Saturday, November 16, 2013

Adoption is a Gift

Today my sister shared an article about adoption.  The article truly disgusted me and was anything but a celebration of adoption.  The gist is that a family who couldn't have children fostered to adopt 7 mos old twin boys.  Four months later they then became pregnant with their own child.  After some time they were asked to take in the twins 2 1/2 year old sister, who they also adopted.  The adopted children had a lot of issues and the parents decided that they could not deal with their adopted children. They chose to adopt them out to two other families.  The amount of support for this family floored me.  As an adoptive mom there is many things wrong with this scenario and many reasons I think these people should be held accountable for hurting these kids.  I would like to share those reasons with you.  If you are a person contemplating adoption I would urge you to read this and think long and hard about what I share.

When you feel the call to adoption, usually you feel this call based on your belief and faith system.  You believe every child should be guaranteed the right to be loved and nurtured.  Every child should have a happy home.  Every child of God deserves to be taken care of.  Yes, I said God.  Many of these people are in strong church communities that encourage adoptions and "doing more for the least of my people".  This encouragement is awesome but can also be very damaging when you are talking about something that does not come natural to people.  It is my strong opinion that churches need to stop pressuring families to adopt.

I am so thankful that during our discernment process, Shawn and I were surrounded by people who had the courage to speak honestly to us about negative aspects of adoption.  Their brutal honesty helped us confront those issues and really think on if we were ready and equipped to handle this.  We talked to adult adoptive children and their adoptive parents about the struggles they faced.  We spoke to foster families who took in older children to find out what issues they dealt with.  We wanted the horror stories because we would know what we were getting into.  The "Mary Poppins" people we stayed away from.  These are the people telling us how great we were, how amazing it was that we were adopting a child.  These are the same people that talked about God wanting this for us.  We knew they had no way of knowing this and it was OUR JOB to discern if God truly wanted this for us.  Only we knew the answer to this with lots of guidance and prayerful consideration.

Which brings me to my next point.  We discerned this very carefully, together, but most importantly, we honestly talked about our fears.  We spent days discussing our biological children.  How would this affect them?  How would we ensure that Keegan would be their brother not just the adopted kid?  How would we deal with discussing his adoption as part of our family's story?  How would we maintain an open adoption and make sure that all of our children would feel connected to Keegans family and story?  We discussed his biological family in depth.  We talked about every fear, worry and selfish thought we had.  We knew that we would forever be opening our family up to a family that we barely knew.  We knew that we could not be selfish in our decision to involve them in our family.  Everything had to be what was best for Keegan.

Speaking of Keegan... we talked about that kid for months.  We didn't spend hardly anytime talking about how cute, smart, amazing, funny he was.  We literally spent NO time speaking about how lucky he was to be part of our family.  We talked about how we would feel if one day he developed issues from the adoption or genetically developed some of the characteristics of his birth family.  We talked about the developmental issues he was sure to have based on the way his first 3 years had been.  We talked about the psychological affects on HIM when he joined a large family with biological children.  We read a million books on adoptive kids and their journey and worked endlessly on understanding those issues and how they would affect our family.  It was understood from the very first moment that once Keegan was adopted he was OUR child.  If these horrible things happened in his future we would deal with that in the same way we would if it was Shawn, Emma, Kiley or Dylan.  We would NEVER give him away just like we would NEVER give up our biological children.  Until we knew this for certain we would not commit to the adoption.

Once we decided to adopt, we made the conscious decision to actively work EVERYDAY to be fully committed and never look back.  We made sure our extended family had decided that as well.  We talked extensively to our parents about their thoughts on having an adopted grandchild.  We talked about the open adoption and blending strangers into our tight family. We wanted to know that they understood our discernment and that they would be 100% supportive.  Obviously, our parents rock and they did.

Lastly, we spoke to our children.  We explained the situation openly and honestly.  We told them this was a family decision and they were part of the decision making process.  We explained some of the concerns we had and explained that they too must be 100% committed.  He would be their brother forever.  His story would become our story and we would be a very different family.  We allowed them to have a meeting and discuss this {we secretly taped it :)}.  In the meeting they shared their thoughts and feelings.  They were honest.  They were not fearful of having to say yes.  We believe they felt no pressure.  They decided to adopt their brother by creating a small skit.  Kiley would come out to the family room and they would say "we got a keeper!"  They decided this, we decided together as a family that we would love our Keegan NO MATTER WHAT.  That is what families do.  Keegan was meant to be in our family.

After Keegan came to our house we had to do many intentional things to make sure our goal of a blended family would be met.  We intentionally referred to all the children as Brother or Sister.  We intentionally spent time holding and hugging our little boy.  We intentionally found moments for each family member to spend time alone with him.  Not alone watching TV but alone doing some activity that would create a memory and a bond.  We intentionally looked for moments of unease, sadness or anger in all of our children and tried to dialogue. 

