It seems like just the other day we brought our sweet baby angel home and started our Parenthood Journey. We prayed for this sweet baby angel....this little girl was loved and cherished before she was even born. Our first daughter, the first grandchild, the only granddaughter, the first niece.....loved by everyone, loves everyone and loves life.
Today she turned 13, a teenager. Where have the years gone, where are they going. She is growing into a wonderful young lady. I am proud to call her my daughter. She is sweet, kind, loving, selfless, considerate, respectful, responsible, mature, and beautiful - inside and out. She is always willing to help her family and friends. She volunteers as a "buddy" in our local Challenger baseball league, helping a little boy play the American game. He cannot use his hands, she helps him hold his bat with his feet and throw the ball with his feet. He is her assigned buddy, but she will also help out the little girl with Downs Syndrome or the little boy with autism....her heart is huge and her mind is open to all life's possibilities.
She regularly babysits for a family of 4 small children, not for money, because she loves these children....that is her way. She loves all animals, if is was up to her we would have a houseful...wait we do have a houseful!! She also takes care of our pets....the gecko, the snake, the fish, the hamster, the cats, the dog...she is very responsible pet owner.
This past year was a very difficult year for her in school. She struggled with her peers and being in a small school environment did make the situation any easier for her. She persevered though and has grown tremendously through her trials and tribulations. She has gained self confidence which in turn increased her self esteem. She has learned to stand up for herself and is not afraid to speak her mind. WOW...I wish I could have done that at 13...she is an amazing girl and we are so proud of her.
Today we celebrated her, we celebrated her life and her spirit and the wonderful young lady she is becoming.
She received her first cell phone...a total surprise for her!! I love surprising her.
She also received this little guy, or gal....her name is Star and she is a dwarf hamster and is very adorable. She also received clothes, jewelry, and money....what more could a 13 year old girl want - a cell phone, a hamster, clothes, jewelry, and money!!
Happy Birthday sweet angel girl....I am very proud of you and the woman you are becoming.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day here in the US. For most of us it is a day off work that involves either shopping or BBQing. Few of us really think about the reason behind the day off work, myself included.
Memorial Day is dedicated to all of our men and women who have given up their lives for our country. They have fought in wars throughout the world, all in the name of freedom. Freedom that we take for granted. Freedom to worship the God of our choosing, freedom to disagree with our government, freedom to dress as we wish, freedom to live our lives in anyway we choose.
What would our lives be like if these Freedoms were not a part of daily lives? How would we worship? How would we dress? How would we express ourselves? Freedom costs. We are very fortunate for the men and women in our Armed Services who are willing to pay for our Freedoms.
I don't believe in wars or ego driven politicians or religious genocide....but I do believe in supporting the people who are protecting our freedom...and thanking them for their bravery. I hope you do too.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Welcome to the Vacation edition of Fun Monday. We are all virtual travelers this week and I am sure our trip will take us around the world!!! I hope everyone has their passport up to date and is ready to go!!!
My favorite vacation is our annual camping trip to Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. We go every year in June. I Love It!!! The air is fresh, the beauty is breathtaking, I feel a sense of peace in a redwood forest....I get rejuvenated.
This is our humble abode for the 4 nights we are there. Nothing better than a tent under a canopy of redwood trees....ahh....the bliss.
We celebrate my birthday in the forest every year..and every year it gets better!!
The trees are magical and awe inspiring.
They are like old friends that we visit year after year.
We also meet some new friends each year.
We go on many hikes throughout the week. We become Trail Blazers!!
We have so much fun together without any electronic distractions...no phones, TV's, computers, music....just good old fashioned human companionship.This is most definitely my favorite vacation spot. I always come home rejuvenated and our family gets a bit closer every year.
Now, we need to pack our bags and head on over to the next vacation spot......Here is the list of our virtual travelers this week....Have fun!!!!
(does anyone want to host next week??)
EDIT** Karisma offered to host next week!!! Thanks Karisma!!!
5. AOJ and the Lurchers
8. Cruise Mom
11. Hootin' Anni
15. Janet from her own Planet
17. Grand Life
20. Karisma - yes, you can break the rules!!!...Yes, bring the wine, we need to toast Nikki's anniversary!!! ***Our host for next week!!!***
22. Sauntering Soul
27. Joy T
28. Nikki - Happy Anniversay!!
38. Ellen B
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I am hosting Fun Monday next week, May 26th....Memorial Day for all of us Americans!!! Here is your assignment:
Vacations...this is the time of year when most of us go on vacations. Show us and/or tell us about your favorite vacation - where you went, what you did, etc. Pictures would be great. Let's all take a trip around a the world via our FM friends!!
