Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Time

Our little one is now 10 months old. She is growing and thriving and we are finally breathing a little easier. She is meeting all developmental milestones. I'm no longer panicked that something is wrong. I am finally more relaxed and not trying to rush in every life experience into tiny short months. This is our daughter. She is here to stay.

Last year she was our "maybe baby." A child we hoped and prayed for. This year, she is here and a part of us. I still, at times, find it hard to believe I am the mom to four.

Through my life, I have always tried to give people hope. To show them that life is ok the way you're handed it. And if you find it not so, then you can work and find a way to change it. When I look at my daughter, I want her to know this as well.

At Christmas, I tend to reflect upon things that have had an impact on my life. Going to college, graduating from grad school, meeting Dave, moving away, marriage, my family of origin, my boys, the life we have built together, and the daughter we have added. I don't pretend to have all of the answers. I know I never will.

As our family has grown, I have looked back on the years and cherished each time we have expanded. This Christmas is no different. It's still amazing to me that you can be a family unit of a certain number one year and swell to encompass a new person by the time the next year rolls around. And each time, that person just seems to fit. When we had just two boys, I could see where another person would be in the family picture. Then there were three. For a long time, that is all I could see. But last year, I knew right where another person would go. Where she would fit. And this year, there were four. I'm scared to look at the picture for fear I will see five, or six!

I know we are blessed beyond measure. I know that I have my hearts every desire. And I'm grateful. And humbled. I know I disappointed a lot of people when we chose to pursue adoption. I was to be the poster child for gender disappointment. I was to prove that you can be happy with what you don't have. And I was. But I always held that longing for a daughter in addition to my boys. That was never a secret. I lived my life to the fullest with my boys, but I still held that desire. And now I hold her in my arms. For now, at this Christmas, our family is complete.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Still the same, but different.

My mind swirls with how much difference a year can make. One.Short.Year. How we went from being a family of 5 to a family of 6 without missing a beat. As our finalization comes closer, I ache for the loss of one family but am joyous for the addition to our own. Adoption is such a conflicting state of mind. You are beyond estatic to add this person to your family. Whether an infant or an older child, yet you are devestated that someone had to lose out. Whether it be a young mother, or the child himself who may have not had the best of beginnings.

Sometimes we look at Elliana and we remember February 1, 2012 when the agency called and asked if we were interested in this situation. We cannot believe how God protected our child. We are not surprised, merely in awe. How this little being came from such a disasterous start, yet is perfect and on target in every way. I can remember Dave pouring over Elliana's mom's medical record and just shaking his head. But we trusted God's plan for us and moved forward. I sometimes think about if we had said no, it was too much of a risk, and what we would have missed out on.

On October 17, 2012, Elliana Marie will become an Asbery legally. It is a day that will put on paper what our hearts have known for almost 8 months. This is our daughter. This is the child that was not from my body, but from my heart and soul. This is the child we waited for but did not know would exist.

I'm a boy mom. I know boys. I adore boys. I champion boys. I will ALWAYS be a boy mom. My boys made me a mom first. They taught me so much and I adore them. It's been a weird adjustment to say 'Kids' instead of 'Boys.' Sometimes I flounder in the middle ground of always being a boy mom to now being a mixed gender mom. Only someone that has walked this road would get that saying. Once you are an all one gender parent, in your mind, you always are. But one small girl changed that for us.

I have not left all of my disappointment feelings at the door. Having Elliana has not given me rose colored glasses. I still remember the hurtful comments from others. The same as a person with fertility issues does not forget those feelings of not getting pregnant even when they do conceive or adopt. They are still a part of me, of those of us who have walked this road. I sometimes feel it is important to let people know that. For all of my bravo at being a boy mom. For writing ALTERED DREAMS. For challenging the venacular of people who want to gender stereotype. I'm still that person. I still do those things. I still feel those things.

Yes, I now say 'kids' and have a daughter, but those experiences that made me who I am, the mother I am, the woman I am, they are still there. I am beyond thankful for the experience to raise a daughter with my boys. It is all I ever wanted. But I'm still me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Emotional ties to a month.

There are a few months of the year that bring memories for me. The months we conceived our children, the months they were born. The month we were married. The months that hold my birthday and Dave's. My parents and siblings birthdays and anniversaries. These are happy events. Times that bring remembering fondly the joy and laughter that have been brought into my life. A good looking back.

September used to bring horrible memories. Of being on a romantic trip to Paris. On a plane headed home. Of being re routed and not allowed to return to the US. Of a 5 day stay in Holland, lightyears away from our small son and our families. The attacks of the US of 9/11 were forever etched in my mind. I can still lay awake late at night and see a slide show of that horrible day where so many were lost and our lives were changed forever.

But now that blow of 9/11 has been cushioned by another day in September. A day where my world once again shifted on it's axis. A day I had prayed for but never believed would happen. Sitting on our back deck, Dave told me he thought he could adopt a daughter one day. Words I never thought I would ever hear floated away on the wind of our backyard. I will never be able to describe the feelings of that day, much like another day ten years before. And just like that, a ball that God had put into motion long ago, began to pick up speed.

On September 20, 2011, we had our first phone contact meeting with our adoption agency, Adoption Network Law Center. A call that would change our lives. A call that was gut wrenching, hopeful, and yet full of disbelief. One step towards a little girl in our family. The first step that would be added to so many more that would show me the greatness of our God through prayer, support, and faith unseeing. And a ton of paperwork.

This past year has been my biggest walk of faith. From a dream of a daughter with my second pregnancy, to whispered words of 'Not in your time, but my time' five years later. The resounding voice in my head that told me this was MY time, never left my side. Our God is a faithful God. His plan is perfect. When I let go, God stepped in. I know what a blessing this answered dream is, because so many do not get it. And I feel unworthy but so very grateful.

A month that held such grief, as well as the joy of my sister in law, Johnna's birthday, now brings amazement to me. Looking back to the gamet of emotions felt. The fear, the hope, the renewed trust in my husband as each hoop that needed jumped, he was first in line for. The telling of people that we were doing this awesome thing, and their reactions. The people who didn't agree, those who burst into tears, and those who were in constant prayer and vigilance with us. And the waiting to meet a small girl who was so unknown in the physical world, but already part of our family in my heart.

