OUR LIFE IN 3D

The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Archive for the tag “adoption”

Our Easter Story

I thought Easter was a great time to repost an article I wrote for LifeLines, Bethany Christian’s Adoption magazine several years ago on our journey through starting our family. Easter gives us rebirth and that is what adoption did for my family, rebirth, when it appeared we could not have one without God’s grace.

Amid all the struggles with infertility, numerous expensive and highly emotional IVF procedures, doubts, fears, and worries, adoption was the perfect solution for my family, allowing a rebirth or sequel for my family when my wife are merely an epitaph.

Parenting two great little girls and all the trials and tribulations that go along has been such a blessing! If you want to read my story I penned LifeLines and how 3D got its start, adoption and the blessings of an ‘open adoption’ read on! And always remember, “the more love the better”!

Happy Easter everyone!

Happy easter

A Dad’s Perspective: Our Journey Though Open Adoption

My wife, Sabrina, and I got married in 1996. About eight years later, we wondered why she had never gotten pregnant, so we went to a gynecologist and found out it was impossible for us to conceive naturally. Undaunted, we went down the uncertain road of IVF procedures. Anyone who has been down this road knows how emotional the trip can be—with extremely joyful highs and tearful lows, not to mention the agony of giving your wife shots a few times a day.
Feeling frustrated amid our third IVF attempt, we attended a local adoption information meeting. Sabrina felt we were meant to adopt; I wasn’t so sure. Call me crazy, but as we left that meeting, I saw a rainbow in my rearview mirror. That was my sign, and so our adoption journey began.

We researched adoption programs and agencies and chose Bethany. We went to meetings, paid the fees, got our physicals, and completed the paperwork. We were ready to start our family!

Probably the best advice we got along this journey was not to paint the new baby’s room just yet. It was a year later when we got our first call that some birthparents wanted to meet us.

Sabrina and I were nervous before our first meeting, but it left us more worried than excited. One of the birthparents had some diagnosed emotional disorders that we knew could emerge as their son got older. With no training about or prior exposure to these disorders, we reluctantly decided this was not the adoption for us. We wondered, Was this part of God’s plan or did we just sabotage it? We had waited so long!

Our First Adoption
A month later, we received another phone call. We met a quiet, pretty young lady. The meeting went smoothly with the help of the adoption specialist. We really liked the expectant mom but felt like we had botched the interview.

A few days later, we received a second phone call saying that the expectant mom wanted to meet us again. That meeting went fine, and we laughed and cried together. Her reason for getting together was to establish ground rules for an open adoption.

The expectant mom wanted us to send her photos frequently. She was a sweet, Christian young lady, and she needed to be sure that she was making the right decision. If all it took to realize our dream was to e-mail some pictures, it was an easy decision for us. What ever it takes, we thought.

Some people ask us why we said yes to an open adoption. We say, “Why not?” Try to put yourself in the shoes of the birthmother. To say this is a “life-altering” decision is an understatement. As I see it, adoption is an act of love and selflessness for these women. They love their children more than they love themselves. That’s what great mothers do. If we were to ruin that equation by being selfish as adoptive parents, what message would that send to our kids?

Have I told you how wonderful our two daughters are? We adopted our second child through open adoption in 2010 from another special young lady.

All that waiting. All those tears. It all was worth it. What a wonderful plan God had for us. Our daughters are awesome! Each day we tell them how much we love them and thank God for his gifts.

The More Love, the Better
Our journey continues to evolve. We feel like we expanded our family twofold, and the girls are the benefactors. Can you imagine growing up with four grandmothers? What could be better to a child at Christmas?

Our relationship with each birthfamily is unique. One family calls and visits more often. The other e-mails and sends gifts in the mail. But when they send gifts, both families send packages for both girls! These families have embraced us as parents. They do not intrude. They do not preach to us about how to raise our kids. They are simply happy to be included in the process.

Both birthgrandmothers are wonderful ladies, and we feel blessed to have them in our lives too. They love our children so much. One of the grandmothers caught us off guard when she said, “You are like family to us now.” Wow! The more love the better!

All this for two little girls at Christmas

The Future

When our daughters receive gifts and cards in the mail, we try to explain who they are from. We save and date the cards to show them at a later time. We tell them that the ladies who sent them love them very much.

We will explain open adoption to our daughters at the right time. To us it is not a moment but an ongoing conversation. You answer the questions as they come up and at a level they understand. The adoptions are not to be seen as dark or dramatic moments. Its more about how God put our family together. We actually have a “Family” cheer we do at the dinner table! We speak openly to friends about adoption in front of the girls, so when the subject comes up the girls will not be unfamiliar with it.

