Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Popularity Contest

Some days, it feels like waiting to be matched to adopt is the ultimate popularity contest. There are more waiting families than expectant mothers considering placing their babies for adoption. Each family is hoping & praying they'll stand out above the rest, but the truth is none of us know which detail about us or our family an expectant mother will connect with. 

It occurred to me yesterday while responding to a post on an online adoption forum, that to an outsider we must all look like high school girls vying for the attention of the most popular boy in school. An expectant mother posted looking for advice & several of us commented with our own perspective. Most of us that commented are currently waiting to be matched & all have links to our profiles either on FB or other profile hosting sites in our signatures.

I'm often hesitant to comment on an expectant mother's post b/c I'm sure others think I'm doing so only to get her to look at our profile & hopefully choose us. There was another post by a different expectant mother a few weeks back asking for sites to view online profiles. Of course everyone that commented was a prospective adoptive parent & they all suggested profile sites where they have their own profiles listed. The desperation was almost palpable. 

I must admit, some days the whole process gets to me. I will occasionally look at someone else's profile or, very once in a while like today, a profile that someone has paid for advertising on will pop up in my newsfeed on FB. It's impossible not to compare our profile to those other families' & wonder how we would rank in an expectant mother's eyes.

Obviously since we've already adopted once someone liked what they saw. This time around is different though since we're specifying girl. I also worry that the fact that we already have children & are no longer in our mid 20s to early 30s will be viewed as strikes against us. I guess time will tell. Until then, I will continue to keep hope alive that there is an expectant mother out there who will fall in love with our family & bless us with the ultimate gift. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Before and After

Some days, I feel like I'm living someone else's life; or more accurately, an entirely different lifetime.

Very few things in my life have unfolded the way I had anticipated. I wasn't supposed to lose my mother in my early twenties, or my father and Vin within months of each other in my early thirties. I wasn't supposed to be blessed with the miracle of twins only to have to fight tooth and nail to stay pregnant long enough for them to survive, and then have to say goodbye to my daughter just a few short months after saying hello. I wasn't supposed to be raising my son as a twinless twin, or watching him struggle daily to overcome the effects of being born so prematurely. I wasn't supposed to live in constant fear that he will never be able to live the life he was meant to due to being on the spectrum. I wasn't supposed to deal with all of this profound loss and heartache while living thousands of miles away from my siblings and extended family, and nearest and dearest friends.

Some days, I truly feel like I have lost myself. I feel disconnected from my past and who I was, and who I had hoped to be. I feel isolated from, and forgotten by family and friends. I feel as if I am suspended between who I once was, and who I have become. It's almost as if my life has been split in two,  "before" and "after." I am not the person I once was, nor will I ever be again. More often than not, I find myself struggling to let go of people and places from my past. They no longer serve a purpose in my life, but I hold on for dear life out of fear and habit.

Somehow, someway, I need to find the strength and courage to let go and move on. It won't be easy since it will mean letting go of people I have known practically my entire life, but I am tired of being jealous and bitter on a daily basis when I scroll through my News Feed. I'm tired of feeling like I don't belong anywhere, or like people are uncomfortable just being around me. I'm tired of second-guessing the things I say and feel and do. I am tired of living in my own shadow.

It is time for me to accept this life I was given, even if it wasn't what I had planned. It is time for me to be the woman, and wife and mother that my life has shaped me to be, and no longer worry about those who can't/won't accept me for who I am. It is time for me to make the most of what's left of this lifetime, and learn to live each day to the fullest. I don't want to look back in fifty or sixty years and regret wasting any more of the precious time I have with Shane and our miraculous children. It is time for me to embrace the "after!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adoption Awareness

As I'm sure by now most of you are aware, November is adoption awareness month. Obviously, our family was blessed beyond measure by the miracle of adoption and we sincerely hope to experience that miracle once more. What some of you may not be aware of is the anti-adoption movement. A dear friend messaged me last night after she unexpectedly discovered it via the comments on a post celebrating adoption awareness month on Holiday Inn's FB page. The very same post popped up in my newsfeed this morning.

One of the commenters is clearly anti-adoption. Among other things, she ridicules adoptive parents for paying birth parent expenses prior to a baby being born. She equates it with a bribe since the adoptive parents are hoping that the expectant mother will place her baby with them. What she fails to acknowledge is the fact that the expectant mother is not the only one who is vulnerable or being coerced. The adoptive parents are often times taking a risk by paying those expenses. The expectant mother has the right to change her mind at any moment and she is not required to pay back those expenses.

