Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Words to Adoptive and Hopeful Adoptive couples...

Let. Me Preface this post- It's a Constructive  Criticism/ Analysis Post- one that should make some of us reflect!

And, Not all Adoptive Couples or Hopeful Adoptive couples are the same-
MOST are honest, loving and Secure enough to genuinely love their birth families.

With that said, I'm seeing a Rise in Hopeful Adoptive Couples ( HAPs) and Adoptive couples ( AP's) Breaking the hearts of those amazing women and parents who placed a child in their arms.

The Scenarios looks like this- Generally... An expectant parent ( EP) picks a couple to adopt her unborn baby. The HAP's give love and attention to the EC and shower her with praise, kindness and encouragement in fulfilling life goals. The EP trusts that this couple in genuine and when placement day comes she does the most unselfish thing every- she chooses placement and the HAP's turn into parents and she becomes a Birth parent ( BP), while she walks away grieving what might have been in another time or place.

The new AP's send pictures every couple of weeks and arrange to do visits with the BP's and it gives both parties some hope and closure that they chose what was best for the child. A few months pass and pictures and visits become less frequent. The date comes for finalization and after that judge bangs the gavel- things change again- Not hardly a call to chat or catch up, no word for a future visit. The BP is thinking the worst- " they hate me, they used me, what did I do?" Most still agree they chose the Right family and even though the AP's are pushing away- its still right.

Mind you, I'm talking about BP's who are Good people- no drugs/ holds down a job/ is a nice person/ doesn't ask for handouts from the couple etc.

So, let's Get to some supposed WHY's of this Rise of AP's breaking trust/ lying/changing their minds etc. to the BP's...

In random order:

1.  Some HAP's will SAY anything if they are desperate to become parents- even lie, with no intentions of keeping promises made. These people may have been deceiving themselves for a long time and honestly think that its no big deal' Fake it till you make it "( or get what you want in this case). They see no harm in saying what you want to hear b/c " I'm doing it for the sake of this baby's future" " They will be better off with us- even if I have to be dishonest- its for the best" Again, they lie to themselves and Hurt others in the Process. 

Munro Leaf wrote a children's book that I love It's called "HOW TO BEHAVE AND WHY"

It talks all about being HONEST, FAIR, STRONG and WISE! I recommend you buy it or get it at your local library. My kids can almost quote it now!

2. Some People are still working through The Grief cycle or stages of grieving their own infertility/ a change to their picture perfect life plan and with this grief comes all the side affects! Here's the JIST about what this Grief train looks :

Hopefully Those images helped you get a picture of what adoptive couples ( and birth parents) and pretty much Everyone who experiences any sort of loss/pain/change in their lives, are going through.

You see- its Highly likely that the 1.) from above is NOT the Norm- most couples are not vindictive, manipulative etc. Most are just working through some part of their stages of grief. A baby does not Speed up grieving and its a Huge change. What an enormous precious blessing, this new child is for the adoptive parents! What a heartache is left in this wake for the birth parents! It's difficult on both sides and some AP's look at the sweet baby as a constant reminder that our bodies have failed to do what She has done: Have a child the normal way. Then starts a whole round of new grief and some people like to Stay a while in one stage of grief or another- b/c that is what they are used to.  Also, new AP's are losing sleep, sanity, free time, life problems pop up, friends change, family dynamics shift etc. All around- it's just going to be a Wild Ride on Splash Mountain for a while on both sides of the emotional spectrum for All involved! That's just part of it.

3. )  Most of Us have Failure to Communicate! This is one of the Biggest reasons AP's and BP's change openness status or pull away/ cut off etc. We are Humans who often think b/c we have shared this Huge, very life changing event- that you should be Reading My Mind now! You should Know when and what I want now. You know me, like on such a deep level, right? WRONG!

Gosh, If we could just wrap our heads around the idea that we have 2 Ears and 1 mouth b/c we are meant to Listen more than We Talk- we would all be having Better relationships!
(* note to self here)

We cannot assume anything!

I just recently endured a really big life lesson that taught me a couple of things-

A) Don't email or text your emotional responses - TALK first. Text- "I'm confused or having a rough day- can we talk?" not " You are not making sense and I am taking your text as hurtful b/c of Semantics getting in the way"
[ səˈmantiks ]

noun: semantics · noun: logical semantics · noun: lexical semantics

    the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form, lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics, which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.
    • the meaning of a word, phrase, sentence, or text:
      "such quibbling over semantics may seem petty stuff"

B) Make sure you prioritize what is MOST important in your relationship before you Fire off a Heated response ( ie... Is it more important they know how mad I am or is it more important that I keep our relationship afloat in the long run?)  We do not want to Burn bridges or leave a huge pile of rubble in our wake!

C) Take time to Cool down before you respond. Maybe its a day or maybe a month- but, give yourself time to sort through your initial responses/reactions before you Fire Away.

I am not ever going to claim I'm perfect and I have burned some bridges but, I do try to keep the Good ones steady and stable.

D) Be FAST to forgive and move forward. We can't fix what Has happened we can only learn from our mistakes and Begin to go in the Right direction again.