We are not sure what the future holds. It comes on so fast and can change in many ways. We do hope to stay in touch with our birthfamilies. We want to share birthdays and milestones with them. My personal hope is that, as we get older / they get older, our girls will know and be close to each birthmom. They can be a source of “family”, moms and siblings, after we are gone. The more love the better!

We will always be indebted to our two birthmothers for entrusting their children to us. And we thank God for our wonderful journey, and we will be sure that our daughters know that He brought us all together.

 

Dying Day

An interesting thing happened on the way home from work the other day. ~ I’m gonna lose some readers with this ~ I was listening to NPR radio when something got my attention so much that I felt I was meant to blog about it.

Now for all of you that are going to comment on how it is a sign of old age that I am listening to NPR on the way home instead of something to help me unwind, relax. Don’t worry–I am already afraid of this.

The story was on ‘All Things Considered’. It was on a Winter Song List of people who wrote in on favorite or most inspirational songs and NPR got to pick a winner. The collage of songs caught my attention. The winning song, and story behind it, made me take notice and actually pull over to write down the author, the title to the song, and the winning contributor so I could follow-up when I got home.

The winning song was Brandi Carlile’sDying Day.” It’s an upbeat acoustic song about a writer longing for her love that is far away while she is on the road. Its a real catchy song in its own right but it is not what drew me in. Take a listen while you read on . . . .

You see the author of this winning story on NPR was locked in an adoption. She was going to adopt a darling 5 ½ month little girl from Ethiopia. She was on an international adoption trip where she had the opportunity to meet the potential baby she wanted to adopt.

For those not familiar with international adoptions, usually you sign on for an adoption program, you state what types of children you are willing and not willing to adopt, factoring in everything from race to birth defects to parental drug use and so on. Everything. The agency eventually matches you up with a child and you have to make the long trip to meet the child to see if each one is compatible with the other. Then you talk to the government agency, fly home and wait to hear if you have been approved or not.

The potential mother was Joanna Woodbury of Wauwatosa, Wis. and I’ll let her take it from here or you can listen to the episode here:

“It was awesome, and probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, all in one,” Woodbury says. At the time, the little girl the couple was applying to adopt was just 5 1/2 months old. “We got to be with her for about 45 minutes. I held her for 20, and then she fell asleep. We had to put her down and leave the room, and then take a 4 1/2-hour bus ride back to an Ethiopian court and say, ‘Yes, we want to parent this child.’”

A few days later, they were back in Wisconsin, where there was nothing to do but wait to hear that the adoption had been finalized. It would be a trying 11 weeks before word came through — and during that time, Woodbury says, she found a new appreciation for “Dying Day.”

“I was in the car listening to this song, which has always been a favorite of mine, and all of a sudden the lyrics just meant something different,” she says. “The lyrics are, ‘I just want to kiss you, and I’m going to love you till my dying day,’ and that I should be there to take of you and I can’t be. … It’s all about longing and a little bit of hurt, and just waiting until you get back to that person. And that’s how I felt.”

Meet ‘Nettie’ — short for Netsanet, an Amharic word for freedom

Meet ‘Nettie’ — short for Netsanet, an Amharic word for freedom

I got it. I knew exactly how she felt. In fact, I couldn’t even listen to that song without tearing up a bit. If you are a parent you probably know too. Now, if any of you are followers of my blog you have to know how I feel about my two little girls. They are a gift from God that have far exceeded my expectations of what being a Dad and raising two toddlers could have ever been. But I think only a few may have guessed by now that our kids are adopted.

My ‘Dying Day’ moment, similar to  Joanna Woodbury, was not pre-adoption though. We met our potential birthmother in a meeting prior to the adoption She was beautiful inside and out, as was her mother that came with her. We waited another 10 days ourselves until we found out we were finally going to be parents.

  Bam!

Parents with 10 days to prepare!

But it was so much more before those 10 days. I found out in my early 40′s that we could never have children; Think about it, could never have children. Ever. We tried the IVF procedure several times and while hopes and prognosis always started off high they always ended in tears and silence.

And so, sitting in my car, on the side of a busy roadway, I knew exactly how Ms. Woodbury felt. When we finally were able to receive our new daughter, then about 2 ½ weeks old, we were the happiest people on the planet. But as all you parents know, the magic is only just beginning at that point.

Receiving our new baby girl. The answer to our prayers!

