Brae and Sienna-isms


1. On Martin Luther King Jr. day, Brae didn’t have school. My mom was watching him and Sienna. It was also the morning of the presidential inauguration. My mom and Brae were watching it on t.v. The following dialogue ensued:

Grandma: “Brae, do you know who that is on t.v.?”
Brae: “No. Who?”
Grandma: “That’s the President of the United States. He’s kind of an important guy.”
(Long pause)
Brae: “Does that mean you have to ask his permission before you can go to the bathroom?”


2. In yet another presidential moment, last Monday was President’s Day. Again, Brae and Sienna didn’t have school. My sister was watching them. On their way to the park, this conversation ensued:

Tia (Spanish for Aunt): “Brae, do you know why you don’t have school today?”
Brae: “No. Why?”
Tia: “Because it’s President’s Day. Do you know who our President is?”
Brae: “No. Who?”
Tia: “His name is Barrack Obama. He is our President. Now, you remember that, and I’m going to ask you later in the day about this to see if you remember what we talked about.”

(Several hours later)

Tia: “Brae, do you remember what day today is?”
(Long pause)
Brae: “It’s Obama Day!”

(As an aside, it may not be hard to guess that my mom and sister are both Obama-supporters. I make no comment or opinion about their judgment).


3. Sienna is starting to speak more, and even string words together. Her latest word is “sorry.” Except, it sounds like “saw-ee.” Brae thinks it is hilarious when she says it, so he likes to push her buttons to make her slap, hit, kick, spit, or bite him. Then, he pretends to cry. Then, like clockwork, she pats him on the head, says “saw-ee” and walks away.

The funniest thing about this is that she shows absolutely no empathy when she’s apologizing to him. Girl cracks me up.


4. And the ultimate example of the difference between boys and girls:

We have a life-sized teddy bear that I often use to play with the kids. The other day, Brae was trying to play kung-fu with the teddy bear at the same time as Sienna was putting a blanket on him and kissing him good-night.

Love these little guys.


Winter 2013 002

Winter 2013 007

Winter 2013 009

Winter 2013 010

Winter 2013 011

Winter 2013 013

Winter 2013 014

Winter 2013 016

Winter 2013 017

Winter 2013 022

Winter 2013 023

Winter 2013 031

Winter 2013 034

She found her


You may remember a post I wrote several weeks back (if I was fancy like some of my other blogging friends, I’d put a link to that post right here, but I’m technologically challenged) where I wrote about my gorgeous hairdresser. For ease, let’s call her Natalie. She does, in fact, look like Natalie Portman.

Natalie is 22 and she’s adopted. She was adopted as an infant. It was a closed adoption. She knew very little about her birthmom, or whether she had other siblings. But, she wanted to know more. She wanted to find them.

A couple months ago, I encouraged Natalie to start looking. She said she was afraid her birthmom wouldn’t want to meet her. I told her, based on my experience, her birthmom loves her. Has never stopped. And a single day has yet to go by where she has not thought of the daughter she placed for adoption.

I saw tears well in Natalie’s eyes. She nodded.

The next time I saw Natalie, she said she was going to start looking. She said I had motivated her.

I saw Natalie again last night. Taking the bare straws of what she did know about her birthfamily, and with a little luck from social networking, she has found her birthfamily. She connected with a full brother she suspected she had, but didn’t know for sure. He is just a year older than she. They have been texting daily and talking on the phone ever since. He, and the whole birthfamily, live about 500 miles away. They all plan to meet in May. Natalie also has two half-siblings she did not know about. Natalie said the birthfamily is very excited to meet her. That was a relief to her.

Natalie also learned more about her birthmom. She was 16 years old when she placed Natalie for adoption. She had a 1-year-old child (Natalie’s brother), and was on the run from her boyfriend (Natalie’s birthfather). She didn’t feel she could safely protect two young children.

