Monday, January 28, 2013

Dear Brit

Dear Brit,

Just wanted to let you know that I bought your first birthday gift this weekend.  Yes, I realize your birthday isn't until 2 months from now, but I just loved it.

BF and I talked about it on Saturday and we are excited to customize it for you.

But my favorite part is that it is sitting on top of my dresser and I see it all the time.  It is a little reminder of you.  And the thought that it will sit on your dresser someday soon makes me smile.

We love you so much!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A letter to other adoptive parents

The following was posted on Birthmothers 4 Adoption blog last week.  I just now read it and I am in awe of this anonymous adoptive mother and her insight.  However I have 'met' many adoptive mothers like her, and they have real, satisfying relationships with their child's birthfamilies.  It can be a thing of extraordinary beauty, I know it because I see it.  My favorite line from this letter is highlighted.  So very true...

A letter to Other Adoptive Parents

There is an issue that has been weighing on my mind lately. I have heard from a number of birthmothers who chose open adoption who feel forgotten by and disconnected from the families that adopted their baby. Some have had promises broken, some do not have the contact that was discussed, others have felt that they have become an afterthought or no thought given to them at all. It is heart breaking to see their longing to participate in a relationship.

I know that as parents we are busy. I get it- babies take time, there is sleep deprivation and the search for the elusive binkies and time to shower. Then as time goes by there is school, sports, practices, activities, figuring out what is for dinner, homework, grocery shopping, work and still finding time to shower. I get it-  we are parenting- loving, worrying, teaching, helping, hoping. It is all encompassing. Free time and social time can often disappear. It is joyous and wonderful and the most difficult thing- to be the parent we want to be. But we can’t forget- we are able to be a parent to this child because of the sacrifice of another. There is another who loves your child, who worries and hopes and loves.

Now I am not asking you to continually worship at the pedestal of   “birthmother”- this idea is distasteful to everyone involved- what I am asking you to do is to remove the pedestal and recognize that your child’s birthmother is a human being with whom you can have a real human relationship. Will this relationship look the same for every adoptive family? Of course not. Every family, every birthmother, every child is different. But what we can, as adoptive families do, is to get to know our child’s birthmother and find out what her needs are, what her hopes are and be open to this relationship evolving. I am begging you not to forget that placement was a beginning, not an ending.

I am asking every adoptive family to examine their feelings, attitudes and relationships in regards to birthparents. What is keeping us from having a real relationship? A relationship with give and take? Acknowledgement of the role they play in the creation of our families? Again this will look different for everyone, but ask yourself if what you are giving is truly what is wanted, what is truly your best effort? Is a few email updates a year really what is wanted? Is that really a relationship?

Unless your child’s birthmother tells you, I have always found that more is better than less. What keeps you from giving more? Is it fear? Fear of what? The unknown? Fear of the “worst case adoption scenario”- which for the record happens mostly on tv. Is it fear of being hurt or your child being hurt? Are you fearful of managing another relationship? Of boundaries? That someone (maybe you, maybe them) might say something inappropriate or hurtful? Is it fear that by including your child’s birthmother, it somehow makes your family less, instead of more? 

Adoption is about love, not fear. As we open our hearts to our children- how can we not open our hearts to their birthmother? How can we not let her know of our love by thoughtful communication and acknowledgement?  Will our children’s birthmother always be in our first thoughts daily? Not usually- that place is often reserved for our children, but she should not be relegated to our last thoughts or not thought of at all. Our children’s birthmothers should not be a box to check off- yep, sent the yearly update- but we should have a sincere desire to let her know who our child is becoming. Be secure in your role in your child’s life. We share our children with many people- grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, why would we shut out the very person who gave them life?

I have met many birthmothers and I have yet to meet one who wants to “co-parent”. Their sincerest desire is to know and have a relationship with you and the child that they placed for adoption. That is why they chose open adoption. It is not to interfere with your family. They will never forget the baby they placed, the baby they broke their own hearts for. Please don’t forget them. I am not asking you to be best friends, but I am asking that you keep your promises, that you open your heart, that you acknowledge this unique human relationship, that you create what works in your family for the entire adoption triad, not just what is easiest in your busy life. Please remember that we are all human and we will all make mistakes, but we can put forth our best effort. I have different relationships with my children’s birthmothers- one is easy, one is not as easy- I sometimes have to remind myself not to be offended, as I believe she means no offense- but I can’t imagine not having and maintaining regular contact. I believe that this is best for me, for them and for my children.

Please, families, if you have lost contact, lessened contact or pulled away, even unintentionally, consider the effect this has had on your child’s birthmother and what effect it may have on your child, now and in the future. Can you imagine how a birthmother feels when the adoptive family doesn’t even send pictures anymore? Examine your interactions, are they sincere? Can you do more?

