Sunday, September 25, 2011

visitors welcome. (photos by Jenny J)

Adjusting to life with two kids under two years of age is busy, my friends. If I had to take a quiz on what exactly has happened in the week since we got home I might not pass it. Blurry. It's all very blurry. Which means that while there is plenty to blog about (I think) the time to do it is scarce. Also, S has made it known that she is what my neighbor Shanon calls a "body baby."  That is, she likes to be held at all times and very effectively communicates her displeasure when she is not in physical contact with another person. This means she is a fantastic snuggler. But blogging whilst holding a baby is a bit challenging. We'd be lost without the Moby wrap! I can blog sometimes at night, if Andrew is home, or when grandparents are over, or at times like this when J is asleep and little S has slept in her daddy's arms long enough to be put down for her long snooze in the bassinet before her post-midnight feeding.

There have been some hard moments, times when I have just had to sort of laugh, thinking how I would have pitied myself if former-me happened to walk past our window and hear S's urgent hungry cry combined with J's louder imitation of that cry (maybe she thinks she is helping, or simply sympathizing?) while I scramble to get a bottle together with a baby in my arm and a toddler pulling on my leg.

But just this morning S smiled at me, and started to really coo and gurgle. And this afternoon J "held" her sister for almost half an hour, talking and gently gently kissing S's forehead while the baby slowly blinked at her big sister and then fell asleep in J's arms.

My visitors keep me sane on the long days when Andrew is at work. Neighbors stopping by just to check on us, friends and family bringing meals and sticking around to hold the baby while I feed or change J, or to play with my big girl for a while so I can do laundry, dishes, diapers, whatever.

Jenny stopped in last week, a favorite visitor at anytime but this time with a camera in tow. I love my girls, and I think you can see they're off to a very good start on loving each other.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

We had hoped to leave this morning for Seattle, but our clearance came through too late, so we will be heading home tomorrow morning early. I have enjoyed this trip to Atlanta much more than the last one - Andrew is here, we know what we're doing with a wee baby, and our hotel has a pool. I was so grateful last trip to have Nana (my mom) there to help me adjust to motherhood, but it was an adjustment. This time I'm already a mom with many of my own opinions about how to do the whole baby thing - and the confidence to implement them. This relaxed attitude has pervaded this trip for me. All that being said, and despite the fact that I'll miss the sunshine, pool, and daily cleaning and linen service, we are more than ready to bring our girls home.  We bid sad goodbye to Grandma(Andrew's mom) this morning, left to only imagine how much easier the trip home would have been with her help.

There won't be a visit with Z this time. I'm totally fine with this - it is not my decision or my place to have an opinion on when she "should" see the girls or us. I feel grateful that she reads the letters we send, and there are no words for the immense emotions I feel when I consider her decision to entrust us with baby S. We pray for healing and peace for her and remain ever open to contact as and when she is ready.  I conveyed (through Debbie) that we understand and want to follow her lead here, but will continue to send letters and pictures regularly and remain open to any reciprocal communication. When the girls are a little older we will begin to travel to Georgia regularly for family vacations and there will be more opportunities for visits with their first mom.

Both of these decisions/events -waiting for permission to leave GA and Z's choice not to have a visit - have me thinking about how much adoption is teaching me about letting go of the things that are not mine to decide or control. This is hard, especially when it comes to my children and what I believe is best for them, but a good discipline to engage in, not to mention just the way life works. There are so many people involved in our family building who are not J or S's parents, and another person who I've never met who is also their parent. I can't control what these people do or make them decide what I want or in the way that I want. Controlling them is not my job.  My job is to let them do the work that is theirs while doing the best I can at the work that is mine, in this situation the work of mothering two amazing people to adulthood. It some ways it sucks (other people don't have to wait for someone else to tell them they can travel with their kids!) and it other ways it's pretty clarifying.

