Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who am I kidding lets be honest...

I'm gearing up for a visit with FM on Monday...we're meeting at a library. Which hopefully will be perfect since Emery's way into books right now. Let's be completely honest, I think this visit might be a train wreck. Emery is very very attached to me right now and if she hasn't known you for the last nine months she honestly won't give you the time of day. Long stare, turning away and saying "no" is usually part of the equation. The last visit we had was in APRIL! Which isn't for lack of trying on my part at all, it just so happened the three weeks I was down in Florida FM was on an extended vacation with her foster family. In Indiana. In fact only about 40 minutes away. She even made a trek into Warsaw one day...believe it. So yeah, I'm afraid. I'm sort of feeling inconvenienced because it's a two hour drive, by myself with my currently very impatient 18 month old. Dread is more like it. So it's time for me to get the heck over myself and stop being selfish. This girl epitomizes unselfishness and I see it every day in the face of my little love. So I'm giving myself a verbal smack in the face and saying, "MOVE ON, GET OVER IT!".
Whenever I come up on these types of "norms" my wheels get to turnin' on some things which in turn makes me love my little blog space here so much. It is, for me, like a nice long run to clear my head. Sometimes my mind just piles up with things and I have to remind myself that I have this outlet. Ideas come to me at random times and right now folks I have about six different blog posts lined up! So anywho...thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being a part of this small but incredibly essential mind emptying abyss.
A few weeks ago I started to feel really convicted about the not making that great of an effort to have Emery "know" her birth mom. Then I realized that I just need to formulate a plan. A plan that Tyler and I agree on, that we're both comfortable with and we stick to it. Because our situation is very limited as far as direct communication goes we have to be realistic on what will be our normal. Right now, these visits are for FM plain and simple. Emery is not getting anything out of them for certain (eventually she will), I'm getting ulcers (j/k) worrying over whether or not FM's feelings will be hurt with the unpredictability of Princess I Want My Own Way All the Time, and Tyler is just managing the chaos of my tears, insecurities and general ridiculousness. So what does one do in our situation? The "beauty" of an open adoption is that Emery will have contact with her birth mom and that those questions she'll eventually need answered will come directly from the source. So what can I do right now at this moment in her one and half years of life to teach her who her birth mom is? I haven't figured this out yet. I know that I have to do it, I have to figure out a system otherwise I'll regret it. I need to do my due diligence and ask FM what she's expecting specifically from this relationship. Do I keep a photo of FM in a frame and have it accessible to Emery? I hope to get some of these questions answered from her on Monday. It's time for me to use the 120 uncomfortable minutes to discuss the elephant in the room, and lets face it. I may as well make the best of this "norm". There should be a manual for this!
For now, I pray that the visit goes smoothly. That FM's social worker preps her for the inevitable disappointment of this impending visit because friends...when your very own child whom you carried for nine months belongs to someone else forever and she doesn't know you, that's definitely a disappointment.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Alone...

One thing you must know about me is that I'm a reality TV watching fool. Seriously. Even if it looks like the most ridiculous show ever created in life (Sister Wives, All-American Muslim etc.) I'll give it a watch at least once, and usually that means I'm hooked. Surprisingly enough one reality show that I hadn't gotten sucked into is Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. I always felt like they were somehow glorifying teen pregnancy and just providing a way for these girls to be "famous" in a way by being on television and I just couldn't jump on that train. The story line is obviously something that hits close to home and perhaps that was maybe an underlying reason as to why I didn't want to watch. However, last week I gave it a go and boy was I hooked! Then again today I caught an episode where the end result was an open adoption and oh my stars was that an emotional moment for me. It chronicled the birth mom (who is adopted herself) going back and forth between keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption. She waffled on this decision for at least the last five months of her pregnancy and didn't have full support from the birth father either. Her mom was a nagging mess that was basically forcing her into choosing adoption and the poor girl was just a train wreck. There were two things she said in the episode that stood out to me.
First, "He's (the baby) is my only blood relative, and now I'm going to give him away." So true and heartbreaking. Not only did FM give her baby up for adoption, she gave away the only piece of family that she has left. Unreal the sacrifice this kid made for her kid. I watched through tears as the girl on Teen Mom wrestled with the fact that she knew she couldn't give her son the life he deserved. I watched her give birth and sob, and hold him and know that she was making the right decision. I cried even harder when I saw her hand the baby over to the adoptive parents. That was me over a year ago, and while I can't remember every last detail I do remember feeling connected to FM in a way that I don't think either of us understand. Her trust in me, while it's sort of weird given the fact that I'm 15 years older than her, didn't go unnoticed.
Second, "I don't have my birth mother here to tell me why she chose adoption, but I know that because of the openness in adoption I chose for my son I'll be able to explain to him with my own words one day why I chose it for us." So wise for a 17 year old! I will tell you that's always one of my top three reasons for being ok with an open adoption. I want that line of communication to be available to Emery whenever she's ready for it. I want those questions answered mostly by the one who made those decisions, and for Emery to have that is priceless.
There are many times where I wonder how lonely FM is. She has no parents or family besides a sister that randomly pops up every now and then so I just can't help but wonder how she gets through life. Who is on her side? Who can she trust? Who does she love and who loves her? Will she be the minority and come out on top? Or will she age out of foster care and just get lost in life and into things she shouldn't? It just plain sucks. As watched this show I saw this girl being supported by her parents, they were there for the delivery and post delivery. They were there when she came home without a baby. FM tried to parent Emery after she was born, and she just couldn't do it. That just shows her strength and tenacity which I see in my little love every single day.
That episode not only gave me insight but visually it allowed me a sneak peek into the thought process and truly difficult struggle that every birth mom faces when they choose adoption. I don't care how they got to that point, and I don't care how many times they've done it. They all have their own stories. They don't choose the easy way out, and most importantly they chose life for their child even if they aren't planning on being the ones to help them live it.

Maurice Sendak and the weirdness of motherhood...

I'm all about full circle moments...the kind that give you major dejavu but also allow you to be truly thankful for what you've been given. You should know I love to read, it's so stress relieving and stimulating and exciting and million other fantastic adjectives. I'll go through phases where I'll bust through like five books in six weeks and then I'll read nothing for months yet every time I return to my good friend, literature, I am amazed I waited that long to return "home". I'm also a huge advocate of reading to your kids. The benefits are endless! Many many years ago, I started to pick up children's books here and there. Garage sales, Amazon, Scholastic book fairs and I because of that I built up quite the collection. When Emery was a baby I was so excited to read to her and get into a routine of reading as well...we started with Goodnight Moon when she was probably five months old. It did my heart good to engage her in that way. Now we're in the stage where she loves to be read to so much that we literally spend EASILY an hour a day reading books...and I can't think of an hour better spent than curling up with her and watching her mind exploring. She's so smart and perceptive and so very funny. When I first became a mom I remember having these expectations (incredibly unrealistic expectations if I say so myself) of what it would be like to finally be a mom. Would I immediately "feel" a change? Would I stop laughing at farts, seeing people fall down stairs or my personal favorite...tripping? The answer is, no. No I didn't feel the change right away and to this very day seeing someone trip makes me laugh uncontrollably! It wasn't necessarily a personality change, but more or less a purpose change. My purpose became something entirely more worth while than before. I'm responsible for her well being, her education, her social interaction her entire future really, and you know what I'm finally at the point where I'm not paralyzed with fear because of it. God has blessed us with such an amazing little life. So this evening as I read her my favorite book in all the land of favorite books I drank it in a little bit longer. Her smell, her curiosity, her intelligence...she roared her terrible roar, gnashed her terrible teeth, rolled her terrible eyes and showed her terrible claws. I can't get enough I tell ya, she's my absolute favorite.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eight months...

It has officially been eight months since FM has seen Emery. Eight. This breaks my heart in many ways. First way, this was not how our arrangement was supposed to be. We were supposed to be living a few hours away with a visit every few months and some contact via email and photos in between. Second, these visits right now are more for FM than they are for anyone else involved. Whether Emery sees her every month or every six months she still will not be familiar with her at the visits. (Which will lead me to another blog post saved for later). So I'm sad for her "loss of plan" really. I guess. Third, I canNOT imagine life without my girl for one day let alone 244. I can't imagine it one bit. The thought of her not being by my side is nauseating and unsettling. FM choosing a lifetime of not seeing her every day just wrecks me. I still to this very day have an insurmountable amount of gratitude for this child who had a child. For her very grown up decision that helped make me a mama. There are so many things about "our situation" that I think I wish we're different. The amount of direct contact we have with her is not very much and honestly when people ask me how we are dealing with an open adoption I have to start off with, "well ours isn't typical". Whatever that's supposed to mean. A typical open adoption? Yeah, that doesn't exist. So many extenuating circumstances play into how it works for each individual family that really, in my ever so humble opinion, that's a really hard question to answer.
So...as I begin to ponder the next visit, which will hopefully be at Christmas time, I must pray for smoothness in the transition for FM. She'll probably continue to amaze me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankful doesn't even cut it...

