Saturday, November 29, 2014

Garth Brooks: Mom

I loved this Garth Brooks song about mothers ... while maybe not written for adopted mothers, I think it is a perfect fit!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Adoption Grief

They were almost yours.

And now they are not.

A person who has never travelled the adoption road cannot comprehend the loss that comes with this journey.

Many couples who find themselves on an adoption road have already experienced incredible loss.

Loss of babies.

Loss of dreams.

Loss of privacy.

Loss of family.

And then they find themselves with new dreams. Dreams of adoption. Dreams of a child who needs a home. Dreams of being that home for a child or sibling group.

People who watch infertility grief unfold will often throw out the suggestion, "Why don't you adopt?" These well meaning suggestors want the pain to go away, and adoption seems like a guarantee on ending the loss and sadness.

Those suggesters have no idea what they are actually suggesting.

They are asking a couple, already plagued by failed dreams and hopes ... a couple who has already answered the phone so many times to hear a NO ... to do it all over again.

Only in a different way.

This week I watched someone I love do exactly that.

After years of trying to have a baby and years of watching that dream not come true, and years of watching everyone around them see the miracle they can only dream about, they decided to adopt.

And yesterday they lost again.

They watched the hope that they had be handed to a different family.

A deserving family mind you. Another family that was sitting on the edge of their seats as well. A family that today is celebrating while my friends are grieving.

And of course you can rationalize what they went through with so many words that in the end, don't change the fact that they are still childless.

Yes, their hope went to a deserving family that God designed for them to be with. Yes, there will ultimately be more rays of hope, and one of those rays of hope will belong to them. Yes, they will be better and stronger because of the loss. They will have learned and they will give to others and the perfect miracle will one day sit in their laps.

But today they awaken to empty laps.


All the while the world around them continues to move in the same way it had before. Women who don't want babies are having them. Families who can't take care of children are abandoning them. People who don't deserve a child are abusing them. Friends and family continue to have children and take pictures and post them on Facebook and talk about their "perfect family."

And still they wait.

And while they wait for the perfect childless child to be their child, they know that the loss they experienced yesterday could happen all over again. And the only way to find the miracle is to face the fact that they have to open themselves up again. They have to try again. And they could be disappointed again.

Just adopt.

Just be vulnerable.

Just risk.

Just hope.

Just dream.

Just do it all again. And maybe again.

Loss while they wait for their miracle. Grief while hoping. Sadness while expectant.

To my friends and to others waiting, I'm waiting with you. I'm praying for you. I'm hoping by your side. Hang on.

Your miracle is coming.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family is ... Adoption

If this video doesn't inspire you to DO something about the children in the world without a home, I'm not sure what would.

Click here to see how LOVE is really all you need to make a family.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Adopted into my heart

He slides into the living room. Sleep lines still on his face. Small doggy in one hand. Blue Bear in the other. He's usually the last of his brothers and sisters to wake up. And unlike the others, who are chatting from the moment they emerge from slumber, he is silent. He glances at me -- just a quick peek out of his big blue eyes and long lashes as he snakes across the wooden floor.

I put my arm out and expect him to curl up next to me. Instead he moves a little to the left. He pulls his knees up and settles into a spot on my lap. He's five and that is a bit too big to sit on a lap. But he doesn't seem to know it. He pulls his two favorite stuffed animals up under his chin and rests his head on my chest.

Understood silence ensues. And as we sit there together, I have trouble believing that he is five now. He is learning to read and to ride a bike. He just lost his second tooth, is memorizing Bible verses at church, and just completed his first tennis lesson. He loves junk food especially ice cream and lollipops and Cheetos and Oreos. He requests Blueberry Shredded Wheat cereal every time we go to the store. He is obsessed with Superheroes and can recite names and facts and powers as seamlessly as I used to shoot lay-ups. Oh, and he thinks his Daddy hung the moon.

Not many moms get a phone call telling them that they have a son while they are driving down the highway. But I did. I met a barely blonde seven pound little boy just a few hours later. Forty-eight hours later I sat next to him in the backseat as we pulled away from the hospital.

I had never felt him move in my womb. I had never spoken to him or sang to him or called him by his name or told him about all the hopes I had for his life.

Not where he could hear me anyway.

But I had crossed days off the calendar. And I had readied a nursery. And I had read all the books. I had spoken out loud to him and begged him to come soon. We had chosen a name. We had purchased a car seat. And a stroller. And waited for the phone to ring.

We had dreamed.

