Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Truth About Open Adoption

Ben and I are standing in a crowded, curtain clad room, just days, after little Tyrus was born. We're still living in a haze, frustrated that we had to wait over an hour because the county office doesn't believe he's our son-we have no paperwork to prove it (termination hasn't happened, yet), and strangely wondering why Michael Jackson's death paralells that of a god.

The under-age attending nurse collects Ty's bloodwork for the state, slaps on some bandaids, looks directly at me and asks, "So this adoption thing was pretty easy for you...?"

I stifle a laugh, sneak a peak at Ben, and answer with a definite, "No. No, it wasn't."

Most of the world is blind to adoption. I wish it was a national hot topic...that the country would care as much for these babies and foster children, as it does for conflicting politics, world war, and controversies over healthcare.

All I can do is my part.

I can share my experiences, honestly, and hope it helps change mindsets. That our story will inspire others to adopt...even those that think it's not for them.

I've been wanting to write about open adoption, specifically, for weeks, but am just now finding the time. Openness is definitely curving toward the trend, in the world of adoption, but can still be a very scary topic for those considering it. I assume those reading have read most of our story and know the closeness Rebekah and I have with one another. My casual approach to our relationship may have readers believe that choosing to engage in "open" adoption was an easy choice for us....but it wasn't.

Open adoption is scary. And we didn't commit right away. Before we were matched with Rebekah we had closed our minds to open adoption. We just didn't see how it could be beneficial...or comfortable. Even when Rebekah requested an open adoption, when she chose us, we walked very tentatively...praying that God would lead us.

It didn't take long until I considered Rebekah friend...we were always ten steps ahead of the agency and they had a hard time keeping up with our openness. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers and information....neither of us really considered any topic "off limits," and talked about everything under the sun.

Before Ty (as in all the days with Rebekah leading up to the birth), I would have told you that open adoption is perfection...that everyone should do it, and that it's a beautiful gift to give your one day son or daughter...

Today, I would say...open adoption is difficult-but rewarding, everyone should do it-if given the opportunity, and I'm so thankful that I'm able to gift my relationship with Rebekah to Ty.

Nothing about this process is easy...and that includes open relationships. It's almost like a tug-of-war game. There is nothing better than being able to give your son a full history lesson on his heritage, to have hundreds of family tokens...from pictures to letters to gifts...to be able to re-tell his birth day and the tears that were shed by all...to have been been there, in the room, at all...or to read him the last email sent by his birth-grandma so he can hear the love in her heart. Yet...a very big YET. There is nothing more difficult than knowing the pain you've caused in another woman's heart.

The day after we came "home" from the hospital, Rebekah and I sobbed together on the phone. Her telling me how hard her day was...me trying to convey the gratitude in my heart. We were both a mess. The minute I hung up I realized how much easier a closed adoption would be. Sure, Rebekah would still have pain....but then I wouldn't have had to hear it. Maybe I could have moved on with my life quicker....maybe Ty would have felt like my son sooner.

Those are selfish thoughts for sure, but I felt them. When Rebekah wept in the room next door, as she signed her termination paperwork, I felt every tear...When Rebekah blogged about her heartache days after, I read every word...When we were out together and someone asked how she was, I saw the pain that veiled her eyes. Her experience did not escape me.

The openness of adoption is hard.

A day doesn't go by that I don't think about her, even two months later. Although the emotions have settled, it's still hard for me. I can't believe that Rebekah gave me the boy I call son. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that I love her. I want the best for her. And I wish that she could have the joy of knowing and seeing Tyrus every day.

Like all adoption emotions, I was ill prepared.

It's almost fitting for it to be difficult. If Rebekah had to make a selfless decision to give me her son...than I should have to be selfless in giving her a relationship. Even if it was hard for me to see her pain.

Now that we've walked through the most painful days and life has settled in...I really wish Rebekah and her whole family lived close...I do. I miss them terribly and want them to share all of Ty's moments with us, not just through pictures and videos...Rebekah and I try to talk weekly, but it's never enough.

The openness of adoption pulls you in deep.

Do you want to know what the coolest thing about it is???

Someone else on the planet (other than your spouse) cares as much for your son/daughter as you do. I know grandmas...and aunties...and friends care. But it's not the same. Rebekah was just as excited as I was when Ty's bottom lashes grew...and was equally pained when I told her of Ty's first shots...Just like me, she watches and re-watches the nonsense-he's hardly-doing-anything videos I make, because she loves him as much as I do. Do you know how special that is? We giggle over his quirks, agree that he's the most beautiful baby alive, and dream about the things to come...together.

Rebekah is the only person on earth who will ever experience a mother's love for Ty with me. The ability to share such an incredible gift is remarkable. It makes my heart explode. As great as all of that is for me, the true winner of our open adoption, is little Tyrus Lee...

