Monday, October 30, 2006
I just wanted to record this in case later on it turns out to have some meaning. Last night, I had the strangest dreams. I had trouble sleeping and woke up several times. Once I woke up after having a dream about a beautiful little Chinese baby girl. It was so odd. Two men were carrying her around on this stretcher-cot-thing. I found this picture that sort of explains the concept. In my dream it was similar to this but with no bottom. Just one man in the front and one at the back carrying this beautiful little sleeping baby. She was dressed in a beautiful red silk brocade outfit and was very regal almost like she was royalty. There were two other very beautiful Asian women standing near dressed like geishas. With the elaborate hair-dos, face paint and silk kimonos. (I know that geishas are Japanese. I can't control my subconcious.) These two men were searching for this baby's mother. And then I woke up. Very strange.
Later I dreamt again. This time I was in someone's living room with my daughter. There were people on the couch. The room didn't look familair to me and the faces on the couch were a blur but in the dream it felt familiar to me. Like these people were family or friends that we were visiting. My daughter was maybe 3. She was standing up and had hair to her shoulders. She said a 4 word sentence. Now that I'm awake, I can't remember what it was but it was a question that started with the word "Do". The second word was an extra word that didn't belong in the sentence. Sort of like how toddlers speak, interpreting speech in their own way but still getting the point across. I was very proud of her and commented to the people about how smart she was becoming, being able to start forming complete sentences. I was standing next to her and tousled her hair when I said that. Then I bent down and kissed her cheek and hugged her shoulders. She had a big smile on her face, basking in her mother's praises and affection. And then I woke up.
The first dream was confusing and made me feel sad and a little scared. The second dream was comforting and filled my heart with love as if my daughter were already home and a part of my life. I imagine it's the same feelings I'll have when I truly am her mother. It was nice. I have no idea what this means or if it means anything at all. But it's the first dream I've had of my daughter. And I feel that it's important to record it in case later on this day somehow is important. Maybe she was born today. Or maybe my subconscious is just feeling the stress of waiting for this month's long overdue referrals. Or maybe I just ate something that made me feel out of sorts all night. Who knows... Whatever the case may be, it is now documented.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
But do you have shoes like these??? Leopard print platforms!
The host and hostess had even included a DJ with karaoke. Everyone was expected to perform a song from whoever you were dressed as. We did "ABC". We even had a little dance routine which you can see us attempting there in the background. It was hilarious!! The host's wife was Toni Basil. Remember "Oh Mickey" and the cheerleader outfit? Unfortunately though, somehow I managed to not get a picture of her. A good time was had by all. My friends are always a lot of fun! Aren't our clothes awesome? We got everything at Goodwill for just a few dollars. I've got to give props to Jimmy and Lisa. They bought jeans at Goodwill and some fabric and created the custom bell bottoms you see. Lisa's jean inserts came from a bed sheet. I think that is too funny!
I almost forgot to mention that the host and hostess are also in the process of a China adoption. They are waiting for their Zoe. They're almost ready to be DTC when their paperwork finishes authentication. Do you think they should include the "Elton John sings karaoke" pic in their dossier packet to show China what they do in their spare time? Nahhh ... probably not.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I love the tree in summer because it shades my deck but I hate it when the leaves start to fall! No raking today because of 50 mph wind gusts. If I'm lucky maybe it'll blow all the leaves away.
Friday, October 27, 2006
I love this Autumn themed wreath that hangs on my front door.
Here's my Halloween doormat with Griffey modeling his candy corn bandana. No I didn't do that. He had again just come from the groomer after a bath and haircut. I tried to get him to either get out of the way or look at the camera but he refused. I think he was waiting on me to open the door so he could go in the house. Spoiled brat ...that dog is.
My jack-o-lanterns at night all lit up. A little confession... they're fake. Yep, they plug in and turn on with a switch. No carving going on here. Who has time for that? Ok, maybe when Mia gets older we'll try the carving pumpkins thing but for now these work just as well.
