Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Year Ago

This week is my birthday.  That alone is not cause for a blog post, though I do, in general, love my birthday.

It just so happens to be the perfect time for me to remember where I was exactly one year ago. Last year's birthday was rough.  Really rough.  My birthday last year happened to fall on a Jewish holiday, and not a fun one.  That alone wouldn't have been so bad, but it also just so happened that we were in the middle of one of our first times being presented to an expectant mother through our adoption agency.  We had been on the wait list for three months. The waiting was already simply awful.

So as my birthday rolls around this year, I keep thinking back on what it was like last year.  Looking back, I am pretty sure that I was in a bit of a depression.  The adoption wait was as hard as everyone had said it was going to be and at moments, it was harder.  And the not knowing.  It was killer.  Every day of that waiting felt like our real lives were on pause, like we were just kind of waiting around for someone to come and hit play again.  And my birthday happened to fall right in the middle of some of the worst of it all.

But, here is the amazing thing, the thing that I cannot believe is really true, the thing that I would hope gives some small bit of hope to anyone in the midst of a wait themselves, the thing is that one year later, I am happier than I have ever been before.  All that waiting, that stuff is still very present in my heart and mind, I didn't forget it and it didn't go away.  It seems no less awful looking back on it than it did while I was in it.  I would never pretend that it wasn't that bad because that would simply let people know that I was lying.  The thins is that it was that bad and I still remember how hard it all was was all one hundred percent worthwhile.

All that we went through was so very much worthwhile because now, one year later, I know what it feels like to love your own child and I have never experienced anything like it.  Now, one year later, I know what it feels like to be proud of the tiny person that your child is becoming right before your eyes.  Now, one year later, I get to come home from work and pick up this precious little being who is always happy to see me.  Now, one year later, I am a mom of a kid who makes me laugh even after the worst of days.  And it hasn't even been a whole year of being her mom yet.

You know how people say that every hard thing that you go through, every insanely awful and terrible thing that you have to endure, eventually brings you to the exact place that you are supposed to be.  I have to say that, now, I believe it.  This is the exact place where I am supposed to be and if that situation, one year ago, on my birthday, had been a yes instead of a no, then I never would have made it here.

So this year, when my birthday rolls around, I don't need much (though I will always accept cupcakes) because my true gift is already here.  This family that I am a member of, this child that I get to call my daughter, the waiting that I went through but that is now behind me, all of this is my gift.  And that is more than enough for me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The other day, Carla called me to tell me that Edd was bringing home his baby son.  My eyes instantly welled up with tears.

Now let me tell you, neither of us actually knows Edd.  Edd is a single man who had been on the waitlist at our adoption agency for at least as long as we had been working with our agency and I believe quite a bit longer than that.  Looking at the comments that were posted under the announcement of his good news, everyone seemed to know who Edd was and everyone seemed to be rooting for him.  And now, he is home...With. His. Son.

Since I heard the news and since I saw the picture of them together, I have not been able to stop thinking about the two of them.  The love that they must already have for each other.  It makes me think about the first night we brought Millie home.  It makes me think about what it was like to find out that our baby had found us and that our family was complete.  It makes me think about how sweet it must have been for Edd after waiting for his son for so so long.

Most of all, Edd and his son make me think about all of the misconceptions that are out there about adoption.  As I have mentioned before, one of my greatest joys in being so open about Millie's adoption story, is that we have had many conversations with people who are considering adoption.  The most common fear about adoption (outside of the cost) is the waiting.  And there is no way around is awful.  It is heart wrenching and you have no control and there is nothing you can do and some days it feels like you hate yourself for ever even putting yourself through the waiting in the first place.

But then it happens.  At some happens.  For us it was after seven months, for Edd it was quite a bit longer.  But it happened.  His son found him. Our Millie found us.

I wish I could share with people what it actually feels like to get that phone call.  I wish I could share with people the feeling in my heart when we went to meet Millie for the first time.  I wish I could let people know what it really felt like to find out that Millie was coming home.  Because if people knew, if they really knew what it felt like, then they would know that everything else was worthwhile.  They would know that adoption really can be this magical and beautiful way to build a family.  And my heart is warmed to know that now, tonight, Edd knows that to be true.

So where ever Edd and his son may be on this rainy September night, I know their hearts are simply bursting with joy.  I think of them trying on this new feeling of family and knowing what it is like to be on the other side of this adoption journey.  I wish I could let them know how happy I am for them, but I will have to settle for letting you all know instead.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My small tribute to a life lived so bravely

Yesterday, this world lost an incredible soul.