Overall, My Words of Wisdom to HAP's and AP's and Everyone Are:
Treat your child's birth parents the way you want to be treated. Do not Assume anything-Talk more than you text. Listen more than you Talk. Take time to work through your Grief where ever you may be and Be Supportive in every way possible. When you as an AP are having a rough day, don't be afraid to Be REAL with your Kid's birth mom if she is wondering why you had a bummer post on FB! Don't pretend anything- Faking stinks! We are all Human and have different responses/ways of doing things and its Worth every bit of effort to make sure that our Open relationships stay Open for the sake of the child at the very least!
If the Bp's need to have a Hiatus from You- don't take it as a sign that they are going off the Deep end- they may just need some space to grieve properly and Heal, away from you. Do not assume they want nothing to do with you or the child they placed. Be Open to sharing more and Hiding less from each other.
You have Engaged in the most Miraculous and Sacred of Exchanges! Trust for Trust!
What could be more Worthy of  Every bit of your effort than keeping this relationship working beautifully?

HAP's Before you Commit to anything- think about it long and Hard. Think about WHY do I feel this way about the request of the EC? What in my past has affected the way I am responding now? Do I feel these things out of Fear or Love? Have I worked through my own troubles and insecurities enough to be ready to Parent and to Truly love others as Christ and God love me? Be QUICK to get counseling or a self help book! You can shoot yourself in the foot if you never work through your Stuff, guys! Men, you are not exempt from this either. Counseling doesn't make you a weak person. But a Weak person will likely not seek counseling. Do not stand in your own way. Couples- be Honest with each other always. If you check the box for special needs or triplets without consulting your spouse- you will create a problem when that time comes. Be Truthful in all things and you won't have to dig yourself out of so many holes you've dug!

Lastly, Everyone, Enjoy Every second- whether you are anxiously waiting to be matched or are already losing sleep, dealing with a rowdy toddler or beyond. Soak in every moment and Make Good strategic choices to become The Very Best Version of Yourself. This will help you Immensely in all facets of your life and all relationships. God Bless you all!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Joy of Adoption: Book Review

This book is from the Series Chicken Soup for the Soul and I have had the pleasure of reading it over the last 2 months, Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy!

 As a busy adoptive mom, I only had time to read at night or times of rest and I have 4 kids so, it could have been a quicker read. I enjoyed hearing about all the UNIQUE ways families were brought together and loved the amazing writings of the contributors. Since there is not ONE timeline or one story- its hard to review all 101 stories but, I did get a sense that each person, was HAPPY and joyous in their journey to adopt, as an adoptee and the few that placed. Some stories I wished would have gone on for a few more pages and some were a glimpse into these families lives so different from my own.

 PROS and CONS on this book!

PROS- you get to read MANY stories of love resolution, healing & faith

Lots of International Adoption stories

The writings were Fantastic and REAL, which felt relatable and organic

I smiled through almost every story and I took my time to re-read a few I really liked!

This is a great book for those interested in getting a glimpse of what some adoptions might look like,

Good Coffee table book or for an office and quick reads since their are so many stories and some only take a few minutes to read!

Nice Reunion stories as well!

TOO heavy in the Vietnam Operation Babylift stories- after the first 5, I wanted to hear more about other International adoptions NOT from there or from so long ago.

Heavy on the side of ADOPTIVE PARENTS- needs more stories from Birth parents finding resolution and healing/ love etc.,  and Adoptees stories were not as prevalent either.

I only read 2 stories talking about birth parents with open adoptions( minus the reunion ones). I wished there were MORE from this perspective as it is VERY much what adoption looks like now.

NEEDS more adoptee stories- only a handful in this book.

I was waiting to read stories like ours ( open adoption- family is chosen by birth parents) and this book sorely LACKED in this area!

Would I recommend it? YES! Especially,  If you are planning on adopting in 1974/75 from Vietnam, Korea or international adoption 15 or more years ago;(.

OVER ALL, It needs more pertinent stories ( not just the 15 new ones that were added) But, it was VERY ENJOYABLE TO READ!!!

When this book is revised again- I hope 80-90 of the stories are from within the last 5-10 years .  Just my 2 cents!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting so BIG!

Summer is in FULL swing and in a few days CAMPS and lessons start up! We had a wonderful vacation ( which I will post about soon) and the kids are loving the gorgeous weather here in Evergreen. Today they decided to play in the tiny creek and have a mud fight!!! ( followed by a hose down).

The fun camps ahead are Adventure camp, Mad science- sleuth/ detective camp/ Archery lessons for both girls/ swim lessons and gymnastics for Gavin! I'm excited and can't wait to see what these sweet children learn.

Here's some updated pics from the wedding of the kids ( more about the wedding to come!)


Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Power of a Playing Parent: Book Review

WELL, this book, though shorter than I expected, took me a bit longer to read because I would STOP reading to go PLAY with my kids!

Cara, the author, lays out all the things that STOP us from playing and gives you insight to the POWERS of play. She shares personal stories, like her adoption of Bernard and Silvanie, from Haiti! I connected with her and I have always felt like a very playful mother with my kiddos ( just look at that huge pile of laundry).

 In fact, I constantly get off task b/c i'd rather play a game, make a craft, bake together or play along with my kids. BUT, I did notice a few things I was not doing!

Many times, I am not letting my kids choose or direct the play time. I also get distracted by the stupid small electronic boxes we all carry around. I am aware now and am grateful and am LOVING engaging with my kiddos, slowing down and connecting with them too.

There are so many good things to learn from her book! I highly recommend it to all parents!


Thank you Cara for sharing your heart and love with us and inviting us all into your life in this book!
God Bless you, George and your 4 kids!!!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

why i do what i do...

I'm not a perfect person and I often put my foot in my mouth! I have been asked several times why I am doing a BIRTH PARENT RETREAT when I'm not a birth parent... So, hopefully, you can understand WHY after you read this post!

