Monday, August 5, 2013

AWESOME 2 weeks!!

Open adoption ROCKS! I just had to put that out there first, because it does, and because it's been such a wonderful 2 weeks with my granddaughter Angel, and The Awesomes.

It was CJ's birthday in July, so The Awesomes decided to surprise her by showing up a week early on her special day. I was aware of what was coming, and helped them plan the surprise. CJ was so happy to see them here. It made her birthday so special. They are so thoughtful and loving. We are so blessed.

The greatest part of all this, is that because they came so early (their own family reunion didn't start for another week), they stayed at our house for 5 days! Yes, you read that right. It was a dream come true for me, to have them here for such a long time, just spending time with our family. We had a blast! We went to the local water park twice, played at the city park, took family pictures, went out to dinner, and played in the sprinkler (just to mention a few things). Having Angel here all day, every day, was wonderful. CJ spent as much time with her birth daughter as she possibly could, and had some special moments with her.

The Awesomes spent a week at their family reunion, and we attended one of our own (my husband's family), and also helped our oldest daughter move from where she and her husband had been living, 400 miles away, back to our area.

The last weekend they were here, they came to my own family's reunion, and camped overnight with us. I was so happy to be able to introduce them to my siblings and nieces and nephews! It was so great having them there. It was a perfect day! Then we camped that night and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows around the campfire. The next morning, they left to drive back home home (sob, sob), but my youngest daughter went with them, and will be flying back at the end of the week. The Awesomes are so thoughtful. They invited my youngest daughter to come with them because she has been struggling with depression, and has had a hard time lately. They hoped the trip would help her, and cheer her up a little. That's the kind of people they are. We are so blessed to have found them, and so blessed to be able to add them to our family.

The time I spent with my granddaughter was so precious. I really felt a close bond, and had many "moments" with her. I'm so grateful.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Birth Mother's Day

The Saturday before Mother's Day has been designated as Birth Mother's Day. I didn't know this until my daughter became a birth mom, and informed me, on the first Mother's Day weekend after the birth, that I should be honoring her. Of course I honor her in my heart every day for her unselfish decision, but I also try to let her know, on that day, how much I do honor her strength and courage as a birth mom. I am proud of her always and always!

This year on Mother's Day weekend, we all took a little mini-trip together. My oldest daughter and her husband live about 6 hours away from us. The rest of us packed up and went to stay in my husband's hometown, just 2 hours from them, so we could all meet there and be together for Mother's day.

On Saturday, Birth Mother's Day, CJ received a text from her roommate telling her that an edible bouquet (the kind with fruit pieces on sticks in a vase, to look like a flower arrangement) was delivered to her apartment. It was from Angel (with the help of Mrs. Awesome, of course).

We both got tears in our eyes when we found out what the card said:

"Thank you for ME, and for bringing me to my mommy and daddy. Love, Angel"

She's starting to understand already.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Legacy of a Child in an Open Adoption (LOVE this poem)

The Legacy of a Child in an Open Adoption
  By Brenda Romanchick

Once there were two expectant mothers.
One carried and cared for you beneath her beating heart
She became your Birthmother.
The other carried the hope of you within her.
She became your Mom.
As the days passed, and you grew bigger and stronger,
Your Birthmother knew that she could not give you all you needed after
your birth.
Meanwhile, your Mom was ready and waiting for you.

One day your Birthmom and your Mom found each other.

They looked into each other’s eyes and saw a friend.
Your Birthmom saw the life your Mom could give you.
Your Mom saw how much your Birthmom loved and cared for you.

They decided that what you needed was both kinds of love in your life.

So now you have two families,
One by birth, the other by adoption.

And you have a home where you can get:
your questions answered,
your boo boos bandaged,
your heartaches soothed,
And much needed hugs.

And a place where you can find:
answers to your questions,
your image in the mirror,
a part of yourself,
And much needed hugs.

Two different kinds of families
Two different kinds of love
Both a part of you.


Being Grandma

Sorry, I've been such a slacker and haven't posted in several months. I think I've been too into perfectionism, trying to think of the "perfect" thing to post about.

I started this blog for 2 reasons: The first reason was selfish. I needed to write about my experience for my own sanity. I needed to get my feelings down on "paper", so to speak. The second reason was to get the adoption message out there. I hoped that other people would read it and see how positive adoption can be. I hoped to make a difference in someone's life who was considering adoption, both from the birthparent side and the adoptive couple side. I have now had almost 3000 people read my blog since I started it only 8 months ago. I hope I have touched at least one of those person's hearts to help them realize that adoption is truly a loving, and even joyful alternative. Thank you for reading my scattered thoughts and feelings!

About 2 months ago, I asked Mrs. Awesome if I could call Angel once a week. I told her I really want to be more a part of Angel's life. I wanted to establish a habit with her, so that she will know I love her and want to be there for her. I started calling her every Sunday. We usually talk on Google Plus so that we can see each other. My husband, or whoever else is around at the time, joins in with the conversation.

Talking to a 3 year old is not always as fun as it may sound. As many of you probably know firsthand, most 3 year olds are not very good phone conversationists. Angel doesn't say very much when I call her, and when she does I often have a hard time understanding what she said. There can be long periods of silence, or moments when I can't think of anything to say or do so I show her the dog or the cat or something, There was once that she wouldn't even stay in the frame of the computer camera to talk to me, so her parents were literally chasing her around with their laptop to get her to talk to me! It was pretty hilarious. Of course, I don't get hurt or mad when this happens. I understand. I just want her to know that I love her  and care enough to try to keep in contact with her. Hopefully, it will get better as she gets older (hopefully no one has to chase her around to talk to me when she's 16). I look forward to our call all week. I love seeing her cute little face on the screen, even if there's not much quality conversation. I'm grateful that Mrs. Awesome is so supportive of me doing this, and is willing to sit there and help her (and translate her gibberish when I need her to).

