Not an itchy birthday

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Seven years ago today, I married. It was the day before my 26th birthday.

They say that in the 7th year of marriage, people get “itchy.” They get restless. They start looking for a way out. They get divorced.

The U.S. census in 2011 cites the average length of marriage is 8 years. Couples seem to file for divorce around the 7 year mark, and then complete their divorce in the 8th year.

Why?

Statistics say that around 7 years is when people are burnt out on caring for young children, there are burgeoning financial pressures, and there is an accumulation of negative experiences or incidences that come to a boiling point.

People who are unhappy in their marriages generally know that within the first few years, and then take a few more years to get to the state of divorcing.

I am the product of divorce. I know how painful it is. Divorce is an epidemic in my family. Each of my grandmothers was married three times.

My parents survived the 7 year itch, only to get divorced at the 10 year mark. But, they each re-married and have been remarried for over 20 years. I have great stepparents as a result.

Tygh’s parents have been married for over 35 years.

I have no shame in saying that Tygh and I do not have a perfect marriage. But, we have a very good marriage. We are teammates. We genuinely enjoy one another. We “get” each other.

So, on this milestone anniversary, and the day before my 33rd birthday, Tygh, I salute you:

“You are my rock. You are my touchstone. You keep me grounded. You support me. You love me, and all my idiosyncricies. It’s been quite a journey to get where we are now, and I’m genuinely very excited for what lies ahead. We have been so blessed. We have two amazing, beautiful children. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, and careers we enjoy. We have family that love us, and friends that stand beside us.

I love you.”

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I REALIZE I’M A PARENT WHEN….

It is not uncommon for Jeremy and me to have moments where we’re struck by the realization that we really are parents. It’s those things that we do or say that harkens me back to things my parents would do or say. Not that the daily dose of dirty diapers isn’t a reminder, but that’s an obvious one. Our first realization was on the way home from the hospital when Grant sneezed and Jeremy and I looked at each other and couldn’t believe they actually let us take them home. We’ve had many others over the last 2 ½ years.
I realize that I’m a parent when I pick my kid’s nose without a second thought.
I realize I’m a parent when I say things like “don’t run with that; you’ll put your eye out,” “eat your food – there are starving kids in Africa,” “don’t wear your hat at the dinner table,” “don’t pick your nose,” quickly followed by “don’t eat your boogers.”
I realize I’m a parent when I nearly break my ankle on a toy.
I realize I’m a parent when I use bribery a reward with an M&M or episode of “Dora the Explorer” to illicit desired behavior.
I realize I’m a parent when it takes every bit of self-control not to throttle my child who is throwing a tantrum, but would cause serious bodily injury or death to anyone who dared to hurt them.
I realize I’m a parent when I hear a kid’s Wee Squeak shoes in a restaurant and am not bugged by it. Rather, I’m fondly thinking of Maria’s shoes.
I realize I’m a parent when I dream/hope/beg of a trip to the bathroom without an audience.
I realize I’m a parent with I threaten to pull the car over if the whining doesn’t cease.
I realize I’m a parent I fall asleep at 9:30 every night….wait never mind, I’ve always done that.

THINGS FOR WHICH I’M THANKFUL

Through the month of November, you can see many people post something for which they are thankful each day on facebook. I enjoy these posts, and while I haven’t posted something each day, I’d like to take time to reflect on all that has been given to me. Here are a few things that I am giving thanks to this year:
• God. Without my faith in Him and bigger plans, I would have gone crazy years ago. I’m thankful that He gave me the strength to give up control and trust in Him.
• Infertility. Yes, I said it. I’m thankful for that season of my life. I’m thankful that we overcame it, but I’m thankful that I experienced it. I never thought I would say that. It nearly broke me, but in brokenness, I found strength. I found strength and courage that would lead me to a deeper understanding of life and lead me to my amazing children.
• I’m thankful that I get to share our story. I’ve had several people tell me that Grant and Maria have given them hope that one day their dream of having children will be realized.
• I’m thankful that I have a husband who takes amazing care of us. He cooks, cleans, does laundry and, most of all, he loves the three of us unconditionally. I’m thankful that he’s man enough to do what he does.
• I’m thankful for a supportive family and the help they provide in raising Grant and Maria. I’m thankful that they have two sets of Grandparents who would walk on water for them.
• I’m thankful for the fact that I have a good job that provides for our family and allows flexibility when I need it. (Having a boss with twin granddaughters doesn’t hurt!)
• I’m thankful for the network of embryo adoptive families and hopeful families that I have found. We share a bond that only we can understand of being both birth and adoptive parents. Being able to bounce questions and struggles off them is a wonderful gift.
Thank you to all those who have helped us along the way – NEDC, Bethany Christian Services, Adoption Assistance and all my prayer warriors. They say it takes a village to raise a family…sometimes it takes a village to create one.

This is what she said

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Saturday, November 17 was National Adoption Day.

I had forgotten.

