Thursday, August 7, 2014


Adoption is hard.  Adoption is always, ALWAYS born from loss.  Loss on both sides.  Biological parents choosing or being coerced into giving up their children.  Babies, newly born or children home for years loosing their first parents.  There is no way to pretty it up.  Regardless of new families made and second parents filled with joy, it all starts with loss.  This does damage in ways that we may never see the end of. 

All three of my adopted children were given up at birth.  I have no idea of the real reasons they were given up and am fairly certain I never will.  I work on making peace with this.  I work on choosing to let go of MY anger, bc if they hadn't been given up, they wouldn't be sleeping peacefully in my house right now.  No one can tell the future, and I don't know if their first parents would have still chosen to give them up knowing what they would go through waiting for a forever family. 

Jocelyn's referral picture.  15 pounds at age 6. 

It's not a secret that Jocelyn is very, very small, even for a child with Down Syndrome.  We have lots of suspicions about how she was or was not treated in the orphanage.  I do know that when we first brought her home, she would flinch if I moved quickly.  She would always insist on sitting in my lap with her back to my chest.  Never would she willingly face me.  Eye contact was fleeting at best.  She would bite if she got overexcited or we held her facing us. 

Jocelyn on pick up trip.  Sad and scared.  Afraid to trust

We knew going into her adoption that she was very delayed.  We knew she might not ever make progress.  We were ok with that.  She was ours, and we accepted her for who she was.  But oh, how wrong we were.  This child.  This child I am blessed to call mine.  She lived for 7 years in a cold lonely crib.  At a minimum she was ignored, and at a maximum, well, I don't like to think about that.  She shames me with her joy.  When I am frustrated with daily life, she is always filled with love and joy.  She is always ready with a joyful heart to love and be loved. 
Jocelyn filled with joy.  She was waiting to bloom.

I thought I would spend my days helping HER heal, and in truth, she has been healing cracks in my heart that I didn't even know were there.  She follows me around the house, scooting on her butt, and sometimes she is so silent I don't know she is behind me until I feel her teeny hand touching my calf as I cook or clean.  She willingly and lovingly sits facing me know.  She reaches up to touch my face, to bring my attention back to her if she feels I am not paying attention to her. 
Choosing to give and accept love

She offers up her cheek for kisses when I come in close.  Just the last few days, she has started pressing her lips to mine after I kiss her.  She leans in softly, hesitantly, and presses her tiny little lips to mine.  It breaks my heart every single time and fills it beyond imagine every single time.  Sometimes I weep thinking of her so alone for so long, and in the same minute I laugh thinking of her sassy face and her tinkling giggle. 

So healing is coming for us all.  Some faster than others.  Some aren't ready to heal.  Some refuse to accept love because that is just to scary still.  And that is okay.  We will continue to pursue all of are children.  We will offer love and not have any expectations that they "need" to love us back.  That is not why we adopted.  We can offer love and hope that one day they will all accept it.  Until then, we will soak up all the love from this little one!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

As long as they are healthy

I love seeing pregnant mamas.  I loved being pregnant.  One of the things I got asked when I was pregnant was whether the baby was a boy or a girl, and if I had preferences.  I hear this question asked to other people all the time, and you know what the most common response is, "as long as they are healthy, we don't care what the sex is".  I'm not judging people who say that, I know that I have said the same thing in the past. 

But here's the thing.  What does healthy mean?  I have three children with Down Syndrome.   One of them has no health concerns at all.  One has things we need to be watchful for, but is what I would consider healthy.  One of them has a heart condition, but only need yearly monitoring at this point.  So, all of them "I" would consider healthy.  We don't have daily hospital or doctor runs, no equipment needed in the home, no oxygen, no feeding tubes, no trachs, nothing. 

So what do we (including myself bc I used to give the same answer) really mean when we say "as long as they are healthy".  Does it really mean as long as they are typical?  As long as they are normal?  Are children who have disabilities automatically considered not healthy?  Are we really saying we will be happy as long as they are like everyone else? 

And then I wonder, what kind of message does it send to parents of children who have disabilities, to say, we will be happy if they are healthy?  Does that mean they should be unhappy bc their child is not typical, not healthy?  Does it mean that child won't bring them the same joy as a typical child?  Does it mean they won't get into trouble, climb onto tables and out of cribs? Does it mean they won't fill our hearts with such joy that it physically hurts?  Nope.  Pretty sure I have that feeling with all my children, including those with a little something extra.  Does it mean there won't be heartache?  No, but there is that with typical children also. 

I sat with a new friend today, and I saw the heartache that can go with an unexpected diagnosis.  But what I really saw?  I saw beautiful almond shaped eyes.  I saw a contagious grin.  I saw a beautiful baby.  I saw baseball games and friends and staying up late to eat ice cream sandwiches when i stared in his perfect face.  I saw acceptance in his mamas eyes, along with the sadness and I thought, he is perfect.  He is an amazing creation.  He was made exactly the way he was intended to be. 

I hear from parents all the time who had biological babies with down syndrome or other diagnosis, that when their babies were born, people didn't know what to say, or said, "i'm sorry", or things along those line.  Being on the other side, the side who sees what a joy these children can bring, now I think and say, "congratulations!  He/she is beautiful".  Just some things to think about the next time a family member or friends gets an unexpected diagnosis!

