adoption related mushiness, adoption related seriousness

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.

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

adoption related mushiness, adoption related seriousness

"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.

Continue reading “"forever family" and other things I want to promise”

adoption related mushiness, adoption related seriousness, waiting

the stranger who will be my son

It won’t be long now, they’ll be placing a child in my arms, and I’ll become his mother. And he won’t know who I am. He’ll look at me and won’t recognize me, won’t love me, won’t have any bond to me. And I’ll be his mother.

So I’ll do what mothers do. I’ll hold him, and rock him, and feed him. I’ll kiss him and tell him in a language he doesn’t understand that pretty soon things won’t be so new, pretty soon we’ll know each other, pretty soon I won’t be a stranger. I’ll tell him I love him and it’s okay that he doesn’t love me. I’ll tell him that love can take time to grow, that home can take time to become a reality. I’ll tell him we’re his family and that I hope someday he knows that and feels that and believes that.

I’ll whisper his foster mother’s name and tell him it’s okay that he misses her. I’ll tell him she loves him because I know it’s true. I’ll tell him I know of his losses and they’ll always be spoken of with respect in our home. I’ll tell him I know we’re not his only family and that I’m sorry for all the upheaval he has had in his little life. I’ll tell him there are no big changes now. That this family we’re creating is his as long as he wants it to be. I’ll tell him that no matter what happens I’ll love him for all of time. And my love will be enough for both of us until he has his own. My belief in the strength of our family will be enough until he believes it too.

But most of all I will tell him of the amazing person he is. How his very life gives a unique gift to the world, one that no one else can give. I’ll tell him that it’s not a question of what he does, it’s a question of WHO he is. That who he is, is enough. Is everything.

Sometimes I stare at his picture and whisper a thought of gratitude that he’s here. That he’s on this earth. That I get a first row seat to the wonder that he is. That very soon, the four of us will be a family. Will have our lives intertwined by memories and emotions and experiences. That each of us came to this family from another. Each with a unique bloodline. And yet we’re a family. Very soon now that journey will begin. Pretty soon that stranger will become my son.

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{from his nursery}}

adoption related mushiness, expectations

expectations of love

A few days ago I woke up in the middle of the night to a little voice calling “mommy! mommy! mooooomyyyyyy”. The little voice crawled from down by our feet where he likes to sleep on top of the covers up towards me. Then his plead changed to “quish! quish!” So I gave him a little squish and he settled down in my arms to fall asleep again.

That’s it. No big deal. It only changed my life.

I remember the first time he woke up and crawled towards me for a cuddle. I thought my heart would stop. I remember the first time his little voice tried to say “I love you”. I remember the first time he smiled at me.

I never really expected him to love me. I knew I loved him. I knew from the minute I saw his picture that I would move the world to make sure he had a family. But I was careful to remember during those months of waiting that he wasn’t waiting for me. He had no idea who I was.

A few months ago we tried leaving him at a church nursery. Epic fail. Long story. But before we left I told Nate “I’m not sure how he’s going to handle it, he’s never been left with strangers before.<pause> Except you know for that time they gave him to us.” Yeah. Strangers. Complete strangers. And they put him in our arms and that was it. We had to muddle our way through to becoming a family.

And when these little moments happen that say we are, we are becoming a family, they still surprise me. It surprises me when I’m with my mom or sister and he wants me and not them. It surprises me that my cuddles sometimes have magical properties that make owies disappear. It surprises me that when he threw up for the first time while we were in CO I was the one expected to clean it up. It surprises me that I’m the mom now.

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This month it will be ten years since I fell in love with my husband. We’d been dating four and a half months and then it hit me – love. It took the wind out of me and I knew life would never be the same. He proposed a week later. I guess in some ways love is always a surprise. First it isn’t and then it is. Or maybe it was there and you just didn’t realize it. And for me it’s always come when I wasn’t looking or prepared or expecting it. Like a rainstorm out of a sunny sky.

I’d like to keep that attitude through life. I’d like to keep not expecting love and then being surprised by it. I often think about what life will look like when our boys are adults. Will we be friends? Will we be close? In some ways it doesn’t matter what happens, and it can’t be my focus. All I can do today is love. Because love is eternal. Love that we put out into the universe can’t return void. Maybe we won’t see the rewards or results of it. Maybe it will feel like it just fades away into the air. But somewhere out there that love is doing something. It’s changing things, it’s changing people. It’s the divine light I crave. It’s something more, something outside of me.

When I was putting the baby to bed a few nights ago Daddy said “I love you” to him. And for the first time he responded “I love you mo”. And Daddy replied “I love you most.” And another little family ritual got passed down. Passed down to a beautiful soul that somehow ended up as our son.