I had a little self imposed blog hiatus AKA writers block, but I'm back now. I know all 15 of you have been worried. =)
So we have great, amazing, fantastic, relieving news! Tyler is employed full time as of last Monday at a local counseling facility where he'll be doing chemical dependency and mental health counseling, and boy is it weird! Eight months almost to the day. I'll tell you why it's weird. He has worked from home for the last 4ish years which means I could see him pretty much whenever I wanted since my previous work schedule had me working some evenings. Lets face it, aside from the lack of funds, being unemployed is pretty dang flexible so coming home and having him not here is going to take some getting used to. The truth is, I miss him like crazy and its only been three full days of him working. We are so very thankful for God's provision in our life not just with this new job but also with everything else in the last several months...
Starting with these fabulous folks. Our in-laws. They very graciously offered up their home to let not just the three of us, but also our two dogs. They never gave us a time limit to be out, they only wanted us to get stuff figured out, get jobs and when we were ready...move out. I have nothing but the utmost love and gratitude for them. Our living situation could have been bad. It could have been a clash of personalities, expectations not being met, and a myriad of other things but it just wasn't. Sure there are times where I'm tired of being here but it doesn't have anything to do with them. They have let us borrow their cars on multiple occasions, watched Emery for a quite a few date nights and have provided us with some really good laughs and conversations. We will never ever be able to thank them for everything. We will never ever sufficiently be able to express it. Ever. Not even a little bit, but we sure will try our darndest to make them feel it at least a little bit.
Finally, Emery. Our little spit fire is growing into such a smart and fun little sprite! Her vocabulary continues to expand each and every day, and she recognizes familiar objects in books and will also point them out for me too. She's a total girly girl which is a concept I'm not too familiar with but I think it's fun. She loves jewelry, pretending to put on my chap stick, getting her toes painted, and rocking her baby. She's also very independent. She likes to try things for herself and has done such an amazing job at observing our behavior (a little scary, for sure) that she can almost do it right on the very first try. Putting her lotion on and rubbing it in, brushing her teeth and hair, putting her conditioner in her hair, using a fork, and using her bath mitt to wash during bath time. She looks to us during those times for affirmation almost as if to say..."This is correct, right?". You do NOT put the brush in her hand and guide her. You DO use the brush on your own hair while she watches and then let her try it for herself. She loves to be read to and just recently has pretended to read the books on her own too, just blabbering away and turning the pages, with a random "meow" sprinkled in when she finds her favorite animal the kitty. She'll bring us books, sit in our lap and then when we open to the first page she'll look up at us and at our mouth wondering why we haven't started yet. I love it. I'm in love with this little being so much. She thinks I'm the freaking funniest person on the planet right now which is awesome because it's like I have my own little audience. We're also at the wonderful stage where we have to hide what we're eating otherwise she'll want to eat it too and sometimes peanut butter fudge right before her bedtime is just not acceptable. Oh and the walking...she has such swagger when she walks!!! She saunters around so proud of her new mobility and is especially proud if she can bend down and pick something up without falling down. She's happiest with a pen and paper in her hand like a little reporter getting information for her next big story. When it comes to strangers she's a tough cookie and as a mom it's slightly embarrassing because I want nothing more than for people we love to see her funny little personality. She'll stare you down and sometimes even cry at first glance. But after about an hour or so if you're still around she'll gingerly walk up to you and request with arms raised to be held. Usually it's with guys that she's like this. Tyler couldn't be more happy about that. *hee hee* We continue to be amazed at her little sponge of a brain, and have found ourselves needing to be proactive about censoring certain things. For example...one day I got home from work and there Tyler and Emery were watching CSI. UHHHHHHHHHH.
We entered into another holiday season focusing on giving thanks during an interesting year. A year that has stretched us into two completely different people. Same values. Different priorities. Sometimes the focus of positive things is trumped by the worry of bill paying and saving for a move out. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by this odd transition and sometimes I'm excited by it. All the time I'm thankful for a God who has a plan for our family and continues to amaze us. Hope you hall had an amazing Thanksgiving...be thankful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Focusing on the positive...

It's no mystery that we're in an interesting place right now as a family. Tyler is going on eight months of being unemployed (full time), and I can't believe sometimes how fast it goes and other times how slow it goes. For him I know it's slow. For him I know that it's pure anguish. For us, the both of us, I know that it's a lesson in patience. A big one. Both of us equally have control issues, they just manifest themselves in different ways. Mine is wanting control over immediate situations and outcomes so I know that I'll get the most out of it and won't be disappointed. So selfish, this I know and trust me it's a deficit that I know needs to be altered. Tyler's is control over timing. He imagines scenarios and their outcomes based on when HE thinks things should work out. These last eight months have rocked our freaking world. We have been shown things about our character, our finances, spiritual relationship with Christ, parenting techniques, our health etc. and I know that years down the road this whole thing will make sense. This whole thing will be a true life change and one that we're truly able to see from start to finish as making complete sense. It did with Emery's amazing story and I know that it will with ours. Over the last couple weeks things have been pretty intense, bills are getting paid later, money is getting stretched tighter and tighter, job opportunities are fewer and farther between. But there's this one job opportunity that's interesting, and a possibility. An interview has already taken place and now we wait to see what the part may be and prayers would be appreciated. I've learned a lot about myself and I'm seeing clearly what God wants to teach us through this. We have no control. He always knows best for our current situation and we need to trust Him. During this time I've really honestly tried to focus on the good things, the things I'm thankful for and while that sounds totally "Pollyanna" it really helps keep me in check with a little thing I like to call, gratitude. I'm grateful for God allowing the three of us to stay healthy. We haven't had health insurance in several months and we have had NO major illnesses that require a doctors visit. We've been able to spend some quality time with Emery, which is very refreshing given the fact we only had a few weeks off of work when we first brought her home. As it turns out, she's a very addicting person to be around and I miss my time with her since I've gone back to work. Tonight I pointed out to Tyler that more than likely none of our other future children will have that much time with him...what a special gift to her. We have detoxed from "whim" purchases for sure, and learned to appreciate what we have already instead of wanting the next and greatest. And through that we've also learned how "stuff" can overwhelm you and change you. We've had more thought provoking relationship conversations as well, and have learned a lot about each other even after nine and a half years of marriage. We have food, clothes, a roof over our head, warm blankets, clean water, great families, and the list goes on.
So we continue waiting on God's timing in our job search. Accepting that we have no control over the outcome and praying completely for His strength in our thoughts and actions to let go.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

She makes up for it in other ways...

Currently my child is 16 months old. Currently my child who is 16 months old does NOT walk every day, in fact she walks every few days and only if we encourage it. This kind of bothers me because I come from a family jam packed with early walkers and darn it shouldn't she be doing this full time now?! The truth is she is so stubborn and just won't commit. The pushy mama in me wants to make an issue out of this and then the laid back mama kicks it into high gear and shuts the other one up. She'll walk when she's ready, and it doesn't appear that there are any physical issues preventing this so I should just relish in the fact that I don't have super mobile toddler who is falling into coffee tables and bruising her face (although I probably wouldn't be able to see it anyway). Recently she has blossomed into a full blown genius. I mean we've always known her to be very smart with certain things but in the last few weeks she really has become quite the show off and sometimes Tyler and I look at each other and say..."Is it normal that she knows how to do that?". She can meow like a cat and point out all kitties in every book we read as well as identify her ears, nose, eyes, teeth, mouth, and hair. She attempts to brush her own hair (and mine too), and tries to spray her detangler on also. Randomly I'll ask her to point something out to me thinking it's an impossible task and homegirl totally shows me up! Her personality has become so fun, we have more time to actually spend together and engage in activities instead of me just chasing her around. We laugh together ALL THE TIME! She's silly with me and we find each other just having a case of the giggles because we're cracking each other up. Don't get me wrong we have plenty of bad moments sprinkled in there and recently have had a few decent hand slaps that have resulted in literally ten full minutes of crying and writhing around on the floor in total devastation. But those are soon forgotten when she's sitting with me in bed, freshly bathed and jammied reading Goodnight Moon. I love being a mom. I love seeing my hard work pay off sometimes. I love seeing her growing connection with Tyler and realizing how important that relationship will be for them in the future. Engaging is what she is and of course, pure magic.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The most fabulous Friday of my life...Part Deux.

Prior to actually "hitting the road" to home at around 10:00 PM, we had to stop at Walmart to pick up at least a couple things that would get us through our first night with Emery. I purchased, a pack of bottles, pacifiers, Funyuns, bottled water, and beef jerky. Obviously the last three were for us. Meanwhile back at the ranch my two sisters and brother in law were eagerly awaiting our arrival, even if it meant that we wouldn't get there until 1:00 in the morning. When we pulled into our driveway they had decorated the mailbox with "It's a girl!" balloons! They (and my mama, and my friend Fran) had also gone to Target and stocked us with diapers, wipes, blankets, bath stuff, and clothes...it was so amazing. Once they had gotten a chance to hold her it was bed time. Which was the strangest part of the whole experience...I was heading down the hall to a bedroom that I inhabited with only one other person and tonight there would be a little stranger in the bassinet. It was so surreal. It was probably a good thing we didn't go to bed until 3:00 because I probably would have tossed and turned until then anyway. The next morning we woke up and brought her into bed with us, it was magic. Then I realized very quickly that I had a baby that was relying on me for everything and thus began freak out mode. . This day is one that I don't ever want to forget. The enormity of becoming a parent is something I never want to forget. Here we are the three of us, one year later and I couldn't imagine my every day without her in it. I have learned so much about myself because of her. I am capable.
The amount of support we received from friends and family during our journey is honestly something that I can't speak enough of. To know there were people who we didn't even know praying for our success in starting our family through adoption is overwhelming. There are so many people who love our girl, so many people who will play an important role in her life and her story. She is loved beyond measure especially by this mama.
To my little lovey: You have made more happy than I could have ever imagined possible. Your belief in me has strengthened my belief in myself. You will always know and hear that we love you and could never have lived another day without you.

