Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Story of Adoption--Part 9

I told Bryce about my prompting. "Don't get your hopes up," he said. "You know the odds are not in your favor, being that she has not one, but two parents trying to regain custody."

It was true. Her birth mother and father were no longer together but both wanted their baby more than anything.

But in the meantime, we got to care for 6-month-old Baby Mary. She was the most feisty, strong-willed, precocious baby we'd ever seen--meaning that when she wasn't a terror she was a delight. She began talking at 9 months, walking at 10 months, and bossing around the other kids soon after. Several nights at dinner when the kids were rowdy, Mary stood up in her high chair, pointed her finger, and commanded in her baby voice, "Eat! Eat! Obey!"

In keeping with the plan of service, Mary had regular visits with her birth mother. As with all of our foster children, we took her to the Casa's Rocket Center, where we handed Mary to a caseworker. The caseworker took the child to the parent; the middleman was there to buffer any awkwardness or impropriety. However, there were sometimes brief face-to-face encounters between foster parents and birth parents.

One morning as I dressed Mary for a visit with her birth mom--Cee--I had the distinct impression, "Smile and be friendly."

So when I dropped Mary off, I made sure Cee and I saw each other. I smiled and waved. I thanked her for the cute outfit she sent and told her that her daughter was a joy. Then the caseworker closed the door.

I did this for every visit until one day, the three of us--Bryce, Cee, and I--met around a table for a court-ordered mediation.

After months had passed and hardships intensified, Cee knew that she was not in a position to care for her baby, now or in the forseeable future. This was also the position of the court, and in such cases the parent's rights are usually terminated. However, Cee looked at me and Bryce and said, "I want the best for my baby. I want to relinquish my parental rights, but only to these people. They treated me with respect, like a real human being. That's more than I can say for most of you people."

The room was silent.

"I can tell you love her," Cee said, turning her gaze back to us. "Will you adopt her? Please?"

Tears filled my eyes. "Yes, of course, Cee. We love her so much."

Time stood still. Was this really happening?

Impatient, practical lawyers interrupted our special moment. "It'll take time to draw up the paperwork. And don't forget, her father is still in the picture. This is not a done deal. This case has a long way to go."

But in my mind, we'd come so far. Not only were we a step closer to adding Baby Mary to our family, we had gained an ally in Cee--what a gift it was to have her blessing.

The lawyers were right; we had a long way to go. What we didn't count on was the birth father throwing a major wrench in the works with his insistence we put our fate not in the hands of a seasoned judge, but in the hands of 12 strangers.

Our daughter's life depended on the ruling of a jury trial.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bump, Set, Spike!

The twins and I attended our second volleyball game, where Basic emerged victorious over Foothill in the best 2 out of 3 games. It was a nail-biter until the very end; Basic lost the first game, won the second, and it was touch-and-go until the Wolves pulled it out on the third. Tyce did a great job the whole time, and I just love his team spirit. He always stays positive and cheers on the team, even when he's on the bench. His positions are setter and server. I really think this is his sport--he seems to shine on the court.


Perfect serve.

Sometimes you just have to dive to make the play.

Go go Gadget flexi-arm!

The ball is in the stratosphere.

Cheering from the sidelines (and posing for me).

Coming in for the huddle.

It's definitely a team effort getting that ball over the net.

Tyce is about to set the ball.

In our book, #2 is number 1!
It has been a blast watching him play! I look forward to the rest of a great season. And fingers crossed that he remains too busy with volleyball to get into trouble everywhere else.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dreams Come True

Mary, who has always, always wanted a dog, is in heaven since Katie arrived. You know you love your pet when she takes your better pillow and sticks her bum in your face--and you like it.

Two sleeping beauties!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Luck o' the Not-Really Irish

Aye, ye be havin' a lucky day or me leprechaun be cryin' green tears t'night over his rootbeer

This is a text I sent yesterday to Tyce. Have you noticed that Irish-speak makes you sound like a pirate? Or am I just bad at typing like an Irishman? In any case, if you can believe it, he did not respond to this St. Patrick's day gem of a text. O'Rude!

