Saturday, November 24, 2012

Four months

"For Christmas, I would like Santa to bring me a teething necklace, some light-up toys, and maybe a ball..."

"What Dad? We're not making a video-letter for Santa? What ARE we doing then?"

"Oh, we're taking a picture? Well, I don't really want to smile right now, and here are my reasons. First of all..."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Catching up for early November

Holy Cow, this is a busy month!

I think I've mentioned that November is National Adoption Awareness Month or something. Well, this weekend was National Adoption Awareness DAY, although I can't remember if it was Saturday or Sunday. We've been a bit preoccupied here.

This was our first weekend in months that we didn't have something planned. That was great for two reasons. First, the weather was fantastic for getting outside and working in the yard. Second, the baby is sick and taking breathing treatments. Although he doesn't act sick, he has been wheezy and congested forever and has a bad cough. Chest xray suggests viral pneumonia. So it has been long naps and breathing treatments for him.

Anyway, catch-up time. Let's start with November 3rd.
Breakfast on our roadtrip to see birthmother

Saturday, November 3rd, we traveled three hours to visit Martin's birthmother for the first time since the hospital. She ended up needing to bring her three boys with her because her sitter backed out, but that was fine with us. We got to meet them, they got to meet Olivia, and everyone got along swimmingly. We met at McDonald's, ordered a stack of Happy Meals, and settled in for some QT with the birth family.

That visit was, unfortunately, not nearly long enough for any of us. But it was the start of  what I hope will be a long and fruitful relationship. I know that Martin feels loved and that we are enough for him right now. But some day, this first relationship is going to be important to him. I'd like us to be able to provide that ongoing connection so that his relationship with his birthmother is not weird, uncomfortable or upsetting for anyone.

I feel blessed by this child and his birthmother. I can't really explain it much better than that. It feels right.

Sunday, November 4th. We all went to a local music festival for kids, which was to benefit a music endowment named in honor of one of Olivia's first friends. Isaac was born just ten days before Olivia, and we used to go to playdates with them all of the time. I have mentioned Isaac before here. His parents have been tirelessly working to raise awareness of childhood cancers and honor their son with this endowment. We felt we really needed to attend.

It was absolutely a fabulous day! They had non-stop entertainment, including several choral and instrumental groups, dancers, story tellers and percussionists. They had craft stations where kids could make shakers, tambourines and other musical instruments. They had face painting and a photo booth. Olivia was completely occupied for the entire four hours! I'm not sure that has ever happened.

Musical instruments for everyone! Cacophonous!
She fell asleep as we drove home that night. I usually make sure she is clean and hair neatly braided before bed on school nights because she hates getting up early to do it in the morning. But as I tucked her in that night, straight from the car with tangled hair and paint still on her face, I resigned myself to ratty-ponytail-Monday. I wasn't going to worry about her appearance for school. I was just glad that my kid, almost five years old, was able to enjoy a fantastic day of fun and would live to see her fifth birthday.

Cancer sucks, but that little boy's life has blessed so many. Myself included.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adoption Blogger Interview Project - Adrianne

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012
Today is Interview Project Day!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Adrianne of Finding a Family. In reading through her interview, I thought to myself, "Wow, these could be MY answers if asked the same questions!" I was delighted to learn more about this beautiful family.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

1. You have gone through a lot on your journey to become parents. What was the hardest part of getting to this point and why? (miscarriage, infertility, illness, choosing an agency, waiting, etc?)

We endured two miscarriages, unexplained infertility, and allergic reactions to fertility medications which all seemed unbearably difficult at the time that we were suffering through them.  The days seemed longer, the nights seemed darker, and the thought of being invited to a baby shower was just too much.  It was just the thought that we'd never become parents that was so overwhelming.  It did not matter one single bit to us if our child was biologically ours - or shared someone else's dna.  We just wanted to be parents.  We just wanted to be mom and dad.  So, it took us a long time - a really long time - to finally see that God's plan for us to become parents did not include us making babies, but adopting children into our family.  I first requested adoption informational packets shortly after our first miscarriage, but it took a while for my husband to get on the same page.  So, shortly after he was diagnosed with an illness that could be hereditary (Chiari Malformation) we finally realized the path God had planned for us.  While the length of time was certainly the hardest part of the journey, we would not change how things unfolded, because every twist in the road led us to being Dax's mom and dad.