The most fabulous Friday of my life...Part One

Ok so technically the actual date was October 1st BUT it happened on a Friday so I'll be pretending like it was today for the sake of a realistic timeline. On this morning I remember waking up and getting ready for work...while I was in the bathroom Tyler was skyping with his brother in the other room. I remember him explaining that we should find out whether the birth mom chose us around 2ish and then that means we would have woken up without a baby in our room and would be going to bed that night WITH a baby in our room. I remember wishing he wouldn't have said that. It was too optimistic and made for one more "clean up" conversation if we ended up without her at the end of the day. I remember reliving the pain of our almost baby and not wanting to deal with such a loss again. I was thankful to be going to work so I'd be distracted by my Friday's which were ALWAYS chaotic. I honestly can't even remember what I said to Tyler when I left other than "Text me if it's no, CALL me if it's a yes". I had told our social worker to call him instead out of fear that I'd miss her call. We had only told a handful of close friends and family about this possibility and only one person at work knew this was even happening. I can't even believe I got through the day. People probably thought I was wacko because I was so distracted and nervous. Around 1:45 my sister, Kelly, started texting me. I had to put an end to this because every time my phone lit up I was certain it was Tyler with a "no" text! Basically..."I LOVE YOU BUT STOP TEXTING ME IMMEDIATELY!". Then, at 2:05 the phone at work rang. Which you should know is not strange given the fact that it's a salon and day spa and our patrons generally phone in their hair requests. I picked it up and saw Tyler's number on the caller id...almost instantly I geared up with an angry tirade of "I TOLD YOU TO CALL ME IF IT WAS A YES NOT IF IT"S A NO!!!!!". Before I could say anything, he uttered the most fabulous words I've ever heard in my life. "Kari, she picked us...she totally picked us. We have to leave right NOW to pick her up!" All I remember saying is, "No way. No way. No way. Are you serious? No way. You're kidding me. Seriously? I can't leave yet, I have to tell my boss!" First, I needed some fresh air (aka, I needed privacy to emote). I walked outside and called Tyler back, and I just cried. I couldn't believe it. I honestly could not believe it. Because I still needed to talk to my boss(es) about this new development Tyler got to make all the fun phone calls to friends and family...honestly this is one thing I wish I had been a part of but I was not thinking clearly at that point in time. I'M A FREAKING MOM! I will have a baby in my arms in approximately 3ish hours. OH MY GOSH I'M GOING TO HAVE AN INFANT TO CARE FOR IN 4ISH HOURS! Sorry for so many "all caps" sentences but I feel it's the most effective way to demonstrate urgency. I cried with my coworkers and waved goodbye to them, headed home to pick up TZ and head to West Palm Beach to pick up our daughter. When I arrived home I found Tyler pacing around the living room, screaming things like "we have to pick a name for her, like now so Jan can start the paperwork before her doctors appt". We hugged and stared at each other in total disbelief that this was even happening. We had nothing set up. We were, by all intents and purposes completely unprepared. I rummaged around a few bags of clothing I had purchased for our potential foster kids and found a three month sleeper with polka dots on it. I didn't have bottles, formula, diapers, wipes nada. I jammed her pj's in my purse and just looked around our house for the magic "you just found out at the last minute you're bringing a baby home and need all the essentials" fairy but when she failed to appear Tyler fumbled around with the car seat before exclaiming "oh forget it, we can figure this crap out when we get there!" we hopped in the car snapped this last photo...
And headed to our girl. Jan was begging us to pick a name so she could start the paperwork and if you know me in depth you realize this was a problem. I'm a name freak. I have had names picked out a for a few years and I just love a good name. Hopefully nothing common and certainly nothing trendy. Well because I was travelling and all my name choices were on my computer at HOME I was at a lost...and resorted to calling my sister at work. We searched google and had a few that were in the mix before we settled on Emery. We liked Avery and I liked Emerson...twas a happy medium says I. And my middle name is Brooke and we thought that it fit perfectly...Emery Brooke. Once we were on the interstate after some nasty traffic in town, our phones rang non stop. Tyler blew past the turnpike (by 20 miles, distracted much eh?), and around 7:45 that evening we met her...for the first time. I was so nervous. I kept saying over and over again..."Hey pretty girl...you're so pretty. So very pretty." She slept the whole time we signed paperwork, and finally when all was said and done we changed her. Tried to feed her a bottle. Then packed her in the car to head home. For the very first time...the THREE of us.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I remember this day...

This day last year I remember meeting my mom for lunch. In fact that week I managed to have lunch with my dad ALL BY MYSELF (which as the second of seven children has probably only happened ten times in my life), AND then mom the very next day. Anywho, at this point in time I was feeling very anxious and really very discouraged. I had to remind our social worker that we had moved since she last finished our home study which meant she needed to come and do an addendum. This meant that she had to drive two and a half hours to spend only about 30 minutes at our home, to drive two and a half hours back to spend however long it takes to type up a new home study all for a "don't get your hopes up scenario". Then she asked me, "Do you still want to move forward with this?". I was frozen. I mean, did I? It seemed that there were so many barriers that kept creeping up and I just didn't get it. I didn't want to move forward because I didn't want our hearts broken again. I couldn't imagine going through these extra steps and then having it not matter. Moving forward meant I was hoping, and it was hard to come to terms with hoping. I picked up food from mine and mama's favorite place and we proceeded to eat together, in my car...in the parking lot. The conversations we proceeded to have were more one sided than anything. I expressed doubts on whether or not we should continue, was it really worth it? Was I potentially removing an infant from a foster family who loved her? I struggled with that a lot actually. How would I feel if I had a momentary lapse of judgement (they turned down adopting her because they didn't want an open adoption) and then lost the opportunity to keep a child I had cared for at length? This was a huge internal struggle for me. Jan had always been very honest in the beginning about the reality of this not working out. SO, over sweet and sour chicken it was decided that we would move forward. That the barriers we had faced up until this point were smoothed out and that this was just one more issue that needed smoothing. I contacted Jan and said lets do it. She was scheduled to arrive the very next morning, a mere five hours before we would find out we were parents. I know I've said this probably a million times but it honestly NEVER gets old to focus on how perfect God's timing was in this whole thing. I mean, every little detail was orchestrated perfectly and all for our sweet girl. I'm surprised at how much I've thought about it this week, and yet I'm not. It was and continues to be an amazing journey...and I have the most precious gift to show for it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reflection...

This week sneaked right up on me. I kept thinking to myself that when it finally arrived I'd have some elaborate plan in motion for a celebration, but alas limited funds and time will prevent me from doing so. I'm all about the remembering. The nostalgia, it's probably one of my favorite things. Seeing forward motion and progress is inspiring! This week begins Emery's "birth story". It's sorta strange for me to call it that because if there's one thing I don't know at all about my little love it is in fact, the story of her actual birth. I wasn't present for that. Her story is amazing, you can find it here. It wasn't until just now that I found myself revisiting the events of that week leading up to when she became ours. Boy was I emotional, just revisiting my thoughts that week in regards to her and the fact that she was a perfect stranger to me then was so weird. I didn't know her, but I loved her. I didn't know I needed her as much I know I need her now. She has filled a special little compartment in my heart that was made for my first born. For her only. As I reread this post my heart ached because I remember the uncertainty and the pain I was feeling that day. Hoping and praying so hard for this thing to work out and just not believing that it would. Then I read this one and was reminded about a few select friends and family whom we told during that week in order to envelope this entire scenario in prayer. I am still to this day so very thankful for them. But mostly, I'm thankful to my Savior. He promises good things to those who wait, and while we endured little mini heartbreaks here and there he always knew that our life was meant to be shared with Emery. He always knew that she'd fit perfectly and change our lives for the better every single day. I have much love for this land of adoption. I have much respect for people who choose this path. And as always I have the utmost gratitude for a teenage girl who recognized a deficiency in herself being unable to properly care for her own child and then place her in our arms.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pain in all forms...

Two weeks ago, I received an email that was unprecedented. One of my dearest friends, who was a pioneer for our adoption and a faithful blog stalker was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. It was so surreal. I was in complete denial, and true to form I retreated into silence for a several hours before I even spoke to her. I had to process. I must process. I was afraid for her, and the emotional pain she was feeling at the time as well as the physical pain she is going to endure in the following months. It's sometimes so weird to me that one little word can completely change someone's life. Since the day she was diagnosed most of her time is spent at doctors appointments, researching her treatment options etc. and you know what? It's just not fair. Just yesterday while I was skyping with her and my sister Kelly it sort of hit me. All three of us have experienced pain in all different ways. Miscarriages, almost adoptions/job losses, and now a disease. I looked at the two of them and all I saw was strength and resilience. There is still no baby for my sister, but she fights for that baby every day. And now my friend, who will begin her fight on Friday when she arrives for her first session of Chemo.

