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"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hard questions

The other night my 4-year-old daughter was getting on her teenage brother’s nerves. My son made the comment… “can’t we just give her away and let someone else adopt her?” He was completely serious as if it was a viable and available option.

It reminded me of a discussion that he and I had a few years earlier when he asked me if someone else could adopt him. He was worried that if I didn’t want him that I could just give him to someone else. His comment and question really made me think of the numerous questions my children have with regards to placement, adoption, biological parents and their own situation.

I tried my best to explain to my son that, no; I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to adopt him and that he was my son forever. This was a hard question to answer because of course he wondered how he could be placed in our family and adopted and that it couldn’t happen again. He knew his older brother was placed and then taken back and then placed again… such a confusing time!

I think about all these questions and I realize that when my children were young and I was dealing with the day to day struggles of parenting, placement, home studies, etc., I had no idea how/if/when I would have to deal with these inquiries.

I am grateful that we have been very open with our children with regards to their birth parents, their placement in our home and their own individual stories, it has made these discussions easier, but there are still questions that are hard to answer. It is almost weekly that we have talks about their birth mother, their birth father(s) and even their biological uncles, aunts and grandparents. I don’t have all the answers, but quite honestly, what parent does?

I don’t know any other families who are in an open adoption, much less any who have teenagers right now, so here are a few things that have helped me over the last decade:

(If any one has any suggestions/ideas that have worked for them, please feel free to share!)

Validate the question(s), it is okay to have questions.

Reaffirm your love for them as an individual and as your child - Sometimes my children were hesitant to ask me questions about their birth mother because they didn’t want to “hurt my feelings” if they were talking about their “other mom.” I will admit that when my boys were first placed with us, I did feel jealous of their mother, I felt I was being compared on every level with her. I don’t feel that way now; I feel that she and I both have significant and independent roles to play in their lives.

Be honest – I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability, but sometimes I don’t have an answer to their question(s). If they ask a question and want an answer right away, I do my best, but sometimes after I have time to think about their question and my answer, I may go back and tell them that I didn’t answer their question properly. I have told my older boys, “I don’t have a parental instruction manual, I am learning just like they are and I am not always right!”

Love them unconditionally.

So blessed to be a mom!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

No one is immune

A few months ago during a neighborhood social event, I was listening to the chatter of several women who are pregnant. At one point I was sitting next to a woman who had just revealed that she was expecting her third (unplanned) child. She looked across the table and said to me, (paraphrasing) “I wish I could adopt, it would be SO much easier than being pregnant! Besides, you get to keep your figure and look like THAT!”

Me at the end of a hike, contemplating life....
I was so upset that I just sat silently trying not to say anything (counting loudly to 10 in my mind, repeating the mantra my mother had told me “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”)  
On my walk home that night and while running on the treadmill the next morning (trying to maintain THAT figure) I thought of all the snappy comments I could’ve said. I really wanted to write her a letter and let her have it!

These are a few things I wanted to say (but luckily didn’t):

“I would trade my body for any woman’s (fertile body!) just to have the chance to be able to create a child with my husband and feel my child growing inside of me. "

“Enjoy every little pain that you are having, you are experiencing a miracle!”

“I have this figure because I go to the gym five times a week! Not because I have never had children! You should see my sisters’ who have eight children and maintain amazing figures!”

My cute little Aubrey after her haircut!
I am glad I have had a few months to stew about this because recent events helped soften my once angry outlook.

I realized that every one of us have and will endure different trials; no one is immune to having their feelings hurt, no one is immune to pain.

Sometimes trials make us realize just how lucky we really are.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

You never know…

Yesterday morning something marvelous happened, my son Bryan said, “I love you mom.” We were all in the living room/kitchen area, I was washing dishes, the kids were all playing and talking and out of the blue Bryan said that to me. I replied, “thanks Bry, I love you too,” and “wow, that was random, what made you say that?” Bryan said, “I don’t know, I just felt like saying it.”
If you know Bryan, you know that he is very serious, very spiritual, and a man of few words. He rarely expresses emotion orally. He is very good at showing me that he loves me by his actions (which I love); he is extremely obedient, he helps me all the time without being asked, and in fact he is usually looking for something to do to help me. He talks to me and shares things about his life, he writes me amazing cards and notes and tells me he loves me in writing, but rarely verbally. So yesterday was quite a treat….

