My Family

If you are new to this blog and want to read the entire story chronologically - please start in January with "Our Story, Part 1"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our Story, Part 34 - The Waiting Game

When I arrived at my sister-in-law's with Ava on New Year’s Eve the boys were downstairs watching a movie. They were so ecstatic when they finally realized who I was holding in my arms! The first question was “do we get to keep her?” That was the one question I didn't have an answer for because I couldn’t honestly tell them “yes.”

Ruth still didn’t want us contacting Ava’s father. Our only other option to hope for relinquishment was to wait it out. Our attorney advised us to not do anything. We had to wait until Ava was at least a year old and see if her birth father contacted Ruth for visitation. After at least one year if he hadn’t called or asked for visitation we could base the reason for relinquishment partly on abandonment. We had two months until her first birthday.

Mykel painting Ava's fingernails

I tried to go on with my day-to-day living knowing at any time we could receive a phone call that would take Ava away from our family (darn those life changing phone calls!) I did all I could do on my end to be as prepared as possible. Because of Ava’s ethnicity, I had to find out if she qualified under the “Indian Child Welfare Act” (ICWA) and if she was an official part of the tribe her father belonged to. I spent several days making phone calls and researching ICWA and what it entailed. I knew that if Ava fell under ICWA, our attorney wouldn’t even touch the case because of the complexity of it all (she would be placed with a family in that tribe first before anyone else) which is exactly what Ruth didn’t want to happen. I finally made some headway and got the answer I needed, she didn’t qualify! We were one step further to having Ava be a permanent part of our family!

Next I had to figure out what to do with my schedule. I was still working full-time, but mostly from home. I only had to go to the office one day a week, which I usually did when Mykel was home with the boys. They were all in school during the day so that is when I attended class; I only had two semesters left before I finished my bachelor’s degree. I really just wanted to quit school and work at that point. My job paid for my tuition, but I had to come up with the money first and then after I received my grades and turned in the necessary paperwork I could be reimbursed. I had no idea what I was going to do for tuition because we had spent most of the money getting what we needed for Ava.

Then my brother-in-law Teryn called me the very day I needed to register for school. We would call each other randomly to check in (we are the same age, graduated from high school together and were still close friends). I told him my dilemma and asked him what he thought I should do (he always gave good advice!) His question to me was “is it only money that is holding you back from finishing school?” I told him that was part of the reason and he said “what is your account information, I will send you the $1000 that you need for tuition.” I knew I couldn’t quit then! He was always doing things like that to help other people. I am happy to say I was able to pay him back at the end of the semester!

I think this part of the story is even more meaningful to me because it has been almost two years since my brother-in-law Teryn passed away. I am having a hard time writing any of this because of each time I think of this moment in time my mind is filled with memories of him; his laugh, his generosity and our friendship. I wouldn’t have made it through this period of my life without him and his support of my family. Thank you Teryn, I miss you!

Stopping at Teryn's on our way to St. George (Teryn is on the left)

I plodded along with school and work and somehow the arrangement with a new baby worked. At the end of February we celebrated Ava's first birthday (one milestone down without a phone call). We hadn’t heard anything from Ava’s birth father and Ruth still didn’t want us to contact him. We just had to wait and hope.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Our Story, Part 33 - Ava

Do you ever have those moments that feel surreal, like you are watching yourself from another vantage point? The rest of New Year’s Eve was like that for me. Ruth was living in a Logan, (about a 45 minute drive from where we lived at the time), so after I talked with Mykel and made arrangements for the boys, I finished getting ready and was on my way within about 15 minutes after the phone call. During the quiet drive to Logan I had time to reflect on the enormity of the entire situation. I had just barely come to terms with the reality that I would only be having the three boys, especially after the finality of a hysterectomy. I had given away every baby thing I owned; I didn’t have a crib, car seat, high chair or anything anymore, and I especially didn’t have any baby girl clothes. But those were the least of my worries.

I had no idea what the situation was with Ruth’s husband. I only knew that she didn’t invite him to the birth and that he had only seen the baby on two occasions since she was born, I also knew they were in the middle of a divorce. I had no idea if he knew I was on my way to pick up his little girl or what his thoughts were on the subject. As with the prior three adoptions, all the children were placed in my care without relinquishment paperwork signed, so Ruth (or the birth father) had the legal right to come and take the baby back at any time. Mykel and I were just assigned guardianship (basically baby-sitting).

The first night with Ava

When I arrived at Ruth and Valorie’s apartment I started shaking again, I was so nervous! I had no idea what I was going to say, (what do you really say in this type of situation?) words are basically worthless.

When I walked in the apartment I could see Ruth folding baby clothes and packing the diaper bag. We talked about the baby’s schedule, what she liked and didn’t like, how she liked to sleep, how often she ate, etc. it was all very informal and casual (even though I was still shaking like crazy).

A year prior when Ruth and I met that day in the lounge of the hospital and had the two hour talk, I had asked her what she intended to name the baby. She said “Ava.” The name actually took me a while to warm up to, but then I came to love it. So during the time that I was driving Ruth to and from her doctor appointments, and when we would discuss the baby with the boys, we always referred to her as “Ava.”

Ava's first morning with us

When Ruth had the baby she decided to name her Skylynne Dawn; her mom told me once it was because the reflection of the Sky in her eyes when she was born (I think having to do with the time she was born or something like that). Anyway, for the past 10 months the baby had been called “Skye” (she is half Native-American descent). When we referred to the baby at home, we always called her “Ava” (we ended up naming her “Ava Skye”).

I was only at Ruth and Valorie’s house for about 20-30 minutes before everything was ready for me to leave. Ruth put Ava in her car seat while I took her belongings to my car. When I came back up to the apartment I didn’t know what to say or how to say goodbye. I asked Ruth if she wanted time alone with her or if she would like to walk with me to my car. She said her goodbyes.... and then I took Ava with me.

About a week after her arrival - she is so adorable!

I was still in that completely surreal state, I felt numb, scared, and overwhelmed. I got Ava’s car seat all buckled and I started the drive home. I knew Mykel was anxious to see us and I was so excited for the boys to see their sister again! I had only been driving for about 15 minutes when she started crying. I pulled over at a gas station to get some warm water and make her a bottle. I still remember holding her and feeding her while I sat in my car, it was one of those moments I will always cherish. I was in love with her already.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Story, Part 32 - New Year's Eve Surprise

In the fall of 2003 the boys were all in school and things were just beginning to relax around our house (if that is possible with three small boys). By December 2003, it had been a month since my hysterectomy ~ I was on the mend, feeling great, and enjoying a break from school for a few weeks! (Last night I watched our family home video from Christmas of that year and it was so much fun to see the boys on Christmas morning opening their presents and seeing how young all of us looked. I couldn’t believe it had been six years since that Christmas in 1997 when the boys first came to live with us!) Little did we know that our lives were about to change again!