Recently, I found out that Mr. and Mrs. Awesome and Angel will be coming here for their family reunions in August, and they have set aside 5 days to just spend time with CJ and with our family! The best part about that though, is that at the exact same time period my own family reunion is happening. I asked them if they would go with us to my family reunion, and they said yes! I am so excited to have my family (my siblings, nieces and nephews) meet Angel and her adoptive family. Most of them haven't met Angel yet. I can't even express how excited this makes me! I can't wait to show her off to EVERYBODY!! We're also going to go camping with them in the same area as the reunion that same weekend. I get butterflies just thinking about it.

I've sent Angel several packages lately, with Easter and St. Patricks day clothes and toys. I also made her a little mini photo album of pictures of her with our family, and just some fun pictures we took of her. Then I bought a frame that holds 2 snapshots, and I put one photo of she and I, and one with my husband and her. I wish I'd taken a picture of it so I could remember what the words were on the frame, but it said something cute. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

So Grateful

This week I turned 52 years old. OLD being the operative word in my mind. It's amazing how your spirit doesn't age, so inside you feel the same as you did when you were 25, but when you look in the mirror you think, "Who is that old person staring back at me?" But even though I wonder how I got all these wrinkles and saggy skin, I feel so grateful that I am able to have another birthday. That I am able to turn 52, and still be here on this earth, enjoying my life and my family, in good health. I think about my good friend Diane, who died of cancer at age 42. I think of my two brothers-in-law, who died at the ages of 33 and 45. They didn't get to be 52. They missed out on so much living and enjoyment in watching their family grow up. I am so grateful for every day, every wrinkle, and every sag!

More to be grateful for: Speaking of my birthday, I had an especially great one. Mrs. Awesome and Angel came to our area for Mrs. Awesome's grandpa's funeral (so sorry). Since we had just spent 7 days at their house only a few weeks before, we didn't expect to see them while they were here. We knew it was a difficult time for Mrs. Awesome and her family, and they needed time to be together. So, when my phone rang on the evening of my birthday, right after lunch and a movie with my hubby, I was surprised to see it was Mrs. Awesome calling. To my bigger surprise, she asked if we would want to watch Angel that night while the adults in her family had dinner out together. Of course I couldn't find enough ways to say YES, YES, YES!! To say we hurried home is an understatement. I was on cloud 9 or maybe it was 10, or 11. We are blessed to see Angel a lot in our open adoption, but it's rare that she spends time with us, in our home, alone. It was the best birthday present Mrs. Awesome could have given me!

My kids were all there, except my oldest and her hubby, who recently moved out of state (I hate that they aren't close enough to come to our family birthday dinners!). CJ was making dinner for me, so I got to enjoy some playtime and reading time with Angel while dinner was cooking. I was feeling like a real grandma, and loving it! She had dinner with us (and made us laugh the whole time) and then she "helped" me open my presents and blow out my candles. It was so wonderful to have her there with us. I can't remember when I've felt so much joy. I'm so grateful! I couldn't thank Mrs. Awesome enough when she finally came to pick Angel up. I know she had other, closer, places she could have had Angel stay that night, but she drove all the way to our house and let us have time alone with her. Thank you Mrs. Awesome!!

I have so much to be grateful for. I have been blessed with a funny, annoying husband, 5 loud, obnoxious and hilarious children (and a son-in-law who fits right in), a job where I can enjoy 26 crazy ten-year-olds every day, and even when one of my hardest trials happened, the Lord made it all okay by giving us the best open adoption situation there could ever be. I am so grateful.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


15 days until we go to see our sweet Angel! I'm so jealous that CJ is going next week and she will be there for Angel's birthday. I am so sad that we won't be able to be there for her birthday. Last year it was such a wonderful experience to be there to see her happy, excited face as she opened all her presents. We weren't able to go as early this year because my school doesn't get out for Christmas break until the 19th. We are going to fly out on Christmas night and arrive back home on New Years night. My hubby, me, and our youngest girls, and maybe my hubby's dad are going together. Last year the whole family (8 loud and annoying people) went and invaded the poor Awesomes for a week. This year they won't have to put up with so many of us. I wish we could all go together again though, but I realize that's not always going to be possible.

For Christmas I bought Angel an American Girl doll that looks so much like her! Her amazing adoptive mom is making her a doll bunk bed out of wood. Mrs. Awesome learned carpentry from her dad, and has made several beautiful pieces of furniture for their home. I am excited to see Angel open her doll, and see her put her to "sleep" in her new bunk beds. I can't wait to play with her and hold her and talk to her and laugh with her. I want to climb on that plane right now. I think I can stand it another 2 weeks though.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

December 2010: Angel's first birthday

It had been 6 months since I had seen her, but we had kept in touch with The Awesomes by phone, text, skype and the blog they posted pictures on for us. The Awesomes decided to come to our state, where much of their family lives, to celebrate her birthday. That was just perfect for us! Of course, I was beyond excited to see her. She was now walking, and starting to talk a little. Time goes by even faster when you don't see a little one very often. They change so much in that time you're apart.  I so wish she lived closer so I could watch the changes happen in her life. I really wish I could watch her grow up.

