

I call her Lise and when I talk to Lil K about her birth family I use all other normal family language.  Grandpa B, Grandma B! Auntie, uncle etc....that's what they are.

Although, I overheard Lise mention that she told a friend of hers that Lil K was her niece when asked about a picture on FB. I mentioned in my last blog post, I have a feeling things will change over time and I've just got to be open to how it plays out.  I'll always be honest with Lil K but if Lise is comfortable calling herself her aunt right now in public, it's ok.  Time changes perspective. We'll get more comfortable as we go. 

5.       Does Lise know about your blog? 

Nope. Never felt the need to share that.  It's my story from my perspective.  I don't have anything to hide or feel I've been hurtful so I don't think it'd be an issue's my space.  Same with my FB, sometimes I like being an ass and as such I don't have my mom on FB either ;)

6.       Assuming that Lise continues to be a positive influence in the life of your daughter, do you think that you would continue to maintain and help Lil K cultivate a relationship with Lise even if she becomes a moody teenager who decides she doesn’t want to have a relationship with her birthfamily?  And what if Lise’s life completely falls apart and she is NOT a positive role model for Lil K, how do you think you would handle that?

I can't predict the future but this I know....Lil K's birth family rocks!!!!! I freaking love them.  After our first family dinner with them we left and we like "why couldn’t we have them as family a long time ago!!!"

So regardless, they are family will be there even if I have to strap a whining teenager in the car. 

If Lise's life fell apart, I'd hope to be there like any family member to help as I could.  Like any parent though, when it comes to your kids you protect them.  The benefit to embracing Lise's ENTIRE family is that we are all there for her together.  So positive or not, you deal with what life throws at you.  Case and point, my husband’s sister is a drug addict.  She's using again and I told her flat out that once she cleans herself up I'd be happy to have her over to see Lil K.  Until then, no way.  You gotta draw the line somewhere and harm to self and others is a deal breaker for me. 

7.       One of my favorite parts about your blog is that you talk about how relationships are hard.  And even when they are hard, you push through.  You don’t pull back, instead you seem to push forward and figure it out.  Many adoptive parents don’t seem to have that philosophy.  I know as a birthmother I worry about saying the wrong thing or asking for anything because I fear that I will cause them to further restrict my access to our daughter.  I worry that if we don’t see eye to eye about our relationship that they will say this is too hard and close it down completely.  I have seen that happen all too often, as a matter of fact just last week one of my closest birthmother friends had her open adoption close because the adoptive parents didn’t like that their son’s birthmother has become an advocate for adoption reform (they see this as anti-adoption and feel like it is detrimental to their child – who I might add is only 2 and has no clue!).  So this questions is much like the question about your philosophy of complete openness in adoption, but what makes you push through when things are hard or awkward?  What if Lise says something that hurts you?

I know hands down from logic, emotion, to just a plain gut feeling - there is nothing I won't do for my baby.   I push because it is the right thing to do.  I push because I know Lise is so unbelievably shy.  I push because that girl with no self confidence, relying on men to fill the void was me.  Back then, I would have given anything for somebody to care.  Lise has already pushed some buttons of mine.  I'm honest to a fault.  Just tell me the truth and it is ok.  She's lying about the circumstances of her pregnancy and who the father is.  Either to me or her family.  I don't know who.  It bugs the crap out of me that I am now doubting her but like I wrote about recently, that is her story.  I have to accept it and move on with the positive.  Shit happens, people piss me, but I know what is important at the end of the day.  Family.  As ridiculous as they are and trust me - we've got more crazy on our side any day if the week ;)

8.       Do you have any boundaries that you and your husband have determined as non-negotiable with relation to your adoption?

No harm to self or others.   That's it.  

9.       WHY IN THE WORLD DO YOU STILL WORRY ABOUT WHETHER YOUR HOUSE IS SPOTLESS WHEN LISE COMES OVER?!?!?!? Lol  I think it is absolutely a testament to your character that it still matters to you how Lise perceives you. 