New Year's Eve 2003
I had only been home from work for a few minutes when I heard the phone ring. I was in the basement and had to run up to the kitchen to find the phone (I was out of breath from running). I looked at the caller ID and recognized the name and number…instantly my heart started racing and I was almost couldn't push the “talk” button because I was shaking so bad. I was barely able to answer because I knew it was Ruth’s number.

I said “hello” and after the obligatory pleasantries I realized it was Valorie’s voice on the other end of the phone. Valorie then said softly, “Do you want a little girl?” It was another one of those moments that just stop time. I was standing in my tiny 9x12 kitchen, leaning against the table and looking out the front window at the snow. I didn't even sit down. I am quite sure my mouth was agape. You would think I was used to this, I mean I only had about this much notice with all three of my boys but STILL…. I was completely taken back with the magnitude of the question!

My mind works faster than my mouth so I was fumbling to get some words out. I finally said “yes” and my follow up question was, “when?” She said “now.” I asked her what Ruth thought about the situation and she said “Ruth is standing right here next to me and asked me to call you.”

Let me just back up a few minutes…. I had just got home from work; I was changing my clothes to get ready to go to my sister-in-law's house for a New Year’s Eve party with our families when the phone rang. I was looking forward to a relaxing night watching movies, eating a lot of good food and sleeping in the next morning... (none of that happened). It is amazing how much ones life can change with a single phone call! I had to laugh to myself because I thought “at least this is more than 15 minutes notice, they live at least 45 minutes away this time!” :)

After I got off the phone I went and found Mykel to relay the incredible news. I just have to say that I have one of the most patient husbands in the world. Obviously we had talked about the possibility of adopting this little girl, we knew the day may come that we could get this phone call, but for the last few months we had bascially avoided the conversation because it hurt too much to even bring it up. I didn’t even consult him when the phone rang and the question was asked. I am so glad he can roll with the punches!

We decided not to tell the boys about the news; we wanted to surprise them too! We told them that I had to run a few errands and I would meet them at their cousin’s house in a few hours…. and I was on my way to pick up our daughter!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our Story, Part 31 - The boys meet their sister!

There are moments in our lives that when a thought comes to our mind and we remember it with such clarity that we can recall exactly where we were, what type of day it was and how we felt. In the fall of 2003, I had one of those moments. I remember driving down Washington Blvd. in Ogden; I was by myself and on my way home. I had just passed 21st street and I was thinking about my boys…. Then the thought came into my head “you don’t need to keep trying, your boys are your children.”

I had been struggling for years with thoughts about getting a hysterectomy, especially after I became a mother to my boys. The part I struggled with the hardest was the spiritual side of the matter. I didn’t want to completely extinguish the possibility of having children, but emotionally and physically I was so tired of the monthly roller coaster ride of getting my hopes up that I MAY be pregnant, only to have them dashed. I wanted to focus on the blessings in my life and stop worrying about having my “own” child. My boys are my OWN and I wanted to focus on them. I think my husband summed it up best after I had the miscarriage. He told me he didn’t want to have any biological children because “the boys are our children and I don’t want to feel any different about them, and I don’t want them to think we weren’t happy so we kept trying to have biologic children.”

So after four laparoscopic surgeries, years of infertility and pain caused from the endometriosis, I was ready to be done. In the fall of 2003, I started getting things ready to go in and have the surgery done. I hadn’t spoken with Ruth since before her baby girl was born. I didn’t want to interfere; besides, ignorance was bliss at that point. I had received a few e-mails here and there from Valorie, but like I always do, I tried to keep myself so busy that I didn’t even have time to think about it (too bad that didn’t work).

I knew that there MAY be the possibility of our adopting the baby sometime in the future, but I didn’t want to dwell on that, I couldn’t dwell on the “what if” or else I would just make myself crazy! In the fall of 2003, Ruth and Valorie were going back East to attend a family event (I think it was a wedding) and Valorie asked me if we could watch the baby (I am sure I probably offered as well, I couldn’t pass it up!), so for a few days we were able to have “Skye” come and stay with us. I wasn’t sure how the boys would take it, especially when she had to go back, but they were excited to see their baby sister.

They were old enough to understand that they had a sister and that she lived with Ruth. After Ruth gave birth and the baby didn’t end up coming to live with us we had to answer a lot of their questions….. “Why didn’t she live with us? Why did Ruth keep her and not them? When is she going to come and live with us?”

A picture of "Skye" during her visit with us.

For a few short days we just enjoyed having her in our home. The boys couldn’t get enough of her and they fought about who got to hold her, who got to push her in the swing, and who got to feed her, etc. I was actually happy that Ruth was able to keep her and take care of her, because I knew she wanted to be a mother as well. I didn’t want to keep “taking” her children away from her. That was never my intent.

Bryan wanted to go with me when we took “Skye” back. He also wanted to see Ruth and Valorie and I knew they wanted to see him, so he came with me. I think in his young mind he thought he was going to convince Ruth to let us keep her. He even said to Ruth, “but you promised she would be our sister!” I explained to him that she was still his sister, but she would be living with Ruth.

A few weeks after that visit and two days before Thanksgiving, I was scheduled to have my hysterectomy. My doctor was actually doing a fairly new procedure at the time called a Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy, which was less invasive than a regular hysterectomy.

The surgery went well and I felt great when I woke up. I even called my parents to tell them I would be home for Thanksgiving. I went to my room for recovery and I fell asleep for a while. During that time Mykel went to pick up the boys to come and visit me. I woke up before he got back and as I lay there thinking about what I had just done I had an overwhelming feeling of complete and utter sadness envelope me... After all these years wanting to KNOW if I could have children, I now KNEW that I would never have the possibility of carrying a child and giving birth. The pain and knowledge of the finality of my decision was devastating and my heart ached. I was glad I was alone during that time. I didn’t want my boys to see me cry, but I also longed for someone to hold me and tell me “everything would be alright.”

A little while later Mykel and all the boys arrived. They were so cute and caring. They wanted to hold my hand and lay by me and make sure I was alright. I loved having them there, their presence helped dispel my sadness and grief. They were such a comfort to me when I needed to feel comfort and peace! I love my boys!

“One’s life….cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free….Therefore, how can you
and I really expect to guide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me
experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal,
and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences
which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully
share Thy joy!’ Real faith….is required to endure this necessary but painful
developmental process.”
Neal A. Maxwell

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our Story, Part 30 - A Beautiful Baby Girl

Ruth was due in a little less than two weeks and I still had no idea if she was actually going to allow us to take the baby home from the hospital. I know she had given me the card telling me she wanted to place the baby and she had told the boys that she was going to place the baby with us, but I honestly think she hadn't truly made up her mind. (I don' t blame her, I could not make that monumental decision). I had talked with her several times about contacting the birth father but she was afraid he would be upset and she didn’t want us or our attorney to contact him. There was nothing else I could do.

At this point I don’t believe Ruth had mentioned to her husband that she was thinking about placing the baby. He knew who we were and had visited our home a year before with Ruth, but I know that he didn’t want us to adopt their baby.

Friday February 14, 2003Went and picked up a crib from my friend’s house, bought balloons and a Valentine’s gift for Ruth (the boys were so excited to take her the balloons and present).