You see I got to stay home on my company’s FMLA plan, to be Stay At Home Dad for the first time, actually seven years ago next Wednesday. I was left with our new beautiful daughter who just slept and ate and pooped and occasionally smiled. And I knew I was going to love her until MY dying day.

Actually, in reality my song was Jimmy Buffett’s, “That’s What Living Is To Me”. The lyrics went,

“..the world’s too big to understand.

Be good and you will be lonesome.

Be lonesome and you will be free.

Live a lie and you will live to regret it.

…that’s What Living Is To Me.”

 We had this new tropical DVD version of this song at the time, possibly one of the most scenic videos ever.

We had just gotten back from vacation about 3 months earlier and I was still riding the tropical high. Knowing that my daughter was going to grow up loving Jimmy Buffett just as I did (she has little choice living close to the beach) I would play the scenic DVD for her as we passed the days at home. And when this song came on I would pick her up and hold her gently close to my chest until I could smell her baby’s breath, slowly dance to this song, and quietly sang in her ear,

 “That’s what Dylan is to me.

That’s what Dylan is to me.”

So, like Joanna Woodbury, we found our little girl(s), or did they find us? We will continue to love them until our Dying Day. Being flesh and blood means very little to us. These girls are a precious gift to us from God and some very special Angels. That’s what Dylan and Skylar are to us.

“…Oh I miss you

and I just want to kiss you

and I will love you till my dying day.”

Four Grandmothers For Christmas; a true Valentines story

This is a reblog from my friend Luanne at Don’t We Look Alike. Last January she invited me to do a story about all the love ours girls receive over Christmas for her readers. Christmas is always a special holiday for the girls, as are their birthdays. As a parent it really touches me to see our kids so loved.

I didn’t reblog the post at the time as I did not want to burden my readers here with another ‘feel good’ story about our kids,  like I subjected you to over the Holidays. Plus, I feel like I take advantage of our two wonderful birth families enough, trampling awful close to there privacy many times. You know we love you!

But I thought, today is the day for love. See? That’s the third time I used the word so far! So if you are looking for a love story this Valentines Day, here is a very special one for you.

FOUR GRANDMOTHERS FOR CHRISTMAS

When my wife and I decided on adoption to start our family, we did not have any preconceived ideas on how. We first considered International but the time was not right for that. So we researched Domestic Adoption agencies, deciding on Bethany.

We loved how the birth mother could pick her forever family. It seemed more like destiny or fate somehow. Not only was she choosing a family similar to her lifestyle, the reverse would be that she, and her child, would be similar to us. While that was not a deciding factor, we thought it would help in the transition success.

During our first adoption we met a quiet pretty young lady and her mother. The birth mother, having difficulty with this life-changing decision, wanted to be assured she was making the right decision. She wanted pictures and open communication to help set her mind at ease. We had not considered open adoptions, pro or con, prior to that. We just wanted knew we wanted to start a family.

What a blessing that decision turned out to be. We never looked back. That first year we were surprised time and time again by the love and thoughtfulness coming from the birth mother and grandmother. Gifts would appear for Christmas. And then again for our daughter’s first birthday, along with attending her party. Then came Easter, along with signed cards and frequent calls and emails the entire year. We saved and dated these cards for a later time.

Opening a card from a special Grandmother

Opening a card from a special Grandmother

Two years later we were ready to grow our family with a second adoption. We went through Bethany’s process and were lined up with another potential birth mother.

Once again we were met by a lovely young lady, her mother and sister. The difference between this meeting and the first was we we hoped for a second open adoption, based on the love and how well our first one went.

Once we met this family in person it was a done deal. We never knew if this second birth family had considered staying in touch or not after the adoption. We pretty much acted like this is how we like to do things, since we had one adoption under our belt already. And by the looks of things so far, I believe they have no complaints about our decision.

This second family has been such a blessing to our family as well. They call, email and send equal amounts of packages in the mail, all filled with love. And, while it might be human nature to send love for their own child, each family sends gifts in the mail for each child knowing they are now sisters and ‘family’. It is really touching to be a part of all this love and never in a million years would we have thought adoptions could be like this. What could be better to a child at Christmas than four loving grandmothers?

Every Christmas has been the same. First one huge package shows up in the mail and then another. This Christmas was was no different. The Friday before Christmas one huge box arrived in the mail. Then Saturday another huge box arrived at our front door. And then again, Christmas eve, our girls got to open another generous gift box that got lost in the mail the week before. If a box ever shows up on our door step our girls just naturally think it is for them. And they are usually right.