Here is what I know about her:
1. She is HILARIOUS.
2. She has the best laugh of all laughs on this planet.
3. She is no nonsense.
4. She is a lover AND a fighter. =)
5. She is encouraging.
6. She is an UNBELIEVABLE cook.
7. She will beat this. It will not beat her.

I'm struggling with how to be there for her while I'm one thousand miles away. The way I show my support is by actually showing up. Helping with transportation. Random surprises of flowers, or favorite candies etc. While some people might have been relieved to not actually have to see the pain take its toll. I am not. I am trapped by a distance that takes me 18 hours to drive or 2.5 hours to fly. This will be a learning experience for me. How to show love and support and pain and all of that at a distance. Please pray for my friend. Pray for healing and for her body to fight this disease with all that it has.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Similarities = Comfort

On the tail end of my last post where I semi-discussed things like roots and such I forgot that I had already started and not published this blog post.
In the strange land of adoption there are many things I find kind of hilarious. Even though I didn't birth her myself, homegirl is A LOT like her mama. She eats so slow, which if you've ever had a meal with me you realize I am the same way. My whole life, a slow eater. Last one at the table, every single time. She straight up takes a good 45 minutes to eat a PBJ and some blueberries, while her cousin Jackson who is two weeks older than her annihilates his food before his parents can even sit down and eat theirs. She chats. Takes a bite. Takes a drink. Takes a bite. Plays with the dogs. Takes a drink. Takes a bite. I mean it's pretty hilarious...SOLIDARITY SISTA! She's also wicked stubborn and kind of sassy...which she gets from Tyler. HA! For real, we are so much alike that if she weren't a completely different color than me she could totally pass off as my actual biological child. I love it. I love that God had a sense of humor and totally gave me a taste of my own medicine, however I do feel sorry for Tyler. =)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Roots...

Since Emery's personality has been ummm...really blooming lately I've caught myself thinking, "I wonder if FM was like this when she was little?". I've always focused on getting answers from FM in regards to her pregnancy, the birth, Emery's first weeks alive etc. that I've totally forgotten that there are answers I need from FM's mom. Which can't happen, since she passed away a few years ago. When I was little I remember asking my mom questions like, "What was I like when I was a baby?" to which she replied "Kari, you were one of my easiest births, and one of my most easy going babies". That made me proud, especially since my next sister was basically the most stubborn wild coyote ever whom no one could stand to watch because she'd cry the whole time. When I got myself all worked up in a tizzy over having to get some shots my mom would say, "Kari, you were my ONLY baby that never cried when you got your shots." All of these little connections, these little roots are fascinating when you have a child that isn't biologically yours. I'm curious what it's like to have a child that looks like you. Now hear me out, I don't obsess over it or get depressed about it and certainly it's something that is still a possibility but I think about it, nevertheless. Sometimes the gravity of the situation escapes me and other times I'm overwhelmed by it. So for seriously the FIRST time in almost a year I found myself pining for the advice of a dead woman I've never even met. I reached out to the social worker to see if there any pictures of my little love when she was a newborn. The situation was so tense and crazy in the beginning I knew it was a long shot, and while I haven't been given a firm no I've been told, "Don't get your hopes up." I was told that same thing when we first learned about a four month old little african american girl who later became our daughter. Hope away.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

And just like that...

We're out of baby land. She's done with bottles, formula, baby food and morning naps, and I'm not going to lie...I put it off for as long as I could until the thought of me carrying around my ten year old who's clutching her bottle of milk became something of a TLC reality show in my mind. I walked down the baby aisle today sort of instinctively and then thought to myself, I legitimately don't need anything from this section. Boo. When I returned to Indiana after an extended visit home to Florida I seriously put off packing her bottles up for at least a week, and then cried while I was doing it. Her actions are becoming so much more toddler like and purposeful, and while it's seriously so endearing and my favorite thing in the world I just can't believe how fast time has gone by.
I can't believe we already went from this...

To this...

Her little personality....ahem, her BIG personality is as follows. She's stubborn, bossy to the dogs, sensitive, SMART, and pensive. When you first meet her you might think she's trying to laser you to death with her stare but don't be alarmed. She does that with EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. She makes you earn her smiles by acting a fool, trust me, it works. She still loves music and will dance and sing to almost anything she hears from Chris Tomlin, Sugarland to Beyonce or The Black Keys. She's into stacking blocks, and taking things out of something and putting them back in (laundry out of baskets back into baskets is her favorite...not mine). She jabbers all through her dinner, snack time and most of her play time and can say lots of words! Mama, dada or dad, yaya, nana, pop, keke, guh-guh (guster), no (known that one for a LONG time), and uh-oh. I'm probably forgetting some too, because she's a genius I pretty much lose track. = )
We are blessed with this little soul to care for. She makes us happier than we ever thought possible and has brought the very best in us as people. She is the one who made me a mama, and that will be something special her and I always share as my first born. My little lady is growing up, although she still is completely refusing to walk (which given my current slow the heck down state) I don't care one bit. Take your time little love...there is certainly no rush.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Causes...

There's something to be said for having a cause that you believe in. There's also no room to judge someone for their cause not being as important as the one you think is the most important. I've been thinking about this a lot lately because I don't understand how people will advocate for the treatment of animals when there are millions of orphans in the world who need water. Living, breathing humans that need water. Scratch that, CLEAN water. Something that you and I drink every single day without a care in the world, heck we even complain if our tap water is nasty and not filtered. Then there's human trafficking which is completely appalling and abortion and the list goes on and on. Not everyone's hearts are pulled in the same direction so if you wanna go on Whale Wars and stop those Japanese whalers then by all means, DO IT! I find myself getting so upset because while I'm aware of all of these things I can't fix every single one of them. I can't sponsor every child on Compassion Internationals website even thought legitimately if I was a millionaire I seriously would. A few months ago Tyler and I finally decided to put our money where our mouth is and we sponsored a fabulous little man named Rifaldo (5). He's from Indonesia and the most adorable little guy EVER! Without a doubt, a piece of my heart belongs to him. No joke. His parents are part time farmers (when there's work available) and the measly $38 a month we donate to him helps provide him with a Christian education and everything that comes with it. Thousands of miles away our new little man (and his fam) are learning about the love of Jesus and the kindness of strangers. He'll be ours for as long as he needs us and I honestly hope that one day we can meet each other. $38 is a freaking drop in the bucket, it's easily what we spend on eating out in probably two weeks. How about you? What could you cut out to allow yourself to be a sponsor? Think about it. Instead of feeling sorry and then going to sleep in your nice warm bed, with your fully stocked fridge check out Compassion International. They are legit. So for right here, right now my cause is this. I believe in it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Surprising reaction...

So, I've never been secretive about my anxiety as it relates to BM visits. In the beginning it was a lot because I just didn't know what to expect and then the second visit I had gotten all my crap together and decided to be more bold and now as I was staring down the barrel of visit number three I was feeling, surprisingly upbeat. I had a plan. We were going to discuss the frequency of my email updates and photos, would she rather me send physical photos in the mail? Is she satisfied with the "openness" of our agreement? I also was fiddling with the idea of asking her about her parents. Keep it light, and mainly focus on personality traits etc. nothing crazy. I had orchestrated the date and time with both social workers and we decided on Tuesday at 1:30. Well...too bad so sad, the visit isn't goin' down. As it turns out BM's foster family is all going on vacation for 10 days which happen to be the 10 days that I'm in town. It's strange how that went down, but mostly my reaction was strange to me. I was genuinely disappointed. I was so prepared to make more progress and develop this little nuance of life. I'm proud of myself and my disappointment. At the end of the day it's about Emery and the relationship that she'll have with her birth mom and the one thing I always tell myself when I start to get all wonky about our "arrangement" is that I never ever want to get in the way of what could potentially happen between BM and Emery. I don't want that on my shoulders, she deserves to know her. She deserves to know the woman (well, technically girl) who selflessly made the toughest decision of her life all for Emery. If you think about that, it's pretty unbelievable. So I guess I've grown in my expectations of this wild ride, and I've become attached to the girl who gave me my little lovey. BM deserves exactly what Emery has. A family who is willing to take the plunge to take her home and love her as their own.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Love affair...

