I used to sit in my bed and write late at night when I was a young girl.
I would write love poetry when I first experienced young love, and found great enjoyment from writing about the "awesome" and "cool" things that happened in my life. Every step seemed so big, so foreign...and it was.
My first times snow skiing and getting stuck in the trees laughing with my friends for hours.
My first kiss and the heat that I could feel pounding out my face.
The times I was sick and didn't go to school, and most importantly *at the time*
The latest gossip about my friends and who liked who.
I remember monitoring my thoughts...even in my personal journal because I just new my brothers sat around and read it for entertainment. It was their own personal copy of the "The Enquirer". I would take precious teenage time to hide it places, much to my demise. I was never quite sure it was actually happening, it was just a gut feeling *That is until I walked in once one day and saw Dave sitting there laughing with his friend by my bed. They had found my white 8x10 journal that had gold *journal* inscribed on the front*. I could have killed him and I very clearly remember thinking that I was done sharing intimate personal details about my juicy life on paper.
Paper that could condemn me...proof of my thoughts recorded.
Now I sit in my closet at 5:30 a.m. (when all of the kids are asleep) sharing my personal life with hundreds of people I don't know. Why...? I as myself... sometimes I am not so sure. Sometimes it's to make myself laugh and remember the funny mommy times, and others...I feel so full of emotion and thought that I must be bursting at the seams somewhere. I feel like I have a calling, a calling to share.
I had a very specific answer to a prayer once about 6 years ago that I should start to write. A prompting that came to me one day..I'm not even sure when, but I started writing down ideas of things I would write about. After coming up with a very detailed long list, I scoffed at myself and told Little Jon that I did NOT plan on writing a book...what did I have to offer that people didn't already have? I had experience in a lot of really crazy things for only being married about 10 years at the time, but so what? Every person has a story to tell....who was I and why so blazon to think I had a message. I put my pen down and went on my way.
I wasn't until about a year ago that I actually realized what a blog was..the power of it. I had a few random posts before that, that were more like a scrapbook entry because I HATED scrap booking. I could handle it for about a page, actually loved it!! Then I realized I had several kids that would all want their own book and I would have to repeat this hour long process for one page..for all of them over and over and over again.
I didn't have the patience...
so I put it down. So when I started blogging, I had an epiphany...I could record our family events and print it out for our family! I was so excited to not have the pressure of stickers, paper, glue, and printed pictures which I wasn't great at either. I had BAGS of undeveloped disposable cameras that had stacked up for YEARS. By the time we developed them *usually with tax return money* the pictures were so faded and shadowed out that you couldn't even see them. Precious snapshots of my children's lives that were so worthless compared to the real thing. The colors were not vivid at all, not at all like the memories I have burned in my brain of each step they all took every day.
Film was the only way to record, so you had to take one picture of each event because you had to pay to develop each shot. Now I can snap away to my hearts content *and I do* and pick and choose favorites to save forever..just as it was.
Fast forward to today.
I have practiced my writing "skills" pretty regularly for about a year. I learned that I have a voice and that every once in a while, for whatever reason people want to hear. We all have something to say, but I started saying it. Sometimes I wonder if I will run out of things to say and then I realize that every day I think of more and more. I can't keep up with my thoughts on my blog. This makes me happy and sometimes even a bit frustrated. That is why now blogging has replaced my T.V. time or even reading time, which I miss. I love to read but there is only so much time, so I fit it in where I can
I feel so much urgency to record my adoption story, yet still balance what is going on with the rest of my life. I have six other kids that I love to blog about, I have many ideas I want to share about supporting a husband in business, keep working on P.I.M.D.E., we take our normal family vacations that I want to record and for Pete's sake I would love to share the journey of planning my first wedding or how it has been to be a step mom, a foster mom, and "just a mom".
But for now, I need to share what feels the most pressing to me and that is my journey with Handsome. I enter this next phase of Handsome's life with special care. It has taken almost 2 months to go through my emotions of "Our Adoption" and to post "The other side of Adoption" and now I am at a "new chapter" if you will....in his life.
As I have forged ahead into the whole adoption journey, I have realized the intense journey that it is. I don't know why this should surprise me? It is the same story that the rest of my life has been. I jump head first into a new exploration of motherhood with great enthusiasm and optimism and then when I am neck deep, I realize just how tough it will be. With this adoption, I went into it VERY aware of the decision I was making. I weighed out my options *in a VERY short period of allotted time* and knew the magnitude of my decision.