One year ago I would have never guessed the things I would learn. About my husband, about our boys, about myself and my family. I would have never suspected the comforting feeling of knowing friends were praying near and far for us to be unified with a small soul. That our hopes and dreams would be carried heavenward by so many people who wished this wish for us. With us. For although at times I was discouraged and fearful and cried, I have never felt so protected and loved. I will never forget how this small child was prayed over by a villiage, long before we knew of her existence. And how although at times my steps faltered, I never stoped walking by faith and not by sight.

October 4, 2011, we signed with ANLC and began our journey in earnest. And many of you know how the story goes. Our profiles went live sooner than expected. In ten days instead of the 21 they quoted. We started our home study on Nov 4, 2011 and it was completed five weeks later. Before Christmas we were given an ornament that had six names on it. A dream realized by others. Proof our daughter was on her way. Wherever she was. Little did we know that across the US in November, a young mother sought medical care for her pregnancy for the first time in an ER. And that she would visit that ER again in December. And in January she would contact the very agency we were signed up with. And talk to the same people who knew our desires and dreams. We had no idea last September that on my birthday in February we would be matched with that brave young lady who carried our destiny in her womb. A young lady that we grew to love even before we met her daughter.

I'm glad I didn't know how the journey would go. Only the belief that it would unfold as it should. The opportunity to have a daughter in our lives was enough on that day. It was more than I ever had before. My 4 1/2 month paper pregnancy began this month a year ago. And unbelievably, our daughter sleeps upstairs.

For those who walked this walk with us, Supported us, Prayed for us, Rejoiced with us, Prayed for us some more, went to the steps of your churches and asked God to hear your prayers and ours, and never lost YOUR faith, we thank you. We could not have walked this path alone.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Little Did I Know.......

Ten years ago on this day, a Saturday, my mom and I took Kadin across the street from our house in Alabama to another subdivision to pick blackberries. Little did I know that all of the pictures from that day would be lost the next day. We did not have a digital camera so everything was on film that was overexposed the next day. Little did I know how important my mother's prescence would be at that time in my life. A small son at home, almost 37 weeks pregnant with my second son. Little did I know when I tucked Kadin into bed that night that it would be his last night as our only child. Ten years ago today was my last day of being pregnant with our second son. Our last child we believed. Little did we know what God had in store for our lives! Little did I know that although we moved from NC to Alabama the year before, that was not where we would call home.

Sometimes I wonder what we would do with life's information if we lived in knowing those steps ahead. Would I have been more into this second son if I knew a third would one day arrive? Would I have put so much time and effort into a nursery if I knew in six months we would leave it? Would I have worried so much about how I would love a second child if I knew we would later add a third, and then a fourth? Little did I know about life in June of 2002.

Tomorrow marks our second son's birthday. Obviously. :) Cullen came into this world a few short months after the happenings of 9/11. Shoving his way into this world three weeks early was a glimpse into his personality. Little did I know I would not have time for pain meds when my water broke early on Sunday morning. The Dr. tried to give me some IV relief but it was too little too late. He was an amazing man. Compassionate and caring. He stood outside my delivery room so upset he couldn't help me more with the pain of giving natural childbirth. Little did I know he would be dead two weeks later of lung cancer. I wish I had told him again how much his quiet support meant.

Cullen's birth was traumatic. Not in the sense that bad things happened, but in retrospect, that they could have. Lucky for me I had my OB dr there, and my OB husband who could communicate over a pregnant belly with only exchanged looks. Cullen was too big for my pelvic region but we had no idea. Born at 7lbs 3oz, his head arrived but the rest of his body could not come out. Little did I know as my OB broke out into a sweat and my husband threw his arm across my belly to help me get our little man out, that I was in danger. Poor Cullen had a dislocated arm, was bruised and swollen, and I broke every blood vessel in my eyes getting him out. I looked like death for weeks.

The amazing thing, after the baby comes out, the pain does totally go away. Thank goodness. 13 minutes after giving birth, I was on the phone with the cord blood bank to come and get Cullen's cord blood. I think my Dr. headed to the nearest bar for a drink. ;)

At the time, I did not know what to expect with my life of two boys. I didn't know how hard it would be to connect with my second son. I didn't know how much he would change my life. For a child who shoved his way into this world, Cullen also shoved his way into my heart. Now, I cannot imagine life without my sweet natured, sensitive, hilarious little man. Little did I know how fiercely I would defend him.

Cullen's name is Gaelic and means handsome. With his golden eyes and ready smile, he truly is a child of my heart. He is the child most like me at times, and other times so much unlike me. He is the child who made me see raising brothers is the biggest gift of my lifetime. He taught me that everyone in the playground needs to be included, even those we would not actively choose to join in our small circle. Cullen has taught me to bend down and examine bugs, to look up and see the clouds. He sees every rainbow after the storm, and the other side to every story. He has a compassion in him that brings me to my knees. He has a love for God that makes me feel small. He gets his feelings hurt so quickly and easily that I have to constantly be on the lookout for how I say things, and on the defense for anyone who inadvertantly steps on his toes. He is the child I most worry about because he is so directly effected by what goes on in the world. Worrying constantly for others. Putting up walls so that he can protect himself. I will go to the ends of the Earth for this child. I will stand up against any force that tries to change him, and does not appreciate the gift that he is. I have done it before. I'm sure I will do it again. He is my second son and I adore him.

Little did I know, 10 years ago, on this day before Cullen's birth, how I, myself, would change with the birth of my second son. And I'm glad I didn't know. I'm glad I can only see three steps in front of me. Because I may not have stepped up to the challenge so readily. I may not have shifted my thinking. And I may have missed out on one of the greatest gifts of my life. Thank you, Cullen McKee, for choosing me. I love you to the moon and back. Always. Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In a few short weeks we will be attending a family reunion in NH. I love these get togethers every 3 years, even if I am unable to attend  some in between. Seeing your traits reflected in people who walk every different path of life is amazing. To have a connection with people who's lives intertwine yours is wonderful. Last time, I introduced my third son to my extended family. This year, I will introduce my daughter.