Speaking of surprises, I found him finger-painting with yogurt on the living room mirror yesterday so I gave him some on his highchair tray to play with instead. Apparently he decided a yogurt facial and hair treatment were needed.

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adoption related mushiness, cave paintings of the soul, waiting

a true story and a note about onesies

True story: On Friday night our adoption agency contact emailed us with pics of K. I wrote back. “I love you. If you send me an email Monday morning telling me we have our <name of paperwork we’ve been waiting forever on> I will love you forever.” Monday she emailed me to say we had it and would have a scanned copy the next day.

I’m debating between flowers or chocolates to celebrate our undying love.  I already owe her a statue of herself for something from Thane’s adoption process.

Update pictures are like finding an ice cold Fanta while you’re crawling your way across a desert floor. They keep you sane. Well, saneish. And this set was exceptionally great. Because my baby has chub. CHUB. His little legs actually have chub on them. I squealed when I saw them. His new formula is agreeing with him apparently. Not being in the hospital for a few months helps too I think.

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This is the onesie he’s wearing. This one right here. The one I bought for him. The one I sent in a care package after carefully making note of the size. Which means I touched something that has touched my child. There are no words for how good that feels. This is the second time we’ve gotten a picture of him wearing a onesie I sent. The first time I cried. Adoption hormones are insane I tell you.

He’s such a serious little guy in his photos. We have one from very early on with a little half smile and an amazing 26 seconds of perfection on video where he’s with his foster mummy where he gives her a little half smile as well. But the rest are very serious. I love his eyes. His little face is filling in now so they don’t seem quite so big. But they are just as beautiful.

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And in one of those “I’m going to paint this on my soul in happiness” moments he just happened to be wearing this one in the picture that went with the paperwork we got this week. You can’t see the words in the picture of course, but I recognized it and smiled when I saw it. We’re so ready for him to indeed be our family’s little brother. And by ready I mean excited. The actually preparedness could be debated. Among other things I have closet shelves to finish, clothes to hang up, and a coming home outfit to buy.

It’s a good feeling to see him in clothes I sent him. It will be an even better feeling to dress him in them myself.

adoption related mushiness, waiting

the second time around

I have a constant sense of deja vu lately.  Like I’m in in my own adoption-themed version of groundhog day.  But I’m not repeating a day I’m repeating a year.  We accepted our two referrals almost exactly thirteen months apart.  And it’s a strange feeling going through the holidays and feeling so many of the same feelings I felt last year.  Thinking the same hopeful thoughts of “next year our family will be together.”  Waiting on the same paperwork.  I even got mixed up thinking that I had sent in a form that our agency said I hadn’t.  But sure enough when I went back and look at my files I was just remembering doing it last year.  What can I say, immigration paperwork makes a lasting impression.

When we dressed up Thane like a Dragon and took him to Nate’s work party I remembered thinking last year that we would have a baby to dress up for it and wondering what that would be like and what he would go as.  And this year I thought the same thoughts about K.

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Then Thanksgiving came and our family felt incomplete, missing someone.  We put K’s picture on our dining table and I once again found myself thankful for a baby I loved but hadn’t met yet.

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I decorated the tree and thought next year – he’ll be home.  The same Christmas song that got me through last year will get me through this year too.

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The danger of course is that in hoping for what’s coming I’ll miss what I have.  And I have so much.  I look at Thane and like I sing to him “you’re that star up in the sky, you’re that mountain peak up high, hey you made it, you’re the world’s greatest” (yeah, I like repurposing 90’s pop into lullabies.)  So while we settle into another holiday season with our heart in two places I try to remember that.  Remember to bottle up everything that’s happening and tuck it inside my heart.  I’m never going to get this time back.  I have to take in all the moments I can.

And we’ve had some of the best moments the last few days.  Sitting on the couch, the three of us.  Thane laughing his head off because I was using his hands to squeeze my cheeks into a funny face.  Listening to him say “uggamugga.”  Or asking him if he wants us to squish him and having him say back “kish me” and we hug him between us.  Or hearing him laugh in his sleep while he was sleeping on my lap.  Hearing his little “hiii mommeee” first thing in the morning.  Or waking up to see him curled up in his daddy’s arms fast asleep.  Those are some cave paintings for the soul right there.

Getting kicked in the face first thing in the morning not so much, but that’s not going to last forever either.  Thankfully.

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adoption related mushiness

twenty three pictures

Dear Thane:

During our wait for you the best part of each month was getting update pictures.  We must have stared at each set for hours, taking in each expression you made, marveling at each glimpse into your personality. Memorizing each freeze framed moment of your life that we were given.  Twenty three pictures, that’s how many we have of you during those first seven and a half months of your life. I cherish each and every one.  Even the silly ones and the startled-looking ones and the one where you’re giving us the finger (seriously.)