And this is my back door wreath. I made it myself after finding all these little monster ornaments in a store one year. Oops.. looks like the little ghost got cut out of the pic there at the bottom. So that's it. Nothing too spectacular.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
This is the goat fort. I love this pic of the slide. Travis is at the top giving Teagan a little push and Tatum is at the bottom waiting to catch him. Sometimes it's good to have siblings. Teagan loved it. He laughed his head off all the way down. There are goats underneath this slide that you can see the kids feeding and brushing in the pic below.
Apparently the baby bunnies from last year were replaced by puppies this year. This is Tanner holding one. This was the only real sore spot of the day. Tatum had a little meltdown when I made her give up the puppy. Good practice for the reality of temper tantrums in public. Not fun.
A little train ride of sorts. I guess you can call it that. Tanner was a wonderful big brother and had Teagan sit with him, although all you can really see of him is a big blue hat.
This is what they called the hamster wheel. Yep, you crawl up the sides to make it roll. The kids thought it was cool.
This is not the greatest pic since the two little ones are looking at the ground instead of the camera. We had all just gone down that ginormous tunnel slide you can kind of see in the background. It's about 40 feet high. Seriously. Aunt Krista thought she'd just walk to the top to help Teagan get up there and then send him down the slide for someone at the bottom to catch. But once I looked down and saw how high it was I thought.... not such a good idea. So I went with him on my lap. It was really fun but I ended up with a muddy ass for my efforts. Oh well, I guess that's the price you pay for being the best aunt ever!
We hiked through a 5 acre corn maze which proved to be a good test for what to expect in China. By now it was a little warmer outside. In the cornfield there was no breeze so my long-john shirt and big black fleece sweatshirt didn't seem like such a good plan anymore. We hiked through the muddy cornfield, getting lost several times, while I worked up a sweat lugging this 19 month old on my hip. Reality check. Note to self... start workout plan soon! And it's a good thing my new Crocs are washable cuz they took a beating. We also saw a fat pot-bellied pig just wandering around the apple orchard eating the rotten apples, met a couple of cute dogs that also had run of the place, went through a haunted house kind of thing, the boys did a zip line contraption that was set up there, and we took a hayride with a tractor that kept stalling out but by that time we didn't mind. Mom and I were just happy to be sitting down! Unfortunately, the pumpkin patch had been picked pretty clean so we didn't end up with any to take home. All in all it was a really good day, but a bit exhausting, as you can see by what happened on the ride home. I can honestly say I've never seen all four of them down for the count in the middle of the afternoon like this. Ahhhh.... success!!
Friday, October 20, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Now I'm the type of person who likes to surround myself with photos. They remind me of special memories so I have frames all over the house. Today as I was walking past my sofa table in the living room I glance over at some photos displayed there and I see this............
Look closer.... down in the far right corner in the little square shaped white frame....
It's Sarah's dress!! I've had this photo in a frame on that table for years! I've always loved this picture of me. Not sure why. Maybe it's the cute little flippy pixie hair cut. Or maybe it was some repressed memory of my favorite dress! My mom must have liked the dress, too, because this is a professionally taken photo. I loved that Sarah chose a fabric for Mia's quilt that was special to her. But this whole crazy coincidence makes it even more meaningful. I can't believe I've had this picture displayed in my living room for years and never realized the story behind the dress. I've got to write this one down for Mia's memory book. Isn't this too funny?!
Monday, October 16, 2006
This pic was taken a couple of weeks ago. It's our nephew, Teagan, getting his first haircut ever. And Uncle Travis got to do the honors. About a year ago, my brother realized that he was very unhappy with his chosen profession. He decided if he was going to make a change he'd better do it soon because 30 was looming on the horizon. So he quit his job and went to barber college. This year will be pretty rough for him while he finishes school and gets himself established. But once he gets there, I think he'll be much happier.
We're both pretty tough and very stubborn. Our family is not the real lovey-dovey kind. We all know we love each other but we probably should say it out loud more often. So here goes.
I love you little brother and I hope you have an awesome 30th birthday!!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
So to take my mind off the fact that the Bengals lost by 1 friggin' point to Tampa Bay, I thought I'd play this silly game that everyone else seems to be playing on their blogs. So I look like the dorky girl from Full House? And Anna Pacquin. What is she.... like twelve? Obviously, they must mean Ashlee Simpson before the nose job. Paris Hilton... now that's a bit scary. And who the hell is Norkys Batista? Well in the words of my twin, Paris Hilton, she's hot! So I guess I should be thankful that some goofy software thinks I look like her. I'm off to Google search for Norkys. I'm curious now what her claim to fame is. If you want to play along click here. Sorry it's a little blurry but I had to shrink it down to make it fit here.