Bonding is an interesting thing. Given the way most adoptions take place, the pressure of bonding with your new baby/toddler/elementary aged child I believe takes a huge toll on the newly adoptive parents. Everyone has their own way of trying to create that bond, some do the cocooning method where only the adoptive parents hold/change/feed the child in an effort to instill a genuine security within the child. It makes total sense to me, especially if the child has been in an orphanage for years and is used to multiple caretakers that institutionalized care provides. Had Emery's circumstances been different we probably would have adopted that method and while it would have been hard to not allow any additional bonding to take place between grandparents, aunts and uncles it would have benefited OUR situation undeniably. When we first brought her home I was terrified, nervous, and afraid that I wouldn't bond with her. I seriously probably only ate a combined total of like three meals the first four days just because my stomach was in knots! I think the double edged sword for me was that I didn't have anything to compare it to, I hadn't been a mama to a biological child let alone an adopted child. Which left me with feelings of extreme inadequacy and complete terror that this little being and I would never truly attach to one another...instead living life more like a nanny and the "nannied'. People would say to me..."Is it just the most wonderful thing ever? Being a mother?" and I would just nod my head and agree with them all the while inside being tortured by the fact that while it was fantastic there were still times when I didn't love it. Times when my selfishness prevailed and I wanted to sleep in, not have barf on my shirt and just go to the flippin' grocery store without it taking me one million years to get in and out of the car AND doggonit I forgot that diaper bag again. SO if I'm being completely honest, which I generally don't struggle with, I would say its taken me months to bond with Emery. It definitely didn't help that she is not a very cuddly child either, when they're at an age of being completely non-verbal I found myself looking for signs (smiles, moving towards me etc.) to reassure me that she viewed me as "mama". There were little breakthroughs here and there and someone even told me that a friend of hers indicated she had a bonding breakthrough when her child became very sick once and the worry and concern for her well being took over and from them on they were bonded. Well my friends, these last two months as full time stay at home mom, by default have been the love affair I've been praying for. The way she is around me is completely different than with anyone else, and I simply can't get enough. She looks for me when she's hurt and crawls toward me for comfort and also looks for my approval. She likes being close to me, touching me and loves my hugs and kisses. We have an understanding. Finally. I protect her, nurture her, and comfort her and...she lets me. These moments with my first born are immeasurable. I never once doubted that she knew I was her mama, it was only getting to this point. The point that our love affair with each other truly began. The adventures I've had thus far with my little lovey are the most fulfilling of anything in my entire existence.
I've said this before and I'll say it again...she's pure magic.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10 years...



Twas a whirlwind...the story of how I met my love. He was the older, cooler, upperclassman who worked in my dorm and shared a class with me. I was dazzled by his ridiculous jokes and his musical abilities. He told his mom prior to us meeting to not be surprised if he just came home one day and said "I met the girl I'm going to marry". Rewind to Christmas of 2000...Kent Hall. I was walking with my sister to meet a friend of hers in order to exchange some info about a trip we were taking. Enter Tyler and friend, he was chomping on beef jerky and my sister introduces us. Then he asked the question to end all questions, the one he probably asked all the girls he was interested in..."You want some beef jerky?" Me: "Uhhh no thanks" Tyler: "Ok, more for me". HAHAHA! That was it, love at first sight. Just kidding, but I did think about him just about every day after that. I tried to find reasons to go to the info desk in the dorm where he worked and then would find myself spending a couple hours there with him just chatting. The only problem was that it was nearing the end of the Spring semester, which meant summer time in Florida for me and summer time in Indiana for him. Boo. During the summer we chatted on the phone, wrote letters to each other and emailed as well but it wasn't until 7/13/2001 that we actually started dating, and coincidentally talked about our wedding. He asked to hold my hand...and unlike the beef jerky question I obliged him. We knew a couple months before that we were in love with each other and that we'd get married but there was the one little issue of (we hadn't told EACH OTHER that yet). Fast forward to that Thanksgiving when he proposed at the Winona Lake Amphitheater amidst white Christmas lights, roses and candles...it was beautiful. Fast forward to April 27th, 2002 and we were "officially" joined at the hip, starting out our life together and surprise surprise moving to Florida. We've been through a lot. Multiple moves, career changes, graduate school, financial strain, church planting, starting a family...and there is one thing I know is true. He is in fact just as as smart, just as funny, just as thoughtful and amazing as he was before we started dating. I'll tell you what he's more of...he's more of a man. He's more of a leader. He's more amazing as a father than I could have ever dreamed. He's more committed to this life of ours and he's more my friend than I thought was humanly possible. The deepest, darkest, ugliest parts of me don't scare him at all. I can only hope that one day our girl has this much of an amazing opportunity to be with the man she loves. I know that Tyler will teach her what that love is like. So ten years later and not at all like I thought it would be, I'm happy with the man God chose for me and I wouldn't trade it for the world even if his first words to me were related to over processed beef sticks.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Medium...

I process things very particularly...I don't get stressed easy and when I finally reach my breaking point I'm a sobbing, ugly cry face mess and poor Tyler is left wondering WHAT THE HECK?! These last few months have been rough, but good. Challenging and stretching us Tyler Z's into who He needs us to be to accomplish whatever it is we are supposed to accomplish. Which brings me to a very interesting self discovery in the last couple weeks and that is I don't want to appear as if I "have it all together", I just want to "keep it all together". There's nothing more obnoxious than people who pretend their poo don't stink and it doesn't help anyone out if someone can't discuss their struggles. I've never been one to really care what people think about me, there are times where a false impression yields its way to some hurt feelings but overall "having it all together" is not on my list of top priorities. It would be exhausting I'm assuming. Then again I set a very unrealistic expectation on myself and that is..."keeping it together". Not letting others see my hurt, or confusion or my tears. Not because of what people would think about me, but because of what I think of myself. It's a challenge I give myself and I'm beginning to realize it's sorta detrimental! With all the emotions we've faced over the last few months there have been times where my mantra has been, "Don't cry Kari, just move forward. It's not worth it." I don't have any fantastic conclusion on this right now, it's still something I'm working through and hopefully on the other side things will make a little more sense and I won't continually be the master of emotionally stunting myself. The good thing is, I love my friends up here. NONE of them pretend, none of them care about the way they look or behave in front of me and I wouldn't trade that for the world. Meanwhile in our transition, I'm enjoying the time I have with them...getting reacquainted and everyone of us talking about our proverbial "smelly poo".

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Its been a long time coming...

Sorry for the long hiatus...things are weird and changing and unsettled so it makes for a little writers block. I'd like to preface this post with the following warning...its taken me a very long time to be able to write this post and not be angry. A lot of tears were spilled. But our broken hearts are healing through prayer and the hope that God will be honored through this transition time. I generally don't post a lot of non-adoption things on here but this is taking center stage in our lives right now.
If you had asked me a year ago where we'd be, it wouldn't be here and not because we hated it but because we believed in our NewSpring church plant dream. We believed that people would begin to truly commit time, money and energy into building God's kingdom. We believed that people would take seriously what the Bible says about being in the world but not OF the world. I believed in Tyler and Kirt's passion to bring the people of Oviedo and surrounding areas to church and change lives through it. There has not been a harder time in our life than mid March 2011. To watch a dream fade completely away was gut wrenching and I don't think anyone besides Tyler, Kirt & fam, and the very few committed volunteers that we had will ever truly understand how badly we needed THEM to make it work. How badly we needed genuine commitment to make our dream, what we truly believed was God's dream, a reality. Many have reached out to us providing true encouragement and support. Many have not. I am married to a man who has a true desire to see people come to know Jesus. He has a true desire to reach people via the local church and also to renovate the way the local church is perceived by the community. He is still looking for a worship leader job, we are still praying for God's clear direction in our life right now and He's providing little snippets that keep us on our toes. So if you've been wondering what happened to NewSpring, the truth is it's what DIDN'T happen at NewSpring. If you're going to a church that's looking for volunteers PLEASE volunteer. If you're wondering how you can be involved all you have to do is ask. Commit to going every Sunday, commit to worshipping throughout the week with your actions and time spent in the Word. Commit to giving your tithe, that is so important. Your pastor has a family too, just like you and as a believer giving 10% of what you make back to your local church is so important and so unbelievably rewarding. If you're looking for a scandal there wasn't one. Only a dream and desire from two Godly men wanting to reach Oviedo for Jesus through a church plant called NewSpring, and the hard decision to close it down because we just didn't have the right people to make it work. So we move on to our new jobs, and new states, not depressed because it didn't work out, not angry or jaded but excited because we know that there is something amazing on the horizon for us...if only we trust because He can do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's nice to be reminded...

My blog posts have been few and far between these days, and not for lack of time but really more like lack of inspiration. I mean I can only blog about how fantastic my daughter is before people think I seriously have a problem! = ) We're in a new stage in our life. We're in a new state. New house that our inlaws have so graciously allowed us to impose on them. New jobs (well not me yet), some new friends etc. I find myself getting very lost in the day to day nonsense which leaves me...like I mentioned before, very uninspired.
This evening I was enjoying a nice little browse on Facebook when a lovely friend of mine posted this link. I love talking about adoption. Any type or country whatever it is, I like it. It felt good to read something that was adoption related since we're kind of "out" of the adoption loop these days due to Emery's finalization and no monthly social worker visits. Anytime I sniff out any prospective adoptive parents or people interested I'm on it like white on rice, I must share what I know. I would have loved to have that in the beginning of our process. Towards the end I had quite a little group of mamas who answered my questions and I'm telling you that was INVALUABLE! So this article started me thinking. It started me thinking about how much I remembered those foster children I wanted to be a mama too. It started me thinking about orphans other countries who are homeless and hungry. It started me thinking that I'm not done yet. I never thought I was but when you're sort of out of the loop for a while you get comfortable and the need seems less because you're not in there like swimwear. I love adoption...I love fostering, I love when people are willing to go out on a limb and make change happen. I love the article because it really taps into the core issue which is that there aren't enough people willing to change these children's lives. There are plenty of people to complain about who shouldn't take them but yet none of those people are willing to step up. This is one of my hot button issues. I don't get involved in political debates EVER because it's only arguing and divisive, which is why I'm glad the article wasn't politically driven. It's fact driven. You can't argue those statistics. So on this night...where my little brown baby is fast asleep in her bed, with clean clothes and roof over her head I found it perfect time to be reminded of why we did this. Why we decided to follow our hearts towards this result.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adaptability...