I am eagerly waiting to place her in my cousin Gay's arms. Why? Because she was my most favorite cousin growing up. We had the most fun together. She bought me a Worlds Favorite Cousin pin once and I wore it with such pride. Gay shares something wonderful with Elliana as well. Gay was adopted into our family when she was four years old. And all of my life, I have seen how Gay was treated. As one of us. Because she is. There was never any distiction of her being adopted, unless Gay brought it up. I've known it my whole life but it has never made me think of her any differently than my favorite cousin. I cannot wait to see the love shining for our daughter in her eyes, just as there has been for each of our sons.

When I think back on these reunions, I remember how I missed the one after Kadin was born. My grandmother had died shortly before we were to go, and it was too painful on my father to attend. Instead, he visited with us and we tried to think of other things. We did go to the next one in Atlanta with two boys in tow. This was also the first time my family met Dave. Each time we get together, we celebrate new life, and reflect on those who have passed. This year, my sons will miss their Aunt Debbie, Gay's mom, who was greeted in Heaven not long ago. Shortly after she knew Elliana was in our arms. How I wish I could have sat one more time, adoptive mom to adoptive mom, and asked my Aunt Debbie some questions.

As the months pass, I realize what a journey we are on. Each child brings his own story to our lives. Each pregnancy made it's own impact. And our journey with Elliana is no different. The paper pregnancy with her touched us. Her being a part of us makes us connected to a whole different aspect of life that we never truly understood. Straddling both the bio and the adoptive world is interesting. I live each day with my eyes wide open.

Almost nine months ago we started exploring this road we are on. Just NINE months ago we started discussing adoption. We talked to friends, we did some internet searches. We talked to our boys. Last year, we lived through the summer without even knowing how this year would be changing us. We built a cabin with three bunk beds. We were incomplete and didn't realize it completely. Nine months ago my husband mentioned that he would like to look into adopting a daughter. To fulfill a dream I had for our life. To parent both genders. Little did we know where we would end up.

Today, Elliana is four months old. We are waiting to finish our last two post placement visits. We are completing paperwork for court. We will know next month when our finalization date will be. If all goes as scheduled, we will finalize our adoption after an eleven month journey. Almost to the date we decided TO adopt. That will never cease to amaze me.

That amazement I expect to see reflected in my family's eyes. Our "maybe baby" is here, thriving, and capturing all of our hearts with her existance. :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

As Mother's Day quickly approaches, I would be remiss to not mention a young woman who will always hold a special place in our hearts. Elliana's birthmom. A courageous and fearless 19 year old who gave birth by c-section to her first child and then waited 18 long hours for us to arrive at the hospital to meet her. A tearful young woman who was scared to meet us, but yet she did and we fell in love with her heart and soul. A fiesty young woman who's personality I see reflected in our young daughter every day. A young woman who won't say no, who won't let life beat her down, and who made one of the most heart wrenching decisions of her short life on Feb 24, 2012 when she signed her rights away and made Elliana our daughter.

We sent a card to her, after searching and searching. There are no cards at Halmark that express your graditude. There are no cards that say exactly what it means to hold this child that grew in your heart long before she was held in your arms. There are no cards to tell a young woman who gave us one of the four greatest gifts of our lives to us just how much she means to us.

So, I found the best I could and included some pictures of this special girl in hopes that her birthmom will know how dear both of them are to us.

If you know a birthmom, let her know how much you love her. Wish her a Happy Mother's Day from all of her children. For just because she may not hold that child in her arms, she does in her heart, and her body carries the scars of that child's birth. Forever.

Every month when I take Elliana to get her "month-day" pictures taken, she wears this bracelet. It says Forever in My Heart and it has a tag with her birthmom's name on it. Her birthmom has a necklace that matches with Elliana's name on it. I cannot act like this other woman does not exist. For without her, my family would be incomplete. Without her, my sons wouldn't have a sister. My husband wouldn't have his Daddy's little girl. And I wouldn't have my Dream Come True.

Happy Mother's Day, Destiny. As I told you not so long ago, you were our destiny and we love you!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

So many mixed emotions as I approach Mother's Day this year. For almost 13 years I have been an all boy mom. I have greeted Mother's Day with total joy at my children, and sometimes hatred at the Mother/Daughter events that seem to evolve this time of year. So many times I would be invited to a Mother/Daughter tea and feel that gut wrenching stab in the gut. Or a Mother/Daughter banquet at church. It was my mission to educate that not everything in life was to surround mothers and daughters. What of our sons?

I am thankful to myself that I never shied away from speaking up. A women's banquet should not be titled Mother/Daughter banquet. Mother's Day pictures should not depict ONLY mothers and daughters. Moms are moms to BOYS too. Especially me. I am a fierce boy mom. Don't try me.

So why is it that people think this year will be any different? That this year will be a Mother's Day beyond all Mother's Days because I now have a daughter? Instinctively, I get defensive. I know it. I never want my boys to think they have been displaced by thier sister. Is it because people think I finally hit the jackpot? Or is it simply that people know the journey we have traveled to add this little being to our family. Boy OR Girl. I don't know. No one ever said that to me after adding a second or third son, so I am to believe that it's because I now have a girl child.

Will this be the best mother's day ever? Maybe. Or Maybe last years was (although I can't remember what we did). Or maybe next years will be (because I'll be sleeping through the night, hopefully!). I don't know. I just know that for 12 years I have been extremely lucky to have a little person (or two, or three, or four!) in my home that calls me Momma. So for the past 12 years, I have had the best Mother's Days ever because I get to gather my little men close and revel in the fact that God entrusted me with these three perfect beings. This year I get to add little miss to that hug.

Am I grateful? Absolutely. Is our family complete. Yes. Do I cringe at Mother/Daughter connotations anymore?  Not so much. Am I looking forward to years with my children? Yes. And the reason that this Mother's Day will be the best one yet? Because my family has grown by 2 more feet. There is more love in our home. And my arm reach around my children expanded. I am truly blessed.