*Update: For all of you dying to know, Ms Batista is a Venezuelan actress and model. She was first runner up in the "Miss Venezuela" beauty pageant. When I googled her name almost all the info came up in Spanish but there was no translation needed for the nudie pics of her that were out there. From the looks of all that I saw (and I saw a lot!) I should be honored for the comparison, I guess....
My mom has gotten sucked into the ladybug obsession. I thought I'd include some of her latest gifts for Mommy and Mia. She can't resist now when she runs across this stuff. Up top is a gorgeous stained glass wind chime that I love! Below is a big stuffed ladybug and a cute little board book "The Five Little Ladybugs". It includes this cool little hand puppet to use while you read along.
Then as if I wasn't spoiled enough as it is... sweet Connie brought this with her last night because she said she was reminded of me when she saw them. I love these Cincinnati Bengals socks! They'll look great with Mia's new jersey. The penguin is actually a felt book. So cute. Okay let me explain the Bratz doll. When we were shopping together, I mentioned that I thought these were cool and I wished they'd had these when we were kids cuz all I ever got was that goody goody Barbie. I don't think Connie agreed. In fact, when she gave me this she referred to it as a Baby Slutz instead of a Baby Bratz. Okay, okay it's just a joke. Let's not offend any Bratz lovers out there. LOL! But even so, I don't think Mia will have any of these.... at least not until she's a bit older anyway. :P
Thanks Connie! You have a very generous heart.... and an out of control shopping gene!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
As of today, my dossier has been logged in China for 4 months! That's 4 months closer to my girl. The wait is still at 14 months right now. There's no way to predict when my time will come. I just gotta ride the wave....
Today is the monthly meeting of our Single Adoptive Moms Group. We're going out for Mexican food and margaritas. Then back to my place for a fire outside, roasting marshmallows, S'more making, wine drinking and lots of conversation. Connie is even driving up from Cincy to join us. Looking forward to celebrating my 4 month LID-versary with them.
I met two other single women in my required parent education classes that we took during our homestudy process. The three of us going out to dinner together evolved into starting this support group for other single adoptive moms. So far we include women adopting from China, Guatemala, and Vietnam, but any adoptive mom is welcome. Some are home with their children but most are still waiting. For those out there, who don't have a group like this to join... start your own. That's what we did. It's been an amazing source of support and I've made a lot of new friends. Got to run. Margaritas are waiting...
Monday, October 09, 2006
This is a very long and deeply personal story. So if you're up for it, grab a snack and settle in. But please, no flames. These are my personal choices. One person's way may not be right for someone else. I debated sharing my story in this forum where so many can read it. But in the end, I decided that this is my blog, about me and the choices I've made and my journey to my daughter. So here it is.....
I got divorced when I was 29 years old. During that year, there was a newspaper columnist from our local paper that did a series about adopting her daughter from China. In the series, she mentioned that one of the members of her travel group was a single woman. This was the first time I'd heard that international adoption was a possibility for me. I guess I never realized single people could adopt before reading these articles.
After my divorce, I made a decision that if I was still single at 35, I'd pursue motherhood on my own. Now the original plan was that I'd try to get pregnant for a year and if unsuccessful, at age 36, move on to adoption. I knew if I were to adopt it would be from China. The newspaper article had already planted that seed in my heart.
Obviously, since I'd be single, the pregnancy plan would mean I'd be using donor sperm. I knew I wouldn't do anything more medically invasive than insemination for two reasons. One, I don't have any insurance coverage for this plan so all expenses would be out of pocket. I knew I didn't want to pay for IVF, etc... because there still was no guarantee of a baby in the end. Secondly, I'm a huge believer in fate and destiny. I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if it doesn't make sense to us in that moment. I believed if it was meant for me to be pregnant and have a biological child then it would happen.