On the night of her birthday, The Awesomes had a big party for both sides of their family, and they invited us to come. They had it at a place that was filled with blow-up slides and jumping houses and other blow-up toys. There was a party room for everyone to meet in. There were a lot of people there. We didn't get to spend much time with Angel, because she was so distracted by everyone wanting to play with her and hold her, and by all the blow-up toys, gifts, cake, etc.

The next night we had them come to our house for a private little party with our family and some extended relatives. We had dinner and spent the rest of the night enjoying Angel and laughing a lot. It was great to have some personal time. That night they spent the night at our house. It was comforting to have them under our roof. In the morning we all went to church. I wanted to show off my sweet granddaughter and her wonderful adoptive parents. I wanted to share them with everyone I knew!

Now that it had been a year, we were all used to the idea of how things were. People were always asking me how CJ was doing. Was she sad? Was it hard for her? I would tell them that yes, I'm sure she is sad sometimes, and yes, it is hard for her sometimes, but that she is really okay. She was, and is, at peace with her decision. She loves The Awesomes and trusts them completely, and knows they are raising her daughter with much love and patience. She knows she did the right thing.

June 2010: The adoption is final

Six months after placement, The Awesomes went to court in their state to made the adoption final. You might think that it would have been a sad day for our family, losing our little one, but we didn't feel as if we were losing her. We knew she was where she should be, so finalizing it was actually a relief.

After the court finalized the adoption, it was time to seal it all with our Heavenly Father. In the LDS church, we believe that families are sealed together for eternity in our temples. The Awesomes came with Angel to our state to attend the temple, and have her sealed to their family. We were so glad that they came here to do it! My husband and I were able to attend the temple ceremony, and Mrs. Awesome gave me the privilege of taking a small part in it. It was a beautiful ceremony and a wonderful, spiritual day, confirming to me that this was where my granddaughter was always supposed to go, and this was the family who was supposed to raise her.  My whole family gathered outside the temple to take pictures together. One of the pictures of our family now hangs in my living room, with the words "Families are Forever" above it. Even though Angel is with another family, I know that our family will be blessed by our Heavenly Father because of the sacrifices and the decisions we made. I truly believe that Angel will always be a part of our family's life, here, and in the hereafter.

The next day after the temple sealing, a special blessing was given to Angel at an LDS church house. That day just happened to be July 4th, so Angel was dressed in Red, White and Blue, and looked so cute!

That weekend was one of the best of my life. There was so much joy and happiness for me. Everything felt so right and so perfect. That weekend completely changed everything. Even though I had felt good about everything so far, now I was completely content and happy with the adoption, and with the life that lay ahead for our family. I was totally at peace.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Febuary 2010: Getting back to normal, and our first trip to see Angel

Life sort of when back to normal after placement. Our family took a vacation to Florida for Christmas, just 10 days after CJ gave birth. I had had it planned since before I knew about the pregnancy, and I was determined to still take our family and go. Even more so, now that we all needed time to heal. I thought it would take CJ's mind off things, too. I was worried she wasn't going to be up to it physically, but she ended up doing fine.

We had a great time in Florida! It was just what we all needed. CJ felt pretty good. We all enjoyed a little 2-day cruise, snorkeling, eating great food and laying on a beach. Back in Florida after the cruise, we stayed at little motel that had it's own private beach. I came home feeling better about life and still feeling good about the adoption.

In February, my hubby had an opportunity to go to the large city about an hour and a half from The Awesomes and our little sweetie. I decided to go with him so I could visit Angel. The Awesomes invited us to stay right at their house. Hubby would actually be staying in the city for a while, so I would be going to stay with the family for the first 2 days. I was very excited to go, but I was also feeling apprehensive and a little awkward about staying with them. We didn't know each other on that level quite yet, so I wasn't sure how it was going to feel. When we flew in, Mrs. Awesome brought Angel and came to pick me up. She went to dinner with my hubby and I. It was so great to see our little Angel! She was two months old now, and we had seen lots of pictures from their blog, but she had grown and changed so much!

Mrs. Awesome, Angel, and I drove to their house after dinner. The next two days were so great! The awkwardness wore off pretty quick, and it just felt like I was with family. Mrs. Awesome had school, so I got to take care of Angel for most of the day. I fed her and changed her and rocked her to sleep. I got to see her smile at me. I got to comfort her when she cried. I was starting to feel like a grandma! It was the best feeling in the world! Mr. Awesome was there with me, so I was able to get to know him better.

On the evening of the second day my hubby drove to their house in a freak snow storm (very unusual for their area). He was completely exhausted when he got there. He was sitting at their table, and fell asleep with Angel asleep in his arms. It's a memory I'll never forget.

We spent the next day with them, then we had to fly out. It was a pretty short visit, but it was well worth it.

