Tag Archives: adoption

19 Years Ago. And Counting.

19 years ago today a mother-to-be was anxious and nervous and functioning on about 2 hours sleep.

19 years ago today they stopped for dinner at Applebee’s because they didn’t care where they ate and they weren’t really hungry. They poked at their food. They couldn’t concentrate. They just wanted to go already.

19 years ago today they missed the exit and would have been panicked that they would be late but they were already 2 hours early. No worries. Two anxious, about to be first time parents had planned for a wrong turn.

19 years ago today they were not at a hospital. They were at the airport. Because their baby had flown over 24 hours from Seoul, Korea to be a part of their family.

19 years ago today they met an amazing woman, a birthmother who wanted to be part of their homecoming so she could experience the joy she had brought to another family.

19 years ago today people coming off the plane smiled and congratulated the new parents who looked past their heads, trying to get a glimpse of their baby girl. And the passengers waited to see the baby meet her parents for the first time.

19 years ago today two new parents, some of the passengers and one baby cried (for different reasons) and then the passengers clapped, congratulating this new family.

19 years ago today the most precious little bundle of joy was placed in my arms.

And I will never let her go.

Ever.

Happy Gotcha Day, Sweetie! You will always be my sweet, adorable angel!

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Filed under Adoption, children, Motherhood

Stupid Things People Say To Families Formed Through International Adoption #38

We were in the grocery store. My daughter was a toddler. A elderly woman approached us.

“Is your husband Chinese?”

“No,” I said.

“Then you adopted her?”

“Yes,” I smiled.

“Ewww. I could never do that.”

I hugged my daughter tightly and said, “And we are so glad you didn’t!”

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Filed under children, People

Item #174 From The List Of What NOT To Say To An Adopted Child

I know you meant well. I know you were, in your feeble way, trying to make my child feel comfortable.

But you didn’t. You made him feel singled out and confused.

When assigning a Family Tree project and addressing your group of children, just talk to the whole group. Use words like “family” and “parent” and “grandparents” as if everyone in the group has a family and a parent and a grandparent.

Because we do!

We all do. Families form in different ways, to be sure. But you don’t need to single anyone out. Each child will find a way to complete the assignment that fits for him.

And if my son had brown hair and blue eyes like his father you wouldn’t have even considered saying…

Item #174 – “That’s ok, #1son. Just use the information from the parents you live with now.”  And when you saw the confused look on his face (because he understood the assignment until you tried to “clarify”) you go on to say, “Not your real parents but the parents you live with NOW.”

Real parents? Are you kidding me?

We are his real parents. We may not have physically given him his 46 chromosomes but we have given him food, shelter and love from the moment we first held him in our arms.

We were there for his first tooth. We rushed him to the hospital when his fever spiked to 106. We laughed with his infectious laugh. He held our fingers, one in each hand, before falling asleep those precious first few nights. We held him when he cried, when he was sick, when he wanted simple cuddle time.

We took him to pre-school and proudly watched him at his kindergarten graduation with adorable cap and gown. We jumped up and down when he rounded third base to score the winning run. We read with him every night. We worry about every sniffle. We stand on the porch watching him walk two houses down to a friend’s house, hiding behind the pillar, hoping he doesn’t see.

We know to give him his medicine during pollen season. We anticipate his frequent bloody noses when the weather is dry or the pollen is high. We know that he is allergic to certain antibiotics. We have his pediatrician on speed-dial.

We are his real parents. We are as real as it gets. His biological parents made a heartfelt, incredibly difficult decision to allow us to be his real parents. And we will be forever grateful.

Our son has a family. A real family. To call his own. He knows who his parents are. Who his siblings are. Who his grandparents are. Even his great-grandparents. So, no need to explain things to him.

He knows who his real family is.

No need to clarify.

Just wanted to let you know.

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Filed under Be-Causes, family, Soapbox

For My Sweet Adia – Wherever You Are

About a week ago, I began listening to the songs on my iPod in alphabetical order. I came across a song I hadn’t listened to in a long time.

Adia by Sarah McLachlan.

It was released about 5 years after we gave up our foster daughters. The first time I heard it on the radio I had to pull over into a parking lot. I was sobbing and couldn’t drive. It was about my “Adia” – that sweet, innocent and damaged 6-year-old girl who lived in my home for almost a year.

She still lives in my heart. And this song is for her.

“Adia I do believe I failed you
Adia I know I’ve let you down
don’t you know I tried so hard
to love you in my way” – We tried. We really, really tried. And you and your sister seemed so happy with us. But court date after court date after court date – the judge would not sever your biological mother’s rights. Even though she was still turning tricks. Even though she was still using. Even though she bounced from apartment to apartment. He kept giving her another chance. And while he was giving your mother chances you were being held in limbo. Wanting to attach to us, wanting to know that you were safely where you belonged.