So the years pass. I fall in love again. Then I get sick and nearly die. I work my way back through a long, difficult recovery. My relationship ends and my heart is broken again. After a while I recover from that, too. And then I realize I'm about to turn 34. It's time to re-evaluate my life and my plan. I realize I'm not going to meet someone and fall in love before I turn 35. In fact, I decide I'm really not ready to go there again anyway.
It's time to stop planning and start moving forward because the one sure thing I'd learned with my illness is that time is not guaranteed. I knew I needed to start living my life more fully. The one thing I'd wanted most in my life was to be a mother someday. So what was I waiting for?
I knew there were long waiting lists for China adoption because of the "singles" quotas. In January, just a couple weeks shy of my 34th birthday, I attend an adoption fair to put my name on some waiting lists with the intention still of adoption as Plan B. I found a very nice agency that invited me to a seminar the next weekend. They tell me their list moves quickly and they believe they will get to me in August to begin my paperchase. I freak out! That's not the plan. I won't even be trying to get pregnant for maybe another year. I wouldn't even need Plan B for awhile yet.
And this is where I begin to start being led down a different path. But I didn't recognize it yet.
I decide to go to their seminar. As soon as I walk in the door, I almost turn around and run. The room is filled with couples. I felt out of place. Like they're all thinking I don't belong there. I'm uncomfortable. But I stay. They turn out to be very warm and welcoming. No judgement at all over my single status. The agency rep shows a "Gotcha" video (for those unfamiliar with adoption "Gotcha Day" is the day when your child is placed in your arms) and I start to cry. I wasn't prepared for such a strong emotional reaction.
Before I jump ahead, some explanation is needed. This is very deep and personal... but here it is. With no exaggeration, I was very literally at death's door during my illness. (Click here if you aren't familiar with my story.)
As soon as I came off the ventilator, I was inundated with statements such as "It's a miracle" and "There's a reason you were spared because God has plans for you" and "It wasn't your time because your work here isn't done". Etc, etc... you get the idea. The statements were made by people with good intentions. But I think anyone who goes through a near-death experience has inner conflict afterwards that they have to work through. I felt a lot of pressure to figure it all out. Pressure that I put on myself.
What WAS my purpose? Why was I spared? When others just as deserving or more so even, are not? I felt guilty and conflicted. Now don't get me wrong. I was VERY grateful to be alive. But at the same time, I struggled with a lot of internal, emotional issues. I felt a deep need to figure out what it was I was meant to do. What my purpose was. Why was I here? Why was I allowed to live when I came so close to dying? I felt obligated to pay it back. This life I was given.
So I'm sitting in this seminar listening to an adoptive mother of two beautiful, little Chinese girls talk about her experiences. I can't remember the words she said but I know they touched me. Right then and there... my life changed.
Suddenly, I get it! At that moment, I can only say I had what one could call a spiritual awakening. What Oprah would call an "A-ha moment". A light bulb went on somewhere in my head and I realized what my purpose was.
I literally felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Like the clouds had parted, the sun was shining down, and the choir was singing "Hallelujah". Like that moment when you can exhale, relax and let it all go. I felt calm, peaceful and absolutely clear.
This is what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to adopt a little girl from China. That's why I'm still alive. Because she's out there waiting for me.
I get emotional now sitting here writing this because I can't even really find the words to explain how I felt but in that moment..... I knew. It was just this sudden sense of clarity. This knowing that my daughter was in China. All the anxiety of trying to figure out how to make my life mean something after nearly dying... it was gone. I felt totally at peace.
Well, you'd think that was enough, right? Nope. I'm way too practical and logical for that. So I go home and I start to question this. I literally lock myself in the house for the rest of the weekend to think this through. I make lists of pros and cons for both options. Pregnancy or adoption? Seriously, I did.
I came to some realizations. I decide I'm not really sure if I want to put myself through a pregnancy. I'm not as physically strong as I'd like to be. I still suffer from a little PTSD issues when it comes to hospitals. I'm very mistrustful of doctors now. I don't know if I can emotionally handle putting myself through a bunch of medical procedures again. Hell, I even had a little meltdown when I had to go to the dentist recently. I don't want to be in pain again. It's all still too fresh for me.
