Right before we left on vacation, we had our first homestudy visit. Let me start off by saying that domestic infant adoption and embryo adoption homestudy visits do not hold a candle to homestudy visits conducted by the state. The former, while perhaps an inconvenient glance into your personal life, are nothing compared to the pants-down invasions of a homestudy conducted by a state social worker.
Our caseworker is a Canadian-born, propoer woman in her mid-50s. She is well-dressed, slender, and very poised. If I wasn’t nervous before the visit, I sure was when she rebuffed my offer to sit in the living room and insisted that we sit at the kitchen table. She pulled out her white spiral notebook, black ink pen, and turned to the first page. She didn’t put that pen down for the next two hours.
She started off with all the expected questions: Why are you doing this? Why through the state? Tell me about your first two adoptions. We answered her thoroughly, honestly, and taking turns between Tygh and I. We answered candidly and without hesitation. And yet, we were careful in our phraseology. After going through two of these already, we know how stray remarks can be captured, and misconstrued.
At the end of the examination, we gave her a brief tour of the house. She reminded us that a more thorough home imspection would be coming. She told us we were a “good” family who would be “competitive.” The people pleaser in me smiled at that. There would be at least three more visits, she told us. The next two will be one-on-one with each me and Tgh, and an observation of the kids.
She expected to be able to complete her 25-page report by the end of summer, which means we could then receive a “password” to log in and begin looking at available children. The cynic in me felt a little like we were shopping for a child. It felt uncomfortable.
In domestic infant adoption, the birthmom chooses the adoptive family. Brae’s birthmom chose us. Sure, we probably would never have met apart from each of our separate crises, but it was in crisis that we were united forever. We have a great relationship with the birthfamily.
In embryo adoption, the genetic family (or agency) chooses the adoptive/biological family. Sienna’s genetic donors chose us. Again, we probably would have never met apart from each of our separate crises, but it was also in crisis that we were united forever. We have a great relationship with the donors.
Here, none of that applies. Yes, there is a crisis invovled, but the birthfamily is certainly not choosing us. Their parental rights were terminated by the state. The state and a panel of “experts” will then choose us from a group of two other families, “competing” for one child. It’s hard to picture how this great relationship with the birthfamily is going to form, when they likely feel that their rights were yanked from them.
But, here we are. On this path. Making our way through, trusting and believing that God has it all planned out for good.
This was the conversation the kids had with me Saturday morning:
Grant: I paint butterfly with my foot!
Maria: You have to wait until Mother’s Day.
Grant: It’s a surprise!
They crack me up…they had been leaking the surprise since I got home from work on Thursday. Jeremy’s mom stays with them for part of the day on Thursdays and likes to do crafty projects with them. I received butterfly footprints from both of them on Mother’s day. They are perfect!
We took them to the pediatrician for their three year well check and they came in at the following:
Grant is 33 lbs and 37 inches tall. 50th percentile…he’s come a long way from not even being on the chart when we started with this doctor when they were four months old.
Maria is 28.5 lbs and 35 ¾ inches tall. 10th percentile on height about 20th percentile on weight. She might be small, but her spirit is huge.
We are working on getting them interested in the potty. Grant will go on the potty, but only when he feels like it. I tried putting him in a pull up and reminding him often, but he didn’t take to that. Maria, who often declares that she’s a big girl and can do something, conveniently says that not big yet when discussing using the potty. I’m wondering if it would work if we just put them in underwear for a day or two and let them experience what it really feels like to be wet and dirty.
A couple weeks ago, I received an email from my mother-in-law. A co-worker of hers is friends with a talent scout. They were looking for a 3-5 year old boy who is articulate for a commercial shoot. My mother-in-law showed her co-worker a picture of Brae and raved about his “Brae-isms.”
A few hours later, I received a call from our local NBC affiliate. They wanted Brae in the shoot. As my head was spinning, I recall she said something about it being a commercial by a national preschool/early learning corporation that wanted to promote reading in its schools. Apparently, the fact that Brae neither attends these learning centers, and cannot read, is of no consequence.
Two days later, Brae and I drove to the shoot at a nearby park. On our way, Brae said, rather solemnly, “Mom, now that I’m going to be on TV, does that mean that I’m never going to see Daddy or Sienna again?” I smiled. “No, son. Just because you’re going to be on TV doesn’t mean you’re going to live in the TV. You’ll see Daddy and Sienna tonight.” He sighed.