Natalie’s birthmom has been in and out of rehab, and it sounds like she and her family have had a hard life. Natalie has yet to see a picture of her birthmom, and has yet to email or text with her. Natalie said she wants to have everything happen in person.

I asked Natalie what she would do when she finally saw her birthfamily, especially her birthmom. She said she hoped they wouldn’t think she was a “snob.” From talks with her brother, Natalie’s birthmom and her family really struggled financially. Natalie did not.

She said she harbors no ill feelings, and just wants to thank her birthmom for giving her the life she did. She knows it was a sacrifice, and she is grateful. She hopes that one day, her birthmom and her mom can meet and form a relationship. Be at her wedding one day.

I smiled, and told her that is the beauty of open adoption. She now has two sets of family that love and support her. And, you can never have too much of that.

I asked her, as an adoptive mother myself, what advice could she give me about raising my two children? She thought for a while. And then she said, “Be honest with them. Tell them everything they ever want to know about their adoption. Hold nothing back.”

I asked her if she ever ran across negative comments from others when she was growing up, about being adopted. She said, “Not really. Sometimes, people would apologize and tell me they were sorry. I never understood that. Why should they be sorry? I have a great life. Some people would also say it was too bad I couldn’t be with my ‘real’ family. I told them my ‘real’ parents are the ones who changed my poopy diapers, who held my hair back when I threw up, who took me to buy school supplies, who stroked my hair as I fell asleep, and who wiped away my tears after my boyfriend broke up with me. Those are my ‘real’ parents, and those are the parents I live with.”

Adoption is a really hard journey. For all involved. But, it’s in moments like these that I am humbled and honored that God chose me to walk this path. I am a face of adoption.


Regarding my last post about the clinical trial, several friends have asked me if I will still do the trial anyway, or if the fact that I know that I ovulate changes anything for me.

I am not going to do the trial. And no, nothing has changed.

I am not going to do the trial because if I do have endometriosis, it does not bother me physically. I am not in pain. The clinical trial is only open to 10 participants in the state. I don’t want to take the spot of someone who really needs relief.

And no, nothing has changed. Sure, I may ovulate, but in the 7 years since I got off birth control, we have had only one spontaneous pregnancy, which resulted in a miscarriage. The chances of us getting pregnant, on our own or with assistance, is still very slim.

I still pray for a miracle pregnancy, because I will never give up hope. I’m just not wired that way.

And, we have decided to move forward with our next adoption. It’s a long and discouraging process, but I feel God telling me to “stay the course.” And, so we will.


Grant and Maria are quite proficient when it comes to bedtime stall tactics. This seems to be a talent share among many children. Drinks, hugs, kisses, covers, hold me, don’t hold me, hang nails, you name it, and they have used it as an excuse to prolong bedtime. I am not a proponent of “cry-it-out” for infants, but was meeting a breaking point and needed to regain control of our bedtime routine. All their needs and then some were being met and at this point we were being manipulated by two 2-year olds.

Last week about an hour before bedtime I informed them that we were not going to play games. A new sheriff was in town. They would each get a story, a drink, a hug and a kiss, and then I was done. Mommy was walking out. Daddy would give hugs and kisses and he would be done. If you want to kick your blankets off and cry to be covered, fine, but I’m not coming back in to cover you. If you want to throw your needed security items out of bed and cry that you need them, fine, but I’m not coming back to retrieve them. If you want to whine and cry, you will do so for 15 minutes, at which time I will return, lay you back down, rub your back, and walk back out. I will not hold, rock, whatever again. If you want to play games during your story/rocking time, that is fine, but you will miss out on your opportunity for story and rocking. Understood? Good.

How did they take it? Remarkably well. It was the first peaceful bedtime we had had in weeks. Grant whimpered and whined and I did return at the 15 minute mark. Rubbed his back, told him I loved him and walked back out. Night two went well and now we are almost a week into it and it seems to be going well. They have attempted games, but we haven’t played. New sheriff isn’t going away. Mommy and Daddy have taken back bedtime.