Shawn and I got better as time went on sharing our own thoughts and feelings.  We talked about the struggles, the joys and the sadness we were feeling.  The struggles suck.  They are harder than we could have ever imagined.  They are ways that we know "evil" tries to creep into our family.  As many of you know, I tend to be sassy.  Based on this character trait I REFUSE to let that happen.  I bless our house often, I ask for prayers {St. Michael's prayer is my best friend}and work DAILY to be faithful.  I work hard to build my husband up and try to alliviate any extra stress my feelings may cause him.  I have nights where I feel the day was successful and nights where I feel like an utter failure.  I have this with ALL of my children.

Throughout this journey I have maintained a small group of people I trust to share my deepest, darkest feelings.  These are my "Mary Poppins" people.  They listen without judgement and offer realistic solutions to my struggles that NEVER include looking back.  They pray for me daily.  Most importantly they NEVER tell me how amazing I am for adopting Keegan.  They tell me that I am an amazing mother and we can do all things through God.  They make me remember that mothering is a sacrifice and joyful but that mothering also sucks.  They encourage me to never quit and make me remember the very reasons we decided to JOYFULLY have Keegan become a part of our family.

Keegan is a blessing I could never have foreseen would happen.  With blessings, some people find ways to wish for bigger or better things.  Adoption is far from that.  This is not a fairy tale.  This is a story of family.  A family is loving parents working to raise loving children, no matter what.  There are fights, tears, groundings, endless consequences.  Family is not easy but it is always a blessing from God.  You do not give your blessings back to God and say "um, try again.  This is not quite what I wanted".  You accept your blessings and the trials that may come along with it or you DO NOT ask for that blessing.

This family was awesome for FINALLY making the decision that they should never have adopted.  But, they SHOULD NOT be praised for harming these 3 precious children for so long.  They should be held accountable for the way they have created more trauma in their lives.  This should not be praised as selfless love.  This is the worst kind of selfishness.  Putting your needs above a childs is not ok.  They should have discerned this before they made the decision to adopt a child as their own.  Parents don't get to quit.  Especially parents of traumatized children. 

Adopted children are hurt kids in many ways.  You work so hard to try and heal them.  The gift of adoption comes during this trial.  You will grow stronger as a person, as a spiritual being but also as a human being.  Adoptive families are not heroes.  They can not be called heroes because that label will have them reaching for impossible goals.  They are everyday parents who make the impossible decision to parent another one's child.  They are traveling a path that will never end and they choose to do this daily.  If they are lucky their journey will be an easy one but most likely, much like parenting any child, this is not going to be the case.  They will hit pitfalls, detours, construction but they will continue moving forward in the direction of the destination.  You don't get to hail a taxi and head the other way.

It is a shame that during this month of celebrating adoption such an article was written.  Especially an article by a Catholic author who should know the enormous responsibility we have to protect the least of our people.  More time should be spent on the families who are working tirelessly to create families from adoption.  So many of us are doing it correctly without the confusion that was expressed in this article.  I wish more people would share these journeys.  I hope you enjoyed ours.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Family...What Matters Most

Today I found out that one of our old Tots families that were with us for only a short time, suffered a tragic loss.  The father, only 38, passed away very unexpectedly.  He was an awesome father to two really sweet kids.  I remember him as one of those dads that lived for his kids.  He was involved and wanted to know everything about his kids day. He was a really good dad, you didn't have to know him to see that.  This tragedy made me think really hard on what matters.

This past weekend we spent soaking up our family.  I am so, so happy I did.

So many times I complain about the time and energy I spend on others.  We have so many family obligations it is tough to remain selfless.  I wish for weekends to do veg out in jammies and the mindless tv.   I get so tired and cranky from not having down time.  I start feeling overwhelmed and taken for granted.  It is a really ugly but familiar place.  Today has me thinking....honking long and hard about what matters.  At the end of the day, what really matters? As I think of this father I feel so thankful for my family- near and far, my husband and my precious treasures.  What matters most to me.

This week my amazing sister welcomed her, huge...miracle baby into our world.  He is her third joy and my 18th kiddo to spoil.  John Paul will know me.  Come he'll or high water I will make sure of it.  Not because I have to, only because it matters.  It matters that my kids crowded around a computer to see every photo they could get their eyes on.  It matters that they all said a prayer for Auntie Mare Mare and Uncle Aaron.  It matters that they ask about Aaron and Jojo's reaction to their new brother.

This weekend my kids ran in the mountains, laughing and playing together.  They met 2 horses, caught crawdads, learned how to backflip on a swing.  They sat at a picnic table surrounded by cousins.  They swam in Uncle Carlies pool till their lips turned blue.  They picked me a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers and found me countless treasures that currently reside in every nook and cranny of my purse.  They rode four wheelers with our sweet Uncle Jerry.  They spent time with Grammy who is still healing a broken heart.  They laughed with cousin Dawn and even snuck bites off her plate.  My son sat at the table with his big, burly uncles and held his own in a way that I know will form the very foundation of who he will be as a man.  They were given snuggles by Aunts and Uncles who help hold them and us to the high standards that bring us so many amazing compliments.  I am so blessed that my Kentucky family brings me the same beauty I always have in Michigan.