A dear dear friend and coworker passed away yesterday after one of the bravest battles with cancer that I have ever seen.  She passed away peacefully with her family surrounding her.  The night before she died there was a big, powerful storm in the area and I looked at Carla and said, "This is the storm that Ginny is going to ride out on." And she did.

My heart is so so heavy.  And in some small attempt to put down some of the weight, I decided to put down a few thoughts here.  As it sometimes is, writing will be my solace for today.

Ginny and I worked together.  The first time she met me, she thought I was dumb.  I was a new teacher at our school and I had to quickly confess my terrible sense of direction to her and ask for help getting to another school in our district that was truly just down the street.  She started giving me directions and my face quickly went blank.  She had to draw me a map on her whiteboard.  Luckily, Ginny was never big on passing judgements and she and I quickly became close friends.  Ginny taught special ed and so we often worked together with students that were in my classroom.  Those kids benefitted from having Ginny in their lives more than so many of the other interventions that were put into place to help them.  It's like Ginny herself was an intervention.  Her being in their lives just made them more successful.  That is the kind of power that she had.

Ginny and I cemented our friendship when we decided to work on getting our masters degrees together.  For several years, Ginny and I would head to classes together right after school.  We learned and laughed together as we worked our way through some great classes and some not so great classes.  There was a horrific reading class where we joined forces with other teachers in the class to convince the teacher that she was wrong about so many things.  There was an even more horrific puppet making class, I am not kidding.  But the incredible thing about being in these classes with Ginny is that no matter how bad things got, they never seemed that bad because Ginny wouldn't let them.  She always found us something to laugh about or always found a way to make things seem not so bad.  She had this way of finding positives in situations were there were no positives that anyone else could see.  So, yes, we had to go to this awful puppet making class, but Ginny would remind me that at least we got the change to walk outside on the way from our cars to our class.  She was just that kind of a person.

And when she entered this fight with cancer, she managed to bring that positive spirit with her into battle.  We were all truly in awe as she managed to stay positive and put forth these messages of hope and healing.  The very first time I went to see her in the hospital, there were all these people looking sad around her and then there was Ginny, sitting in the hospital bed, with this giant smile on her face.  It was like she was just so glad to see everyone.  And even when things got bad, Ginny managed to put forward this strength that I have rarely seen in anyone else.  She taught us all so much as she so bravely fought this fight.

Yesterday, her fight ended.  Yesterday her body left this world.  To say she will be missed, is not quite accurate.  It is not enough.  Ginny was an integral part of so many different communities.  There are so many holes, in so many hearts that won't ever be able to be filled.  There is a gaping hole in my heart and her absence is felt so strongly. But the thing about Ginny is that she isn't really gone.  She meant so much to everyone that knew her that there is no way that she is truly ever going to be gone.  Because though there are holes that will never be filled, there are also places in our hearts that will never go empty because she had filled them so fully while she was alive.  The way Ginny made us all feel, the things that she taught us, the memories that she left behind, those are all so much stronger than the cancer that took her from us.  And I am so so thankful for that.

Last night a few of my friends from work came over to our house.  We had some drinks, we ate a lot of ice cream, we watched Millie and allowed all of that to soothe our hearts for a moment.  We talked about Ginny and that is what really soothed our souls.  We remembered her and were thankful for her presence in our lives and it felt good to be surrounded by people who understood.  I know that walking into school on Tuesday morning is going to be tough.  It will feel different to be in that place knowing that she will never walk those halls again.  It will be awful and it will be wonderful to be in the place where Ginny loved to be.  It will be awful and it will be wonderful to be surrounded by others who are grieving and I know that while it will hurt, we will all pull strength from each other.

My greatest joy in all of this is that Ginny got a chance to meet Millie.  Ginny got a chance to hold her and laugh at her and talk to her.  Ginny got a chance to see me as a mom and I know that made her happy.  Ginny was there at my wedding.  Ginny was there to see Millie.  And I know that Ginny is going to be with me, and all of us, as we continue on along our paths.

Ginny, if you can see this, know that I hope to make you proud.  Know that I will think of you every day and think about what you would do in any difficult situation.  Know that you will inspire me for the rest of my life and help me to live a better life.  Know that you have touched my life in a permanent way and that I will forever be changed because I knew you.  And know that I miss you so very much, in the deepest of ways.