Clinical Trial


I’ve gone back and forth trying to decide whether to actually write anything about this. I generally try to write things that may be of some encouragement to someone else, maybe give someone a little giggle, update friends and family on happenings in our adoption journeys, etc.

You know, something of some small value to others.

This post does none of that. This post is really just to make me feel better.

Feel free to stop reading if you want. I won’t be insulted.


This post is to make me feel a little “normal.” Please take it in the spirit in which it is intended, which is not to make anyone else who has walked the journey we have feel that they are not normal. You are. We all are, in that we are all humans struggling with the human condition. This post is just to re-affirm that for me.

Ok. Enough throat clearing.

A couple weeks ago, I received a letter from our local research hospital. They were asking me to participate in a clinical trial for the treatment (reduction) of endometriosis. They apparently got my name because they were looking for patients who had a surgical diagnosis of moderate-severe endometriosis. I had a laparoscopy back in 2009 that revealed some endometriosis. Isn’t that a HIPAA violation or something for my other doctor to release my name to this researcher?

Anyhoo, the letter sat on my desk for many days. I didn’t know whether I wanted to respond to it.

I finally did. I received all of the information about it. Investigational study. A pill. Six month treatment cycle followed by another 12-18 months of monthly monitoring. Stipend of $2300.

But, buried in the disclosures, something caught my eye. This medicine could stop ovulation while taking the pill.

Last summer, my ob/gyn put me on Clomid to determine if I ovulate. He determined I didn’t. It was a surprising (and upsetting) diagnosis to me, but I grew to at least tolerate it.

But, something caused me to wander into my doctor’s office last week to get a blood test. It just so happened that I was at a place in my cycle where it would be ideal to get a blood test to determine if I do actually ovulate. If I don’t ovulate, I told myself, I’ll do the clinical trial. If I do, I won’t.

Sure, we have only like a 1% chance (seriously, we’ve been told that figure) of getting pregnant on our own. Yes, we are happily pursuing adoption through the state. But, getting these results was not really about any of those things. It wasn’t really about the hopes of a pregnancy (although that’s definitely still there), and it wasn’t about veering off course from our adoption pursuits (we are still doing that).

It was about trying to feel like a “normal” (non-infertile) woman. Or, at least moving more into the acceptance that maybe if I wasn’t “normal” in that way, I was still “normal” in many other ways, and blessed beyond belief.

If I ovulate, I told myself, then I will feel more “normal.” That’s it. It doesn’t increase our chance of pregnancy (still 1%), and it doesn’t change our path to our next child. It just makes me feel better. If I don’t ovulate, I told myself, then okay, the chance of us ever getting pregnant pretty much closes, and perhaps I can stop daydreaming that it will ever happen, and take the next step toward accepting how God will build our family.

I got the test results back the next day.

I do, it turns out, ovulate. Regularly. On schedule. Just fine.

A brief moment of normalcy after 7 years of feeling abnormal.

It’s kind of nice.

Adoption Update


Just a quick update about our adoption status. As you may know, we are proceeding to adopt a little one(s) through our state’s foster care system. It’s an incredibly long process that we started last September.

We have completed all the required classes, submitted all the required paperwork, gone to all the required medical appointments, and are now waiting in line to begin our homestudy.

The caseworker assigned to us only works part-time (budget cuts). But, she is also supposed to have a smaller caseload. When we got on the list, there were 3 families ahead of us. Now, there are 2.

At one point, we had hoped to be on the wait list by Sienna’s 2nd birthday in June. Now, I think we will be lucky to have started our homestudy by then.

It’s very hard waiting to wait.

I’m just praying that the little one(s) that God has for us are not suffering right now, that they are with a loving foster family, and that God is impressing a picture of us on their little hearts so that when we meet, they will know we are their forever family.