We came home and woke up to do it all again.  We were exhausted and really didn't want to do it.  Football was on, I had work to do, the kids were cranky.  But, ee sucked it up and showed up.  We celebrated our 2 of the 3 fall birthdays with friends and family who make us better everyday.  These beautiful people came out to spend time with us and helped make my heart feel full.  It is never about gifts, location or even how many flies come to crash the party.  All that matters is sitting together, sharing a meal and time.  My kids heard so much laughter, felt so much love and again, I am so, so glad we did it.

When the time comes for me to head home, I truly hope that I am remembered for being a part of my family.  Not just a sideliner,  a cheerleader or a fan but a real part of the team.  Hell, I will reach high and say I want to be known as the quarterback.  Because in the end family is all that matters.  Creating your own amazing definition of what that means.  For me, it is defined by being matter the cost. It is measured by the hugs and conversations that fill a family with purpose.  It is driven by people who sacrifice to make those moments happen, even if it is sad and hard.  It is solidified in the efforts it takes to keep those solid connections even hundreds of miles away.  To be family, you have to BE family. 

If those things can be said about me then I will have been a success.  And, every day from this moment on, I will remember this wonderful father.  Who, in the short time I knew him, exuded this with his children.  I truly hope that when you read this you take the time to reflect on your definition of family and how you are or are not reaching that standard.  Work hard to reach it because life is too dang short to squander our time with unnecessary things.  If tomorrow never comes, would they know how much you loved them?  (Thanks Garth)

Monday, August 26, 2013

I have a rant, a rave and a reflection to share but first, I have a little story.  Disclaimer: This story is just that, a story.  I can not stand by the validity of the facts. 

Once upon a time a childcare teacher headed into work.  The night before she had stayed up, completing the final touches on her 242nd fine motor game for all of the teachers at her centers {11 games for each of her 22 classrooms- done by the way, in a week and a half, or so the story goes} On the way back out to her car, she watched a parent share a complaint with another parent.  The parent was FURIOUS that she had to park her car in the back of the parking lot.  She wasn't furious about the fact that the center had an unfortunate parking lot, oh no!  She was FURIOUS, and I mean FURIOUS, that the staff had the audacity to park in the first few spaces.  The teacher was so sad by what she saw and told me all about it with the hope that I could shed some light.

That got me thinking and ranting and yes, raving {although I would never, ever talk to a parent rudely} and so I composed this letter.

Dear Parents of Children Attending Day Care,

I am writing you this letter after completing the second of my monthly staff meetings.  Tonight I met with my infant and toddler teachers for an hour after work to come up with ways to keep our curriculum standards high.  We did this for your child.  Tonight mothers, some of them single mothers, devoted their evening to collaborating on ways to teach your child sign language.  We did this for your child.  My staff are not forced to attend, they choose to attend because they are committed to YOUR CHILD.  Here's what I want you to know about those teachers you complain about parking close to the building where they work for YOUR CHILD.

First, we are NOT a daycare.  We do not babysit your children and color in coloring books all day.  We TEACH your child everything they need to know to become successful in school.  They could not succeed without the tools we give them.  I am not talking about letters and numbers... sure, this is important but, not as important as... sharing, trying hard no matter what, saying their sorry, character counts.  We teach them they are more precious than gold.  We hug them all day long...not because we are paid to but because we want to.  We pick them up when they fall, we wipe their noses when they are sick, we change their diapers and teach them to go to the bathroom.   We praise them when they do well, we lovingly redirect them when they get nutty.  We play with them, make them laugh, wipe their tears, build them up.  We do all of this while still ensuring that YOUR child will pass their Kindergarten exam with flying colors.

We are not referred to as teachers, by you or the public.  We do not have a union, we do not have politicians working for our best interest, we do not get to be called an "educator".  We do not have awards named after us.  Some of our very best teachers will never know the pride of receiving a high honor in her field.  We are referred to as day care workers.   We make less than a garbage man.  Most of you don't even know our first names.  When we have teacher appreciation week only 10 of you {this is a real number} will remember.  Ten of you.

Their are days we all second guess our field.  Days where the bad outweighs the good.  We all know we would get more respect, admiration and acknowledgement working the counter of a McDonalds.  We at least would be thanked when we deliver your food.  But, let me tell you what we would not get.  We would not get to spend countless hours holding your child on our laps while reading Dr. Seuss.  We would not get the squeals on the playground after chasing your child around the swingset for the hundredth time that day.  We would never see the look of fierce determination of watching your child write the first letter of his name or get the look of sweet success after they do.  We would not get to hear our names called in the sweet little voice that your child has attached to our hearts.  Those are things that can not be replicated.

