Saturday, May 17, 2014


“Bzz bzz bzz”

She'd spotted two tiny little flies flitting above the ground as we walked the trail up to the Nature Fair. On the ride over she'd proudly displayed her new found knowledge of the sounds that all the animals make, and now she was demonstrating to me first hand. She'd even learned my name in the week since I'd last seen her. It came out sounding like “Eesa”, but this did nothing to detract from the beauty of my little girl sharing with me the word she's chosen to know me by.

The Nature Fair was set in a clearing of the wooded garden. The event organizers exhibited their knowledge of the unpredictable Oregon spring weather and had set up plenty of tents, handy in the event of either rain or heat. Neither of these were present today, and we were blessed with a cool but dry morning. Each tent housed a variety of activities for the kids to enjoy while learning about local flora and fauna. There were craft stations, slug races, and a salmon spawning obstacle course set up. But we had come here for one primary purpose; to watch our little one pet the animals.

There were fewer animals for the kids to interact with than we'd hoped...a few birds of prey perched on their handlers' arms, a snake that none of us moms wanted to get too close to, a baby goat that patiently stood there as the kids petted her and was frequently rewarded with a handful of grain from one of the eager youngsters. And chickens.

As I watched our daughter gingerly approach the man holding the chicken, a look of both apprehension and excitement mixed upon her face, I couldn't help but remember her first experience with a chicken. It was J's chicken, Ginny. I would wake up on those drizzly spring mornings, nauseous and bloatedly pregnant and walk out onto the back patio with my warm cup of coffee to sit and watch the rain. Ginny would wander across the yard and jump up on my ever-expanding belly. Ladybug would twist and squirm under her, but Ginny would stand there, seeming not to notice, and gently nip at my hand to let me know J had forgotten to feed her before he rushed off to work. He never once forgot to sneak back into the bedroom to kiss my forehead before he left, but he often forgot to feed the chicken.

Watching Ladybug ooh and aah over this chicken at the fair today brought so much joy to me. But, of course, it also reminded me of a sadder, more difficult memory tied to Ginny.

Only a few weeks after I'd given birth to my daughter, heartbroken from having to walk out of the hospital empty handed, J had killed and eaten Ginny. She was never meant to be a meal, but was originally acquired to provide eggs and be a pet. She'd been named, trained to sit on laps, and even allowed to wander through the house from time to time. She was loved, until one day he just decided she'd be better off as a pot pie. He didn't even tell me about it until after he'd already snapped her neck. I was powerless to stop it. It was already done.

I mourned for the loss of this bird who had once perched upon my stomach. The pain of it mingled with the agony of losing the very child my stomach had held. J texted me later that night to tell me that Ginny had tasted awful, like sadness. I offered to gladly rip her out of his stomach, smashed my phone against the wall, and collapsed on my bed in tears. He'd killed my chicken, our chicken, our daughter's chicken. I'd lost another piece that tied Ladybug to me in the digestive track of one of the most horrible people I'd ever known.

I want to tell Ladybug about the chicken who use to sit on my belly with her wriggling inside, but how can I tell her the good parts without including the hard ones regarding Ginny's ultimate fate? The struggle of how to incorporate J into her story in a way that is unbiased, yet honest, without portraying him as the terrible person is one that has plagued me from the beginning. He helped me create her, passed on his dimpled chin and his charming smile to her. Without him, I would have never come to know the truest depths of my love, something that I've been learning with every passing day that our daughter exists. But, he's also selfish and manipulative, treated me with a complete lack of compassion, and abandoned his child. There are two sides to his story which can't be separated.

This issue has been fresh in my mind lately, since I got the news that J was leaving the country, the continent in fact, to marry a woman who's name is one mere letter away from being the same name as his daughter's. I have no idea how he can say his fiance's name without it stirring even the slightest thought of the child he walked away from, but then I gave up on trying to understand him long ago.

I never held much hope that he'd ever actually change his mind and want to be a part of Ladybug's life, but it seems completely futile with him living all the way across the Atlantic. How do I explain to her that her “father” would uproot his entire life and leave everything he knows behind for one human being, but couldn't be bothered to drive a few blocks once or twice a year for his own offspring? Sadly, I know the answer to this; its because he feels no love for Ladybug. But that's not an answer I could ever, ever give her, so I continue to search for the truth that won't hurt her while still remaining the truth.