Brae’s birthmom had not. This is the text message she sent me that morning:

“Happy National Adoption Day. I thank God daily that in one of the darkest seasons I’ve had yet in my life, He loved me enough to bless me by sending you guys. You two have been a light in my life since I first saw your picture on the Bethany website. I have been unselfishly loved and supported by you both and your families. I’ll never be able to explain the gratitude I have for the both of you. Thank you so much. I love you.”

Wow.

Is it any wonder that National Adoption Day is less than a week away from Thanksgiving?

I think not.

Thank you, God, for adoption and blessing me with my two kiddos through the miracle of adoption.

Infertility: I just punched you in the face.

And in that spirit, here are some token photos from Tygh’s family’s pre-Thanksgiving at Black Butte Ranch this weekend.

P.S., there are now 4 grandkids in the Colton family. And not one is genetically related. How many families get to say that? Very cool. Proof that blood does not make a family.

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My hairdresser…

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… is gorgeous. Kind of a cross between Natalie Portman and Amanda Seyfried. You get it. Gorgeous.

But that is beside the point. At least of this post.

At my last visit to her, somewhere between the blowout and the trimming of the bangs, my hairdresser mentioned that she is adopted. She doesn’t know her birthmom. She doesn’t even know if she’s still alive. She thinks her birthmom was a teenager when she got pregnant with her, and connected with her parents through mutual friends at church.

She thinks, through a series of third-hand information, that she has a couple of siblings. She is very interested in finding her siblings.

I told her that there are websites out there that can help adoptees locate their birthfamilies. I also said that, in my experience, she should know that not a day has gone by that her birthmom hasn’t thought of her. And, that her birthmom loves her.

In the mirror, I saw tears well up in her eyes as she brushed my hair. She nodded.

If, she said, she did meet her birthmom, she has some things she would like to say to her. She has no hard feelings toward her. She loves her parents. She had a great childhood. She may have a couple lingering questions of “why?,” but mostly, according to my stunning hairdresser, who also happens to be adopted, this is what she wants to tell her birthmom:

“Thank you. Thank you for choosing life for me. Thank you for giving me a great life. Thank you.”

Adoption is a beautifully painful thing.

It’s beautifully painful because even though a child leaves your arms, they never leave your heart.

It’s beautifully painful because a child doesn’t need to come from you, to belong to you.

AMNESIA

We have a book that we found at our house when we moved in called “Kirsten’s World” that is about a girl who comes to pioneer America from Sweden. It’s actually a very good history lesson about the frontier and conflicts with Native Americans and the ways of life in that time. The kids love the pictures (there are lots of horses) and have gotten to the point where they can tell me all about what is going on. It’s really geared toward a pre-teens, but these two toddlers love it.

The other night while I was rocking Grant and reading this book, I tried to actually read the narrative when he looked at me and said “no talk, Mommy.” He then proceeded to tell me what was happening that roughly translated to “boat, sick, ocean, New York.” (People were sick on the ship as it went across the ocean while they traveled to New York). On the next page he reported “no sick” since they were not on the ship any more. I had to chuckle and then I tried to remember what it was like when he couldn’t talk. I soon realized that I really can’t remember.

I know we had a routine and it worked; they nursed and we read and rocked, but without all the chatter, I can’t remember how we communicated. I know this isn’t the only thing I’m forgetting and I know that this seems like a standard issue with parenting. I can’t remember little details of our way of life that changed rapidly as they do I can remember the milestones – when they sat up, crawled, walked, etc., but can’t remember how things were.

It made me think about what else I’m forgetting. I know that those early days don’t seem as hard as I know they were. I know that the teething nights that seemed so long at the time are just a blip on the radar now. I know that the baby phase was infinitely short and there’s no way to go back. I also think this is by design. I think the short duration and distance from the situation provides a level of amnesia and that’s God’s way of ensuring people have more than one child. Without looking back and saying “that wasn’t so bad” I’m not sure that people would volunteer to do it again.

Sometimes I tell, and Sometimes I don’t

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Daughter,

How you came to be our daughter is a complete miracle. Your origins are unique and sacred. I will do everything I possibly can to honor them, treasure them, and not exploit them.

I want you to know everything you would ever want to know about how you came to be ours. Please, ask any and every question your little heart desires. I will withhold nothing.

You are nothing to be ashamed of.

You are everything to be esteemed.

But, dearest daughter, I want you to know something. Because of everything I just mentioned, you may notice that I don’t always freely tell others about your precious journey to us. Certainly, those who matter know. But, when some sweet old lady at the grocery store comments on how you must have inherited your Mommy’s blond hair (hello! I was simply born to be a blond), or where did you get your sky blue eyes, or don’t you and your brother look so much alike, sometimes I just smile and nod.

Sometimes, daughter, I don’t share.

And I want you to know that it is not because of any other reason than that I simply want to employ my mother bear instincts and protect you from puzzled looks, awkward facial reactions, or uncomfortable pauses.

The sweet old ladies of the world can continue to believe you to be mine, genetically, and I will leave it to the embryo adoption ambassadors of the world to preach your message to the masses.

Love,

Mommy