Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Little Man

So todays memorable moment of joy is kind of cheating, for this is not a joy from just this last year.

Four years ago today (okay maybe not actually today, but that is beside the point) my little man was born. I did not get the pleasure of feeling him kick me during a pregnancy, or getting to hold him just after he was born, but I get the joy of seeing him grow everyday. Last night as we drove home discussing his birthday he said to me...
 "when I was a baby I was looking for a momma and I chose you and you are perfect. You came on a plane for a long time and got me. And now momma I want to be with you forever."

I may make a lot of mistakes as a mom, but I must be doing more right than wrong for him to say that. He is right, we were chosen for each other and it is perfect.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moments of Joy- Day 3

Little Man started school. This was a bittersweet moment, it meant he was leaving the only person I had trusted to care for him day to day since he came home and starting school. He was growing into my big boy. Although, as evidenced by the size of the backpack on him, he is still my little man. He was very excited to go and actually transitioned very well. This school continues to be a blessing to me as they now care for my child everyday. His teachers are wonderful and keep me up to date on how he is doing. It has been fun to see the growth he has gone through since starting school.
The tongue of concentration is often present! He was putting his backpack on by "myself mommy"

Big backpack, little big boy

Excited to start school.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Moments of Joy this year

Taking the time to remember the moments that brought me such great joy this year:

Getting to take Little Man to California to visit family, some he had met before and some he had never seen. I got to see my niece who I had not seen in years and meet new family members. Seeing the cousins play!

Watching Little Man "love" on the baby that was yet to join our family.

These moments are the ones that I cherish from the year.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gotta to be different

Well lots of people posted their days of thanks during November, since it is the month of Thanksgiving. But I was late on getting started and actually wanted to take December and remember all the wonderful things from this year as it comes to a close. Not sure I will get on here to do it daily but I am going to try. So here is day 1 of things I am grateful for this year:

This year I got to travel down to Alabama (twice) and see some very dear friends. It was nice to reconnect with friends I had not seen in a while and to introduce Little Man to my friends and my passion for space. Space Camp and Alabama were a huge part of my life for many years and I am so glad that despite my absence in recent years those friendships have withstood the test of time. It was fun to laugh and visit and remember the love and acceptance that always came from this "family".

Hanging with Ruth Marie 

Making new friends with Stan

Play time with Sophia and her girls

The second trip down to Alabama allowed me to see some friends from Canada and introduce Little Man to some "aunties". These women have been a great source of strength for me. They were some of the first people I told about my plans to adopt almost 4 years ago and this was their first time getting to meet him face to face. I wish we had had more time, but I am so glad for the time I got with them. 

Learning from Mr Chris

Getting a Canada tatoo, provided by Auntie Cheryl and applied by Auntie Lynn

Story time with Ruth Marie

Friendships new and old are wonderful. I am so glad I took the time to renew the old friendships and bring them into my child's life. We are blessed by these people.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This is really late...3 years and 11 days ago....

On November 18th 2009 I sat and waited and waited for my phone to ring. I waited to hear the sound on the other end of the line that said "You passed" Meanwhile, I was trying to teach my classes, while checking my phone every 5 minutes

I was hesitant, for I had waited for this call before and when I received it, did not hear the words "You passed", but I was hopeful...again.

I was hopeful that the judge several thousands of miles away would see, what I already knew, that the little boy whose paperwork she was looking at was my son. I was hopeful that she would know that our hearts belonged together.

I can hardly believe it has been 3 years since I answered my phone to the words, "Congratulations, you are his mom" That called turned my world upside down in the best, most amazing way.

3 years ago

Little Man you have made me the happiest mom in the world.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When grief looks like...well grief

      He sits in my lap, eyes sad, holding tightly to my finger and asks to see it again. A moment of hesitation, I momentarily question myself and then tell him of course. I hit play again, he has seen the video a number of times, he has danced to the music, commented at the pictures but today it seems to evoke a different emotion. Part way through the video he shifts to my other leg, wraps his arms around my arm, his eyes are watery he is quiet, head resting on my chest. I start to talk to him, talk him through the events. He asks to see other videos, starts to flip through my computer, so I play the one year home video. We make it through the video, he is crying, silent tears running down his face and then he looks at me and starts to seek reassurance.