If you have read my journey thus far, you know without a shadow of a doubt that Handsome is supposed to be in my home, my son, and in my story. I have no doubt in my mind that I did the right thing and he is where he is supposed to be.
My biggest frustration over the past few months is that there is very limited information out there about adopting a toddler. I want help and advice, I need help and advice.
(NANA, PLEASE REALIZE AS YOU READ THIS THAT I AM IN NO WAY SECOND GUESSING MY DECISION TO RAISE HIM. My love for him is already so strong, but I DO see a need out there to share my real story and the struggles that face toddler adoption. This doesn't negate any feeling I have for Handsome, only fuel it. I love him and I want the best for him. Even on the world wide web I haven't been that successful finding real life stories of adopting a toddler. I did find a few books that I have ordered and plan on reading as soon as I get two seconds to do it.
For this reason, I feel it important to share details of my feelings as I wade through Handsome's journey *our families journey*. It affects all of us differently.
The first month or so with Handsome was i would call....a honeymoon phase. It was like Christmas every day watching a little BOY run and play around our house. I had many sleepless nights, just like a "newborn mommy". He had a hard time sleeping at first but my adrenaline helped me push through the long nights of staring at the baby monitor to make sure he was OK. I would wake up as if I had slept well and go about my business easier than it should be, and take care of my other children.
It was all new, how he ate, what words he could say, his amazing physical abilities...it was like having a newborn but fast forward. Every step was photographed and the bonding had to catch up to he age in life...that's how it felt. I felt like I had lost time bonding with him because I didn't carry him for 9 months and hold him as a baby. I had to feel the same way about him as my other children...quickly.
Yes, I loved him instantly, but I knew from my previous experience as a foster parent that there would be some real life bonding in addition to the excitement of having a son. As he slept I would stare into his eyes until they came so heavy they would fall. *his and my eyes both* I would hug him whenever he stopped running around long enough to do it and we would sing together just like any other child of mine.
Little Jon felt the same need to bond, but didn't have as much time because he is off doing the work thing most of the day. He has loved coming home and rough housing with him. It was interesting to watch their bond....it's in the eyes. If I had to give someone real life experience advice, it's in the eyes. As I watched Little Jon bond with him it was so interesting to see Handsome act differently with him than other people. It's like he knew that this was his dad and he wanted to be close to him. When he saw him, he would stop doing what he was doing and just lock eyes with him. It was almost weird at first, but I recognized it as bonding because I knew he had done the same thing with me.
Little Jon would ask, "Is he OK? Why is he looking at me like that?"
and I would assure him that it was a good thing. After all, dad's bond with their kids differently than mom's. Jon is bigger, louder and bonds by playing were I tend to have the bonding with the feeding, bathing, and putting to bed. For this reason, Jon has loved Saturdays and Sundays because he can be alone with him and do the every day things. I am sure he gives him more sweets than I would and buys him more toys, but it is darling! I have loved to watch them grow closer.
I have a dear friend Barbara Leavitt that lives next door to me. She works with United Way and is a specialist in child development. *How lucky am I?* She is so good at feeding me information...after all this is what she does for United Way. She developed "Help Me Grow" and "Welcome Baby", both nonprofit organizations to help parents....to empower them to be the best parents they can be.
She drops in every once in a while and checks up on how we are doing. I remember at about the three week mile mark when my answer changed from "GREAT!! We are so excited...and he...." and move on to all of the exciting things to "Oh Barbara, what do you think about how he hits his head on the ground when he is mad, or his seemingly endless whining, or he sleeplessness?"
She advised me to get a attachment specialist to come to my home. I said, "Oh no, his is doing AMAZINGLY well. He is attaching just great! *and he was*. He already obviously loved his sisters and called Jon and I mom and dad with big hugs and kisses. But there was a piece missing that I was just beginning to put my finger on.
With my other children, I had developed a pattern..the way I dealt with each situation. Normal toddler stuff like when Handsome wanted a toy that Bug had, he would scream and whine...now let me express one of the hardest things to distinguish in my situation....
What behavior is normal toddler behavior?
What whining is actually caused from mourning the loss of his previous family?
and how could I help him wade through all of those BIG feelings for such a little boy? The struggle is that he is old enough to know that his whole life has been turned upside down, but young enough that he can't express such large emotions.
