Friday, February 22, 2013

A Sick Kid

Millie officially has her first cold.  

Who knew a cold could be so heartbreaking.  And by heartbreaking, I mean for me.  Millie herself seems to be handling this cold, and accompanying cough, like a champ.  We took little Millie in to the doctor, who told us that, yes, she was indeed sick and, no, she did not have some terrible infection (which is what I confessed to him that I had convinced myself that she had).  This motherhood thing, I tell you, can drive a person completely insane.  With each new cold symptom, I managed to convince myself that Millie was suffering from some other terrible disease.  Of course, in my mind, there was no way it was just a cold.  I used to think I was a pretty rational person, and then I became a mother.  And now, every ounce of rational thinking seems to have left my body.  

I do have to say though that these are the moments that make me really feel like a mother.  There have been many days, when Millie was her usual happy self, that I didn't really feel much like a mother.  I felt more like a babysitter just doing the fun stuff with Millie.  Playing with her, feeding her, showing her things about the world.  And while every fiber of my being knew I was her mother, I didn't always feel it the way I thought I would.  

But then she got sick.  And she would only sleep if I held her.  And she kept waking herself up in the middle of the night when she couldn't breathe well and one of us would rock her back to sleep.  And she was unhappy the majority of the day.  And all these things really made me feel like her mom.  I am not saying that taking care of a sick baby is loads of fun, but it makes this all feel so real and I think I have been craving that ever since we brought Millie home. 

I remember having a really vivid dream one night after we first brought Millie home.  In my dream, we were ready to give up on the adoption process because it was just too hard.  I remember crying in my dream and feeling like I had to accept that we wouldn't have a baby.  And then I woke up, and Millie was right there with us in the room.  I had to calm myself down and remind myself that we had our most perfect baby.  We were done waiting.  I had to remind myself that we weren't waiting anymore. And in a way, helping little Millie through her first cold is making it so that I don't have to remind myself quite as much.  And that is a wonderful feeling.  

A few days before Millie got sick, we bought her a new toy that had loads of black and white things to look at.  She has been particularly intrigued as of late with black and white polka dots.  They make her inexplicably happy.  So I will leave this post with a video of her looking at her new toy and being inexplicably happy.  

video



Friday, February 15, 2013

Openness

Well, Millie continues to settle in at home and we continue to settle into life as a family of three.  We are in heaven.

One of the things that has continued to come up as we share our story with people are questions concerning open adoption.  Sometimes I forget that while Carla and I have spent the past year and a half learning about open adoption, the benefits of open adoption for the child, and the way that open adoption works, other people know relatively little about open adoption.

For many people, the images of babies being ripped away from their adoptive parents are still vividly running through their minds.  When they hear about open adoption, I think that these fears creep in and cloud people's judgement of open adoption.  So I thought I would take a moment and try to explain what open adoption means to our family.

When Carla and I first met with Millie's birth parents, there was an instant feeling of connection.  As the discussion unfolded that evening, it was clear that these were such good people who were prepared to do this amazing thing because they had so much love for their daughter.  As we left the table that first evening, it was with the understanding that these people would be a part of our lives forever.  And I could not be happier about that.

In these first days with Millie, we have already begun to tell her the story of how she arrived home.  That story, very much, includes her birth family.  I know that she does not understand this story yet, but my hope is that as she grows older, this will just be another part of her story.  It's no different, to me, than other parents telling their children about the day they were born.  Yes, Millie's story features more characters and has a few extra plot twists, but it is still her story and we will never leave pieces out of that story.  She has every right to know where she came from and we hope that she will always feel comfortable talking with us about her birth parents.

I have seen many students come into my classroom.  And what I know is that the kids who have a strong sense of who they are, are the kids who have the kind of confidence that allows them to be their own person and take risks and do incredible things.  We want our Millie to know exactly who she is and that means being honest with her from the very beginning.

Our plan moving forward with Millie's birth parents is to send monthly updates and pictures and to meet in-person three to four times each year.  Sometimes, when I tell people this, I can see the hesitation in their eyes.  I can almost feel people recoil.  For some reason, this scares people.  They don't understand it.  And while I know it is not always my job to make them understand it, I do want people to know that this is the plan because it is what we believe is best for Millie.

I suppose people worry that Millie will be confused about who her parents are.  This doesn't ever worry me.  Millie will know exactly who we all are because of the role we will each play in her life.  She will know that Carla is the one who will run around and play with her whenever she wants and who will teach her all about the world around her.  She will will know that I am the one who will sit quietly and read with her and teach her about the joys of literature.  She will know that her birth parents are the ones who gave birth to her and who share their genes with her.  She will know that they are the ones who made the most loving decision that they could and found her the perfect home to grow up in.  She will know these things because that is what she will see.  That is who we will all be to her.  I don't need to worry about who she will think we all are, because I know that she will know exactly what we all bring to her life.  She has so many people that love her and that can never be a bad thing.