2. How is openness manifested in your relationship with your son's birth family? Do you think that relationship will change (more or less open) as he gets old enough to understand his adoption story?

We longed for an open relationship with our child's birth family and were thrilled when we were chosen by a birth mother who also wanted an open situation.  Our relationship is currently quite open.  We exchange emails, text messages, and packages through the mail on a regular basis.  We agreed to 4 visits per year, but are on track for about 6.  Right now our contact is pretty regular and most of our communication is through email messages.  We've gone to her house and she's been invited to ours.  We want her to know how Dax is doing and how he lives his life.  We want him to know who she is and where he came from.

For his first birthday I worked with Dax's birth mom to create a book called a "lifestory" where she answered questions about where she grew up, her favorite childhood memories, what she likes to do, what her favorite color is, and other things a child might like to know about their biological mom.  The book is small (7x7) and hard backed so it will be ready for Dax's tiny fingers.  We've got it on Dax's bookshelf, so it's ready to read along with all of his other favorite books.  We hope it will be something he can always turn to if our relationship is not the same as it is right now.

We were told that over time the relationship would move further and further into the background.  We hope this doesn't happen, since we want Dax's biologicals to be a part of his life - but we know that as time passes, so will changing of situations which may not always make it so easy for her to keep in touch as she does now.  We pray that we'll always be close and connected - for all of our lives.

3. What aspect of parenting was most unexpected or surprising to you?

In the time it took us to actually become parents we'd read parenting books, taken baby classes, diapering classes, watched videos, and read hundreds of blogs about parenting.  We'd studied and studied until we could not absorb anymore, which is why we were shocked to realize (after Dax was home for a few weeks) that all of this stuff really does come pretty naturally.  It was after a few weeks of prepping bottles for them to not be consumed, changing diapers that were not wet, and waking up in the night to just find him snoozing peacefully away that we learned that our own parental instincts were actually good enough to let us figure this all out.

We also learned that babies are resilient.  We learned that he'd cry when he was hungry, tired, or needed to be changed, and that through basic deduction you could figure out what he needed.  After a little bit more time we even learned to know his cries and what he was needing at the moment.  So, while we prepared for things and thought we'd studied enough, we quickly learned that your mommy and daddy skills are there all along - they just need a baby to pull them out of you.

4. Moms of lots of kids often get stupid comments from random strangers in the checkout line. Adoptive parents and interracial families also get their share of stupid checkout-line comments. From your first year as parents, what is your favorite "stupid people say stupid things" story about strangers in the checkout line (or elsewhere)?

We look different than Dax.  He's got a dark complexion with curly hair and our skin is pasty (75% of the year) and our hair is straight.  It's pretty obvious to people (when we're all together) that Dax was adopted.  Sure, some random 5% of people might think I had an affair with some other man or something, but most people straight away go the adoption route.  Most people just ask us questions because they are curious, and 99.9% we are fine to answer them.  We're glad people ask us questions about adoption and hope that some day they'll adopt too.  Most of the time however, people ask us "Where did he come from"?  I think they are expecting we will say some foreign place, but we don't - he's from the same state we live in - the same metropolitan area.  I think a majority of people (not involved with adoption) just assume that if you adopted a child you must have done an international adoption, so they are just a little shocked when we tell them that Dax is from the same state and country we're currently standing in.

5. On the flip side of that, is there a heartwarming story you can share about someone observing your family? 

We honestly just love anyone who stops and talks to us to learn more about how our transracial family came together.  We love it when people of our grandparents generation stop us to tell us how cute Dax is or how precious our family is.  We know things were different for them 50 years ago and we're glad that our family can be what it is today because of where this country has gone.  We also love it when we have communications with people from different races than ours that would normally never stop to speak to us just because Dax is with us.  He's like a bridge from one culture to another and from one time to another.  He's so much hope, joy, and love for our family and we love sharing that with others we meet.