In my life, I know there are five things I have done right. I married my husband and we have four amazing children to share our lives with. Yep, that makes Mother's Day complete.

May you all have The Best Mother's Day Ever!

Monday, April 16, 2012

We are fast approaching the two month celebration of Elliana's birth. Oh what a ride it has been! She has molded seamlessly into our family and no one has missed a beat. Just like with our sons, our family was missing this one last piece and we are so happy she is here with us.

Adoption has made such a difference in our lives. The people who's stories we have gotten to hear that we might have missed have blessed us in so many ways. Our friends and family who have opened their arms and hearts for our child have never ceased to amaze us. We are reminded how great our God is every single day.

Even in the heart of our happiness when people read my blog, total strangers who take one excerpt and think they know me and then bash me on wanting to raise a daughter. Informing me that she may not like bows and tea parties and frilly things. I just listen. For in my head, I hear my mother laughing at them because I totally know about tomboys. I was one. I am fully aware that our daughter may not like dolls. That she may prefer her brother's army men. That she may not want a tea party (although I did pay tea parties many times with my boy children). And that she may not like dresses or girly things. That's ok with me.

I wanted the experience of raising a daughter. In whatever package she came in. Just the same as my boys. My children have come to me to be unfolded, not molded. But, as with my boys, I will dress her in frilly things until she says no. I will put a bow on her head until she says stop. Just like I dressed my little guys in smocked clothes and john boy jumpers until the ease of using the potty became more important.

I am not a fool to think that Elliana will be this super girl. I am not a fool to think that she will never get dirty, never run through my house, never shout or burp louder than her brothers. That she will not dig up worms, enjoy to go fishing, or even like boys. I will love her no matter what. That is the joy in parenting, for us. We receive these little blessings from heaven and we nurture and love them until God calls us or them home.

But for now, I admit, I am loving the frills. The pink. The flowers. The chandelier in her room (which is painted green by the way, not pink). I am enjoying putting bows on her that are bigger than her head. Just as I enjoy nursing her, snuggling her, reading to her, rocking her, holding her close to my heart, and telling her stories of the night I met her in a hospital far away from home.

For almost two months I have stared at this face that is embedded in my heart. I have watched her brothers feed her. I have watched her nap on the couch snuggled up in her father's arms. I have seen her Aunt kiss her tiny face and count her precious toes. I have watched as each morning three boys trapse in our bedroom to seek our her smiles. To wish her good morning. To hug her goodnight. To remember her birthmother and family in their prayers.

People can say what they want. They will anyway. I don't mind. I've waited ten years to have a girl child in my home. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy every minute of it. Just like I did with her brothers. Because we love them all. No matter what.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The unknown

The middle part of our journey was almost the most painful part. To leave the hospital with an infant that is yours in your heart but not legally is almost gut wrenching. Although we were considered Elliana's guardians, we knew she was not yet ours. One more hurdle needed to be jumped and as we got closer to it, our faith was tested once again.

We took Elliana to the hotel with us on Tuesday. Stopping earlier that morning to buy her a car seat and stroller and some essentials, it still did not click with us that we would be bringing her home. The birthmother was not medically discharged, and we had paperwork that needed to be signed. Tuesday night was restless with me up ever hour and a half to nurse or bottle feed this child of my heart. Wednesday dawned and we found out that our birth mom would be discharged that day. We wandered the streets of Balboa Island, shopping and talking around the topic foremost in our minds.

Everyone had a comment about our sweet baby. It was wonderful to see that everyone could see the angel that she is, but we took their congrats with an ounce of pain. She was not yet truly ours. Later at the hotel we found out that the mom did not sign at discharge, did not want to sign the next day but may be available to sign on Friday. I fell completely apart. Dave fell completely apart. We could still not fully exhale. Through my tears I called our worker. As tears streamed down, I prayed. Dave knelt with our heart child in his arms and prayed. In my heart of hearts I knew that God did not bring us to this child to take her away. "He brought you to this, He will get you through this." I kept hearing that mantra in my head. Placing my faith back to God, I took a deep breath and told Dave. "She is ours. This is just a hoop. We have jumped hoops all the time through this. God will see us through." Then the phone rang.

It was our caseworker explaining that our birthmom was too tired to sign today, I completely understood. She had just had major surgery. She did not want to sign on Thursday because our worker had a dr's appt and could not be there, and she wanted her with her. So she said she would meet and sign on Friday at 11:30. Then later it changed to 3:00 due to witness complications.

Dave left on Thursday. It was hard on both of us knowing the unknown could still happen, but grabbing ahold of our faith with both hands, we went on. I muddled through the day on my own. Friday dawned with a few hopeful tears and many prayers from around the world. Never have I been so humbled than by the prayers that poured in for us and our daughter. Friends, patients, aquantances, family, everyone seemed to have us on their mind and bringing our daughter home on their hearts. And many prayers for a young woman who was giving the biggest sacrifice of all. I hope to always remember that feeling of being surrounded by prayer. Circles and circles surrounded us, protected us.

I took Elliana to the Adoption Agency and met the men and women behind the scenes. Such a precious moment as the reassured me all was going as planned and soon, she would truly be ours. Back at the hotel, I took Elliana for a walk along the bay around the time that our birthmother would be signing.

As we were leaving the hotel a woman stopped me. "Oh, your baby is beautiful! How old is she?" "Six days." "Wow~! You look great! How are you feeling?" "Emotional. We are adopting her and the birthmother will be signing paperwork soon." The woman made the sign of a cross over Elliana and I. With a smile she said.."Never fear, that paperwork will be signed. This baby is your daughter. May God always Bless her, and you." A calm came over me. Another sign. Thank you, God!

As Elliana and I walked along the bay waiting for the call that all was complete, I thought back upon the journey that got us to that day. How in early September of 2011 Dave brought up adopting. Out of the blue. We had our phone consult a few weeks later. Then bought a van. Then signed on. Our profiles went live mid October, weeks before projected. Our home study started Nov 4 and was completed in less than 5 weeks. Beyond quick. We were officially just waiting by December. Pass along cards went out in January. We were matched with our birthmom on my birthday, Feb 1, 2012. Our daughter was born on Feb 19, 2012. Papers were signed Feb 24, 2012. I brought our daughter home to complete our family Feb 29, 2012. An emotional roller coaster for such a short paper pregnancy.

