Friday, November 20, 2009

Surgery update and FFF

Ugh! Today pea had a very ROUGH post surgery day. He was in a lot of pain and definitely not himself. Very weird since yesterday he was running around like crazy! He has a follow-up appointment with the surgeon today so hopefully he will be back on the upswing. My poor baby!

In the meantime, it's Friday! This weeks FFF theme is Oh Give Thanks. Check out Hannah's blog HERE.

Here is a pic from our hike in the woods a couple weeks ago. We had so much fun! Pea is definitely entering the pretend play phase. He was pretending this long stick was a horse and we all HAD to ride it together. Of course, I would sneak off the horse to take some pictures, but I was quickly told to "hop on board, mommy. come on. come on." I am sure we were quite a sight riding our horse through the woods! I just love this age and I am thankful that being a parent allows me to be a kid again, too!

And, the only adoption related news we have at this point is we have submitted our initial application and are waiting for the preliminary approval. Yes, I told you we are just at the beginning stages! This process is sooooo much different so we have a lot to learn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Surgery Day

My little pea had surgery yesterday. Ya know, the boy surgery. :) (I am sure he is going to hate me one day for posting this! hehe!) He did soooo amazingly well. Much better than I did! They allowed me to go into the surgery room with him while the anesthesia was administered and he was so brave! I felt a little intimidated walking into the OR because there were about 6 or 7 doctors and nurses waiting for us in scrubs, but pea did not seem phased at all. The anesthesiologist even let him color on the sheets of the bed before she put him under. Even though it was a very minor surgery, I cried all the way out to the waiting room! But, all of the hospital staff were so, so wonderful and that definitely made it easier.

We spent most of yesterday afternoon watching movies, but pea was bursting with energy today running around like a wild child! I suppose he had a lot of pent up energy built up from our lazy day yesterday. He decided it was a good day to climb everything...the bookshelf, into his crib, the entertainment center, etc, etc. The nurse told us he would probably have some limited mobility for a little while...ha. Ya right.

On the car ride home. The nurses made sure Mr. Bear was properly dressed for the occasion.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I love - Day 7...the next chapter

I did it! I did all 7 days of Aimee's Adoption Awareness theme challenge! Woohoo! Okay, here is day 7!

Our journey to family has certainly had a significant impact on the ways in which we live our lives and view the world. Our struggle to build a family is definitely not something we focus on anymore, but we learned so much through that experience. We learned to never give up on love, never give up on our greatest dream, and never give up when it seems like there is nothing left to give. And, most importantly for me, it helped me find new sources of strength I didn't realize I had. Part of the experience of infertility for me was that sense of shame and self-doubt. I went through a period in which I questioned what Jason and I could possibly have done wrong to "deserve" this. I questioned my faith and, quite honestly, questioned whether or not I even deserved to be a mother. It was a very painful time for me. I felt like I lost a sense of who I was for awhile in trying to understand why something so amazing and miraculous came so easily to everyone but us. Yes, it was a very tough time!

As I worked through these issues and started to open my heart to other possibilities for our family, I also started to develop a new and stronger sense of myself. A stronger self that refused to give up on the dream of being a mom and raising a family with my wonderful husband. I realized that this was a dream worth fighting for, no matter what, and I decided that not having a family was just not negotiable! I started to realize that there was another plan for our family. It wasn't a Plan B or the last resort, as so many people often think of adoption. Infertility led us to adoption, it was part of our journey to finding our son. I never thought there would be a day when I would be so grateful for our infertility, but I am! So grateful.

I remember very clearly the day we learned that our last attempt at having a baby had failed and we decided that was enough. In leading up to that day, I was so unsure of how I would feel letting go of that dream. But, when that day arrived and we made the decision to pursue adoption, I felt this HUGE weight lifted from my heart and suddenly everything felt RIGHT. We closed a door that day and it seemed like the whole world opened up to us as a result.

Adoption has brought so much to our lives, more than what I can possibly express, even in daily posts like these! So, after much soul searching, we have decided that our family is not complete. What does this mean?

We are pursuing another adoption!!!!!

We are at the very beginning stages for a domestic adoption, but we are so excited!! Who knows where this next journey will lead, but I am sure it will be another roller coaster ride! I hope you all decide to ride along with us this time, too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

FFF...Beautiful Gifts and Day 6

It's FRIDAY!!! Woohoo!!! And, the FFF theme for this week is Beautiful Gifts. What a perfect theme to go along with Adoption Awareness Month! Check out more FFF HERE.

My most precious and beautiful gift came to me through adoption.

Another thing I have learned through adoption is that my greatest gift, my greatest source of joy was so connected to another woman's significant loss. I will never, ever fully comprehend the significant loss undoubtably experienced by pea's birth mother. I will never fully understand how pea will be affected by his adoption it will shape his identity and his sense of self. And, until we were in the airplane ready to leave Guatemala with pea in our arms, I never truly felt the impact of my joy being so intricately connected to the significant loss and grief of another woman. I vividly remember those last moments in Guatemala looking out the plane window across the skyline of Guatemala City wondering where pea's birthmother was at that moment. Wondering if she somehow knew that something was different that day.

