Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Free'n the Fro

Ty's hair has always been a source of compliment, product, and crazy.  I love it. I've been trimming it up for months, but being a girl of massive hair, myself, it was time to bring out the big sheers. He needed to be thinned in a bad way.

Maybe in the future I won't be quite so protective, but I just couldn't handle the thought of a barber butchering those locks. I know I'm crazy. I opted to take him to my stylist instead.

Here's our before picture:

Man I love this kid.
He sat on my lap and hardly made a peep. I'm not sure I've ever seen him quite so adorable!

I'm loving the cleaner, thinner look. He looks like such a little man!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bonded by Blogger

I had an amazingly fun Saturday, this past week. Bloggy friend Melba and I met up (in real life) and drove a couple hours west to meet bloggy friend, Bri.  Melba and I have gotten together a few times, now, but it was the first time we were able to give real life hugs to our bud Bri.  It was such a special day for me because these ladies were among my very first blog friends and have typed along side me from the beginning.

 Bri, Riley, Me, Tyrus, Melba, and Charlie

Those of you who've walked this path know just how special it is to form relationships with people who know. It was so surreal to see our three beautiful babies splashing and giggling together. We waited so long for this...

It hit me when we gathered around the cafe table that I've never had a conversation where all the moms in the circle were adoptive. There was something so connected about our word flow. The nods and uh-huhs were constant, the understanding underlining. I don't mean to say our club is exclusive, but it sure felt good not to be the odd girl out. It felt good to feel normal.  I hope our friendships will continue because I, now, know how much I need them.

Enjoy some pictures from our day:

Monday, July 19, 2010

More on Siblings & Adoption

Great discussion and perspectives. I'd like to continue talking about this topic because so many good points surfaced. I think I'll draw out a few of them and see how this post shapes up.

I'll start by saying, this is a conversation Rebekah and I have had.  There are few things blogged about, here, that she isn't already aware of.  Rebekah makes hard conversations easy because she's so open and honest with me. It's also worth clarifying that just because we have decided not to call Rebekah's kids "siblings" right now, does not mean we've written them out of Ty's life. We have several pictures in the house and I give Ty regular updates on what everyone is doing. It is not our intention to hide them or pretend they don't exist.  We, simply, are referring  to them as "Rebekah's kids" until he's able to put it all together on his own. Once he does it will be up to him whether or not he wants to call them brothers or sisters.

Kelly wrote:  There are four people who have a different perspective seeing as they DID live with Ty for 9 months and are not allowed to consider him their brother. Rebekah's older children. I've seen from both blogs that they are truly hurting about how they should regard Ty and being told they are not to consider him their brother. It must be very difficult for them to understand how all of this works.

Very true that Rebekah's kids had all of this done to them and that they struggle with understanding Rebekah's decision.  Like so many things in life, I think they will understand the situation better when they're older, especially when they become parents themselves. I have so much more insight into why my parents were what they were, now that I'm a parent.  Our decision to not call them siblings has not influenced their emotions, because as far as I know, this isn't something Rebekah ever discussed with them. I don't really see it necessary. It doesn't bother me that they call Ty their brother. I've had many conversations with Rebekah's oldest daughter over text messaging and she always refers to Ty as her brother - it doesn't bother me at all.  I don't see a problem with Ty calling them "Rebekah's kids" and Rebekah's kids calling Ty "brother." 

For right now, they have very little interaction with Ty and only time will tell if that changes in the future. By the time Ty is able to hold a conversation with them over the phone, he will comprehend his story so much better and will probably understand the link from Rebekah's kids to brothers and sisters.

Anonymous wrote:  I guess my question is, what if the birth siblings are not good for your child?  I don't think there is a perfect answer. Adoption is just as unique as the people who create it. Following your heart, and God's will is the only way to do what's best for your family.