Sign up in the comments section.....
Here is the list of our virtual travelers for this week (thanks for the Mr. Linky help Robin and Mariposa, I will have to play with it for next time!!):
20. Karisma - yes, you can break the rules!!!...Yes, bring the wine, we need to toast Nikki's anniversary!!!
28. Nikki - Happy Anniversay!!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Our hostess extraordinaire this week is Mariposa and here is her assignment:
We all have them...and if you don't, you do....you just may not realize it. For some reason or another we all collect something and we collect it for reasons that will definitely make for good reading. So on Monday, I want to see your collection. If you don't have or don't want or CAN'T (wink) show us a picture, then tell us what the collection is in 10 words or less. Then tell us why you started collecting it.
Collections....let's see here....
In my previous life, before I became a Mom, I collected anything and everything that had to do with wolves. Wolves are definitely my favorite animal and I have many books, figurines, etc. with wolves on them. I still love wolves today.
Then I became a Mom!!! I just did not have the time and/or energy for collections....so nowadays I collect....
....to-do lists, grocery lists, errand lists, appointment lists......
....and bills, and more bills.....
....but most important....I'm collecting Memories and I cannot think of a more important or valuable collection than that!!!
Head on over to Mariposa's for more collections. I am sure we will learn of some wacky and wonderful collections this week.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
this journey begins here
Thank you for taking this journey with me, with us. I have enjoyed writing it as much as you have enjoyed reading it. This was such wonderful and tumultuous time for us. We did go home with Michael that Saturday. We were met at the airport by my parents and our daughter...what an incredible reunion it was. Cassie was so excited to meet her brother, she immediately wanted to hold him, remember she was only 4 years old. As we were walking out of the airport, I was holding her hand and she looked up to me and said, "Mommy, thank you for bringing home my baby brother." Tears flowed down my face.
Michael's birthfather continued to contest the adoption, but he did it silently. He was formally served adoption papers. He ignored them. He had 30 days to sign, fight, or do nothing. He did nothing. Somehow they found our phone number and we started getting daily phone calls, multiple calls a day. They never said anything. This went on for weeks. Finally, I grew tired of the calls. One day I said into the phone, "Please stop calling us. We would have gladly shared Michael with you and kept you in his life through pictures and letters, but we will not put up with this BS. Please stop calling us until you can be more respectful towards us." That was the last phone call we received. After the 30 days was up we thought we were free. Alas, we were not. He was served papers again and this time had 14 days to contest, sign, or do nothing. Again, he did nothing and his parental rights were finally terminated.
Six months later we stood in front of a Judge and formally became a family of four. Our family was complete that day.
Breastfeeding Michael was not as easy as I had hoped it would be. The supplemental nursing system was very difficult to use, and Michael was a very difficult baby. He did nurse for comfort many a night during his colicky phase. That was a blessing, being able to soothe him. For that reason alone I found this endeavor to be successful.
We have stayed in contact with Laura and her family. Michael wore the family christening gown his birth great grandmother made, on the day he was baptized. We were very honored and that made his baptism day all the more special. We did send it back for the upcoming generations to wear. Laura has 2 daughters now, a 2.5 year old and a 9 month old. We refer to these angels as Michael's baby sisters. He speaks to Laura and the older girl on the phone frequently. He will even sign cards to them - "Love your big brother, Michael". I find this very endearing. Michael's birthfamily has sent birthday and Christmas gifts to both Michael and Cassie, every year. I was so thankful for this because I did not want Cassie to feel left out. They have always included her in everything, which is wonderful because we don't have the same relationship with her birthfamily.
"How have we told our children they are adopted?" - I don't know....to be quite honest with you!! They have always known. It has always been a part of our dialogue. When they were very young we read adoption books to them, we have quite a few excellent adoption children's stories. When we read them, we would elaborate the book with their story. When I was asked if they grew in my tummy, we would talk about it - "No sweetie, you grew in Laura/A's tummy and she gave you to us to love and that is how we became your Mommy and Daddy". Our conversations have always been open and honest and loving. This was very important to me. I was also adopted and I have always known. My parents always talked about my birthparents in a kind and loving way, they always let me know how special adoption was. My adoption was closed, still is....that was how they did it then. I am so glad the times have changed. Open adoption is so much healthier for everyone involved.