I became increasingly frustrated for him as I watched him hit his head on the floor. My girls would cry as he did it, but we were counseled to not over react, just move him to a safe spot on the carpet. I would cry as he pointed around the house almost looking for something but not understanding what he was trying to say. The crying and frustration from him when he didn't get his way was stronger than my children's reaction. Soon I realized that I needed to change some things.
When my kids were throwing tantrums as a toddler, I would pick them up and set them in timeout for a minute or two. When they realized that they weren't getting their way, they would stop whining or crying so they could get out and go on with their day.
When I tried this with Handsome
IT DID NOT WORK.
How can I be a mother of 6 kids and feel like I was starting over? I thought that the knowledge I had gained over the past 15 years would be for something! I was frustrated...I felt helpless. I had to pray and focus on the feelings that I knew he was supposed to be here and that I could solve these problems with Heavenly Father's help.
I looked to the Internet and found somewhere that a lady had adopted a two year old and read her experiences. *I just received her book in the mail and I can't wait to read it*. Online she advised that toddlers that are born to parents already have a bond and trust. When you put that child into time out, they are sad because they want to be good enough to be with you. The motivator for stopping their action, is your approval. When you have a toddler that is still bonding with you and frustrated, setting them in time out is just another way they are feeling left behind.
Handsome would scream louder if he was set in time out *a few feet away from me*. This was obviously not working...I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I had gone about it the wrong way. From now on I would snuggle him even tighter when he was mad. I would let him cry and scream in my arms.
*By sharing this I don't want you to think this is how he always was, because it wasn't. Most of the time he was laughing and running around with the kids*
You see, he is making up for lost time. He just needs to be held and loved.
And then it hit me, I did have some experience from having my other children. I had learned patience. I have practiced it over and over and over with my other children. I remember feeling so exhausted and frustrated with Macaroohie and then when Noo Noo came quickly after...I thought I would die. Now I tell people that it was harder with my first few kids than it is now with 7! In a lot of ways this is true. You are just learning the ropes and what is worth *loosing it* and what isn't.
Yes, I had something to offer Handsome, but he would be mothered in a different way than the rest of my kids *and they notice it*. It is hard to explain to them sometimes why he is so *babied* but they are starting to get it.
And so, I am off on another journey. A journey I plan on sharing because I know there are other women or men out there going through the same thing, and if I have an angle to share with them *you* I will because I wish I had found more of it on the Internet. There is so much I have learned to share, but my hour is up. I must wake up the kids and move on with my day...but I will be back. I want to talk about some of the hard things and beautiful things about adoption. I want to be real. Adoption is like anything else in life...harder than it looks.
Having said this, I couldn't be happier.
I am so happy to report that he stops before he hits his head now, and thinks about it...lol.
He is deciding that there must be a better way.
Last night when I tucked him into bed he didn't want to lay down.
I said, "Handsome...honey, it's time to go to bed..."
Instead of whining or crying, he looked at me with his big brown co co bean eyes, put out his arms, palms up and said,
"blah ekno kmdolke lsie aslijenlk slinekfs;ien iej;lken"
in a very sweet whinny voice, and that's when I new I was making progress!
Yea, he talked back!!!
He was trying to reason with me!
*I couldn't be happier*
I am so blessed to have this journey and I continue to feel sorry for the other adoptive parents that are waiting for a child. Why did it happen so easy for me, while other's wait for years? Life doesn't always make sense...Things happen for a reason, but then there is life. People have their free agency. I wish that more young girls would be as strong as Handsome's birth mommy and give the greatest gift of all. Sharing the life of their beautiful new baby with a family that has been waiting for days, weeks, months, even years for a child. Their arms are open, their hearts full, and their love to give the child is endless.
They are at a place in their life that they have prepared to be parents and give all of their love to a new baby..that they don't have yet.
I cry for them.
If you read this and know of any young girl contemplating placing their child...please pass it on. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Heavenly Father is present in the process and wants his children taking care of. He wants them placed into a home where they will be cared for and loved. He will help you find the strength to show the biggest act of love humanly possible...
giving a child up, to give them more.
Thank you Na Na and Handsome''s birth mommy.
I love you.
I appreciate your selfless love.
I honor you and pray for you.