Monday, January 13, 2014

Top Down

We were asked before the holidays to write a guest blog for America Adopts, sharing a piece of our adoption journey.  We were so honored, and hope this gives those of you reading a little glimpse of our lives and our road to open adoption.

Our road before arriving at open adoption began like many others; it was bumpy, there were rest stops, sometimes we chugged our way up mountains and occasionally we ran out of gas. We were pretty tired by the time we discovered the open adoption exit and my immediate, war weary reaction was no *bleeping* way.

My reaction was the same one you get from an unknowing family member or friend. The same one I saw Matt Lauer utter after a beautiful segment on open adoption on the Today show a few weeks ago. My reaction went something like this: 'You expect me to open myself and my imagined future child up to the drama and heartache that will surely come with a woman who is unable to parent her own kid?' Thankfully Holly is wonderfully level headed and smart, and she convinced me to open myself up to at least exploring the concept. So we started reading. We talked to friends and family about their experiences with adoption, open vs. closed. We attended a seminar at the agency we eventually signed up with, the Independent Adoption Center . And slowly we started seeing open adoption for it's truth, it's beauty and it's perfect rightness. Of course this is exactly the way adoption should be done! We had made it to our final and intended destination, though now the real work was just beginning.

The never ending paperwork, the background checks, the medical physicals, recounting our life stories on paper and in front of perfect strangers, creating our profile, etc. was nothing compared to the work of opening up our hearts and leaving them that way. The practice that we've had sharing straight from our hearts while maintaining our blog and other social media outlets has helped. There is still the desire to paint a prettier/better picture than is our reality. The saleswoman in me wants to embellish the truth or give our lives a fresh coat of paint, but we've learned to be our authentic, however imperfect, selves - and it's worked!

When K called us on our 1-800 number out of the blue two months ago, it took our breath away. Young, pregnant and considering an adoption plan, she had read our profile, looked at our pictures and social media sites and liked what she had learned. She had really seen us and wanted to get to know us better! With totally open hearts we spent the next month getting to know K, dreaming of raising the baby girl she was carrying, and falling in love with this amazing young woman. Sometimes she wouldn't return our texts or she'd talk about giving up her college dreams in favor of a life with her on again/off again boyfriend and we'd want to run away and close up our hearts. We didn't though. We stayed right by her side offering her support, being our authentic selves, sharing, hoping and staying open. When she told us that she had decided to parent, our hearts felt like they were going to break. The pain was even more raw than all those negative pregnancy tests thousands of miles ago. Not only we were mourning the loss of a child we had hoped to raise, we mourned the loss of K. Now we'll never know if she realizes her college dreams, if she and her boyfriend make it, and we'll never know the baby who we'd dreamt about.

The practice of being open and staying that way has helped us become better partners to each other and hopefully better people to others in our life. We know it is making us better prospective adopters. It is our hope that when it's our turn, all of this practice will find us completely prepared to expand our family, not only to a child, but to his/her entire birth family. We're still excited to hear from another birthmother knowing it might not work out, and our hearts will break all over again.
We're wide open, driving with the top down towards our future.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aunt Camp 2013

Sophie and our dog Lyla

Every Summer since she's been five years old, we host our niece Sophie for a week's worth of what has come to be known as Aunt Camp. She spends the week with us while she's on a school break, and we try to pack as much fun into those few days as possible. It's one of our favorite times of year!

These past two years we have enrolled her in actual day camps. We hate losing precious time with her, but our town is so rich with camp options and we love being able to facilitate a great experience for her. Last year was drama camp at our local children's theatre. This year was a camp called Woodland Explorers at our favorite state park. Sophie explored the forests and rivers, learned how to track wildlife, played games that didn't require batteries, sang songs, and made new friends. The camp promised to deliver her "happy, tired, and dirty" at the end of each day and she was! We loved listening as she told us about her day, the treasures she found, the skills she learned, the songs and stories she heard and even the corny riddles her new friends told her. One of the counselors made a point to tell us of a special moment one day at pick-up time. A camper was having an anger management issue and instead of making fun of him as many other campers were, our Sophie attempted to help him by offering support and suggestions. We are so proud of her!

Sophie in the river with one of her treasures

Each day after camp was packed full of fun too! We explored many of our favorite places in town and took more than one trip to one of Sophie's favorite places, LocoPops.

Loco for LocoPops!

We jumped our hearts out at Defy Gravity.

Along with our other niece Hazel, we watched Holly's kickball team cinch the Championship title after visiting a super fun spray park!


There was absolutely no TV watched, no video games played, but we did have a little fun with apps.

We laughed so hard 'yearbooking' ourselves!

