God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life


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All up in my feelings…

As the kids are getting older, I started to worry that I would not have any adoption related stories and information to share. I am beginning to understand that every chapter of their lives will bring new adoption emotions and situations. Good news is that means the blog will keep going ๐Ÿ™‚

A few weeks ago, I was perusing Facebook, only to see a post written by the newest birth sibling’s adoptive mother (I hope you followed that description, you might have to read over it a couple times to understand who I’m talking about.) The post began: “2nd trimester cravings…”. My heart began to pound, and I began reading the comments to make sure I really understand it correctly. Sure enough, it appears she is pregnant with their 3rd child (they had one biological child before adopting). Anger welled up inside me. I was furious and hurt. But why???? Shouldn’t I be happy for her? Of course I should be. It’s wonderful news! But I’m not happy, I’m angry…and now, very confused. I tell Scott the news and he says something along the lines of, “Wow! They are going to be close in age. Probably 15 months like ours!” I try to explain to him my feelings, but I don’t understand them enough myself to express them. I try to push it to the back of my mind and move on.

A few days later I’m on a walk with a friend and ask her about it. She says, “Well, are you worried that ‘Grace’ (not her real name) will be left out and and not loved as much being the only adopted child and the middle child?” I was floored! How could I ever think that? I love my kids like MY kids! There is no difference. And yet, something about that statement nagged at me. Now, based on other information I have regarding the family, I believe this was probably an unplanned pregnancy. However, I think there is a part of me that feels like ‘Grace’ should be with us. Somewhere deep in the dark places of my brain, it feels like this mother does not care enough for ‘Grace’. She is replacing her with a biological child. She is going to get lost in the middle. She will have trouble identifying with her siblings later in life and feel like an outsider. With us she would have had where she came from in common with her siblings. Even writing this I feel like a horrible person for even thinking all this. I know ‘Grace’ is loved. I know she is in the right place. She even looks like her older sibling…not really like our kids at all. I pray that all will work out, and she will be a beam of sunshine in the middle of their family.

I think the anger…and sadness…also came from another place that I have buried for the past 5 or 6 years. That place where I thought that maybe someday that would be us. That someday we would add a biological child of our own. I am truly happy with my family. I would be happy to consider our family complete. I could not imagine Eva and Eli not a part of our life. They bring a joy I didn’t know if I would every experience. However, last night after bath, I looked at Eva and saw her birthmom…she is the spitting image of her. It reminds me that no matter how much we love them, there is someone out there that loved them first; someone that loved them enough to give them life and to know they wouldn’t be able to give them everything they needed; someone that chose us. My joy started with someone else’s greatest sadness. I know someday our kids will question us. Someday they will use the hurtful excuse, “But you’re not my real mom.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that one even though I know it will happen. We knew all this when we chose to adopt, but I thought my yearning to would stop. I think, as a woman, because I didn’t do the hard work to bring them into this world, I almost feel like I have missed out on a part of motherhood. Sometimes I feel like less of a mother because I didn’t endure 9 months and a painful labor. There is that awkward part of mom group conversations where they talk about their labors…while I can add information about the kid’s birth stories, the labor was not mine. There is also that biological clock that I can hear ticking away deep in the recesses of my body. Now that I am 35, time is beginning to run short. I have told Scott I will get rid of all the baby stuff when I turn 40. Five years left…

Unfortunately, for anyone reading this post looking for answers, I’m sorry. I don’t have any. I’m just putting my feelings out there because hopefully I’m not alone. As happy as adoption has made me, there are still emotions I struggle with. Emotions that I think only adoptive mothers may fully understand.

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Prepping for Number Two: Big Sister

In the first year plus, the only responsibility that Eva has had is just to be awesome. She has been incredibly successful.

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In just a few weeks, her status will be changing. How will Eva react to being a big sister?

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She’s had a year plus of being an only child, and an only grandchild. When the boy arrives, our doting attention will be more than halved with her those first few months. How will she react to that? The hope is that her time at daycare has taught her some valuable lessons in sharing. Sharing toys, sharing space, sharing attention, and sharing time.

It’s not just the parental attention dynamic that will change. When the boy arrives, there will be a new dynamic to establish between her and her baby brother. A dynamic that (we as her parents have discovered with her) is constantly changing. Right now, all of her friends are daycare toddlers around the same age, toddlers of our friends that are all older but within a year and Quinton. When the boy arrives, he will be unable to walk, talk, or even sit. She will be unable to teach him things or even play with him.

That first month or two will be the toughest for her. She will continue to go to daycare as mom and the boy bond. Daycare, as those of you who have children know, is a germ infested environment. When she gets home, she’ll have to either be bathed or drowned in sanitizer if she is to be near the boy. Keeping them separate would seem to be the easiest, but the only thing that Eva wants more than graham crackers (her new favorite food) is whatever you don’t want her to play with.

