Posts Tagged ‘international adoption


keta’s even day

I can’t tell her about the day she was born. I can’t tell her about how old she was when she learned to walk or how much fun her first birthday was. I can’t tell her about her first tooth or her first word. I can agonize over that loss for her and for me and sometimes I do. Today though, we’re celebrating! We’re celebrating a made up family holiday, a once in a lifetime we’re even day! Although we know her DOB is not correct, it’s all we have so we go with it, and today, we’re even. She’s been with her forever family exactly as long as she was waiting, just over three years.  So even though we lost so much and so much is forever unknown we have this awesome holiday when the answer to this phenomenal little girl’s every request is, “Yes!” Today the only thing she’ll be agonizing over is where to have dinner and more importantly, what to choose for dessert.


She knows that today she calls all the shots.  We can do anything, eat anywhere or cook anything.  She chose to walk the dogs along the river where she and her sister (and her four legged siblings) played and jumped and ran and got soaked.  She chose doughnuts for dessert, chocolate ones with sprinkles, and for dinner she chose Taco Bell.  We’ve never been so I don’t even know how she knows about Taco Bell, but Taco Bell it was.  She’s now enjoying a movie (ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!) and has had an amazing we’re even day.



Three years ago todayDSC_0076

Just the other dayIMG_7638

It’s a happy 3rd familyversary!



Let’s all love it.  Embrace it.  Celebrate it.



just sisters

I’ve mentioned it before, but probably the most frequently asked question is if my daughters are sisters. So, I’ll apologize in advance for another mama bear rant on the subject. I’m usually pretty patient and can kindly say yes and move along, but it’s a stressful time and my patience and understanding are in short supply, I guess. Since the other night I was asked three times in under five minutes, really, three times in less than five minutes, here we are again. Yes, my daughters are sisters. If you ask, and I don’t know why you would, but if you ask I’ll tell you they’re sisters because indeed they are sisters. Although it requires no explanation… They each have a first mama who is not me and their first mamas are not the same. This does not make them not sisters; it just makes them not biologically related. Yes, they are sisters. They are not adopted sisters or sisters with an explanation. It’s kind of an insensitive and invasive question and maybe my daughters don’t want to very frequently revisit that painful past just to appease your curiosity. I know your goal is not to offend, but it is kind of offensive. I would never, absolutely never, ask if your children are siblings. Why is it okay if you ask me if my kids are siblings? We’re a family.  If you’d like information on adoption or our own personal story about it I’d be thrilled to talk about it. I love to talk about it! In fact, I have a blog about it! I don’t mind sharing, obviously. At a backyard party with my kiddos right there is not an appropriate time. We stand out and I get that. We’re different and I get that. To us though and especially to my kids, even though they know as much about their pasts as I do, we’re just a regular family. Kindly let us be just a regular family at friendly get-togethers, please. Also, what does it matter to you? What do you intend to do with that information? Seems like it would be totally inconsequential to you.  If you really need to know maybe rephrase a bit, ask if they’re biologically related, if you really need to know.  How could I be their mama if they’re not sisters.  If I answer no, what? I’m not the mother to either?  Only the mother of one?  I’m their mother, they are both my children. They have to be sisters!  Please, don’t ask, at least in front them. They’ll forever experience loss, sadness and confusion and so much more from the loss of their first mamas. It’s hard enough for them without reminders from curious strangers or acquaintances. I am their mama. Children with the same mama are siblings. They are not sisters with an explanation. They’re just sisters.  Really cute ones, I think!




mother’s day

I’m thrilled to be a mother, love it.  Like being a mother, becoming a mother was extremely difficult in so many ways, but worth it in every way.  I’d do it again.  Millions of kids in need and all that.  Mother’s day can be a tough day for us, kind of like “Gotcha Day.”  We don’t celebrate that day, really, or call it Gotcha Day.  Let’s remember with excitement and enthusiasm the day you lost everything you knew!  Remember how traumatic and terrifying that was?  Let’s party!  We call it familyversary and we’re happy that day, but it’s low-key.  We tell the stories if they’re wanted that day and we have a special treat if it seems okay.  I remember that day as a much anticipated end to The Wait.  Joy!  I knew my daughters would be safe, or at least with me, their mama.  I’d finally get to know my children, who had for the first three years of their lives been absent from mine.  Joy!  But there was tremendous sadness and loss too.  These are the bravest, strongest, most resilient and trusting children, these kids with first mamas and forever mamas.  I cannot begin to express my awe.  It’s a good thing my two won’t read this until they’re older.  Yep, mama is in awe of you.  Now, get your elbows off the table and stop feeding the dogs your vegetables!  I’m in awe, but it’s real at our house.   Like our familyversary, mother’s day can be tough.
“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” –Jody Landers
We all knew it was mother’s day.  K and F had worked on a surprise mother’s day gift at school that Francine had kept a secret for almost nine seconds.  I asked if they were thinking about their first mamas.  They said not really.  I was going to try to tell them that I was.  I was thinking about their first mamas.  One not given a choice, but the other trusting some unknown someone to care for and raise her baby.  I don’t know what her circumstances were or what led her to that decision, but it could not have been easy.  I was going to tell them that I knew their first mamas must have been smart and beautiful to have such smart and beautiful daughters.  I was going to tell them I knew their first mamas were strong and brave and that I thought of them often.  I was going to tell them, but I couldn’t.  Mother’s day can be tough.
Each of my daughters has a “first mama box.”  The boxes are for pictures or letters or whatever K and F want them to be for.  They’re not used that much yet and maybe won’t ever be, but they’re there for whatever purpose they might serve.  We don’t know much, but we want to love and honor our family’s first mamas.  A tragedy and a privilege.  We get it.
So, happy mother’s day to all the first mamas and all the forever mamas and all the waiting mamas, happy mother’s day to all the mamas!