She's new!!!!  I do the same for one of my crazy sister in law from out of town. New family.  She can inhale the dog hair a few years down the road ;) 

10. I don’t know what real question I have here, but I suppose this is more of a compare and contrast.

By far my favorite post that I have read from your blog is the one about your public speaking debut
 I fell head over heels in love with you at that moment when you said this…

 “At one point a woman in the audience asked the first couple when they felt comfortable allowing the birth family into their house.

The couple answered with “Oh god no.  We don’t do that”.

Open adoption my ass.

This is after they originally told the audience how they felt that their birth families (they have 2 adopted children) were like family to them and that they would do anything for them.

 Except open their front door.

*** I feel the need to note, I realize I’m being judgmental and that every adoptive situation is different, but I was so upset that the audience seemed relieved to know that they didn’t have to open their doors to birth families.  And, you don’t, but god, I wanted them to know that it is OKAY!!!!!

 They explained that their openness agreement stated that they were to do monthly updates, send pictures on a certain date, and meet once a month at a predetermined location and that everyone was happy with that.”

Just yesterday I read an article that was very similar to this.  Like you, I wanted to scream at the computer screen and find this author and shake her until she came to her senses (probably not a politically correct thing to do, but for Pete’s sake, THIS IS WHY ADOPTIVE PARENTS BELIEVE WHAT THEY BELIEVE!)

How can we get people to understand that open adoption is not about the ADULTS feeling comfortable?  But open adoption is about giving our children every possible resource to be happy, healthy and well adjusted, even if that includes welcoming another family into your life.
 I am frightened by what most some agencies tell potential adoptive couples.  It seems to be all about creating happy clients, not necessarily about doing what is right for CHILDREN.

What is your perspective on this?  Do you think it is possible to change an entire society’s perception about open adoption if we can’t even influence our own families and friends?

This is a tough one.  The thing is our agency here in Vancouver told us up front the massive benefits of what an open adoption can create for all involved.  It was intimidating at first because it was all literature that I read at first.  No "real life" experiences.  It wasn't until I started searching for stories online that I discovered what open adoption (NOT semi) meant.  I know it's a small step but I really feel like there is a different mindset in Canada towards open adoption.  It is VERY common and the language is used all the time.  The reason I am able to compare is because we were also considering adopting from the states (thinking that it would take less time) and not ONCE did the lawyer we spoke with mention open adoption. He talked a lot about the counseling his people encouraged birth mothers to seek but never mentioned what relationship could exist beyond knowledge of who we were.  I know that's only two examples but from what I've read there seems to be a lack of educating adoptive parents about what openness really can mean.  Most people (and I admit we too were scared) jump to the negative and can't focus on what openness really means for the child.  You are absolutely right, it is about the comfort of the child not the adoptive parents.  There really does need to be mandatory counseling for all adoptive parents so a realistic portrayal can be made of what relationships can exist when the benefit of the child comes first.  

When I spoke at our adoptive parent panel I made that very clear.  I truly think all potential adoptive parents need to experience speaking with other adoptive parents as part of their home study process. I'd also be so important for their close family to be involved.  God, I wish I had brought my mom to the panels I went to.  At least she would save been exposed to the differences of all areas of adoption so she wouldn't have such a hard time with us being so familial with our birth family. It really is such an impact on all family involved so why not make one of the home study visits to include other members as a discussion or q&a night?  A thought...

Society as a whole...I don't know.  When you've got so many celebrities coming home with babies who have no history (that is described) I don't know how we can change the perception that open adoption can not only benefit everyone but that it can be as wonderful as adding so much more love to your family.  It's hard and I can only hope these sorts of blog days get passed on to mainstream media to spotlight. 

Or you know, maybe one day Angelina can do an exclusive about one of her adoptive children's birth mothers - you know that'll cause a flurry of media attention ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just to make you laugh

This is random and without purpose.  But I love this picture that we took while in California a couple of weeks ago.  Our expressions are priceless.  And for those who wondered, the trash bag rain poncho did nothing to protect me from the water splash that the front person gets.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The benefit of being a mom

Today I voted, which I do every time there is an election.