Grief strikes in a new way this time. He is growing, learning, developing. He is processing on a different level than before and this time he feels sadness, loss and fear that the pattern will repeat. He cries for ten minutes or so, seeking arms of comfort and verbal reassurance that I am here, for always, he seeks hugs and words of reassurance from the friends in the room that they are here for him.

For the first time I think he understands the feelings of loss. For the first time he questions where people are, if he will see them again. He wakes then next morning and says he missed someone when they were gone....and asks will they go away again. My heart breaks a little. It is so easy as an adult to understand that physical distance between people means time between visits can be long (i.e. my friends in CA, my parents and various friends scattered around the US), but time and distance are abstract concepts to little minds. It is also a fact of life that people come and go from our lives...easy (or at least easier) as an adult to see that, but how do you explain that to a child.

I sit tonight four nights later still processing what happened that night. Still processing how to help him understand the loss he has experienced. That I can not protect him from the pains of people leaving our lives in future, but that I will always be here for him as he grieves those losses. And most importantly I am very aware of the loss he has already experienced and that I honor and respect whatever feelings that brings. That I know our family, the us, comes only because he, as a tiny baby had to experience the greatest loss.

I will hold him. love him, reassure him as he continues to grow and develop. I will take the anger and the sad of grief.  I will hold my child as he walks through all of that, and I will hold the hand of the young man as he walks through it again later. When my adoption was approved the text/email I sent out was "he is mine and I am his and we are a family" Today that rings more true than it did almost 3 years ago. We are a family and we will work through all that comes and has already come our way.

Growth it is beautiful....painful.....amazing to watch and experience.

Little Man I promise to always hold you up whether we are giggling or crying!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

When grief strikes...

  I know his cries and whines...or so I thought.

We have been home for almost 3 years. He was a baby when they placed him in my arms, barely 18 lbs, just having celebrated his 1st birthday.  I learned the cry for tired, for hungry, for wet.  I learned his cry for just wanting attention (think tantrum) and his cry for hurt. And I thought I had learned his cry for sadness.

That is until the last couple of days. A new cry has appeared, a cry that pierces my heart, it starts almost as a scream and then shakes his whole body. Tears stream down his face and when he finally consents to being in my arms his body is rigid. Once I am holding him the crying calms slowly and then he lays still against my shoulder, no sound,  just slowly relaxing  for 5 or more minutes. During this time he will not make eye contact, in fact he won't even lift his head off my shoulder. Eventually he shifts to sitting sideways against me, resting his head against my chest so he can hear my heartbeat.

I can only describe this as grief. Why now and where it comes from I do not know. But I do know that despite what "people" want to say adopting a baby does not mean that the transition will be easy. It does not mean they don't remember, his body remembers. His body grieves the loss of something. And at this age when independence and control are battling in his life this grief strikes hard and fast.

Lately he has been talking about babies a lot. He has been asking to be a big brother, for me to have a baby in my tummy. I don't know where that comes from either. I wonder if the two are connected. I will never know.

For now all I can do is hold him, let him cry it out and reassure him that he is home forever.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My how he has grown

Little man fell asleep early and so I have been catching up on things of those is this blog that I have neglected lately :) So I typically take Little man to get pictures taken every 6 month, I was a little late this year but still finally got his 3 1/2 year pictures taken. I can't believe my little boy is looking like such a big boy now.

Today I sit and wonder...

I wrote this 2 years ago before Mother's Day on a day often referred to as Birth Mother's day in the adoption world and just never published it. Today as I have simply enjoyed the little boy he is becoming I was overcome so many times with so many emotions. Today he and I watched his birth country win the gold medal in the women's marathon and I shared that with moment with him.  So I figured I would post it today as it still holds so very true.

Today I sit and wonder if she has had enough to eat.
Today I sit and wonder if she is well.
Today I sit and wonder if she thinks of him.
Today I sit and wonder if she has any idea the gift she gave me.

Today I sit in awe that I get to be a mom.
Today I sit in awe of the blessings I have been given
Today I sit in awe of the power of love.
Today I sit in awe of the little boy that calls me mom.

Today I sit and cry for a woman I will likely never meet.
Today I sit and cry for a mother and a son who had to part ways.
Today I sit and cry for families torn apart.
Today I sit and cry for the hunger and disease that still ravish this world.

