Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent

This is my favorite season of the year. I am talking about Advent - not Christmas or winter.  Advent is all about newness, darkness, and waiting. I love that the new year of my faith starts five weeks before the calendar new year. It's like pregnancy, coming first before the jubilant arrival of birth. I love that during the time of the year when even sunlight is dimmer way up north, and only here for about eight hours a day, that it is this time when hope is springing, deep and new.

Andrew and I want to have an Advent tradition in our family. It's hard to know exactly when and how to start it. There are Christmas trees going up all over facebook and I admit to feeling the pressure. I also admit to looking around our space and having not one clue where we are going to put one. I tell myself that next year, when the bassinet and the baby swing and the bouncy chair have been permanently retired, when there are two children sleeping in the kids' room and just the two of us in our bed that it will be easier to figure all this out.

I may be right.

I cannot remember an Advent when I wasn't waiting for something specific to happen. Last year throughout Advent our adoption application sat on the kitchen table and sometimes on the desk, waiting for a decision. We sent it in just after Christmas. The year before I was in the thick of first-time motherhood, waiting for it all to make sense. The year before that we celebrated the first weekend of the church year by attending a weekend adoption training, our first one. The year before that I was waiting for this brand new condo to feel like home. Before that we were moving out of our first apartment together and in with Andrew's dad during Advent - waiting to have enough money to buy a home. The year before that I was discerning whether or not to leave my job, go back to school. The year before that I was engaged and waiting to be married...and before that I didn't know it but I was moments away from meeting Andrew for the first time, on December 10, 2003.

And so it goes. I guess waiting for a tree isn't that difficult to do. I want my children to experience this, the waiting and then the glory of Christmas when it does get here full of lights and greens and gifts. And as much as I dream of the day when my sweet wee baby sleeps soundly in her own bed next to her sister's I don't want to rush this.

In the Godly Play Advent lessons there is talk of the Mystery of Christmas. Such a big Mystery that it takes time to come close to it. Such a big Mystery that it is easy to miss. This year I don't want to miss it, even if it means missing some of the frenzy and fun. This is why I love Advent. It gives me permission to wait on the Christmas tree and spend some time alone, looking with gladness into the dark.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm doing a poetry thing, where I try to read more poetry.

Here's the one I am meditating on today:


You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting 
for time to show you some better thoughts?

When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life-

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

~William Stafford~
(The Way It Is)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful

We are on the peninsula with Andrew's family. Really, truly, they are my family too. I realized this, not for the first time but again, on Thanksgiving day when I arrived without Andrew. He had to work that night. I had my two girls in tow, both of them tired from the two hour drive in the rain that I gave them instead of a nap. Holidays are hard on kids. I learn this over and over every year. So there we were, the tired three of us and an hour later I realized that I was relaxed. I didn't need to worry about where J was or who was holding S. I continue to be amazed by how powerfully cared for I feel when those who are close to us actively love on my kids. Sure they were a mess by the end of the evening but even then Grandma put J to bed in their room and all I had to worry about was snuggling my littlest one to sleep.

Sometimes making a list of all the things I am thankful for feels like bragging. Hopefully I remember to say thank you to the extensive network of support that continually lavishes us with care. Most of what I am thankful for stems from there. Including the obvious stuff, which I say a small prayer of thanks and wonder for every day.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

National Adoption Month

It's this month, as I am sure many of you are aware. I wrote something for Offbeat Mama about it, which you can check out here if you like.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three months old


Baby S turned three months old today - it's all going so fast! I have loved her third month of life so much - the babbling, the smiling, the rolling over (!!! J was five months old when this happened !!) and have I mentioned the smiling? One gummy grin and S wields ultimate control and power over any one of the other three of us. I think it's something about how her eyes smile too. I may be biased but I don't think I've ever met a baby with such a sparkly all-over smile as our little S.  She is completely treasured by every one of us - especially big sister J who doesn't consider her day complete if she doesn't start and end it with baby cuddles. S looks for J, too, and lights up when she sees her sister's face. Life with two kiddos is nuts but heck, it's also pretty freakin' good.
a typical morning scene

The Adoption Blogger Interview Project


Back in 2010 I participated in the Open Adoption Blogger Interview project, the brainchild of Heather over at Production not Reproduction. This year she expanded it to include anyone who blogs at least occassionally about adoption, and I'm glad she did.  Last time I was thrilled to be matched with a blogger I already knew and adored. (still adore her!) This time I was happy to see a name that is completely new to me and get to read Shannon's blog, One Inch of Grace. Shannon is an adoptive mom to biological siblings that she and her husband adopted from foster care and she writes with a sense of humor and blunt honesty that I found both compelling and refreshing.  Here is my interview with her - to see what questions she asked me you can head over to her blog and to explore and meet over 120 people who blog about adoption check out Production not Reproduction today. Heather is linking to all the interviews. 