When I was teenager,  I woke up one morning in a world of PAIN! I thought my insides were dying and I went to the ER. My mom held my hand and they did an ultrasound and found out I had a
ruptured ovarian cyst that was causing the pain. Often times, women have these but they don't really
feel them as dramatically or they are smaller when they rupture. Other times, women just think its the pain associated with aunt flo! But as the tech did my ultrasound he also saw LOTS of scar tissue/endomitrial tissue on the lining of my uterus. The Dr. was frank with me and said- I will probably never have children or it will be very difficult if I do have them. Either way the outcome seemed so grim at the time.

 My mom had this CD she used to play ( may have been a tape and YES, I am THAT old!) and it had this very pretty song that I remembered loving. It's Called "From God's Arms, To My Arm's , to Yours."

Please watch it NOW- if you have never heard it before( if so, skip on down:)


I would listen to this over and over again but after this diagnosis- it spoke volumes to me. It helped me realize that I can adopt to become a mother and that a women would be saying these things to ME one day. I huge feeling of reverence and love hit me to the core for birth mothers. And Peace filled my Soul and I knew this would be a HUGE part of my life. Adoption would be so special to me and my future husband!

I agonized telling guys I was dating that I may not be able to have kids. I got rejected after dropping that bomb some times but, I was honest. I had no idea how immense this was for some people but, I knew when it was the RIGHT guy- this wouldn't matter to him.

God put these beautifully broken parts of my heart together the day I told my husband . We were dating and after a few months I wanted him to meet my mom! Somehow, I had forgotten to tell him about this diagnosis. Here I was, on the way to a BIG first meeting and I forgot to tell him this BIG piece of info? So, I unloaded it on him in the car on a very long drive! It was something like " Oh, so by the way, I may not be able to have kids on my own so, I plan on adopting - just so you know!" he waited for a brief suspenseful second and Said " Well, that's cool b/c I AM ADOPTED!"

WHEEEW- what a relief! And BTW he told me he wanted to adopt like 8-12 kids that trip :)

We later Married and you can read all about my story and my kids birth parents on our pages and I will share a bit more about neat experiences I have had over my lifetime involved with adoption and birth parents in the upcoming posts!

I have had a great love for this GROUP of people since I was a kid- Birth Parents gave ME HOPE, have shown me STRENGTH beyond words, Have enriched and BLESSED my family. Birth parents- gave me my AMAZING Husband and 2 of our precious children. They are part of my family , my cousins, my step mom. Birth parents have given life to 7 great grandkids in my family! I am so THANKFUL and words are not enough- SO,  I set out to do something more- CELEBRATE and GIVE BACK to a group of people who deserve the WORLD.  In you, I see what is best in humanity- the ability to love deeper than most people will ever be able to comprehend.

God knows YOU- birth moms and birth dads-  and that Your Love is stronger than most! 

I hope all that CAN attend- will attend! God Bless! And there are not enough words to thank the many people who have made this DREAM a reality- We are at 38 in attendance! My goal was 12-20 but, God made it Grow and so did all of you amazing people! Contact me if you have any ?'s or want to HELP in anyway- give back to this amazing community! We do have some simple needs and 2 birth parents who currently need to be sponsored!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finding Zoe: Book Review

Brandi takes you on an interesting journey as a child who is born hearing but loses her abilities b/c of a sickness she gets in her youth. You go through the emotions of herself, her parents and friends and family who learn how to navigate this very NEW challenge. She Braves it like a champ and in her young adulthood challenges what Others think of The Deaf Community, laws, closed captioning and so much more. She conquers her fears and motivates others along the way to becoming Ms. Deaf America!

 She later gets married and has three HEARING sons with her husband, who is also deaf, and together they had always talked about the day they would have a little bouncy, blonde girl who signs and is as Strong as her momma! But, God leads them down a different Path and that has many bumps in the road and they eventually put there papers in for China to adopt a little girl... BUT, what happens next? Well, You will have to read about it yourself.

In the Meantime, while Brandi and Tim are raising their boys and getting ready for adoption, There is a teenage girl somewhere, just learning that she is pregnant! There is another couple involved in this story and they too are hoping to adopt. Where will this journey take them? You will just have to find out!



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Open Adoption, Open Heart & Open Arms : Book Reviews

You would think after being involved with Adoption for so many years, that I would be jaded by how AMAZING other people's stories are- BUT, I'm not Jaded! I LOVE hearing, reading listening to how God works out all the details and all the timing to help expectant parents find the adoptive families and how both parties are an answer to each other's prayers!

I happen to GROW up with this guy as a Pseudo- older brother! Russ was best friends with Todd, my oldest brother. I watched them play sports together, dub over Muppet movies and star wars, have fun on the lake, going to youth dances, going TP-ing, sliding down sand mountain and jumping off the 27ft drop into the river! Life was GOOD when you were hanging with the Elkins family!

A few years back we all connected on FB and found out that He was an adoptive dad and He realized I was an adoptive mom, married to an adoptee! That was pretty cool to see this connection in our lives. Among us, we have about 10 other couples we know of collectively ( probably more) that have also been blessed through the miracle of adoption who are from our small town.

I recently was able to read BOTH his books and loved them. Both stories are so different and yet you see a lot of common threads in your own life of being an adoptive parent. He has great books that are frank, funny, unique, honest and vulnerable as He discusses his experience as the MAN in this situation ( b/c I know you all sick of us WOMEN Gabbing about it:)!

Check the reviews out here and Get your Reading on!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Our family and Insight...