And here is another truth that's hard for this strong, independent woman to admit. I was really in love with the last guy. I thought he was "the One". I thought the dream might come true with him. You know... the kids, house, family, all of it. I had to be honest with myself and admit that I didn't really want to be pregnant alone anymore.
At the age of 29, my plan sounded good. When I was still pissed off about my divorce, men in general and didn't believe in true love anymore. But now it was time to be real. Things had changed in my heart and in my head over the last few years. I realized that pregnancy was ideally an experience I wanted to share with a partner. I wanted to create a child out of my love for someone else. Not in a medical environment. And not alone.
Now, all my friends and family assured me I wouldn't be alone if this is what I wanted to do. But the reality was at the end of the day... it was just me. They wouldn't be there to rub my back in the middle of the night when it hurt or go get me ice cream when I had a craving.
And what if there were complications? What if I had to be on bedrest? I'm the sole provider here so how would that work? And who would take care of me? I really, really started to have some serious doubts with pregnancy as Plan A.
So I asked myself "Is it really about experiencing pregnancy and childbirth? About having a biological link to my child? Is that really necessary or is it just simply about becoming a mother?"
I realized it was just about being a mother and parenting a child .... no matter which path got me there.
But I was still conflicted. This was a really big decision and I needed to be sure. My reality is that this may be my one shot at being a mother. I may only be able to care for one child. I'm not sure I could financially afford two. I'm not sure that as a single parent I could divide myself between two children enough so they both get what they need. Sure I might still meet Mr Right and I don't know what the future holds and blah blah blah..... but the one thing I know FOR SURE is I may only get one chance at motherhood. Everything else is "what if".
So am I okay with giving up on the pregnancy idea and the biological child? I think I am but I was also scared that someday I might have regrets. I was so torn. I realized that this decision was too big for me. So I cried and I prayed. I'm not a very religious person but very much a spiritual one. And after my near death experience, I'd gotten very comfortable with having conversations with God. So I begged Him to give me a sign because I didn't know which way to go.
Over the next few days, I got so many signs that I could no longer ignore the fact that I was being led to China. And then Plan B became Plan A. Read on for the signs.........
After a very emotional day and night, begging God for a sign to show me what I was supposed to do, I turn on the TV and see the next movie listed on the screen is called "High Road To China." I just sat there in disbelief. No way. I mean, is God really that literal? Surely that's just a coincidence... and I shake it off.
The next day, one of my co-workers walks by my desk on his cell phone discussing lunch plans with someone. Just making conversation, I ask "So what's for lunch?" He answers "Chinese." Hmmmm... I scratched my head. A sign?
Later that same day, while still at work, I was walking down a hallway I've walked down probably a hundred times before. I'm having a conversation with my partner about these crazy signs I've seen and my internal conflict over this decision. I turn my head to the right and stop mid-sentence. On the wall in front of me is a poster I swear I've never noticed before. And yet, it's always been there. It has a picture of a terra cotta warrior and says across the top "Eternal China". This is starting to get freaky!
The next day, I'm on the phone with the bank. I'd already made the decision to refinance my house. It had nothing to do with my motherhood plans. Just that my interest rate had gotten too high.
I'm talking to the lady on the other end trying to ask to speak to the woman who wrote my original loan. She was very easy to work with, I liked her and wanted to deal with her again. But I couldn't remember her last name, only that her first name was Amy.
I'm explaining this to the woman on the phone when she asks "Is sheeeeeee......?" and she draws it out like it's not politically correct to say Asian. Like she's waiting for me to say it. So I do. "Asian? Yes, she is." She replies "Oh yes. That's Amy Li. She's Chinese."
Well, of course she is. Did I really expect something different? I did ask for a sign after all.
So I refinance my loan and it works out that I end up with a $15,000 home equity line of credit just sitting there ready to be used if I ever need it. That wasn't part of the refinance plan but just worked out that way. Another sign? Maybe.
But here is what I think is the biggest sign of all. The one I couldn't ignore even if I'd tried. Remember the singles quota? The waiting lists that most agencies have? Some that are as long as 2 years? Remember how hard it is to find an open singles spot?