Ruth didn’t have a car, but luckily her apartment was within walking distance of a grocery story, a bank, several restaurants and the hospital where I worked. A good friend of mine who works at the hospital took Ruth on a tour of the maternity ward to see if she wanted to deliver there since it was less than a block away from her apartment (she decided to still deliver in Salt Lake).
Tuesday February 18, 2003Ruth came to talk to me at work for two hours; she wants to go back to her husband.

This was such an emotional day for me. Ruth and I sat in the lounge of the hospital discussing her options and what she REALLY wanted to do. I think she knew what she wanted, but then she also wanted to make me happy. I kept telling her not to worry about what I wanted or what the boys wanted, just to do what was best for her and her baby. I had always hoped that she would be happy and I knew she just wanted to be married, have children, and move on with her own life, so I didn’t want to deter her from going back to her husband. She needed a person who was removed from the situation to give her advice, because I definitely wasn’t the right person to do that.

Wednesday February 19, 2003Ruth is not going to go back to her husband.

Ruth was due in less than 10 days and we still hadn’t made contact with the birth father and Ruth was still vacillating about whether or not she wanted to place the baby. I didn’t want to keep putting pressure on her, so a few days later I told my husband Mykel I could not take it anymore and I that I was removing myself from the whole situation.

I can’t remember if I called Ruth on the phone or if I e-mailed or talked to her mother, that part is a blur…. But I let them know that I was not going to contact Ruth anymore about placing the baby with us. She didn’t need that kind of pressure. She needed someone to help her make decisions for her future, but I was not that person.

I still don't know who took Ruth to the hospital or how the delivery went. Someone called me a few days after the baby was born to tell me that Ruth had delivered a beautiful baby girl. They probably told me how much she weighed and how long she was but I don’t remember those facts.

They said Ruth was fine and the baby was healthy and strong.... that was all I wanted to know.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Story, Part 29 - I need a time out

Monday February 10, 2003 – Ruth’s Doctor appointment (18 days before Ava was born).

Ruth was still seeing her doctor in Salt Lake and because she didn’t have transportation I would take her to the appointments. I didn’t mind having the boys see Ruth, they knew she was pregnant; she would point to her belly and say “this is your little sister.” The boys would even ask her if she was going to “give her to us” and her response was affirmative. I didn’t want to leave the boys with a baby-sitter for this trip, so the boys came with us on the drive to the appointment ~ two hour round-trip, plus doctor visit… and NO I didn’t have a DVD player in my van! Luckily one of my best friends I have had since grade school lived only a few minutes from the hospital and she consented to watch the boys during the appointment. (Thank Heaven for small miracles!)

I went to the doctor’s office with Ruth but I stayed in the waiting room and leafed through the numerous baby magazines that littered every possible end table and magazine holder available. I remember thinking to myself “I wonder what people would think if they knew I was here with my children’s birth mother…” it was such an odd situation that I was sure no one would believe THAT!

I have a hard time looking at baby magazines (baby anything for that matter) and the non-stop pictures of the new mothers breast feeding, photo shoots of pregnant bellies, happy smiling pregnant women, etc… is all too disheartening for me. To this day I really don’t like to hold infants (the only exception was Preston), so I just make myself scarce when a newborn is present. I have five sisters, four of whom have children (two of them have eight children each) and it has been challenging watching family and friends have children so effortlessly. I really try to be cheerful because I am genuinely glad for them, it is the incessant talk about every little facet of someone’s pregnancy and delivery that I cannot bear to hear (you may as well pound bamboo shoots underneath my fingernails, it would probably be easier to endure). I usually just make a subtle exit and find something else to do like clean the fridge, scrape mold from my window wells, fold laundry, scrub toilets, or anything that doesn’t make me feel even more demoralized as a non-childbearing woman. But again, I digress…

I'm really not bitter, I mean, my son Preston said it best ~

"Mom, if your tummy wasn't broken you wouldn't have us!"

After the appointment and picking up the boys we were on the way home…. The boys needed to stop and go to the bathroom, (they were hitting each other, screaming, and basically acting their age) but finally I couldn’t take it anymore ~ I yelled at them to be quiet. I don’t know who was more surprised, Ruth or the boys, but the car went silent. (Ruth probably wondered what kind of person she placed her children with… but maybe she was just finally seeing the real me and not the perfect mother I tried to be whenever we were together.) We pulled over at a gas station and I took the boys in to the restroom and took a time out for myself. (Ever have one of those days when you just want to just start running and never come back?)

I was tired of the enormous amount of pressure I felt trying to keep everyone happy. I was tired of driving. I was physically and emotionally drained. I wanted to just go home, read a book and check out from reality for a few hours. I was just plain tired and I needed a break…

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Story, Part 28 - Did I say I like to be busy???

I know I mentioned previously that I like to be busy….but these next few weeks almost put me over the edge. (To get an idea of how really crazy I was at this time you must remember that I was still working full-time and going to school full-time….besides being a full-time mom and wife, well okay, the mom and wife part were definitely only part-time at this point.)

I didn’t keep a journal during these few months (I barely had time to breathe); I just have notes from my school planner, so here are a few snippets:

Wednesday January 8, 2003 – Lunch with Ruth in Salt Lake, she wants me to adopt the baby!

Friday January 10, 2003 – Picked up Ruth in Salt Lake, women’s shelter, Logan, etc. (see previous post)

The next few days I spent locating an apartment for Ruth. I found a large one bedroom with several nice windows and good sun exposure. I had some extra furniture, so we were able to get her set up with at least a moderate amount of items including a bed, (the boys donated their small TV), stereo, kitchen table and chairs, dishes, towels and linens. (I love decorating, so this part was fun for me!)

Tuesday January 14, 2003 – My Birthday!

Wednesday January 15, 2003 – We moved Ruth into her new apartment, it was a LONG day!

Mykel and I have moved a lot so we are old pros at this sort of thing, but it was tiring nonetheless. I think one of the hardest parts of the situation during this time was leaving the boys with a baby-sitter or trying to coordinate a schedule with the boys and deciding if they should witness the unfolding events. I hated saying goodbye to them during those long days, it felt like I never even saw them... except for driving in the car. Even though we lived less than 10 miles from Ruth’s apartment it was a long drive to keep going back and forth to work, school and her apartment.

Thursday January 16 – Workforce Services appointment with Ruth.
We went to job service to find out what Ruth’s options were as far as money for food and her basic welfare needs, the lady who helped us was very kind and understanding and I was so grateful for the help.

Friday January 17, 2003 - Two days later we had to go back to her old apartment and get more of her stuff and then back to her mother’s home to get more (about four hours of driving that day….)

Saturday January 18, 2003Date night with Mykel, we went and watched a high school basketball game with my friend Rachel; it was two of the most relaxing hours of my entire month!

Monday February 3, 2003I drove Ruth to her doctor appointment in Salt Lake. On this trip I didn’t take the boys with me. I picked up Ruth and we had to go back to my work so I could drop off my time card because I had forgotten something. When I got back in the car, Ruth handed me an envelope. Below is a copy of the card she gave me.