Because all children deserve some excitement when they come into the world :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

All on her own

There is a little one who has stolen my heart in another country yet again.  No, this isn't an announcement.  I would give much to call this precious girl my own, but we cannot leap again right now. 

She has a terrible, sad little referral picture, much like our own Jojo did.  She is non mobile, non-verbal, doesn't feed herself, doesn't talk.  She has a long list of things she DOESN'T do.  In fact, a better question might be what does she do.  Sound like anyone else we know? 

Jojo's referral pic and packet were scary.  A long list of things that she couldn't do.  Scary thoughts of lifelong care and unknowns occasionally filled my head.  But we knew.  We knew Jojo was ours.  We didn't care if she never walked or talked or was a "productive citizen".  And then we met her.  We brought her home.  And oh my this child.  She fills my cup to overflowing everyday.  She loves to be held and cuddled and kissed.  She seeks us out for affections.  She has a ready smile for everyone that makes my heart sing.

I see sometimes where people will tell potential adoptive parents, that these children will change and grow so much when they get home.  That is often true.  Sometimes though, it's not.  We were prepared for Jo to never progress.  Because she was enough, all on her own.  We didn't need to KNOW that she was going to progress or respond or give us back anything. 

I would hate to think my worth as a person was only for what I could do  or how I could change.  I know someone can SEE this little love, see her for the treasure she is and the treasure she will be for the rest of her life.  Please, won't someone see her?  She is worth it, I promise.  She will change your world for the better.  I don't promise that it will be easy everyday, but I promise she is worth it, all on her own.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Almost no words needed :)  Trying solid food, standing, holding our own bottles! We are making lots of progress!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

a child of my own

A question I have gotten occasionally is if I love my adopted children like I love my "own" children.  All of my children are "my own" of course, but I know the person asking wants to know if I love them like my biological children.  To be honest, each time we have adopted, I have had this question myself.  Will I love my new child like I love the others?  Course, I remember having those feelings each and every time I was pregnant too sooooo take it with a grain of salt I guess. 

Sometimes when you bring a new child home (at least for me), there isn't an instantaneous connection.  Sometimes it feels like babysitting.  Sometimes you wonder when the kid is going home and then you remember they are home.  I've heard from other adoptive parents that those feelings are all normal.  It can be shocking as a parent to not be immediately overwhelmed with love for that child you have been working for so long, but there it is. 

For me, my aha moment came two weeks ago.  Of course, I "love" the girls, and we have fallen into a good routine so  I don't feel like a completely crazy person anymore, but sometimes those lingering doubts come.  We noticed that Lanie had unusual bruising on her back, and being that she is nonmobile, we were concerned.  Children with DS are much more likely to get leukemia in general.  Our pediatrician didn't seem overly concerned but ran bloodwork just to be on the safe side.

We got the phone call the next day from the pediatrician.  It was early when the doc's number came up on my cell, and I had a sinking feeling.  They never call early if it's nothing.  She told me that Lanie's platelets were low, much lower than they had been previously, and that she was referring us to a hematologist.  I asked her if she was actually worried or just sending us to cover bases.  She told me she was worried, and that she had put a stat referral in.  She wanted us to be seen that next day (fri) or mon at the latest.  Her urgency in wanting us to be seen was not reassuring at all.  The hospital called us themselves an hour later, and that just made me even more nervous.

I called my mom to tell her what the doctor said, as she knew we had taken her to the doc for the bruising.  I thought I was ok, calm even, until I heard her voice.  I broke down and cried like my heart was shattered at the thought of my baby, MY baby having leukemia.  Heartwrenching, ugly sobs that you can't control. 

We took Lanie the next day and they ran bloodwork. Her counts are up so they are just going to watch her every three months, but are not overly concerned.  Which is GREAT and what we wanted of course.  The whole thing was eye opening for me though, in that it really showed me my deep down feelings for my little squishy girl. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Progress for Jojo

Living in the trenches and working through hard stuff with kiddo's who have been institutionalized is a constant work in progress.  I took the girls to get fitted for sure steps today (little braces for their feet) and Jocelyn had a hard time.  She does not like change and usually has a negative reaction to new experiences. 

She cried when the man started to measure her foot.  BUT, two amazing things happened along with the crying.  She cried outLOUD!!  Sounds like a weird thing to be excited about right?  Well, ever since we picked her up, she has cried SILENTLY.  It is heart breaking to find her crying silently on the floor, really truly heart breaking.  I was so excited to HEAR her crying today and not bc she was physically hurt (she cries when they take blood). 

Secondly, she reached for ME today, bypassing the fun, new physical therapist.  This is HUGE.  She is working on attachment, and up until this point would have chosen any random "caregiver".  New people were even better for her honestly, bc in her mind, they might be "better" than us or not require hard things.  We call it mommy shopping here.

 Side note: this is also why we sometimes limit who can hold and hug her.  She needs to know who mama and papa are first., today she crawled PAST the fun NEW person, and reached for me, her mama, to comfort her.  It seriously made every single hard moment in the last three months just melt away.

 She knows.  She KNOWS I will protect her.  Forever and ever baby, mama will keep you safe.  Mama will push you to try hard, but she will also be there to catch you and encourage you.  And the glimpse I got today, that she is starting to realize that, made my heart catch.  Of course I don't think she is firmly attached by any means, but she has started the journey, and THAT is exciting!

Oh this pic?  Yeah, she stands and plays at the water table now.  Just like a big girl!