Well, after seeing all of these signs pointing me towards China and after much thought and reflection, I make the decision to go forward with this adoption plan. I sign on with the adoption agency that said I could start my paperchase in August '06.
But 2 days before that, I'd gotten a response from another agency I'd contacted inquiring as to their waiting list status. This agency tells me they have an open singles spot RIGHT NOW that I can have if I'm interested.
Of course, I freak out because I'm not ready! I mean, just a couple of weeks before this Plan A was gonna happen a year from now. But then I switched gears to Plan B and even that was starting sooner than I'd expected. I wasn't ready. Not so soon. Not yet. I needed more time to prepare. Because I'm a planner. Anyone who knows me, knows I really need to have a plan for something this big. So reluctantly, I turned down the spot.
But then I started getting more and more comfortable with my decision to adopt and realized in my heart that I was 100% committed to it. And now I was ready. I wanted my baby home much sooner rather than later. I realized with the timeline I was on, it could be 2 years or more before I would have my daughter in my arms. I regretted turning down that open singles spot.
But everything happens for a reason, right? I needed to be patient. This was the path I was being led down and everything would happen in the time it was meant to happen. But still, just to put my mind at ease with that, I decided to call the other agency to inquire about the spot.
By now over a week had passed. I knew as hard as those spots were to come by surely someone else had already taken it. At least then I could reassure myself that I was on the timeline I was meant to be on and the spot was not meant for me and I could put it to rest.
So I call .... and IT'S STILL AVAILABLE!! She asks if I want it? I almost passed out. This was unheard of. How could it still be available?! I felt like I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think straight. I completely freaked out. The China coordinator was kind enough to give me a couple of days to make a decision.
After I pick myself up off the floor, I call my mom, my sister and a best friend. What do I do? Should I do this now? They all say yes.
I tell my mom "But I had a plan. With the other agency's timeline, I had time to save the money along the way. I don't have the money to start right now." (I'm very frugal. You'd have to know me to really understand my thought process here.) My mom reminds me that I have money in savings and I have the home equity line just sitting there.
"So what's the difference if you save the money forward or you borrow it and pay it back" she says. Oh yeah... she's right.
To quote my friend Lisa, her words were "Don't be a chickenshit! Go for it!"
And my sister said, "Well, it's about time. I was beginning to think my kids were never gonna get any cousins."
It was a unanimous decision. My daughter was in China and I was supposed to start working right now on getting over there to get her.
So I called the agency and accepted the spot on February 17th, 2006. Four days after my 34th birthday. I finished my paperchase in record time. My dossier was logged in China on June 14th. Almost exactly 4 months later.
I have absolutely no regrets. I already love this little girl more than I ever thought it was possible to love another human being. And I don't even know her yet. I'm ready to be a mother and I know without a doubt this is the journey I'm supposed to take to get there. It just took me awhile to figure it out.
And one more sign. While cleaning to prepare for a garage sale I had in May, I came across a folder which contained the newspaper clippings of the columnist's journey to her daughter in China. The article that first put the idea of China adoption in my head 5 years ago. I hadn't even realized I'd kept them.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Oct 6th, 1948 was the day my mother was born. So today I'd like to wish her a very happy birthday!
My mother is pretty unconventional (to say the least... and I mean that in a nice way Mom). She did teach us that we could be whoever we wanted to be and to not let ourselves be molded into a certain stereotype. I guess that's why my sister and I both started careers in male dominated fields. Carla joined the Navy right out of high school and I went to the Police Academy. Then when Mom was nearing 50 she walked away from her clerical field career and went to truck driving school. Now she drives a "Big Rig" across the country. (and they say women can't even parallel park? Ha I say to that!)
My mom's favorite color is purple. Every single day she wears some piece of clothing that's purple. And I mean every single day people! Can you see what color her glasses are tinted?
She has three children. Me, Carla and our brother, Travis, who'll be 30 soon himself. She's the grandmother to my sister's four children with Mia to be the fifth. This pic was taken on March 29th, 2005 right after her youngest grandson was born. Her job keeps her away from home quite a bit. We're looking forward to the day, hopefully soon, when she'll be doing something local so we can all have more family time together.
Mom, I know we've had our ups and downs over the years but I can't imagine my life without you in it. I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!