So, I get it.  Millie's family won't look like everyone else's family.  She is adopted.  She has two moms. She has a birth family that will always be a part of her life.  And it is my greatest hope that Millie will grow up knowing that all of these things make her special and wonderful.  Yes, there will be difficult questions.  And yes, there will be times when she will probably wish she was like everyone else.  And yes, there will even be times when some mean kid is going to make fun of her.  But that is a part of growing up.  And learning to be proud of who you are, in spite of all those difficult things, is what makes a person a confident, well-adjusted human being and I know that Millie is going to have enough support in her life that she will be able to deal with those things and be a better person because of it.

It is my hope that the people in our lives will continue to ask us questions about open adoption.  It is also my hope that people will learn to trust that the decisions we make about open adoption are the ones that are best for Millie.  And it is my greatest hope that, one day, Millie will be able to talk about her story with pride because she will know how very special and very loved she is.

Openness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. If you have some time, check out the many different responses to the question, "What does openness mean to you?" that was asked to the Open Adoption Bloggers website as a part of their Open Adoption Roundtable.  Click here to take a look.

And because I can't help myself.  I will leave this post with a few more pictures of our Millie.









Saturday, February 9, 2013

Life With Baby

My head has been bouncing around since we brought Millie home and this blog post is extremely reflective of that.  I apologize for the lack of organization and coherence in the following:

Well, it's been over a week since we brought Millie home.  There are moments when it still all feels so surreal.  And then there are other moments when it feels as if this was the way our life has always been.  It feels as if this is EXACTLY how our lives were meant to be.

One of the greatest parts of this past week is the time that Carla and I have been able to spend together as a family.  We have had time by ourselves to simply settle into the rhythms and routines of being a family with a baby.  We have learned when Millie likes to swing versus when she would prefer a rest in her rocker.  We have learned what cry means she is hungry versus the cry that lets us know she needs a diaper change.  We have delighted in watching our pets figure out who this new living being is and are happy that they have all adjusted fairly well to having her around.  Here are a few pictures of our lives at home with Millie.

Millie has quickly shown Frankie (our dog) who is boss.  

Tummy time has turned into a team effort!
Wherever Millie is, Frankie is never too far away. 
Frankie and Millie have quickly become good friends.

Our cat, Furby, is having a hard time understanding that there is finally a place in the house, that is NOT meant for her to sleep in.  

I absolutely LOVE watching Carla play with Millie.  She is already such an amazing mother.  

And now: The many faces of Millie!











We have also spent incredible amounts of time with family and friends.  It has been so wonderful to have so much support.  Not a day has gone by without a visitor or two and it's been such fun to share our new family with the people in our lives.  I have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support for our family.  People who I have not heard from in a very long time, have found ways to reach out.  The emails, Facebook messages, blog messages, packages, phone calls and visits have meant so much to us.  I feel as if there are million hearts rejoicing right along with us as we welcome Millie to our family.

This past week has been filled with many firsts.  We have made it through our first trip with Millie to the pediatrician, our first shopping trip with Millie, our first trip to a restaurant with Millie, our first overreactive phone call to the pediatrician, our first sleepless nights, our first diaper mishaps, etc.  With each new first, we learn a little bit more about being parents.  Each new milestone makes us feel a little bit more like real parents.  Each new day makes all of this seem more real.

We have also continued to take steps in finally getting Millie's room finished.  For so long, her room sat mostly empty. We were afraid to make the room feel full before we had Millie home with us.  For so long, we were too afraid to do more than paint the walls and put up some artwork.  And now, now that Millie is here, it has been such fun to fill her room with the things that she will need.  Here is the progress we have made so far:





In the week that we have had Millie here at home, her birth family has been in our hearts and minds constantly.  We have sent texts updating them on her first night at home and her first doctor's visit.  Today, we put some pictures in the mail for them and we have already begun telling Millie about them and about how much they love her.  It is so important to us that we begin building a strong relationship with her birthparents.  It is important to us that we continue to keep them updated and that we make sure to help them feel connected to her, to us, and to our lives.  We know it will be a work in progress, but it is one of the most important things that we think we have to do for Millie's sake.

Something else that we are doing for Millie's sake, takes us far out of our comfort zone.  Neither Carla not I are particularly good at making new friends.  In fact, the majority of my closest friends have been the same since I was in high school.  I am a creature of habit and of comfort and sometimes that stops me from even attempting to meet new people. But now, my own comfort comes second to what is best for Millie.  And what is best for Millie is to see other families that look like ours.  Since we don't happen to have many families in our lives that look like our own, tomorrow we will set out to try to make new friends.  A wonderful blog reader has invited us to a new mom meet-up for lesbian moms.  I was incredibly touched by the invitation.  It was EXACTLY what Carla and I needed.  A gentle push towards meeting new people.  A welcoming gesture to help us find other families that are similar to our own.  I am thankful for the invitation and thankful that such a wonderful group of moms exists so close to where we live.