all mine

At first all you can do is love the idea of them, these strangers that will be your kids.  You don’t know if they’re boys or girls or infants or toddlers, but you feel like you love them.  Then you see that first photo and you say yes and you ask if you can tell people, if you can count on it, and you hear that you can show that photo and smile and call that beautiful stranger your daughter.  You love her cheeks and her eyes and you love to wonder about her personality.  You love that people say she looks just like you and even though it’s crazy you can’t help but agree.  You love the idea of her even more and you love looking toward your future with her and her new and yet unknown sister, this stranger that now has a face and name.  Then you see another photo and are asked how she looks to you and all you see is another stranger but somehow you know she’s that first little girl’s big sister.  You know she’s yours and you say yes and get to call another beautiful stranger your daughter.  You picture their sweet little faces smiling and imagine a laugh and wonder what they think is so funny.  You think about reading with them and playing and cuddling after knees get scraped.  You think about tipping over towering blocks and running through sprinklers.  Then a day or two later you realize she’s not still standing there, right there in the market where the photo was taken.  Then it’s hard to think about sprinklers and books.  You can only think about what they’re doing now, how they are now and who is caring for them.  Except you might think about high school graduation and you feel like they’ll just barely make it home in time for the party, as long as the adoption process takes.  Two governments, different languages, different continents, and endless paperwork make you wonder how it’s possible that it will ever work out to get them home, these beautiful strangers from another world who somehow will end up being yours.  Then they’re home and they’re still strangers, but now you get to love them for real.  You get to know them and love them for who they are.  You learn that the laugh you imagined wasn’t even close and you’re more amazed than you thought possible looking into those dark eyes and you shake your head in wonder.  You tell them, those strangers, your daughters, that you are theirs.  You are their mama.  Forever.  You are theirs.  You tell them a lot because it’s hard to believe and hard to understand and even harder to accept, so you tell them again and again.  I am yours, your mama, forever.  You don’t notice it happening, but little by little they become more and more yours too, no matter how much they seemed like it at first.  Even though you share them with their unknown first mamas, they’re still yours.  And these two silly, smart, brave and wonderful girls are mine, all mine.




the hard part

Several years ago a coworker adopted a sweet little girl from China.  He said they adopted her and then she was their daughter and that was it.  Made sense.  A child doesn’t keep being adopted.  They don’t wear that label forever or carry it around like it’s most of who they are.  These children aren’t adopted daughters or adopted sons, adopted grandchildren or adopted cousins.  They’re simply daughters and sons, grandchildren and cousins.  Now that I’m a little more up close and personal with adoption, it makes even more sense.  It’s not that my kids ARE adopted, but that they WERE adopted.  Adoption is just part of their past.

It’s pretty obvious my girls were adopted, except to us (most of the time).  They’re just my daughters and I’m just their mama.  It’s so normal to me that I’m sometimes surprised people even notice us.  I can only assume it’s because I’m hanging out with and get to have as daughters the two cutest girls ever, who also happen to be crazy brave and smart and funny.  (Everyone thinks that about their kids, right?!  Totally normal?)  Sometimes, though, I’m reminded that even though Keta and Francine aren’t adopted, they WERE adopted.  Experiencing so much loss and trauma so early in life would have to have some kind of lasting effect.

People think that since they’re in this “better place” with healthy food and safe water to drink and lots of people who love them that they’re suddenly and constantly just fine.  Nope.  Keta and Francine were adopted, recently!  Just try to imagine everything that it means to be adopted.  Don’t forget to consider they were internationally adopted and a bit older.  Now try to imagine all that led up to the actual adoption and all that immediately followed.  You’ll never be able to, ever.  I can’t and I’m here, helping them heal and grow and I’m constantly experiencing the effects of that rough start to life, that trauma of being thrown without warning into a new life and the struggle to accept it.  When school started and you asked me how they’re doing and you dismissed their unease and fear as normal behavior, “almost all kids are scared of school at first” you said.  Don’t be surprised when next time you ask I just smile and say they’re doing fine.  Most kids do not have a true fear of abandonment, or worse, an acceptance of abandonment.  Most kids don’t get left places with no experience of people coming back for them.  Most kids don’t have to try so hard to trust.

What I’ve learned, in part, is that there is no one hard part to get through, for me or for my two awesome kiddos.  There is not a now-we’re-done-with-the-hard-part and we all go whistling on.  It’s easy to forget how recently their lives were turned up side down though.  They’re such wonderful girls who have come so far in such a short period. Then, seemingly out of the blue I’m reminded it was practically a minute ago that we all saw each other for the first time and there was a lot of yuck that led to that moment for them and we rock and cuddle and slowly return to the usual business of being three.  Each hard part we get through makes the next one not quite as hard and everyone is reassured mama is here and can be trusted and we’ll all be okay. It would have been great if life had allowed them to stay with their birth families in their birth country, but it didn’t and I’m glad life decided to give them a family here.

More and more often I can just smile and say they’re fine, and mean it.  It’s pretty great.