My little lovey has displayed a quality as of late that makes me smile. She is all about adapting to new surroundings! In the last two weeks we have packed up our entire house, flown on an airplane for the first time, met two new doggies and at least 20 new people, slept in different beds, and are in a totally different house...and it really doesn't seem to have affected her at all. Not even a little bit! The plane ride was my biggest worry, I hate flying and I think I'm going to die every single time I get on one. Claustrophobia sets in. Heart palpitations. Sweats. Nausea. I loathe it. I loathe THAT I loathe it. So when we decided to have Emery and I fly up instead of drive for 20+ hours my nervousness escalated by a million percent. I understood why it was necessary to choose a two and a half hour plane ride but I realized I needed to get my crap together and make this flight easy for my girl. Also, it didn't hurt that my big sis decided to fly up with me. =) I expected the most problems to occur on take off because of the noise and maybe the cabin pressure bothering her ears but seriously homegirl didn't even flinch. In fact, I don't even know that realized we were doing anything out of the norm! It was awesome. This last week has been interesting...we're trying to settle in and get into the groove a little more and it works sometimes and then other times it doesn't.
Next week she's one. One. I can't believe it. People always tell me that time flies and to enjoy every moment and while I can't say that I stop and smell the roses every last time I seriously try my best. She is changing so much, even in the last week. She's talking a lot more, in fact her vocab these days include "nice", "ni ni"(night night), "guh guh"(gus), and "uh-oh". She plays really well by herself which is a HUGE change from before. She can pull herself up on things now, and is quite the explorer. I'm proud of my little bug...I've said once and I'll say it a thousand times. She's magic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Like mother, like daughter...

It never occurred to me how much I would care that Emery and I have similarities. I mean we're all born different, with different skill sets and looks but when we adopted I found myself hanging on to the little bits of similarities I have with my little love like little pieces of treasure that I dare not share with anyone. It's a fact, she doesn't share my genes. It's not an overreaction or a way to feel sorry for myself...it is what it is. I'll never look at her and think...hmmmm she definitely has my eyes, or my hair (that would look interesting on my head for sure!). So in the last couple months as her personality changes and morphs into more of a little person I find myself delightfully surprised at our similarities. Starting with the fact that homegirl LOVES to sleep! When it's time for her nap and I walk into her room, she gets all giddy...legs kicking and giggly when she sees her blankets in her crib. It may come as a surprise to only a select few of you but I LOVE sleep. I love going to bed at night, I love naps (my favorite are the ones where you open the windows on a crisp day and crawl under the down comforter), I love sleep. Second, she's a pretty wild sleeper and sleeps on her belly with her bum straight up in the air. I don't do the bum in the air part but I'm a wild sleeper and sleeping on my tummy wreaks havoc on my spine but I don't give a rats pooper and I do it anyway. Next, she's stubborn and independent. This one isn't my favorite because I'M stubborn and independent which makes teaching my stubborn and independent almost one year old nearly impossible because we BOTH want to do it OUR way. Last, and this is my favorite, we both can't get enough of Tyler. Seriously. She loves her daddy...she cuddles with him way more than with me, and I think gets a little more excitable when he's around. Lets face it...I can't live without him either. He's an amazing husband and best friend...a fearless leader of his girls and has integrity for miles.
I assume when you have a bio child discovering similarities between yourself and said child are super cool! Actually being able to "see" the resemblance and know that your DNA is woven into this human being is something I'm certain is amazing. So in these times where I'm grasping at the reality that things may be difficult when my little lovey is struggling with the fact that she doesn't look like us, I'll remind her often of the days where I discovered plenty about the three of us that make us fit perfectly together.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day...

This Mother's Day was packed full of many different emotions. We're moving. Out of state back to the grand old land of corn, cows and mosquitoes...Indiana. Now lets get one thing straight...I hate Florida. I know that might sound really strange since people tend to vacation here but I seriously loathe this state...the weather (except for like January-March) is not my style, the scenery really isn't that fantastic, I miss the seasons. I miss the leaves changing, snow, ice, scraping, salting, snot freezing cold. There's one thing though that makes Florida worth it. My family...we're big, we're dysfunctional, disorganized, but we laugh and joke and usually spend our Sunday evenings together. So this Mother's Day I was thinking about how I probably won't be with my own mama next year, I was thinking how much I'll miss her random phone calls and birthday dinners. I was thinking about how much I love her, and the sacrifices she made for all of us kids growing up. I was thinking about all her good qualities and how much I want to soak all of those in and pass them along to my little bug. I was also contemplating how strange it is to be a mom, to have this day mean something totally different for me than my last 28 years. I know eventually this day will hold more weight, more tradition and such. So for now, I just enjoyed my little girl who was completely out of character that morning and a pinch on the cuddly side! I also found myself thinking of FM...obviously this day is probably not celebratory for her by any stretch of the imagination. I mean technically she is a mother, but she doesn't have a child to show for it. Once again I'm brought to my knees in prayer for her and the heartbreak she must be facing during these special "first holiday's". She gave me the greatest gift ever, selflessness in the form of my girl. Happy Mother's Day FM... hang tight one day you'll be able to celebrate this day with a child in your arms.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My little love...

We have some pretty major things happening in our lives right now and some transitions that have been harder to deal but in the midst of it all I have one little girl that makes this life just a little bit sweeter. Here are some things that she is doing lately...
*She's full blown mobile now. Crawling everywhere and finding every last ounce of dog hair possible so she can sample the grossness for herself.
*She's sassy and stubborn, and there are times where Tyler and I look at each other and go..."oh my gosh, how do you deal with this at almost 11 months old?". She yells at us when we take something away from her, glances knowingly in my direction when she's about to put something in her mouth she shouldn't and then smiles when I say, uh uh.
*She LOVES music. Loves it. Loves when we sing to her, sits quietly in the back seat when it's playing in the car, stares directly at the TV when it comes on. It's truly amazing, and I can't wait to see what her musical talent will be.
*She's eating people food now. Scrambled eggs, turkey, chicken, green beans etc. She refuses her baby food when people food is anywhere near.
*She's flexible with her schedule. We can take her anywhere at any time and she's usually down for whatever which is nice because most times we're fly by the seat of our pants kind of people.

So...in case you're wondering. She's magic. Her smile, her laugh, her smell, her hugs and kisses...pure unadulterated magic. Sometimes I think it's so strange that last year we didn't know her, or even the possibility of her. God is good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birth Mom visit #2...

The last visit was pretty much a hot mess...I didn't know what to expect, I couldn't identify my role completely because I was new to the whole "mom" thing let alone the whole "visit with FM" thing. I made a promise to myself after that first visit that I would maintain as much normality as possible. I was too accommodating the first time (and yes, there is such a thing as TOO much accommodation). We're big on boundaries in our life when it comes to our family. Sometimes that's not well received but in my opinion it's all about presentation when it comes to setting up boundaries. We had a little hiccup the week prior to the visit (I'm not intending on being secretive but because this is a public blog there are certain things I won't share specifically) and it made me defensive. The whole mantra of "Kari, she's young" kept ringing in my ears so I focused on that. The day of our finalization we had agreed to meet FM a few hours after we were finished, it wasn't ideal for me but given the fact that we're three hours away from where she lives I bit the bullet and made it happen. We were flying high from the reality that our family was legal now, and had just spent the afternoon celebrating and shopping with my parents and sister. We had decided to meet at the CHS offices where we had picked Emery up that first night because they have a play room and it was more conducive for these types of visits. It couldn't have gone any better! FM was excited to see Emery, the little hiccup was never mentioned, and we sat there for the next hour filling her in almost like we would a babysitter. It would take me too many words to even try to get you to understand how surreal situations like this are because you see in my mind and in my world she has always been mine. It's really the strangest thing. I never thought when we adopted that I would ever forget she was adopted but I do. I watched as FM did her typical once over...she touches Emery's hair, skin, and just stares at her. She comments that her birth mark is fading (I've never even noticed a birth mark). I ask her to point it out and then I realize that birth marks on brown babies look a heck of a lot different than birth marks on white babies. =) FM stayed closer to me this visit, when Emery would fuss she'd come by me for a quick fuss fix and I'd hand her back. We chatted about school, her favorite subject, how she sang in church a few weeks ago and how it made her feel very proud of herself. We never ever discussed the elephant in the room...how is she dealing with this loss? These visits aren't about me. They're about her. Selfishly I want to take that entire hour and ask every question in the book, because Lord knows I'm an answers kind of girl. Instead, I held our girl while FM compared their hands noting their similarities and I became lost in how poignant this moment was. Her gift to me was Emery and my gift to her are these visits. Full circle baby...full circle.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Perspective...