 Mother's Day was Wonderful- lots of flowers, homemade truffles, breakfast in bed, the kids singing at church, steaks for dinner, angel food with whipped cream and strawberries for dessert and great company too!  I couldn't have asked for a better day (minus a touch of whining that is in every day)...
I just didn't think I would LOSE it today and cry during class! We discussed Christ's parables about the lost sheep, the woman's lost coin and the prodigal son. The one that hit me the most was the woman who had 10 coins and lost one...
"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:8-10).

In the illustration, the sinner is likened to a valuable coin which has been lost. The woman does not take a lax attitude towards her lost possession. No. First she lights a lamp, necessarily expending oil, so that she can see clearly. Next, instead of simply glancing here and there, she uses a broom or some utensil to sweep her house so that she can reach places that might otherwise be inaccessible to her. Above all, she searches carefully. There is no hint of indifference, only diligence. This coin was valuable; she must find it at all costs.
I sat there thinking to myself- I am that woman- but, looking for my lost child/ren- not a coin. Am I sweeping the floors and looking in every nook and cranny to find the precious soul that is lost from us. The ones who have not yet made it here to our family? What is holding me back from seeking diligently?
I bawled as these words ran across my mind- I cannot be complacent or indifferent or expect that God will just open the heavens and drop a child into our family!
 YES we are hoping, NO- I'm not seeking- BUT WE SHOULD BE?
 Each soul is so precious to Him and to Us.
So, what was holding me back?
 FEAR and Judgment...
I think deep down I am afraid of heart break if we are chosen and then placement doesn't happen.
I'm afraid of building that close relationship with another birth family and them thinking I am not all I blog to be! I am afraid other adoptive parents will be ticked off if we adopt another child and they still wait for one child. I am afraid they will think I am just trying to be greedy or am selfish. I think others will judge me b/c I already have four and what could she possibly think she is capable of?
I am so sad when I think of the kids in the orphanages and we desire to adopt from there as well but, what if the international home study denies us, or if it takes 4-6 years?
These are all valid fears but, Fear comes from the Adversary (satan) and LOVE comes from God.
And now that I am having the self awareness that I too can operate out of fear- I CHOSE to NOT give credence to Fear Anymore!  SO what, people will always judge and think whatever they want to think of me, my family, our life etc- I could honestly care less! So, some will be mad that we are hoping to adopt again- the children that come in our family were never meant for anyone else anyways! What I care about is how God Sees me and judges me and we are Following His divine inspiration to have our family grow through adoption! 
Yes, we may get hurt and disappointed but, these are part of our learning experiences and I can't worry about all the WHAT ifs! There are just too many- and if God sees fit for us to add another Child or Children to our family- nothing will Stand in His Way.  I will Trust in His timing and His LOVE for us! Whether we wait for a few years or we get a call tomorrow- we will be thrilled and Embrace His Will for our Family!
We will be Ready For Whatever and Whomever Comes our way and LOVE IT!
So grateful for my friend for snapping a quick pic on Mother's Day!
The early pictures were all pretty typical- kids looking every which way, some not wanting to even smile and others ready to leap out of your arms but, we survived a 2 minute shoot and at least one is good! 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Birth Mother's Day!

God is so Good! I am Amazed How he has changed our family through the Miracle of Adoption and three incredible women!

 And to Brandon's Birth mom...


Friday, May 8, 2015

Mother's Day & Emotions!

Happy Mother's Day to you all! This day holds many special memories for me. Both good, sad & all that made me reflect on the kind of mother I have and the kind of mom I want to be.

I remember the 4 years of being married and not being a mother yet- the first 2 were fine but, the next two STUNG and I was even asked to talk on mother's day at church, that 4th year. It was a small dagger in my side( mainly b/c we didn't share with others that we were trying and miscarrying) as I went on and on about the beauty of motherhood, while I lacked being one, due to infertility issues. But, it was only 9 months after that when I became a mother! I never gave up hope that it would happen one day!

Because of an incredibly selfless birth mom, Kara, I sat that 5th yr of our marriage, in the pew, holding this sweet little baby so tightly! Brielle was a dream baby and we were just
embarking on what Parenting was really like. The 6th year, I was pregnant and loathing the Dry Heat of Las Vegas and feeling so much compassion for every woman who came before me, who-ever had children! Being pregnant was HARD on me and though I was grateful, it took a toll on my body and spirit! I often thought of Kara and my mom and the sweat and tears that went into labor and delivery. I cried even more for Kara After I had Aria! I didn't even want to think about what she was feeling in the hospital after she had this tiny girl and what was ahead of her, at placement time.

I Also thought about Betty ( Brandon's mom), the 8+ years her Arms were empty and how discouraging it must have been. It was difficult for her as she watched her siblings having their 6th , 7th and 8th kids while she sat childless. No one wishes that on their worst enemy. I imagine she was BEAMING the year she sat with little baby Brandon in her arms and what she must have thought. I know there is gratitude for His birth mom and her decision to place. I am Grateful for Her on mother's day too!

We met Jessica about 14 days before mothers day, I sat in church with my family and little SECRET I was keeping b/c we didn't tell anyone ( well, just a couple people)! I thought about Jess and again what would be the hardest part ahead of her. I have grown to understand that I only have a FRACTION of the strength a birth mother has. I hold these women in such high regard and that will never change. I remember trying to be so stoic and HAPPY on placement day but, as I loaded that tiny sweet Mini Man into his car seat, in the hall of the hospital, after placement- I LOST IT. I felt a wave of GUILT rush over me- followed by a sense of PEACE and CHRISTLIKE love for all the people and events that just took place. I bawled and just collapsed for a moment on the floor. It was overwhelming!  Again, I became a Mother to another wonderful child.