The card says:


I would like for you to adopt the baby girl.

That would mean a lot to me.

I would love for Bryan and the boys to have a sister.

Thank you for everything.

Sincerely, Ruth

PS - Listen to the last song on this CD.

The song she refers to on the CD is called “From God’s Arms, To My arms, To Yours”

by Michael McLean
With so many wrong decisions in my past, I’m not quite sure
If I can ever hope to trust my judgement anymore.
But lately I’ve been thinking, ‘cause it’s all I’ve had to do.
And in my heart I feel that I should give this child to you.
And maybe you can tell your baby,
When you love him so, that he’s been loved before;
By someone who delivered your son
From God’s arms, to my arms, to yours.

If you choose to tell him, and if he wants to know,
How the one who gave him life could bear to let him go;
Just tell him there were sleepless nights; I prayed and paced the floors
And knew the only peace I’d find is if this child was yours.
Now I know that you don’t have to do this,
But could you kiss him once for me
The first time that he ties his shoes, or falls and skins his knee?
And could you hold him twice as long when he makes his mistakes,
And tell him that he’s not alone, sometimes that’s all it takes.
I know how much he’ll ache.
This may not be the answer for another girl like me;
But I’m not on a soapbox saying how we all should be.
I’m just trusting in my feelings and I’m trusting God above,
And I’m trusting you can give this baby
Both his mothers’ love

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our Story, Part 27 - The Move

There are so many different variables and people involved with the adoption of my daughter Ava that I am having a hard time knowing where to begin. In my last post (Our Story, Part 26) I mentioned that Ruth had contacted me about the first week of January 2003, and asked me if I would be interested in adopting the baby if things didn’t work out with her husband (she was due at the end of February 2003). The next week she called and said that things weren’t going well and that she needed to move out that day ~ before her husband came back from work.

Mykel and I made the trip to her apartment in Salt Lake City (40-50 minute drive one-way) and helped Ruth load everything she owned and headed back up to Ogden (even though I had no idea where she was going to go). When we got to Ogden I dropped Mykel off at our home so he could go pick up the boys from my friend's house.

Ruth and I went to the Women’s Shelter to see if that was a viable option for the night. We went to intake and registration and got the information we needed and looked around at what would be Ruth’s bed and where she would stay (I can’t imagine being eight months pregnant, displaced from my home and staying there without any privacy, it was so cold), the somber feeling there was almost palpable. I still remember walking through the “kitchen” and seeing several women and children eating, looking at the bunkbed where Ruth would sleep, looking at the bathroom, and talking about security so she would be safe… it was almost surreal.

After the “tour” we both couldn’t envision Ruth staying there, especially if there were any other options. There was the possibility that she could stay at my house, but I had no idea what I would tell the boys, and besides, our house was so small that I think she would have even less privacy than at the Women’s Shelter. We finally opted to have her go to Logan (another 45-60 minute drive one-way) and stay with her mom, which was her last resort. By this time it was already around 8-9 p.m. I was extremely tired (I had already worked that morning and went to school before going to Salt Lake) and I couldn't wait to get home.

I think somewhere in between all of this we ate some food, but my memory is foggy about those facts. I remember details about the Women’s shelter and the memories it evokes (the moldy smell, the low ceilings, the low-pile industrial gray-blue carpet and white walls) but I can’t remember what Ruth and I talked about, or if much was said at all besides niceties and plans to find her an apartment.

I finally made it home around 11 p.m. that night, my head full of thoughts of adding another child to our family, how to approach the boys with the possibility of a little sister, finding an apatment for Ruth and a long list of what I needed to do the following morning (besides school, work and family). This was the beginning of the longest (and possibly hardest) month of my life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Amazing Example of Faith

I can't write today, but will continue with "Our Story" tomorrow.

The following story, and statement from the Toone family has really touched my heart this week.

My heart goes out to this family, what an amazing example they are to me.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Brief Intermission

On Wednesday night my son Cole and I were talking and he just burst out with, “I don’t want you to write the blog anymore!” After a lot of discussion, hugging and crying, I finally realized why he doesn’t want me to write….he said “I don’t want anyone to know that you aren’t my ‘real’ mom.” WOW! The conversation was a real eye opener for me and made me once again realize the different and unique challenges that adoptive parents face. Sometimes I long for things to be ‘normal’ and not have to answer the following questions my children ask and the thoughtless comments people make: (these are just a few samples...)

They are adopted? You aren’t their “REAL” mom?
Why did their mother give them up? How could she DO THAT?
(Ugh, not my favorite one!)
Aren’t you scared she is going to take them back? (see answer below)
Why did my mom give me up?
Why didn’t she keep me?
Did/does she love me?
Can someone else adopt me and take me away from YOU?
Is it hard to love someone who isn’t your OWN?
What would my life be like if I lived with my birth mom?
Do I have other brothers and sisters?
Where is my birth father?
I hate when people treat me different because I am ‘adopted.’

Many people are aware that my children are adopted and that I have contact with their birth mother, so a frequent question I get is “aren’t you scared she will come and take them?” My answer is “no!” Of course when my children were first placed with me, there was that definite possibility because relinquishment requirements weren’t met and I wasn’t legally their parent at the time. Ruth had the legal right to come and take them back, so yes that was a possibility, but for now? “No.”

At this point in time I keep in contact with my children’s birth mother, grandmother(s), and two birth fathers. They all know my address, my phone number and my e-mail (if they care to contact me). I don’t try to hide where I live. I can’t live in fear. Am I afraid that they may come and take one of my children? No. Of course, that is always a possibility, but that is a possibility in any situation whether it be step-parents, estranged parents or whatever the case may be.

I am not saying this has always been easy. In fact, in the beginning I moved several times because I didn’t want Ruth to know where I lived. But after a week or so I would always end up telling her, what was the point in hiding anyway?

I considered not telling my children they were adopted and just pretending I was their “real” mom, but in the end it just didn’t make sense. At some point they would find out or know. Why not be honest about it from the get go? I didn’t want my children to hear it from someone else and then ask me why I hadn’t told them (I think that would be more devastating). Besides, my children have an amazing birth mother, why would I want to keep them from her?

A few days ago after my post about miscarriage, I got the following messages from Ruth: (shared with her permission)

“Camille, I am so sorry. I just read your last post/ blog. Why didn't you say anything about doing fertility treatments (artificial insemination) before? I feel for you, so not only did I feel a loss (placing the kids), you also had it tough. I know that things weren't easy for you; I had heard that you were pregnant before. I am sorry that life wasn't easier for you; I guess that which does not kill makes us stronger. I hope.

Thank you for your site and for the blog, it really helps me to see where you were coming from, after all of this time to hear this gives me new insight that I think helps me heal. You weren't the only one selfish, I was selfish for taking Bryan from you after sending him to you the first time, I am sorry for that. I am sorry that I didn't place Preston and Ava with you sooner so that you could enjoy a newborn, again selfishness on my part. I wish that I had more faith that everything would work out with the adoptions turning out ok, which they did.”

