One Year Later

One year ago today our profile became active with our agency and we became a “waiting family.” My husband was convinced we were going to get picked by an expectant mother quickly, but I wasn’t so sure. Turns out I was right. (And I sometimes like to gloat when I’m right and he’s not, but not this time.)

One year later and we have not had a single phone call or situation presented to us.

This is drastically different from our last experience as a waiting family when we were picked multiple times and actually declined a few situations based on the information presented.

I thought I’d be okay waiting this time. I thought it would be easier because we already have a child and can focus our attention on her instead of focusing on what we don’t have. In some respects it has been easier, but not always. Some days, the doubt creeps in and I start to wonder why we haven’t been chosen. What is it about our profile that makes someone view it and then pick another family? Why wouldn’t someone who is interested in an open adoption see that we work hard to nurture that relationship with our daughter and her birth family and that we’d do the same for them?

It’s hard not to feel discouraged. I find myself wondering if I’ll ever be a mom again or if I should just donate all the baby stuff we’ve been saving.

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Conversations

In our house, adoption is a normal topic of conversation. We don’t talk about it all the time, but it’s not a secret that M is adopted. We read adoption books, we talk about her birth family with her, and we take opportunities to normalize adoption as much as possible so it’s not a big deal. I forget sometimes that this isn’t a topic of conversation in everyone’s house.

My sister-in-law emailed me a few days ago and said they were watching a show that had a foster child story line. My 4-year old niece asked what a foster child was, so my SIL tried to explain in age-appropriate terms. My niece then said, “Oh! It’s like how Aunt E and Uncle M are M’s parents, but she also has other parents who couldn’t take care of her.”

My SIL and brother were shocked. Apparently, they had never told my niece that M is adopted and they didn’t know she knew, even though she’s met M’s birth family and we’ve talked about adoption in front of her.

My SIL asked me what was okay or not okay to tell my niece and asked for tips on how she could help explain adoption to her. I am so happy she asked, because it gave me the opportunity to educate her on appropriate/non-appropriate adoption language. For me, the two terms that make me crazy are “gave up” and “real parents.”

We say “placed for adoption” or “made an adoption plan” instead of “gave up for adoption.” (This is a huge one for me.) M’s birth family did not give up on her; they made a choice after much thought and consideration.

We also say “birth parents,” not “real parents.” We are her “real” parents, even though we are not her biological parents.

I’ve had many conversations with adults who unknowingly used these negative words. In most cases, I gently corrected and explained the difference.

It makes me happy to know that my family is interested in using the right language and conveying the appropriate messages. I know there are many more conversations to come about adoption in our house, and maybe in my brother’s house, too. I hope that as M grows up she continues to be surrounded by people who understand where she came from and know how much she is loved by all of her family members.

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Awesomeness

My husband rarely sees me blogging because I tend to do it late at night or early in the morning when everyone is asleep. A few nights ago, however, the toddler was content on the couch watching a movie and he was in the other room watching baseball. Since they were both occupied, I decided to pull out my laptop and revisit a post I started a few weeks ago but never finished. A little later, he came in the room and our conversation went like this:

Him: What are you working on?

Me: A blog post I never had time to finish.

Him: Is it about me? Do you ever write about me and tell everyone how awesome your husband is?

Me: Nope, haven’t done that (yet).

Him: Well, you should. Because I’m pretty awesome.

He’s right. He is pretty awesome. I’m often reminded just how awesome he is and I know I’m a lucky girl to have such a great partner. He works harder than anyone I know, he makes us laugh, he shows us love every single day, and he would do anything for us. He is patient and loving and forgiving and kind. He’s an amazing dad, and to top it all off, he cooks and cleans, too! :)

We’ve been through a lot in the 15 or so years we’ve been together and no matter how difficult things got, we made it through together and came out stronger.

So here’s a shout out to the best husband ever – I love you! (And I still haven’t finished that blog post I was working on.)

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Nervous Energy

Miss M is having surgery tomorrow to remove her tonsils and adenoids. I know it’s a routine procedure and she will be fine, but I’m still a nervous wreck.

Mostly, I’m terrified at the thought of my baby being put under anesthesia. I have no reason to be so scared; her birth family was gracious enough to answer all my questions to help me fill out medical history forms. No one in her biological family has ever had any problems with anesthesia or anything I need to be concerned about.

I’ve been told young kids recover quickly and I know she’ll feel so much better once she’s healed, but until this surgery is over and I know she’s okay I’m full of nervous energy. I’m trying to work today and can’t focus on anything.

I’m thankful it’s a quick procedure at least. We should find out tonight what time her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. (We’re assuming it’ll be early since they see the youngest patients first.) By this time tomorrow I hope we are home with her and snuggled on the couch watching a movie.

I’d appreciate any positive, healing thoughts you can send her way (and maybe a few calming thoughts for me, too)!

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Battle of the Moms

The majority of my friends either live out of state or have older kids who aren’t interested in playing with a toddler, so I joined a mom’s group to meet people with kids around M’s age. Overall, it’s been a great experience and I’ve met some wonderful women that I enjoy spending time with.

But there’s always that one….The one mom that thinks her way is the best way. The only way.

I met her a few weeks ago and she was awful. I was at dinner with about 8 other moms, and of course we were talking about our kids at first. When the conversation turned to nursing and how/when to stop, I sort of tuned out. No big deal – I just sat back and enjoyed my margarita. However, when this particular woman called me out and asked if I nursed M, I told her no and explained that we adopted so nursing wasn’t an option for me. Well, the earful I got from her about how she would never feed her kids formula was enough to get me fired up, but I maintained my cool and said that I think either option is fine and people need to do what’s best for their situation. Done, right? Nope.