As you know, our paperwork was signed. Communication guidelines were set, ICPC paperwork was sent out, and we were finally able to come home. To our boys. To be a complete family once again. Our missing link was found and brought to us by God. Every step of the way I was reminded that when I truly let go, and let God, amazing things happen. Once again, I was thankful to walk out on that limb of faith and to wait for the blessing God would bestow upon us. Elliana Marie....The Lord has responded......
So many emotions go into this adoption journey. Almost 2 weeks ago we frantically made our way to California to meet our new daughter. She was born my c-section in the late hours of Sunday night and I fought my way to her almost all day Monday. After weeks of waiting, planning, making sure the boys were well taken care of and people were lined up to do my Mommy duties, the time was here! It was nothing like the movies protray. Once I finally made it to Orange County Airport, waited in line for a rental car, rushed to the hotel (that I could not find and drove around forever to locate), and finally made it to the hospital, I was not allowed to see my baby. Oh, I could look through the glass window to the next room and see her pink and blue hat, but I could not get in there with her! After 30 minutes of talking to the charge nurse (who was Asian with a thick accent I could barely understand and very rule bound, she only showed a slip of her hard core nursing facade when I cried that all I wanted was MY BABY!) and hunting down someone in administration, the "adoptive mom" was finally able to get a band to see the baby! On my way to the nursery, I was told that Dave would not be able to have a band or see his daughter. He would have to stand outside the glass window and gaze at her that way. Only the bio mom, me, and bio grandma could have bands. Not the Dad? I threw a complete meltdown fit. The charge nurse was unmoved...the administrator was. Thankfully. Dave would not get a band, but he would be able to see her, and the next day we could be given a room so he could be with her. Tears are good.

I was so worried to see her. What would I think? I've had three children so I knew kinda what to expect, but this was not a child I felt move in my belly. This was not a child that I bonded to through dreams as I rested my hand upon my swollen body. What would I feel? Anything? The moment I picked her up and she snuggled into my shoulder, I knew this was my child. The child of my heart. As I gazed down upon her sweet face, she was looking up at me. It took me 18 hours to get to her side. Rocking her, feeding her, and checking out her fingers and toes, I knew this little girl and I would have quite a journey ahead of us. I didn't love her because I had to. I loved her because I knew God had hand picked her for us. He knew what my heart needed and this sweet 6lb 10oz dark headed angel just fit into that slot in my heart that had been empty. Finally.

Through that night and the next day Dave and I were able to meet with Elliana's birthmom. We were able to ask questions, get a feel for her heart, and she was able to rest easy knowing that we would love our daughter through thick or thin. One thing that broke my heart and showed the innocence of her youth is that she could not understand why it took me so long to get to the baby's side. She thought that we may have changed our minds and no longer wanted her. After I explained my crazy day of leaving my boys, driving to the airport, two flights, one long layover, dashing for the car, the room, the hospital...I got there as quickly as I could from Illinois to California. She smiled, deeply sighed, and we talked of other things.

I want Elliana to know that her mother was very sad to let her go. That she loved her the only way she knew how. She tried to take good care of her while she was in her belly. Truly, I believe she did the best she could. Sometimes there are things and people in our lives that help us make wrong decisions. Elliana's mom gave us one of the 4 greatest gifts in our lives. We are eternally grateful to her and will always let Elliana know that as well.

Dave did get to hold his daughter that night. He loved her right away. I think in his heart, he knew that things had gone so well for us, that this child was our destiny. We were able to have a room to bond with her more as we went through the discharge information. And finally, I was put into a wheelchair and taken out of the hospital. I entered empty wombed and empty armed. I left with a daughter and a full heart. Sometimes life surprises me.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I will always be MotheringBoys

I've had a few people ask me how my other boy moms have responded to us adopting a girl. How I will no longer be "MotheringBoys" and how this effects those who have followed me through my journey in gender disappointment and raising of my cherished children. It kind of made me stop in my tracks to think. What do those who have turned to me (and others) in their hour of need think? Have I disappointed them more by pursuing this dream? Do they think I did not mean the things I said?

After much pondering and seeing discussions on various boards with my all boy mommy friends, and my friends who have walked the disappointment with me, I have come to the conclusion that no one begrudges me the fact that our dream may soon come true.

See, those of us with one gender families who always wished for a child of the opposite gender have a special bond. We never once say how we feel goes away. Yes, we learn to live the good life with all of our children because from the beginning, we know it isn't about that child, its the dream in our mind's eye. We endure the taunts. We see the pity in other people's eyes because we are "less than." To those who do not experience gender disappointment, they will not get what I am saying. But my dear friends who do, you know this is for you.

I never said I let go of the dream of having a daughter in my life. I never said I was over the fact I would never have an adult relationship with a child of my own. I never said that I had totally let go of my GD.

But I have said how wonderful my life is with my three little men. I have said how I have learned to appreciate where I am in life, to find joy and interact with my children because I don't know how long I hold their hands. I have found cute ways to dress my boys, relate to my boys, to wholeheartedly accept and love my boys. But, I have never let go of my daughter dream.

And I think in there lies the difference. People who know me in real life or have been my online friend for years know that this struggle has always layed in my heart. They know that given the chance to have a daughter in my life, I would have taken it (and I have!). They know I have reached out to young girls in our community to mentor them. The know I never said the desire had gone away.

In ALTERED DREAMS, my story is out there. Other people's stories are out there. We wanted to bring to the public awarenss that these feelings are normal and ok. And we did. While holding hands with each other. Along this route in my life, I have met such amazing, strong, loving men and women. I have sang with joy with them over new births, new homes, continued education. I have cried with them over lost pregnancies, divorce, financial issues, and depression.