The week after our visit, The Awesomes flew CJ in for a visit. If we had any doubt that they were serious about an open adoption, we now had no reason to doubt. They were committed to letting us be a part of Angel's life, and their lives. What a miracle. How blessed we are to have found them.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

December 2009: Post-placement

CJ shared this on Facebook. She found it on an Open Adoption support page. CJ commented that it was "perfectly worded". I believe this is exactly how my daughter felt after placement, and still feels today:

People want me to regret.
I don't
People want me to feel guilty for not regretting
I don't
People want me to wish I hadn't placed her
I don't
People want me to say I was talked into it
I wasn't

People want me to say I didn't have enough support
But I did
People want me to say that a child is always better off with their "natural" mother.
But I know that is not always true
People want to say that grief means regret
I beg to differ
People talk about not wanting the child, or not wanting to parent
I know the words "want to" and "able to" are not the same thing

After the placement, we were all a little dazed, and emotionally exhausted. The Awesomes stayed in our state for a few days, and they were happy to let CJ, and any of our family, see Angel. Two days after placement Hubby and I drove with CJ the 30 minutes to where they were staying at a family member's house. When we got there Mrs. Awesome was very happy to let us hold Angel and she encouraged CJ to change her and even give her a bath. She didn't seem to be a bit bothered. What an amazing lady! I was worried for CJ though, that this was going to make it harder on her when they took Angel home and she couldn't see her very often. CJ knew this, but still wanted to see her. 

The Awesomes were going to drive home. About the same time, our family was leaving to drive four hours to see my mother-in-law, who had recently had a stroke. We asked them if they would consider going out of their way, to come to where my MIL was in a rehab center, and let her and my FIL see and meet Angel. They were so sweet to agree to do that. CJ rode with them in their car on the way down, taking care of Angel in the back seat. When we got to the rehab center, it was a very tender scene. One I'll never forget. My MIL had lost her ability to speak, because of the stroke. She had been pretty non-responsive until we showed up with the baby, then she became alert and kept touching her and stroking her hair and staring at her. She was even able to hold her. She couldn't speak her feelings, but we could all read them. All of our hearts were touched. My FIL was thrilled to meet Angel, too. My MIL passed away 2 1/2 months later. We were so happy that she got to see her great-granddaughter before she died. I am so grateful to The Awesomes for being willing to go out of their way, and add an extra day or more to their trip, to make that possible. 

The Awesomes spent the night with us at the little house we were staying in. The next day they were supposed to leave early in the day, but they ended up staying so that CJ could take Angel to visit some of her friends in the area. They stayed while CJ, and all of us, held Angel and took more pictures. They were so patient! It was after dark before they finally left to head home. It was hard to see them leave, but we knew it wasn't the end.

Friday, September 21, 2012

December 2009: Placement

The baby was finally here! The Awesomes chose a wonderful name for our little sweetie, but here I'll just call her Angel, because that's what she is. 

They moved CJ out of the labor/delivery room and into a patient room on the maternity floor. I was able to go with CJ into the nursery to watch them bathe Angel. She didn't like the whole thing very much, though. When she was done she was so cute in her new little sleeper, with a pink polka dot bow in her hair. 

It was now well after midnight, and we were all exhausted, especially CJ. She had opted to have the baby in her room instead of the nursery, so that she could spend as much time with Angel as possible. I slept in her room on a pull-out sofa bed. During the night, CJ got up with Angel and fed her, changed her and rocked her. I don't know how she managed it right after giving birth, but she was determined to do it. I slept through much of it. 

The next two days, everybody started showing up to see Angel. My hubby and kids spent as much time at the hospital as they could. The Awesomes came for a while, too, but they were great to give CJ this time with Angel. A lot of relatives and friends came by on that day and the next. It was a big celebration! It was so fun to share this time with everyone I loved. We appreciated having so much support from our friends and family.  

Even though the placement wouldn't happen for 48 hours, the papers were to be signed in the afternoon of the second day. Case workers from the adoption agency showed up with all the paperwork and sat down with CJ to read everything to her, word for word, and ask her if she understood everything. My hubby and I were in her room while they were reading all the documents to her. I was sitting in a rocker holding Angel, who was cuddled up and asleep on my shoulder. As they read the harsh words in the documents, about relinquishing all rights forever, I started to cry as I held my sweet granddaughter and rubbed her back.  It all sounded so final. And so scary.  But CJ was so brave.  She didn't even hesitate as she grabbed the pen and signed. I know she had to hurry and do it before she thought about it, and started to question her decision. I was so proud of her. What an amazing girl.  

The birth had been at around 11p.m., so we wanted the placement to be exactly 48 hours later. CJ wanted to spend every single second possible with Angel. Our case worker was not happy that she had to come over so late at night to do a placement. She tried to sabotage our plans so that she wouldn't have to do it so late. It caused us much more stress at an already stressful time. In the end, we got our way. The case worker arrived almost 2 hours early, but The Awesomes "conveniently" had car and traffic trouble, and arrived about when we had planned to start.  This did not make the caseworker happy, so she was rude, pushy, and tried to rush everything. It was frustrating and made a difficult time a little harder for our family. 

When The Awesomes did arrive, they had gifts for CJ, and she had gifts for them. They exchanged their gifts, amongst many tears. We decided to take some pictures of our family with Angel,  and some with The Awesomes and Angel.  The grumpy case worker kept rushing us and telling us we "couldn't take anymore pictures", and "this is the last one".  We managed to get the ones we wanted, mostly.

As soon as we were done with pictures, the caseworker told CJ and me that we needed to pack up all of our stuff, and get it out of the room, immediately! She told us to put it all out into the hall. The nurses were in no hurry to get us out, but the caseworker made it sound like we had to pack it all up the get it out. So we hauled our suitcases, gifts, etc. out into the hallway of the hospital, then the whole family sat out there on the floor! It was so annoying, and I'm not sure why it even had to happen. I think the caseworker just wanted to make things more miserable, because she was mad.