If you read my Kiss the Cook blog, which I happen to know YOU DO NOT because my stat counter says 0 views in like forever, I gave each child their own box of Lucky Charms cereal for breakfast. Yes, an entire box because they were on sale for $1.99 and I don't have to deal with their sugar rush and crash--that's what school is for. (Thank you, teachers!) Props to me for being the "fun" mom this week.

They're magically addictive!

I also got each kid a pair of St. Paddy's day socks. How cute are kids with little green feet!?

The boys post-kindergarten with their friend J.J. I watch him two afternoons a week. It looks like they've all eaten a poisoned shamrock.

So being the "fun" mom that I am, I made the boys lunch. And by made, I mean I let them get out their box of cereal pour it themselves. Thank goodness for those 12 vitamins and minerals in every serving to turn marshmallows healthy.

This table seriously needs a centerpiece. Harrison can't even bear to look at the emptiness.

For dinner I made beef stew, which I renamed "Irish Stew", and biscuits, which I called "Soda Bread" (because real soda bread . . . well, it's not that delish). But the best part of the dinner was my leprechaun magic on our drinks.

First I gave each person an empty glass.

Then I poured the clear Fresca in the glass.

During--what the claddagh?

And finally we had the finished product, a nice tall glass of green goodness.

All thanks to the magic of food coloring.
I was going to serve root beer, but that just seemed wrong. Hey kids, let's offend an entire nation by pretending to be alcoholics! I don't know . . . those catchy drinking songs probably make more sense though, when you're downing a pint of frothy root beer rather than citrusy, no-cal Fresca.

We had Mary's friends Bella and Emily join us for dinner. Emily is our friends' 12-year-old newly-adopted-from-the-Ukraine daughter. She knows just a little English but it's heart-warming to see how Bella and Mary pantomime the words Emily doesn't know. They all had a really fun time together. As you can imagine, Emily is not fond of many American foods yet. She didn't even want to try normal, non-green soda at first, let alone eat our dinner. Her mom says she likes pizza though, so she's mastered an essential food for middle school lunch room survival. I can't imagine what she must have thought about the whole wear-green and watch-out-for-mischief "celebration" day.

Hope you kept from getting pinched . . . unless you wanted to be, of course!


****Post Edit****

When I installed my new Kiss the Cook blog template I lost my stat counter. No wonder it says there have been no visitors--my blog and the counter aren't linked to each other. Ugh. Sorry.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To My Friends and Family

May God grant you many years to live,
For sure he must be knowing.
The earth has angels all too few.
And heaven is overflowing.

Thank you for being part of my life . . . stick around a long time, will ya? Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Finding a Birth Mom: An Attempt

My philosophy on adoption is, if a mom can love more than one child, a child can love more than one mom (or dad). I think that most adopted children already do, even if they know nothing about their birth parents. I think it's innate to feel a connection to where you came from, and to fantasize about your first parents' looks, talents, and temperament. I know I would. Even though it's not my biological family, I am thirsty for information about my children's genetic (and social) history.

When it comes to our birth mothers I would like to initiate a relationship with those ladies--to let them know that their children are making good choices and doing well. I think that would help us all bridge the gap. I would like to send pictures and ask a ton of questions--whatever they might be comfortable with. Based on what I do know, I don't think that is very likely; however, it would be my ideal. Then when my kids are older and they want to find them--if they do--I'll have information to help them make an informed decision. The reality is that some birth parents are not emotionally or mentally healthy enough to have a relationship; I hope for the best, but that could be the case.

I have compassion and gratitude for those women who gave birth to our four amazing children. Though they haven't been physically present in our lives, they are part of our family every day. I have always tried to let our kids know that they can love and miss their birth parents and siblings, and that it's normal. I tell them I'm sure their birth families miss them, too.

So here's something interesting.

I found one of our birth mothers on facebook.