Today I rejoice in the little boy I am raising
Today I rejoice in the life God trusted me with
Today I rejoice in being a mom!

Thank you Little Man for making me a mom!

His birthmom lives in my heart and crosses my mind on a regular basis. But today is a day I make sure to take the time to talk to him about her. To share what little I know. Today is the day we will plant a rose in her honor. We will watch it bloom each year and grow. We will remember that he and I get to grow together each year because of her love! Today is a day I make sure to share him with her.

Two tough little boys...

These are two of the toughest little boys I know. Now I realize I am a bit biased about this, due to the fact that I love and adore both of them, but truly when I look at the things they are experiencing in their lives I am in awe of how they handle it all. Two very different battles they fight.  I don't compare the two battles, just stand back in admiration of their spirits. recognizing that both little boys have the right to not be the happy, charming children they are most days.  What blessings they are in my life (and I am sure to Mr M's parents lives as well!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sensory processing, PTSD and 4 days in a hospital

I have started this post at least  a half dozen times since we came home on Friday and have not quite figured out the right words or directions to take the post. I am still processing the what has happened and the aftermath of spending four days in the hospital with a child that has sensory processing difficulties and PTSD.

We were admitted to the hospital on Tuesday for a blockage in his GI tract, nothing scary, but certainly had gotten to the serious enough point where they hospitalized us. I knew when we walked in that it would be a couple of days stay. Little man and I had talked about going to the hospital, why we were having to go and to the best of my knowledge what they were going to have to do. I was trying to prepare him the best I possibly could. What I have discovered was I needed as much preparation as he did!

The staff at the hospital was amazing. I could not have asked for better nurses, nurse practitioners and the various other staff that stopped by to check on us. They listened when I talked about his needs and respected it. When it came time to get him ready for an IV, the nurse sat on the floor, had him help her put the numbing cream on his arm and then discussed what she was doing. She brought in a sample NG tube and helped him "place the NG tube" in his stuffed animal. They told him whenever they were going to do something and talked him through each process. I was amazed and thrilled.  Unfortunately at 3 while the talking helped him through at that instant it does not hold off the trauma of it all and the feeling of not having control of the situation.

Now for the more emotional side of my writing this post-
    Just about a year ago little man began having horrible nightmares. It took me several months to reach out for help and not long after that for a doctor to say looks like PTSD, go see this person..who we have now been seeing weekly for 8 months for PTSD. We have come a long ways, in helping little man talk about his "big feelings" and recognizing when his body is having "big feelings" And I think I undid a lot of that this past week.

Since we have gotten home these are a few behaviors and emotions I have seen- anger, throwing toys, stripping his bed to nothing, throwing his toys away in the trash can (favorite toys nonetheless) and panic about food again. The last one I think is the one that hits me, because I totally forgot to anticipate that. I took a child who came to me at just over 12 months hoarding food and spent 4 days telling him he couldn't have the food he was asking for, that all he could have was jello, juice, chicken broth and popsicles. What did I expect? I just didn't think about it and there was nothing I could do to change what they were giving him. but I maybe could have changed the way I answered him, the discussion that went with the  "no".

We have been home a week now....and I still have not finished this post..tonight I am going to finish.

In the week we have been home I have watched him struggle and begin to regain his comfort with food. I have watched him loose all his connection to what his body is telling him whether that be the need to go to the bathroom or eat or sleep. I have seen him seek the structured of his organized day at school and evening routine and then panic when I went to leave him at school. I have watched him fight the demons at night. His fitful sleep has returned and his fear of going to sleep is at a high.

We are tired, we are emotional, we are drained...we are clinging to each other to make it through. And yet, I am brought to my knees in gratitude that through all the troubles we are having and as angry at me as he is, he seeks me in his fear, he calls for me even in his sleep. Something bad and traumatic happened last week and I was there to witness all of it, I sat by his side, with him through all the scary moments, lack of control moments and he came out of understandably angry, but knowing mommy doesn't leave. He came out of it witnessing my unconditional love and the love and support of so many people who came to the hospital to check on him.