I remember finding out I was pregnant in April of 2012 and I didn't hide it but, I did NOT believe it would stick. I did the protocol and got an ultrasound and went to my midwife appts but, it wasn't until 21 weeks that I decided it was okay for me to be HAPPY and get excited for this one ( I had 5 miscarriages already)! So that Mother's Day I SANG in church with some other ladies about all the Simple Things a mother does and it HIT me, as it does every year, that I needed to TRUST GOD and that whatever happened - it would be okay!

I had Slade a few days after my birthday in January. It was natural, painful temporarily and FAST! We had a BOY, a Brother for Gavin- who could ask for more? Everyone was excited- He was everybody's baby! I felt that mother's instinct to enjoy every precious second and a wave of emotion as I knew He would be my last biological child- and It would be just fine. God's promptings made it clear to me and my hubby that although my body had " done it's time" in trying to get children to our family- He had another Plan- a Better plan.

As I nursed Slade for the very last time, quietly sitting in his room, I sobbed and sobbed and that bittersweet feeling and almost audible words- rushed over and through me again- "You are not done mothering but, there will be no other child that will come from you. You have done all I have asked of you and now, another journey awaits, When it is the right time to find your children."

I'm a MOTHER to 4 beautiful kids who make my life beautifully crazy! I wouldn't have them without 2 other Amazing mothers- Kara & Jess. I wouldn't have my husband without Betty having raised him and Jane having Placed him. He is such a GREAT man who gives me the luxury of staying at home with my kiddos- kissing boo boos, digging for worms with my boys, playing on the swings, or in the rain, wiping tears and laughing till it hurts! I wouldn't be a Mother without my mom teaching me and guiding me and instilling love and values in me. I'm far from perfect and I will never claim to be. I'm utterly indebted to these many women and always will be!

~I can't wait to see what the future holds for our family and how our children will find their way to us and to have that part of my heart filled. That part that aches to know that where ever these future children are- that they and their birth mothers are surrounded by love!

~~To my childless friends and Family- YOU ARE MOTHERING when you teach others, when you nurse others to health, when you support other mothers who are having a hard time. You are valued and I Hope you know that God knows you and Loves you too and if you are not able to bare children- there are other ways, if you are led to these ways and open enough to receive these blessings. 

Adoption is not everyone's choice but, I know that some people never even consider it. I don't know why and I feel like people are missing out on such an intensely beautiful part of their lives b/c they are so closed off to it! For Us- It's a Miracle, a Blessing, A joy, and OUR FAMILY! We wouldn't be who we are without it!

Happy Birth Mother's Day and Happy Mother's Day to all you awesome Ladies!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

how can time fly by so fast...

well, try moving 2 times in 2 years and adding two kids along with those moves-Oh and switch companies and become a business partner owner... That's how it all seems so fast! I can't believe we are planning Gavin's 4th Birthday already- it's bittersweet!

 He is SUCH A JOY now that he is out of the terrible twos and is doing so much better as a big brother and overall, little person. I'm not sure if I ever shared his 2nd year with everyone but let's just condense it to a few words- Fecal fiesta- every other day, lots of dirt, yelling, messes and screaming! It was HARD and I'm so glad he is speaking so well now- most of his yelling was in frustration that we couldn't understand what he wanted or was try to say.

Enjoy some BABY pics of this little man!!!

5 days old...

10 months old

 7 months old


Friday, May 1, 2015

this weekend- 4 years ago...

We headed out to UTAH on a SECRET TRIP to meet JESSICA- and to SEE if we would bond the way we did over the phone/ email etc...  Let me back up a bit...

Our first contact from her was via email on April 7th!  We were setting up for an adoption conference  that day and we had just finished our CPR class and told our caseworker that we were switching to Foster care b/c we were ready and wanted to see what it was like. He went on about how a cute couple in Grand Junction just got an email from an expectant mom. That night- I got home and we had this email in our inbox too!!!

"Hello, my name is Jessica. I am not entirely sure how to go about this but, i am seriously considering adoption, my due date is May 24th and there are a few families that i have been considering. I don't really have any questions for you at the moment but if you have any please feel free to email back. Thank you.

Please respond by: EMAIL"

WE FREAKED OUT! I told our case worker the next day at the conference that we got an email and He told me- he though it was  a mistake or a duplicate accidently sent to my email... I was SAD but, I still inquired and asked her about what drew her to our family ( just to be sure it wasn't a duplicate email). Here's a part of her response...

Things are going well thank you, I am not sure what it was that i liked about your profile but, i kept remembering your red flowers in you and your daughters hair :) haha. my pregnancy has not been that bad actually other then being sore all the time and not being able to sleep on my stomach ha. I live in Utah i am staying with my parents till the baby is born, i am 22 and i am a massage therapist so at least i can get massages every once in a while :) my family and friends are very supportive and have been a great help to me. I actually didn't tell them i was pregnant till a couple of weeks ago i was sure my dad was going to shoot my brains out but he was very calm and has done everything he can to help and be there for me. Like i said earlier my due date is may 24th so i am about 33 weeks along i am having a boy. i have 6 other brothers and sisters i am the second oldest i love to sing and swim and be with my family and hang out with friends. we have 3 dogs, 5 cats and 4 bunnies so its a full house haha. its very cool of you to be so open and understanding, if you have any more questions for me just let me know thank you for emailing me back, i hope you have a good rest of the day!"
I KNEW IT WASNT A MISTAKE! And so we connected and talked and built a friendship for the next few weeks- then we took our trip to meet her!