But before I headed to my polling place, I walked over to D's school (he is in 6th grade) and visited him during his lunch hour.  At first he was excited to see me because he thought I was taking him to lunch.  When I told him that I was just going to sit with him while he ate lunch he looked at me horrified and asked "Why?.."

I told him I thought it would be good to meet the friends he eats lunch with and just spend some time with him.  He made it very clear that he was NOT pleased with this idea.

So as we stood in the lunch line for his tray he said to me "Mom, go sit down.  You don't have to stand next to me!"

I looked at him and said "If you keep it up, I'm going to lean over, wrap my arms around you and kiss you on the lips right here in front of everyone in this lunch room!"

Mom and D last year at lunch
(this was tolerable in elementary school -
not so much in middle school!)
His little buddy behind him looked at D and said "Don't worry D, my mom embarrasses me too.  The other day she came to school and yelled down the hallway I LOVE YOU!"

Yep, that is one of the privileges of being the mom.  Our job description includes embarrassing our children in front of their friends.

It made me smile.  And yes, I think I will go back once a week from now on!

Dear Brit

Dear Brit,

I vaguely remember last year at this time and how very difficult it was to celebrate Halloween without knowing anything about you and what you were doing that day.  Halloween is definitely a holiday for young children so it is a time when we naturally wish we could see you and see the joy you must have during such a fun holiday for kids.

Both last year and this year, as I stood at the door and watched other toddlers walk up and say "Trick or Treat" I wondered what Halloween was like for you.  I wondered what costume you were wearing and how you reacted when you realized you had a bag full of chocolate.  I bet you were delighted.

In our email response back to your parents a couple of days before Halloween I asked your dad  if he might send us a picture or two of you in your Halloween costume.  I kinda hoped he might send one on Halloween so we could enjoy seeing you all dressed up.  So far we haven't gotten one, but maybe he will include a picture with the November email update.

I want you to know how often we talk about you at our house.  I know I have told you before that we keep pictures of you up in the living room.  But we also say your name often.

A funny thing happened just this Sunday that brought a huge smile to my face.

A few weeks ago we put together gift bags for you and your brother and sister.  In them we put fall themed toys, coloring books, DVDs of your favorite show Oomi Zoomi, dress up clothes and masks, and even some snacks.  One of the gifts we put in the bag was a simple little jack o lantern cup.  We put a cup for each of you in your individual bags.  But the package of the cups had 4.  So we kept one cup at our house.

As I put the cup in our cupboard, I said to your brothers L and D that when they drank out of that cup they could remember you.  I said it in passing, and didn't make a big deal of it.  Honestly I wasn't even sure they heard me.

But on Sunday, L was getting water out of the refrigerator while I was in the laundry room getting clothes out of the dryer.  And out of no where he said your name.  Just your name.  Nothing else.  I stopped what I was doing and peeked my head around the corner and asked him what he just said.  He looked at me and held up the cup and said "Brit" and he smiled from ear to ear.

It made me smile too.

We all love you very much and miss you.  We can't wait until we have a personal relationship with you.  Each day that passes gets us closer to that day we hope.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Living and laughing

While I think about Brit many times, every single day, we do still make sure that we are fully living with the children we are raising.  I would be lying if I told you I don't imagine how it would be different if she were with us at each activity we go to with the boys, but I do make a concerted effort to be present for the kiddos who are with us.

Here is just a snapshot into the fun from the pumpkin patch/corn maze last night.  (Ironically, the pumpkin patch was out of pumpkins - go figure.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laughing out loud - ignorance in open adoption

I am super excited that Open Adoption Roundtable is once again hosting the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.  I just love learning more about other open adoption families and connecting with other mothers.

So I signed on to do it again this year.  I have actually been looking forward to this for a while.  Strange I know, but sometimes a girl just needs something to look forward to. ;)

I got my pairing sent to me and the first thing you are supposed to do is to read their blog so you better understand what their experiences are as an open adoption blogger.