Adoption is not simply black and white, there's a lot of gray area involved. It's also not all about money. I had a discussion with an adult adoptee on another friend's FB page just last week. This friend had shared a picture that pointed out the fact that most adoptions cost around $40,000 while an abortion only costs around $400. The adult adoptee commented that it was a shame people pay that much to adopt when that amount of money would likely eliminate a birth family's desperation and prevent them from relinquishing their rights. I responded that money is not the only factor that contributes to a birth family choosing adoption. There are countless other factors such as inability to parent due to age or other circumstances, and still others who are unwilling to parent for reasons of their own that have nothing to do with the almighty dollar. This same woman had the audacity to provide me with a link for an "ethical" adoption agency, alluding to the fact that our adoption wasn't ethical. Her perception of adoption has been skewed by her own experience and she refuses to see that not all adoptions are unethical. The difference is I can see both sides. 

While adoption isn't ideal, it still is a beautiful and miraculous thing. Both Shane and I, and JT's parents feel that we were an answer to each other's prayers. Obviously, in an ideal situation JT would have been able to grow up with his birth family. For various reasons though, his birth parents chose to place him for adoption. I am grateful that we were able to meet them and begin building the foundation for our relationship prior to his birth. Due to that budding relationship, my heart literally broke for them the day JT was born. I left the birthing suite to go downstairs and be with Mason so Shane could go meet JT. As soon as Shane headed upstairs, I had to drag Mason into the ladies' room because I could no longer hold back the tears. I cried hysterically for them and for what they were about to give up.  I am so grateful that we are in an open adoption and remain in contact to this day. They are not just JT's birth parents, they are part of our extended family.

I felt drawn to write this blog post because I want to help educate others and dispel the negativity being spread by the anti-adoption movement. While I admit the adoption industry is flawed and in desperate need of reform, I'm tired of adoptive couples being painted as baby snatchers. At its core, adoption is about building relationships. I honestly can't imagine our lives without JT or his birth parents and I am eager to meet our future daughter and her birth parents as well. I sincerely hope that our relationship with them is just as miraculous!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friends for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime?

Friendship has always been a struggle for me. I don't make friends easily, but once I do I am fiercely loyal & I don't take ending any friendship lightly. As I get older, however, I am beginning to realize the profound truth behind these words:

Friends come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. 

Looking back, I have most definitely had friendships for a reason; those that were meant to fulfill a specific purpose in my life or in theirs. I've also had friendships that were only meant to last a season. For me though, I've always felt that most of my friendships were meant to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to accept the fact that that's simply not the case. 

Aside from Facebook, I have all but lost contact with countless friends I thought were meant to last a lifetime. We keep tabs on each other & send the occasional text or email, but we are no longer truly a part of each other's lives. We have all but lost the connections we once had and no longer have the energy or the desire to reconnect.  

I am slowly coming to the realization that it's time for me to let go. I have changed a great deal in the last several years. The sad truth is that most of my friends, & family members as well, can't identify with me anymore or with the life experiences I've had. Hell, some days I can't even identify with myself. It's no one's fault, it just is what it is. 

I'm not saying that I plan to end those friendships I thought would last a lifetime. I am simply putting them into perspective. I will always cherish the memories we've made but I no longer have unrealistic expectations. I will continue to stay connected through Facebook & through the occasional text & email, & see them as the blessings they are instead of lamenting the lack of connection I've been associating with them. 

Most importantly, going forward I am going to embrace each friendship whether it be for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I've come to realize lately just how precious & fragile friendship can be & I don't ever want to take it for granted again.

Monday, August 3, 2015

My Multiple Personalities

Shane often jokes that I have multiple personalities. He'll say things like "all three of you" or "which one of you?" when referring to me. He calls it being "personality friendly." It occurred to me that in a sense, he's right. 

There are in fact, three versions of me. The me I used to be, the me I have become and the me I wish I could be.  

Buried deep within is the naive, optimistic young girl/woman I once was long ago. She had a sense of humor and loved to make others laugh. She trusted and loved unconditionally & only saw the good in people & situations. She hadn't experienced profound loss or heartache and didn't dwell on the "what ifs" or ask "why me." She simply lived each day to the fullest and looked to the future with hope and optimism.   

Not so deep is the cynical, pessimistic me. She is way too serious & often forgets how to laugh. She found out the hard way that not everyone deserves to be trusted & loved unconditionally & that sometimes things are out of your control; that unfortunately situations & events can sometimes irrevocably change you. She is often ruled by fear of the unknown and hates how she feels when she has no control over a situation. She's the version of myself I've clung to the most for the past few decades.