It was that NERVOUS FIRST MEETING with an expectant mom, who was considering us! We already knew she was fun and had a sense of humor and was gorgeous- we just didn't know if WE WERE IT for sure!

After the 9.5 ours in the car, we didn't even stop to freshen up and the  adoption office had already closed that we were going to meet at so, we decided to meet at the MALL ( like, we are totally teens at heart:).   We got there before Jess did and our phones were dying and we went to the store to plug them in ( I forgot my charger;) and we paced the floor waiting for her arrival. We were nervous, excited, worried she might not show and Eager most of all, to meet this awesome person.

Finally- She and her entourage arrived and we hugged and said hellos and met her grandma and step mom and went over to grab a bite to eat and get the kids on the carousel while we talked! We asked all kinds of questions and made some small talk and began a fun dialogue that led us to going over to her parents place! We met the rest of the family and it felt so natural- like we had known them for a long time.
The home was filled with kids of all ages and we found out that Her step mom had adopted her son- 8 years earlier and another marriage ago! We also found out that we had a common name we both liked.. It was a weird series of events that led us to that middle name that is SURELY suited to this mini man!

Back up about 8 hours - during our car trip... Brandon and I discussed names we liked- lots of good ones to choose from... Slade, Troy, Gavin, Gage and Dane were at the top of our list. We tried on many middle names and the one that seemed so FUN and COOL and TOUGH was the name DANGER!!! Yep, And it sounded best with GAVIN... Gavin Danger! Meanwhile- Jess had been calling her baby PUMA, while in the womb!...

Back to us- heading to her parents house and chatting... we see this cool cat running around the house and she called him DANGER! We were like " oh crap, she is never gonna go for that name now" in our heads! Then we asked her why she called the baby PUMA...

She recounted her dad and step mom wanting to adopt a child from Haiti when all the stuff was going on over there. They thought it would be cool to name a boy ( if they adopted) the name...

"That's Nuts- b/c we like the name GAVIN- b/c your Irish/Scottish and DANGER b/c it's AWESOME!!! WHO woulda THUNK we would all think DANGER was a cool middle name?
BUT, she still hadn't told us that she was choosing us for sure that night. We all decided that would be his name though and it was Unanimous!

We departed for the night and met up in the morning to run around together! I wanted to go to the
Kencraft Candy outlet  and Ikea! So, we picked up Jessica and as we were driving- with all I could muster.. I ASKED HER... " So, you may be still figuring out this but, when you do know who you are going to choose... Can you let us know as soon as you know?" And she kind of giggled ( as she often does) Oh , No... It's you guys- FOR SURE! And that was that! We were to be his parents but, we knew she would have to actually face that decision after He was in her Arms!

We had a fantastic rest of our visit and running around ( I wore heels and tripped down the stairs at Ikea and Brandon and Jess just CRACKED up- Thanks guys!) And I made some lasagna for the whole family and we got to know each other so well for such a quick visit. I shot a few sweet pics of her with us and some maternity shots and we hugged and shared the precious little time we had- then went back home to CO- to prepare and wait for this GD- kids' Arrival ( tee hee- Gavin Danger or Gosh Darn:) !!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Loving this outpouring of STRENGTH...

 UFA  has been receiving so much HELP getting ready for this amazing birth parent retreat! I am overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude by the kindness this community has given so far! We still have a bit more funds to raise for food and  therapists' costs- but I KNOW and TRUST that we will find a way- God is Good- we are STRONG- we Trust in our HEARTS and the KINDNESS of others! ...

There are so many people BEHIND these names on this picture- I will THANK you all as this progresses- but I must thank SARAH R. for all you diligence currently-you are amazing!

LOVING THIS SONG from the NEW Cinderella- it explains how I feel and the gratitude I have!..

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Have Courage...

We all NEED to have courage and live each day to the fullest without FEAR of the unknown.
It's easier to SAY then DO... for adoptive hopefuls-the unknown can be scary and tumultuous. The WAIT time before placement or matching can be DRAINING and full of unrest on WHAT MIGHT BE! As Birth parents the ROAD after placement can be all of the same- exhausting, scary, full of twists and turns and unknowns. As expectant parents- the thoughts of adoption and placement are ALL of those things and MORE! And everyone's support system is so VASTLY unique and different. It's SO important that we all LOVE AND SUPPORT each other as we go through these changes- even if we can't see what's ahead- WE CAN BE BRAVE enough to TRUST in GOD and our abilities- and SOAR to places we never have been before- in our lives, our hearts and minds!
We can GROW abilities and characteristics through our journeys and learn to EMBRACE the EXCITING UNKNOWN instead of being caught up in Fear! I pray every single night for every one involved in this Community/ Family to feel loved, accepted, supported, strengthen and enriched as we Courageous face what will be some of the most intense situations we will ever be in, in our lifetimes! GOD BLESS you all- Heaven Knows we all NEED each other!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gavin's turning 4!!!

We will have a big JAR on site Labeled BOOTY for BIRTH PARENTS! Please feel free to contribute any denomination as we raise funds for the UFA Birth Parent Retreat, here in Colorado- Instead of a gift! Without Gavin's birth mom- He wouldn't be part of our family ( and birth dad too)!

 Jessica- His gorgeous birth mom
Dustin- Handsome Birth dad:)
DONATE HERE- if you wish! & Thank you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dear Expectant mother...

I wanted to SHARE Brina's letter to others who may be considering Adoption as a choice... It is astounding! She is so brave and so open and honest- everything we all need to hear!


Now... Here's a tid bit from it...