There is so much beauty in our lives and in my relationship with Ladybug. There are parts of our story that I can't tell without a little smile sneaking up on my face, stories that I look forward to sharing with her as she grows up to help her understand where she came from. I want to tell her about the chicken named Ginny that kept her company before she was born. But as much love and beauty as there may be, there will always be the hard stuff mingled in. Hard stuff from the past, and hard stuff in the future. I wish I could shelter her from any of it and to never allow anything to hurt her. But a world absent of the hard stuff would only ever be a lie, and as much as I want to protect her, I want even more to be honest with her. I don't want to deny her of anything that is rightfully hers, even the ugly, messy parts. They don't just belong to me, they belong to her as well.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Swim Day

Most Fridays, Mama takes the day off of work to go swimming with Ladybug at a local community center. This is sort of their special activity together, some time to bond between just the two of them. Mutti says she's too nervous to go swimming with them, so she opts to stay at home. I'm grateful that Mama and Ladybug get to have this one on one time on a weekly basis.

I'm also grateful that I sometimes get to join them for these swim days. Since I do typically work on Fridays I'm not able to accept this invitation very often, but I was lucky to have that day off last week so that I could go with them.

Showing off her ladybug swim suit
Saying that Ladybug loves the pool is a serious understatement. Her face lights up the moment she enters the room and sees the water, filled with other children gleefully splashing around. Not only does she love swimming, but she's a highly social baby so being around so many new people to meet and win over with her charming smile is a real treat for her too.

These days are a treat for me as well. It allows me to do something I can't typically do on dry land; I get to carry my daughter. In the water, I can easily pick her up and carry her around. The water helps support us, taking a lot of pressure off of my knees. If something were to happen and my knee did go out while I was holding her, she'd simply drop a few inches into the water and she's pretty good at bringing herself back up and keeping her head above the surface, so she won't get hurt.

There aren't words to describe how it feels for me to be able to carry my daughter. I look on with envy while other women tote their kids around the grocery store or to pick them up to comfort them when they're crying. I feel a pang deep in my heart every time Ladybug is in her stroller and she reaches her arms out to me to say she wants me to lift her up and hold her, but I can't. This is such a simple act that most other mothers take for granted, but I can't do it for fear of risking my own physical well being and, most importantly, that of my child's.

But when we're in the water, I can hold her and support her as we drift along the artificial current, which she loves so much. She splashes her arms and kicks her little feet as we float along, joyously laughing all the time. We stop occasionally to say hi to some of the other kids. Sometimes, she would throw her arms around my neck and bury her head in my chest, letting me know how important this bonding time was for her too.

On the drive back to Mama and Mutti's house, while Ladybug nodded off in her car seat, worn out from all of the excitement, Mama told me how much she enjoyed having me come swimming with them. She said it allows her to interact with Ladybug in ways she can't when she's alone and the only one holding her. Her hands were free to help show Ladybug how to properly kick her legs, she got to float along beside us and see the delighted look on our daughter's face.

Its moments like these that remind me why we're doing what we're doing. Having a child-centric adoption means always acting in the best interest of that child. This also means that ensuring that the adults in that child's life are tended to as well is important, so that they can be strong, positive influences on the adoptee's life and create a loving, healthy environment for them all to thrive in. On this day, we all had emotional bonding time, we all benefited from each others presence. It feels good to know that I have as much to give as I have to gain.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday: What I Gave Her

June was a month chock full of perfect moments. It seemed that every time I turned around another one would pop up, and I'd proclaim that one was the one I'd write about as part of Lori's Perfect Moment Mondays... until the next one came along. I think I noted at least 5 of them to use. They all deserve to be shared, and probably will over the coming weeks, but I'm choosing the most recent one to write about today.

People are always commenting on Ladybug's good nature. She's frequently declared as the happiest baby anyone's ever met. And its true, she is a very happy baby. She only ever seems to stop smiling when her mouth is full of food or she's sleeping. She's always giggling and joyfully babbling to herself. Even when she's tired, hungry, or sick, her fussing is pretty minimal, full-on crying breakdowns are fairly rare. She's just got a positive energy to her.

