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Archive for the tag “adoptions”

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.


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!


Make a Fast Friend

Make a fast friend. Adopt a greyhound. That’s what the tag on my license plate says. We adopted a greyhound 9 years ago. Dylan still talks about him. In fact, it’s why I am doing this post. A few weeks back, when I found all those lost CD’s with pictures on them while packing up, Dylan spotted a few of  ‘Cloudy‘. To this day she still talks about him and even prays for him.

w cloudHe was a great pet, a good watch dog, and great friend. We miss him and are making plans for adopting another after the new house is purchased (one reason house #2 really didn’t work).

So, one night this week I decided to go shopping at our local Greyhound adoption web site, Greyhound Crossroads. The unfortunate end to these athletes is sad in so many ways. That’s why adoption agencies and foster houses are set up for greyhounds.

When walking Cloud on the beach I was made to feel like a celebrity because so many people wanted to come up and pet him; especially excited kids.


So I wanted to tell you all a little bit more about these lovable pets and too often misunderstood breed. So I contacted the Greyhound Crossorad’s director, Joanne Johnson,  and asked for some fast facts on greyhounds.

Now any pet in shelters or in harm’s way is worth adopting. No debating it. Greyhounds, however, have a few misconceptions that people have that keep them from being adopted, Joanne Johnson said in her email. We hear these same things every time we have the dogs out in public. So these are the things we really try to educate people about. For instance:

1) People think they are high energy because they are race dogs – the opposite is actually true. They are sprinters and very low energy. They race only once every 3 -5 days for 30 seconds at the track. That keeps them in top physical form and is all they can do without risking injury because they are low energy dogs. The rest of the time they are resting and sleeping. They have a nick name of ‘couch potato’.

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2) People think they can’t be apartment dogs and need huge yards to run in because they think they are high energy. They are actually very good apartment dogs because of their low energy level and quiet nature. Although they do love to run we don’t require fenced yards if a family will leash walk them. A short walk can drain their energy as well as a run because they are such low energy dogs.

How many of you would like a reason to go for a walk each night?


3) People think they can’t live with cats or small animals – not true. We do get a few that have too high of a prey drive to live with small animals but most are fine with cats and some even live with rabbits and birds. Probably 80 percent or maybe even more than that are fine with small animals.


4) Retired race dogs aren’t old. Most are only 2 or 3 years old. Some of the better racers may retire at 4 or rarely 5. Even fast dogs start slowing a little in their 4th year and since one second separates the winner from the last place dog it doesn’t take much slowing to end in retirement. Few dogs ever race when they are 5. Ones that are really poor racers can retire out of training well before their second birthday when they are still pups.

cloudy yawn

We got Cloud just after he turned 2. His real name was Dana’s Cloud Nine on the track. He didn’t place that often they told us, so they took him off the track early. He was built like a bodybuilder,  with bulging shoulders and hip muscles on a well chiseled frame. Greyhounds can be pure motivation to fitness enthusiasts.  As a runner, he was always inspiring to me.

5) People think they have been abused and may have behavior issues from training on the track. Greyhounds are elite athletes and trainers only make money when they win races. Any abuse or bad treatment will make them run slower and trainers will make nothing. The average greyhound has over $3000 put into them before they start racing so are a considerable an investment for their owners. It wouldn’t make sense for an owner to send a dog worth that much money to any trainer that might harm it or not take good care of it.

Most trainers chose their profession the same way everyone else does, because it is something they like doing. They love working with dogs and greyhounds in particular. To us, it was like Cloudy had already been to obedience school from the very beginning. He needed housebroken but was otherwise very well mannered. You are actually living with an actual retired professional athlete!


6) Most greyhounds are very social and very bonded to humans BECAUSE of their trainers and the people that work with them at the track and dog farms. So it is natural that they will become bonded to their new owners as well.

Wake me when it's time for dinner

Wake me when it’s time for dinner

What else is the baby gonna do?

What else is the baby gonna do?

The biggest behavior problem we see with greyhounds is actually separation anxiety, which is caused by being too bonded to people and not something you see in abused dogs that are afraid of people.


7) Along the same lines people also think that greyhounds are forced to race and hate it. Greyhounds can’t be forced to do much of anything and are famous for turning into statues when forced to do something they don’t want to. They were bred to run and chase for thousands of years. Their pedigree includes, big lungs, tails for rudders and little to no coat to slow them down.

Dogs that don’t have the instinct to give 100 percent effort at the track couldn’t ever win even if someone could force them to run. They are no more forced to run than a herding dog is forced to herd, a retriever is forced to play ball or a water dog is forced to swim. It is what they love and what they want to do more than anything else.


The only thing Cloud enjoyed doing was running. He got so excited when I took the leash off of him on the beach. He didn’t chase balls or fetch sticks. Greyhounds are truly something to watch when they take off; a combination of grace and power, along with a blur of winding legs and determination.

Rumor has it they can go from 0 – 60 mph in 5 steps. I found that not too far from the truth when I thought I would try to jog with him on the beach one time.

Every Sunday I would take Cloud for a walk on the beach as long as it stayed warm. It was therapy for both of us.  I was feeling stupid froggy one day and thought Cloud might run beside me while I ran on the beach. I took the leash off and he took off. The best I hoped for was to try to keep him in sight. I eventually caught him as he decided to relieve himself in the back yard of one of the million dollar houses along the beach.

Race you to the dunes!

Race you to the dunes!

8) People sometimes think greyhounds aren’t friendly, social dogs because they don’t bounce and wag their tails as much as higher energy breeds when meeting new people. They also hold their ears back when relaxed which makes them look stressed or shy.


When greyhound get real relaxed they like to roll over and lay on their backs, often with their paws up in the air.  They do this frequently when they are at ease. The first time we saw it we just looked at each other and laughed. They have no shame we thought.

No shame!

No shame!

They are just low energy and aren’t hyper like other breeds so most greet people calmly and politely when out in public; i.e. well-mannered. That is one of the reasons they excel as therapy dogs.


Dylan saw this next picture. It is from when we first picked up Cloudy from Greyhound Crossroads. They take a picture to show another successful adoption. Dylan asks, “Why am I not in this pictures? Where was I?”

cloudy n us

I politely replied, “Well you weren’t born yet. We got Cloudy before you were born.”

Enthusiastically, Dylan responded, “So I was in Mommy’s tummy then, right?

OMG, it is too early for this talk! “No Dylan. Cloudy just came a few years before you.”

So I keep looking at the greyhound adoption site to see if one is available close to us. And then Dylan, and Skylar, and Mommy and Daddy can have a Fast Friend again.

Here are a few more of our great friend. If you want a fast friend, google greyhound adoptions in your area. And adopt your own retired athlete.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Greyhounds like the water too, although Cloudy never did master the 'jumping of waves'.

Greyhounds like the water too, although Cloudy never did master the ‘jumping of waves’.

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…

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