We work harder for your child than you could possibly know.  Tonight as I looked around the room at the 23 women who showed up to make their classrooms stronger I couldn't help but feel extremely blessed to work with these women.  I was immensely grateful that my children grew up in their arms and in their hearts.  I only wish you could see them the way that I do.  If you did, you could never pay them enough, praise them enough.  You would know what I know now, my children are who they are because of women and men like them.  My kids turned out great... yours will too, in part because of the group of nameless women that work tirelessly to make sure they do. 

A Proud Teacher

This week I challenge any mom or dad with a child in a Daycare center to first, introduce yourself and work hard to remember the name of the teacher caring for your child 40+ hours a week.  Second, thank them.  We all love goodies and treats but what we really love is just an old fashioned thank you.  Lastly, look around your child's class and really pay attention to all of the time, energy and money {often their own} that they have put into your child's class.  Not because they have to but because they wanted to... for you... for your child.

End Rant.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lucky in Love and In Family

The gospel the other day was about how God wanted the world to be a place of peace.  But, he foresaw a time when fathers would be at war with sons, daughters at war with mothers and daughter-in-laws at war with mother-in-laws.  As I listened to those words I reflected on the relationship I am blessed to have with my husbands family.  I have never had a time where I warred with my in-laws.  Quite the contrary.  They are my other family that God chose me to be a part of.

I am lucky for that and grateful beyond words.  This family lost a great lady last Friday.  Mary Rachel Hoskins was not just a grandmother-in-law, she was truly an inspiration to each of us.  In the short time I was allowed to know her, I grew stronger in my faith and started to form a picture of how I want to be when I am older.

I want my children to honor me and respect me.  I want them to worry about me and love me unconditionally.  I want them to pray to God for me.  I want them to stay close together and love each other with the same fierce love I have for them.  I want them to model my faith, so that one day, when I pass on they will be confident that I am in a better place and will find comfort in that.  I want them to see me the same way Mamaw's children see her.   

Mamaw raised her 12 {!} children in a one room house with no indoor plumbing.  I am at a near breaking point when my dishwasher breaks!  She did all of this with no complaining.  All of her children tell loving stories of how they grew up.  Not one of them talk about what they didn't have.  They all talk about how much they had and all of the love they grew up knowing.  That amazes me.  That inspires me.  That teaches me lessons I have only ever seen in the bible or in the saint stories from my youth.  Mostly, it makes me want to be a better mom.  Mamaw epitomizes the Beatles lyric... All you Need is Love.  She always gave love.
Mamaw had 23 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren.  She knew every one of them.  Each time another Hoskins baby was brought to her for a snuggle she would look at that baby like she had never seen a more beautiful creature.  She loved holding hands.  Watching her have a child on her lap and talking in her soft, gentle voice was truly a sight to behold.  Each child would quietly calm in her prescence.  It is hard to articulate how hard it will be to not see one of our babies on her lap or in her arms.  Grandchildren are the way God shows you that you continue to live on here on earth.  If you have been an exceptional Grandparent that legacy will be one that shines forth to all around.     
People say that you shouldn't make saints out of sinners.  That every human being has faults but I can tell you that during the time of my reflection on this great lady, I have not found one.  Mamaw was one of a kind.  She was this glorious definition of how to live the life you are blessed with.  She oozed grace and kindness.  She listened much more than she talked.  She was an amazing cook and reigned in her kitchen like a true Queen Mother.  She never ate first... in fact, she never put herself out front at all.  She was content to sit back and let others take front row.  Mamaw put effort in all that she did.  From raising 12 kids and overseeing the fruit {62!} of all that hardwork.  She did it for the glory of God.
Mamaw was sick for the longest time.  The sweet woman suffered.  You would never know it.  She never told you her aches and pains.  She would shoo away any talk of concerns you had for her.  Her body was covered in bruises, battered to a pulp.  Even as her body was shutting down her unconditional love and kindness was at its peak.  Her last year was spent in a hospital.  You would think this would change her spirit or her didn't.  She went from holding court in her house, to holding court around her hospital bed.  I hope during this time she felt the boundless love each one of us had for her.  
Everyone she met was touched by her grace.  Everyone who knew her talked about that. Life without mamaw means a life without such amazing inspiration.  It means my kids will have to tell stories of their amazing mamaw instead of getting to experience them.  It means there will be an unfillable void in my amazing family I inherited by marriage.  Yes, the world is a little sadder without her in it.  But, I know I am comforted that I got to be one of the lucky ones to know her.  I am comforted mostly, that one day she will be greeting me at the pearly gates.  I can't help but hope she will have a big ol plate of fried dressing and cornbread.  Even angels have to eat!   