On Sunday mornings I make eggs and toast for everyone for breakfast. The eggs are over easy and each kid has a different method for tackling the runny yolk. Maria likes to put parts of the egg on her toast. One morning she asked for help and I told her she could do it. She looked at me and very seriously said “Try, Mommy.” Of course, I had to try, and when I was successful at putting the egg on her toast, she declared “Good job, Mommy.”

Maria was accompanying Jeremy to the bathroom the other day when she asked Jeremy if he got an M&M for peeing on the potty. He replied yes, he did. Once he finished, she said “Good job, Daddy.”

Grant has only recently started to refer to Maria by name, however it sounds like “Rita” or “Risa” or “Ria”. Last night, I pointed to Maria and asked what his sister’s name was to which he proudly replied “Gwant!” as he pointed to himself. We’re still working on the finer points of identity.

Jeremy while folding a mountain of laundry dryly stated: “You know, my 14 year old self dreamed of being able to touch a woman’s underwear. If only I knew then what I know now.”

Me: “What’s Bear’s name?”
Grant: “Daddy!”
Me: “Bear’s name is Daddy?”
Grant: “No, Bear’s name is Gwant. Bear is me!” as he gave Bear a big hug.

Maria likes the frayed edge of the corner of her blanket. Jeremy was wearing a ratty shirt one day when she came up and felt on the ratty edge and said “Daddy have corner, too!”

We are discussing getting a new dog around their birthday in April. During one conversation Grant looked up very seriously and said “I clean up dog poop.”



That pretty much summed up my first gut reaction a week ago today. Since that time, that feeling has morphed into frustration, anger, confusion, sadness, and heartbreak.

Every Sunday after church, for about the past year, Tygh and I have taken the kids to Gymboree. For those of you who don’t know, Gymboree is like a gym for little kids. We go to the “Family” class, where kids from birth to age 5 can run around, jump, climb, and just get some energy out. The parents are on the floor with the kids, and our kids love it.

For the longest time, it was just Brae and Sienna in the class. Recently, the class has started to fill up with several more parents and their kids, all who are much younger than Brae.

Last week, I received a phone call from the owner of our local Gymboree. He said another parent had complained that she felt her child was “unsafe” in the class with Brae.


I talked to the owner for an hour, and all I learned was that this parent wanted to remain anonymous, and she thought that Brae was too rough in the class, and that he “hits” other kids.

We have never seen Brae hit any other kids. Apart from his sister. And, “hit” is really not the right word for his interaction with his sister. It’s more like tackle. He loves his baby sister, and he loves to get rough n’ ready with her on the floor. Little Miss can hold her own, and while there may be an occasional cry if she gets tackled too hard, she generally growls at him, hits him, or bites him back. (I’m not saying any of her behavior is acceptable – just that she’s used to big brother’s antics and she fights back). And, growing up in a family of 5 kids, and 3 older brothers who used to pin my sister and me down and fart in our faces, this behavior is not completely surprising to me.

After I hung up the phone with the owner, I cried. It broke my heart that anyone would ever think that Brae was dangerous or unsafe to be around. And then, I got angry. How can a parent level such an accusation, and then refuse to give her name? Schools no longer allow parents to lodge complaints about another child without giving their name. It cuts down on false complaints. And, credibility evaporates if you aren’t willing to stand behind your claim.

But, we went to the gym the following Sunday, determined to not let this mother get the best of me. Brae and I had a “serious” talk before walking into class, and I told him that there were lots of little kids in the class, to keep his hands to himself, and to not play with anyone but his sister.

The class went fine. As suspected, the object of Brae’s affection is his sister.


And, then came the second call.

A few days after this class, the owner called me again, at work. He said that there was another complaint about Brae’s behavior this last week. The concern this time was that when another little boy wanted to play with Brae and approached him, Brae shouted at him to get away from him because he’s not his sister.

I was there when that incident occurred. Brae didn’t hit the boy, or even touch him. This little boy’s mom gently ushered her son away, and I told Brae that it was okay, this little boy just wanted to play with him. I also smiled, on the inside, because I know Brae was just trying to be obedient in response to our earlier conversation to not play with anyone but his sister (in response to the complaint the prior week).


