Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ty's First Dad

Open adoption has a spray of meaning, but for me, it's defined by my willingness to treat my kids' first parents with an open heart. This inevitably leads to discomfort, but at the same time, the circumstances that, years ago, were frightening, are now, every day, normal - and more importantly, beneficial.

Many of you contacted me in October, after reading/watching Rebekah's story , wondering about Ty's relationship with his birth dad. I haven't given him much air time in this place because, honestly, there isn't much to tell.

I've only met him once.

We took him and his wife to Applebees, days after Ty's birth, so that we could have a chance to get to know each other. The things I read online and in his file seemed softer after hearing his story, in person, but my insides squirmed for a long time every time we'd talk.

I had given him my cell phone number for contact (next time I will give Ben's), so it was up to me whether or not to answer the phone when it would ring. In the beginning he would call every month or so and alwasys started the conversation the same way. "How is MY son?"

Every time I answered, I swore I would never do it, again. He was arrogant and thoughtless and I, simply, didn't trust him.

But. I always answered.

I always answered because I never wanted to have to tell Ty, one day, that I was the reason he lost relationship with his dad. No way. I have enough stuff to be accountable for, I wasn't willing to take on his stuff, too.

As the years went on, time between contacts grew and my level of discomfort snuffed. Ty's dad is a broken man with a difficult past. His only other son is in prison for life and his story is textbook for generational dysfunction. I have a real heart for those....because God does.

Today, I look forward to his phone calls. I love telling him how smart, kind, and tender our boy is. I love filling his heart with hope that cycles can be broken.

In the beginning, I worried about the day that they'd want to talk, but it's yet to come. Neither has ever asked to speak to the other.

On the surface, we have always been wide open with the boys when it comes to their stories. We talk, openly (fairly often) about first families and life before our family, but Ben and I have always kept the discussion, general, until someone inquires further.

When Sweet Boy joined us, last year, it took dinner conversation to a deeper level, for sure, but because two of the three have unknown dads, our conversations tend to swirl around birth moms, foster parents and grandparents.

We do answer Ty's questions when they come; it's just not often. That might change in the future, but for now, he has a contented life without biological gap.

I no longer live concerned for the questions that surface or the hurts that individual stories might one day inflict. We've done our part in cultivating an environment that lives love and promotes dialogue.

The rest is in God's hands.

I could write pages about the benefit of fostering open adoption relationships. Each lovie has a unique story with a different path, but all of their beginnings are, equally, as significant. The poignancy in that truth is not lost on me.

LJ is the only member of our family that has a mostly hidden past, but I know who his mother is and watch her from a distance. I have written many unsent letters, waiting for God's "go". I depend on his wisdom every step of the way. This is, after all, his story...not ours.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Best Purchases of 2014

For fun, here are ten products, in no particular order, that I discovered in 2014 that changed my life (and I'm not being paid to tell you about it)!


Bissell Lift-Off Floors and More Pet

It, literally, looks like a grizzly bear terrorized our table after the kids are done eating [every meal]. This has been the perfect solution...and the boys think it's fun when they're on duty. The hand vacuum snaps out which is essential for cleaning up Missy's high chair!



Fossil Cross-Body Leather Bag

I found this [best-ever bag!] at a Fossil outlet during one of our few date nights, this year. With a baby on the hip most of the time and three others running chaos around me, the cross-body is the only way to go! It's big, but body-hugging. The leather makes it luxury; the adjustable strap, practical; and it pairs with comfy and corporate, equally well! I love it!


EOS Lip Balm ~ Vanilla Mint

EOS Lip Balm: Vanilla Mint

Smooth, tingly, and tastes just like white tic-tacs...yum.



It's taken me 33 years to tame this mane. As it turns out - less REALLY is more.

Redken Water Wax 

Several months ago, I switched to a hairdresser that is not only a fellow curly, but our curl is, nearly, identical. She gave me her regimen and was baffled that this product was not in my arsenal. It is instant "good hair day" in a jar.

