Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mommy Versus The Penguins - Round 2

The greatly anticipated day has finally arrived...

Sara's 10th Birthday Party!

All in all, it was a success. I would have to say that hosting the birthday party at the ice skating rink was easier, in many ways, than hosting the party at our home. I usually complain about people refusing to RSVP, but this year, I would have to say that the most frustrating part was when people who said that they would be there, didn't actually show up. I ended up having to request a refund from the ice skating place because people didn't show up. I am GLAD that I was able to get a refund, but it was still a very frustrating process which took over a week to complete.

Anyway! I know you all want to see the cake. My fondant penguins were adorable. My handwriting (and other cake decorating skills) leave something to be desired.

Penguin Cake

The Birthday Girl and Friends

Let The Ice Skating Begin

Paige and Sara

Rebecca and Hayden

Mommy and Matthew

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mommy Is In Trouble

When Matthew fell asleep today, I decided to let him take his nap on our family room couch. I wanted to keep him within ear-shot while I worked on cleaning up the dungeon (aka basement). I pushed our gigantic and very heavy coffee table over to the couch, so that Matthew couldn't roll off of it while he was sleeping, and got to work.

A little while later, there was the sound of much crashing and banging and crinkling of paper. Furious that George, our cat, was on top of the coffee table and causing all the ruckus, I charged upstairs, ready to scare that gosh-darn cat.

But it wasn't George.

It was Matthew.

That clever little boy woke up, managed to get himself into a sitting position (something he had never done by himself before), and had discovered the table full of treasures.

Someone Is Very Pleased With Himself

I am in SO much trouble now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mommy Versus The Penguins - Round 1

Sara's birthday party is on Saturday. She's turning 10 (on the 30th) and we're going ice skating. When I designed her invitations, I didn't have any specific ideas in mind, but we ended up with penguins. A party theme was born.

The invitation...
With all the pertinent info garbled for privacy reasons.

We have a simple, yet cute, penguin party favor which isn't quite finished, so no pictures yet; and we will have penguins on the cake.

This was the first time I've ever made fondant, used fondant, or done anything with penguins, but I think they turned out pretty cute. When I finish the cake, I will post more pictures.

How do you think they turned out?

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mommy Catches A Glimpse of Spring

Yesterday morning I had the girls start working on a 550-piece puzzle.  I knew they could do it, if they could just be patient enough.  Sara is not very patient, she expects things to be easy and to be done right the first time.  Rebecca can see the challenge in the activity, and while she may get a bit frustrated, she usually sticks with it.  Well, no temper tantrums ensued (whew!), and with some help from Daddy & Mommy the puzzle was completed this morning!  VICTORY!  The girls were very pleased with themselves.

 Puzzle Solvers

When we arrived home from church today, Michael was outside working in the yard.  It was an absolutely lovely afternoon!  The sun was shining, the sky was clear and blue, tulips and daffodils were beginning to bloom - it's beginning to look like Spring around here!

In a matter of minutes, all 3 kids were outside enjoying the weather.  Rebecca chose to practice roller skating while Sara amused herself by pulling Matthew around in the wagon.  I enjoyed watching them because it was one of those rare moments where they were all happy and interacting peacefully with one another.

 Happy Kids

It was Matthew's first time in the wagon and he loved it.  He is starting that sad but wonderful transition from babyhood into toddler-hood.  He loves his big sisters and he is already showing signs of wanting to do the same things that they can do.  When he is with them, his eyes light up and he gives you a look that says, "Do you see me, Mommy?  I'm playing with my sisters.  I'm a big boy!"

Growing Up Too Fast

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mommy Loves Michael

13 years ago today, Michael proposed to me on a jetty in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Since he did propose on a beach, at night, and still managed to catch me by surprise even though I was totally expecting it (in fact, I was searching for the ring at the time he proposed), I decided that I could forgive him for choosing New Jersey, OF ALL PLACES, to propose, and I said yes (eventually, but that's another story). How's that for a run on sentence?

12 years ago today, we got married. (Yes, we were engaged for an entire year. I am not sure I would recommend that to anyone, but hey, we did it!)

We also got married on the first day of Spring. OH YES, WE DID. One little girl I know insists that we did NOT get married on the first day of Spring (because she knows that the first day of Spring is March 21st), and since arguing with a 10-year-old is pretty much futile (Nuh-uh, Uh-huh, Nuh-uh, Uh-huh!), I'm telling you, ON THE RECORD, that we were indeed married on the first day of Spring. In fact, the next time we won't celebrate our anniversary on the first day of spring isn't until 2012. On March 19th (for our time zone). SO THERE! Um, ok, I got a little carried away there... I'll step off of my brat-box now.

So where was I? Oh right, the anniversary thing. Yeah, so we got engaged and married on the same day. A year apart. Yay, us!

Want to see how cute we were? This picture was taken AFTER I cried my way down the aisle.

Well, things have changed a bit over the years. I've gained some weight, he's gained some weight, we've gotten older, he lost some hair (on purpose), I gained some more weight, and well, we also have 3 kids. And a cat.