Once we met a girl in a local supermarket, who reminded me a lot of us a few years ago.  She was happily watching Will and Dax at the deli counter, not knowing that I was watching her.  She smiled as she watched Will make silly faces to get Dax giggling while he waited for swiss cheese.  I made a lap around a produce stand and saw her still staring at them.  There's one employee there who always comes around the counter to see Dax and say hello.  When the employee came to play with Dax I made my way over there to say hello and at that time the girl also spoke.  She asked if she could ask me a question and I told her that she could.  She asked if Dax was adopted.  I smiled and told her he was.  She told me that she and her husband were looking to adopt and were just getting started in picking an agency.  We chatted for a few minutes about adoption, highly recommended our agency, and wished her success in building her family.  We were her, not too terribly long ago and because she stopped to ask us about Dax we pray for her and her family's journey.

6. Where do you find the most support, as an adoptive family?

We feel like God placed so many families into our lives to help us on this adoption journey.  We met people through blogs, through Yelp, through seminars, through church, and through retreats.  We feel a strong connection with others who've adopted and are looking to adopt.  These people were there to help us learn about agencies, openness, waiting, struggles with infertility, and the link to God on our adoption journey.  We feel that being open about adoption makes it so much easier to handle, because you have support from everyone you meet.  We've never faced resistance in how our family was built, and know we've got support wherever we turn.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


In addition to Olivia's birthday party, we also celebrated Martin's baptism this weekend. I have more to say about the whole day, but for now, here are some photos.
Deacon Grampy traces the sign of the cross on Martin's forehead.

Baptism of Martin Roderick

Family photo

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, sweet Olivia!

My dear, sweet Olivia,

You are five years old today, and I am amazed at the beautiful little girl you have become. You are intelligent and curious and emotional and loving and willful and sweet and a million other things.

You like to dress up and make up your own songs and dances. You are always putting on a diva act, pretending to be a rock star and putting on shows in our living room. Your imagination knows no bounds.

You like beads in your hair but you hate bows on your clothing. You have very specific preferences about what you wear. Luckily, we have enough hand-me-downs that fit your preferences, although I fear that won't last much longer!

You lost your second tooth this past Wednesday and are fascinated with the idea of losing teeth and getting more in. Since you are the only kid in this house (among those I watch) who has already lost teeth, you feel like you are big stuff!

Since the day you were born, you have turned our world upside down and challenged us in so many ways, but we have loved watching you grow and blossom into this inquisitive little person that you are now. I love you, my daughter. Keep growing and exploring and discovering and inquiring. You are beautiful in every way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November happenings

Good heavens! This month is crazy. I had every intention of posting something every day, in NaBloPoMo tradition. But alas. The crazy has knocked me down. Here are a few things that have happened/will happen this week.

Last Saturday, we visited with Martin's birthmom for the first time since the hospital. That is a whole post in itself. Stay tuned.

On Sunday, we went to a kids' music fest to raise funds for a music foundation named for our friends' deceased son, whose 5th birthday would have been November 2nd. THAT is a whole post in itself. When I get time.

Tuesday was our anniversary. It was also, unfortunately, election day. I don't want to talk about it. We are blocking that day out of our minds and planning to celebrate the anniversary later, when the dust settles from all the birthday madness.

Wednesday, because of school and doctor appointments for the kids I watch, I was home alone with the baby all morning. This has never happened. It was bliss! I spent most of the morning cleaning in preparation for our post-placement homestudy visit that afternoon. Martin spent half the morning sitting on the couch telling me babble-stories in animated voices and the other half napping.

The visit went well. Martin greeted the social worker with a huge grin and then continued to entertain her for the duration of the 25 minute visit. She was smitten! She's off to write the report for the court finalization at the end of the month.