And here we go:

I've noticed around the blogsphere that many adoptive and first parents who want to write about the hard stuff choose to do it anonymously, or at least under the radar from real life friends and family. Your blog is not only very honest about the challenges you face and read by your family but you also invite them to write guest posts. Could you write a little about how you came to decide to invite those close to you in real life to read and also write your blog?
My mother is a frequent guest poster on One Inch of Grace. If you read her posts, you'll see that she wasn't an enthusiatic adoptive grandmother at first. As most mothers and daughters have, we've experienced our share of struggles over the years, and our adoption was one of the most severe. She's changed her opinion over the last several years, and I think her experience is  an important one to share. Many extended family members are affected by adoption, and many adoptive families need the support of their extended families. Having my mom post on One Inch of Grace has been helpful to our relationship as we work to understand each other. And I hope her experience will help others who are reluctant to become grandparents, aunts, or uncles through adoption. 

My sister is probably one of my top readers and I think this just speaks to her personality. She is one of the most accepting people I know and I'm thankful that she wants to know what is going on in our family. She and her partner have been an incredible aunt and uncle to our kids.

I also have several aunts and friends who are regular readers and they've also been very supportive.
Most of all, I want to be honest about adoption - I want people to know it's not easy, and we're not saints.

Writing is obviously a huge outlet for you, and I really enjoyed reading the pieces you have submitted to various publications that didn't end up being published. What writers do you look to for inspiration?
I've always been a reader, and I'm a fan of classic fiction. Some of my favorites are "The Power and the Glory" by Graham Greene, "Dead Souls" by Nikolia Gogol, and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, and "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë. I've been a member of a book club for several years now, it's really opened me to up to current books. Some of my new favorites are, "The Poisonwood Bible," by Barbara Kingsolver, "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, and "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer.

Can you say a little about how you and your husband decided to adopt from the foster care system?
My husband, J, and had talked about adoption over the years, but we really started talking about it seriously about four years ago. We knew that the adoption process could take years and that if we wanted to go ahead with it, we should make the decision soon. We've never (as far as we know), experienced fertility issues, we simply wanted to add to our family, and felt that we had the love, resources, and desire to parent a child (or children) that are already here. We opted for the foster care system because there are many children in the system who are waiting for families. Unfortunately, they aren't as "in demand" as infants are.  

What are one or two things you discovered along the road to becoming a parent that you wish you had known up front?
There were a lot of things I knew - things that I had read or had been told about, but I didn't fully understand them until we had kids. I had read about how challenging it would be and had been told about the issues our kids would face, so I was prepared in a general sense, but I really didn't understand how it would be specifically for us. It's probably one of the hardest things I've done. 

You and your kids share a race so there is nothing immediately visible about your family that screams adoption. How do you decide who and when to tell? 
I'm still trying to figure this out! Our adoption was finalized about a year and half ago, but it still seems very new, as though it is the defining element of our family. I find myself wanting to share this information at completely unnecessary times, simply because it is on my mind. I hope that as we attach and grow together, it won't always be on the tip if my tongue. I was recently at the park with my son and I happened to run into a childhood friend. She commented on how much my son looks like me. I was proud of myself - I just said "thanks," and didn't elaborate.


Reading your blog it seems like your view on the potential for an open adoption in your family has changed since you began writing - do you think open adoption is different/more/less challenging in a foster care adoption situation?
I don't know if I would say my view has changed; we've always been accepting of open adoption, but I think that my understanding of it has changed. Through reading and talking to a lot of different people, I've come to see that biology really does matter, and that I only think it doesn't matter to me because I have my biological family. If I didn't have them, I'm sure that I wouldn't take it for granted.

When it comes to our family, I say that we have a semi-open adoption. My kids were separated from their parents for neglect, but we've maintained relationships with members of their biological family. We feel that this is very important for our children's development.


What is your biggest pet peeve?
When it comes to my kids - whining. I can't think of anything more annoying. In general, people who like to argue.


You are a vegetarian and your family eats meat - what's your favorite veggie recipe to make for them?
Unfortunately, I haven't found any vegetarian foods that my kids really love. Here are some vegetarian-friendly food that they'll eat without too much complaining: tofu, hummus, couscous, veggie burgers, bean and cheese quesedillas, and soy milk.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fierce and Lovely

photos by JennyJ 
This weekend two of our dearest friends had the gall to get married, not to each other, on the same day. There was nothing to do but divide and conquer, with baby S and I flying to California for one wedding while J and Andrew stayed in Seattle for the other. Which was shot by my beloved Jenny. Above is J hamming it up in the photo-booth. Jenny sent me these to tide me over through yesterday as S and I spent time with family before coming home.

The California wedding didn't have any professional photographers but it did boast the most rockin' dance floor I've had the opportunity to shake it on in a long long time. This was my best friend's wedding, and my eyes filled with tears as I watched my childhood friend, high school soul mate, college roommate and forever chosen sister stand up and pledge her love and commitment to the woman she loves. In the eyes of the state they will now become domestic partners but the beautiful relationship that I toasted last Saturday night in my role as Nat's matron of honor is every bit as sacred as my own marriage, or any I've ever been lucky enough to witness. Natalie and I made a solemn vow as pre-teens (who read a little too much Anne of Green Gables) that we would stand up at each other's weddings. Six and a half years ago Nat did so for me and I couldn't have been happier to complete our girlhood promise. Twenty years of friendship and counting, my Natalie remains one of the most unique and beautiful people I get to know.

So yes, fierce and lovely. I'm thinking about all the women I love and those are the words that keep coming to mind.