Friday, June 28, 2013

Muddy Reflections

A very wonderful, lovely lady once said...Sometimes life isn't a bowl of cherries its a crock of sh@#!  Well without boring everyone with those mundane moments, I shall simply say no greater truth has been told.  Its been a dousy of a week.  Luckily I am only going to share the very awesome, amazing moment that I shared with the littles yesterday. 

I decided out of the blue that life may be beating the crap out of me but I do know, that one way I have been able to escape and feel better is running.  So I asked Keegan if he wanted to go with me.  He said yes.  No sooner had he said that when Dylan and Kiley came ripping around the corner saying Take Me Toooooo!!!  Running is my escape but tonight I thought what the hell...lets do this!

I made them promise that they would run, not whine and keep up.  But, I told them, if they could do this than I would take them to my favorite secret place.  They were intrigued enough to agree.  We piled in the van and headed to Veterans Park trails.  These trails are amazing and follows a little creek.  I knew the littles would love it.

Now let me set the is 182 degrees, it has rained for 40 days and the humidity is indescribable.  Sounds like perfect running weather, right?  Wrong.

We get out of the van and begin stretching.  I mean we looked like the cutest little fitness buffs ever!  So we started to jog into the wooded trails.  Everything is grand until the trails turned into a sloppy mess.  I didn't know what to do.  The kids were excited, we were ready but there was literally mud lakes every foot.  I looked at their faces and couldn't turn them down.  We kept on running.

Kiley was the first one down.  She slipped and was covered in mud.  I took a deep breath.  For a moment I almost cursed out loud but then I just didn't.  I made the decision to laugh.  Pretty soon we all were.   We were jogging through mud and laughing our heads off.   Shortly after kileys spill, Dylan "fell".  He fell about three times in a row.  Each fall looked kinds of like a belly flop.  Right after Keegan got a big handprint of mud on his cute cheeks courtesy of mama bear.  We were a family of hippos.  Then we hit the biggest part of the creek.  Here's where things really got funny.  I slid down a hill, almost into the creek covered head to toe in mud.  I couldn't get up the hill.  I kept sliding back down. The kids were busting their guts. 

As I sat in the mud I thought a lot about how expectations for life never really measure up to reality.  In that moment I knew that I didn't have the perfect job, a million dollars or a fabulous outfit but I had the three most filthy, adorable children that ever lived.  They know nothing but love and laughter.  There is nothing sweeter than that. 

I always dreamed these grand dreams growing up what life was going to be.  It hasn't turned out the way I thought.  Today I realized it kind of turned out better.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Breakup Letter #2

Last month I broke up with Facebook.It was sad but needed.  I still struggle with this decision but we are better apart. 

This month I am breaking up with my Teen Moms, 16 and pregnants and Teen Moms 2 and MTV, as a whole. I will swear and say hurtful things.  I will try to start a revolution...I encourage strongly all of you joining me.  If you want to join, share this breakup letter and bring down the creepers that run MTV.  Bring em down hard. Here is my breakup letter...

Dear MTV,

We are breaking up.  Our relationship has become toxic.  You do nothing for me.  Worst of all, you ain't nothing but a money grubbing pimp.   You sell young women for profit...making more money by selling their pride to the highest bidder.  You love weak women who enjoy beatings,  like Rihanna.  You love her abuser and dare to give him screen time.  You even showed him doing community service, as if he was Rosa Parks instead of the ass who beat a woman's face to a bloody pulp.

You chastise your indentured women with a quack job "doctor" for keeping their babies and wanting to have more.  You support women having irresponsible sex with low down dirty bastards and just taking the abortion pill to clean up any mistakes.  You are such a corporate, filthy company. 

You promote websites that promote underage girls having sex and finding meds to deal with the consequences.  You have shows that glorify weak, hurt women being taken advantage of by men on a daily basis.  You profit from men who take home drunk women to use for sex.  You create characters that make this cool and ok.  If I saw you on the street I picture you being an aging 45 year old hooking up with 20 year olds like a pathetic letching creeper.

The worst part is somehow your creepy, pathetic attempts to stifle strong women has worked.  You make billions off of us.  We don't cause a ruckus.  We sit back like good little housewives letting you dictate how women are treated.  Since you came around I have seen women dress trashier, get wasted, become dumber, get used and abused all the while making more money for you their nasty pimp.  We allow it, support it and promote it.  We give you excuses and say you are teaching us lessons.  What the what?!?!?  Last I checked I got my lessons from real people not cartoon characters provided by corporate pigs making the big bucks.

The last straw was watching your quack tell a bunch of young, struggling moms "I told you so".  I watched him and you make them feel like worthless, poor, pathetic girls.  I watched you turn strong women into sniveling, regretful teen moms.  You gave them a shameful scarlet letter...and loved every minute of it. 

