TRUE CONFESSIONS

Last week I had to travel to Virginia for work, which necessitates and overnight stay due to the drive time. I’ve been gone several times this year, but never for just one night and never on a trip by myself. My previous trips have included a group of people and long work days, so I didn’t really have much free time.

Last week was different. Upon finishing interviews I had no other obligations, so I checked into my hotel. I got to my room, put my stuff down and sat on the bed. It was quiet. I sat longer. I enjoyed the quiet. It was only 5:00.

I went to the restaurant in the hotel with my book. I read. I ate. It was quiet. I enjoyed it.

I went back to my room. I read. I watched TV. I read some more. It was quiet. I enjoyed it.

I took over the king sized bed and woke up horizontal across the bed. I was rested. I enjoyed it.

I don’t want to be gone often, but a little respite from reality was nice.

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BIRTHMOM VISIT: QUITE THE ADVENTURE!

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We had our third visit with Brae’s birthmom yesterday. It started off a little bumpy just due to circumstances, but ended up being a complete blessing.

We met at a park that neither one of us had been to before, but that had been recommended to me. I texted her to meet us at the playground. After about 15 minutes when she still hadn’t shown up, we texted again. She said she was at the playground. I looked around. She was not. After a few more texts, she called. I could tell she seemed a little exasperated (I couldn’t blame her!). She said she was at the playground and that there were sketchy people around that made her feel uncomfortable.

Finally, we figured out that this park has not one, not two, not even three, but four (!) playgrounds. Sigh. The best laid plans…

Once we finally met up, we hugged and it was the greatest bear hug in the world. She brought her little girl, who is now 7, and is Brae’s half-sister. Brae was a little shy at first, but he and his half-sister quickly made up for lost time. They ran around the playground playing tag and hide-and-go-seek.

And, of course, little Miss Sienna was perfectly content roaming around the park on her own, throwing bark dust, growling at other children, strong-arming Brae if he got too close to her, and basically just being her sassy, lovely self.

My sister also came along, and it was the first time anyone on in our family has met Brae’s birthmom. It was extremely special for us to make that connection, and one for which I am grateful.

I am a big believer that environment plays a huge role in who we are, but especially after yesterday’s visit, I cannot deny the role that genetics plays. Brae and his half-sister are so much alike.

They look similar. They run the same, with their arms flailing behind them. They talk the same. They have the same mannerisms. They are both stubborn, strong-willed children. They are both mathematically inclined. They are both extremely organized and persnickity. They are both leaders, socially outgoing, and they speak their mind.

And I love them both.

After a rather rough tumble off the swing, Brae’s half-sister decided she’d had enough of the park, and we went to a local pizza parlor/amusement place. True to form, neither Brae nor his half-sister were interested in eating much, but they went straight to play on all the games. That gave Tygh and I a chance to talk more with Brae’s birthmom.

Events have changed such that she is no longer leaving the state to go to nursing school, but will stay in-state to go to school. A turn of events I am very happy with! We also spoke about her daughter’s recent (very common) diagnosis of a condition that has required significant attention on the part of her medical and educational team. She said that she is actually doing quite well and adjusting nicely to the new system they have set up for her.

Then, as things usually do, the conversation turned briefly to adoption. Brae’s birthmom mentioned that before every visit, her friends ask her whether she is sad to be going to the visit. Sad that Brae is with us, not her. She quickly brushes them off with, “No, not at all. Especially when I see [Brae and her daughter] together, I realize how I couldn’t have done it on my own. Adoption was the right decision.” She also mentioned that when she hears of other birthmoms who have made a decision to adopt, brought an adoptive family on board, and then change their mind at the hospital, how her heart breaks for those families. I thought that was an interesting perspective.

Then she mentioned how her daughter explains adoption to others: “Mommy found this great family who was really sad they didn’t have a baby. So, we gave him our baby. But, it’s okay, because they are really nice people.”

Brae, to his credit, has a similar take on adoption: “Mommy and Daddy were at the hospital when I was born. I got pushed out, and then I was a gift. That’s called adoption.”

At the end of the evening, there were several more bear hugs and pictures.

And in the car, on the way home, Brae piped up, “I like [his half-sister]. I’m sad. I miss her. I want to see her again tomorrow.”

That, sums up the painful part of adoption.

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Sienna’s 15-month-stats

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I love this photo of my daughter. It captures one of my favorite aspects to her personality – her feistiness.

15-month-stats:

1) Head circumference: 65th percentile Larger than Brae at this age
2) Weight: 25 lb. 90z: 80th percentile Larger than Brae at this age
3) Height: 33 1/4 inches: Off the charts. Again. Larger than Brae at this age. At this rate, she could be 6 feet tall or more!

The doctor also noted that it’s clear she has an older brother. The girl can hold her own (kind of like a honey badger!). I think she slaps everyone she meets. Out of pure love, of course!

Her blond hair is also getting quite blond, and a little long. Let’s face it, it was a mullet. We had our first haircut this weekend (yes, I saved it!). She has this little ringlet curls that melt me. With her aqua eyes, she’s quite the beauty.