Redken Align 12 - Protective Straightening Lotion

I don't want to bore anyone with my routine (email me if you're a curly), but the magic is in this bad boy. I mix it with a cheap, but strong gel and I'm well on my way to natural, non-frizzy, hair! The beauty of Align, is that it can be used for both straight and curly days. I've never had so many compliments on this mop. If only I could go back to 8th grade... 


Merona's Ponte Shift dress. Target has totally stepped up their game when it comes to career wear and I probably have a dozen versions of this dress - long sleeves, short sleeves, no sleeves, patterned, zippered, plain. I pretty much cleaned Target out during every mid-season clearance, this year. As it turns out, wearing dresses to work, is much like being in pjs. They are so versatile. Pumps/boots/tights/leggings/sweaters/jewelry/no jewelry/church/wedding. There really is no wrong way to wear it. I have bought a few from other vendors, but the Merona Ponte is my favorite. My pants are jealous.




I am crazy when it comes to clutter. With four kids, I can't keep the baseboards [or kitchen floor] clean, but everything is usually in its place...because everything has a place! I bought this vintage bread bin re-make from Amara, earlier this year, and it makes my heart smile every morning when I pull the bagels from their neatly-kept home.

Garden Trading - Bread Bin - Shutter Blue 



An absolute must-have for any home with three five-year old boys learning to use their shooters.



Ben & Jerry's Salted Caramel



I made a concerted effort this year to make our new home a "home" by hanging meaningful pictures and prints on the wall. I've so many of these awesome pins on pinterest, but didn't realize you could actually buy the prints from the source (usually Etsy) for really cheap! I bought this download for $4.00 and downloaded/ordered a blown-up version from Office Max. The whole project, matted and framed cost me less than $20.00. This print hangs above my nightstand and reminds me to hand every day over to my King.
Etsy Print "Give me Jesus"

In The Morning When I Rise, Give Me Jesus - Orange Hues - Instant Download - Printable - Typography - Water Color Script

This one hangs outside the bathroom that all four kids share:

There's No Place Like Home

There's No Place Like Home

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's a New what?

Two-Thousand Fifteen.

We are still the crazy-fun family that has lots of energy, many littles, and big faith. On the surface, I still love the new year because it's a time to reflect...plan...dream. And mine are supersized.

We each made goals:

But if you dare scratch my heart - even a little - I might start sobbing. I don't feel my usual excitement for the new year and my abilities are stretched to the point of near-balloon pop.

My seasoned faith doesn't question God or beg for relief. I know he's here moving. But I do cry. I cry because I'm tired and sad and because - really - there's not much else I can do.

We are heart-deep in mud.

Little Miss is our daughter in every way, but one. We are well-beyond the days of turning back or reminding case workers that we didn't sign-up for this. We're invested. We're family. There's no other option but to drag through.

Her biological dad is early to every visit. He dotes and plays and plans. He tells her about their family and his GiGi (her namesake). He talks about all the things they will do when this is over.

We plaster smiles and make brave.

We lie in bed at night staring up, lost in the hardship of it. Sometimes Ben reminds me, "My gut says we'll say goodbye."

I choke back tears.

Life goes on as usual.

School, work, dinner, bedtime. It all goes in perfect rhythm. In the car, Ben says, "Sissy, who's number one?" and she throws her chubby finger in the air, squealing, "Dad-eee!"

It's a new year, but the fresh beginning escaped me and the dark challenge rolled forward. Unlike Ben, I don't have an instinct on this. I feel too much. I see too much. I know life well enough. Every scenario exposes heartache and disqualifies any right answer.

Yet, people keep asking me what I "think".

I think we've done everything asked of us.

It doesn't wash the mud from my fingers or dull the sadness in my heart, but it does provide one massive blast of sunshine up above the cloud.

So, can we survive the new year without hearts full of prospect and rainbow?

Yeah. We can.

It doesn't always have to be a storybook start.

Sometimes, it's a dark and stormy night where gusts of wind are violent "rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggle against the darkness." --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Sometimes, God's presence is most palpable in the disorder.

Always, God's goodness finds its way.