When I look beside me to see if anyone is angry with me, do you know what I see? Total joy. Some jealousy, of course, I would feel that way if it were one of my other friends as well. But when I look around at the faces, when I hear the voices on the phone, when I see their writing to me on my blog, in emails, on BBC, or Facebook, I see joy. Because in our little community where no one wants to be, someone is getting their dream.

So no, no one has pointed their finger at me and called me a hypocrite. No one has told me I do not deserve to hold Elliana because I am to be the poster child of gender disappointment forever. On the contrary, Elliana has a slew of adopted Aunts, Uncles, and cousins that have prayed for her arrival into our lives. Who have prayed for this road we are on. Who continue to pray through this final stretch to bring her to us.

When I look around, I am humbled by the love, support, blessings, and prayers that surround my family. I thank each of you. For walking with me in my past journeys, and continuing to stay by my side now. We're still in this together.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's in a name?

In our family, we love what names mean. I'm not sure where that comes from. I don't think my parents chose names based on what their meaning was, only that they liked them. I was supposed to be Sarah Lynn. But my dad did not like it because it was too close to Sarah Lee, the snack cake lady. ;) So I became Katherine. Katherine in itself means "pure." Dave's name means "beloved." I'm not sure his mother chose his name based on it's meaning either. But for us, my main goal has been to pick a name that has a strong meaning for our children.

When I was pregnant with Kadin, it was a struggle to come up with a name that both of us liked. While cruising the internet baby name sites late one night with pregnancy insomnia, I came across the name Kadin. It is Arabic and means "Companion, friend." That described my relationship with Kadin to a T. When I was upset, he flailed about inside me. Twisting and turning until I had to focus completely on breathing and calming down. From the moment he was born, we were inseperable. Even today, if I am upset, he will sense it even if we are not in the same room. He is internally connected to me. My oldest son. When he was born in 1999, there were a little over 200 boys named Kadin in the USA. ALL of them were Caden (which means swampland by the way) and then my one Kadin. :) I loved that!

While pregnant with Cullen, I had a harder time with boy names. We were supposed to be having a girl and there weren't any boy names that really jumped out at me. We had settled on the name Gabriel. I'd have a Kade and a Gabe. But for some reason, it just didn't fit my little guy. Dave came up with the name Cullen based on an old war hero. It's Gaelic and means "Handsome." And when I gaze into my second son's eyes, I know that name fits like a glove. We named our little guy long before twilight and the Cullen's that have come since then.

With Liam, we vacillated between Fisher (my maiden name) and Liam. Liam is Gaelic as well and means "determined guardian." I felt that after all the low tech swaying we did to produce a girl child which was really a boy child, he was one determined boy! His name has fit him as well. He loves deeply, protects those close to his heart, and is such a joyful little guy. Again, his name was not popular at the time of his birth but has become more so since then.

With our daughter, the name was always going to be Delaney Katherine. Anyone who knows me, knows that was our name since 1999. In 2010, we gave that name to our miniature American Eskimo puppy. Otherwise known as Laney. :) Dave loved that name because it was Jimmy Buffet's daughter's name.

So when it came to naming our soon to be daughter, we were back at the beginning. Looking through baby name sites and books. Early on in our hunt, I was online and had jotted down a few names. I knew I wanted a Hebrew name. Or something religious. It seemed to fit where we are in our lives, and the journey that would bring her to us through adoption. While hunting, I came across the name Eliana (Elliana, Ellianna, Elianna). We have a friend who's daughter shares that same name. Although I loved it, I wanted to respect their naming their daughter that and move on to something else that wasn't used in our close circle. Elliana is the spelling I adored. The name is Hebrew and means "The Lord answers prayers." It was perfect, but I was moving on. Or so I thought. The site became stuck on that page. Each time I refreshed, it would stick again. Each time I would move forward on a page, it would move back. Then I shut the computer down and when it came back up, it was on that site, on that page, with that name again. I searched no longer and asked our friends if they minded if we used the same name. When God speaks, one needs to listen! :) So Elliana became our name for our little girl.

How do you chose names for your children? Do you look at the meaning? Shout it outside three times? Make an online poll? Use family names? I love to hear stories of how others name their kids. :)

(BTW, our cat's name is Lilly because she was born on Easter. She's our Easter Lilly. :) )

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Gender Issue

The question of the week on the adoption facebook pages seems to be whether or not you should request gender when adopting. Seriously? This is what my life keeps boiling down to? When will the gender issues in my own life be over? I keep trying to explain my position on various pages until I'm exhausted. It's like real life. Except now I'm older so I realize, what they say doesn't really matter in the wide scheme of my life. This is MY life. I can make the choices in it with my husband and children and if they are good choices for US....the rest of the world can live with it.

Gender first became an issue in 2002 when we found out we were having our second son and not the million dollar family of a boy and a girl. At that same time, a friend was battling with infertility and adopting from Russia. Guess what? They specified a girl. She later bore a biological son. I had two sons.

Then we looked into adoption and were told we were absurd for wanting to specify gender. We were told of the hundreds of stories of people who were just trying to have ONE baby. ANY baby. Yes, I got it. My sister sufferred from infertility for SIX YEARS before finally conceiving her oldest daughter. Yes, she was gender wishful. A girl. We went on to have our own biological child again, another boy.

Plain and simple, I want the opportunity to parent a girl child. I want the bows, the frills, the tea parties, the obnoxious Barbie shoes that will mingle with the legos in my life. And darn it, I'm tired of apologizing for that desire. I want a grown up relationship with my daughter, whatever that may be. I want to see things through her eyes. I want to be the mother of the bride. I want to watch my husband with a pink bundle. To watch him dance with her. To stop being excluded from Mother/Daughter lunches, spa days, and picture options. (not that I let those terms stop me. Those who know me, know I've shown up with a boy or two in tow to picture sessions and lunches).

So why am I still haunted by this? Our journey to adoption and hopefully one day through it is gender specific. It is. We are adopting to add a daughter to our family. And I think that is ok. If we did not have any children would I be gender specific? Probably not. Maybe gender wishful, like I was during my pregnancies, but not specific. I wanted a boy at first. Got him! Wanted a girl next...still waiting. But in the mean time I have two other amazing little boys that I adore and love with every fiber of my being.