Sitting on that plane (crying my eyes out, of course!), I was overwhelmed with relief , joy, and disbelief that we were finally bringing our son home. At the same time, I was also overwhelmed sadness and and a sense of loss knowing we were taking pea away from everything he had known up until that point. We were taking him away from his birth country and culture, something we would never, ever be able to provide for him in the same way. It was such a complicated mix of emotions as we started to taxi down the runaway, saying goodbye to Guatemala, while also preparing ourselves for a new beginning at home.

As we settled in for the long journey home, I was lastly overwhelmed with honor and gratitude for this amazing gift asleep in my arms, at last. This amazing gift of adoption is full of complicated emotions, but most importantly...full of love, joy, and hope. Adoption was a gift for all of us. A gift we all wanted and needed: family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I Love - Day 5

I fell in love with Guatemala 16 years ago when I first stepped foot in the country. It left an imprint on my heart and, at the time, I really wasn't sure exactly why I felt this incredibly strong connection to Guatemala. But, I left the country in tears at the age of 19, knowing I would be back someday. Jason and I had only been dating for a few months at that time, but I knew he would be coming back with me. This was one thing I knew for SURE, with every fiber of my being. Little did I realize at the time what that really meant! I had no idea that Guatemala would be a source of life for our family.

Adopting internationally not only united us with our son, but also with a country, a culture, a new view of the world and our place in it. It is life changing to experience another culture, especially one that is so completely different than our own and in a third world country. The experience of being in a different culture combined with the experience of adoption enabled us to step back and view our lives through a different lens. To take stock, in a sense. Our fight and struggle to have a family and our journey across the boundaries of country and culture, embedded a deep appreciation and perspective on what is really important in life. It shapes how we think and see the world now and it has inspired us to be more giving in many ways, affecting so much of what we do. Having this connection makes the world feel so much smaller and makes it feel like what we all do as individuals and communities really does matter.

This year, Jason decided to carry some of these life lessons into his classroom in his attempt to develop his curriculum around character education and giving back. Jason teaches high school special education in a struggling, urban school with kids who often do not feel deserving of an education or feel like they have anything to contribute to society. Jason decided to involve the kids in a project to sponsor a student through Safe Passages in Guatemala. Click HERE to check out Safe Passages. What started out as a seemingly ambitious project has turned into a life changing experience for some of his students. Jason was able to have his students participate in a video conference (along with some other US & Canadian high schools) with a school in San Marcos, Guatemala. His students were able to interact directly with students in Guatemala and learn more about their life. After the video conference, Jason showed the movie, Recycled Life, which is an award winning documentary about the people who live and work in the Guatemala City Dump. (Click HERE to watch a trailer of the documentary. It is worth 2 minutes of your time.)The impact on these kids has been astounding and they have suddenly developed ownership over this project. Jason told me he has never seen his students work so hard. He has never seen his students work so well together, as a team, for a common goal. He has never seen his students have so much purpose and feel like what they are doing matters. Isn't that amazing and inspiring? Here are a couple pictures of their growing project that Jason took with his phone.



Obviously, their project has nothing to do with adoption, but I love that our adoption has opened our world and has influenced so much of what we do and how we live our lives. I love that adoption can bring people together across cultures, class, race, ethnicity, and more to make us all feel more connected rather than divided.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I have learned - Day 4

Like many of you who have adopted transracially, we often get a lot of stares. It usually doesn't bother me because I know people are just genuinely curious and interested and, well, I am guilty of being one of those people, too! I admit that I attempt to stare discreetly if I see a family that looks a bit like ours! It's just part of human nature to be curious about others. And, sometimes I wonder if one of those people staring is feeling the call to adoption and wanting to make a connection. But, there are those who cross the boundaries, like the guy in Wal-Mart who stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of an aisle to unabashedly stare at us for several minutes. We have also had our share of crazy comments and questions like "does he speak English" or "who could ever give him up?" or "Oh, you couldn't have kids of your own?" And, everyone is always interested in how pea is "adjusting." I usually don't mind answering people's questions and I can certainly talk for hours about our adoption process because I am so proud of how my family was created. But, there are times when it is a little annoying and tiring.

What I really want people to realize is that we are like any other family. I have learned that there are people who don't see us that way. Sometimes I feel like there is an extra layer of judgment placed upon us. Sometimes I feel like people are looking for something to be wrong with pea just because he was adopted. And, there are some people who feel we have no right to raise a child of color and he is bound to have a major identity crisis as a result. The hardest part is when some of these attitudes come from within the adoption community. Consequently, I have learned that it is so easy to get caught up in that adoption paranoia and self-doubt. Of course I think about how adoption affects our parenting and how our conversations about adoption will evolve as pea develops and asks more questions. Of course I think a lot about how to raise a Latino son in a very racist society. But, this doesn't define everything about our family. In fact, we're actually pretty boring!