My situation is different than most because I have more than one child from the same birth mother, so I can’t compare the relationship I have with Ruth to anyone else’s circumstances. I can’t worry about people making stupid, thoughtless comments. I can handle the dumb questions people ask, but it is sometimes hard to answer them in front my children.

My son and I talked for over an hour. We are planning on seeing Ruth next Monday and he is excited about that. I also asked him to read my blog and then let me know if he still wanted me to write (my oldest son reads every post I write and WANTS me to continue writing). After Cole read the first few posts he said “mom, you can still write.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our Story, Part 26 - Expect the Unexpected

September 24, 2002
Today was my day off and I just wanted to spend some time with the boys, we surprised them by going to the zoo. There were only about 12 people there so we had the place to ourselves. It felt like we were the only ones on the planet. We walked around the park, taking our time and not worrying about anything. I think it was one of the few times in my life that I actually truly relaxed and didn’t worry about getting somewhere or hurrying on to the next thing. I didn’t have to worry about going to work, Mykel doesn’t have a job and we had no other plans but to be with our children.

Together at the zoo - September 2002

My favorite exhibit was the butterflies and beetles. I love looking at the display of insects and how amazing each creature is. The cockroaches were scary and I wouldn’t want one to land on me, but the butterflies were a different story. I compared them to each individual person. We all have our own markings and spots, but most people can’t see them or don’t want to try. We are all beautiful, but all different, and I think we each need to get to know what people are about before we make judgements. I could sit and look at the butterflies all day.

September 25, 2002
Another day off from work and school; Mykel, Preston and I hung out all day and just spent time together. No rushing to go anywhere, who cares about cleaning, we are together as a family! I think I like this, Mykel not having a job. I just have to remember to not stress about everything.

October 15, 2002
I love being at home at night and tucking the kids in. Spending time with them at the end of the day is my favorite part. I could just hold and hug Preston all night. He has the most amazing smile that can just make me smile from the inside out. He truly has a way of making people around him happy. Cole would just try to talk to me all night and hold me. They wanted me to do the “chicken dance” for them before I turned off the light. I did the dance for them and they wanted me to do it faster! I laughed so hard and they did too. Bryan had to get up and do the dance for me and we all laughed. I think this is what life is truly about, me making a fool out of myself and my kids laughing and loving every minute of it. Being a mom is the best!

October 16, 2002
I read my entry from yesterday and I had a wave of emotion come over me with regards to my children’s birthmother. It has been very painful for me to know that I can’t have biological children, but my children I have, truly are MY children and I can’t imagine having any others. I am so grateful that Ruth was willing to place her children with me so I could be a mother. Each day that I spend with them I love them even more. They are such a joy and I think this age has to be the most fun ever! Bryan is 7, Cole 5 and Preston 4, and what a combination they make together! They just play off each other and make one another laugh. They of course fight as well, but they usually end up hugging and saying they are sorry. Cole has the most tender heart, but he can put out his own as well. I truly love being with them. Thank you a million times over Ruth; you have given me the best gift of all, life.

Ruth and I had kept in contact during these few months and I knew she was expecting a little girl in February. She wasn’t real vocal about how things were going between she and her husband, and it wasn’t my place to ask. We just talked about general topics and about how the children were doing.

During the first week of January 2003, Ruth called and asked me to come down for lunch. I picked her up and we went to the “Red Iguana” – by the end of lunch, she asked me if I would be interested in adopting her baby if things didn’t work out with her husband.

WHOA! Life was about to get even more interesting...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Story, Part 25 - Time Marches On

In the summer of 2001, I guess I felt I didn’t have enough to do, so I enrolled at the local university to finish my degree. I was still having a lot of pain from the endometriosis, so in July 2001; I had my fourth and final laparoscopy to remove any remaining scar tissue and adhesions to hopefully get rid of the daily pain I was having. (It didn't work).
This is one of my favorite pictures of the boys with their dad.

By the fall of 2001, I was in school full-time, working at a local hospital doing medical transcription full-time, being a mom full-time and trying to hold a full-time service position at church; the perfect combination of full-time overload so I didn’t have time to think about much except for what was pressing at the moment. “Going to school and working are just things that keep my mind off other things. It seems that if I don’t have a lot of things going on, I don’t get anything done. If I am busy, busy, busy, I don’t have time to stop and think and ponder over things that might hurt.” (From my journal)
I would drop Bryan off at school at 8 a.m. and take Cole and Preston with me to the university. We would park our car and take a shuttle bus to campus. I had a single stroller, so Preston would ride in the seat and Cole would stand on the metal stroller bar while I pushed. This worked great until it snowed and then it was a nightmare trying to push the stroller through snow, drop the boys off at their pre-school and make it to class by 8:30 a.m. GOOD TIMES!
The boys playing on campus with their dad while I took a test.

I met with Ruth in November 2001 for her Birthday and she told me that she had met someone special (she had actually met this person when Bryan lived with her in 1999). Ruth married in February 2002 and moved about a half-hour away from us. She and her new husband came to visit the boys in April of that same year and she brought them some presents for their birthdays. I was still in school and working like a crazy person (but that is the only way I knew how to deal with things). I knew Ruth was moving on with her life, but she and I still kept in touch.

In the fall of 2002 I started keeping a journal again for a class assignment and it brings back so many vivid memories of that time period! Bryan was in third grade and Cole was in kindergarten so Preston would come with me to the university and go to pre-school while I went to class.

Cole and Bryan in front of school, Preston being funny!

August 29, 2002
Catching the bus to go to school is quite a joke right now. I have Preston with me in a stroller, two backpacks and long line to get on the bus. So far I have waited for at least three buses to go by and I still haven’t gotten a ride to school. I am now late for my first class and I haven’t even dropped my son off yet. So much for coming early to school!

September 5, 2002
My job keeps changing. First I started out full-time, then part-time and then at night. The night hours are really hard. I work from 5 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. When I come home I can’t fall asleep… when I get up to get ready for school at 6:30 a.m. I feel as if I never went to sleep. I’ll be okay for the first few hours of the day, but by mid-afternoon when I get home and have to get ready for another day at work, all I want to do is sit and relax.

During this time in our life we also had a lot of stress dealing with material matters. Our car broke down and I was trying to get rides to school and to work (which was very difficult). We finally found an old black car that we paid cash for and it was a lifesaver! Also, Mykel's cousin's wife (and a good friend of ours) was having her fifth child and had invited Mykel to be present at the birth with his cousin so he could have the opportunity of cutting the cord and experience a live birth (since he wouldn’t have that opportunity with me).

September 12, 2002
Today I went to work at 5 p.m. and at about 1:30 a.m. Mykel called to say that [his relative] was having her baby. I came home from work and we woke up the kids and drove down to the hospital (about 1 ½ hours away). We got to the hospital only to find out that she had been sent home. I was starving at this point so I got some food (I still remember how good that chicken casadia was!) I also hadn’t slept in about 24 hours so I was rather tired at this point! The boys were all uncomfortable in the back of the car. Mykel decided to stay down with his cousin in case his wife went back into labor. I was so beat I could hardly move. The boys didn't sleep on the way home and they sang me songs to keep me awake. We got home about 4:30 in the morning.