Wednesday night was parent-teacher conference. We heard that Olivia is a whip-smart kid who wants to be boss all of the time, but her teachers are dealing with that, and they love her and think she's delightful. And then we went to retrieve her from the play room and she produced the second of her lost teeth. Now she has a matching set of missing ivories, front and center, bottom row.

The first two teeth she got in...the first two teeth to fall out.
Thursday was my consulation about The Spot on my nose. Doc said it is a superficial basal cell cancer and we can shrink it with a topical solution...possibly even make it all disappear. If not, he will excise whatever is left later. So I have a month of cream to possibly fix the problem. For about two months, I'll have a huge red spot on my nose. But it should heal with no scar. So, good news, and rather anti-climactic.

Today, I have six dozen cupcakes to frost, two batches of chicken chili to make, gifts and party supplies to pack in the car, etc.

Tomorrow is Martin's baptism and Olivia's birthday party. Sunday is our own little celebration of Olivia's birthday. Monday is her actual birthday.

I really can't see past Monday right now, so I'll see you on the flip side.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Eight years ago today, I said yes to a lifetime with my best friend.

We've had ups and downs. Joys and disappointments. We now have a family portrait that looks nothing like what we would have envisioned on that day, eight years ago.

But God knew what He was doing when He put us together and put us on this path. Happy Anniversary, my friend, my love. I'm happy to share the journey with you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month

November is kind of a big month for us, always. My birthday is in November. We got married in November. (Eight years ago Tuesday. We will celebrate by going to the polls. Blah.) Olivia was born in November. Martin will be baptized in November and his finalization date is also this month.

It seems appropriate that this month is also National Adoption Awareness Month. I will celebrate with all of the above, but also by participating in the Interview Project. I am looking forward to introducing all of you to my interviewee and I'm also looking forward to reading the other interviews from this project.

I love the internet. There is this whole world of support out there for people like us, creating our families in unconventional ways. Let's share a virtual cup of coffee and get to know each other a little better.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Yesterday. Well, Olivia went off to school, costume in her backpack, ready for a great day of Halloween parties and whatnot. I was relieved that she was going to have her trick-or-treat fun, because we were opting for Vigil Mass over trick-or-treating for the evening.

Marty refused to nap for more than 45 minutes at a time and demanded to be held for the rest of the day. So there was that.

And then I got a call in the afternoon with my skin biopsy results. I have a basal cell carcinoma. On my nose. And the spot has to be removed.

I freaked out a little. Not so much about the cancer, because there is no real life-threatening danger with this type of cancer. It means double the sunscreen for the rest of my life, but that is manageable. What freaked me out a little is that now I have a consultation with the doctor, scheduled for next week, to discuss my options for removal. My hunch, from the way the nurse talked about it, is that he'll recommend I choose either the easy way which will leave a disfiguring scar, or I'll be forced to choose the hard way, which will require some sort of recovery but less of a scar. I don't KNOW this...I just get the feeling that those will be my options.

I'm not a vain person, but for heaven's sake. I don't want a disfiguring scar on my nose! So, freaking out a little. Consultation is next Thursday, so we'll see what happens.

Olivia brought home some disfiguring news too. But hers is temporary.
Is she really old enough for this?
My baby lost her tooth at school. They gave her a little treasure box to put it in. She was so super excited and couldn't stop talking about it. And then, this morning, she was equally excited about the dollar coin left by the tooth fairy, and how did she get into her room and make the switch without waking me up? Oh, the excitement caused by one teeny little baby tooth!

In trying to find a vigil Mass, we stumbled upon probably the most "high" Mass around. Monk pastor, packed church (due in part to the fact that it was Wednesday night and Mass co-opted the CCD classes), incense, chanting, and longer than it needed to be. I would have truly enjoyed it if we were sans children. But we forgot the diaper bag (no food or diapers for baby) and Olivia was in true 6:30 p.m.-over-tired form. We survived. Probably largely in part to the intercession of the kids' patron saints, to whom I was fervently praying throughout Mass just to keep myself from losing it on Olivia. Those Peruvian saints must be pretty powerful.

Happy Feast of All Saints. Let the November chaos begin.