I don’t want you to be grateful: a letter from your (adoptive) mother

I wish so many things for you – the children who have my heart for all of time:

I hope that you will know how to love and be loved.

I hope that you will be happy.

I hope that you will live the life you want to have and not the life anyone, including me, dreams for you.

I hope you will be kind.

I hope you will be brave.

I hope you can view the world as it truly is and still find the strength to believe you can make it better.

And along with all those things I hope with everything in me that you take my love for granted.

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"forever family" and other things I want to promise

I dropped Youngest off at a playcare center yesterday for a few hours. Oldest was at school and it was my husband’s birthday so he and I were doing a lunch date. Something we haven’t done since, well something we’ve never done since Oldest came home.

Youngest was excited to play with the trains, the slide, and all the other goodies they have to entice children away from their parents. But he also wasn’t keen to leave me. I talked to him on the way in and sang our little goodbye song that talks about how I’ll come back. (Sidenote: thank you Daniel Tiger for your parenting wisdom.) Then I signed him in and handed him over to the worker. She sensed his nervousness and said, as many care-workers do, “It’s okay. Mommies always come back.”

Except they don’t.

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motherhood is a competition and tomorrow is our olympics

I’m over Mother’s Day.

I love my kids. I love my mom. But I hate the over-complication of every.single.thing. in today’s culture. Especially the social media culture. Motherhood is the ultimate competition sport and tomorrow is our olympics. At the end of the day most people wind up feeling like losers when we should just be celebrating that we’re living at all.

The rest of the world celebrates Women’s Day. I like that idea. I like the idea of celebrating who we are and not just who we are to someone else.

My social media feeds are full of articles on Mother’s Day. There are articles sharing how infertile women feel about the holiday. About how churches could handle things better in their services tomorrow. There are articles about being an adoptive mom. About being a mom after loss. About choosing never to have kids at all.

To me they all have a common theme: I want to matter. I want my existence to be validated. I want to feel good enough during a holiday that can bring out the insecurities in almost everyone. Am I a good mom? Am I a good daughter? Am. I. Good. Enough.

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how to kill a blog, part one (or guilt about becoming part of the noise that drowns out the voices we should be listening to)


I abandoned this blog to wither for several reasons. The first has to do with guilt.

Last summer I had a post that went a little “viral” in some adoptive parent communities. It was about waiting moms. I should have put “parents” because I got so much grief for leaving the dads out. For the record I wrote it about myself and a few moms I’ve become close too. It wasn’t meant to be the end all be all of explaining things. It was a deeply personal reflection on the life I led for three years.

I still like the post. A lot. The mistake was agreeing to let Huffingt*n Post republish it. And then not objecting when they put it under the tagline of “12 things everyone should know about adoption” (or something like that) and took off the postscripts I had made. Looking back I should have complained to them about the tagline and not allowed the changes. To be fair to myself it happened the day my husband had oral surgery and we ended up waiting for hours in an emergency situation because they thought a piece of metal might have gotten into his lungs. I had a barely 1-year-old and barely turned 2-year-old. I thought we’d be out for two hours, we ended up being out all day. We were exhausted and tired and I was stressed out of my mind. So I didn’t handle it like I should have. And then the noise became overwhelming and I ran away emotionally.

For awhile I couldn’t figure out why this one post gathering so much notice bothered me so much. Of course the attention was a bit overwhelming to someone with a teensy tiny blog, I actually had some mild panic attacks over it. When the post hit 5k views an hour after I published it I texted my husband and said I was going to delete the entire blog. I meant it too. If there was any doubt I was an introvert this is the moment that laid it to rest.  But then when the attention faded away, when I realized most of the 60k-some people who loved *that post* weren’t interested in anything else I had to say my pride stung a little. That post isn’t my favorite. It doesn’t even make my top five.

It’s also the most narcissistic thing I’ve ever written.

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when you’re bad at that thing you thought you’d be good at


Yesterday we were at Gymboree when Thane got his leg stuck between two wooden dowels in a rocking toy. It was amazing how my mom instincts kicked in and how quickly I got him out…. I’m kidding. Actually my claustrophobia and panic kicked in, after pulling at the leg with no budging I started frantically looking around for a freaking ax to chop that sucker apart with, and all I could think was “in the movies there is ALWAYS an ax, always. It’s right next to the fire extinguisher. Where is the fire extinguisher? Oh my dear heavens there is no fire extinguisher, if there is a fire right now how will I get all three of us out of here?!! ” Because that’s a normal place for your mind to go.