I couldn't agree more that we have to depend on God to direct us in all aspects of our parenting. We've never done this before, we don't have friends around us that are raising adopted children, and every child's story is so unique to them, that there are no cookie-cutter answers. The more I research foster adoption, the more I know this to be true. As far as birth siblings not being a good influence, if we were in that situation, we would still share all the information we had with our child (age-appropriate, of course).  Nothing good comes from withholding truth and keeping secrets.  Ty will know his full story, even the few parts that we have kept private from everyone else.

Amy wrote:  I have an open adoption with the family I placed my little girl with. I wasn't married nor did I have any other children at the time. I am now married and have a baby. Are there any suggestions on how to explain who Paige is when he gets older?...And at what age? Obviously she is a part of our lives and always will be but I just don't know how to explain our situation to a little child. He is only 6 months old but I kind of want to have a game plan.

Does anyone have advice for Amy and her situation? Amy, what does Paige call your son? It sounds like you have a good relationship with the adoptive parents, I think it would be a good subject to talk out together. I think it's great that you're thinking about this now. I imagine it would be difficult for your son to learn of a sister years down the road.

Many of you wrote about how non-confused your kids are with the big brother/sister thing. I think that's great and appreciate how differences work for each family. If we lived closer to Rebekah and saw her family on a more consistent basis our decision on this might be different. But, because we live over 20 hours away (not exactly a day trip!) and we don't know that we'll even see each other on a yearly basis, use of the siblings term becomes much more obscure.  Ty has only met 3 out of Rebekah's 4 kids one time. Another angle of their relationship that will come into play is age gap. There is a tremendous jump in ages from Rebekah's oldest to youngest (Ty). If I had to guess, I would say that Ty will have the best relationship with Rebekah's second youngest son who is only a few years older than him.

Anonymous said:  I do not mean any disrespect by this but how do you plan to explain to Ty that all the other brothers and sisters stayed with Rebekah but he was blessed by being adopted. 

This is the one question that I know we will get asked one day. For the answer, we will be using Rebekah's words to us, as to why she made this decision.  Rebekah knew that she could be a good mom - that was never in question - she's a good mom, now. But what she couldn't do...was give Ty a dad. After years of watching her children struggle without having a father around, she knew she wanted one for Ty. She also told us that all of her time, resources, and money were already being stretched so thin on the four children she had. It wasn't fair to them, for her to bring another baby into the mix.  I remember being floored by her love. Her only concern when choosing an adoption plan was all five of her children.

Andraya wrote:  In my opinion kids understand far more than we often give them credit for and omitting their relationships to others is a breeding ground for trust issues. Growing up knowing your own truth normalizes any situation but finding out later in life causes questions about so many things as well as wondering why you weren't told sooner...Hiding anything in adoption, including siblings, makes the subject taboo and can make a child feel as though they shouldn't ask or know. 

I agree that full disclosure is the best policy in adoption.  We are not hiding Ty's siblings from him. He knows all about them and has many pictures of and with them. We're merely not choosing to use the term "siblings" for the next few years until he can grasp the concept.  Likewise, there are parts of his story that will be difficult to hear and share. Adoption will always be an open overflow of conversation in our house, but there are aspects that will come out through the years, as he's able to understand the specifics.

As far as using the word "birth sibling," I find it applicable. We always refer to Rebekah's family as Ty's birth family, so whether we're talking about his mom, her kids or her puppies, I think it's okay to put birth in front of it. There are many things to think through while raising Ty and of all the things I could worry about it, this isn't going to be one of them.

Britney said:  ...I also wonder if it would be different if you were not planning to adopt again... if Rebekah's other kids were to remain Ty's only siblings? And, with your plans to adopt from foster care, if you adopt an older child who spent time with his bio-siblings as siblings, but you use a different phrase for Ty's bio-siblings, how would that work?

Britney brought up a lot of great points. And to them, I can only say, we're taking all of this one step at a time. I don't know what we'd do in someone else's shoes or even our own shoes, 5 years from now. We are not trying to control our children's lives and dictate their stories with creative, confusing twists, we're simply doing what we feel is best and right.