After a while, it became clear that I was the only working mom at the table. Again, I didn’t have much to add to the conversation since I work full-time. And again, this lady went off on me for choosing to work. She made comments about how I’m missing out on the most formative and important years of M’s life. She repeatedly told me that am going to regret missing out on this time with M and that she could never work while her kids are young. She quit her job to stay home because family is more important. Blah blah blah.

It’s great she did what was best for her family, but quitting my job is not what’s best for my family. Quite frankly, we need the income. And, I paid good money for a college degree and a master’s degree so that I can use my brain and support my family. My daughter is not suffering in daycare. In fact, she’s thriving. She’s interacting and making friends and learning and blossoming into a fantastic kid.

Being a working parent is hard enough without having to listen to someone else berate me for my choice. Some days I do wish I had more flexibility and could work part-time or fewer hours, but I like my job and I am proud that my daughter is growing up with a strong role model. That bitchy mom can suck it.

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Time v. Time

I’m not very good at waiting around for things to happen. I like to make plans and make lists and get shit done.

One of the things that’s been harder this time around is balancing the time off needed if we receive that phone call with the fact that I have a family that I want to make memories with now. Basically, it’s a battle of vacation time. How do I make plans and do fun things with my daughter and husband while saving as many days as possible for when we get that phone call? (By the way, it really sucks that many companies don’t offer paid time off for adoptive parents so it’s all vacation days, sick days, or unpaid time off.)

Every time there’s an event I want to attend or something I want to do, there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying “is it really worth the vacation day? What if you get a baby soon and can’t take much time off?” That little voice is annoying.

I’ve ignored that voice quite a bit lately. I took a day off to take my daughter on a tour of the local fire station. She loved it and it was definitely worth the time. I took time off to spend 2 days with my husband in the city. Definitely worth it – we needed some kid-free time to reconnect. We have an upcoming family vacation that requires a day and a half of my vacation time. You know what? It’ll be worth it. My three-year old is ridiculously excited to go to the beach. A few days ago, I bought two plane tickets to San Francisco for later this year because it’s one of our favorite cities and the tickets were dirt cheap (and we’re lucky to have family nearby to watch the kiddo and dogs). But, there goes more vacation time.

Will I be able to spend as much time at home with a newborn now? Nope. But we may never get that call or get to parent another child. I decided my time is best spent making memories with my family now because nothing is certain and I can’t just sit around and wait for something that may or may not happen.

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My Heart Hurts

This evening Miss M saw a commercial with a pregnant woman and said “awww, she has a baby in her tummy! All mommies have a baby in their tummy.” I am always looking for ways to talk about adoption with her so I took this moment to tell her that actually, not all moms have babies this way. I told her, “I didn’t have you in my tummy, but I’m still your mommy.” She followed that with, “ok, may I have more graham crackers please?” End of conversation, right? Nope.

During our bedtime routine tonight as I was kissing her goodnight, she looked at me and said “you’re not my mom.” I (of course) responded with “yes, I am.” I looked over at my husband he looked sort of shocked and didn’t know how to respond. I explained that I’m her mom, and he’s her dad, and we love her more than anyone in the whole world. She said, “yeah, but you’re not my mom.”

I really didn’t know what to say so I asked who she thinks her mom is and she said “Auntie Corinne” (aka, my BFF). This made me smile because we spent the afternoon with Auntie Corinne and M just loves her. But I actually expected her to tell me that her birth mom is her mom because we talk a lot about adoption in our house and how she grew in her birth mom and how we were chosen to be her mom and dad.

As I pondered this, she followed it up with “and she may be a bad guy. But maybe not – maybe she’s a good guy.” Uh….We’ve had a lot of super hero movies and books in our house and at daycare lately, so I get the good guy/bad guy thing (although not in relation to the topic at hand, but hey, she’s a toddler), but the whole random conversation just caught me off guard. (For the record, Auntie Corinne is definitely a good guy.)

Hearing my daughter say “you’re not my mom” seriously made my heart ache. I’ve been preparing for tough conversations about adoption since we brought her home from the hospital, but that statement hurt. We read books and talk about adoption all the time with her. We have photos of her birth family in her room and we see them fairly often so she knows them. We explain the difference between “mom and dad” and “birth mom and birth dad” when we talk about or visit her birth family.

But, she’s 3. She doesn’t really understand all of it yet. What she understands is that babies grow in a mommy’s tummy and I told her she didn’t grow in my tummy, so clearly I must not be her mom. How confusing this must be to a toddler!

To top it all off, we’ve had a lot of conversations about babies lately. My SIL is pregnant again, one of M’s classmates is getting a sister soon, and her birth dad has another baby. So now, Miss M keeps asking me when she’s going to get a baby sister. Sigh.

My heart aches because I can’t promise her a sister. Or a sibling at all. My heart aches because I can’t just grow a baby the way she understands. My heart aches because it’s so hard for us to grow our family and we have to just wait for someone to choose us. My heart aches because I want so badly to make it easy for my toddler to understand her family but I know it’s going to take more conversations and more time and more patience and more love. Some days being a mom is so easy, but other days, my heart just aches.

Posted in Communication, Loss and grief, Parenting | Leave a comment