This time, when talking to the owner, I respectfully gave him a piece of my mind. Things had gone too far. Gymboree is supposed to be a place where kids can learn, in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, how to interact with others and socialize. To be attacked anonymously while in that learning process seems unfair. Brae just turned 4, and there need to be reasonable expectations about what behavior is appropriate for a 4-year-old boy.

If Brae really was hitting children (again, we’ve never seen that), that’s a valid complaint. However, I expect that before I’m called at work about this complaint, there are details confirmed from the parent about what happened, when, where was I, etc., and I expect the owner to have personally substantiated the concern with a visit to the class, witnessing Brae’s behavior. I also expect to have the opportunity to talk to the other parent, in a respectful and adult manner, about her concerns.

As for this second complaint, I told him that it should have been nipped in the bud without ever feeling the need to call me. Sure, I wish Brae had been more polite and asked the little boy to please leave him be, but quite frankly, that level of social maturity is a feat many adults have not mastered.

Brae is learning to navigate social norms, and we are there to help and guide him, but I do not expect perfection from him. He’s going to say and do things that bother me and others, and I simply ask that grace be extended to us during that process.

But, I felt I owed it to these other parents, and to my son, to vet these concerns with his teachers at preschool. These teachers see Brae in and out every day, and they have a lot of experience with kids Brae’s age.

These teachers eased my mind, and provided salve to my hurting heart. They confirmed our suspicions that Brae is an active, physical, social boy. He loves to play with his friends, and yes, sometimes he gets a little carried away with his physicality. And, yes, sometimes he misbehaves and he goes to timeout. But, he is a normal 4-year-old boy.

To hear those words was like music to my ears.

It’s been a really hard week. But, for now, I’m

December 2012 031


Grant and Maria’s genetic siblings have been on my heart and mind lately. A friend recently expressed interested in perhaps pursing embryo adoption with the thought of adopting the remaining siblings, however due to some life circumstances have had to put the thought on hold indefinitely. Another person, who is more of an acquaintance, was inquiring about embryo adoption and the process and asked how we picked Grant and Maria. Was it just a personal choice? I said it was more of divine intervention and explained how we had narrowed to eight profiles and decided to pray about it as we went to church that day. During the service I received a very clear vision of the profile we were to choose. Upon leaving church and walking to our car, I told Jeremy that I knew which one we were to pick, to which he replied “the ones with the heart” as he referenced the special consideration profile listed as such because of a sibling born with a ventricular septal defect (VSD). The wisdom of the world would have had us pick the most genetically superior ones, but in reference to 1 Corinthians 1:27 (But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.), we picked the perceived “weak” profile.

If you are familiar with Grant and Maria, you know they are extremely healthy and while Maria did have a VSD, it closed on its own was no consequence on her current and future health. Approximately .1 – .4% of babies are born with a VSD making it the most common congenital heart defects. 80% of muscular VSDs will close on their own and approximately 40% of perimembranous VSDs will close without treatment. There does appear to be some genetic component, but we would have never known about Maria’s if she hadn’t been in the NICU and we weren’t on the lookout for it knowing the sibling history. In fact, when we brought it up to the doctors and nurses as something to look for, none seemed concerned even knowing the history. Hers was so small that it wasn’t easily heard during exams and one nurse joked that it could only be detected if the moon was in the seventh house and the sun was at the right angle and we were standing on one foot. Her VSD closed from the time of diagnosis at three weeks to a follow up appointment at 8 weeks.

What’s my point in all of this? I want someone to adopt their genetic siblings and not to be turned off by their special consideration label. Now, I know there will be mixed emotions if that ever happens – happy for them getting out of the freezer and the possibility of Grant and Maria getting to know their genetic siblings and perhaps a little sad that we aren’t the ones raising them.

The road of embryo adoption doesn’t end upon the first positive pregnancy test. It’s one we’ll be navigating for years to come.