The shoot itself was amazing. Ten production crew and one little boy. The two scenes they were trying to capture with Brae had to do with Brae holding a ladybug and looking through a magnifying glass, and then a separate shot of Brae and me walking down a path, holding a book. It took 90 minutes to get those two scenes.
Brae was such a trooper. He had complained when he’d woken up that morning that his tummy hurt. I thought it was just nerves, and shrugged it off. At the shoot, he was a little shy at first, and then let his personality shine. When he did, he had the crew in stitches. On our way to his school after the shoot, Brae again complained his tummy hurt. I thought, again, it was just part of the adrenaline. I dropped him off at school. Sure enough, a few hours later, the teacher called saying he was in the bathroom, puking. Poor lil guy. I told him it was all part of living the famous actor lifestyle. ; )
The talent scout said the commercial would air in Oregon and SW Washington. She said she’d send me the file when it is produced. Of course, I’ll post it here. ; )
Last week, we went on our annual “no-kids” vacation.
Although these are always good for us, and our marriage, it is a test of patience for me. Each day is a countdown until I can see the kiddos again.
My parents (saints) graciously took the kids for the nine days. We called home every night. It was the highlight of my day. We’d hear Brae tell and re-tell the story of him and grandpa going fishing, and not catching any fish. We’d hear Sienna babble incessently, punctuated by a few intermittent decipherable words. We’d hear my mom say how they were doing fine, and not to worry. And, we’d hang up the phone, knowing this was much more torturous for us than them.
When the kids arrived at home after vacation, they surprised me. They sneaked in through the garage door as I was lurking over my phone in the kitchen. I turned around and screamed. Then, tears started streaming down my face.
Brae stopped dead in his tracks, startled by my scream. Then, as I raced toward him, he started shaking. He dropped his backpack to the floor, smiled, and tears ran down his face. I hugged him.
Sienna came racing in next, screaming and smiling. I held them both for what seemed like hours. I couldn’t hold them long enough.
Sienna had changed. At that age, they grow so quickly. Her hair was longer. Her cheeks a little less pudgy. She seemed … older.
I’m already not looking forward to next year.
Here are a few scenes from our vacation:
This post is dedicated to all those women out there who have either lost a mother or a child (at any stage), who have fractured or broken relationships with their mothers or children, or who yearn to be a mother and are just not.
Mother’s Day can suck.
I know this pain all too well. Sure, you may be thinking, I’m sure Mother’s Day was hard for you. But at least now you have your two children.
You are right. I’m blessed and so grateful to be a mom. But, I’ve also learned to never “at least” someone’s pain away.
I remember one Mother’s Day, being a couple years into our infertility struggle, sitting in a pew at church next to my husband, just sobbing. Wailing. People were turning around to look at me. I’m sure they thought I just lost my own mother. From that day on, I avoided Mother’s Day at church.
Even after Brae arrived, Mother’s Day hit me as bitter sweet. Sure, I was grateful to be a mom, but the pain and sheer agony I’d felt all those years before was still palpable.
And, you know what? It still is.
For me, every day is Mother’s Day. I get to be a mom every day to some of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. But to have an actual holiday geared at honoring and celebrating that role just puts a painful spotlight on the void and vacancy I felt for so many years.
On Mother’s Day, I don’t feel like receiving flowers or going out for brunch or getting gifts. I just want to be with my family. And, I want to reach out to the me several years ago and just give her a hug and hold her as she sobs. I would tell her, and every other woman for whom Mother’s Day just sucks, that I know how you feel. And maybe this day each year will get easier, and maybe it won’t.
And for that, I’m so sorry.
We had our three year cardiology follow up this week. I dreaded this appointment and quite honestly lost sleep over it. It wasn’t that I was overly worried about Grant and Maria’s hearts. I was worried about how they, particularly Maria, would behave. At our 12-month follow up, Maria screamed so much, they never did perform the echo. The doctor deemed her healthy based upon her pink color and the ferocity of the sounds coming from her. Because they couldn’t do her echo and Grant’s showed he still had a tiny PFO, they would both need to come back when they turned three. Awesome. (note sarcasm)
The time had come and if I know one thing it’s that you don’t spring new things on Maria. She needs time to process, so we started this weekend. I explained that the doctor needed to take a picture of her heart to make sure it was healthy. She said no. I said it would be okay that it wouldn’t hurt. She said she didn’t want to take off her shirt. I said she would need to so they could get a good picture of her heart. She eyed me suspiciously. On Monday, I spent nearly an hour with her discussing the appointment. She said she didn’t have a boo-boo on her heart. I said she had one on it when she was born and that we needed to see if it was all better. This continued back and forth for a while. Eventually, it came to this: she would let the doctor look at her heart if she got suckers, a new baby doll and could take her beloved binkie, blankie, and baby with her. Deal!