He doesn't know it yet, but he won the baby lottery. He has two worlds of people that would give their lives for him. Two mommies that are committed to cheering him on for life. And two parents who will never take his life for granted...who thank God for him every day...who will do everything possible to keep both worlds functioning as one...one big, loving family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lovely Day, Lovely Life

Oh, my goodness, what great friends I have in all of you. Thank you for all the happy wishes! I had a beautiful day. I am one of those people that loves my birthday. I mean LOVES it. I like to celebrate for a week...I love the hoo-ha, the parade of gifts, the phone calls...I look forward to it for weeks.

This year was very different. Every day, since Ty, has been a dream come true...truly...that my big day really paled in comparision. He's like 100 birthdays every day. I woke up, yesterday, with so much gratitude in my heart for Rebekah. She gave me the best gift I could ever receive. At least once a day, Ben will look at me and say, "Can you believe someone gave us their baby?" It's surreal...even after 2 months. I'm not sure it will ever sink in (I hope it never does).

Rebekah has changed my life forever with this sweet, sweet baby boy.

His presence in our life forces us to be better. Better people, better parents. He has given our lives so much purpose...I can't even formulate the fullness. My little Ty-Guy was so sweet yesterday, it was as if he knew it was my birthday. He slept 7 hours, ate and went right back to bed - giving me the opportunity for a long hot shower and lots of "get ready" time, took good naps, snuggled, and never made a peep!

It was such a perfect, lazy day! Meeghan and the kids brought lunch and we had a picnic on the porch. Later we snuck out for dinner and a movie.

We went to see Julie & Julia, which I loved. It would be a hard movie to recommend because I related to both characters in so many ways...someone outside my life may not find it as endearing. I found it amazing. Both Jules try to find their place in the world and use cooking as a mechanism to finding their true selves. There's a very brief scene that ripped my heart to shreds...when Julia finds out her sister is pregnant. Her infertility is never mentioned on screen, but a barren heart knows. I wanted to jump from my seat and hold her...tell her there's hope. I most related to Julie. She's a writer at heart and so bad wants to be published....She writes a blog through the movie and all the details surrounding it made my heart smile...there are so many parallels in my own life. Ben laughed out loud when Julie's husband stormed away and said, "Do NOT put this in the blog." I can't tell you how many times I've heard those words...Such a great boost of inspiration for me, as I, too, dream of writing a book. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. I hold out much hope for my big two-eight year. If nothing else, I'm finally a mom...
...and nothing could be more lovely.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guest Post...for a special day

Hi Heart Cries Readers!!!

Meeghan, a friend of Rebekah, here. This will come as a surprise to her, but I am guest posting today. Her friend Laura and I conspired to high-jack her blog for a very special day. Why you ask? Just a few short minuets ago (in our time zone) the clocked clicked past midnight, bringing forth her favorite day of the year…her BIRTHDAY!!! Rebekah turns 28 today. I want to wish her the happiest of birthdays and thought you would like to do the same. I went back to her blog one year ago and found these excerpts…(you can read the whole post HERE)

“26 was pretty much the worst year I've ever had, so 27 will no doubt be super, comparatively. Last year was the pinnacle of our infertility issues. In October, a few short months after my big day, my world came to a slamming halt and continued to spiral downward after our first and last IUI. We had spent months getting infertility treatments and had agreed that the IUI would be our last step in the journey. On paper everything was perfect (the day of the IUI) and we should have gotten pregnant, but didn't. It was the start of a very dark, very emotional season for Ben and I. We threw our hands in the air, stormed heaven, and walked away from life for awhile. This year is shaping up to be very different (thank God!)”

“Getting older was never a problem for me, until this year...27...it's so close to 30. It's not the "older" part that I'm fearful of...it's the lack of accomplishment that bothers me. When I graduated high school my naive life expectations were to marry Ben, have all our kids by age 30 (I really wanted to be a young mom), graduate from college, and be smack-dab in the middle of an exciting career...Ben's the only steady in my life that actually worked out as planned. The others are a far cry from reality. Kids-none. College-still working on it. Career-not so much. It's humbling really.”

I am so thankful that she was able to check a few accomplishments of f the list. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree, she is starting her Masters (this week), and MOST importantly just two months ago she became a mom to a handsome little man, Tyrus. (can’t really get a better gift than that). The pain of “26” has washed away and, I am sure, that “27” will stand out in her mind as one of the best. I look forward to what “28” will bring.

I have known Rebekah for many years but in the last 8 we have become the best of friends. Along with our husbands we have been through many adventures together. We vacationed together, owned a business together, were in leadership at our church together, and in most recent months became parents together to two amazing little boys. We could not ask for better friends.

Our Precious Boys!!!

Here are a few of my favorite things about her…

*She lives her life with passion and grace
*She is a style queen and tries to keep me looking cool
*She is passionate after the heart of the Father
*She loves her Ben and always sees the best in him
*Most recently (as in tonight) she pushes to the next level when we are biking together…and waits for me when I fall behind. (Some of you may not know, but we are training for a mountain bike race in Nov.)
*She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside
*She is real, true to her feelings, and not afraid to share them
*She stood by me, as I was having children through her darkest days.
*She was with me (in an ambulance) when our second baby came into this world, and again most recently (in a hospital this time) when our little boy joined our family.
*She loves our children unconditionally.