"Have my children ever screamed in anger that I was not their mother?" - No, not yet, but I am sure they will. I did to my mother when I was a teenager (yes, I have apologized to her for that!!) Cassie did say to me one night in all of her preteen angst, "If I am so special why did A give me away?" Oh how that broke my heart, my sweet little angel hurting so much. I have told her many times why A "gave her away" but I knew at that moment my words would mean nothing to her. Thankfully A had written her a letter on the day she was born and I knew this was the moment to let her read it. In this beautiful letter A tells her everything I have always told her, but at that moment she needed to "hear" it from A. She read that letter, and she understood, and she felt loved, and she was at peace. A was also adopted and she knew this day would come...I was so grateful to her again. I am sure it will come up again, but I am also sure that having contact with their birthmothers eases most of their uncertainty and questions. We have only spoken of the birthmothers in loving and kind ways.
"Since you seem to be close to Michael's birth family, has this had any impact on Cassie, not having that same closeness?" - Not that we are aware of. Of course, it was very helpful to have his birthfamily "adopt" Cassie and include her in everything so she never felt left out. We are eternally grateful to them for that. I think if they had not done that it would have had a huge impact on her! We also have contact with Cassie's birthmother and I knew she would be open to visits. Cassie expressed in interest in a visit last year and I encouraged her to send an email. She did and we met with her birth grandmother and birthmother and her baby sister. It was a beautiful day and we are now in more frequent contact. After our visit was over, Cassie looked at me and said, "Thank you Mommy." Tears came to my eyes as I told her, "Your welcome".
I hope I have answered all your questions. I did not really have a goal when I started writing these journeys, but now that they are done I hope you have a much better understanding of the intricacies of open adoption. I also hope you have the utmost respect for birthmothers, they are amazing woman and I hold them in the highest regard.
Cassie and I watched the movie Juno the other night....we loved it. It was very honest and real. I highly recommend it.
Open adoption is a beautiful paradox. Through hope, love, joy and pain two families who were once strangers are forever united and become one family bonded together through the love they share for a special child.
the final chapter will be Michael through the years, a photo journey
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Sauntering Soul is our wonderful hostess this week.....thank you so much for volunteering!!! Here is her assignment:
Come on - it's confession time! List the small things you do that make you a jerk and elaborate just a bit on each one. Please tell me I'm not the only jerk around here!
Don't worry...you are definitely not the only jerk around here!!!
Well, I will try and keep this post short!!!, but I am not sure that will be possible!! I thought about asking my family for their opinion, but then I thought better of it. This post may go on forever if they put their 2 cents in!!
Here is my list of "jerkiness":
*I tend to judge people from the outside before getting to know them....I am wrong almost all of the time
*I tend towards impatience when it comes to my children and my husband, I am working on this.
*I err on the lazy side, would much rather be blogging or reading than working!!
*I hide my chocolate treats from my family.
*I pass gas frequently.
*I am told that I snore, but I don't believe it.
*I can easily go into a state of denial and stay there!!!
I am sure there are tons more....but I can't for the life of me think of anymore!! I am sure if I sent an email out to everyone in my address book I would have many more bullet points....but I don't think I will!!! I think I would much rather focus on the positives, and work on the negatives.
I am sure there will be some wonderful posts on this subject so head on over to Sauntering Soul to see all the participants!!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We lost a family member today, a best friend, our Zackie Boy. Zack was diagnosed with Mast Cell Cancer, stage 3 (out of 3 stages) in February. This morning we made the decision to allow him to go with dignity and love. It was extremely hard....but the right thing to do.
Zack was an incredible dog. He weighed 140 pounds in his prime and he did not have a mean bone in his body. He did not realize how big he was, he was sure he was the ultimate lap dog...and he was. He was my shadow, followed me everywhere and was never happier than when he was by our sides. He was a wonderful guard dog. He ferocious sounding bark greeted every visitor. Little did they know that he would kill them with slobber and kisses. Slobber was his speciality....I think he could hold a gallon of water in his jowls. You did not want to be near him after he drank water.
He was a very generous and loving dog to other animals also. He welcomed all newcomers with enthusiasm. He would share his food, water....
...and his bed. He was never jealous of our new four legged additions, even Baron, our obnoxious puppy was welcomed into our home last year. Up until his last hour, he tolerated Baron's pestering with kindness and tolerance.
Zack never showed us how much he was suffering. Last night we noticed a huge tumor in his abdominal area that extended up to his front legs. He must have been suffering tremendously...we never knew. This morning he greeted me with a smile on his face, a bone in his mouth and his tail wagging. He left us a few hours later....he looked at me with love as if to thank me for helping him....He was an incredible dog and will be missed greatly.....