One of our favorite parts of the day was right before bed. We'd all get in our pajamas, make some popcorn on the stovetop, and cuddle up on the couch for reading time. Before Sophie arrived, we took a stroll down memory lane exploring all the wonderful books we read as 9 year olds. We settled on Otherwise Know as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume and bought a copy for Sophie and borrowed two more from the library. It was such a wonderful experience to share as we each took turns reading a few paragraphs aloud at a time. We read at least three chapters each night laughing and discussing, and we finished the book on her last night with us.

That little girl is one of the greatest loves of our lives, and we're already planning for Aunt Camp 2014 - the year our niece Hazel joins the fun!

Getting silly one morning at our breakfast table.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Knowing enough

We first met Scott & Kim during our "weekend intensive" with our adoption agency - a weekend-long introduction to the world of open adoption that was indeed, intense. There isn't much we remember about that weekend; our heads were spinning, our hearts were pounding, and the excitement made much of it a blur. We do remember Kim & Scott though and the genuine warmth that radiated from them. They were so authentic and friendly that we were delighted when Kim reached out to us 5 months after we went live, to ask how our wait was going.

Our friends and family have been wonderfully supportive throughout this process, but connecting with others who are experiencing the same highs and lows is incredibly comforting. Kim & Scott have been an open and available sounding board as we navigate our wait, and we couldn't be more grateful to have them in our lives. While we have physically seen them only a handful of times, Holly & I feel very bonded to them, and we look forward to the times we spend together online and in person.

While our open adoption journey brought us together, it's the things we have in common that round out our friendship. Holly & I love that they have two rescue dogs they obviously adore. Kim & Holly share a passion for running and had planned a 5k run together until a nasty cold thwarted those plans. I have very serious garden envy over Scott & Kim's incredible vegetable garden. Their interest in gardening goes deeper and further than food, and we very much admire their dedication to nature, its inhabitants, and its future. Both Kim & Scott are incredibly talented artists. Kim creates beautiful paintings and illustrations while Scott's woodworking skills are stunning in their craftsmanship and respect for the woods' origins. We think art and creativity are essential in helping every child develop an adventurous mind and reach their full potential. How lucky their future child will be!

Simply put, Kim & Scott are very real people who wear their hearts on their sleeves.  Kim is a natural nurturer. During our many Facebook messages, I can almost feel the warmth and hugs she's sending our way. She's an incredible listener and so easy to talk to, because with her, there is no judgement. Scott is a warm and gentle man who reminds us a lot of my late father. He's observant and engaged in a paternal way that seems to be second nature to him. We've laughed at ourselves and the absurdity of viewing your own life through a 'share-a-bility' lens as we maintain our social media presence. We've shared our insecurities about ever being 'chosen' and how impossible it is to not compare yourself to other waiting couples. We've shared the ups and downs of this crazy roller coaster we're on.

Much of this process is unnatural, and we don't know what we're doing. We're constantly brainstorming ways to showcase more of who 'we' are and the future we have to offer a child. This idea of writing blog posts about one another came to me after our agency's annual picnic. As usual, I was busily talking to anyone who seemed open to a conversation. So many huge stories to be heard. So many rich & vibrant lives to learn about. So many stories of loss & hope that I'd never have time to hear. I was getting bits and pieces, snippets of the hugeness, big personal bites of the much larger pie. I did have the pleasure and good fortune to speak with a birthmother & the adoptive family she chose to raise her son. Gently prodding her with deeply personal questions, I was honored that she answered.

Thinking of her and how she navigated through the even larger realm of choosing a family with only parts of each couple's story at her disposal, I thought of our relationship with Scott & Kim. We don't know everything about them, and neither will a birthmother who views their profile, but we know enough. We know that the child who finds its way to Scott & Kim will be very fortunate indeed. Loved with, what we see, as the perfect type of love. We hope a birthmother discovers them soon, and when she does, we'll be there with the biggest smiles.

Learn more about Scott & Kim here.  Be sure to read their beautiful blog here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

We can do anything!

We think it sucks that our culture has somehow demonized singing your own praises. If you are proud of what you've accomplished, how you look or who you are, we believe you should be able to talk, sing & shout about it sans ridicule or scorn.

We've got something to shout about. Heather's business won an impressive accolade this week! Her pet sitting business was voted The Best of the Triangle via a readers poll! The Triangle is huge! It's chock full of pet sitting businesses, but the one she & her business partner built with love, thought and a lot of hard work was voted the best.

Our future child will always be encouraged to toot their own horn, sing their own praise, own his/her accomplishments and wear them with pride. Go Heather!

Please watch this awesome video about Heather's business!
It highlights just some of the reasons why she loves
what she does & why the Triangle loves her.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More Than Just a Run

Today I ran my first 5K, and it was awesome!!  I can't believe I just said that.  This from the woman who has never seen the purpose in running, unless it was chasing a ball when I was much younger.  Sure, my knees hurt, that last hill almost did me in, and my eyes itched with pollen, but I did it!  But as proud as I am of myself for taking on this challenge, the run ended up being about so much more than that.  In fact, I learned a lot about the kind of parent I want to be in those 3 miles.