We can and will work through all the rest of it, because he knows that we are a family. We will work through tired, angry, emotionally confused and drained because we are a family and nothing is going to make me leave his side.  For tonight we sleep, as best we can and face tomorrow together. Tomorrow we work on healing, we work on connecting to our body again and what it is telling us. Tomorrow we work on laughter instead of anger.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not the blood we carry in our body but the love we carry in our hearts.

Twenty-three years ago today my brother came in my room in the morning and said "Mom is at the hospital. Dad is in surgery. They have been there all night. Things don't look great. I have to go to work and grandma is on her way here." I was 13, had been home sick with the chicken pox for about a week and was trying to process everything my brother had just said. He left and went to work and I got up and tried to figure out what to do. I paced, tried to watch tv and waited for the phone to ring or my mom to get home.

Twenty-three years ago today, I lost my dad. I miss him. Not everyday like I use to, but a lot.

For 8 years he was my dad, the most important man in my life. He sat across from me at the dinner table, making sure I ate everything on my plate, asking me about my day, talking to me, my brother and my mom. For 8 years he raised us, loved us and became my dad. During those years he showed me that family is not the blood you carry in your body but the love you carry in your heart. For 8 years he gave me that lesson, a lesson I have spent twenty-three more years living, learning and practicing.

I sit today with my son, born from the love of my heart not the blood of my body wishing he could have met my dad. Wondering what my dad thinks of me....of him.....

Little man has a grandpa that loves him and that he loves. I have a wonderful step-father that demonstrates everyday that lesson my dad gave me when I was young, reinforcing that love is thicker than blood. I am forever grateful for the man that is my father today. But I still wonder what Vern Hewitt, my dad, would say to my son if he could today. The memory of him still makes me smile, laugh and get teary all at once.

I miss you dad and I hope you are proud of me.

Ahh the 80's 

We are inside a tree

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Balancing two hearts

   It is Mother's Day today and I am sitting next to a napping little boy that has given me the greatest gift, that of being his mother. He sang me a cute song this morning as he gave me the gift he made me in preschool. We went and had breakfast together and went to church. It has been a perfect day. And yet there is a sadness in my heart. Last night it brought me to tears and today it sits like a lump in my throat.

  Half a world away there is a mother who is not holding her child today because I am. In the adoption world many families honor the Saturday before Mother's Day as BirthMother's Day. This may not make sense to some, but for me I never want to forget the courage and sacrifice of a woman I have never met, that allowed me to be a mother. Little Man is young still, so we don't do much to honor her right now, as he gets older we will do more.

  I wrote this shortly after holding my son for the first time:

Two women- two worlds- one child, two lives forever connected in the beating of that child’s heart. 

A woman living in a land that is beautiful beyond measure, but hard beyond definition. She is brave. She is struggling. She is full of love and full of sadness. The life she carries within her, that grows in her belly is one she knows she can not care for. 
A woman living in a land of opportunity with possibilities beyond measure. She is brave. She is struggling. She is full of love and full of sadness. The child she longs to give life to, is growing within her heart

The child is born and the mother grieves. She knows what she must do, she must ask someone to find him a home. Kissing him she leaves him to another’s care with the hopes that soon, he will have arms to cradle him, hands to wipe away his tears and lips to offer words of love and comfort. 
Half a world a way a woman searches her heart for the child that is growing there. A single glimpse of him, his hands, his eyes and the woman knows her child was born. Born to woman brave enough to carry him and strong enough to let him go, a woman with a love and courage that will connect these lives forever. He is theirs, flesh and blood of one, hopes and dreams of the other. 

So one woman’s journey to her child begins with the heartbreak of a mother and the cries of a baby who does not understand. He is placed in the arms of the nanny and his story begins, a story of heartache and of love surpassing understanding, a love that oddly, starts with letting go.  - Jenn Kramer

I think of his mother often, wonder how she is, what she is doing and wish that she could see how he is doing. I pray that there is a peace in her heart, that some how she knows that our son is doing great. That she knows he came home to a loving family. 

So today while I celebrate the light and joy he brings to my life, I smile toward the east and whisper a silent thank you to a woman I have never seen or met. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Day of school

I have been blessed to have a wonderful lady who has watched little man in her home since I had to go back to work. Her daughter is getting ready to start Kindergarten, so today after taking little man to the same house for almost exactly 2 years and 3 months I took him some place new...Today my little man went to his first day of preschool. I am not sure where the time has gone, but he has gotten so big. He just doesn't look three years old in these pics :(

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Little Man- isms part 2

In an effort to remember some of the funny things Little Man has been saying lately, I decided to do a quick blog post:

1) The other night at dinner he turned to me and said " So momma did you have a good day at school?" Funny was I had taken a half day at work and been home with him for like 6 hours by the time he asked me that question.