Then….Bryan has wanted to work at my husband’s shop for years, he was just waiting until he was old enough (my husband is a machinist). So Bryan finally got up the courage to ask for a summer job and yesterday was his first day on the job. Bryan can’t drive yet, so I offered to take him to work; he declined. Bryan is also taking two summer online courses and one of them is a fitness class, he figured he could run to work and complete one of his fitness assignments on the way. I was a little worried about him running because there are four stoplights and several busy intersections in the four miles from our house to his work. I told him to please be careful and to call me when he got there.

About a half-hour later I got a text from him; “I just got hit by a car, but I am okay.”WHAT???? I was so happy that he was okay, but a little freaked out about the accident. I tried to call Bryan but he didn’t answer, I called my husband but he didn’t answer…. Finally my husband sent me a text letting me know that Bryan had made it to the shop and that he was patching him up. After about a half-hour my son finally called to let me know that he had been hit by a car as he was crossing the street at an intersection. The car hit Bryan, knocked him over and then (in Bryan’s words) “the driver looked me in the eye and then drove off.”

Luckily Bryan only sustained some road rash on his neck, arm, shoulder and ankle, he was otherwise unharmed, for which I am extremely grateful. Only one other driver stopped to make sure Bryan was okay, ironically a teenage driver!

Me, Bryan, Amber (Bryan's friend) last week at my nephew's birthday party

I drove over to see him and make sure he was okay. He was a little shook up but otherwise was focused on the first day at his new job. After work Bryan went to his friend’s house until late that evening so I wasn’t able to talk to him until around 9 p.m., about 12 hours after the accident. Here is what Bryan told me, “that accident changed my life. I could have died. My entire life flashed in front of my eyes. My life is going to be different from now on.” He and I talked about how we both felt that he was being watched over and that apparently it wasn’t his time to go. I thought about our talk earlier in the day when he told me he loved me, I thought about how we never know if today may be our last day, or if when we say goodbye to someone it may be the last time we see them. I am so grateful my son felt like expressing how he felt…. I love him!

Monday, June 6, 2011

“I was born to Laugh”

Yesterday while I was fixing my daughter Ava’s hair, she said to me,

“I was born to laugh.”

I looked at her and she just grinned at me with a huge smile on her face!

Such a true statement! We are all born to laugh! I love my children!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Over the years I have received several pieces of advice, some good, some bad, and some I need to listen to more often!

Two of the best pieces of advice (for me):
Spend a “night” (each week) with each of your children. This has been the all-time best advice I have ever received. When my three boys were young and all slept in the same room, it was chaos at bedtime. They all wanted my attention, they all had something to say at the same time, and trying to get through a bedtime story was nearly impossible considering their age differences. I was complaining about this one day to an older friend of mine. She suggested I give each of my boys a “night” that I would spend one-on-one time with them. I took this suggestion to heart. It was definitely not easy at the beginning (and sometimes it is still difficult) but being able to spend one-on-one time with my children talking about their concerns and having the chance to tell them individually how much I love them has been miraculous. Several times our talks focused on questions they had about their birth mother or their adoption, they have asked me to tell them about the first time I saw them and how I felt, we talk about school, struggles, or sometimes just go for a drive and get a Slurpee or hot chocolate. I am so glad I took this advice!

Hold your children when you feed them. I was never able to breast feed (for obvious reasons), and most of my children were over 9 months old when they came to live with our family, so my time being able to hold them and feed them was limited. I have loved being able to hold my children, look into their faces, and hold their tiny fingers as they ate. (They grow up soooooo fast!)

Two of the worst pieces of advice (for me):
“Don’t tell your children they are adopted” – I acknowledge that I thought about this option briefly, but it just never seemed right to me. I am the first to admit that having an “open” adoption hasn’t been completely easy, but it has been completely worth it.

“Don’t let your children see their birth mother” – The people that gave this advice to me thought it would be too hard on my children to see their birth mother and be able to “move on” with their lives. Those same people even suggested that it would be easier on their birth mother if she didn’t see them, so she could “move on” with her life. Their birth mother Ruth has told me time and time again that being able to see her children and hear how they are doing has been the best thing for her being able to “move on.” I am so grateful I listened to my own intuition and am able to spend time with Ruth and her family ~ they are a wonderful extension of our family.

Advice I need to heed more often! “Enjoy what you are doing NOW, don’t be worried about what you need to do next.” So often I find myself half-listening to what my children are saying because I am thinking about the load of laundry I need to fold, what I am going to fix for dinner, or some other mundane thing that doesn’t really matter. What REALLY matters is giving my full attention to what matters most, my children *(and husband!)