I guess I get all in knots when people say you should not be gender specific in adoption but you can be race specific, single vs twin birth specific, and special needs specific. Really? So, in real life, when I get pregnant, I must just take what I get, but if I adopt I am shunned because I want a girl, even though I said I'd take any race, and we would look into some special needs issues. Because really, the last time I looked, I took what I got from the womb three times before.

Ok, so that is not really fair because my husband and I are of the same race so chances were pretty much a score that our babies would look like us. But what if I were raped like a friend of mine was and the race was questionable. Would I not have accepted that child? I would have. A child is a gift from God. And health..yes, I knew what went into my body so chances were the baby would have the highest hopes of being healthy, but we all know there are chromosomal abnormalities, traumas in the womb, traumas at birth, and even afterwards with the fear of Autism. So again, I took what I got from the womb three times.

To me, this is just another way to finger point. We all want the same thing. A child in arms. A child to raise and love and nurture and hopefully gaze into their eyes as we die as old people and they are still vivacious and healthy. So why do this to each other? Why are we finding another way to make our choices and our decisions more right than someone elses. We all have our journeys that bring us to adoption. Infertility, child loss, gender specificity, or just wanting to add to our families with the heart of adoption. It should connect us, not drive us further from each other.

And that's all I got to say about that...........

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday!

When I woke up this morning, it was a regular type of day. Getting the kids ready, getting myself ready for work, dropping kids off, planning the rest of the day. Little did I know that God had big things in store for my 41st birthday. For the last 18 months I have been working on making myself stronger. My physical body ready to battle through middle age. This year, I vowed to work on my spiritual side. To keep strong in mind and body. And to let God guide my feet. Not an easy task for a Type A person who wants to be in control. Not easy at all!

Our adoption remains at the top of my mind. Swirling among doctor appts, school functions, and sports. I'm no longer eyeing the phone. Daring it to ring with a toll free number. I'm no longer jumping at every email. Frankly, since we decided to open our home study for Russia, I feel at peace. Elliana will come one way or another.

At work, I talk with our fabulous new recruit, Laura. She is taking over my job. She is perfect for it and I love watching her shine with enthusiasm for getting and keeping people healthy. What a find she is!

I head home to change clothes into my walking clothes before Linda comes to remeasure the bathroom wall for one last time. Then a walk with some girlfriends. I can't wait. I feel spent from lack of sleep the night before. I feel beat down. The Bible verse I read this morning keeps coming to mind..."Isn't it great that when God says he'll do something, he always does!"

Driving to pick up Liam I get a call....BLOCKED. Worried that it's Laura needing something, or something is wrong with my Grandma, I answer.

Hi Kathy? This is Cynthia from Adoption Network Law Center. How are you?

I'm good! How are you doing?

Great! Kathy, I work with birthmother's here at ANLC and I have a girl I would like to present to you to see if you would agree to be presented to her....

(At this point...Kmart is looking like a great crash site! I sit at a green light waiting to turn wondering if it is green or red, or am I really DRIVING MY CAR!?!?)

Um, ok.....will this conversation make me wreck my car??

Well, you may want to pull over!

How do you explain the rush of tears. When you know the balance of your life is right then being held in the hands of someone else. I turn to God. God...please, your will be done. I will go where you follow. But God, it IS my birthday!

Later tonight when we talked to our expectant mom, I am humbled once again. I cannot believe this amazing young woman can stand in this between ground. Her comment of "I want placing my daughter to be the ONE thing in my life I do right." goes straight to my heart. After the call, Dave states he wants to adopt the EM too. So do I. Realizing how we are all one decision away from bad things, it is scary. Our EM is young. Scared. Too street smart for her age. And too alone. Her life story sears my heart as I take notes to put in Elliana's journal. I want her to know every tidbit of her mother that I can. I hang on to her every word. She is from am I. She has a strong relationship with her Grandfather who is a farmer in Dave. She loves music, art, writing, reading....ok, is this really our child??? She is quite good at charcoal drawing. She wants her daughter to always be encouraged. To be allowed to have wings to be what she wants. And she wants us to guide those wings. I have no words.

Elliana is not a gift to us. She is a child. She is a dream come true. She is the missing link of our family and we do not know what to say to this young woman-child who wants to provide her for us. How can you tell someone thank you? Thank you for reaching inside me and finding the one things that I treasure. For putting them into a small body for safekeeping. And then handing that child to me to watch those treasures unfold. Thank you seems so small........

I wish I had a picture of Cullen's face when I told him that his sister was on her way. I wish I could forever capture Kadin's bright smile at the news. And how we can finally, let Liam know, she will have a birthday. And we will know when it is.

Thank you God. For our small answered prayer. One that will impact our lives in big ways. I can hardly wait!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Traveling Trio

Why do I keep doing this to myself? I know how things are going to turn out before I even leave the driveway. But yet, I continuously do it. Even after saying I would not.

We live in a small town. Right smack in the middle where two major highways join, but still, it's a small town. We do not have a book store. Yes, you heard right. No. Bookstore. Which is a horrible situation to be in, if you are my 12 year old son, the book whore. This kid can read like nobody's business. He's not like other kids that you struggle to keep in jeans. Or shirts. Or shoes and socks. Nope, books.

Sometimes on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble online, you cannot find which book comes next in a series. Which totally bugs Kadin as well. He has to read them in order. Heaven help him if he reads the 4th book and he has not read the 3rd book. So, I know a trip to a book store is in order. We have two options. A 45 min drive to the North.....or an hour drive to the South. Either way, I am going to be wearing my shoulders up around my ears by the time we get home.

We decide to go North. Less temptations and it is Sunday so things will not be open late enough for me to stay past dinner time. I load up my three boys and we head out. We are not even out of the subdivision before someone is crying that their DS will not work. I sigh and turn the music up louder.