Goodbye my sweet boy....I will see you Over the Rainbow Bridge....
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Swampy, the good witch, is hosting a baby shower for Karmyn. I love a good party and with Swampy as the hostess with the mostess, I knew this would be great!!! So, I invited myself to the party and then I started shopping, and boy did I have a great time!!!
Karmyn in honor of your newest addition to your family I am giving you the following....and I hope you will find them useful!!!
First off we have a cake, but this is just not any cake....it is a cake made out of diapers.....just so you know, these are new diapers, and they are cloth. I am not sure which way you are going - disposable or cloth - but they make good burp rags also!!
Since I am sure your baby will be the coolest baby in your town, he will have to have this shirt....just don't let him spit up on it....it kind of takes away from the hipness!!
And while you are changing and wiping the baby....be sure to cover his jewels with these nifty little pee-pee tee-pees so you don't get a shower....of course some days you really may not get a regular shower so these are always optional!!
And last, but definitely not least...I am giving you my all time favorite book for Moms with boys. Every time I read this book, I cry. I used to sing it to my son all the time.....Enjoy!!!
Enjoy your new little one...savor every sleep deprived, special moment...they are only babies for a short while before they start talking back!!!
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
this journey begins here
Our first night with Michael was wonderful. It felt so great to hold him and love him and care for him. He took to the breastfeeding like a champ, unfortunately the supplemental feeding device was not as user friendly as I had hoped....but we persevered, and were very glad we had bottles also!!
Wednesday morning we awoke and called Laura. I was worried about her and her mother. I imagined their night was not as magical as ours was. We decided to go to their house for a visit.
When we had left the hospital the previous night, we did not make plans to see each other again until right before we left for home. Funny how you make plans you think are right, and what actually happens is the complete opposite, but is so right!
We spent Wednesday and every day until we left at Laura's house. Those days were wonderful for everyone. All of us cared for Michael, feeding him, burping him, changing his diapers...we all did it, and it was the best thing for us. It was magical to see the smile on Laura's face when she held Michael. To see Laura's mom talking to him like only a grandmother could was breath taking. Time stood still those days while we basked in the love of a new life.
We were also in constant contact with our attorney and social worker. Apparently the birthfather decided to contest the adoption. The was a major bump in our journey and this bump was keeping us in South Carolina while we longed to be home in California. Day after day went by....waiting for the okay to leave.
Our days were spent at Laura's house, our nights were spent in our hotel room with our son. Our hearts were torn between our new son and our daughter we missed horribly. Each time we snuggled our newborn son and kissed his sweet smelling head was a reprieve from the terrible ache in our hearts missing our daughter's sweet hugs and cuddles.
Tuesday.....Wednesday......Thursday....waiting....always the interminable waiting.
Thursday we speak to our attorney and our social worker. The consensus everyone has is that the birthfather is only contesting the adoption because he thinks Laura has been compensated monetarily for the adoption and he wants his share of the profits. He has no desire to parent Michael. We get the okay to leave the state. If the birthfather is serious about contesting the adoption he will have to fight it in California. We can finally go home!!
Thursday night we go out to dinner with Laura and her mom. It is a goodbye dinner. We are all lost in a fog of fatigue and emotions. Our plans are set to drive to Atlanta on Friday and fly home on Saturday. Our time with Laura has come to a close. She has given us a most precious gift, how can we ever thank her for it.....the reality is we can't. Over dinner Laura and her mom offer to take Michael home for the night so we can get a good night's sleep before we go home. It is a generous offer and very tempting....we are very tired. As much as I wanted to say yes, I couldn't. A part of me felt very selfish...I had his whole life, why couldn't I give her one night? I couldn't though, I just couldn't. They were very understanding, if they were disappointed, it didn't show. Their level of generosity was unimaginable.
Friday morning arrived and we were ready to leave. We stopped at Laura's house to say our final goodbyes. Her mom and her grandmother were there. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, saying goodbye to the three women who I came to love, who I admired greatly, who had a place in my heart. The three women who gave us a gift of life.
We received a phone call while we were there from our social worker. She told us we could not leave yet. We did not understand...we were told we could....we were packed....don't you understand, we have to get home...our daughter...our son.
We called our attorney. He said we could go. He would take care of it. Everything would be okay. Don't worry.
What do we do?