What is/was the best/worst advice you have ever been given?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Better than Christmas

Mother’s Day memories over the years conjure up a host of varied memories for me… bitter, excited, sad, thrilled, happy, depressed, joyous ~ for example: the Mother’s Day that Preston went back to his birth mom (one of the hardest days of my life); the Mother’s Day Ruth called and asked me if Bryan could come back and live with us (one of the best days of my life); and Mother’s Day yesterday, receiving homemade cards from my children (one of the best days ever!)

Before I adopted my children, I loathed hearing the sappy, wonderful Mother’s Day posts with mother’s bragging about their children, and what a wonderful day they had etc. etc. etc. I would just go away even more depressed and upset that I wasn’t a part of that “group.” But my experience yesterday was life changing…..

It started with my sons getting up early to make me an amazing feast of pancakes and breakfast burritos! They dished up my plate, and even though I wasn’t really hungry I ate everything they gave me. I was completely overstuffed (but with a smile on my face!)
I then received a card from my oldest son Bryan (15)… He wrote the most remarkable personalized message for me. Here is a little extract: “Thank you for being so loving to all of us and thanks for teaching us how to love. Your example means so much to me and watching you has helped me know what attributes I want to look for in my future spouse.”

He always makes my cards on plain white paper with his own sentiments and sketches… they are worth their weight in gold to me!

My son Bryan was also asked to give a talk during our church services yesterday as a tribute to mothers. He had two weeks to prepare and he asked me if I would tell him about his adoption. He and I talked a lot about it and he told me he wanted to share some of his feelings about coming to live with us (he came to live with us originally at 2 ½ and then again when he was 4 ½). He shared how he naturally and instantly called my husband “dad” and held his hand the first day he lived with us. He mentioned how he felt when he came back to live with us the second time and how he adjusted to calling me “mom.” I had never really heard how he felt or how he really felt about me as his mother until I received his card and heard his talk. The last few months I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy as a mother, especially with regards to my son Bryan. I felt unworthy to even be his mother and that I wasn’t a good enough example for him, so his words of praise and comfort were extra special for me and lifted my spirits immensely. I felt peace. I felt pure joy. I felt the immense importance of being a mother to my children. I felt and feel completely blessed to be their mother.

I also feel saddened that Ruth doesn’t get to experience the complete and utter joy of motherhood. I expressed my feelings to her about this and explained to her how grateful I am that she has allowed me this opportunity to be a mother. In her usual humble fashion, she expressed her gratitude to ME for taking such good care of her children, she thanked ME. She thanked ME! I love you Ruth and your amazing example of selflessness.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My “handsome” son

Today after I picked up my oldest son Bryan from his Driver’s Education class we were talking about his day at school. He is 15 and very studious… always a mountain of homework every night. He likes several girls and usually gives me the update if he talked to any of them during the day, if they say “hello” to him in the hall, or if he talks to any of them at lunch, etc.

During this conversation he mentioned that one of the girls said he was “handsome” – at this point I wanted to say “yeah, I agree with that, you are handsome like your dad!” Even though Bryan doesn’t have my husband and my genes, I think he does actually LOOK like us. I can’t make that comment about Bryan looking like either my husband or me because he knows genetically he doesn’t (he has let me know before that he doesn’t). He knows he LOOKS like his biological parents (although he has never met his biological father).

It is so hard for me not to say to my children, “you got your nose from your dad!” or “you got your curly hair from me.” I forget all the time that I didn’t actually give birth to them; they are such a part of me. My children do look like their biological families, but several of my friends have told me that they look like me too. Whenever I go to their school to pick any of them up, I usually get a comment from the secretary that goes something like this, “you are Bryan’s mom? Wow, he looks just like you!”

I just smile.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Celebrating Ruth's Birthday with the children

We invited Ruth up to our house to celebrate her birthday. The kids got her some gift cards and a cute little Christmas decoration.
Ruth also came with us to the Santa Run 5K and helped the kids cheer me on as I ran... don't worry, I gave them my cookies and milk as I ran by!

Ruth with all the kiddos!

Ava and her two moms!
Ava and Aubrey getting ready to go to the Santa Run!
I haven't written anything on this blog for a while because I just didn't have anything to write about. I decided to just post things about my kids as they relate to adoption so they will have an accurate story of their lives.
For the last few nights Ava has been saying to me, "I want to go live with Ruth." I know that option isn't possible, but sometimes it hurts to hear it. I think that was one of my biggest fears, that my children would want to go back and live with their birth mother.
"Sharing" is hard sometimes.