We try to film and photograph each ‘opening of presents’ so we can reciprocate the love by sharing (back) the gift opening experience with thoughtful the birth family. Take a look:

The love these birth families send practically doubles our girl’s Christmas. They enjoy the gifts. They enjoy the attention. They love that somebody is thinking about them. Last year when I was unemployed over Christmas these girls had the most lucrative Christmas yet. They didn’t suffer at all.

We are always amazed at the packages from these families. The best and coolest clothes our girls own came from these birth families. Each gift is individually wrapped. The box is stuffed full of presents. And the gifts are usually covered by all the mail peanuts for fillers.  As Mom and Dad, we really look forward to the opening of every box as they are always full of surprises. It’s as much fun for us as it is for them (almost)

The kids  have to dig to see if they found all the presents. We just watch their faces light up. Its a lot of fun! One year I got home early and let the girls open their gift box with their nanny, before Mom got home. I didn’t hear the end of that poor decision for weeks!

Boo in the Zoo 019

Watch their faces light up…

Boo in the Zoo 017

Last year our second child’s birth family visited us for Christmas. We all had lunch at a favorite local restaurant. We talked and laughed. This wonderful family just held and hugged and smiled with our daughter the whole time, usually with our 36 month on their lap; even while they ate. As parents, we loved so much to see the huge smile on our daughter’s face all afternoon. You have to be happy to see your child so happy and loved.

When we went to the parking lot and said our good-byes the birth grandfather snuck off to his car. He returned with two life-size gift bags, one for each of the girls. We were awed! How can you not love to see your kids so happy? And not love this family in return?

Forgive the bravado here, but you have to actually see what’s inside these packages! These bags aren’t filled with candy and trinkets they just bought the weekend before. The bags are filled with the most beautiful clothes and dresses you can imagine for a couple of toddlers. Check out the smiles and the riches from this wonderful afternoon:

What could be better than four grandmothers at Christmas? The more love the better!

Now some of you may be wondering how are we going to handle this in later years when stories of adoptions and birth mothers are shared, given the history from these birth families?

We are very clear each and every holiday. When the girls receive gifts from the birth families we tell them who they are from and that these people love them very, very much. We save and date each card received to show the history of love. We look forward to any visits from these families so our girls can attach an actual face to the names we tell them.

We tell them the gifts are from their birth grandmothers and their daughters, just like family. And that’s the way we consider these ladies. These ladies are their grandmothers both figuratively and literally. They love our kids every bit as much as we do. And we love these families just as much. Going back to the beginning of this tale, we feel we have been blessed to have such wonderful people placed in our lives via the Bethany process. Destiny. Fate. An act of God.

Some people may be leery or scared of an open adoption; to have the birth family so close. I would say, first, it would depend on the situation, the nearness and nature of the birth family. We feel very fortunate for our adoptions to be tied to two such wonderful families. We were blessed in our situation.

My blog is one way I try to stay in touch and show the development our girls with family and friends. If you have ever read my blog you would know that there is very little that I don’t share. Its one way to reciprocate some love back to our birth families. Hopefully, they won’t spend any long nights wondering; any more than any family would do.

I don’t know if it works or not as I can never put myself in their shoes. This past December we received an email from one of our birth families inquiring about our schedules over Christmas and Christmas wish lists for the girls. This email contained a super little Christmas gift for my wife and I this time. This is part of their message, word for word:

” I look forward to reading it (the blog) everyday.  I love the pictures and the videos of the girls.  I feel like I’m a part of their lives even though I’m not physically there.  You both are great parents.  I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.  I don’t think anyone else is doing a better job than you both are.  Enjoy the rest of your holidays, tell your parents hello! We love you all.”

Wow! Merry Christmas to us! How can you repay that? How can you not love four grandmothers at Christmas?

***And the hits just keep on coming! Ironically, the day DWLA published this story our girls actually received a package in the mail that same day. And this past weekend I called Mom to let her from having our taxes done, Dylan gets on the phone and says, “Guess what Daddy? There’s a package in the mail with my name on it!” Then she put Skylar on and she said the exact same thing. As there was. There always is.

And I invite you to share the love with Luanne and Marisha at Don’t We All Look Alike? They are doing a great job offering great adoption stories and education in their end of the blog-o-sphere. Thank Ladies!

511d1ed70aab4d3a00001927-1360862935

Some of you may have seen this before but here is the wonderful story of an amazing pair of kids…ours, put in our lives by the grace of God and a pair of Angels; as retold on “Don’t We Look A Like.com…

Post Navigation