I couldn't be more delighted to have gotten my pairing for this year.  As I sit here reading through her blog, I find myself laughing out loud because I am pretty sure she and I share the same 'broken filter' when it comes to the things we actually say out loud.  I love that she posts like she probably speaks.  It is amazing to read real words from a real person.

But before I leave for a lunch meeting, I just have to share this post with you.  I laughed out loud in my office.  So loud, I am pretty sure that even with my door shut, people are wondering.

Sometimes families just don't get it...

I can't wait to get to interview this woman!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life in pictures

I just looked and it has been over 3 weeks since my last post.  To be honest, it has been nearly that long since I have really even sat down and read other's blogs.  I feel so out of the loop!

Me and my sister Amber in CA
During that time I have been living the busy life of a sports mom, full time employee and even had a couple of dates with the BF.  Most notably I was out of town in California last week for a full 8 days for a work conference. I got to visit my sister who lives in Hollywood.  I rarely see her so it was great to have a one on one visit with her in her element.  She always comes back here to visit us.  Our visit went really well.  BF was with me for half of the trip and we were able to enjoy some couple time which was great too.  Being away from the boys for a full week was hard.  But everyone seemed to live through it so I guess that is a successful trip!

Yes, we met the Little Person version of Mr. T while in Hollywood.  Imagine that!

At the conference there was a wildlife booth that allowed you to hold snakes.  This little guy is a python who loved wrapping up around my neck and nestling in my hair. 
Nothing new on the adoption front.  I did have a heartbreaking conversation with D (my 11 year old) the other day in the car. Out of the blue he asked me if Brit's parents offered to "sell her back to us" for 2 million dollars, would we pay that?  I told him absolutely, without hesitation.  He asked how we would do that because we don't have $2mil and I told him that when you want something badly enough you make it happen.  I did follow up with him to make sure he understood that we did not "sell" Brit to her adoptive parents.  He assured me that he knew that, but he was just wondering.  Apparently he thinks about how things would be different if she was with us more than I know.

Brit's parents have indicated to us that they are reading my blog so that is another reason I have been quiet for a while.  Apparently some of my posts offend them and their friends from time to time.  Honestly, after reading back over my blog posts I don't find them to be terribly offensive, just truthful perspective from my side of being a birth mother who wishes her adoption circumstances were different.  They were also clear that there will be no more pictures of Brit shared with us if I don't stop posting them.  So for those of you who love the Brit pictures you will just have take my word for it, she gets cuter by the day.

BF and I put together a fall/Halloween gift bag for Brit and both her brother and sister.  I dropped them off at a local business in their town so they could pick them up there.  I just couldn't justify the shipping cost for gift bags with dollar store presents in them.  I did text and ask my friend who works there and I asked if they ever came and picked them up and she said they did.  I'm glad.  I hope the kids like the activities.

While we were in California, BF and I also got Brit and her siblings each a Mickey/Minnie Mouse hat.  We also threw in a sweatshirt for Brit because it matched her hat.  Those items I did ship since I was in CA at the time.  The shipping was as much as I paid for all three hats!  Crazy.

Since I have nothing significant to say I will end with just a few fun pictures from life lately.

The little Princess I watch every weekend laughing in the backseat of my car.  She will be 2 in December!

BF's oldest son is a runner (like his dad).  He just finished cross country season while also playing competitive soccer.

D practicing his most serious football face before a game.

BF's youngest son (blonde on rt) after a football game

D and my niece creating bracelets at a local bead store this past weekend.

My sweet nephew also made his own bracelet.

My adorable niece who has the sweetest freckles you have ever seen.

This is how my boys look most of the time.  Eyes fixed on their electronics.

LanMan (laying across the couch) and BF's oldest son (red shirt  with eyes closed on couch) have the same first hour class.  This picture was taken during class down time.  Looks like fun to me!