CJ went back into the room with The Awesomes, and they spent probably a half hour or more in private, talking. CJ was struggling with her emotions, but The Awesomes were so patient with her! They were willing to spend as much time as was needed to make sure CJ was okay. 

Finally, it was time to do the placement. Time to hand our baby girl over to her new parents, to her new family. There were a lot of tears. I wasn't in the room when CJ physically handed her over to Mr. and Mrs. Awesome, but my hubby was, and he took some pretty powerful pictures. The rest of our family was in the hallway, doing plenty of crying. It was very emotional. By the time it was over, we were all completely drained. It was hard to get in the car and go home, back to our normal lives, after all we had just experienced. Even though it was painful, I knew it was right. I knew that Angel was supposed to go home with The Awesomes. There was still no doubt of that. It was just hard to physically let go. I drove home that night feeling sad, but also content. Weird, I know. The content part of me was glad that this long-anticipated, and long-dreaded, night was over, and we had survived it. But, also, I was content in the idea that we had done the right thing, even though it was the hardest thing our family had ever been through.

Monday, September 17, 2012

December 2009: The Birth

As CJ got into her last 4 weeks of pregnancy, when doctor visits start happening once a week, the doctor started telling her she was already dilating and effacing, so he thought she was going to go into labor way before her due date. About Thanksgiving, he told her it could happen anytime. I didn't know how to feel! I was excited, but scared. I felt anticipation, but also dread. I couldn't wait to see my cute little granddaughter, but I was so scared for the adoption placement, and also for CJ and the delivery. CJ told me she was feeling a lot of the same feelings. There was a lot of conflict going on inside. My past fear and dread had now returned. We still knew that the adoption plan was right, and the couple was right. We were just scared for how we were going to feel placing the baby in their arms and walking away.

I am a teacher, and since the doctor was saying it could happen in second, I was worried that I might have to get a substitute at a moment's notice. I knew that I was going to be there with CJ from the moment she went into labor. Every day, from Thanksgiving on, I wrote a 4-day sub plan before I left work for the day, and left the plan on my desk, just in case. The next day I would be back at work, and I'd do it all over again at the end of that day. Sub plans are a pain in the you-know-where to write, but I wanted to be ready. I was basically CJ's labor coach and head cheerleader. I knew that CJ was going to take the whole 48 hours allowed after delivery, before placement. She wanted to be able to spend every possible second in the hospital with her baby before she let her go to The Awesomes. I was going to stay at the hospital with her for those 2 days after the birth. She wanted me there, and I definitely wanted to be there. 

Days went by, then weeks. CJ was in school, so she kept going to school every day, and telling her teachers that she might not be able to finish some of the classes before the end of the term, if she did go into labor early.  Christmas break got closer, and no baby yet. I woke up every day thinking: This could be the day. I walked around with a big knot in my stomach. I really wish the doctor wouldn't have told us that she would probably deliver early! It caused us so much more worry and stress.

Mr. and Mrs. Awesome were prepared to come early if they needed to, but they were planning to drive out and arrive on the 15th. We were surprised when the 15th came and the baby still hadn't arrived. Mine and CJ's Christmas break from school started that day, so she did get to finish her school term and take her final after all. Mr. and Mrs. Awesome arrived, and came to see CJ at our house. Mrs. Awesome had worked with pregnant women in her profession, and knew some pressure points she could press on CJ that might help her go into labor sooner. CJ was reluctant, but she finally let Mrs. Awesome do some pressure points on her. She had been having a little stronger and more frequent contractions for the last day or two, and the pressure point procedure made that a little worse, but still nothing significant. I had her walk around the house a little, but it didn't seem to get anything started. She had a harder time sleeping that night though.  

The next day CJ had plans to go lunch with her friend. I was home when CJ got home from her lunch. She said she was having some contractions, so I told her to walk around and maybe walk up and down the stairs a few times. She barely made it down the stairs one time, when her water broke! She wasn't sure that's what it was at first, but finally decided it was. We immediately called the doctor, then got in the car and headed for the hospital. It was finally happening! CJ didn't call Mr. and Mrs. Awesome until we saw a nurse who confirmed that her water had broken and told her they were going to admit her.  

They got her into a labor/delivery room and got her settled. My oldest daughter and my Hubby showed up soon after. The Awesomes came into the room a few times to talk to CJ while she was in labor. CJ had decided not to have them in the room for the delivery, so they came and went, and waited in the waiting room. The contractions were getting more painful, so they came in to give her her epidural. They had a hard time getting it in, and it really hurt her a lot. It was really hard for me to watch her be in so much pain. They finally got it in, but after a while they realized that the epidural wasn't working, so they would have to take it out and redo it. CJ started to cry, because it had hurt her so much to put it in the first time. Luckily the second time was easier because they let her lay down. Her pain was now managed, and besides some shivering, she was feeling pretty good. At one point a nurse came in to check her and said she was dilated to a 9, but she thought it would be another hour or so still. About a half hour later CJ was feeling more pressure, so the nurse came back to check and she was already fully dilated! It was time!  

The nurse told CJ to do a "practice push", but when she did, the baby's head crowned!  On the first push! They got out the equipment, and got her in position. They had to call the doctor to come, so here was the baby's head crowning and she had to sit there and NOT push! The doctor took way too long, and I started to worry about the baby being in the birth canal so long. Finally the doctor got there.  CJ only had to push about 5 or 6 more times, and our sweet baby girl was born. I got to cut the cord. The whole ordeal only lasted about 6 hours, total. It was a pretty easy labor and delivery! I was very relieved that it was. I had had many sleepless nights worrying about my CJ having a baby.