My friends Say and Mac, meeting Ladybug for the first time, of course commented on what a good natured child she was. And while I've heard this comment many times before and it always makes me happy to hear, this time was different. What made it unique was the moms' response to the compliment, saying that Ladybug must have gotten this happy disposition from me since I was such an upbeat person.

I've heard comparisons between me and Ladybug before. We share a few similar physical features. She's inherited my need to be independent, always insisting that she's capable of doing things for herself. She's completely enthralled by cats, which certainly makes her a girl after my own heart. But all of these similarities are sort of neutral. A face is just a face. Independence can be both a good and a bad thing. Loving cats is, in my opinion anyway, great, but its not really a defining quality. So, to hear Mama and Mutti point out something that was undeniably wonderful about our daughter that they believe I passed on to her brought me so much joy.

This comment also helped remind me that I am a positive person, which is something that's easy to forget when I'm still facing my own grief. Its always been in my nature to find the silver linings, the reasons to keep smiling even when things seem bleak. But nothing I've ever faced in life could compare to the pain of losing my chance to parent my child. No matter how much positivity I can find in my life, there's still an underlying heart break. The parts of me that are aching often blind me to the parts that are living a joyful life. I often worry that people can only see the me that is hurting, but this reassured me that my sunny disposition was still an obvious part of my personality too.

Having these women who I love and respect so dearly acknowledge something good inside of me and claim me as the source for this wonderful thing existing in Ladybug too is the best compliment I'll ever receive in my life.

Hosted by Lori at, Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

Just Listen

As I mentioned in my last post, my friend Say and her husband Mac are in town this weekend for their baby shower. They are very close to welcoming their first child into the world, six weeks and counting. Mama, Mutti, Ladybug and I met up with them for lunch on Saturday, a pit stop on their way further south to Say's parents' house. Say and Mac had such a wonderful time playing with Ladybug, and she was quite taken with them as well. She even patted Say's baby belly a little and made her adorable scrunched up smiley face every time Mac held her.

At one point, Mac admitted that he was surprised at some of the milestones Ladybug had reached at her age and proclaimed himself clueless on when his son would be ready to move on to the next phases of his development. Mama responded by saying "He will tell you when he's ready. Ladybug told us when she was ready to switch from pureed foods to solids, when she was ready to feed herself her bottle. Just listen. They'll let you know."

This is the philosophy I've taken when it comes to assisting in Ladybug's future adoption healing. And yes, there will be the need for healing, no matter how happy our family may seem. I'll be perfectly blunt here; I made a choice only 2 days into her precious life that will cause her grief. I am responsible for that pain, I own it, and I am dedicated to helping her heal from it as best as I can.

 I can't predict what our daughter will need as she gets older and starts facing the grief that adoption will bring her. I can read as many books and blogs and forums as I want, and there's definitely some good advice out there. But every adoptee is different and their needs will be unique to them. Just as Ladybug told me at lunch when she was done sitting on my lap and wanted to be held by Say or Mac, she can also tell us what she needs to heal, we just have to be willing to listen.

Its not enough merely to listen though. Listening can't happen unless their is first a discussion to hear. If Ladybug is anything like me, she won't have a problem expressing her emotions, provided she is in an environment where she feels safe and welcome to do so. It is our responsibility to create that environment for her.

When I was pregnant, I didn't talk much to other people about what I was going through. Not that I didn't want to, not that I didn't try. I did. I had an overwhelming pain inside of me that I needed to get out, to let it be known and heard. I didn't expect anyone to do anything to save me from my situation, I just needed someone to listen. I tried to talk to my friends, but every time I did the response I got wasn't one of comfort or understanding. I got comparisons of the listener's own hardships in life in an attempt to convince me that my situation wasn't as bad as their divorces, job loss and financial woes. What I needed wasn't commiseration, I needed to be heard. No one was listening so I stopped talking.

I don't want Ladybug to meet these kinds of responses when she's ready to open up about how her adoption has affected her. She needs to know that we're not just willing to listen, but that we genuinely want to hear her. I'm committed to doing everything in my power to create a place for her where all of her emotions are valid and welcome, where she doesn't have to hold anything back out of fear or guilt. No one should ever tell her how lucky she is or how she could have it worse. Even if I can't predict what she will need, I'm pretty confident that that's something that she doesn't.