For right now, for this moment, I'm Ty's "Muma" and Ben is "DaDaDaDa." As he grows and learns and discovers the pieces will start coming together. With so many loving members on every side of his family, birth and adoptive, Ty will lack nothing; I'm confident in that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birth Siblings

 Rebekah's Kids

I've talked about our decision not to refer to Rebekah's kids as Ty's siblings, before, but wanted to bring it up, again, after reading this month's issue of Adoptive Families magazine.  That decision wasn't based on any supernatural insight or anything; it just felt right.  Ben and I definitely want to adopt again and we don't want Ty to be confused on our family unit. I had visions of him going to school, being asked how many brothers and sisters he has, and answering, "Well....I have two brothers and a sister that live with me (wishful thinking), my birth mom has four living with her, my birth dad has one living with him, but others that he's adopted/lived with from past girlfriends and calls them his own..." You get the picture. All a bit overwhelming for a six year old.

The decision seems natural to me, as a daughter of divorced parents, who are now with other people that have children. When someone asks me how many siblings I have I answer "3" because that's how many I grew up with - the others didn't come until I was married and well into adulthood.

What Ty chooses to call Rebekah's kids when he fully understands their place in his life, is up to him. The same goes for Rebekah.  If at 10 [pulled out of thin air], Ty decides to start calling Rebekah mom and her kids brothers and sisters, I won't have a problem with that. It's his life, his story. I'm secure enough in my position that it won't bother me or make me envious.  Until we get to that point, however, Ben and I have to make his decisions for him, based on how the Holy Spirit guides and directs us.

All of that to say, it was very confirming, this week, to read that our choice comes recommended by adoption experts.  The AF article stated how important birth siblings are to adopted kids and that most adopted children want to have some type of relationship in the future, even more than their desire to know their birth moms.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I can see how adopted children would crave that relationship and want to foster friendships with people just like them, genetically.  Then take it a step further and think about the emotions/challenges that are linked to a birth mom that may not exist with birth siblings - feelings of abandonment, confusion, difficulty understanding why. [Insert note: I'm speaking in general terms here. My prayer is that our openness with Rebekah will dull the intensity of these emotions in Tyrus, although I do realize they will exist.]  The relationship with birth siblings is probably easier because there is minimal confusion clouding the view. Rebekah's kids didn't make an adoption plan for Ty...Rebekah did.

This topic really fascinates me, so I started to do some research.  I found this article by AF magazine that further explains why waiting to call birth siblings siblings is important. Cognitively children don't come to understand genetics until about age nine. The author (Lois Melina) writes, "To a child, brothers and sisters are the people who share the experience of growing up together. It can be difficult for a young child to think of a much older brother or sister as a sibling if they did not grow up together—even if they were raised by the same parents, in the same household. While adoptive parents and birthparents may long for their children to have a close relationship, or at least an understanding of each other’s significance, this isn’t going to happen by labeling them as “siblings” before they are old enough to understand what that means."

The article also goes on to talk about the guilt that adopted children may feel when they see what they have/the opportunities they've been given in relation to their birth siblings. Ben and I wonder this often and are curious to see how Ty's relationship with his birth family will evolve.
I really enjoy educating myself on some of these issues, even though they're pretty far down the road for us.  Whenever I meet an adopted person, I try to ask as many questions as they'll allow. Their experience is gold to me. Ultimately, we rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the best parents we can, but God also puts people in our lives to be vessels of that wisdom. I eat it up!

I would love to hear all sides of this issue if you want to leave a comment, below. I'm interested in hearing how other adoptive families are addressing birth siblings, the adoptees take on the whole subject, and, of course, the first mom perspective (Are we being insensitive? Is it hurtful that your children are not referred to as siblings?) I hope this can foster some good discussion.