The drive is actually uneventful, for which I"m thankful. DS's work, Cullen chats the ENTIRE time about his sleepover. I try to pay attention. We stop and eat at Mackie's pizza which is basically cheese on a cracker but they love it. I longinly look over at Red Lobster where I wish we could have eaten. We don't have one in is a small town. :(

Finally we make it to the Book kids run in three different directions and I look like a traffic cop trying to maintain 1/4 of an eye on each of them. We.Are.There.Forever! Kadin no longer reads books in the young readers section. No, we have to find the James Pattersons books in the big people section. Where I read each back flap to make sure there is no mention of sex, drugs, or rock n roll and finally give up. I start throwing books that feature Alex Cross into the basket with wild abandon. Whatever will keep me out of thise store that I love but do not get the chance to wander for the longest period of time.

I did mention to him that there may be some adult content and subjects and under all circumstances he was to SKIP THOSE PAGES! Yeah, I got the eye roll in response.

Several hundred dollars later we are blinded by the sun as we exit the building. How can one store be such a time suck? Where did the day go? I'm exhausted from herding boy cats through the store for hours on end. Yet, I'm brave enough to go to TJMaxx and Target....

On the drive home, I'm exhausted. Thinking about how sometime this year, there may be a 4th child to wrestle with at the book store, and I almost pass out. Until I look behind me and see two of my three sleeping quietly, and the third with his face in a book. And then the words come floating to the front..."Hey mom.....I'm on page 150. This book is GREAT!"   Nice.........I see another trip in my near future. Who taught that kid to read?

Oh, was me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The little things........

I've told myself this year, I am going to pay attention to the little things. How God works in small ways. Of course, I want him to put a small bundle of pink into my home of blue, but I also want to look at ways our lives are changed by the small examples. I love how God works in the BIG ways. The healing, the reconnecting, the saving.....all of those things are so important. But I want to concentrate this year on the mustard seed type of things. So here I am. Wide eyed every day. WAITING to be shown how God works in small ways. And since I'm looking, I see. I see people help each other. Holding doors, offering assistance, smiling, kind words.....if you look, we do treat each other with kindness. But tonight, my middle son blew me out of the water. Driving to basketball practice we were talking. It went something like this:

Me: Cullen, do you ever think about what your sister's birthmom will be like?
Cullen: I pray she will be a Christian
Me: I do too, but what do you think we should do if she isn't?
Cullen: We should tell her about Jesus. Isn't that what all Christians are supposed to do? Teach about Jesus and let those they care about know what Jesus did for us?
Me: Yes, that's exactly what we should do.
Cullen: Well, my sister will know what Jesus did to bring her to our family. And her mom will know we have already asked God for a place for Elliana in our family and in heaven. She's on her way mom!
Me: speechlesss...(looking for those little things, I found a BIG one. How I love my Cullybug!)

How does a parent go on from that? I dropped him off and sat in the car in tears. Thankful to God that my son was getting what he needed to from life. GOD IS THERE! And thankful he is seeing what I'm trying to teach him. GOD LOVES YOU! But holy cow! I had no idea he even really thought about Elliana. I guess I was wrong.

We are paper pregnant. No one really knows. But we are expecting a little girl. Sometimes the Fed Ex guy brings an outfit. Or a baby monitor. Or an Adoptive Families magazine. But as much as I internally obsess about this fourth child, my boys await her arrival as well. And I am touched.

Liam: When is our baby's birthday?
Me: I don't know when she will be born.
Liam: But everyone has a birthday. When is Elliana's?
Me: We don't know, Li...only God knows when her birthday will be. When we will find out about her. We just don't know. That is God's work. HE knows when her birthday will be. When she is coming. We just have to wait and pray for her and her Mom and Dad.
Liam: That is so complicated..........

He's right. It is. Waiting for a child to join your family through adoption IS complicated. You are not pregnant. You do not know who the parents are. You do not know what history they will bring to add to your family tree. You know nothing. And you are not in control. Sometimes I think my boys have forgotten about her. But they have not.

Just yesterday driving to school my oldest says:
Kadin: I think it is going to be cool to tell people my sister is adopted.

Me: Really? How come?
Kadin: Because God is choosing her for us out of everyone in the US. She will come to us by choice. I think it's neat that we will have a baby that will stretch our lives.

And so she will, my boys. So she will. I am beyond blessed. Truly, I am.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Roller Coaster

Have I mentioned lately what an emotional roller coaster adopting is? And as I explore, it's not just me that these crazy things fall upon, but sometimes it sure seems like it. In the past, we have known of situations of young girls being pregnant and thinking of adoption. Twice those young girls chose to parent thier baby girls. Once, we offered to take a baby boy so a mom would not abort him because she did not want another son. We were turned down and a 21 week old fetus lost his life. Now that we are in the washing machine cycle of adoption, I am like a fiend. Reading everything I can, joining online support groups because there are none where I live, and exploring every avenue that may bring our daughter home. Unfortunately, I never expected to be scammed.

How does someone offer their child, make up a horrendous living experience, and have no intention of placing their child, if there ever even was a child? Heck, the writer may not have even been a female! I have learned how emotionally bare I am. I responded to a post on a well known website. I was responded to. Me and this lady, "B", began an online relationship of sorts. Sharing pictures of her daughter, information about her family, and me sharing our situation. I thankfully contacted our adoption agency to look into things. I had friends in the UK planning on dropping by B's house. Scoping out the baby. Another sweet friend googled the address to see if homes were even there on google earth.

But suddenly things did not add up. And then money was asked for. Without an attorney. She would fly from the UK, get a passport with the baby's name and our last name on it. But until then, she needed money. Some help. Didn't I want to help her feed the child that would become our daughter?

I asked her to contact our adoption agency. She wouldn't. She just wanted money. I asked again. She sent an email. No other response.

Emotionally, this one does not take the cake. Although I prepared myself for a 2 yr old instead of an infant. I asked the boys if they would mind. Dave and I discussed it, but it is not the one that left me undone for days.

No, that one was the lady who aborted. I guess if I'm to be scammed over a child that may or may not have existed, so be it. Through appropriate channels, our daughter will come to our house, just has God has written it in our books of life. Just as He has commanded.  But until then, watch out! Sometimes things are not as they seem. I'm learning to be a little more jaded every day.