September 13, 2002
Friday the 13th. Usually I am not one for bad signs or omens, but today was just one of those days. Besides only sleeping for 2 hours and then getting up to take the kids to school I was stressing about our car situation. I was on my way to the bank when I got a call from Mykel. He said he had called his boss to tell him he would be late and his boss told him “don’t worry about coming back.” So on top of not sleeping, stress about the car and work, etc. My husband is now out of a job.

Did I mention I also found out that Ruth was expecting?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Our Story, Part 24 - Learning Curve

In May 2001 I took the boys up to Ruth and Valorie’s house to for a visit. They had a great playground and park nearby so we bought some pizza and ate on the picnic tables while Ruth’s younger brother and sister swung the boys on the swings and took them on the slide and merry-go-round. It was a nice visit and the boys had a great time.

Bryan, Preston and Cole during a visit in June 2001.

"Although I understand that at this key time in the adoption process, the
adoptive parents are struggling with the issues of their own 'entitlement' to
the child. It is therefore understandable that this concern of entitlement can
progress into a very strong 'possessary' and 'exclusionary' attitude when it
comes to anyone that was involved with the child prior to its adoption by them.
However, if we focus back on the primary concern in any adoption matter, which
is to do what is 'in the best interest of the child', perhaps this exclusion and
'cutting off" of the rights and contact with biological grandparents is not a
wise practice."
Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway

I’ve mentioned before that because the adoptions were private, there was no “middle man” or person to help facilitate visitation or even give us any suggestions on what would be best for the boys (with regards to visitation issues). There was no one to assist us or give us advice on how to nurture the development of this kind of relationship. We were on our own.

Bryan and Preston eating pizza during our visit in June 2001.

In June 2001, Valorie came to visit the boys. She took them to the park and out to eat and when she brought them back Bryan asked if he could stay overnight. At this point things were going well and I knew he felt comfortable with Valorie so I allowed him to go. I had only intended on allowing Bryan to stay overnight, but then Mykel and I had to leave out of town unexpectedly and Bryan ended up staying for three days (which was my fault and not part of the original plan). When we finally made it back to pick him up my emotions were very close to the surface. I completely lost it when Bryan walked around the corner and I saw that Valorie had given him a hair cut.

Now I know that this probably doesn’t sound like a big issue, but for me it was my breaking point. I had that “exclusionary attitude when it comes to anyone that was involved with the child prior to its adoption by them.” Valorie had always cut his hair in the past and I HAD mentioned that he needed his hair cut so I cannot fault her as she was just trying to help me out.

Cole and Bryan with Ruth looking at Bryan's baby pictures.

The entire argument and basis of my anger was due in part to miscommunication (aren’t most disagreements started this way?). By the time I got home I was livid. (I should have taken the time to calm down and think things through, but I didn’t). I wrote a very mean and nasty e-mail to Valorie telling her that “if [her family] cannot be a good influence on our children, we don’t wish them to be a part of their lives anymore.” I am quite embarrassed to even share how irrational I was. I was being selfish and only thinking of MY feelings and not taking into consideration how hard it was for everyone else.

By the next day I had calmed down considerably and wished I hadn’t been so hasty in passing judgment and making “final” decisions. I ended up writing her an e-mail with the subject line “Please read with love.”

The final paragraph of my e-mail read: “I apologize for making you upset, but I didn’t write that last e-mail in hate. I was just writing as a hurt mother. I know this process has been hard and there really aren’t any guidelines to follow because this definitely wasn’t a ‘by-the-book’ adoption. I know that our Heavenly Father knows what is best, I just wish I did. Please let me know your thoughts and feelings so we can work through this.”

We were both able to write e-mails back and forth explaining each side of the story and why we acted and reacted the way we did. I am happy to say that this was the last time there have ever been cross words between us. It brought us to a whole new level in this “open adoption” relationship. We both realized that we had to stop walking on eggshells and trying to make everything perfect for the other party. We just had to be open and honest about how we felt (which is much easier than it sounds!) if we were ever going to make this work.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Our Story, Part 23 - Visitation

After I had the miscarriage, I spent a lot of time questioning what would be best for my boys and how I felt about them seeing Ruth and Valorie. If you know me personally you know that I like to keep busy, it helps me cope with life…. if I have a lot going on I don’t over-analyze or second guess relationships or question things, I just deal with the most pressing issue at the moment (which isn’t always a good thing). It took Bryan making a simple statement for me to realize the gravity of the decisions I was making for their future:

April 5, 2001
Tonight while I was cleaning Bryan’s room he asked me “did you buy me from Ruthie? Did you get me for a good bargain at a garage sale?” Then he asked me “why did I come to live with you” and “why did I have to go back and live with Ruth?” I tried explaining everything the best I could and then he said “I want to go see my mom and grandma.”

April 15, 2001
Mykel and I had a good talk about the boys seeing their birthmother and grandma and we decided it would be best if they were able to see them and associate with them. Valorie came to see them last Saturday. Bryan was real excited when I told him she was coming. When she got here he started crying. He said “she looks different, she looks older” and “her voice changed.” She looked exactly the same to me, but Bryan had a hard time for the first 15 minutes or so. Cole and Preston just warmed right up. Preston sat on her lap and just talked. Cole asked “will you be my friend?” It was really neat to see them bond so well. Bryan had a hard time realizing that she wasn’t just “his” grandma. I think it will take a while for him to really understand that. Both Valorie and Ruth are coming down on Friday for “Grandparents Day” at Bryan’s school. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to seeing his birth mom.

“Many open adoption relationships have a warmth that comes from having shared a common difficulty - allowing yourself to be vulnerable to another human being, responding to that person’s vulnerability and being committed to a common goal,
that of the child. The birthparents may seem like good friends of the family,
gathering on holidays, or for the child’s birthday, and for other special
occasions just as families would do. Like all relationships, your open adoption
will have peaks and valleys. As you overcome each hurdle, you will learn what to
expect from each other and will gain confidence in your ability to make the
relationship work.”
Credits: Adoption Network Law Center
April 21, 2001
Ruth and Valorie showed up to my house right before the program started and I went with them to Bryan’s school. I was nervous about how Bryan would react when he saw Ruth. When we walked in the door of his class he just smiled and waved to us. He came over and talked to Ruth and Valorie and I think he handled the situation rather well. He was the “gingerbread boy” in his program. It was a neat little program that they performed for “Grandparents Day”. I think Valorie was especially excited to see him and be invited to his special day at school. I think Ruth had a good time as well.

Bryan, Ruth and Valorie at Bryan's school for "Grandparent's Day" 2001

We all ate lunch with Bryan and his class and then went back home. Cole and Preston aren’t really aware who Valorie and Ruth really are but they enjoyed their company. Ruth brought them each a present to open for their birthday. I think Bryan was a little jealous because he didn’t open a present, although Ruth gave him a card and some stickers for Easter.