Okay, well that is enough randomness for now.  I was a bit unsure about continuing this blog now that our wait for our daughter is over.  But I was simply not ready to let go of this wonderful space that has provided me with the perfect place to sort things out, find comfort, and share our stories with other people.  I figure that even if no one wants to continue reading, I will continue to write.  And if nothing else, I know that my mother will keep on reading (thanks Mom!).

I will leave you with one final picture of our darling Millie.  A very good friend came over today to take some pictures of Millie and of us.  She sent us the following picture to hold us over until the rest are finished and I simply cannot stop looking at it. Enjoy!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Introducing...Our Daughter

I can't believe that I am about to write this post.

We did it.

Yesterday we brought home our daughter, Millicent (we'll call her Millie).  She was born on January 1st.  Here is our beautiful little girl:

All bundled up and ready to go home!
To tell the whole story of what has taken place the past three weeks would be impossible.  I hated having to keep it all so secret, but what this process has taught us is that nothing is ever certain until it is certain and that did not happen until yesterday afternoon.  I couldn't stand the thought of sharing the news here if things didn't end up working out. But they did! And she is here.  Here are the highlights of what has taken place the past three weeks:

On Thursday, January 10th we found out that our profile was going to be one of five profiles being seen by a birth family.

On Wednesday, January 16th our profile was actually given to the birth family.

On Tuesday, January 22nd we were chosen by the birth family and told we would meet with them.

On Monday, January 28th we met Millie's incredible birth parents.

On Wednesday, January 30th we were told that the birth parents wanted to sign the surrender papers on Thursday and if that happened, we would take her home.

On Thursday, January 31st we anxiously awaited to find out what would happen and at 10:48 am we found out that the papers had been signed and we could come and bring our daughter home.

There is no way to even begin to describe what it has been like.  The anxiety that we have faced the past few weeks sometimes felt impossible.  The joy that we have felt in the past two days sometimes also feels impossible. We have gone back and forth from one extreme to another so many times and it has all been so incredible.

There is so much to be said. However, since I am having trouble focusing on any one thing for too long, I cannot possibly say it all right now.  What I can say is this:

Thank you.

Thank you to the people that I don't even know who have read along with us on this journey.  For those of you who have given support.  Who have cheered along with us.  Who have in any small way been inspired by our story.  Who have reached out just to let us know you were listening.  Thank you will never really convey the gratitude that I have for all of you.

Thank you to the people that I do know.  Who have stepped up in such incredible ways to be there for us throughout this journey.  To my family, my friends, and my coworkers who have listened to me cry and who have given us words of encouragement when we needed them.  To those of you who were just there for us.  To those of you who understood when I needed to pull away or needed to shut down for a little bit.  Thank you, again, will never express what it has meant to both Carla and I to have all of you in our lives.

Thank you to the people who have stepped up and swooped in these past few days to help us get our home ready for our daughter.  Thank you to my parents whose generosity is matched by nothing else in this world.  Thank you to my family and friends who jumped at the chance to help us prepare for the coming of our Millie.  Thank you to the people who have brought gifts and kind words.  We have been touched by it all and it has meant more than you will ever know.  Because of all of you, our baby will not go naked or hungry or be dirty.  Because of all of you, we will no longer have to use a garbage bag as a hamper.

Thank you to the parents of my students who made me feel like it was okay to leave their children for a little bit to take care of my own.

Thank you to my coworkers who went out of their way to make sure that I could essentially drop everything at school and still know that my students were going to be okay.

Thank you to my wife.  I am at a total loss of words to say to you.  You are amazing.  I am lucky.  I think that is all I can say for now.

And the final thank you is to those of you who are still hanging in through your own journeys towards parenthood.  For you to be able to share in our joy is something incredible.  I know how hard it can be to hear of other people's families growing when you are struggling still to create your own.  I can only hope that in some small way, our story can give you just the smallest bit of reassurance that it will all work out one day in the exact way it is supposed to.  And in the meantime, it is okay to be angry and jealous and bitter.  Be all those things. You deserve it.  And also remember, in some tiny part of your brain, that one day you too will have this incredible news to share.

So we are now the family of three that I have desperately wanted to be for some time.  I am just trying to soak it all in.  I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures of our darling daughter, Millie.

Carla, Millie and I ready to head home for the very first time.


Millie is ready to go home!

My beautiful wife and my beautiful daughter. 

The dog quickly found her new place on the couch. 

Millie meeting my sister, her aunt, for the first time.

Just hanging out with Mommy. 

Enjoying the her new toys. 

And enjoying her new dog. 

That's all for now.  I am off to enjoy my incredible family.