“Adia I’m empty since you left me
trying to find a way to carry on
I search myself and everyone
to see where we went wrong” – We held on as long as we could. Yet, I still feel guilty. I still feel as if I should have done more to keep you safe. At the last court date, when the judge gave your mom another 3 months (again) to get her act together I burst into his chambers. I shouted, “We’re offering to pay for their college education and you’re telling me I’m going to be paying for their prison term. ‘Cause that’s were these girls are headed if we don’t find them a safe, healthy, permanent home!” He told me if I didn’t leave I’d be held in contempt. I sulked out of the room, defeated.

“there’s no one left to finger
there’s no one here to blame
there’s no one left to talk to, honey
and there ain’t no one to buy our innocence” – But he didn’t live with us. He didn’t see the night terrors. He wasn’t missing steak knives and scissors. He didn’t find the food you hoarded and hid in your pillow case or your backpack. He wasn’t there to clean the feces off the bathroom wall after every supervised visit with your mother. And he wasn’t there when all of that behavior died down about a week after that mandatory, monthly visit. He couldn’t hear the laughter and silliness return. Those three glorious weeks when you and your sister almost magically turned into two lovable, normal, happy little girls again.

“Adia I thought that we could make it
I know I can’t change the way you feel
I leave you with your misery
a friend who won’t betray
pull you from your tower
take away your pain
show you all the beauty you possess” – I want you to know – sweet, amazing girl – that at the time we accepted you in our home I thought it was the perfect decision. I thought that we could make it. And then, when we had to let you go, I thought that was the right decision, too. I’m crying, now, as I write this – even though you left almost 17 years ago. I still think about you. I still wonder how you are. I still pray that you feel more joy than pain. And I hope you know how beautiful, how lovely, how amazing you are.

“’cause we are born innocent
believe me Adia
we are still innocent
it’s easy, we all FALTER,
but does it matter” – And I still get angry that such an innocent, amazing, sweet  little you was abused by your mother’s boyfriends, discarded by your mother and tossed about the court system. Property. Because of biology. When what you really needed was love and caring. And there are plenty of people out there willing to give it.

But humans aren’t perfect.

Our system isn’t perfect.

And you. Innocent you – who didn’t ask to be born in the first place – had to suffer for it.

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Filed under Be-Causes, children, Music

What NOT To Say To Adoptive Parents

“Now that you’re adopting, you’re sure to get pregnant!”

“Oh, it happens all the time. Once you take the pressure off, you’ll get pregnant!”

I have been through adoption twice. Biological birth, once. Happens all the time? Yes, it happened to us – one time. But the first time? No.

Our world was turned upside down and our adoption threatened when we found out that I was 10 weeks pregnant. #1son was already assigned to us and we were waiting for him to come home.

Please, don’t say “Oh, that happens all the time!” It doesn’t.

It didn’t after #1daughter was adopted. And I know of only one instance where pregnancy happened during adoption – out of all the families I’ve come into contact with through the course of our journey.

While we were waiting for a decision from the agency if we could still adopt our son because of my pregnancy, those comments were of little comfort. We were already in love with our son from Korea. He was already born to us, as far as we were concerned. We had pictures. We had named him. To lose him now would be devastating. The pregnancy was no consolation prize.

I can’t tell you how many times someone said to me, “Oh, now that you’re adopting you’ll get pregnant!” I waited 11 long years for that to finally happen. So, I suppose they were right. Eventually. But I had given up all hope of pregnancy. Those comments, as well-meaning as they are, can be little stabs to your heart if you aren’t physically pregnant and you desperately want to be.  It takes away from the joy that you are pregnant in your heart with your adoptive child on the way.

In our case, in our second case, I was actually pregnant, with an adoptive son on the way. All of the well-meaning, but mildly thoughtless comments, took away from the joy of our #1son and HIS place in our family – as if he were second best. As if he were the consolation prize.

I am so grateful that I was able to experience the joy of giving birth. Of being physically pregnant as well as mentally pregnant. If it weren’t for my age, I’d go back on the fertility roller coaster all over again.

But forming a family through adoption is no consolation prize. It is an amazing, wonderful and perfectly viable way of creating family. The planning, wishing, hoping and heartache that accompanies the adoption journey makes it that much more beautiful.

Be excited for the once infertile mom if you ever hear of this happening. Be delighted for her that she gets to experience the joy of adoption and the joy of pregnancy.

Most of all, be thrilled that she is creating this amazing family.

Out of biology.

Out of need.

Out of love.

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Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting, Soapbox

My Water Broke With The Call

We had been waiting for three months. Pregnant since we first applied over a year ago. Then patiently waiting for the elusive due date.

That is the limbo you flounder in when you choose to adopt. The pregnancy lasts about as long as an elephant’s (which is 22 months for those with inquiring minds). And then, you go into labor with “The Call.”

You hold onto a picture. Your only glimpse of your daughter. You treasure it. You talk to it. You put it in a frame by your bedside table. You pray to it. You cry, holding it. It is all you have.