Please let faith replace fear and let open adoption be a joy in your life.


An Adoptive Mom

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Brit

Dearest Brit,

Usually when I sit down to write you a letter, I have something in particular in mind.  Today I do not have anything to share.  Honestly, I am writing because you have been on my mind without ceasing for weeks now.  My heart aches with love for you that I am unable to share with you in person.

I know the holidays have alot to do with that, because that is when we want to be with our extended family.  And obviously we have no interaction with you at all at this point.  Needless to say, we miss you.  We wish so desperately that we could have a visit with you during that time just so we could let you know how much we love you too.  The kind of visit that families have during the holidays.  We continue to hope and pray that someday soon that will happen.

We did send you your Christmas gifts and we hope that you got to enjoy them.  I loved picking out your outfit.  BF, J (your oldest brother) and I all went to a special store called Sparkle and spent all kinds of time looking for the perfect thing to get you.  It was funny to watch the big boys looking at tutus, sparkle shirts, tights and shoes.  For what it's worth, BF found the adorable little shoes for you and they might be my favorite part of the outfit.  He was pretty proud that he found shoes to match the crazy shirt we got you.  I hope you love them as much as we did.  They might be a little big right now, but I'm sure they are still fun for dress up.  We would sure love to see a picture of you wearing the outfit someday.

We all three laughed out loud as I picked out the bow to include with the outfit because we have never seen you with any kind of fancy hair bow, and your hair is crazy and out of control.  I had never seen a white blonde afro until we saw yours.  Your hair cracks us up every time we see a picture of it

I was also so very proud of BF again this year because he picked out your LeapPad and accessories to go with it.  He was so excited the day he brought it home because he had found online that you could download games from your favorite TV show O.omiZo.omi.  I hope your parents were able to download that for you and I also hope you like using your fancy little electronic pad.  If you ever come to visit, make sure you bring it with you because that is exactly what your brothers do all day long.  They all walk around with their i.Pads, often wearing their own headsets, playing games, or listening to music.  Now that their teachers use the for school work, they even use them at night to do their homework.  We are a fully electronic household now!  You would fit in perfectly with your own little device. :)

The little wooden doll set that we sent to you was an impulse buy that we just loved because the character that you dress up has the same name as your middle name.  When I walked by the set in the store I immediately stopped and had to get it for you.  I hope you like dressing her up.  It sure looked like fun.

We have had lots and lots of talk about you around our house the last couple of weeks.  It makes me so happy when we say your name and talk about how we hope our future includes knowing you better.  BF and I have talked ALOT about that lately.  The boys chime in from time to time and will often ask if we have heard anything from your parents.  They too still have hope that maybe soon we might get a little more access to you and your family.  We keep praying.

So as I wrap up today, I thought I would share a few photos with you so you can know what your brothers look like right now.  LanMan and B are both 13 right now and they are as silly as can be.  I love how they are best of friends.  They crack us up every single day.  They are so much fun, and so very funny, especially when they are together.  This is a picture of the the outfits that the two of them wore to our family Christmas celebration.  They wanted to make a holiday statement.  I think they did.  Everyone got a good laugh out of it.

 D won't let me take his picture anymore.  So usually I have to sneak up on him and rarely does the picture turn out.  But this one I was able to snap of him after a basketball game last weekend.  We were at the bowling alley having a huge family gathering because my sister who lives in California was in town for a few days.

Your brother T will always let me take his picture.  This is a piggy bank that he got for Christmas.  He really likes the Kansas City Chiefs which is unfortunate since they can't seem to win games.  Maybe by the time you are older they will be a better team.  We can only hope!

This is a picture of me and 3 of my 4 sisters and our dad.  One of the girls had to work.  The girl with the red hair is the sister from California.  She's the only one who doesn't live here locally with us.  She is an  actress and singer in California.  Just this week she found out they are using a song she recently recorded in a new Disney movie coming out soon.  It has Selena Gomez in it.  We will have to watch for it to come out.  You'll love meeting her someday.  She's so interesting.

My dad also got all of us girls fun hats for Christmas.  This picture has the sister who was missing from the first photo in it (far left), but my sister from California wasn't in town yet when we opened the hats so she is missing from this photo.  One of these days all 5 of us will be together for a group picture!  The baby I am holding is my youngest sister's (the girl sitting next to me) newborn daughter.  We are crazy in love with her and all fight to hold her.

And finally a photo of me and BF.  Sometimes I think he may not ever fully smile.  Bless his heart, he just always looks like smiling is hard for him.  I will tell you that he really is a happy guy, so I'm not quite sure why his smile looks so forced.  I love him anyway. <3

So we hope you know how very much we love you and we are looking forward to the day that we can shower you with that love and include you in some of our special family gatherings.  You are never far from our minds and you are always in our hearts.

