Thursday, May 25, 2017

Journal Entry 6.27.15

Almost two years ago, I was pregnant with Ingrid and we were considering adopting a pre-teen girl from foster care. I started a journal for her then, just as I have for all my biological kiddos. I've shared on here before from this journal, and even though our focus has shifted from a preteen girl to a sibling set and some of the  pronouns or references don't make perfect sense, the thoughts and feelings behind them remain constant. 

Here is another journal entry from June 27, 2015:

"We are finishing up our weeklong beach vacation and all week I have found myself thinking of you. I've pictured you as the big sister in the water wearing a matching swimsuit to your three younger sisters. Would you find it cheesy and childish, or would you revel in this small visual confirmation that you are part of a family? 

I've imagined you cooking alongside me in the kitchen as we prepare our favorite beach foods and wonder what items you'll want to add to the menu. I've envisioned you smiling and laughing as we sit and play cards late into the night. Every time I think of you, I think of this beautiful, special girl who will be so glad to finally have a family who loves her to call her own. But I know that this may not be the case… 

I do not doubt you will be beautiful and special, and I know daddy and I will love you, and pray your siblings will love you and welcome you as one of them… But you may not be glad to be part of our family. You may resent being relocated up to the boondocks of northern Minnesota. You may find me annoying or overwhelming or may clash with the sudden role of big sister. You may try with all of your energy to keep your walls up and vow not to make a connection because you just can't bear to be let down again. You may fight me, physically or emotionally, and find satisfaction of seeing me hurt like you have been… Or you may try and pretend like everything is perfect, hiding your insecurities and putting on a show, constantly trying to earn my affection and praise, and desperately trying to fit into your new family. You may make a show of attaching to me as your mother, but deep down feel distrust and fear that you don't measure up and will never be like a real daughter to me. 

Likely you will fall somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum. You will take time to warm up to us and let your guard down, but will genuinely desire to be part of the family.  You will have your good days and bad days, as I'm sure I will as well. You will struggle with feeling loved and accepted for who you are, and fitting into the cookie-cutter image you believe there to be for a "perfect daughter".

Whatever the case may be, I want to make perfectly clear right now that 
I am here for you. 
I love you. 
I want you. 
I value you. 
I cherish you. 
And I will not give up on you. 

You may find this silly or think I am being insincere. After all, how can I make all these statements, these promises to you, when I don't yet know who you are? Well, I think it's no different than how I feel when I think about the tiny baby girl I am carrying within me right now. I know I am her mother and she is my daughter, but that is all I know for sure. I do not know when she will be born, only the date she is due to arrive. I do not know if she will be healthy, or if she will carry with her a lifelong burden of illness or struggle. I do not know if she will ultimately grow up happy and grateful to be part of this family or secretly wish she was someone else's daughter. But I know that I will love her. And just as with her, bringing you into our lives and family will be filled with unknowns and uncertainties, but you can rest assured knowing that I, your mother, will love you regardless of anything else you may think, feel, or believe - and I can guarantee this to be true."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Final Stretch

We started our adoption journey in December of 2016 pursuing a Domestic Infant Adoption.  Fast forward to March and we changed our course to pursuea sibling set Adoption from Foster Care. Now it is almost the end of May, and if the acceptance of our initial adoption application was like the two pink lines on the pregnancy test, then following this analogy, we are now in the third trimester!  

We've been plodding along since Christmas, busying ourselves with the necessary paperwork, attending the required trainings and education, and reading books and attending conferences on what to expect when you're adopting. Now we are on the final stretch! Only a few more papers to fill out and our caseworkers will be here in 2 weeks to approve our home study!  

The nesting instinct you feel at the end of a pregnancy is also kicking in! I've organized closets and begun cleaning and sorting my way through the house. We sold our dining table and now have one with 10 chairs around it! We traded in our 8 passenger Ford Excursion for a 12 passenger Chevy Express van (I know you're jealous!) I joked with my friends that if they get nervous when they see a big white van frequenting parks and other places that children play, not to worry, it's just me! Haha! I know that joke is in poor taste, but you have to be able to laugh at yourself!