While CJ delivered the placenta, they put my screaming new granddaughter on her momma's belly. CJ was really freaked out by that. The baby was all gooey and slimy, and her head was all cone-shaped from being in the birth canal so long. Her screaming lips were huge, too. I kept telling CJ to reach out and touch her, but she wouldn't. She later said she thought she'd given birth to an alien baby! She did kinda looked like it. But she was still the most amazing thing I'd seen since my own kids were born. Actually she was even more amazing, because she came out of one my children! That was a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around, even though I had seen it happen.  It still is sometimes.

After they got her cleaned up, and wrapped in the special blanket we brought (one that CJ would keep) they brought her over for CJ to hold. This time she wasn't freaked out. It was such a beautiful moment. We all got to hold her and take pictures with her. It was a close, intimate time for our family to bond with this new life that had just been born. 

Finally, my hubby went out to get Mr. and Mrs. Awesome. When they came in, and took their new baby in their arms for the first time, it was a phenomenal moment to watch. I had tears in my eyes. The picture we took of them both gazing at her with so much love, solidified my knowledge that this was the right couple, and adoption was right for my granddaughter. I knew they would love her and take good care of her, forever and ever.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

November 2009: The Shower

Now that the couple was chosen, everything was going great! I was on an emotional and spiritual high for a while. I think we all were.We were happy, and felt like a huge burden had been lifted. CJ was relieved that she knew where her baby was going to go, and she felt that it was right. Mr. and Mrs. Awesome called and/or texted CJ everyday. At the time, I thought it was great that they wanted to get to know her, and keep in touch. I never even thought about how Mr. and Mrs. Awesome might be feeling. I didn't realize that they might be scared or worried about her changing her mind. I didn't think about the fact that they might have had some potential adoptions fall through in the past, which caused them much pain, and could have made them a little gun-shy. To us, it was a done-deal from the night CJ announced to them.

While CJ was attending her group therapy sessions at the adoption agency, I had been attending a birth-grandma group there, too. That group helped me so much in coping when I was so conflicted and confused and overwhelmed. It was great to talk to other mothers whose daughters were pregnant and placing for adoption. It was nice to know they were having all the same feelings and emotions I was having. It was a safe place to cry and get angry if I felt like it. Everyone supported each other's feelings and emotions. It was especially nice to hear from some of the mothers whose daughters had already placed their babies, and hear that everything turned out okay, and life went on for their family. In one of those group sessions, I heard about someone who had had a shower for the adoptive mother. I decided I really wanted to have a shower for Mrs. Awesome at our house. I was so excited for that shower! I was still on cloud-nine from choosing the couple, and now I wanted to do this for them.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Awesome had lots and lots of family and friends that lived in our area, so there would be plenty of people to come to it. Mrs. Awesome just had to let me know which friends and relatives to invite, and then fly up to attend. Mrs. Awesome ended up inviting around 50 people! I was wondering where I would put everyone, because I had also invited my sisters/sis-in-laws, nieces and close friends, plus my own daughters. CJ and I tied a little quilt for the baby, with the help of my sister-in-law and some of my nieces. My oldest daughter crocheted a beautiful baby afghan (her first ever!). She didn't tell me she was making it, and I was so touched when I saw it. She later made another one for CJ to keep.

About 40 people ended up being at the shower. It was crazy trying to fit all of them in my house, in one room! One thing that I didn't think about was how left-out my daughter might feel, since the gifts were for a baby she wasn't keeping, which meant they were basically for Mrs. Awesome. She was a trooper, as usual, though. Mrs. Awesome was her usual kind and thoughtful self, so she had CJ open every other gift, but I know it might still have been a little difficult for CJ. I think she still had a good time though, and I know Mrs. Awesome appreciated and enjoyed it very much. My family and close friends got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Awesome that day, and that meant a lot to me.

The more we got to know Mr. and Mrs. Awesome, the more we loved them. We felt so comfortable with them from the moment they became the adoptive parents. We told them that they were now members of our family, and they treated us like their own family, too. This bond has become stronger and stronger over time.

Monday, September 10, 2012

October 2009 - The Right Couple - Mr. and Mrs. Awesome

It was now the middle of October. CJ was 7 months along (I don't know how many weeks, I never learned to keep track that way). Her due date was starting to feel close, but she was nowhere near choosing her couple. All, or almost all, of the girls in her group therapy had chosen their couples in the first few months of their pregnancy. We were getting nervous. CJ was wondering if she would ever find the right ones.

She really wanted to find a couple who lived in our same state. The first couple that she met and liked, the one that fell through, lived only 15 minutes away. She thought she wanted them to be close by. As she kept looking for couples on the adoption website, and kept eliminating them, she started to run out of couples from our state, that met her criteria. She didn't know what to do. She didn't think she wanted to look out of state, but finally she started to. She started emailing back and forth with couples from many states across the country. Some seemed promising at first, but somehow nothing ever came of them. Something they would say in an email would put her off, and she would decide they weren't the ones. I started thinking that maybe she was just being too picky.

One day, I was helping her look for more potential couples. There was this couple named that we had looked at briefly many weeks before. They lived in another state. She had liked a lot of things about them, but at the time she wasn't ready to reach out into other states yet. Again, she read their profile, and she liked them, but she still wasn't sure how much. As I read about them, I REALLY liked them, so I encouraged her to email them. What could it hurt? The emails went back and forth for a couple of weeks, and as she learned more about them, CJ started liking them more. Soon, she started wondering what she should do if she wanted to meet them. They lived SO far away. Could she ask them to come all this way, just to meet her? What if they paid all that money, and she didn't even like them when they got here? But, there was no way to know anything for sure unless she did meet them, so she finally got up the courage to ask them, and they said they would come. They were happy to come!