Cardiology day came and we had quite the adventure. We had to do the echo at the hospital because the doctor’s office was remodeling their echo rooms. This meant roaming the halls, registering and lots and lots of waiting. We waited an hour and 15 minutes beyond our scheduled appointment. Thank God Dora was on because otherwise the kids might have removed the wall paper. While registering, Maria started to protest getting her arm band. I reminded her that she needed to be good and allow this so she could get her new baby doll. She quickly and compliantly held out her arm for her bracelet. When it was finally our turn, Grant went with the tech into one room and I held Maria for hers. We kept them plied with suckers and it worked. Grant’s tech said he was the best patient all day and Maria declared “that’s enough” to her technician who chuckled as she finished up.
It was now past nap time and both kids were loopy. When we arrived at the doctor’s office they were running around squealing. I allowed it. I hoped and prayed that it would mean they would see us sooner. Thankfully, we didn’t wait too terribly long when the nurse called us back for EKGs and other vitals. Finally, we got the news we’d been hoping for. The doctor declared them both perfectly healthy. PFOs were gone. Heart structures were normal. Maria has a tiny murmur, but the doctor described it as being able to hear water running through the pipes and said she didn’t have any structural issues causing it. We were not going to have to come back. Woo-hoo!
By the time we got home, it was almost 5:00. We all needed a short rest and then would go get their rewards for being so good. We allowed them to spend $10 each. Maria definitively picked out a baby doll (“I want THAT one!), and Grant opted for a set of construction vehicles. Both were very excited. I couldn’t have asked them to be any better, especially since we spent 3 ½ hours either waiting or being examined.
I consider this closing the door on all things preemie related. We are thankful and relieved that this visit is behind us and that we got the news for which we were praying.
Last weekend Jeremy and I had an overnight getaway planned for a friend’s wedding in Cleveland, Ohio. This would be the first time he and I were both gone overnight without the kids. We made arrangements with his mom to watch Grant and Maria; she generously agreed to stay at our house so they could have their own toys, bed, etc. Because I rent cars a lot for work, I had a free upgrade available and decided to rent a car for this trip rather than putting the miles on either one of our cars that are both older and have a lot of miles.
We left around 8:30 Saturday morning and journeyed north. We enjoyed good music and conversation without the interruptions of the continuous chatter that is life with two inquisitive and intense three year olds. We even joked about the seemingly good gas mileage that new cars get considering the gas gauge was hardly moving. Jeremy also discussed his dislike of all the digital and electronic gadgets in new cars. “It’s just more stuff to break that is expensive to fix.”
All was well on the trip until about three hours into our drive. The car lurched and decelerated. I pulled over. I tried to start the car. No luck. We called roadside assistance for the rental company and explained our location and that while the gas gauge says it has gas, we might not. We requested gas with the option to tow. The confirmation call said it would be 55 minutes before our rescue. We got out of the car and walked to the underpass a few yards ahead. We were thankful for warm weather and the fact that we didn’t have two small children in tow.
The next call was the assistance company wondering where we were. “What intersection in Columbus?” Ummm, we aren’t at an intersection, we’re on I-71 North at mile marker 80 approximately 40 miles south of Columbus. “What town are you near?” Town? I don’t know. We are between two farms. You can see where this is going… I called AAA. They seemed to think they could find us.
We waited. And waited. And waited. Two and half hours later AAA and the other roadside assistance company showed up at the same time. We got gas. The car started. Now that our rescue had occurred, the wind was out of our sails. We were still three hours from our destination and going to miss the wedding. We would also be rather late to the reception as we still needed to change and freshen up after sitting on the side of a busy interstate for so long. We decided that rather than drive three more hours just to have a late dinner and pay for a hotel that we’d go back home.
We stopped by the outlet mall not far from our breakdown and I scored some new summer goodies and some of Maria’s favorite socks from Old Navy. We had a nice quiet dinner out before we got home. We had a really good day. When we got home eleven hours after our departure, Maria was jumping up and down excitedly. She jumped into my arms and when she saw Jeremy she leapt into his arms. “I missed you!” was Grant’s reply as he showed me the new truck his great-grandmother bought him.
It wasn’t how we planned to spend our day, but it was a nice day in spite of the gas gauge mishap. Jeremy commented that we don’t ever get time to be bored anymore. 2 ½ hours of boredom was really nice. Maybe we should drive until we run out of gas more often.