The cool thing about knowing that I can't control stuff that's not mine, even if I want to, is that I don't have to waste energy worrying about that stuff.  Last trip to Georgia I fretted, worried, chafed and cried over not being able to come home with J when I expected to. This time I've just been making up lists of my favorite things about being here - not least of which has been the chance to take a week of just us-ness (plus Grandma) before we fly home to the many welcoming arms waiting for us there.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

There would be no us without (all of) you

J is sputtering down to sleep in her pack n play, all of her stalling tricks deployed and nothing left but to bite the bullet and go to bed. Andrew is sitting behind me on the red couch that my friends and family on facebook must be completely tired of seeing in pictures by now, whispering sweet nothing into tiny baby ears. And I am sitting at the computer thinking about all of you out there. Yes, you - the ones who do and don't read this blog, our family biological and chosen, the urban tribe of folks I know in real life and here in this world of type and photo: the people who love us in all the ways you do. It is impossible to count them.

You are our family: my mom who traipsed all over figuring out how to wire money to our account so we'd have enough for "everything" with our early baby, Andrew's step-dad who immediately booked us a hotel, and his mom who arrived today to help out with everything. Andrew's dad and my parents and our siblings who waited with us, and rejoiced with us when we found out that she was to be ours.

You are our neighbors - news spreads like wildfire in our building and all week as we prepared and waited baby things kept showing up outside our door. One day it was a bag of newborn clothes, the next a moses basket. Someone brought us a bassinet and there are more clothes and diapers waiting there for us when we get home.

You are my far away ladies - the three of you out there - whose ridiculous generosity and unlimited willingness to share my joy and pain I rely on more than you'll ever know. Maybe. You're all pretty darn smart so, maybe you do know.

You are the bloggers who are brave and honest about your experiences with parenting, adoption, race, and life who educate me as I make big decisions in what can feel like dangerous territory.

You are the invaluable cloud of support that we find ourselves at the center of in moments like this moment - who text and call and answer calls and post lovely jubilant words under facebook photos and announcements and read these words I write and just love us so very well in all the big and small and visible and invisible ways that you do.

So I am thinking about you and it occurs to me that you - all of you - are a big part of why there is an us. I know without a doubt that I bring my girls not only into the little family of Andrew and I plus them, but that because they are ours they are also to some degree yours. You are part of what makes our us so good. We wouldn't be the same without you. We wouldn't be us without you.

So thanks. We love you, too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Long Story

The long story of our Baby S, or I should say my long story because this is my story of how she came to be with us and no one else's, started this past February or March. We had gone ahead and applied for one of the last available adoption grants with WACAP at the end of 2010 and were stalling with the paperwork.  Our not-so-secret hope was to procrastinate as long as we possibly could so that J would be at least two years old when we were matched for baby #2. So there we were, applied, accepted and procrastinating when I started to think a lot about Z, baby J's first mom.

Andrew and I had decided before ever re-applying that the only matching agency we wanted to work with was the one in Georgia that we had adopted J through. (for an explanation of how our WACAP program worked, see the FAQ that was the very first entry on this blog) I had a lot of reasons for wanting this: it was familiar, our children would share a birth state making trips to the homeland more efficient, and finally I wanted to give Z a chance to see J.  I've never met Z, but I knew from a few emails to the agency in GA that she had been picking up the letters and photos we were sending. Initial paperwork had indicated that she wanted to see J again someday. I thought if I started talking about it letters then maybe she would have time to think on it and perhaps be ready.

The more I thought about Z the more I realized how little I knew about her.  I had been afraid to ask many questions when we had gone to GA to pick up J, it just seemed like my focus should be on my new baby.  But I had some wonderings - inconsistencies in paperwork about her and whatnot. I decided to set up a phone call with Debbie, the social worker in GA who spoke the most often with Z. I told Debbie that was just going to ask her the questions that kept coming up for me, and I asked her to let me know what the appropriate boundaries were - to tell me if I was straying into territory that wasn't my business, or that Z wouldn't want me to know.