Once home, he nestled into my heart and onto my chest and into my arms seamlessly. I learned what cry meant he was hungry. When he was tired. How he liked to be swaddled. I snuggled him and bathed him and burped him and told him how happy I hoped he would be as my son.

He loved his swing. Hated green beans. Was allergic to eggs. We went for walks, grocery shopped, and felt the wind in both of our faces on boat rides. Daddy gave him his first hair cut and sat him on the counter in the kitchen with a wooden spoon in hand so they could cook together.

The first time he threw up all over me, and I climbed into the shower with him still on my shoulder and stood there under the warm water with his naked little body in my arms, I knew we were in this mother-son thing together forever.

I potty trained him. Taught him to put on his own shoes. To feed himself. To wash his own toes in the bathtub. We visited the Zoo. The park. The pool. The beach. I wiped his nose and his butt and his mouth. In exchange he gave me more hugs and kisses and snuggles than I felt I deserved.

He got a passport and moved with our military family around the world. He learned to count to ten in Turkish. He perfected please and thank you in Portuguese. He could spot dondurma (ice cream) a mile away and quickly learned to cover his cheeks so they wouldn't be kissed or pinched by people who spoke with words he didn't understand. He perfected the art of peeing in a "Turkish toilet" and accepted that waiters wanted to carry him around and show him off while his parents ate dinner.

Today he is a lanky five-year-old with a smile that he reserves for moments that truly deserve it. He's nimble and spry and while soft-spoken, he has the words to challenge us verbally every day.

When the power went out the other day, you could instantly spot the older brother amongst my four children. He was the one saying, "It's okay everybody. I got my flashlight. It's okay."

He knows the word adopted and can tell you what it means. Knows that unlike his siblings, he has something in common with Superman and Kung Fu Panda and Jesus and Moses.

He wants to be a carpenter and a veterinarian and an artist and a superhero when he grows up.

And all I want is what I've already gotten.

I wanted him to be my son.

And he is.

I love you Isaac.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Adoption Contest

I've entered the photo of the moment JB and I met Isaac for the first time in a photo contest for an adoption magazine. Click here to see the entered photo.

Picture online!

Check it out, our picture of Isaac and his dog Scrubby is on the main page of the ADOPTIVE FAMILIES website! We entered it in a contest to feature our adopted child and his best four legged pal!

Favorite Adoption books of 2013

These books were recommended by the Adoptive Families website. Please note that I have NOT personally read most of these books so these are not my personal recommendation.

Breeding in Captivity book coverIn her witty, irreverent, yet poignant memoir, Stacy Bolt recounts her quest to have a child at "advanced maternal age" with the help of an RE (Really Expensive fertility specialist), and then through domestic adoption.
NO MATTER WHATby Sally Donovan
No Matter What book coverAfter adopting siblings with a history of abuse and neglect from the British foster system, Donovan and her husband realize that love alone won't heal their children. The author is disarmingly honest about their post-placement challenges—the outbursts (theirs and hers) and tenacity (theirs and hers) as they all ultimately let down their guard and learn to love.
INSTANT MOMby Nia Vardalos
Instant Mom book cover"Funny, touching, and extremely honest. Vardalos starts with her time making My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when, it turns out, she was having an absolutely brutal time with multiple IVF tries. And then her desire to ‘have a baby' turned into a desire to ‘be a parent.' Anyone who adopted from foster care or internationally, like me, will relate to the struggles they had when they first brought their daughter home. A great read!"—HEATHER
THE EYE OF ADOPTION, by Jody Cantrell Dyer
The Eye of Adoption book cover"I believe every woman currently waiting to adopt, or who knows someone who's waiting, should read this book. It amazed me how Jody so perfectly described feelings that I had myself. It helped me to understand that my feelings and emotions are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I absolutely loved this book."—HOLLY
The Eye of Adoption book coverYou would expect a memoir of motherhood and adoption by a comedian and former SNL cast member to be funny. And it is. But Julia Sweeney’s tale of adopting her daughter as a single mother, then later marrying and moving with her family from Los Angeles to Chicago, is also warm and real and sharply observed.