Feel free to email me too, if that's easier.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rebekah Love

One of the things I love most about my relationship with Rebekah is our secure friendship.

I love that I can call her on my way home from work and tell her about my insecurities as a mom and admit that I have no idea how to control Ty's hitting tenancies, all without worrying about how she might perceive me as mother of her child.  That's a big deal.

Never when I talk to her do I wonder, does she think it's okay that we do this with Ty? or if I tell her this, she might think we're totally lame parents. I love that I can just be me. I can share my heart as it is and never worry about her reaction.

She is one of those friends that just gets it. I don't have to worry about what people say or what's written here (by me or others) because I know that she knows the truth. She knows what we have and rests assured in it.

I love when God brings people into my life like that. No pretenses, no walls, just genuine, this-is-how-it-is-even-if-I'm-struggling-today friends. I, honestly, can't imagine not having her in my life. With or without Ty.

I thought about her a lot last night after our phone conversation. She gets me. She is happy with our talks,  be it 5 minutes or 5 hours. I love that she knows what it's like to balance a family and work full time and respects my time home with Ben and Ty. I love that she's a natural part of our family and a normal topic of conversation. I, routinely, update Ty on all the news. I always give him deliberate hugs and kisses from Rebekah and tell him just how much she loves him.

Yesterday, before bed, I was filling him in on their new puppy and Rebekah's, upcoming, second interview. He just sat and listened, knowingly. When I told him how lucky he is to have two mothers that love him so very much, he leaned up and kissed me right on the mouth.  It's like he knows.

I know a lot of people hate me and wish this blog would cease to exist. I get it. I don't share all the details, people jump to conclusions/read between the lines, and see me as some baby snatching monger. It's okay. It doesn't bother me. In a messed up, sin-draped world it's refreshing to have an intimate circle of people that pursue the heartbeat of God and love me through the mountains and valleys of life. Rebekah is one of those people; my life wouldn't be the same without her.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wedding Fun

 Little man might just make a wedding party world record before he's 5.  He stood up sat in his second wedding yesterday, as Ben's baby sister tied the knot (Still have all three of my siblings to go!). He looked adorable in his tux, but man was he grumpy! Wedding time was smack in the middle of nap/dinner time and Ty doesn't like missing out on either!  Most of my pictures look something like this:

But I did manage some cute ones, too.

Love that grumper face!

He knows how cool he is.


I love my little lover.

I love my big lover, too! :)

Ty gets some action before the "I Dos".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Where oh where could my baby be?

[Sorry about the music - it's from the sideshow on the last post. I'll have to blog a lot to get if off this page! :)]

I look at pictures from our weekend and wonder what happened to my baby boy? Last year on the 4th we were driving home with our new son for the first time, weeks after his birth. Now he's a growing, active, independent spirit that throws out kisses and tantrums in equal doses. Our first year with him has been a revolving door of exciting change and growth, but, now, I find myself sad. Sad that I just packed up the last remnants of baby...Ty's bottles.

I'm not overly sensitive or sentimental, but there was something about sealing that last bin, knowing that it will probably never be opened again...for our use, anyway.

I was recently at a party where girls talked baby, pregnancy, and the like. Most were newly weds or soon to be weds and infertility clearly hadn't tainted their worlds. One by one they went around the room talking about their future family plans as knots curled in my stomach. Ug.

It didn't ruin my night. I didn't go home and sulk. It just made a corner of my heart sad.

I wish that our family "planning" didn't involve loss and destruction to other mothers. I wish the process didn't have the ability to suck all the life and energy from us. I wish it could all be easier.

Ahhh. But what can you do? Nothing. At least this process has ingrained one very important trait in me - patience.  I know God's not done with us.

Tonight, I'm pushing away the sad thoughts, moving past the abandoned bottles, and remembering the sheer joy this boy has brought to our lives...


(By the way I posted a tutorial for this tee over at Thrifty Heart).