There are few things in life that can have a greater impact on me than what I just experienced 48 hours ago. My little love is mine forever...her smile, her laugh, her stubbornness is all wrapped up in that teeny little body and it's final. The official documents have been signed, the last check has been written and we are officially a family.
The way God orchestrated this entire thing is nothing short of amazing and there are things that I learned this weekend from Christina (Emery's adoption worker) that point more and more towards God's provision for us during this process and I can't thank Him enough. He handpicked her for us, just as if she was grown in my belly and woven together with mine and Tyler's genes and I can't imagine our lives without her...she is perfection. I was sharing with a friend that I didn't realize how much I was depending on this day finally getting here. I mean I would think about it a lot, and wonder about the process etc. but in the days leading up to the actual DAY I found myself more emotional and more dependent on the finality of it all.
My heart is so full. Full of thanks to all of the individuals who both near and far donated time, money, and prayer for our little future family. Not out of obligation but out of love for us and out of love for our family. They will all hold a very special place in our hearts and in Emery's story for her entire life and it's truly something I'll never ever forget.
Today we slept in, had breakfast in bed, took her swimming for the first time...we treasured our moments together, took photos, exchanged knowing glances of how lucky we truly are and tonight we laid her down to sleep truly thankful for how blessed our life has become in these last six months.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big day coming up...

Well it's here, finally. This Friday at 11:30 is the adoption hearing where every last "i" will be dotted and "t" will be crossed, I seriously can't wait! My parents, and sister Michelle are driving about three hours to get there and then we're staying overnight too, which will be so nice. I can't wait for Saturday, we'll go to the pool and just hang out together as a legally bound family. I agreed to having a visit with FM on Friday afternoon...it's what worked best for both of her workers and well, I really don't have a choice unless I want to make the three hour trek on a different day.
So, I'm excited to have this day finally arrive after six long months of waiting! Little girl is almost one year old at this point and I never would have imagined it taking this long however when I look at events in the last six months the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
I wonder if I'll cry...if I'll be so relieved that it's finally done I'll just let loose with pure unadulterated emotion that the judge might deem me unstable and change her mind! HAHAA! Probably not, but that would be funny.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm at a loss with our "Open Adoption"...

Tyler and I agreed to having an open adoption with Emery, we were both comfortable with it and definitely we're interested in making it work. If I'm being totally honest, its just been weird. I'm having a hard time trying to understand my role in this. On one hand I'm in total control, I am the mom. I am the one who takes care of her every day and loves her. The one thing I am NOT is the one who carried her in my belly and gave birth to her. For some reason on the first visit I gave up total control, I allowed her to be soothed and fed by FM and I just didn't know what to expect. That will never happen again, I will be in control this time. Tyler will help take charge in the situation too. For the last month I've been dreading another visit, and the truth is I don't want to dread it. I don't want to get nervous when we start discussing a time and day to meet. I have friends who carry on open adoptions with their children's FM and it looks very different from mine. It really has been over the last couple months that I've discovered in my mind why theirs looks different than mine. My FM is a teenager...she's like four years away from being "legal". Her priorities are different, her attitude is different, she's in flipping foster care for crying out loud. I've found solace in other adoptive moms stories of open adoptions but I have yet to find someone who is even remotely in a similar situation. Which begs me the question, why isn't there some kind of database for this???? What I would give to have an email conversation with another adoptive mama about the nuances of open adoption with an orphan, teen mom in foster care. Sometimes this overwhelms me. Today I'm annoyed. They wanted to piggy back the finalization hearing with a visit and I'm just not down with that. We'll have friends and family at the hearing (because the hearing is three hours away and in the same city as where the visit is) and what am I supposed to do with them for an hour while us three meet together in some stuffy conference room pretending that it's not completely awkward? I find myself saying things like..."I don't want FM to be part of that day at all, I don't want my memory of that special day to include a visit with her". Why am I angry about it? It's because I'm lost in the land of not knowing what to do when the truth is I need to tap into the amount of gratitude I have for her, get back to the basics of the stupendously courageous decision FM made to carry this child to full term at 13 years old, try and care for her only to realize she couldn't and then totally give up any and all rights she had to this child. At 13. Thirteen. That just blows my mind. So it's time for me to get back onto the gratitude bandwagon, start thinking of FM in a more positive light. Get over my own insecurities and seriously bask in the goodness that is our spirited little girl, because I'm telling you there isn't anyone more fabulous than her.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who knew it would be 6 months...

For realz....when we brought her home on October 1st I never ever in a million years thought it would take six months for her finalization to actually take place. I had read three months, I had heard four months but six months was completely preposterous! Here we are six months later and we finally have our adoption hearing date of April 8th, six months and one week to the day we brought our spirited little girl home. There were some mix ups and annoying hold ups which prevented this from moving faster but this I know for sure...God's timing is always and has always been perfect for us. I am slowly learning not to question it...there have been too many instances in this process where I thought the timing sucked but it turns out it was perfect for us, and our story. The almost baby would have meant I never ever would get to see my sweet girls face every day, and I just can't imagine it.
Timing is an interesting thing, because it's so subjective. Schedules change, things pop up out of no where, life happens and timing is affected every single time. We're at an interesting stage in life right now, things have changed with Tyler's job and we are trusting in God's timing yet again. I want to push certain situations or opportunities, I want to control various aspects of this and I just need to step back...look at our past and trust that He knows what's best. So for now, I'm basking in the promise that is April 8th, where legally our wild woman will be just that...OURS. I can't wait.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm a mom, that's weird...

Every once in a while the thought will just randomly spring into my head reminding me that I am, in fact, a mother. Still almost six months later that's very strange to me. I'm sure this is quite normal after living 27 years not being a mother but still occasionally the thought creeps in and gives me a good chuckle. I went into her room last night, like I do every night before I go to bed, and make sure she's covered, breathing and not suffocating herself with anything in her crib. Last night when I did that is when the motherhood thing struck me again. I think because Emery came to us in a blaze of glory (which completely matches her personality) but it's sometimes still so surreal to me. I like it. The fleeting thoughts of "Holy Crap I'm a Mom" really keep me on my toes, and allow me to soak in all the thankfulness of this wild ride.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anti-survival mode...

For me, in the beginning it was survival mode. 100%. We had a 4 month old and less than 24 hours to prepare for her arrival. Our friends and family were amazing and stepped up in a major way...seriously some people dream about having friends and family like ours! Our old routine was dead and gone, our time was now her time, and that was ok by us. We had been waiting one year for this and we put on our big girl/boy underpants and started full speed ahead! As it turns out she was a very relaxed girl, go with the flow and really only needed the basics from us which was AMAZING! Our relationship with each other changed and evolved into a parenting partnership where strengths were praised and weaknesses were tweaked but we were in it to win it! It's only now, five months later, that I'm trying to switch gears into anti-survival mode. I found myself just "trying to get through the day" and while that may be appropriate on certain days I don't think it's fair to Emery every day. I have to teach myself (and Tyler does too) that sometimes the schedule doesn't exist and it's not going to ruin everything we've done by tossing it out the window one day by just having fun and getting to enjoy HER. She deserves it. She deserves my undivided attention every now and then, she deserves to know that there is some flexibility involved in what we do every day and while she won't ever in her life remember what her first year with us was like...I will. When her first year is over I want to remember that we had fun, for ME to remember, not her. These last couple weeks with her have been a little difficult. We've tried to change her schedule a little bit and she just isn't responding well to it, and she's also giving us an extremely hard time with eating her food. She shakes her head back and forth, or cries the whole time and this just doesn't make for a positive dining experience. We've tried switching her food, heating it, not heating it, letting her try and feed herself and sometimes it works but when we try the same thing twice it's right back to the screaming. After a relatively long day on Tuesday, Tyler was unfortunately the recipient of every fit she had right down to putting her jammies on and when I came into her room he just looked defeated. He was feeling disconnected so I just said..."Listen, don't worry about doing her hair or anything just grab a book, sit in the chair and spend some time with her. Let her do what she wants when she wants. She has spent the entire day doing what everyone else wants/needs her to do and now is just the time for you to be fun daddy, not routine daddy". He read to her, rocked her to sleep and was feeling a little more connected by the end of the night. That scenario is exactly how this blog post formed and I started thinking about the last few weeks with her and I was straight up in survival mode. Routine is good. Routine is what children need. Routine is what adults need but every routine needs a good break once in a while so that's what we did. We broke it, we stayed in our jammies, took an early nap, didn't force the food issue and just dealt with the day as it happened and it felt good. I don't want five years from now to only remember me "surviving" the first year of her life...I want to remember thriving.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FANTASTIC NEWS!...