We leave as planned. We say goodbye to Laura, we say goodbye to her mom, we say goodbye to her grandmother. Her grandmother holds Laura as she sobs, as we leave. I cry as we get in the car. Adoption....such joy amidst such pain....a paradox.
Atlanta is a 2 hour car ride and I promptly fall asleep from exhaustion. I wake up and ask Dave, "Are we in Georgia yet?"
"Yes", he replies.
My heart is at ease. We have crossed the state line with our son. The son we may have to fight for when we get home. The son we have known for only 5 days, but we have known for a lifetime. The son we would give our life for. We are taking him home to meet his sister. The daughter we would give our life for. Our family is complete. Our journey is coming to a close. Another journey awaits us....the journey of parenthood....the journey that never ends.
This is the conclusion to this series. I will post an epilogue shortly and a journey in pictures of Michael's life. Some wonderful questions have been asked in the comments and I would like to answer any questions you might have when I write the epilogue. Please feel free to ask your questions in your comments. Thank you for embarking on this journey with me.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The majestic Pacific Ocean...one of my favorite sights, smells and sounds. It is peaceful place for me and one of the favorite places for our family to visit. Last Saturday night Dave and I had a getaway night....just the two of us. We were able to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary at one of our favorite places. It was pure heaven....a total indulgence.
We arrived in Bodega Bay (remember the movie The Birds??) in the early afternoon and took a long walk on the beach. I love walking the beach barefoot. It was a sunny, but chilly day. The sand was so warm on my bare feet that I did not feel the chill in the wind. The sun was shining, the air smelled fresh and clean and the waves were crashing. It was so peaceful.....just the two of us.
Driving to our hotel we were fortunate to spot some wildlife. In all honesty, I have never seen a live skunk. Usually I smell them or see them as roadkill....this was very exciting. Of course, because it was daylight the poor little guy was probably not in the best of health...but I thought he was kind of cute!!
We had the good fortune to stay at the Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa. I highly recommend it. It is very luxurious. All the rooms have a view of the bay and a fireplace. The restaurant is 5 star dining, and the room service menu is the same as the restaurant menu. We chose to order dinner in and we ate in front of the fireplace with candlelight illuminating the room....very romantic, much better than a noisy restaurant.
After a leisurely breakfast and coffee on the patio, we strolled down to the spa for our treatments. Dave had a hot stone massage and I had a facial and massage. Pure heavenly bliss...words cannot describe the level of peace and contentment we felt upon leaving the spa.
We were only gone from home for 24 hours, but it felt like much longer. We came home fully refreshed and rested. Twenty years of marriage has never felt better!!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Kitten is our wonderful hostess this week.....thanks so much for volunteering Kitten!!! Here assignment is the following:
Tell me about the Super Hero in your life. Not from TV, but anyone that has been or is in your life that you have really looked up to or has made a impact on your life. It can one or many. You can share pictures if you like. Just have fun with it.
I have thought and thought about this all week and one person's name keeps popping up in my mind.....My friend Kim. Kim passed away last month after battling cancer for years. She was an incredible woman and taught me so much. She made friends everywhere she went. Her outlook on life was always positive, even at the end of her life. She hated gossip and stayed clear of it. She gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and was very slow to judge. I tend to be the opposite, but she taught me to see the world in a different way. Whenever I start to criticize or judge people, I hear Kim's voice in my head....my perspective changes. She influenced me in her life and is continuing to influence me after her death.
At her funeral, the church was completely full, standing room only. Our church is not small. As I was relaying this to my neighbor she said to me...."I want to live like that!" She is absolutely correct, we all should live like that.
My Super Hero is Kim....I admired her in her life, the way she lived it, her philosophy, her open and friendly demeanor.....she has changed my thoughts and my perspective tremendously.
To learn about other Super Heroes please visit Kitten's place for the list..
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Rose tagged me with this wonderful Meme:
What message would you like to send out to the universe?
Friday, May 2, 2008
A woman went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot. There was a sign on the cage that said $50.00.
'Why so little?' she asked the pet store owner.
The owner looked at her and said, 'Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a house of prostitution, and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff.'
The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway.
She took it home and hung the bird's cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something.
The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said,
'New house, new Madam.'
The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought that's really not so bad.
When her two teenage daughters returned from school, the bird saw them and said,
'New house, new Madam, new Girls.'
The girls and the woman were a bit offended but then began to laugh about the situation considering how and where the parrot had been raised.
Moments later, the woman's husband Keith came home from work.
The bird looked at him and said,
Have a wonderful Friday.