A lot of people are wondering why I would allow Ruth and Valorie to see them, but I feel like “why not?” It would be selfish for me to try and keep them to myself. I love my boys dearly but I am sure that Ruth and Valorie love them as well. It would break my heart if they were not part of my life. I am just thankful Ruth was willing to let them be my boys. I believe she had a much greater sacrifice by far. I just needed time to get attached to the boys and for them to feel comfortable around me. I think they know that I am their “mom” but I am sure that Ruth will always hold a special place in their hearts.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our Story, Part 22 - Highs and Lows

The reason I am sharing parts of my journal during this period of my life is because it sets the stage for what happens next with relation to the birth of my daughter Ava. So many times in my life I have wondered why things have happened a certain way. I am sure many of us, when faced with trials in our life wonder “why me?” or “why now?” It usually isn’t until years later that you realize why your life has taken a certain turn, or why you were faced with certain hardships. To me, it only confirms my belief that God is in control. We just have to be patient and learn as we go along.

February 8, 2001
I went and had the second blood test today and it came back positive and the HCG hormone has almost tripled! That is good news! I went to the gym today and worked out. My doctor says I can continue exercising throughout my pregnancy. Yeah!

Mykel is so excited! He told his dad that we are pregnant but we are going to wait until next week to tell his mom. I can’t wait to tell her, my mom already knows and she is very excited. WOW! I’m pregnant!

February 15, 2001
A week has already gone by and I am still pregnant and I can’t really believe it. I ordered some baby clothes and I got them yesterday, they are so adorable! The boys have been so excited about the baby. Cole keeps asking me if the baby is asleep in my tummy. He says he wants a little girl. The other day my friend came over and Bryan just blurted out “there is a baby in my mom’s tummy!” – We hadn’t even told him yet! I think Preston senses something too because he has just been hanging on me and wanting me to hold him. The other night he was sick so I let him sleep on the couch outside our room. He kept crying so I would go and hold him until he went to sleep. I only slept for about 3 hours but I enjoyed every minute watching him sleep in my arms. I love him!

Today Bryan looked up at my boobs and said “they are almost to your stomach!” Well that took the wind out of me and I had to laugh! He also told me that “Ruth had 3 babies in her belly, Bryan, Cole and Preston.”

February 17, 2001
Today we met with Mykel’s family in Salt Lake and walked all over downtown. The boys were just miserable after walking all day since we had been up since 5 a.m. I am so grateful for the wonderful boys I have, they have been so great today and so much fun to be with. I love when they let me hold them and give me hugs.
It is so amazing to think that I have a little soul starting to grow in my stomach, it just doesn’t seem real! (I also gave my mother-in-law a little baby onesie wrapped up to share with her the good news that I was expecting!)

February 20, 2001
Right now my stomach is in a lot of pain. I was helping my brother Colby bring an organ in from the garage and I think I lifted too much. I guess I need to start being careful!

February 22, 2001
Yesterday was probably one of the worst days of my life. I woke up at 5 a.m. like I normally do to work and I went to the bathroom and saw blood. I looked in the toilet and saw a lot more blood. I called out for Mykel and he came in the bathroom and then I just started crying. Mykel held me while I just sobbed. My whole body was just numb. We waited until 8 a.m. when my doctor’s office opened and I took the boys to my friend Dana’s house then went to the clinic. They did an ultrasound and couldn’t find the gestation sac, which is a bad sign. My nurse also did a pelvic exam and she saw a lot of blood as well. We still had some hope, so I had to take a blood test to see what my HCG level was. It should’ve been around 10,000 but it was already down to 380.

Mykel and I left and went to breakfast at Einstein Bagels. I tried to drink some orange juice and eat something but I was still in a lot of pain and cramping really bad. Mykel tried to comfort me and he said “I am glad we aren’t having any biological children. I love my boys and I don’t want to feel any different about them.” I understood what he was saying, but it was still hard to hear. I was so devastated.

We went and picked up the boys and went home. I took a hot bath and mostly stayed in bed. Cole came to lay by me and rubbed my arm and my forehead and told me it would be alright. I kept blaming myself for doing too much, but my doctor told me there wasn’t anything I could’ve done to prevent it from happening.

I made myself go to gym class today. I was angry at my body and so I just physically pushed myself to the limit. It took all I had not to cry. After gym class I didn’t feel like going home so I just drove to Mykel’s work and cried on his shoulder for awhile. I just couldn’t stop crying. I told Cole and Preston that my tummy wasn’t working and Cole started crying, he said “where is my little girl?” Then he sang “You Are So Beautiful to Me” and it helped cheer me up to hear his little voice.

I just can’t believe how hard it has been. I felt like it was such a miracle to get pregnant and that everything would be okay. I guess my Heavenly Father has other plans for me. I just hope I can be patient.
~ Remember that you are entitled to our Father’s blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strengths. He has promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” Thomas S. Monson ~

Two years later in February 2003 ~ Ruth gave birth to a beautiful little girl, who would later become my daughter Ava.

She was definitely worth the wait.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Story, Part 21 - Artificial Insemination

In the fall of 2000 Bryan started school. Our life had calmed down quite a bit and we fell into a normal routine. Mykel and I had been married for over eight years at this point and had never done anything to prevent getting pregnant. I had already endured three surgeries to remove the endometriosis that I had, but I had never felt that fertility drugs were for me (I am a total lightweight with any medication and my body can’t handle it – I am a wimp!) My OB/GYN suggested we try “artificial insemination” – it was the least expensive route to go and one that we hadn’t tried before.

The following are a few clips from my journal after we tried artificial insemination and were waiting to find out if I was pregnant: (I know reading from my journal is not every exciting, but humor me for a minute, this will all make sense when I get to the next part of the story about the adoption of my daughter Ava).

November 19, 2000
On one hand I really want to experience pregnancy and childbirth; but on the other I am completely happy with the three wonderful boys I have. They all want a little sister, so they are praying for one. I think Mykel would also like to experience the whole birth process and that excites him. I am trying hard not to get my hopes up, yet I find myself talking like I am already pregnant. I just pray that if it is not meant for me to conceive a child that I will be comforted and know this is God's will. I just don’t want to prevent any children from coming to our home if it is meant to be. That is not to say it hasn’t been stressful and very emotional getting my hopes up every month. I am always hoping – but last summer I found myself at a point where either I had a hysterectomy and left NO chance so I didn’t have to wonder, or did all that I could so I could say that I at least tried.

Bryan, Cole and Preston eating gumballs at the mall ~ February 2001

November 20, 2000
Yesterday Bryan asked me what the doctor did to help my tummy work. I tried to explain about the doctor taking part of Mykel and putting it inside me – he then asked “what part of daddy?” (That one was fun to explain!) Bryan keeps praying that we can have a baby sister. The other morning he and I were talking about what we would name a little sister. He said “Mary” so he could sing “Mary had a Little Lamb.” I told him I wanted to name her Mykalin and he said “mom, wasn’t Cole’s name already Michael?” I couldn’t believe he remembered that! He was only 2 ½ when we changed Cole’s name from Michael!