Those first two months he is virtually defenseless. His skull is not yet fully developed. He has no control of his limbs, and is immobile. Eva is fully mobile, has control of her limbs, and thinks that being gentle with Quinton is grabbing a tuft of his fur with one hand as opposed to two.

How is Eva going to react to not being the center of attention? Will she become jealous when we are unable to push her in her John Deere ATV because the boy is napping in our arms? Will she want to drink formula out of a bottle instead of milk in a Sippy cup because that’s what he’s doing? Is it not unfair that he gets to stay up while she has to go asleep? Will she regress to be more baby like because that’s what is getting attention?

So what do we do to help Eva with this transition? I asked a co-worker with children close in age, and she recommended that you involve her in the care of the child.

Eva, go change his diaper and then feed him his bottle.

Not exactly what I meant.

So, when you do change his diaper, perhaps you have Eva grab the clean diaper and bring it over. You have her carry the bottle over to the feeding chair. A little something that involves her in the baby’s care and rather than resent the brother for being needy, she herself could feel needed.

We visited with friends just recently. It was a going away party, as they were being shipped to Florida for work. They have a baby boy who is still in the early infant stages. This gave us a great opportunity to see how Eva would react/treat him. Indifferent is probably too harsh, but she really didn’t have much interest in a child that didn’t really do anything. In fact, we had to be careful with her because she was cruising along the table and had no time to see if she’d be stepping on anybody.

That’s the rub with Eva right now. She’s totally unaware of how her actions affect (effect?) others. She doesn’t know if that next step will be on somebody, or if that toy she flung will hurt anyone. She doesn’t know that her pats are gentle or too rough. These are the things that we will have to work on with her. No longer should we laugh at her virtually random toy tosses, but rather try to curtail them.

Once the boy has reached certain developmental marks, Eva and him will start to develop a new relationship, that of buddy brother and sister. Hopefully she can wait until he’s ready.


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Oh Boy

With our next adoption coming soon, we anxiously waited to hear if Eva was going to have a brother or sister. With a brother, we would never reach a point where we’d wonder if we should have a boy, and it ensures that the family name makes it to the next generation. With a sister, we could entertain sharing a room for a while, sharing clothes, and not having to restock the baby clothes. While we’d be fine with either, I think with the quick turnaround we were leaning for a sister.

Just before Thanksgiving, we would get the news. Steph was able to go with our birthmother to her appointment and see the child. Two arms, two legs, and one part that clears up the uncertainity. We are having a boy.

We started to let the news trickle out, first to our family and friends before announcing it through our Christmas card and then the world (well, at the least the world has access to this post). We created our card online this year and had them printed and shipped to us. We ordered them two days before found out, so all these cards came that said we were expecting a brother or sister. So, as we addressed and stamped them, we also had to scratch out “sister”. Timing can be funny sometimes.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is excited that we are having a boy. Everyone thinks that this must make me super happy, as all dad’s want to have boys. I am excited, but also nervous.

See, when Eva joined our family it was all fun and games. She is daddy’s girl. I get to love her, to have fun with her. With boy, I get to do those things as well, but there is that added responsibility. It’s my responsibility to teach him how to shave, how to treat a lady, how to fix a flat, how to be a man. That’s a lot of responsibility. I am up for it? I think I am, but only time will tell.

Time has already told us how we’d handle our first concern. Despite only have a few gender neutral clothes and need to stock the closet with boys clothes, Steph found the cure for this ailment. Carter’s Black Friday sale with 50% off plus 10% before noon plus 20% off coupon cures many garment issues.


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Two Part Two

Crap! What does that mean? We hadn’t heard anything from our agency in a long while. So there must be some news, but what? Did she change her mind and decide not to adopt? Did she lose the child? Did she choose someone else? Did she choose us?

It didn’t make sense. This isn’t how we planned it. We had three months to go before a decision was going to be made. Has something changed? If it hasn’t changed, then what? I guess that the contact could be about something else entirely. A change of address, a request for help with something, maybe some paperwork? I don’t know.

Wait, since we hadn’t heard from the agency, doesn’t that mean that itโ€™s not a big deal? Wouldn’t they contact us right away if there was news? We’re obviously jumping to conclusions when there isn’t the evidence to back it.

Now that we’ve processed all these questions and scenarios, Steph texts her back to let her know that we had not heard from the agency. Now we wait for a response.

still nothing

……

…..

….

..

.

Aaaah!

Beep!

Longest wait ever! What does that mean!? Was she upset? Did she not know how to respond? Would she just tell us to contact her after we heard from our agency? What?!

Steph picks up the phone to read the message.

“Well I’ve decided to do adoption. Meeting with [agency]”

And there it is.

As adoptive parents we miss out on some things, for example the pregnancy test (check that, the positive pregnancy test). While the plus sign on the pregnancy test is God’s way of saying “I’ve chosen you to be parents”, we get a text message that doesn’t use symbols, but actually tells us our lives are changing.