We love you so much and can't wait for our relationship to develop with you.

Much love to you,

Lisa and BF

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Again, a post so defining, it must be shared

(Lori) Lavender Luz gets open adoption.  She completely and fully embraces openness.  The real kind of openness where her children's fullness is her first priority, therefore her children's first parents are a part of their family.  Because they belong there.  They are as much a part of her children's sense of identity as is their membership in her family.

But this post that she shares about how open adoption is not necessarily a spectrum based on level of contact, but more like a grid, is completely and totally profound and spot on to me.  Openess is not determined just by amount of contact, but by quality of interaction.

The open adoption spectrum and grid

Please read and let me know what you think.  It just amazed me that she is so introspectful and able to articulate these concepts so well.

Here is the graphic that she includes...

openness and contact in adoption

There Can Never Be Too Much Love

In an attempt to highlight the good in open adoption I want to share the following blog post written by an adult adoptee.

Death by Great Wall: There Can Never Be Too Much Love:

Susan describes why I will continue for my entire lifetime to reach out to my daughter and her family.  Because all we want is to be able to love her and support her.  Because we too believe what Susan calls out here...

"What I would like adoptive parents to know is that the adopted person has two families, recognized or not, and battles about which is more important are non-productive and can be corrosive to the adoptee's soul. As a grown adoptee, my message is simple: love is and should be expansive, and there can never be too much."

We love you desperately Brit and want you to know that our love will be unconditional and abundant.  And while you might be kept from knowing our love for you first hand for many years, we continue to nurture that love, preparing it for the day that we can pour it over you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

This is love

Rebekah Pinchback who blogs at Heart Cries could be one of my greatest adoption superheros. (Yes, I have a list, which I will share throughout this upcoming year.)

I really don't have words that can express the depth of love and respect that I have for this woman who I have never met in person.

If all adoption relationships were like her relationship with her son Ty's relationship, the tears and grief of adoption would be so lessened.

I know God has a special place prepared in heaven for Rebekah and her husband.

I might weep all day long thinking about this amazing post about how Rebekah is delighted that her preschool age son has chosen to call his birthmother MOM too.

Rebekah Pinchback you are an amazing mother.  God's unselfish love radiates through you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My struggle

I haven't talked much about my adoption situation lately because I have been trying to process it.

You see, in November we found out that Brit's parents are expecting another child. 

Not only are they expecting, but they are far enough along to know that this child is another little boy. They didn't indicate to us when they are due, but from my experience with being pregnant that means they are at least half way through the pregnancy to be able to know the child's sex.

So doing the quick math, that means they will have 4 children ages 3 and younger when this newest addition is born.  Brit turns 3 in March, the twins are 15 months younger than her, and this latest child will likely be born in the next couple of months (if not sooner, we don't know).

Here is what is hard for me. 

When our daughter was 6 months old they actively pursued fertility treatments to get pregnant with the twins.  Our daughter was still an infant and they actively pursued fertility treatments to 'have a child of their own'.  This was not a surprise pregnancy like sometimes happens to families who have just adopted.  I completely understand surprise pregnancies.  I have had plenty of those in my lifetime.  This was actively pursuing pregnancy via fertility assistance with a newly adopted infant in your arms.

It is very hard for me to think that they were truly OK with being parents via adoption only.  The idea that they pursued fertility treatments so quickly after adopting blows my mind.

This most recent pregnancy was a surprise according to Brit's dad.  We know very little, because it was a one sentence announcement at the end of an email update. 

So our daughter will be growing up in a house that has 4 children who are all about the same age.  Our daughter will be the only one who does not look like them.  And let me tell you, she looks NOTHING like them.  She looks exactly like us.  We don't know much about her personality since we have only spent 4 hours total with her in the last two years.

She will be the only one of the 'quadruplets' who will be completely different.

The second part of this is probably going to sound bad.  But it's my blog and my thoughts.  They will now have 4 children with a father who is a teacher at a small school and a stay at home mom.  I can't help but think that will be a huge financial struggle.

We know.  We are raising 4 children of our own (plus a grown child who no longer lives in our home).  We know what it is like to have 4 children to feed, buy clothes for, enroll in sports, pay school fees, etc.  We are acutely aware how difficult that is.  And BF is an accountant/controller and I am a director of marketing.  We each make more individually than the father of our daughter.  Thankfully our children have a very charmed life where they need for nothing and barely want for anything either.  They all have their own bedrooms, gaming systems, personal electronic devices, are enrolled in competitive sports teams and basically have everything provided for them.  Thankfully they are very appreciative and seem grateful for the things they do have.  We are lucky to have 4 amazing boys who make us proud to be their parents.