What you forgot is that we watch the show because we see their strength.  The strength in completing school and staying put, because their child needs it.  We see their struggle.  Struggle with poverty and a history of poor parenting but we focus on how they achieve motherhood with grace and courage.  We see their heartbreak but await their rising phoenix moments.  We see them make tough choices for their child unselfishly.  Even the weakest ones provide us with a sense of sisterhood...believe me, we all are looking for keiffer to kick his ass.  We root for Jenelle and wish for her peace and inner strength to beat the beast.

But, I realized today, you don't create the show for this reason.  You create this show to make them look like whores and treat them like dogs.  You do this with glee!  You enjoy their failures, struggles and fears.  You literally love it.  You chastise them are the completion of a season.  You make them cry and grovel for their mistakes.  You them parade out their children, like you had something to do with their little spirits.

So for them, for me and every woman I say, peace homie.   We are done.  We are never ever, ever getting back together.  Take your crappy anti women agenda elsewhere.  I am not falling for it.  I will raise my girls to kick your ass with their own studios.  I will raise them to own you, control you and inevitably, shut you down.  Buckle up buttercups,  the revolution has begun.  We won't be wasting time burning bras, we will work tirelessly to shut you down.

Women everwhere

Thursday, May 16, 2013

They Were Never Mine...

Tonight I am overwhelmed.  Emma had her last spring concert.  She was, all of a sudden, a beautiful young lady.  It was like meeting a whole new person.    Kiley had her end of the year party.  Surrounded by her friends, I sat in the background glowing in her amazingly bright spirit. Shawn had his final band concert of the year.  The last time I hear him perform in middle school...maybe ever.  He was handsome, calm and so cool.  Keegan wore his first graduation gown and graduated preschool.  He performed with nary a look of fear on his face.  Dylan started wiping off my kisses.  Sad.  So sad. 

What happened?  I am sitting here quietly sobbing.  Watching Keegan belt out his songs with this unbelievable confidence.  Seeing him in his cap and gown, all I could see was that lil boy I fell in love with when he started Tots Landing.  I am hit by the realization that today is turning into yesterday.  Every moment I try to grab onto.  I hold on for dear life and try to mentally etch these moments my heart.  I know I can't.  I know these moments will disappear and fade.  I will only have the sweet hint of what these were. 

Tonight I am overwhelmed by my 8th grade son who is becoming the most magnificent man.  But, even as I celebrate this with pride, I look back for my sweet little boy.  The little boy that carried a lunch box and watched spongebob next to me on the couch, sucking his thumb.  The little boy who was the first to promise to marry me and be my best friend forever.  I didn't believe then what I know to be true now...he is not mine, he never was.

God gave me these babies to mold into the best human beings I could.  To allow them to be my definition of his love.  Tonight, I am kind of pissed at that. I feel used and so sad.  All that love and nurturing is all for no personal gain.  I know, I know mothering is selfless but I could never imagine that watching them grow up without looking back is heartbreakingly real.  Tonight I am so sad that I only get so few years to have this unbelievable gift of love.

Emma is such a confident girl.  She is beautiful inside and out.  I watched her giggle with her friends and even saw her check out a boy.  But do you know what I really saw?  I saw a little girl with lip gloss and a bob playing tag on the playground with AJ.  I saw her in her silver plastic crown watching in amazement at the Disney princesses on ice.  Where did this girl go?

And Kiley?  I saw her lead a group of friends in laughter, telling stories like a tiny comedian.  They looked at her in awe...the same way she used to look at me.  The little girl in overalls and pigtails snuggled so close to me it felt like we were molded together.  The sweet Gracie who let me rub her back in circles to put her to sleep, sucking her thumb while I sang her a  song.

Dylan is still little and if I could I would make a magic wand that would keep him with me always.  But, as he wipes off my goodnight kiss and for the first time, doesn't ask for monster spray, i know he is growing up and away too.  Today he is my lil boy and tomorrow he will be gone.

I realize that you don't lose it all at once.  You lose it slowly.  The first time he wipes off a kiss or doesn't want to hold your hand.  The loss of a goodnight snuggle without you even noticing.  Looking for the smell of Johnson and Johnson and only smelling axe.  A missing cuddle partner at tv time.  A lack of cartoons on your dvr.   A bedroom that is covered in dirty clothes...not a stuffed animal in sight.  Discovering you are not the face they are looking for in the audience.  Hearing them sing a song you didn't teach them.  Watching them walk away without looking back. 

I know I should be happy.  I know I should be so proud of these beautiful kids who make the world smile bigger.  But, tonight, I am not.  I am mourning my invisibility and the inevitable loneliness their growing up is making me feel.  I am feeling broken hearted that just yesterday my first baby was teaching a girl how to be a mom.  Just yesterday he was cuddled in my arms and I was singing him "beautiful boy".  That happened yesterday. 

Today he had his last band concert and in 5 days he will have graduated 8th grade.  I saw him today in Keegan who graduated preschool and wore the same cap and gown he seems like yesterday.  He is mine and yet, I know he was never mine.  They are only mine for a short while, like an achingly beautiful dream that is too short but so wonderful it makes you wish to go back to sleep.