"Sweet mama, you are so loved. Many of the women who came before you are thinking about you. We are praying for your peace. We know what this is like and how hard it is. No one but a birth mother knows this path. This path is hard and it's full of heartbreak, but it's also full of joy and beauty. You learn to love like you've never loved before. You learn what true selflessness is. You put this tiny person ahead of yourself so that they can thrive. You do whatever it takes to make sure that their life is the best it can be. For that, you are an AMAZING MOTHER. Don't let anyone tell you different."

Don't forget to read the FULL letter and frequent her blog!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The GROWN-UP adoptive parents!!!

Not that I think I'm super mature or anything ( really, I dance around my house and still do ballet with the teenagers in my class;) BUT, I can say that having adopted TWICE already, having very open relationships, a genuine sense of Who I am and Who God is still Making me to be- brings a sense of maturity to Us as a family and this NEW process we find ourselves in. Hoping to adopt but not seeking!

You see, most hopeful adoptive couples are on pins and needles WAITING for the call/ email/ text from a prospective expectant parent or case worker. I've been in their shoes. I felt this way MOSTLY
with Gavin's adoption. Here we were- a family with 2 girls and I had been told that having 2 or more will MAKE YOU WAIT FOREVER for another! I'm not gonna lie- we did everything to get our profile and blog looking awesome and SUPERB. I don't know if I really wanted it to OUTSHINE anyone though- I just wanted it to be the BEST representation of ourselves- Kind of like when you go to Church on Sunday- people see you all dressed up and you speak up in class ( Hey, ANYONE can put on their BEST for a couple hours or on a BLOG/ PROFILE).  But, this time around- I am just going to be a REAL and RAW as possible- b/c that's ME- this is us! So, we don't have the BEST showing for all to see- we have the Genuine Article- Yoga Pants, scruffy hair and all!

I think younger/ newer hopeful adoptive parents have a sort of  warped mentality that IT'S a competition of WHO can LOOK the best, BE the best, Have the Biggest House and look like Ken & Barbie!That way- they will attract an expectant parent to possibly choose them. Maybe... It's NOT a COMPETITION FOLKS- If Someone adopts and it's not you- YOU DIDN'T lose out. You aren't UP against other couples ready to DUKE it out to WIN the ultimate prize. It's an Illusion Satan is putting in your head.
Well, ADOPTIVE COUPLES--- TONS of expectant parents aren't looking for Ken & Barbie- They are looking for GOOD people they feel a connection with and that connection can be sparked from the smallest thing... One instance i remember was a couple who debated about putting a picture of them in their profile where the husband was wearing a Metallica T-Shirt-  in case someone found it offensive. BUT, that was the thing their future birth mom LOVED- Heavy Metal!!! She saw it and instantly had a connection and it grew from then on! I guess what I'm saying is-

The RIGHT Person seeking to place- is going to connect with you for being YOU- and God's Hand is in it all! You just have to be Genuinely unique, willing, loving and for crying out loud- Take off your GLOVES and treat other adoptive couples with the Same GRACE and LOVE that you hope to be treated with. God Loves you all and it's all going to be Alright in the end!

* top r photo is us before we adopted Gavin 
( who is almost 4 now)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love Makes our Family

I remember when Brielle had her 3rd birthday and the party we threw at our home with a bunch of her little friends, her birth family and all her grandparents from every side that could be there. We make a fun cake and large bounce house was inflated in our living room! There was FUN in the air but, also a lingering feeling of " OH CRAP- it's about to get REAL!"

In our original placement agreement- we would terminate contact in person with Brielle's birth parents except for pictures and letters/emails/ blog at 3 years so, She could have a NORMAL life!

Our heads and our hearts couldn't wrap around the idea of never seeing our NEW family ever again- or Keeping Brielle from knowing her birth family, in person. What kind of selfish people were we? Well, I think when we made that agreement- everything was just so unknown and new (and Yet Kara and Kyle agreed that this would be okay with them.:/)

After our tiny girl dug into her presents and the last pieces of cake were put away- it HIT ME! Why It was awful and felt so wrong. I didn't get any sleep that night and Brandon and myself talked all the next day and we called our case worker who said we could do whatever we wanted in terms of our relationships so...
do we have to say goodbye? This is absurd! I didn't know how to bring it up and their were still others at our home and we all said a quick goodbye with tears and hugs.

We called Dawn ( Kara's mom) the next day and I don't remember word for word but it was something like this...
"We love you guys and don't want to stop seeing you just because we said that in the beginning. There is no reason to not have you in our lives and us in yours- if you are okay with that and if Kara is okay as well?" "Well, Yeah!" then a second of silence was heard between us, followed by an overwhelming sense of relief!  Then She said- " We feel like We have adopted You guys already!"
We didn't HAVE to close off our relationship just because we once agreed to do so. And when we agreed- we had no idea what our lives would be like 3 years post!

You see- you very well may think something might be BEST for you, or your situation and when that time comes- You may totally just change your mind- b/c your heart is telling you to! And logically speaking, there is no reason not to!

We always seek for what's best for all of our kiddos and in our situations we have been lucky enough to have OPENNESS for 3 of our 4 kids birth families. It's such an honor to be part of their lives and have them as part or ours.
There is no normal! It doesn't exist and if it did- I would most likely run from it!