November 27, 2000
I took a pregnancy test today and it was negative. I thought I would be a lot more depressed but I actually feel at peace…. After the test was negative my mind was flooded with thoughts of the three beautiful children I do have and how much joy they bring to my life. I guess I have just come to appreciate them even more now. I think my biggest fear about getting pregnant is about how I will feel about my boys, I don’t want there to be a comparison with biological children, because my boys are MINE. I don’t want them to feel inferior at all. I think now I am more worried that I AM pregnant!

Preston eating his gumball, Cole in the background trying to get another one ~ February 2001

December 7, 2000
My computer has been down for two days and I am really behind on work (I did medical transcription at home), but it has been nice just spending more time with the boys. I marvel at the joy that each little smile brings to my life. I love being a mom to my little boys. I feel I must spend every minute with them and enjoy everything they bring to my life. I am comforted with the option of not giving birth to any children. I just feel blessed to be a mother. Each day I seem to enjoy even more with my boys. I love when Preston lets me hold him cheek to cheek and they all crawl up on my lap to hear a story. Whenever I go anywhere or leave the room Cole has to give me about 5 hugs and kisses. He loves to be held and kissed. Today Bryan and I were making a Christmas calendar and he looked at me and said “I know who I love – YOU mom!” I love him too! We were watching the movie “BIG” where a boy (Tom Hanks) goes to a carnival and makes a wish at a machine that he is big. Well Bryan said “I wish we had a machine to get wishes” so I asked him what he would wish for and he said “I wish that your tummy could work so we could have a little sister!”

January 11, 2001
I keep having this pain on my right side. I thought it might be my appendix, but it hasn’t gotten worse. It has awakened me a couple of times and I feel it daily but I don’t know what is wrong.

January 31, 2001
My side has still been hurting and I don’t what it is. Maybe I’ll go and get it checked.

February 5, 2001
I went to the doctor today to find out what is wrong. They took a pregnancy test and it was POSITIVE, but the pain I am having isn’t normal. I have to go tomorrow and get an ultrasound done to find out if it is an ectopic pregnancy. My stomach has been really hurting so I don’t know what is going on. I am a little scared and sad at the same time. I am amazed that I am pregnant, but knowing that if it is an ectopic pregnancy and that the fetus will die is hard to deal with. I guess I will find out more tomorrow.

February 6, 2001
I scheduled an ultrasound with my OB/GYN. They weren’t able to see anything except that my endometrium is getting thicker, which is a good sign. I had to get my blood drawn again so they could check the HCG level. I took the blood test at 11 a.m. and I got the results back at 3:30. I was on the phone with the nurse (my mom was sitting next to me and Mykel walked in the door from work) when I got the good news. The test showed I was definitely pregnant. I have to take another test in two days to make sure the hormones are doubling to make sure it is not ectopic. I am so glad it has taken this long to get pregnant otherwise I might not have my wonderful little boys! They are going to be so excited!!!

When I picked Bryan up from school his teacher said to me “doesn’t he just have the sweetest disposition? He is so lovable!” It is amazing how my feelings for the boys have increased since I found out I was pregnant. I appreciate them even more. My heart just aches sometimes because I love them so much. My Father in Heaven has blessed me so much, it is truly remarkable! I know he has a plan for each one of us and he is acutely aware of our needs and the desires of our hearts. Life is wonderful!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our Story, Part 20 - What is "best?"

Because we lived several hours from Ruth and Valorie, we didn’t have weekly or monthly visits but we kept in touch via e-mail or letters.

My three boys ~ I loved this age!

The following is part of an e-mail I sent to Valorie in January 2000, about nine months after Bryan came back to live with us:

“Bryan is very active and never seems to stop talking. He comes in my room in the morning and says ‘let’s just talk’ and then we talk about anything he has on his mind. At night when I tuck him in he says ‘mom, I’m glad I’m here.’ He understands everything so we just explain everything to him. He knows that Ruth signed papers for him to come live with us, and when we went and saw the judge Bryan said ‘now I get to be yours forever right?’

He knows that he has three grandmothers who love him very much, and I explained to him that he is very lucky to have so many people who love him. Whenever we go to Vernal and pass through Roosevelt (where Ruth lived at the time) he says, ‘I don’t want to stay here mom, I want to go back to Ogden,’ and I think he gets a little bit leery whenever I say we are going to Vernal, (where Valorie lived at the time), until I let him know that we will be coming with him and that he will be coming home with us.

Mykel and the boys!

Bryan hasn’t forgotten you, and I doubt he ever will. When he sees something that reminds him of you, he always tells me. He seems to just want to talk about everything for which I am grateful.”

As I alluded in my previous posts, I sometimes (okay, most of the time) did not know how to act about visitation and the open relationshiop we had with Ruth and Valorie. In February of that same year I sent another e-mail to Valorie. Reading it now sickens me because of what I wrote, but like I said before, I made many mistakes while trying to decide what was “best” for the boys.

February 6, 2000

Dear Valorie,

“We didn’t know going into this how things would turn out, how we would feel, how the children would feel and how you and Ruth would feel. It was a learning experience for all of us. At the beginning and throughout most of the adoption process I felt like I wouldn’t mind Bryan seeing you and seeing Ruth. But now that Bryan is in our home and part of our family my views have changed…. Bryan has already said to Cole ‘my mom didn’t want you so she gave you away.’ We don’t want them to feel that one was cared for more than the other. They all need to feel the same love and affection.

Bryan is now our son and we feel that we should do what is going to be in Bryan’s best interest. Bryan is thriving here, he is the happiest we have ever seen him. It is not fair to keep pulling him to two different sides.

Mykel with the boys in our backyard on Mother's Day

For now we feel that Bryan just needs to be with us and settle into our home. When he, Cole and Preston get older they can decide for themselves what they would like to do. I don’t think it is fair for us, or you, or Ruth to make that decision for them. We will be happy to still send pictures and e-mail to let you know how they are doing, but for now we feel that they shouldn’t see you or Ruth in person, or talk with you on the phone. It is too hard for Bryan and it is extremely hard on us.”

I think the last sentence says it all “it is extremely hard on us” mainly me, I was very selfish about being their only mother at that time and it was hard for me to share their affection. My emotions were very close to the surface and most of the time I was making decisions based on what would be best for me and my own feelings. I think I wrote the above e-mail in haste when Bryan made the comment to his younger brother Cole about Ruth not wanting him and giving him away.

The boys at Halloween! They still like to dress up with those masks!

About a week later I had changed my position on the whole deal (I do not stay mad/upset for very long). Valorie and I had been corresponding and writing each other about the story of the boys and how we met. I sent her my side of the story entitled “My Three Angels” and she sent me her side of the story ~ from there the lines of communication softened. We still kept in touch via e-mail and letters but there were no visits for several months. The following year Ruth and Valorie moved closer to us and in the spring of 2001, visitation started again.