The kids are getting so excited to meet their new brothers and sisters! As we were laying down before bed last night, they were sharing their hopes about this adoption. Teddy wants a brother, BADLY! Natalie wants a sister that is her age, but NOT older than her. Caroline wants a girl named Eela... she is oddly specific.  They talked about going to the pool together and camping as a family; shooting hoops in the driveway and late night bonfires; experiencing the 4th of July festivities and County Fair together; Teddy even suggested that we should adopt more brothers and sisters every year!

They know that we don't necessarily get to choose the specific ages and genders of the sibling set - we are looking at all sibling sets of 2-3 kiddos who range in age from birth-8 years old available for adoption in MN.  We have also made a point of talking about the less "sunshine and rainbows" aspect of adoption, so they know that their new siblings might be sad or mad and might not really act like they want to be here. Some of what we have shared has obviously sunk in because Teddy prayed "... please help my new brothers and sisters to not have fear". 

Adoption is beautiful, but it is also hard. Kids that are "in the system" got there because their situations at home were less than desirable. They have likely witnessed or been subjected to things we only read about in newspapers. But their past shouldn't define their future. 

Can't wait to bring my kiddos home!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I'm an eternal optimist. I look on the bright side with my glass half full. I believe that there is good in everyone and that some good can come from even the worst situations.

This perspective was shaken when I found out about my 4-year-old nephew's cancer diagnosis. But I am learning new things about perspective.

You see, my optimistic perspective is just my point of view, but the perspective I am learning about is the second entry in the dictionary definition,

noun: perspective
  • a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.
  • true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.
Knox was diagnosed on a Monday. We all had a pretty good idea that the doctors would say it was cancer, but until we received the text from his mom following the appointment, we hoped and wished and prayed we were wrong.  That was a dark day. Reality hit hard and fear set in. In fact, that was the last day I wrote on here - unable to sleep and thinking about what the future might look like for my little nephew and his family and feeling so angry that this was their new normal.

Now Tuesday was PETscan day and we were all wracked with worry as we awaited the results. This would tell us if the cancer in his femur bone had spread anywhere else in his body. Now to keep things "in perspective", we had just learned on Monday that Knox had Osteosarcoma, a very rare bone cancer that when you take into account his age, is so rare that there may only be as few as 4 children diagnosed with it this year, WORLDWIDE. A quick Google search will tell you that the survival rate of this disease is 70%, and that is not a conforting statistic.  Now 24 hours later, I was keeping myself busy doing laundry when I received a group text message from his dad.

PET scan is clear!!!!!!!

Never had four words looked better! I'm pretty sure I jumped a foot in the air before running to tell my husband in the other room! Other family members recounted screaming aloud at receiving the news.

The diagnosis and treatment plan were still the same, we knew that. But somehow, it was if they had told us all that he was miraculously cancer free! I was filled with such JOY I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. This was the "true understanding of the relative importance of things" definition of perspective in play.

Now since then I have noticed more and more the importance of perspective:

Instead of being heartbroken about the reality that her son would lose his hair,
My sister thought of a way to build community support for him while raising funds for another cause

Instead of being frustrated that he got an uncontrollably bloody nose in the car
She was just grateful she was already en route to the doctor

Instead of being homesick as the overnight trip turned into 2 nights, and 3 and 4,
She was so happy to be in a hospital where they could monitor everything

Instead of being scared as she watched his levels plummet,
She said, "the chemo must really be working"

Instead of wallowing alone in her hospital room, 
She reached out to others going through similar circumstances

She met a little girl who had been born with a congenital heart defect and undergone multiple open heart surgeries as a baby...Whose father had died when she was two... Who was diagnosed with Leukemia as a toddler and was in the midst of chemo treatments... Whose stepfather had been diagnosed with a brain tumor...
...and my sister counted her own blessings

Her eternal perspective colors the lenses through which she views the world. 

Perspective is an amazing thing. 
If you just shift your focus, you may see things in a whole new light.