The day they flew in to meet her was Halloween. That afternoon CJ had a Halloween party at her group therapy, with moms invited, but we had to leave the party early to meet the couple at Olive Garden. My husband met us there. They walked in, found us, and we all sat down. They seemed quiet, and nervous, and it was all pretty uncomfortable at first. They had brought some cute little gifts for CJ, which she opened. There was lots of awkward small talk, and learning about each other (mostly from my hubby and I, since we hadn't been emailing them, like CJ had). We liked them, and CJ liked them, but there were no bells or whistles going off yet. They were nice. They seemed like good people. They had both grown up near where we live, but had moved out of state a few years before. They both had lots of family that still lived close by us. We talked to them for quite a long time.

The next night, CJ and I went to a ballet performance with them. Then, the night after that, CJ wanted them to meet the birthfather, whom she was no longer dating, and who had already signed away his parental rights. She had promised him she'd let him meet couples she was serious about, and she was determined to keep that promise. My husband and I weren't there that night, thank goodness, because it was a disaster! They had met again at a restaurant. After arriving and meeting them, the birthfather started acting very strangely, then suddenly got up and left. He then proceeded to start endlessly texting CJ, telling her he DIDN'T like them and that she SHOULD NOT choose them. Before this, she was starting to think that maybe she did, possibly, want choose them. Now she was very confused. Again.

When the couple had first arrived, CJ and I had come up with an idea. If she liked the couple a lot, we would have them over for  a Sunday family dinner, so they could meet the rest of her siblings, and her siblings could meet them. After what the birthdad was doing to her, she wasn't sure what to do, but she went ahead and invited them over anyway. She also started to make plans to "announce" to them that she wanted them to adopt the baby, even though she was still pretty confused.

About an hour before they were supposed to arrive that Sunday, CJ was talking to us about what the birthdad was doing, and what he was saying to her in his texts. He was putting so much pressure on her, that now she didn't know what to do, or how to feel. She knew she liked this couple, but she was so torn, and so confused. Her dad sat her down, and helped her clear her head. He said a special prayer in her behalf. The prayer calmed her, and helped her focus on what she really felt. By the time the couple arrived at our house, CJ knew. She FINALLY knew what she wanted. She FINALLY knew who she wanted to raise her baby. When I asked her if she was sure, she said yes. She said she was calm, and happy, and excited to "announce" to them that she was going to place her baby with them. This was the feeling she had been waiting to feel. She had no more doubts.

They had dinner with us and our whole loud, crazy family. I kept wondering what they were really thinking of us. We can be pretty obnoxious. But they seemed to be enjoying all the loud banter back and forth. They both came from large families (larger than ours), so I'm sure that's why they were so comfortable. It was nice to see that they seemed to like us as much as we liked them. Right after dinner, they started saying they were going to leave. We started to panic, because the most important part of the evening (which they didn't know about yet) was about to come. We convinced them to stay a little longer. CJ went downstairs to her room, and started to get the things ready that she had put together for the big announcement. She wanted to do something cute and creative. Because the baby was due just before Christmas, we found some Christmas wrapping paper, and wrapped it around her big belly, then tied a ribbon around it, and then she attached a card under the ribbon.

We were all sitting in the living room talking, when CJ walked in with the wrapping paper on her belly. She stood in front of the couple and just smiled. At first they didn't seem to know how to react. They just sat there, staring. Probably wondering if this was really happening. Finally they stood up, and took the card from under the ribbon on her belly. They were both shaking, and tears were in their eyes. They read the card from CJ telling them that she wanted them to be her adoptive couple. They were thrilled, and emotional, and overwhelmed. It was such a beautiful moment, right there in our own living room, in front of all of our children. The spirit of our Heavenly Father was so strong in that room. From that moment on, I knew without a doubt that this was the family my granddaughter was supposed to be raised by. They became Mr. and Mrs. AWESOME that day. CJ never looked back and never doubted, either. After she found the right couple, much of the sadness and dread left our hearts. We all knew there were still some difficult times ahead, but now we knew that everything was going to be okay.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

July-September 2009: Second thoughts and open adoption

A few weeks after CJ told us she was pregnant, and planning to place the baby for adoption, she had an ultrasound. Of course I was there with her, waiting in anticipation to find out if she was having a boy or a girl. That day we found out that she was having a girl, and found out her due date.  After that it finally started to really sink in that MY baby was really going to have a baby, and that baby was my first grandchild. MY FIRST GRANDCHILD! I SO wanted to be a grandma! Many of my friends were already grandmas, and I watched them, and listened to them with envy, and with anticipation of when this wonderful, blessed, thing would happen to me. And now it had. And my daughter was giving my granddaughter away!