I learned a lot from that phone call. Most of it isn't my stuff to tell here on this blog. But the pertinent thing I learned was that Z was pregnant again, and while she had not decided what to do just yet she was considering relinquishment.  Debbie was under the impression that she had just found out about the pregnancy which, by our calculations, meant she was due sometime mid to late fall.

So that's the unbloggable thing I referred to here.

Because of when you are reading this, you probably are able to guess the end of the story. But I want to be clear - I did not at that moment, or even afterward, assume that we would be adopting Z's baby. In fact I worked pretty hard not to assume it. I felt a lot of things in the months between then and now, all of it pretty confusing. My heart broke at the thought of J having another family member out there in the world that she didn't know or see.  My heart broke at the thought of Z losing another child. But my feelings weren't the most important thing - the most important thing was to be ready should Z need to place and supportive of her if she didn't. We accelerated our plans with the goal of being ready to adopt by fall.  Z stopped calling Debbie and picking up photographs. About a month ago Debbie emailed me saying that maybe Z wasn't pregnant after all, that she really thought she would have heard from her if she was.

Of course, she was wrong. Z was pregnant, and further along than any of us knew. S was born full term on August 17th and a few days later Z decided she needed to give her up. When I got the call last week I was completely dumbfounded - I think I actually said "oh no!" It's the only phone call in my memory that made me feel physically dizzy. I suddenly had to sit down.

So we scrambled and waited all at once. S was still in the ten day waiting period when Debbie called to tell me about her. She normally doesn't do that, but she knew we would need time to get ready. It was a hard wait, despite being unexpected. This baby looked so much like my J, I felt so connected to her already. It was hard to remember that she wasn't yet ours.

But the days passed, and here she is. She is Z's daughter, our daughter, and J's sister in more ways than one. I still have Z on my mind, how could I not with two of her beautiful babies forever in my heart and my life? Salome is darling, sweet, already different in some ways from her older sister and yet eerily the same.  We've spend so much time the past 24+ hours marveling at her and at our two girls together. No adoption happens without something in the world going wrong - but looking at them it feels infinitely right that they are together. So we are doubly, triply, infinitely blessed.  J and S will grow up together.  I get to be their mom. It's overwhelming and amazing.

And I think it is about time I met their mother. We are hoping for a visit while we are here - Debbie is helping us with the coordination and details. I won't push, but there are a few people working to make it happen. I know without an atom of a doubt that my girls' first mother loves them completely. It is my hope that we can go forward together, as she is able.

In the meantime, hello family of four! I always thought that our second child would be a boy - the name I had picked out, M, was a boy name. But this - this is beyond anything I could have thought up or asked for. She is perfect, lovely, and everything I've ever wanted. (plus now I don't have to decide about circumcising anybody!)

Thank you so much for your love and support! Our adventure is only beginning...

Sisters and daddy, hugging it out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Turns out someday is now!

 So guess what? Remember back, oh, last post on this very blog? When I said that "someday" when we had a baby J would share her room? Or even way back when I told you that we were planning to adopt again, and I said that fall was the soonest we could possibly be matched? Well, turns out I was wrong about fall and someday was, well, it was today! Meet Salome, our gorgeous perfect new daughter!

 There is a long story and a short story here, and I'll do my best with both. Although it is evening, and we are in a Residence Inn outside of Atlanta and Andrew is sleeping in one room with J because something went bang and frightened her and I am waiting with bated breath for my darling sweet new new baby to wake up hungry any second. (whew!)

Short Story: Salome was born August 17th, and the agency called us about her on August 30th. We did some serious scrambling, and as soon as her ten days were up - which was yesterday morning- we got on a plane. We drove out to her care home this morning, signed papers this afternoon, and now here we are a family of four. Amazing!! It feels like it all took about as long as it took me to type this - a whirlwind.

The long story, actually I changed my mind. The long story is going to get a post of its own. But now you are caught up, internet. Salome is here, rejoice!!