A girl in LanMan's class has ovarian cancer (horrible!) and all the kids took picture of heart hands to send to her to let her know they think about her.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Buying a car and adoption

It's funny how when you are dealing with something, everything around you reminds you of your struggle.  Especially with grief.  When you lose someone you love even the air you breathe can remind you of them.  The trees whisper their name.  Dreams bring them to visit.

I find this so true of my adoption situation.  Nearly everything reminds me of the daughter that we do not have in our lives.

A glaring example has been the past two weeks.  I had to buy a new car.  Mine was finally at death's door and my mechanic told me he wouldn't work on it any more because I just needed to buy a new car.

So I did the car lots visits.  I researched online.  I drove several cars for several days.

The new car
Finally, this weekend, I purchased a new car.  Yes, a brand new car.  Something I have never had before in my life, because let'e be honest, who can really afford a new car?

But I did it anyway, because now that I live with BF I have no household expenses and I can afford a car payment.  So what is the problem with that?

The first thought in my mind was if I had Brit with us right now, the money I will be spending on a car payment would be what I would be paying for daycare.

The thought immediately made me resent the new car and the trade off that it represents in my life.

Little Princess playing in the playhouse
at the car dealership
And to top it off, when the kids got in the car after the soccer game on Sunday, BF's oldest son looked at Little Princess (the little girl I babysit every weekend) who I had buckled in her car seat, and said to her "Hi Brit!"  Then he caught himself and said "I mean Little Princess."

I could hardly breathe.

Apparently I am not the only one who thinks about Brit.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

She looks alot like me!

Dear Brit,

We got our monthly email update from your parents two days ago.  The stories your dad tells crack us up.  You are a funny little girl and I am so glad he is able to share the stories so well with us.

When I got the email, your brothers were all gone at sports practices and doing other things.  So I sent a text message to them with your pictures.  They love to get the new pictures which they keep on their phones.  They are very proud that you are their sister.

L and Lisa - See, he even lets me hug him!
As soon as I sent the photos, your brother L sent back a text that said "She looks alot like me!".  And he is right.  L had hair just like yours when he was your age.  However, because he is a boy, we cut his beautiful curls off so he had a 'boy' haircut.  However, if we would have let them go, he would have had the very same huge white blonde 'afro' that you do.  Add to it your beautiful blue eyes, just like his and your brother D, and you are very similar looking. (I will admit, that there are also lots of things about you that remind me of BF too, but I'll tell you about that some other day.)

L is the sweetest young man.  Which is strange for a mom to say about a 13 year old boy.  But he is simply amazing.  He is kind, super funny and he loves his family - alot.  At school every girl says that L is their best friend.  I can't believe how many girls and guys both will post on his Facebook page about how he is their 'bestie'.  Makes a mom proud to know that he is so kind to everyone.

And if you were around, you would probably find that he would be your best friend too.  He loves little kids and they love him because he plays with them.  The little girl we watch on the weekends is desperately in love with L.  She follows him through the house.  He carries her all around.  He plays hilarious chase games with her.  They are a blast to watch.

So I hope that maybe you will also get the same sweet and charming temperament that L has.  Because he is and has been a great kid and I expect he will be an amazing adult someday too.

We all love you very much and think and talk about you every single day!  The boys and I can't wait to get to know you better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Three years ago

This Saturday marked a three year anniversary for me.  I put the day on my calendar right after it happened, because I knew it would be a life altering day for our family.  How right I was.

D sleeping off whatever ailed him in 2009
Three years ago my youngest son was in the hospital.  At the time the doctor thought he had meningitis.  He had a high fever, extreme headache and slept for almost 3 days.  Because he was only 8 years old, the doctor had him admitted to the hospital so they could monitor him and try to determine the source of his illness.  They never did determine what caused him to be so sick, but in true D fashion, he pulled out of it just fine.  But those few days were stressful for all of us.  Add to it, I was pregnant, my family did not know, and I was wrestling with an adoption decision.

The week preceding the illness, BF and I had met with two potential adoptive couples that we were considering for our daughter (although at the time, we didn't know she was a little girl).