Tonight, I am sad. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Mothers Day Letter to Birthmoms

Warning: This is heavy on my heart so I want to share.  It may not be easy to read.  You may judge me or even judge adoptions in general.  You may judge birthmoms based on your experiences. You may feel they do not deserve the compassion this letter writes about because of the hurt they caused a child.  That's ok.  I don't write this for you, I write it for them.  Today must be a tough day for them.  Maybe my words can change this a bit.  Maybe your words of support can help them, too.  Add a comment of support or share this with someone who may need it.

Dear Birthmoms,

Today is a happy day for me because of you.  Today the world tells me Happy Mothers Day and I am celebrated because of you.  I will have presents, cards but more importantly kisses and hugs from a child because of you.  Today the world remembers and reflects on all of the hardwork, sacrifices and effort I bring to the family...all because of you.

I worry that today while all of this celebrating is happening, that no one is celebrating you.  I know, I know...he is my child now.  But, that doesn't mean that my heart does not ache for you today.  Because he is my child, my heart aches more for the beautiful, selfless mother that sacrificed this day and everyday for him to come to our family.

I Know the pain this decision has created for you.  I know it because I saw it in your eyes when you told me how you felt.  I heard it in your voice when we talked about how his adoption would go and how you would only know him through pictures.  I saw how much this hurt you.  I felt the strength of your decision when we hugged the last time.  I saw clearly the pain in your eyes when you heard he calls me mama.  I know, because I am a mom, what this decision must have felt like. I know I could never have your courage, conviction or integrity of self.  I am not as selfless as you.

I want you to know I carry you with us everyday.  Everytime he cries, you are there.  Everytimes he laughs, you are there.  Everything he succeeds or fails at, there you are.  I keep you there so one day he will know his angel was walking beside him too.  This will make him a stronger man.  I know you weren't perfect, neither am I.  He will know our imperfections and will love us anyway.  He will do so because that's what I will teach him.

I need you to know that sometimes this is a heavy burden for me.  Sometimes this need to have you present in my thoughts makes me feel insecure and not good enough to live up to your selfless decision.  It sometimes makes me feel like less of a mom. I really hope that you know your sacrifice was worth it. He is happy, he is secure, he is loved.Mostly, he is loved! Every moment of every day...unconditionally loved!

Today I wish for you peace. Peace that you allowed him to be ours.  I wish for you strength.  Strength in those really sad moments I know you have.  I wish for you compassion. Compassion from a world that I know judges you harshly for the beautiful gift of adoption.  I wish for you courage.  Courage in the face of that judgement...sprinkle in some confidence and spirit to be able to say "I am a superhero with the sole ability to change lives!"

Today when I cuddle up with all of my children a small piece of my overfilled heart will be with you.  When they give me gifts, cards and handpicked flowers, I will think of you.  Somewhere I hope you can envision this and smile.  I will hug our boy extra tight and whisper in his ear how very loved he is by so will be there.  I will tell him that his mama loves him, one day he will know it is both of us.  You gave him life and I will show him love.

Some may think this is crazy.Some will say he is yours; focus on that and don't think of her.  But, I know God wants us to treat others the way I would like to be treated.  This is how I would like to be treated.  So I will take a small selfless moment on this, Queen Mothers Day, to share with you.  To remember you.  To honor you.  To celebrate you!

I will pray for you today like everyday.  I will pray that you surround yourself with people who will celebrate you and the beautiful life you brought in the world.  I will pray that today you will be lifted up by adoptive moms around the world.  I will pray that our sisterhood of mothers will comfort you, console you and look up to you.  Mostly, I will continue to pray for your healing and happiness.

Thank you for the gift of this mothers day and every one to come.  He is my precious boy...loved by you and given to me to cherish and love.  I just wanted you to know you are in my heart and mind today...

Thank you,
A Grateful Adoptive Mom

Saturday, May 4, 2013

One Week Countdown to Queen Mothers Day!

One week to go before mothers around the world are celebrated.  This week I had many awesome moments.   These are my top 7.

1. All moms...Get ready to be jealous.  Most of you know how I love my countdown to my bday and Queen Mothers Day.  Well, today marked the first day of a week long celebration.  My girls set up a spa for me with fresh rose water, pedis and manis.   We ended with a dance party in a "college dorm" they created so I could "relive the 90's."  Seriously, this is what they said verbatim.  I am loved.

2. Rant...I don't like fake people who pretend to be your friend.  I don't like that moment when you recognize that your friend is really a sneaky lil bastard in disguise.  I like even less that sometimes, you have to accept it and only hope for karma to take a shot.  I do, however, love that karma will take that shot.  It does comeback around.  End rant.