As I mentioned in the previous post, our church (we are LDS) encourages adoption. I had always believed that IF an unwanted pregnancy ever happened to my child (which I truly never imagined), that I would want them, and encourage them, to choose adoption. I knew it was the best thing for the baby, to be raised in a stable home, with a mother AND a father. But now that it was really happening, it was a bit of a different story. In my mind. and in part of my heart, I knew this was the right option, the best option, for my daughter and for the baby. But, in another small part of my heart, I didn't want my daughter to give away my granddaughter. I was afraid of never seeing her again. I was afraid of all the regret my daughter might feel, and I might feel, also. But luckily, my daughter was so much braver than me. She was so much stronger than me. She never, ever waivered on her adoption choice. It's hard for me to admit, but there were times when I would ask her if she was having any second thoughts, and in my heart I almost hoped she'd say yes. I wanted to be strong for her, so I never, ever told her of my doubts. I was ashamed of them. I also didn't tell her because I never wanted to influence her decision. I decided early on, that she was the one who would have to live with whatever decision she made, and I didn't want her to ever have me to blame for pushing her into something. It all had to come from her.

The agency my daughter went through encouraged open adoptions. Open adoption? This was the first time we had ever heard the term. It sounded kind of strange to us. At first CJ was opposed to the whole idea. She was afraid it would hurt more to see the baby, or have pictures and updates. At first she thought she wanted to just make a clean break and try to go on with her life. My husband was very skeptical of the open adoption idea at first, too. He thought it would confuse the child, or put a stigma on her for other children to make fun of. But, as my daughter started going to the agency's group therapy, with other pregnant girls who were planning to place their babies in open adoptions, she started to warm up to the idea. My husband also started to see the positives of it, and warmed up, too.  Me? I LOVED the idea of an open adoption almost from the very first. You mean I can still see my grandchild, even though someone else is raising her? I don't have to completely give her up forever?  What a wonderful thing! Sign us up!  

So now CJ started looking for a couple, and I helped her. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of profiles on the adoption site. How could you ever narrow it down to choose? We poured over the many profiles and pictures of couples. She narrowed the search by only looking at couples who had no other children. She wanted couples who loved the outdoors. She wanted a certain look, too. The picture of the couple had to catch her eye, and they had to look good to her. For a long time, I felt that she was being judgmental, when she refused to consider couples who were overweight, or not good-looking, when everything else about them fit her criteria. But, I didn't push her, because I knew she had to feel good about the couple she finally chose. I now know that she was not being judgmental at all. I truly believe that she was led, by her Heavenly Father, to the couple she ultimately chose, and that  the "look" she wanted was the look they would end up having. Maybe that sounds weird to some people, but I strongly believe, with all my heart, that the process she went through to find the right couple had divine help.  

And so we looked, and looked, and CJ emailed back and forth with several couples in our state. We even met one couple, and my daughter really liked them, and thought she wanted to choose them. When that  all fell through, she was pretty devastated and confused. Why weren't they the right couple? How was she supposed to feel when she found the right one? How would she know they were right? Many of the girls in her group talked about knowing, the moment they saw their couple. There were stories of seeing a light around the couple, and practically hearing angels singing from above (a little exaggeration, but not really). All this confused her more, because she wasn't getting any such feeling.

She kept on looking, and I kept helping her. Even though I still had some doubts. 

June 2009: The beginning......

I wish I could remember the exact date. It was sometime early in June of 2009. It was just an ordinary night, with my husband and I watching t.v. in bed before going to sleep. My 19 year old daughter CJ, who was living at home at the time, showed up in our bedroom looking nervous. Her older sister, who didn't live with us anymore, was with her. I thought that was weird. I didn't expect my oldest daughter to stop by that night.  I later learned that she was there for moral support. CJ sat down in our bedroom and told us she needed to talk to us. By the way she was talking and acting I knew it was a serious matter. I didn't know that the words I was about to hear would change our family's life forever.

 CJ rambled on for a little bit. I can't really remember what words came before, because the words "I'm pregnant" are all I really remember. My husband claims I gave an audible gasp. We both sat in silence for a moment, taking it in. I wanted to think I'd heard her wrong, but I knew I hadn't. I guess I shouldn't have been too shocked.  I had been very worried about her and the way she was living her life for a long time. She was acting out, in the opposite way of how she had been taught and raised. She seemed to be taking risks and associating herself with questionable people. But even so, I was surprised. I guess I really never expected it to happen to her or to our family.

I could see how scared and worried she was. The next thing she told us was that she was going to place the baby for adoption. She said she'd already decided. I was actually proud of her at that moment, realizing that even though she had made mistakes, she was trying to be mature and responsible. Our church encourages young girls to choose adoption if marriage to the father is not an option, so of course I was supportive of that idea. My husband and I immediately told her we loved her, and that we would support her. There was no anger or yelling (as I think she expected). There was no reason to yell or punish. We knew that what she was going through would probably be the hardest trial of her life. I couldn't sleep that night thinking of everything my daughter was going to have to face now. I knew her life was never going to be the same. I was so scared for her.

Ironically, it turned out to be an even more memorable week for our family. Our oldest daughter became engaged that same week. We needed some happy news! I needed something to take my mind off the pregnancy and adoption.

But even that good news did not keep me from feeling the affects of CJ's announcement. I remember feeling like my whole body was heavy. I felt unfocused. I guess I was kind of in shock for a while.

We started managing the "stuff" that needed to be done, not letting ourselves think too much about the adoption yet. We did things like making the OB appointment and getting her started with our church's adoption agency. In a small way the actions took our minds off the future and what we were all going to have to face.

It turned out that CJ was actually 4 months pregnant that night she told us. She had known for over 3 months and didn't dare tell us. She was so scared, and lost, and basically alone all that time. That makes my heart ache. But now that I knew, I wanted to make this tough thing as easy as possible for her. I was determined to be by her side all the way.