One couple owned a ranch in a western Kansas town that BF had grown up in.  They were a neat Christian couple who we enjoyed getting to know.  They brought us a huge gift basket filled with pregnancy craving items that they had picked up.  They were so excited to be considered as parents for our child.  You could tell that they were giddy with the thought as we talked with them.  At the time, I felt terribly guilty about accepting the gift basket, but I could tell that they just wanted to show how appreciative they were that we had taken the time to choose them for an in-person meeting.  (For HAPs who are wondering; for me, this gift was over the top.  I understood their heart, but even eating anything out of the basket made me feel guilty.  I gave everything in it to my kids, except for the Tums.  I did use the Tums.)

We met with the second couple the next day.  We met them at a Starbucks and it was a very casual meeting.  They did not bring gifts.  They were not polished about adoption.  They were not clients of an agency.  They were a friend of a friend, and they were having a hard time conceiving children and they desperately wanted to be parents.  They did not own a ranch.  They were of modest means and younger than us.  They lived 10 minutes from us and the wife was even in the same field of employment as me.  They too were Christians and they seemed very easy to talk to.  The kind of people we would hang out with.

BF and I drove home from that meeting and knew this was going to be tough.  Both families seemed so kind.  It was obvious how desperately they wanted to be parents.  And with my tender heart, I could just feel their pain and desperation.

BF and I wrestled with our decision.  We had agreed not to talk about it together until a week later giving me time to pray about it, and him time to visit with his parents about their thoughts.

The second prospective adoptive couple dropped off a letter to us a couple days after the meeting thanking us for meeting with them and assuring us that they would be the kind of parents who we wanted for our child.  The letter assured us that they would "raise our child in a Christian home where love, compassion and respect for others is paramount."

We told both couples that we didn't want to leave them wondering too long, and we planned to make our decision by Monday of the following week.

When BF and I came together a week later with our lists of pros and cons of each couple, it was obvious that we were both swayed to the same couple as our decision.  We wanted our child to grow up near us.  We wanted her to have the same lifestyle that our boys were living.  We wanted them to have common childhood experiences that they could draw upon when they had a relationship.  We wanted her to visit the same zoo our boys go to.  We wanted to know which schools she was attending.  By choosing the second couple, we felt confident that all of those things would happen.  So the decision was made.

I told BF that I would call the couple who we chose to place with and he had the tough call to the attorney for the other couple.  (It broke my heart for them, so I let BF do the tough stuff.)  It's only fair since I was the one with all day pregnancy sickness, right?

Then D got sick that night.  The fever went through the roof and I even had my ex-husband come to my house in the middle of the night to help me determine if we needed an immediate trip to the ER.  We ended up nursing D along until morning when the doctor saw us and told us that day that he wanted him admitted.

My ex-husband had left to go to training out of town which left me alone to handle all of the details needed to transport a child to the hospital, get him admitted and figure out what the plan of attack was.

I was tired, stressed out, and had just a ton on my plate.

But all the while I knew I needed to contact the couple who was anxiously awaiting our call.

So when D had been in the hospital for about 24 hours, I excused myself from his room and went to the waiting room to call who was soon to become Brit's parents.

When I reached the mom, I told her that I was sorry that I didn't call the day before like I had said I would.  I explained what was going on with D and she was very understanding.  I could tell by her voice that she was very apprehensive about what I was about to tell her.

I then told her that BF and I had chosen them to parent our child.  She nearly came through the phone.  She said that they were certain they weren't the family when we had not called the day before.  So my call of affirmation caught her by surprise.  She kept saying "I have to call my husband at work!".  Her elation was evident.  It made me happy to know that I had brought them so much joy.

So that is how it started.  The beginning of the relationship that would include Brit's mom being present at every doctor's appointment with me.  Our sonograms together.  The beginning of the life we were creating together for the sake of our daughter.

Three years ago.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Working through it

Been working through the emotional fallout from last couple of weeks.