3. This week I got to go on a field trip with my girl, Kiley.  Kind of felt like a rockstar mama.  My kids friends seem to like me and that makes me happy for Kiley.  Dont get me wrong, I am not going for the "friend mom" but it makes me happy that my kids friends like me enough to maybe work hard enough to meet my expectations.  Kiley had a blast and we even got to sneak off from the group to do our own thing and bond.  It was a wonderful day that made me even more thankful for my Gracie girl.

4. Spotify.  That's all.

5. Husband did it again.  Surprised me with a Louisville date to see the greatest musician in the world, Langhorne Slim.  The dude is amazing!  We even got to meet him at the end.  He, incidentally, loved my shirt which means he wants to marry me.  Obvi.  What he doesn't know is I already tricked a boy into marrying me.  A boy that still surprises me with amazing dates.  A boy that is still my best friend and the only one I want to hear any good music with. 

6. Kentucky Derby Day at our house is a big deal.  We don't go gallavanting with big Hollywood stars at Churchill downs.  We don't sip fancy drinks that taste like alcoholic gum.  We have a experience.  This year that included footprint horses, family wagers, making Derby hats and our old Kentucky homes.  Having a Run for the Roses race around the block.  Making yummy Kentucky foods like hot browns, benedictine sandwiches and Derby hat cookies.  That is the way we do it!

7.  Lastly I am grateful for Mary Wilkerson sharing this video with me.  It is 7 min long and a must watch for every mother on this very sacred week.  I urge all mommies to make this a special week focusing on those perfectly ordinary moments....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


1.  Boston.  Here's the deal...I spent a good deal the last 24 hours feeling bad for the kid that was tricked by his big brother into blowing up people.  I felt bad until I saw the picture of this poor, troubled 19 year old walking and smiling behind the peaceful, kind 8 year old he would kill.  I mean the GUY...not kid...was smiling as he passed by that sweet boy, his mom and sister.  The boy was climbing on the barricades and watching the race completely unaware that in minutes he would be fatally wounded by a poor, troubled man.  His sister was standing next to him on her young legs that would later be amputated and his mom was on his other side, smiling and clapping before her brain injuries would leave her in critical care.  Nope, don't feel sorry for him.  Can't wait for his trial and though, I don't feel sorry for him, I will pray to God for his soul.  Maybe Allah can hook him up on the other side...

2 sweet, precious, charming hot mess.  He makes up this week and goes to jump in my bed for snuggles.  As soon as he is up, he jumps back down to stand on the edge of the be.  I say, "what are you doing?"  He smiles and says, "I am farting comfy mom.  I didn't wan to be stinky".  He then crawls back in bed and snuggles in.  Love that boy.

3 My little boy is preparing for Graduation.  In my mind he is still that sticky, adorable 2 year old who caught my heart.  That little boy who I knew was meant to be mine.  He will be graduating preschool with more personal accomplishments than most adults.  His social/emotional growth, courage, self control and confidence has grown in leaps and bounds!  He will be entering Kindergarten reading and writing full sentences but that pales to everything else he has succeeded at.  He has started to become a lil man full of smiles, love and outgoing warmth that is shared by all around him.  I am in awe...simply, in awe.

4 Kiley learning transubstantiation!  Say what???  Yes, friends.  My girl is preparing for her First Communion and she truly knows the definition and meaning of this word.  Our super solid, charismatic church has proven to not be, just a wonderful community, but a solid teaching ground for this all important and defining sacrament.  She also learned that the consecrated host is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus...holla old school Catholicism.  Our priest is an awesome witness to our catechism but also to joy in faith.  Joy!

5. Sacrament Bonanza!  The next 8 days my family will celebrate 2 confirmations and one Holy Eucharist.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of grace and love our family will be experiencing.  Confirmation is my favorite sacrament.  It is the equivalent of a protestant baptism.  Shawn and Emma will be assuming full responsibility and ownership of their own spirituality.  I am overwhelmed by their excitement and decision to fulfill this sacrament.

6. My husband completed his 2 comedy show fundraisers and while we have learned a lot, the greatest lesson is always go for your dreams.  It has been inspiring standing in the background, silently cheering on the man I love.  I am proud that he is such a creative man.  I am very thankful that, as a family, we all work together to support each other as individuals.  Our family is the most important passion we have but we also are finding ways to be alive with the talents God has given us.  Its important for my children to see my husband as a great father, hard worker, creative and passionate performer.  I hope they will one day be able to reach all of their goals just like him.

7. Lastly I completed my second 5k..."Prison Break".  I was so nervous about this event because I really wanted to beat my last time.   When we arrived there were only about 300 people, all of whom appeared to be awesome teens.  To me a teenager while I am running is terrifying.  All that judgement, joking and youth.  But, with my bestie Melissa we conquered that hurdle and began.  My favorite part of running is the halfway mark when you get a second win.  It is awesome!  At the end we were greeted by those terrifying teenagers cheering us on.  My time was one minute under...disappointed but not discouraged.  I will live to run another day.