Our lives our complex , unique and beautifully broken! But, it's these amazing experiences that make us Stronger and more of ourselves than we'd ever thought we'd be...
Like this Bowl- so beautifully broken and repaired with GOLD & silver- it has become a WORK OF ART! It doesn't Matter how many cracks or breaks or problems we all have- It's how we choose to REPAIR, change and grow our ABILITY to accept others AS they are! There is no definition of a PERFECT family and how that should look or function- its different for everyone... But for our family- the perfection is in the gold that BONDS us together & that Gold is TRUE LOVE!
( the BIRTH cousins at our last visit- the girls thought it would be fun to DECORATE each others faces:) Jr. is actually Brielle's biological Half sibling!
*We look forward to seeing them again in the near future and we know our lives would be completely different with out each person in it! We are so eternally Grateful for our Glorious & Unique family- all parts if them!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hoping Yet, Not Seeking...

Let me explain exactly where we stand in regards to our status as adoptive/hopeful adoptive parents...

I have to be REALLY HONEST with You ( or myself)... As hard as this is- WE aren't SEEKING or TRYING to adopt right now. In that I mean- I'm not going to PURSUE an agency or solicit our blog/profile out to people. I have done that TWICE and it had amazing success ( and of COURSE the Almighty's timing has a hand in it all!) BUT... We really do desire to adopt again- IF and ONLY IF it's RIGHT, It's Meant to be, and If the expectant parents and ourselves are totally on board with everything.
I mean- come on- we have 4 kids- who is really going to consider us UNLESS they desire a large family for the child? That's a small margin of people who would actually look at our profile or even consider us.

You see, we had this PLAN ( okay - everyone laugh now- b/c we all know God loves to mess plans up) to do our international adoption home study- travel down to the Philippines and come back with 2 kiddos after a month of doing philanthropic work there. This was all to happen by spring of 2017! And Of course, they had to be girls and under the ages of 3.5!

So, essentially I was DOING what many of us Have done before- ASKING GOD FOR A HUGE BLESSING BUT,... Only if it fits in this tiny minutia of a box that fits all MY parameters! SO, Nevermind what God may want- THIS IS WHAT I WANT!!!  ( GOSH , I'm Selfish at times- I swear)
Ever since we have been married we've talked about adopting from PI one day. Brandon served a mission there and HE loves the people and I love the people here in the states that I have MET- what a culture of kindness ( can't vouch for everyone) but, those I've met have been AMAZING!
We've learned a lot about the culture, the poverty, the amount of kids who are abandoned, surrendered, foundlings, living on the streets, no birth control for anyone etc. We've learned about all the things you need to even QUALIFY to adopt from there ( we do) and how little AMERICANS actually adopt from there each year( less than 400)! The gov't there has systems in place and I guess you could say its doing better than it ever had before- but its still flawed like most systems that serve children. Poverty isn't even considered a reason for placement. ( HUh?)

 My hubby lived with these humble people who taught him that LOVE is free and money doesn't equal happiness and its a place that made him a better man! I still can't help but think of the things He saw there. It's ROUGH! But , it is what it is!

So, we put or name on a WAIT LIST ( 8-12 months before we can even apply) After application - it could be 12 months, 2 maybe 3,4 years who knows? I hope they make an exemption for us seeing as we have more than 3 kids- we may not even qualify on that end- I HAVE NO IDEA!

Which brings me to this post... We are Hopeful that God will work everything out in His way, in His Time and if that means we wait four years+... Then we wait! If that means we are meant to adopt another child here in the US- Then we do! He Knows More than I do!

This Song Explains it all! Enjoy-( ps I totally had no idea about the cute girl in the middle of this video) I will TRUST that He knows Better Than I!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Girls weekend with Birth Family!!!

SO, in February, Grandma Dawn ( Kara's mom) asked us to come to Las Vegas. She wanted to have some time with Just the girls! She bought tickets for the girls and I purchased one for me so we could all visit & I could see my friends and family while we were there! We took 2 days off school and the girls got to fly on an airplane for the first time, as bigger kids! The girls had fun meeting the capt, getting their wings, watching us take off and land and all the bumps along the way! ( this was good prep for the upcoming trip they are taking with us to Hawaii next spring!)

We landed safely and were greeted by Brielle's birth mom , Kara and her mom Grandma Dawn!

Over the next couple of days the girls had time with Just the Grandmas and great Grandma Maxine too!-spending a Day with Grandma Betty- going to jumpstreet out to eat, doing nails, Going to Adventure Dome, restaurants & going to Chuck E Cheese, getting presents and ice cream and pretty much being SPOILED! But that's what Grandparents and birth moms get to do!

<( Brielle & Kara- her birth mom:)

Meanwhile, Since they wanted me to NOT be with them- I was able to have GIRL time all to myself... I got to see my friends, Angie ( who is a birth mom), Miki, ( who is an adoptive momma and birth aunt)  and my sweet friends Heidi, Natalie & Katie too! I was able to get a pedicure with Betty & Angie and see a movie with her, out to dinner with Betty and Brian and Crystal and our girls, see cousins cheer and the girls got to swim and play with lots of birth cousins and friends! We worked out, went to café Zupas, went to church, hung out with old friends and GAVE LOTS OF HUGS!
  IT WAS A FABULOUS TRIP!!!                                       (me & Angie)>

I VALUE the time we get to spend with our family and I love that our family is made through this miracle of adoption. Its a HUGE family TREE or BUSH rather:) We are totally blessed and can't wait to have another VACATION with our FAMILY ( yes, no more distinguishing birth or not- you are our family!!!) Love is just that... PURE and honest! And sometimes, I just don't distinguish between birth family and bio family- b/c in my eyes and GOD'S EYES- we are all ONE and We are all His Children! I'm just blessed to be connected to such wonderful souls on this Earth!

 (Aria& Dawn)>

<( Phil, Dawn, the girls and Jr.- Brielle's bio half sibling)