When Mama, Mutti and I entered into this adoption, we dedicated ourselves to the welfare of our child. We wrote our intentions to her and to each other on a piece of paper and signed our names to it, not for the agency to file away, but a covenant for our daughter and our family. Part of this promise was to accept Ladybug for who she was and to understand that she will be her own person with her own emotional needs that must be honored. We promised to always listen, with open minds and open hearts, and I will always stand by that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Bad dreams and I have become well acquainted these past 2 years. I'm pretty sure it comes with the birth parent territory. There are the ones where I can hear Ladybug crying but can't find her to comfort her, the ones where she's suddenly gone and I know she's been kidnapped (from all of her moms, not just me), and the ones that are distorted versions of the real life nightmare that I lived through my pregnancy.

These dreams have become far less frequent over the past 6 months as my emotional state has grown increasingly stable. Most of my nights are now filled with normal people dreams of flying or having conversations with my cats who have inexplicably gained the ability of speech. But occasionally, my adoption grief gets triggered again and the nightmares will creep back in for a night or two.

This happened last week, and it brought with it a new dream I'd never had before. Its probably the most terrifying one I've had to date and it left me perplexed, as it hinted at underlying emotions I thought I'd already worked through.

In this dream, my parents had bought a new house and were hosting a BBQ to celebrate. My whole family was there, enjoying the good food and company. I suddenly realized that I was soaking wet from the waist down... my water had broken.

My water broke?! How could this be? I didn't even know I was pregnant! And how could I be pregnant given my current state of celibacy? I don't exactly believe in immaculate conception, and even if I did, I'm pretty sure no higher power in his right mind would chose a known sinner such as myself to bear the next savior of humanity. Someone, somehow, must have impregnated me without my knowledge.

I raced through the house to find my mother. I knew from Ladybug's birth, which began suddenly with my water breaking and only lasted 90 minutes, that I needed to get to the hospital right away. I found my mom, told her I was in labor, and we needed to get going now.

"No", she said. "We're not going to the hospital. We're delivering the baby here at the house ourselves."
I was in shock. I pleaded with her, asked her why she wouldn't drive me to the safety of the maternity ward and trained professionals. Her response was horrifying..."Because no one else is laying a hand on this baby. This one is mine."

It had been her. My own mother was the one who was responsible for my unknown pregnancy, and she intended on taking my baby.

I dashed around the house desperately looking for a way out, but to no avail. The doors were locked, the windows barred, and all of the guests had mysteriously vanished. I was trapped.

I woke up screaming at this point, before I could escape my doom.

In truth, my mother had been verbally supportive of my choice to place Ladybug for adoption, but there was often a gentle nudge for me to choose her to be my daughter's mother. She hadn't been quite ready to relinquish her own mother role when all of her children grew up, and I've always known this about her. My choice to entrust my Ladybug to someone else was painful for her.

My relationship with her has been strained at times within this new realm of open adoption. Particularly in the beginning, there were issues with respecting my role in Ladybug's life. Our early visits with Mama and Mutti were done as a group, and my parents seemed reluctant to let me hold or interact with my daughter, which impeded my ability to bond with my child. I am truly blessed that Mama and Mutti saw this and recognized my need to bond with our little one, so they began scheduling more separate visits with just me.

Its been an uphill struggle, but the dynamic has been improving. A few months ago, my mom did start acknowledging me as one of Ladybug's moms, which was a huge step. It doesn't bother me as much when she wants more time with Ladybug when we do have group visits because I know that I see her more than my mom does, and I think its important they get time to bond too. Our daughter is fortunate to have an opportunity to know her biological grandparents, something that not all adoptees get.

On one hand, I'm not angry at my mother for acting this way. Her only real experience is in a mother role, not a grandmother one. Her own mom was fairly absent in our lives, so she never had to struggle with these types of boundary issues on her end. It really does make sense to me. But, after this dream, its obvious to me that I still take issue with it. I still need her to honor my role in my daughter's life and to better understand her own. Its not enough to just find a way to work around her behavior to make it a tolerable situation. I want it to be truly good for everyone involved.