Love you friend. Hope your day is filled with much joy as you relish on the accomplishments of this last year. I look forward to many more adventures as we raise our boys.

So now it is your turn to wish her a happy birthday!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy 2 Months Tyrus!

Click Here for Ty's 2 Month Video!

I cannot believe my little man is getting so big...here are some shots from our latest photo shoot. He's the absolute light of my life...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Empty Arms No More

[Photography by Melanie Love]

I'm a reflector. Big time.

I head back to work at the end of the month and, although, there are a thousand things that could be done...all I want to do is sit and hold Ty. I spent hours with him, this morning...tracing his features...cuddling close...kissing his chubby cheeks...the palms of his hands. I couldn't be more in love with this little man.

I've talked before about his reminder to me. He is a picture of God's faithfulness and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't remember...

All week, I've been thinking about my arms. For years, they physically ached from the emptiness... Today, they are full. They are full in every sense of the word - It's a fullness that cannot be replicated or described.

I began telling Ty his story, today, but found I couldn't start with the call. Instead, I started with the darkest hours of my life...and wept through the retelling, all the while, staring at my happily ever after...

Day 212...November 26, 2008
It's the day before Thanksgiving and my heart is so sad, my arms so empty, it's hard to be thrilled about doing any of my favorite things....I just want a baby. Lord, is that too much to ask? Lord????
Day 239...December 23, 2008
In 4 months of waiting, our profile has been shown one time...I want to scream....and yell...and maybe throw a tantrum, but all I can do is cry.

My heart hurts. Bad.
Day 240...December 24, 2008
Are you going to answer?
You'll have to be loud....
For I cannot hear over the crying in my heart.
Please answer.
Lord, I need an answer.
I need you.

I cannot go on.
Long has been this race.
Your power has escaped me
The song in my heart gone.
And I feel no hope.
Align LeftDay 263...January 16, 2009
Lyrics: Nicol Sponberg

Here I am at the end
I'm in need of resurrection

Only You can take this empty shell and raise it from the dead
Ben and I left feeling empty. For the first time, since we whispered infertility, we felt like giving up.


Day 274...January 27, 2009
Rebekah called...and my life will never be the same.
My arms never empty.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bloggy Friend Turned Real Life

What a fun day, Ty and I had. Sweet Melba and little Charlie stepped out from the computer screen and came to visit us, today!!! It's the first time I've had the opportunity to love on a bloggy friend in real life...SO FUN! I told Melba it was like meeting a celebrity for the very first time.

I would not have survived my journey without her and am hopeful we'll continue walking through motherhood together, in both spheres...bloggy and real.Melba is even more lovely, in person. She does motherhood with grace and gentility, pouring her soul into sweet Charlie. She has a beautiful heart and Charlie is her life...she thoughtfully considers him at every turn. We are kindred spirits her and I...
It was so cool to be able to talk to someone who walked and is walking in my shoes. I don't think I've ever had more fulfilling conversation. Threads of understanding ran through our day, as we talked about our experiences...our pain...dreams for our boys... Our boys. I still can't believe I can say that...
Their stories are different, their coloring opposite...but one truth remains the same. These precious baby boys are God-given miracles. Long awaited, much anticipated, out-of-the-box, very expensive, well worth the wait, heart cry...miracles.

I hope they're buddies for life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I can't get enough of this little boy!

Ben and I were given a fun opportunity, this week, when our Michigan agency called and asked if we'd share our story at the upcoming, September, Waiting Families Class. I am so excited to be able to go back and encourage other waiting families.

I have not forgotten the hopelessness of the wait. The agonizing days. The empty arms. I cry often, just remembering. Tyrus is such a gift...I hope his sweet face will be a beacon of hope for other adopting couples.

I know I have many AAI readers. If you're in the Farmington Hills area, come out and meet us. We'd love to share Ty with you!! You can email me for specific information.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ty's Dedication

Ty's big day!! We dedicated him to the Lord, yesterday, at church. It was such a special, fun day!
I looked everywhere for a small tie for Ty to wear...but couldn't find one his size. So...I just made an applique for his onesie. I dare say he was one handsome man...and never looked cuter!!!We waited such a long time for this sweet boy. He's the center of our world.Parker and Tyrus are already the best of buds. It was fun to see them share their big day, together.
Such sweet little men.The whole Rayner/Pinchback clan
I Samuel 1. And she made a vow, saying, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life..."

"...she kept on praying..."
...the Lord remembered her...
"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD..." "...For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD."

Part of the day's fun was seeing all three boys together. I waited a long -------------- time to raise a baby with my best friends. All three boys were born within two weeks!Laura's Gabe (8 weeks), My Ty (7 weeks), Meeghan's Parker (9 weeks)Everyday praising God for our miracle baby.