Until The Call. Then you go into labor.

I was working as an administrator and part-time teacher at a small, private college prep school. I was in my office and my secretary said I had a call from the adoption agency. Thinking something had gone wrong I quickly picked up the phone.

My water broke.

She was arriving two days later, on Friday, April 30th at 10:45pm.

I stuttered. I stammered. I had no idea what to say. I stood there in shock. I thanked our social worker and hung up the phone. I walked out of my office, dazed.

“How soon do we have to take her to the vet?” I asked our school nurse.

My babies, before human children, were my dogs and my cat. My world was reeling. My vocabulary (and doctors it seemed) had to change.

I called the social worker back. I could hear her grin over the phone.

“I thought I’d be hearing back from you,” she said.

This time I asked all the proper questions: Flight #? Airline? Airport? How soon we’d have to take her to the pediatrician. (I’m a quick learner.)

My boss heard all of the commotion and told me to go home. Get ready. Time the contractions.

When you’re in labor it’s hard to sleep. The anticipation. The discomfort. We had nothing ready. She wasn’t due for another month. Our baby was premature. We had no crib. No stroller. No car seat.

The next 48 hours were a whirlwind. Racing to Sears and K-Mart. Grabbing whatever supplies we could find. I found out later that the hostesses of my shower (scheduled in two weeks) were thrown for a loop. They made many returns and exchanges. We were buying all the things they were going to present to us at the shower.

Seventeen years ago today and I remember it like yesterday. I’m sorry. I can’t avoid using a cliché. It’s true. Who knew seventeen years later I’d have this beautiful, smart, caring, witty, fun, amazing young lady sharing pieces of herself with me? Teaching me about love, commitment, responsibility and patience. Daring me to be a better human being. Testing my limits. Pushing my boundaries.

Forcing my heart to grow three sizes that day.

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Filed under children, Motherhood

We Are All Simply Wonderful

Writing yesterday of our sweet little foster girls had stirred up so many sleeping thoughts.  We had them in our home for such a very short time but they made an amazing impact on my life. And if they took only one thing with them when they left – just one thing – I hope they know how wonderful they are.

“The person that you were has died
You’ve lost the sparkle in your eyes” – I have a picture of Ashley. The light hits her in such a way that her eyes are highlighted. A flash of light across her face and you can see so much in those beautiful blue eyes of hers. But not good things. Horrible things. Terror. Fear. Insecurity. Mistrust. A sparkle that is sinister. Eyes so old with a heart so young. She saw more horror than I had ever seen in my 30 years.

“Now you wanna bridge the gaps
Now you want that person back” – I saw good flashes in her eyes, too. When she’d remember she was just a child. She was supposed to sleep at night cuddled up safely with her teddy bear – not worrying about who was going to creep into her bed and do unspeakable things. She was supposed to love to laugh – not cry silently so as not to wake her sister after it was all over. She was supposed to play with dolls and crayons – not accompany her mother to the store so they could pull off their next ruse. She was supposed to watch Sesame Street and Barney – not Hellraiser while her mom was “at work” in the next room with her “client.”

“You don’t know what you wanna do
You’ve got no pull to pull you through” – Lost. Not knowing who you are at age 6. Energies completely spent and you’ve only graced this beautiful Earth such a very short time.

“Say “I am”
Say “I am”
Say “I am wonderful”” – Look in the mirror, Ashley. With those big, beautiful, blue eyes that have seen too much. You are wonderful!

“If what you’ve lost cannot be found
And the weight of the world weighs you down
No longer with the will to fly
You stop to let it pass you by
Don’t stop to let it pass you by
You’ve gotta look yourself in the eye” – I have no idea what happened to them after they left us. I can guess. I’d love the best case scenario – they were placed in an amazing home, adopted into a forever family and thrived. But I imagine the worst. She was an older child and more “damaged.” She was separated from her sister and continued to bounce around from home to home – never attaching, never forming lasting relationships. She’s lost her will. She’s let love pass her by.

“Say “I am”
Say “I am”
Say “I am wonderful”” – Please Ashley. Please say you found a forever family who loves you. Who helped you with your demons. People that could see just how wonderful you are. And helped you to see it, too.

“Cause we are all miracles
Wrapped up in chemicals
We are incredible” – It’s amazing to me that we all start out the very same way. Innocent. Small miracles. Pure little blank slates. And then a twist of fate changes our entire being. “But for the grace of God go I” How did I dodge that bullet? Or my children? My own childhood was not great – but terror and horror? Never. Why Ashley and not me?

“Don’t take it for granted, no
We are all miracles
Oh we are” – All you parents out there…cherish those precious little souls that you are in charge of. Hug them close every night. Tell them you love them every chance you get. Tell them they are wonderful. Because they are.

“Say “I am”
Say “I am”
Say “I am wonderful”
Oh you are” – Simply wonderful. Yes, even you. Each child out there. Each and every adult. We are all amazing, wonderful beings.

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