I knew her name and her hometown and her profile pic looked familiar, so I was pretty sure I had the right person. What sealed the deal was her "About Me" section. She wrote that she was missing some children and created this account so that they could find her.


I created a second facebook profile, just for the purpose of communicating with her (whom I will call Bee). I messaged her and said that I was the adoptive mom and hoped she was doing well. I told her a little about her offspring and asked if she would like to see pictures. I don't think I was too over-the-top, but maybe I was because it's been 2 weeks and she's not responded to me. I had found her once before on Myspace but she had already abandoned that account by the time I got there. Maybe she's already abandoned the facebook one, too; I'm sure there are plenty of people who set something up, never to return. I don't know. But I do hope to establish contact with her, that she's healthy. I wish her and our other birth mothers the very best--I want nothing less for my sisters in this journey.

Anyway, that's been on my mind.

I would really like to know more.

A mom can love more than one child, a child can love more than one mom, and I hope to have an opportunity to love them all.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Obedience Training

I took Katie to obedience training last Friday. Our sweet border collie summoned her inner Lassie to become the class superstar. All the other dogs were adorable little spaz-bots but Katie got every command (her name, sit, let's go) on the first try. One of the fellow attendees, owner of the shitzu-terrier, was being dragged down the aisle at PetSmart by her 6-pound fur-ball. I looked at Katie on the leash beside me, trotting along beside me as taught, and I smiled.

Heaven help me but I think I am turning into one of THOSE people. Am I crazy to feel proud of my dog? Is it weird to think my dog is the most beautiful canine in class? Next thing you know I'll be posting an album of Katie photos to facebook. Oh my freak out, I already did!

Anyway. Our dog is the best. You know that sweatshirt that says I {heart} my Border Collie? I'm totally getting that for my birthday, but with a picture of my own pup because mine is superior to the one silk screened on it.

So you may have gathered that I went to obedience training alone, even though 3 other family members were scheduled to join me. (But to be honest, it would have been non-stop drama with "It's my turn!" and "Give me the leash!" so I'm glad they weren't there.) Mary decided she'd rather play on the computer, which meant I could cancel the babysitter. Tyce's a capella group opened for the Yale Whiffenpoofs' concert, and so he and Bryce went there. Bryce said they were amazing, and Tyce had a great time.

Basic's a capella group, Project B. Tyce sings bass and beat-boxes.

Our next class is this Friday night. Who will join me? Maybe I should let Katie choose. Haha. But for the record, I do believe she is smart enough to do it.

Not surprisingly, the command-clicker-treat trifecta is very tempting for me to try with the twins.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

List of 5

1. Tyce made the freshman volleyball team! Woo hoo!

2. The kids didn't have school yesterday. I took the three younger kids to see the movie Gnomeo and Juliet. This movie will be up your alley if you: a) think garden gnomes are cool, b) like Elton John's 70s rock, c) appreciate really, really lame jokes such as, "I'm not illiterate . . . my parents were married!" and "Who's your gnomie?", d) believe that British accents can redeem even the most stagnant of characters, e) have absolutely no knowledge of Shakespeare's original version of the tragedy. If any of these apply to you, then this movie is for you! (This does not apply to children, who like everything.)

3. Our dog is just the cutest and sweetest thing ever. She is mild-mannered and doesn't bark. She doesn't jump up on people or eat stuff off of the floor. She is well house-trained and understands basic commands. How did we get such an easy-going dog?

4. The missionaries came over for one last dinner at our house before Elder Flowers gets transferred today. He and Tyce were quite close, since they not only had compatible personalities but Elder Flowers is also biracial and from Houston. They formed a bond that I hope will be able to continue after the mission. I know Tyce really looked up to him.

5. This list is short, sweet, and a bit on the boring side. haha. Sorry about that. In real life I have a million things to say but sometimes I sit down to write and it seems like nothing is going on. But I have kindergarteners plus a friend about to walk in the door any minute, so I'm going to go for now. As Tigger would say, TTFN (ta-ta for now).