This run benefited an organization called Girls on the Run of the Triangle, a character development program for girls ages 8-12 in our area.  Over four months, groups of girls participate in fun activities, community service, and running - along the way becoming more positive, healthy, and self-confident.  The culminating event of the program is a 5K run with their coaches, families, friends, and the entire community cheering them on.  I couldn't be prouder to have been a part of this run with these amazing kids.  But along the way, I also found myself thinking about the kind of role model I want to be for our child.

Here is my commitment to our future little one:
Yes, I will run in matching tutus like that Dad and daughter up ahead.
I will hold your hand while you reach your goals, even if it's just making it to that next stop sign.
Of course we can wear crazy, florescent, knee-high socks if it will make you smile.
I promise to be your loudest cheerleader, just like those race volunteers, reminding you that you're awesome and that you can do it!

Pre and post race photos with my friend and coach,
Michelle.  A beautiful day in downtown Durham!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A wrong number, Herons and a Baby Blanket

March 14th was the 6 month mark since we've been 'on the books' with our adoption agency. We've been actively waiting to be parents for much, much longer as most of you know.

It's hard not having any control over a future you so desperately want to realize. We maintain our Facebook & Pinterest pages, pay the bill for our 1-800 number so a birthmother can call us anytime, we check our adoption email and blog intermittently. Most of all, we try to ignore the waiting.

We think about the birthmother who will someday make our dreams come true. We silently send her strength and love, while we keep her in our hearts. We wait.

Our inbox remains empty and the phone hasn't rung until this week. I was in the middle of interviewing a new employee and couldn't take the call or listen to the message. Once in the car, my shaky hand touched 'listen' and I put the phone to my ear. Wrong number. Sigh.

It's hard to not get discouraged, but I'm taking that first telephone ring and a few other happenings this week to mean that we're ever closer to being Moms.

I spend the majority of my days outside without much distraction. I take many walks a day observing nature mostly. I regularly see bunny rabbits, deer, hawks, snakes, birds of all types and the occasional Great Blue Heron standing in a stream. I'm always struck by their majesty and their resemblance to the baby-toting Storks.

Yesterday while driving up the on ramp to get on the highway, a Great Blue Heron flew up the embankment and kept perfect pace with my car. It didn't soar upward, but stayed low while I watched it through my passenger window. It was remarkable and gave me such a joyful moment, I thought about it all night.

This morning I received a text from our dear friends Sally & Amy wondering if they could swing by with a gift. Um, yeah!! I went out front to chat with my neighbor Abby and her daughter Pearl, and wait for our friends to show up. We were talking washer/dryer options while Pearl dazzled us with her jump roping skills, when a Great Blue Heron went flying up the street! For those of you that don't know, we live in a populated neighborhood and Herons flying up the street is not even close to ordinary.

I was looking up the spiritual significance of the Heron on my iPhone when Sally & Amy pulled up with our surprise. They know of a woman in Florida that makes one-of-a-kind baby blankets. Prior to making the blanket the woman asks for a bit of info about the family and the sex of the baby, if known. Once she has those basics she creates a blanket with each family in mind, allowing the right colors to 'speak' to her. Sally & Amy explained to me that they shared our dreams of becoming Moms and how our future baby will become ours.

Along with a card that touched and warmed our hearts, there was a gorgeous baby blanket. Soft and stunningly crafted in brilliant shades of blues and greys, just like that Storky-looking Heron.

Friday, February 22, 2013

When. . .

Holly & I have said it hundreds of times; 'When we have a baby . . .' 

We've spent so much time trying to paint a picture of the type of life we lead, the home we'll provide and the parents we will be.  Through carefully chosen words (but not too many, because there are limits) and the best pictures we had on hand, we put together our profile. We hope that all that we are, all we envision and everything we are still destined to become, is visible in those pages. We worry that a birthmom won't be able to see 'us', the real us - not just those words and photos.

Part of blogging, and facebooking and pinteresting, is us trying to round out that profile. To fill in gaps. To be more us.

Sitting home on this cold, rainy eve staring down a big birthday this weekend, I'm again thinking about 'when' and allowing myself to dream a bit. Not too much, just simple things. If we had a child tonight, there would be soup simmering on the stove. We'd be making something silly with paint and making a mess of our big wooden dining room table. Music would be filling the house and we'd sing and take dance breaks. We'd eat and talk and laugh. After dinner there would be a bath and then we'd all cuddle up in our PJ's and read silly stories.

And we wait for 'when.'