Sienna,

My darling daughter. I love you more than you can possibly know. I love your spirited personality. You inspire me. You make me want to be a better person. I love how you are your own independent woman, even at the tender age where I still refer to your age in months, not years. If I had my prediction, you are either going to be President, an astronaut, or a boxer. Whichever path you choose, baby girl, know that I will always love you, and always try to put bows in your hair. Thank you for calling me, “Mommy.”

PS — for those of you who don’t know already, I’ll be posting on here in a few weeks some very exciting news! (No, not a pregnancy announcement — but equally as exciting for us!)

WHAT A DIFFERENCE THREE YEARS MAKES

September 17th marks the 3rd anniversary of our embryo transfer and the first time we saw Grant and Maria as tiny embryos, plumped up and ready for a new life out of the freezer. I remember much about the day including resting in bed with my legs up the wall as we hung out in our hotel and playing a game called Pig Out that we picked up at Target the night before. I prayed for those three little beings and hoped for a long life for each of them. God called one home while Grant and Maria nestled in for the next seven months.

I’m still amazed at their lives and thankful for the opportunity to be their mom. They make me laugh and sometimes cry and even though some days nap and bedtime can’t come quick enough, I wouldn’t trade the path that we’ve taken.

I pray for all the families who will be receiving donated embryos this week and the staff of the NEDC. May God prepare them for whatever the outcome and bless them for taking a leap of faith and honoring these tiny lives.

Birthfather visit: the best yet

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On Saturday, we met up with Brae’s birthfather’s side of the family. This was our fourth visit since Brae was born, and it was by far the best yet. Brae’s birthfather showed up. He didn’t make it last year, although his family did. It is the third time he has seen him since he was born.

We met at a local amusement park, and then went to a kid-friendly pizza joint. Brae hadn’t napped, so he was a little grumpy/shy at first. But, slowly, he started warming up to the family. He and his birthfather, and Tygh, even went on a few rides together.

My husband is amazing. I think he feels a mentoring relationship with Brae’s birthfather. I watched as Tygh and Brae’s birthfather stood talking, and walking, for much of the visit. I was dying to know what they were talking about, but I was too busy corralling Sienna from knocking people over through the crowds. That girl has about a 5-foot radius wherever she goes. Love her.

Later, I got a chance to ask Tygh about his chat with Brae’s birthfather. Brae’s birthfather said that he had first learned of Brae’s birthmom’s decision to choose adoption through friends. They were broken up at the time, and not speaking. He said he signed the adoption papers because he thought was the way to win her back. When she went into labor, she didn’t tell him. He said that hurt.

But, he said, it has all turned out for the best. He said that he couldn’t provide for Brae in the way that he would want to. He said he is so thankful that Brae has two parents who love him so much.

I first met Brae’s birthfather the day Brae was born, in the hospital. He didn’t say much. He held Brae for a little bit, and then left. He was 19.

The second time I saw him was 2 years ago, when we had a visit, at the zoo. Again, he didn’t say much. He played with Brae a little, but we could tell he felt a little awkward. He was 21.

Saturday was the third time I saw him. It was the first time I actually had a conversation with him. He mentioned that his life went downward after Brae was born. He lost his job. He and Brae’s birthmom weren’t speaking. He went through a series of bad relationships. He fell into a depression. He said the adoption, and losing Brae’s birthmom, broke him.

But, he acknowledged, he’s now in a better place. He’s engaged to a beautiful girl. He seems happy and content. He said the pain of placing a child for adoption has caused him to wonder whether he could have another child. But, he spoke of how he hopes that he and Brae can have a relationship as Brae gets older. He said that adoption was the best decision for Brae. He is now 23.

Adoption is a rare animal. It brings together two families in crisis and creates something beautiful. We are forever connected to Brae’s birthfamily, and we were complete strangers when we met. In many ways, we still are.

There is also a pendulum of pain. There is enormous pain for those struggling with infertility and who choose the adoption path as the way to start their family. But, when that baby is born and placed in your arms, that pain seems to flee. Or, at least it escapes into the background for a while. But at that same moment, when that baby is placed in their arms, the birthfamily’s pain seems to just begin. All the emotions that hid in the background during those 9-10 months come rushing to the forefront.

I told Brae’s birthfamily that I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like for them to watch their first grandchild be handed over to complete strangers. I hurt for them.

Although I tell Brae that what his birthparents did was a gift to us, I know that is not why they did it. They did it for Brae. They had to. If they did it for any other reason, they probably would not have gone through with it.

I cannot think of any bigger display of love than to recognize when you are not equipped to care for a child, and then to love that child so much that you choose a life for them that you want, but cannot, provide.

I am honored to be a part of the adoption experience.

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A NEW ADDITION

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On August 31, we welcomed a new little one into our family.

Danielle Elizabeth was born right around lunch time to Tygh’s youngest sister and her husband. It is their first child.

Danielle (Dani for short) is named in honor of Tygh (his middle name is Daniel), and Tygh’s middle sister, whose middle name is Elizabeth.

Danielle is now the 4th grandchild for the Colton clan, and now Sienna has a girl playmate to join her brother and cousin brother. Dani and Sienna are just over 14 months apart. Sienna is already playing the role of doting older sister cousin.

And Brae has officially “blessed” the new grandchild, being that he is the Godfather of the Grandchildren.

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