Every family has something. Something extraordinary. Special. Unique. And, we are all just trying to do our best to raise happy, healthy, confident, and strong kids. Ultimately, how we became parents is not as important as how we choose to parent our extraordinary, special, and unique children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Love - Day 3

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey across time and miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God's very own hands.
-Kristi Larson

One thing I love about adoption...about our that it has renewed and strengthened my faith. I don't really like to discuss my religious and spiritual beliefs very often because it is very personal for me, something I prefer to keep to myself. But one thing is for sure, I believe 1000% that pea was meant to be our son and we were meant to be his parents. I believe that there was a "plan" for our family and there are so many events in our lives that just HAD to happen in order to bring our family together. It's quite amazing, really. I think of events like when our homestudy agency submitted our homestudy to the USCIS office without a signature and it delayed us being placed on the waiting list for a month! At the time, I was so upset! Now, I realize that delay was crucial to finding our sweet pea. It feels like nothing short of a miracle. I love these stories and all of the adventures that led to our family being together forever. These stories and adventures are uniquely our own and are woven together so perfectly by the hands of the spirit.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Adoption Awareness Day 2

I had no idea that when we started on our adoption journey we would not only become a family, but also become part of a community. I had no idea that adoption would bring so many wonderful and generous people into my life, both in the US and in Guatemala. I had no idea that I would NEED this community. I had no idea that adoption would inspire me to be a better person.

Our last dinner with pea's foster family...who we now consider part of our family.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

National Adoption Awareness Month

As most of us already know, November is National Adoption Awareness Month! The original intent of this month was to raise awareness all the children in foster care in the United States waiting for a family, but it has grown to include all children and families touched by adoption.

My friend, Aimee, has challenged everyone to post ONE thing everyday this week on what you love or have learned from adoption. Visit her blog HERE. I am going to do my best so here goes my first thought...

One of the greatest things I have learned through being an adoptive mother is the power of letting go of fear and opening the heart in a million ways, but more specifically concerning pea's birth mother. When we started our adoption journey and were not quite sure which path we would choose, I certainly had some insecurities about having a relationship with my child's birthmother and fears that my role as mom would be always be inferior. But, now, I think of pea's birthmother daily and long for her to know how much her child is loved, that he is smart, funny, and full of joy. I long for her to know that he has her eyes and her nose. I feel a deep sadness that she cannot share in our joy of loving pea everyday. I hope that someday our paths will cross, but until that time my heart will always carry deep gratitude and grief for the woman who gave my son life. Adoption requires you to open your heart wide open, even when it feels uncomfortable, scary, and full of unknowns. Aimee also posted this poem a few days ago and it speaks beautifully to what it means, and feels like, to be an adoptive mother:

Being an Adoptive Mother…
Being an adoptive mother is not for every woman.
She must possess not only the natural mother instinct but an understanding and appreciation of the situation that brought a child into her arms making her a mother.
The adoptive family came to be by choices made, choices made by the first parents and by the adoptive parents.
This bond the adoptive mother has with her child grows over time, like the child did within his first mother’s womb.
Day by day, touch by touch, with each tear, kiss, and memory made they became a family.
Adoptive mothers have that special knack to let love grow.
Adoptive mothers know that she’s a mender of wounds, not just of the physical skinned knees with a band-aid and a kiss, but of the heart.
She gives love, acceptance, and permission to ask and talk about the day he was born and of his first parents.
Adoptive mothers are embracers, not only of the child with many hugs and kisses, but of the child’s heritage and history.
She embraces the facts of her child’s past with strength for herself and the child.
She’s not only a memory maker planning family vacations, activities, and birthday parties, but also a memory keeper.
Details of a birth, photos of the hospital, and of the parents who brought her into the world are kept along side the newspaper clipping that announced it all. All these things are kept in a special book that tells the whole story.
She’s a tier of shoelaces and of hearts.
She weaves lives together into a tapestry of a new family, with many different brightly, colored threads showcasing their individualities and family origins. Together they create one unit attached to each other.
Adoptive mothers are experts at finding lost objects, but understand and validate the profound, deep loss left by adoption.
She allows the tears to fall and grief to be felt, allowing the mourning of the mom not there.
She is secure in knowing that she’s not a replacement, but a finisher of a race for someone who, for whatever reason, could not run any longer.
This role is not for the weak of spirit, or the easily wounded.
Loving a child not born to her but calling him her own, but this is what she does, it is her calling. She is a mother.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FFF...Black and White

I haven't participated in FFF for quite awhile so I thought I would join in the fun this week!

This is absolutely one of my favorite photos of pea. The sweetness of his face and those gorgeous black eyes just makes my heart swell. I took this photo on our first visit trip when pea was 4 months old. It brings back so many emotions and memories of holding my sweet boy for the first time. It was pure joy and I feel so blessed that we have these memories with him during the time we were waiting for him to come home.

For more FFF, visit Hannah's blog HERE.