So when we celebrated our anniversary this year, it was with kids in tow. We went to the park to laugh at the ducks.  We fed them too.

We also visited the playground.

Matthew loved the swings.

Daddy played too.

And we ended with dinner at The Olive Garden. (Oh, the bread sticks!)

Happy Anniversary, Michael!
Wanna go for another 12?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mommy Opens A Can Of Worms

Last night I had a very good, very long conversation with a very good friend of mine. She is someone I can talk to about anything and everything, and we are just different enough that she can provide some really invaluable insight that I wouldn't be able to see on my own.

This particular conversation was centered on my adoption and my new relationship with my birth mom. Let me be clear that my friend was very supportive, and this post is NOT about her. But while we were talking, a thought popped in my head and I want to know what you, my readers (I'm thinking I have one or two...), think about it.

Let me preface this by saying that I recognize that opinions are based on experiences. It's hard to put yourself in another persons shoes. Where I'm coming from is likely a very different place than where you are coming from. But I'm willing to listen and I want to know what you think. So here goes...

Throughout my life, when people find out that I am adopted, their first question, almost inevitably is "Do you know who your birth Mom is?" and/or "Do you want to find your birth parents?"

My answer has always been pretty consistent. It goes something like this, "Well, sometimes I'm curious, but I know who my parents are. The people who raised me."

Honestly, I didn't think that I would ever be found or ever find my birth parents for two very specific reasons. 1) I couldn't believe that someone who gave me up would want to find me or be found. 2) Even if I wanted to find them, I didn't think it was possible without hiring a private investigator, which, to be honest, I really couldn't afford.

The part you need to know now is that I WAS found, and no private investigator was needed. I may share more of the story at a later date, but the details really aren't needed for this discussion.

So before I digress even further, the issue (again) is this: When people find out that I am adopted, almost all of their questions revolve around my birth parents. Ironically, the questions that I really can't answer (or couldn't answer) because I really didn't know much about them.

But now when people find out that I am adopted AND that my birth mom found me, the questions have changed. Now people tend to ask questions about my adoptive mom:

Is she/he upset and/or angry?
How does she/he feel?

And I also get a lot of comments:

But you already have a mom!
But you already have siblings! (I now have a blood half-sister and brother.)
Your family is here.
Why did she (birth mom) try to find you? Tell her to leave you alone!
You don't have to let her (birth mom) into your life, just because she gave birth to you doesn't give her the right...
You have to make sure that your Mom (adoptive) knows that you love her.
You have to reassure your Mom (adoptive) that she will always be your Mom.
I'd be angry if I adopted a kid and their mom got in touch with them...

Let me clarify that these comments and questions come from MULTIPLE people, not just one person. Please don't feel singled out! I am NOT targeting one specific person. If you felt this way, know that you are NOT the only person that felt this way.

So here is what I want to know:
Why does it seem that people are more concerned about my adoptive Mom then anything else, including my right and curiosity in knowing more about where I came from, and undeniably who I am?

Without a doubt, I love my Mom. My adoptive Mom. We can include "Dad" in that statement too. I know full well who raised me, who spent countless nights walking the floors with me, who spent countless hours changing stinky diapers and cleaning up vomit, who drove me to piano lessons and who forced me to clean my room. I know full well who took me to church every week, attempted to instill their values in me, had many a sleepless night when I broke curfew, and who walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. My parents are irreplaceable.

But at the same time, I didn't ask to be adopted. I had no control over the situation. I don't blame my birth mother or my birth parents for playing a role in my adoption. I know that it had to be that way. But I didn't ask for it.

And now that I've been "found", why does it feel like people don't want me to get to know her? Why is the focus on making sure that I don't hurt my parents (the adoptive ones)? Why do I have to fight for my right to know about where I came from? Why does every little action that I make involving my birth mom need to be scrutinized? Why does it matter if it was me or her who asked if we could exchange some pictures? Why does it matter if it was me or her who asked if we wanted to meet in person sometime? And why, above all, do I have to support her (my adoptive mom) in this? WHY doesn't she need to support me? WHY?

I had no choice about being adopted. I can live with that.

But now that I'm an adult, why does it seem like I still have no choice? That people think that I should live in the dark about WHO I AM because I might hurt my parents feelings? Why should my knowledge about my birth parents be limited to less than one full sheet of paper - and even that had incorrect (albeit minor) information on it? Why do people try to make me feel guilty for wanting to explore the other side of my life?

Why do I feel like I have to fight for the right to hear MY birth story. You know, the one that your mom told you about how excited she was when her water broke, or how many hours she was in labor? Why do I have to listen to my adoptive Mom say that she always knows what my brother would do (the one she eventually was able to conceive and give birth to), but she could never figure me out because I was adopted?

Why do I have to reassure other adoptive parent that their child will likely always love them? That their child will always, first and foremost, think of them (the adoptive parents) as their true parents? That their child won't have the desire to meet their birth mom eventually? That the birth mom will be a decent person? I CAN'T make those promises. I don't know the answer. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to your questions.