At this point Tal came over to try to rock the stupid rocking toy. This was not as helpful as he imagined it to be. And as I sat there (for SECONDS!!) trying to figure out what to do and trying to hold Tal off, another mom calmly came over, offered to help, pulled up Thane’s pant leg, twisted things a little and rescued him. And me.

And that’s when I realized two things: we’re hardly ever actually alone. People are almost always willing to come give a hand when we’re sucking at whatever we thought we’d be good at. And second: it had happened. I hadn’t been capable of doing something my kids really needed me to do. I had failed. And the world hadn’t ended. I had really blundered at this whole mothering thing and the sky hadn’t come crashing down around us. In fact, looking around the room everyone was calm and happy. Including my two kids who were now at the top of the slide enjoying themselves.

I thanked the mom and she told me a funny story about leaving her car door open. And that was it. Everything was fine. Except for the fact that the toddlers were thirsty now and I had forgotten the sippy cups. But that’s why God made Starbucks.



{{Pictures from the park last week.}}

the story that didn’t start with me (birth & adoption and honoring their story)

It’s so easy, too easy really to slip into thinking I’m telling them their stories when really I’m telling them mine.

Because their stories don’t begin with the moment I heard about them, the moment that first picture made my heart go pitter patter, or the moment I met them. Their story begins with them. With their mother and father and the moment they were created. Their next nine months wrapped inside their mother. As close as two humans can be. Then more months, more changes, more stories that are theirs to have and mind to guard. A foster family, loved and cherished. And then, and only then do my husband and I step into their story. From their perspective.

This is important because it’s too easy to slip into thinking that our story is the one they are living. And it’s not. Adoption isn’t meant to be a rewriting of everything that’s gone before. The family they have now doesn’t erase the family they don’t. And it’s their right to feel whatever they feel for that family. And it’s our duty as their other parents to listen. To be okay. To celebrate what they received from that family. To acknowledge that our children’s feelings are “right” no matter what they are because their feelings are theirs. Continue reading

today is the yesterday you’re going to be all nostalgic about tomorrow

We’re in Colorado, in the town where Nate and I met, spending the holidays with family. Our first little condo is here, the one we bought right before our wedding. I hadn’t been been back there for years. We went over Monday to check on some things, to figure out new flooring once the current tenants leave, and to reminisce. On the drive back I told Nate “I miss the us that lived there.” The truth is I miss the us that I remember. The slightly edited version where all the spectacular memories rise to the top and the boring ones sink to the bottom and you’re left with nothing but the creamiest cream and the peaches to put it on. {{If we weren’t lactose intolerant/allergic to dairy. But why spoil a perfectly good word picture?}}

We also hauled around 8 boxes out of the rafters in the garage that have been there since we moved. Boxes of costumes. See, I used to write and direct little plays for a little group of kids at the little church where we met. And it was one of my favorite things ever. As I sorted through the boxes and put 99% in bags to go to goodwill I smiled at every funny memory they contained. Super Truth’s blue sequined cape. A hideous plain blazer. A horrible poodle costume. I smiled at every single one. And that made me glad I waited to go through them. Because when we left they did nothing but make me cry.

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in defense of the imperfect story: finding hope at christmas

the perfect Christmas story

Growing up I loved to read the Christmas newsletters and cards my parents would receive. From all across the United States they would pour in, spinning their beautiful tales of promotions, graduations, and vacations. Magical moments captured in dream like perfection. And then social media came with Facebook and blogs to give us that same feeling year round, perfect lives captured in perfectly composed pictures. And then Pinterest. Pinterest is like those old Christmas newsletters played at high-speed while a disco ball throws light to every corner of our imagination. Everything is insanely, impossibly perfect. It’s a world in which recipes for dessert after dessert can live side by side with pictures of flat stomachs. Where rain boots are lined up by the door with no hints of melting snow or mud or rain beneath them. A world in which children’s rooms can have white bedding.

Even back in my childhood I knew when I read those Christmas newsletters that they weren’t the whole story. That theirs were a varnished truth. A slight retelling where Joseph wasn’t sold by his brothers into slavery but rather was seeking career advancements overseas. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think dreamy perfection is lovely sometimes. But it can get overwhelming, if we start to believe in it a little too much.

And so, it’s to this world I’d like to offer my defense, my defense of the imperfect story. The ones that start out not with a stride but with a stumble. The ones that have messy middles that don’t make sense. The ones that don’t come with a golden ribbon ending. At least not one we’ve seen yet.

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