I did visit the doctor and got medication for the anxiety attacks.  Yesterday I had a string of them (3 before noon).  But as the day progressed, I did better, and didn't have another one at all.  Today I have been anxiety attack free, which is a thing of beauty.

I hope that as the medication increases in my system I will be able to better regulate how my body is processing the chronic stress and anxiety I feel every day.

I am so glad I have an amazing network of friends.  The understanding and concern is overwhelming.  Thank you to all of you who are praying for me and all who are involved in our adoption situation.  I would like to ask that you continue to pray.  Because we all know that prayer can change everything.

So because I need to focus on the things that I can influence and (somewhat) control, I am working on trying to spend less time thinking about what we don't have now, and focus on what I can do to be ready for a relationship in the future.

If Brit is not going to have a place in our lives for a while, then I will make sure we document what we are doing and how we think about her every single day, so that in the future she can know that we always wanted to know her and spend time with her.  Even from the beginning.

Today I had lunch with a friend of mine who has been such a great support to me over the past couple of years.  If you knew both of us, you would wonder how in the world we got to be friends at all.  He is 20 years my senior, a sports writer for a local newspaper, and on occasion he has been accused of being a bit gruff.  I know nothing of sports (except that I sit in the bleachers watching my kiddos), I am young enough to be his daughter and I have never met a stranger.

A strange couple we are.

As we parted from our lunch date, he kindly reminded me that at some point I have to figure out how to tolerate how things are now, because I simply cannot change the situation. (For the record, he is about the 500th person to tell me this.)  I know he is worried about the anxiety issues I am having, and like every good man, if he could fix it, he would.

Normally that kind of advice falls on deaf ears for me, because I am not OK with it.  But today, his fatherly words came on the heels of a quote I read this morning and when I relayed the quote to him as we stood in the parking lot, he looked at me and said "That is exactly right."

So I leave you with these words which I am repeating to myself today.  They have spoken to my heart.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grief and anxiety attacks

Last night I had an episode while trying to get out the door to take D to football practice.  I looked over at the photo we have on our end table and saw Brit's smiling little face.

Just seeing her brought a flood of emotions so strong that it took my breath away.  My heart started pounding and I knew I was about to pass out.

Thankfully I made it to the couch and sat with my head nearly touching the floor between my knees.  I just blacked out for a minute, but the heart pounding lasted for a while.

D handled it very well.  He knows.  He watched the tears fall like a river and he was very compassionate.

Then I had another episode in the middle of the night last night.  It was just as bad as the daytime one (couldn't breathe, heart pounding) but fortunately I was already laying down. I cannot believe it woke me from a complete sleep.  Apparently the grief goes to my core.

Interestingly enough, I checked into blog world this morning and read this post by another birthmother.

It seems this feeling is universal.

I can only imagine what work will be like today.  I suppose I will just make sure I am near a chair, and a box of tissues.

I will be calling my doctor.  It appears it will be back on the anti-anxiety meds again.  Just great.

I love that my doctor and my OB both cry with me when we talk about this adoption situation.  They are amazingly compassionate and so very understanding.

So for now, I will self medicate with Diet Coke. (Yes, I know caffeine is not a friend of anxiety, but this girl has a vice that is hard to kick, the the soothing bubbles do calm my psyche.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The email arrived last week

We did receive an email from Brit's parents in response to the letter we mailed them.  The letter to them asked that they might consider opening up our relationship more between our families..

I have processed it enough that I can type this, but enough that I can find a sweet silver lining.  So the usual LisaAnne way of focusing on the positives will have to wait until I can type without tears.

That may be a while.

They are not interested in a familial relationship with us.  They are comfortable with the ways things are and they will let Brit decide when she wants a relationship with us.

That is all I can bring myself to say right now.

I know others of you walk this path with me.  Thank you for the outpouring of support.

Please continue to pray for an opening of their hearts and for God to help comfort mine.  And above all else, pray for sweet Brit, for she is the one who ultimately pays the price for our decisions.