ADOPTED, LIKE MEby Ann Angel; illustrated by Marc Thomas; ages 8+
Breeding in Captivity book cover
Let your child know that, through adoption, he or she joins the likes of George Washington Carver, Marilyn Monroe, John James Audubon, Aristotle, and others. The 19 short biographies of famous adoptees are accompanied by richly colored paintings.
I AM LATINO: THE BEAUTY IN ME by Sandra L. Pinkney; photos by Myles C. Pinkney; ages 3-6
No Matter What book cover
The team that brought us Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children created another wonderful book with simple text and full-color photos. Seeing a child in a book who looks like them is powerfully affirming for any child, and I Am Latino illustrates the diversity of people of Latino descent. 
CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT ADOPTION?by Anne Braff Brodzinsky; illustrated by Rosy Salaman; ages 7+
Instant Mom book cover"Funny, touching, and extremely honest. Vardalos starts with her time making My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when, it turns out, she was having an absolutely brutal time with multiple IVF tries. And then her desire to ‘have a baby' turned into a desire to ‘be a parent.' Anyone who adopted from foster care or internationally, like me, will relate to the struggles they had when they first brought their daughter home. A great read!"—HEATHER
BORN FROM THE HEARTby Berta Serrano; illustrated by Alfonso Serrano; ages 3-6
The Eye of Adoption book cover
Reactions to Born from the Heart have been mixed. Some think it takes the pregnancy metaphor of a heart that grows bigger and bigger, necessitating clothes from "a special store for special moms like her," too far. Others see the tale, which the author based on her own early talks with her son, as light fantasy and "a cute way to explain adoption to a child." —KAT
ABC, ADOPTION AND MEby Gayle Swift with Casey Swift; illustrated by Paul Griffin; ages 5+
The Eye of Adoption book cover
Although the "ABC" concept makes it seem that this would be a book for younger kids, this collaboration between an adoptive mother and her daughter tackles weighty topics. "What I love about this book is how it touches on many aspects of adoption that could be difficult to talk about, but not in a threatening or forceful way. It can be used over and over again as children grow—my 16-year-old even found it thought-provoking." —SUSAN

THE MOTHERS, by Jennifer Gilmore
Breeding in Captivity book cover"I heard an interview with Jennifer Gilmore on Fresh Air and I thought she made the process sound miserable—a ridiculously long wait with one scam after another. But I was really impressed with how balanced the book was. She got so many of the details right—the way a relationship with a friend changes when she has a baby and you’re still waiting, the info meetings at the agency—at times, it felt like she just changed a few names and published a (well-written, well-edited) diary of her adoption wait." —MIRIAM
No Matter What book cover
Eleanor Sweet, adopted as a baby, is pursuing an adoption with her husband when he backs out at the last moment. She determines to go forward with the adoption on her own, but needs support—and some answers—so she hires Isabelle to locate her birth mother. "I liked the character of the 'search angel.' So many people who help others are hiding a secret pain themselves...." —JEN
AND THEN I FOUND YOU, by Patti Callahan Henry
Instant Mom book cover
Twenty years after Patti Callahan Henry’s sister placed a baby for adoption, Henry was contacted by the young woman. With her sister’s permission, the novelist wrote a fictionalized account of her experiences leading up to the adoption plan and through the emotional reunion. 

The Eye of Adoption book cover
Arleta James, a therapist specializing in adoption and attachment, has been working closely with families for more than a dozen years. Her expertise shines through in this comprehensive guide (not just for families pursuing a second adoption!) that’s filled with real-life examples and practical advice.
The Eye of Adoption book cover
"This is a beautifully honest, thoughtful, and enlightened guide—a book I wish my parents could have read before they adopted me. Keeping the well-being of the adopted child in mind, Lori explains why it’s so important to help heal the split between a child’s biography and biology. I encourage you to set aside any pre-conceived thoughts you have about openness in adoption and take a look. I recommend this to all of the adoptive and foster families I work with." —LESLI 
The Eye of Adoption book cover
"Cris Beam’s book about the U.S. foster care system, is important, insightful, and depressing. I think anyone involved in foster care should read it. I find myself convinced that children should remain with their (birth) parents if at all possible, given the state of the system. Children often seem to be deeply damaged by foster care and by being separated from their parents, no matter how flawed. And I write this as an adoptive mother."......... —PAT

COUNTING BY 7S, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Breeding in Captivity book cover
WIllow Chance, adopted transracially as an infant, has mastered several different languages and diagnostic medical texts by age 12. Although she has trouble fitting in at school, her parents have always understood her. After they die in a car crash, she must find a new place to belong. You’ll fall in love with and root for Willow and the rest of the quirky cast in this utterly charming novel.

AFTER ISAAC, by Avra Wing
Instant Mom book cover
Three years after his brother’s death, at age 11, 16-year-old Aaron Saturn is just coming to terms with the loss. But when his parents announce their plans to adopt a baby girl from China, he’s once again thrown off-course. Avra Wing deftly captures the voice of her teenaged narrator, and explores the topics of friendship, family stability, and grief, alongside adoption and racism.