Just under the surface is the me that I truly wish I could be. She is a mixture of the other two. She doesn't let fear or uncertainty hold her back but she also doesn't see the world through rose colored glasses. Instead she draws strength and courage from her past experiences, both good and bad, and does everying within her power to realize her dreams while keeping her feet firmly planted on the ground. This version of me is fighting tooth and nail to break free.

I look forward to the day when I can finally embrace my true self and I no longer feel like I am constantly trying to outrun my past. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm Movin' On

Ever experience a moment when you're driving home, listening to a familiar song and suddenly you burst into tears because the song has taken on a whole new meaning for you? Yeah, that happened just now. I am a huge Rascal Flatts fan and have always loved the song I'm Moving On. Ever since my Father died a few years ago, I've associated that song with him. Today though, it hit me like a ton of bricks that it now applies to me.

I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself

I've been burdened with blame
Trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on

I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but its time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change

But I never dreamed home
Would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out

Maybe forgiveness will find me
Somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on

I completely lost it at the 5th verse and could barely see the road through my tears. I have come so far and grown so much in the last year. Being back in the place where Maddie and Mason were born, and Maddie lost the fight, has forced me to face my grief and work through it. 

I will NEVER forget her or stop missing her and wishing she was still here with us, but I know that Maddie would not want me to live in the past. She wouldn't want me blame myself for her and Mason being born extremely premature or for her death. I know without a doubt that she would want me to live each day to the fullest and enjoy every single second I have with Mason and Jackson. 

My sweet baby girl taught me SO much in her short three months on this Earth and she continues to do so even eight years after her death. Yesterday afternoon, we went to Chili's for an early Mother's Day dinner. Our waitress was named Maddie. I believe it was my precious daughter's way of letting me know she was with me and not to be sad. Just about an hour or so earlier, I had commented on a friend's Facebook status about how the holiday was difficult for me due to missing my Mother and Maddie. 

I truly believe that song taking on new meaning for me today was yet another message from her. Maddie was encouraging me to stop living in the past and letting the years pass me by. She's letting me know that it's time to forgive myself and finally move on.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Home Is Where the Heart Is . . .

There are two well known sayings concerning home:

Home is where the heart is.

You can never go back home again.

I can attest to both. 

Over the course of the last 20 years, we've moved quite a bit. Granted, some of those moves were within the same city, i.e. when we lived in Texas, we moved from an apartment to base housing and then to the first house we bought. When we left after 3.5 years, it was hard to say goodbye to the friends we had made but we were looking forward to a new adventure. Thankfully when we moved to Louisiana we lived in the same house the entire time. It was the longest we had stayed in one place since we graduated college. We made so many amazing friends throughout the course of those 5 years. We also were changed irrevocably when we finally became parents after struggling for over 7 years to start a family. Leaving was extremely hard; neither of us were impressed with the prospect of Nebraska. 

I knew absolutely nothing about the Midwest and found myself constantly comparing it to Louisiana. It took a while, but once again we were fortunate enough to make some amazing friends. It never really quite felt like it was "home" though. I'm sure that was in part due to the fact that we lived in 3 different houses over the course of our 7 years there too; base housing, the house we rented and the house we bought. It occurred to me tonight though that it also had a lot to do with the fact that I was afraid of opening myself up; that doing so would have been like cheating on the friends we had left behind. I was afraid that if I let too many people in or became too close with them that it would be like forgetting or replacing all those we loved from our time in Louisiana.

Now that we're back in Louisiana, it doesn't quite feel like "home" anymore either. It's not the same place it was back then and we aren't the same people. I considered this my second home for so long and I have SO many memories of our close friends that we met while here the first time, all of which we now consider family. Many of them moved either shortly before or after we did though. We've made some new friends in the short time we've been back but one of them is already moving this summer which totally sucks! I find myself missing our friends in Nebraska too, who also became more like family to us, and I fear I'm once again holding back from forming new close friendships  It is so hard to feel like you're "home" when you're either constantly leaving those you love behind or being left behind by them. 

I'd like to say that Louisiana will become our permanent "home" but there's no guarantee and we'll likely be moving again in a few years. Once again, we'll be leaving behind those we love and having to start over in a new town and open ourselves up for new friendships. Yes, home is where the heart is but it's not that simple when your heart is scattered all over the country/world.