Then you came home and each time you make one of those little expressions that I know so, so, well from your pictures I feel my heart do a little happy dance.  Freeze framed moments now seen in real life. Love.

This little expression on the right was one of my favorites of you, your eyes so big, your eyebrows raised, taking it all in in the way you do.  We thought you looked so curious and alert and interested in life.  And you are.  You love new experiences and new places, you’re beyond observant of the world around you.  We love that about you.

So today when we took you out to play in the leaves and take some pictures of your first fall here in the pacific northwest and I somehow caught that same little expression on your face, just grown up a little, I remembered that first time we saw that look of yours and it made me smile.

We’re so proud of the way you look at life, keep it up baby boy.

-M & D

for the blog - delete later12

adoption related mushiness

we loved you before we knew you

When Thane first came to join our family I started writing this little ditty that I sing to him during rocking to sleep times.  It starts like this: “I loved you before I knew you, before I saw you, before I dreamed you. I loved you before I knew you, but not as much as I do now…”

I’m looking forward to singing it to our new baby someday.  Maybe I’ll actually finish it too.  So as I start to think of plans for K’s nursery I’m working on some artwork for his walls, just playing around trying to get some ideas.  Here’s one of the ones I came up with today.  We’ll see if it ends up working in his room.

we loved you before we knew you colorful copy

Today I got K’s care package finished, I’ll mail it tomorrow.  Toys, clothes, socks, a blanket his Gigi made and a little baby photo album with pictures of us and little notes telling him how much we love him.  I’m told his foster mother will read it to him.  Now I don’t flatter myself that it will mean anything to him.  He’s a tiny baby who doesn’t know who we are and won’t for several more months.  I’m okay with that. He has a foster mum who loves him and that’s enough for me for now.  Of course I long for it to be me.  But it’s not right now.

It’s a strange thing holding things your child will touch.  I find myself not wanting to mail it off, wanting to hold on a little longer.  Wanting that flutter of connection.  My sister sent me an email a few nights ago that summed up our life right now perfectly, she said: ” Personally I think we live in a time warp…too fast with baby you have and too slow with the baby you have across the world.”

So I’ll send up our little gifts tomorrow and try to imagine him wearing one of the little outfits, or holding one of the toys, or laying on the blanket.  And I’ll remember touching those same little tokens and maybe that will make the gap between us feel a little bit closer and make time go a little faster until we’re together.

adoption related mushiness

family and the things I don’t write about

I don’t talk much about them because I value my privacy pretty highly so respecting others privacy is important to me.  So I keep most of the memories and pictures of times with family off this little online journal.  But what times we have had the last few days!  Perfect times that you want to bottle up and hold onto forever.  More cave paintings of the soul if you will.

We’ve spent the last week in the same town where my Dad, Mom, four brothers, one sister in law, one sister, one brother in law and one niece and nephew live. It’s where one of my two best friends live. It’s also where my husband’s grandfather and three uncles and their families live.  It’s where we met and spent the first two years of our married life together.  It’s a special town.  Some of the best times of our life and one of our worst happened here. We moved away seven years last month which is so hard to believe.

Nate and I are both lucky enough to come from families that embrace transracial adoption whole-heartedly and without reservation.  Our little Thane has been welcomed, loved on, and spoiled quite sweetly this week.  And that’s amazing to watch.

I love that this little boy has brought something amazing and new to our family.  I don’t see the age old question of nature vs. nurture as a tug of war.  I see it as a mixing bowl where what his first family, his foster family, and his adoptive family give him is thrown together, mixed around and from that my little son will create something unique and beautiful and entirely his.  Watching that unfold is going to be one of the highlights of my life.

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adoption related mushiness, transracial families

dirty mirrors

We have this mirrored wall in our living room.  I’m not sure which previous owner put it there but I’m guessing it was someone who woke up looking slightly better than I do in the morning.  Because running into a reflection of yourself first thing is not my idea of a good way to start the day.

But Thane and I do have this ritual when we see ourselves in a mirror together.  We stop, I squeeze his cheek to mine or give him a kiss and I say “Who’s that?  It’s Mommy and Thane!  We’re a family.  And we look like a family.”

See, I read somewhere that you have to hear a truth twice as many times to counteract a lie you hear so this is my little way of trying to build some sort of defense up in preparation for the first time that Thane hears (and understands) our relationship being called into question because of skin tone.  Maybe it’s a silly ritual.  Maybe it does nothing but make me smile and him smile.  But at any rate it makes that darn mirrored wall just a little easier to tolerate.

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{{Pictures taken in previously mentioned dirty mirror.}}

August

{{Pictures from August.}}