So the child that we placed for adoption, so she could have a mom and dad who were married, will now grow up in a home where she is the only one who is different.  And it will be very apparent because all of her siblings are going to be just about her age.

It is so hard for me to process.

I pray about it alot.  And cry alot too.

I cannot forgive myself for what I have done to our daughter.  I placed her with a family who does not want an active and open relationship with us.  I placed her in a family where she will be the outsider.  All the while her birth family is still in tact, all growing up together.

She is not allowed to know who we are.  We don't even know if they speak our names to her.  She doesn't know us.

Even in the last email it was hard to swallow as we heard about how she met 'great uncle so and so' who was in town visiting and they had a great time getting to know each other over the holidays.  Yet, Brit has an entire family living 10 MINUTES from her, who she is not allowed interaction with.

We heard how she has play dates at friend's houses, yet she isn't allowed to play with her biological brothers.

It is so hard to understand how we are the only people that they actively KEEP Brit from knowing.

So I continue to try to process it all.  And I pray constantly that God will soften their hearts toward us and allow us to have an active and meaningful relationship with our daughter.  I want her to be able to know us, and to know how very much we love her and want to be a part of her life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How I try to make a small difference

My it's been a long time since I have posted here!  My excuse is the holidays.  Truth is we are just so very busy and I have been present in the moment with our boys and at work.  Thus, the blog took a backseat.

I think so often "I should blog about that", but the moment passes and I don't sit down and get it done.  And since blogging is just for me, I don't feel obligated like I do with being available to the children I am parenting and the job I work at.

However, yesterday I told myself that I would find 10 minutes today to talk about something that makes me very happy.  It is the small way that I feel like I make a difference in the life of a child, specifically a child that has been able to stay with her family rather than be adopted.

First of all, the potential adoptive parents of this particular little girl are wonderful people.  I met them.  I liked them.  I am even FB friends with the mother.  They seem to be genuinely good parents.  I enjoyed their company.  If we lived closer I believe we would be friends.

But the little girl that they were going to adopt was never placed for adoption.  Her mother decided that she just couldn't do it.  Sadly I think that she saw my long-suffering as a birth mother and she knew that she didn't want the same fate.  I also think that her mother's heart kicked in and she knew that while it would be hard, she could parent this child, just as she had the two teenage boys she was raising.

Yes, I'm talking about my Little Princess.  Little Princess (LP for short) is the little girl who I have cared for every weekend since she was 4 months old.  Her mother works on weekends as the sole provider for herself and her 3 children.  So any hours she can get, she takes.  Including weekend shifts.

The truth is, had LP been adopted by the lovely adoptive couple, she would never have a want.  She would not need daycare, or weekend care.  She would be raised by a very successful work from home mother and successful father.  All of her needs and wants would have been met.

But LP doesn't know that.  The truth is LP is happy.  She has a mommy, two brothers, a daddy (who is crummy, but she doesn't know that yet), and she also has her Lisa and all of Lisa's boys.

If LP was my child, she would have more clothes.  She would have plenty of toys.  We would never wonder if we were going to run out of diapers before payday.  But that does not mean that I should be her mother.

Just because I have more and can give more, doesn't mean I deserve to be her mother.

What it does mean to me is, because I have more and can give more, I should.  So when I buy diapers, I buy a big box and give half to her momma.  When we go shopping, sometimes I buy her clothes that I send home with her.  And when the day comes that she wants to stay overnight at Lisa's house, I will keep her as often as I can.  Because I do have the time to give.  What is one more in my crazy world of boys?!?  And the blessing I get, one more little one to love and to be loved by.

But I am not her mommy.  I am also not their provider.  I am LP and her momma's SUPPORTER.  I love them both.

Because when I say that I believe that families should be preserved if at all possible, then I should do what I can to make sure that happens.

LP is the starfish I was able to save.

Her life will not be perfect.  I won't be able to protect her from some of the realities of low income.  But you know what she will have, HER MOMMY and HER FAMILY.

She will be able to look at her momma's hair and know that is why she has unruly curls.  She will know her two full brothers.  When she is only 5 feet tall, she will know that is because mommy and grandma are the same size. She is with 'her people' as my sweet grandma used to call her family.

And when her momma is at work, she will have her Lisa.  To hold her, love her, snuggle her, fix her hair, and feed her meals.  She will grow up with our boys, who swoon over her.  She will get kisses on her fat little cheeks from me.  She will get time-outs from me too.

LP will know that I love her to the moon and back.  But she will also know that she has a mommy who loves her endlessly too.

Little Princess has everything she needs.  She has her family.