First I'll start with the fact that the last couple months have been a little hard for me, patience wise. We brought Emery home on October 1st, and I always thought by now things would have been finalized and all of that would be behind us. I'll also be honest and say when I want something, I want it now and I don't like waiting especially as it relates to something important. I tend to hover and constantly ask for updates and wonder what the heck is taking so long!!! At first when a couple months went by and we didn't hear anything Fab Social Worker just said that the attorney was being very careful to make sure all paperwork was done properly because FM is a minor and in state custody foster care. Ok that's fine. Ok I can deal with that. Ok as long as things are moving along them I'm ok. Then another month passes and still nothing. It's at this point where the hovering begins...and I'm not getting the answers I want. Fast forward to about a month ago when Fab Social Worker came for a visit and she informs me that our current attorney who was doing the TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) dropped the ball on a piece of paperwork and never let anyone know! We decided to switch the case to another county/attorney and things are finally crack-a-lackin. I actually spoke with the attorney this past Wednesday and he said "Well the TPR hearing is this Friday, so after that we wait a mandatory 30 days and then schedule a court date for finalization". I couldn't believe it! Finally after all this waiting things were moving! The TPR hearing went great and everything is a go now! In 30 days our girl will legally be OURS! No more old name confusion with insurance/doctors, no more little teeny voice in the back of my head worrying about the worst, no more dreams about her being taken away from us...no more has never made me so happy. I'm loving it. Once it's done I'm throwing a big party!!!!! Why? Because my amazing little piece of heaven deserves a celebration where friends and family surround her with love and hugs and happiness. It's something I've never been more happy to provide for her.
In the hustle and bustle of paperwork filing and this whole wacko attorney switching a really cool thing happened. We didn't have all the money saved for the attorney...probably only about $400 shy of being able to pull it off, and when all this attorney switching happened we discovered the one we switched to was $1000 and the one we left was $1500. God is good. God is always good. God has shown himself to us through this ENTIRE situation and sometimes I don't give him enough credit. Not that He's desperate for it but what He did for us on October 1st was nothing short of a miracle. He provided an adoption that was tailored completely for our saving's account...right...down...to the last...penny. Leaving us wanting nothing. It's easy to remember to what God does for us when it's making life easier. It's harder to recognize His provision when we're going through hard times or being asked to wait like we were last year at this time. I need to get better at thanking Him through whatever circumstances and not just in the ones where He gives me what I want.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes I think about the time I missed...

There have been a few times in the last few weeks where I think a lot about the time I missed with her. Little girl is coming up on 9 months old and I can't believe it, as of right now we've had her more than we haven't had her but still I would have liked to know her as a newborn. I couldn't even imagine the sweetness. I wonder what she looked like all curled up in a little newborn ball...probably like heaven. She's heaven now so I can't imagine heaven as a newborn...so squirmy and soft with a smell that's to die for. Being able to compare her personality and advancements.
I would imagine that once things are finalized with the adoption I'll be a little more gutsy about the information I want from FM. I want to know if she has any photos of her as a newborn, I want to know what the birth fathers name and ethnicity is too. For now, I'll stay silent my questions waiting to be answered until she is legally and officially ours. I'm a little weird about that.
I mentioned in a previous post that I encounter people with testicular fortitude who have said ignorant things like..."I bet you're glad you missed out on the whole waking up every two hours newborn thing?" or "Hey you had it easy not having to deal with a newborn". Ummmm actually I'm not glad that I missed out on it and something tells me that you wouldn't trade your time with your brand new baby for the world. Sleep deprivation and adjustment comes with the territory of being a new mom whether you have a newborn, four month old or a four year old. Oh what I would pay to have my thoughts be read by people when they're talking to me about these things.
Last night when I arrived home from work she had given Tyler a little bit of a run for his money (he's very schedule oriented and she was not following the schedule, and it was a new schedule) so I decided to finish up the bedtime ritual of Goodnight Moon and some quiet time. When I laid her down in bed I told her I loved her and then ran my fingers along her soft little face and she smiled at me through her pacifier. These moments are the ones I live for. The ones I hope to remember at times when she's really pissing me off. The ones that I can share with her when she's older. She'll always be the one who made me a mama.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Testicular Fortitude...

That is my polite way of saying...well, never mind. So, believe it or not in the beginning other than strange looks and longer than normal "glances" I never really had anyone say anything to me directly that wasn't completely warranted. People at work who knew me forever without a child and then all of a sudden I'm on "maternity" leave and have a four month old asked the obvious questions but nothing super nosey. Two Saturdays ago we were out to breakfast and I had a gentleman stop at the table..."Oh my she is so cute."...Me: "Thanks!"...Guy: "Is she adopted?" Me: "Yes"...Guy: "Where is she from? Haiti?". Me: "Nope, she's local...born in West Palm Beach". Guy: "Well it's really a great thing that you did, there are plenty of kids that need good homes, that's a really great thing that you did". Me: "Well thanks". This particular interaction was definitely not offensive, it's normal curiosity really I just would never EVER ask a perfect stranger those questions. That same day I had another lady say something very similar, two times in one day! That's never happened before. One time my sister had Emery with her in Joann's Fabric and a little old lady teetered up and peered in the car carrier exclaiming..."This baby doesn't belong to you!". Nice. Today I was at Babies 'R Us stocking up on things I really don't need and as I was checking out the cashier was oooogling and goooogling with Emery and asked..."Is this your baby?", to which I replied "Yep!". As I was walking to the car I thought to myself, I know this will always be something I have to deal with, I take that back because "dealing" gives a negative spin on it and that's not what I want, it'll always be something I have to respond to. Whether I like it or not.
I will say this. Next time you think to yourself, perhaps I should ask this lady if this is her child, maybe you should just take one for the team and zip it. Zip that testicular fortitude right up, and instead focus on the beauty that is a blended family, and why it's not important at all whether you know if I'm the mother or not.

Friday, January 28, 2011

She just needed her mama...hey that's ME!

Poor little gal has been teething for the last few weeks but these last few days those darn teeth really seemed to kick things up a notch and she has been MISERABLE. Not the kind of miserable where her mood is drastically altered but the kind where she doesn't want to eat normally, she randomly cries, she can't hardly breathe out of her nose, her eyes are glassy, and she is just sad. One fabulous thing about my little sidekick is that it takes a lot to affect her mood, even through all this she is still all smiles! I love her.
Today I left work early to pick her up and on the way I was thinking to myself...she seemed fine with me yesterday. I mean she was a little off but overall we had a pretty good day. Then I got to thinking...when I was little (ok probably until I was like 25) every time I became sick I just wanted my mom. It didn't matter if she was in the next room, it didn't matter if she was paying attention to me, it just mattered that she was there, a second away in case I needed her. Then it dawned on me...Emery just wanted her mama and that's ME! In the hustle and bustle, who am I kidding the complete WHIRLWIND that was October, November & December I sometimes forget that I'm a new mom. Brand spanking new and these strange revelations, be them as strange as they sound, aren't as obvious to me until I'm faced with an experience like this. It felt good...no it felt AMAZING to know that I was the only face she wanted to see this afternoon, the only arms she wanted to be in, the only snuggler she wanted to snuggle with. She just wanted me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's the little things...

I was watching American Idol tonight and there was a girl who auditioned. Yes, I realize that this is the entire premise of the show but this girl was african american and her parents were white. I cried. It's the first time since we've brought Emery home that I've actually seen this family dynamic outside of my own home. This isn't a woe is me type of post it's just my reality that's all. People do look at me funny when it's just her and I in public but boy howdy do we get some real weird looks when it's the three of us. I guess eventually I won't notice, but for now I do. Then I get a little defensive, which I hate. Then I tell myself, Kari get over it. I feel so insecure sometimes, almost like I have to make sure I say or do something that proves to strangers I'm her mother and not a babysitter. I also know that I will have more of an adjustment with our color difference than she will because we're all she has ever known. There are so many thoughts I have on a daily basis in regards to how much pain and loss she'll experience once she can comprehend it. Some days I just want her to be BORN from me so she won't feel that hurt...and then I realize that the beauty of adoption and why God CHOSE Tyler and I is that perhaps He recognized a capacity in us that we didn't know we had. The capacity to pick up broken pieces and try to make a childhood out of them. I love my little girl, with all of my living, beating, blood pumping heart and there is nothing (especially her color) that I would change. She is magic. Every day.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things I learned from the first visit...

So, its taken me a while to piece together all the things I learned from the first visit...a little over two months to be exact. Here are some things I've learned and will change the next time we meet.
1. Emery is my child. Which means when she cries either myself or Tyler will be the one to step in and pick her up to soothe her. During the first visit I tried too hard to be nice and accommodating instead of smart and take charge. FM is in fact just that. Her first mom, and until Emery is old enough to grasp that understanding it's so important that my little girl understand her comfort comes from us.
2. These visits are going to become increasingly more difficult for FM. Emery will not really understand why we are going to visit this lady all the time. Until her brain can truly understand the basics of the situation she'll probably be a little wary for a while, which will then probably be hard for FM.
3. We're dealing with a teenager. FM is only 14, she herself probably doesn't grasp the gravity of the situation so we need to be a lot forgiving when it comes to maybe some things that she says or does.

It's not a lot that I learned or necessarily anything too earth shattering just things that I never in a million years ever thought I would think.