WHY can't people accept that I can love BOTH of my moms? Why does it seem that people think that only one mom is of value? Why do I have to choose which mom is more important than another? Because let's be honest here, looking at it from a true biological standpoint, I wouldn't exist if my birth mom never actually gave birth to me. If I didn't exist, then my adoptive mom could never have taught me and loved me the way that she has. I can't be the person that I am without BOTH of them.


Give me some answers here, people. I'm hurting today, and I don't think I should be. If it's true that my parents (however many there are of them) want me to be happy, then why can't people accept the fact that learning about my birth family makes me happy?

Parents who are expecting their second child often wonder how they will ever be able to love that second child as much as they love their first. Miraculously, once that child arrives, there is more than enough love for that child too. And that same miracle occurs for each additional child, be it the 3rd, 4th, 10th, or even 15th child. There is always enough love to go around. A child is capable of loving more than one set of parents. Really!

The more I write, the more frustrated I get, so here's the part that is likely going to cause my computer screen to burst into flames because of all the hate mail I'm likely to receive. If you have adopted a child or are hoping to adopt a child, get over yourself NOW. If you dare to enter the world of adoption, open your eyes and realize that there is a chance, there is always a chance, that one day your child will want to know more about where they came from.

Know that they might not care if YOUR great-great-great-great-great grandparents came to America on the Mayflower - because as much as that relative will be family to them, there is a very good chance that they will also be wondering about the great-great-great-great-great grandparents that they are related to through blood.

Don't tell them that the fact that they are loved is all that matters... because it's not going to hold up very well when they are answering for the umpteenth hundredth time in their life if there is a family history of cancer, and the only thing they can say is "I don't know. I was adopted."

And above all, don't tell them that you will support them in finding their birth parents if you don't think you can handle it. Because guess what? YOUR CHILD is the one who is going to need the support. If you truly want to help them, you're going to need to put your feelings aside, and focus on your child and their needs.

You chose to adopt your child. You said you did it out of love. Now prove it. ADOPTION DOES NOT END WHEN YOU SIGN THE PAPERS.

Help your child COMPLETE themselves IF they have a desire to do so. Maybe your child won't. Maybe they will. Maybe they'll be like me and never think that anything was missing until they actually DO find their birth parents. Because until I was found, I really had no idea of how much I was missing. But there was a hole. An undeniable hole. And you don't know what it is when you are a child, or even as an adult. You think it's normal. But then the missing piece comes into your life, and all of a sudden, you're complete. And you think, "OH MY! Is this what other people feel like all of the time, because wow, I really didn't know what I was missing." Because you don't.

The saying goes something like this, "Adoption: It's about love." Is it really?

Sometimes it feels like it's about an unselfish girl who willingly gives her baby to a loving couple whom she believes will raise that baby the best that they can and provide that baby with things that she knows she can't. And sometimes it feels like those loving parents get some kind of superiority complex that they are wonderful and all glory and laud and honor and LOVE should be given ONLY to them because they saved you from what they deem would be a miserable life. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that sometimes it feels like the general population thinks that the adoptive parents are the ones who deserve all the credit, because you would be nothing if it wasn't for the adoptive parents. Sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes.

I know that every adoption has it's own set of circumstances. I know that I can only speak for myself.

I guess I'm just feeling rather broken because I can't figure out why people seem to think that the "other" part of my life is not important. And why they think they get a say in it.

So there's my rant. Go ahead and rant back, it's only fair.

My feelings as they are described today apply to an adult adoptee who may be dealing with finding their birth parents. I have a different take on the situation if a MINOR child is involved. Also, my specific circumstances involve a CLOSED adoption. I think that the situation is different if you are involved in an OPEN adoption (which is what happens a lot these days). Since I am not a minor child, nor have I adopted a minor child, and I can only speak to how I felt when I was a minor child. I have NO experience with a OPEN adoption either, so I'm not going to say much about that either. Every situation and experience is different, and I can only share MINE.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mommy Is Adopted

Or is it was? As in, Mommy was adopted.

Well, I was and I am. It's not really a secret, but I also don't introduce myself by saying, "Hi, I'm Karen. I'm adopted. What's your name?"

I've always known that I was adopted. There was never a mind-numbing, earth-shattering moment where the truth came out. I am grateful for that.

There was, however, a somewhat shocking moment when I got an e-mail from a woman who claimed to be my birth Mom.

Turned out she was. Or is it is? Does it even matter?

She contacted me in November. We get along splendidly, via e-mail that is. But in a little over a month, we're going to meet for the first time. Or maybe it's the second time, I mean, we did see each other at my birth for a few moments. I don't know what to think.

I'm excited. I'm terrified. As much as being found answers so many questions, it also brings up so many more. It's been easy to like each other so far. I think we are very accepting of each other. I don't want that to change once we actually meet. I don't think it will. But what if? The thought absolutely terrifies me.

43 days and counting. Texas, here I come.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mommy Gets An Adrenalin Rush

Today did not go as planned.  The following slide show will explain why.  No animals were harmed in the making of this film.  I can't necessarily say the same thing for Michael.