2) A little later that night he wanted me to play baseball in the house. I told him baseball was an outside sport, he bargained and said just 3 pitches momma. I said again that is was an outside game...he puts his bat down and walks over to me and says "So let me get this straight" I couldn't even question the tone I was too busy laughing at what he said.

3) Driving home from daycare this week he was tired from not napping and whining for something, can't remember what, I told him he was not being very nice and so he couldn't have what he wanted right then. His response "I am being bery nice momma, look at my face." When I turn to look at him he gives me this huge grin.

4) He told his babysitter the other day he was going on a "quest" Don't even know where he learned that word

5) Tonight after I let the water out of the bath tub, he laid down in the tub, covered himself with his wash cloth and started to pretend snore. He then said "momma, don't let the bed bugs bite." Not sure I have ever said that to him.

( I know these may not be as funny to other people, but I want to remember some of the things he does and says, so I can share with him when he is older )

Monday, January 16, 2012

To shave or not to shave....

My school has gathered a team to support the St Baldrick's Foundation. Several teachers and students shaved their heads last year and are planning on doing so again this year.

Last year I debated and debated about joining in with the shaving team and after some thought decided that shaving my head might actually not be the best idea with my just over 2 year still bonding with me. We had barely been together a year and I was kind of afraid of scaring him or of him not recognizing me! (that and his therapist advised that it might not be good idea!)

Now this year the time has rolled around again to decide about joining the shaving team or just monetarily sponsoring the team. I still have a question about how little man would react to me shaving my head...anyone have any ideas/suggestions about how my 3 year old my react to his mother having long hair one moment and a shaved head the next? I would take him with me so he could watch the shaving and see me as it happened, but still not sure he is old enough to make the connection, if that makes any sense.

Okay so in being completely honest there is another part to the debate. I have always considered myself pretty low maintenance. I don't wear makeup and until recently hardly ever even got up and put jewelry on in the mornings. (thanks Tarsha!) I have had long hair and short hair and usually am a wash and go kind of girl no matter the length, with short hair I do a little more with it than I do with long hair. So maybe it is a touch of vanity, maybe it is the "societal norms" I am not sure which, but I am struggling with the being shaved and people's reactions to it. Men can do it without much notice, women get noticed with shaved heads. I know it leads to a great conversation starter about kids cancer research, what is considered beautiful,.... all sort of things. And let's be honest I am a single white mom with a Ethiopian son, I am not usually afraid of looking different in a crowd! I also know that my temporary uncomfortableness in being bald is nothing compared to what a cancer patient of any age, but particularly a child goes through.

So I am looking for some advice..Should I shave my head or will it freak my 3 year old out? And also if I do shave any great suggestions for head "gear" while my hair grows back!

Oh and if I do decide to shave my head...I will be fundraising for the cause!

Thanks in advance for the help and support!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gone too soon...

I have spent the last few days trying to find the right words to express all the thoughts and emotions. And tonight as I stood in the funeral home with a co-worker and looked at the tear-stained faces of past students I realized that there are no right words when a young person dies. As my co-worker said, "The hardest part of teaching...attending the funeral of a former student."
Tonight I hugged those past students and whisper any words of encouragement I could, while dozens of questions still ran through my own mind about the senseless death of a 17 year old girl. Tonight I encouraged a young man, who has just lost his older sister, to cry when he needed to and laugh if he felt like it and even be angry because all of those emotions are correct, especially for a 15 year old. I hugged a mother, that I didn't know, and I (who spend my day talking to kids) had no words for her. I looked in the face of a father who was tired and hurt and simply could shake his hand.
I came home and hugged my little man a bit tighter and laid next to him as he held my hand to fall asleep. I whisper a prayer thanking God for the gift of my son and asking Him to make sure that my time here on Earth would not be longer than my sons'. I asked for comfort to be on the families involved in this accident and the people who are hurting from loss.
Two young lives have been forever changed by a simple decision.

RIP Liz.