October 31, 2015

Day 30: Baggage, Lunch & Dinner

After the emotional roller coaster I have been on the past few days, I evened out a bit for Day 30, which was nice because I had activities and kindnesses from morning till night. 

I finished most of the children's beards. (Simply being able to read that sentence is a kindness to you, is it not?) I delivered the beards and costumes to school along with a special lunch for Harper's teacher. We have had a lot of struggles with this little guy, and having our family in her class her first year of teaching, is quite an undertaking. She is doing a phenomenal job with him and I have complete trust and confidence in her ability to handle his unique situation while he is at school.

Scarcely is my concern for Harper not front and center in my mind, so having it in the back of my mind for a few hours while he is in her care is an unbelievable relief to me. This gift is something that only a parent of a child with a severe emotional disability could fully appreciate. So, she gets her favorite lunch. 

 And one priceless selfie with Dopey.

As you can see, I arrived at school dressed in full costume, which I consider an act of kindness to all the other mothers since my looking like a total idiot exponentially increases the cool factor for anyone in my immediate vicinity. I brought apples for London's class and volunteered to help with their costume parade. 

 For my final #AdamsActs for Day 30, we delivered more lifesaver/thank you cards for the NICU nurses and also made dinner for Pat and Megan who spend such long days at the NICU with their girls that they should not have to worry about mundane details, like making dinner.

I forgot to take a picture of my dinner, but this is basically what it looked like. 

I want to thank any and all of you who have inquired about and prayed for these two little warrior girls in the NICU. They are doing awesome in so many ways, and have recently joined the four pound club! Being born at 27 weeks around two pounds a piece means this is a huge victory for them. It also shows how far they still have to go, so I beg you all to continue praying for their growth, strength and development. And for Pat and Megan's endurance and peace during this time. Also, maybe pray that you can be friends with them someday, because they are that great, and you're missing out. 

We ended Day 30 with one of our favorite families who came over for dinner, which was a kindness to myself really. One of the things I shared last night with my friend Courtney, is the shift that has taken place for me in October as a result of #AdamsActs. I used to go into October with a private grief, and blogging through it and doing acts of kindness helped me to externalize my grief in a more productive, life-giving way. What I did not expect, was how this would free others to share their private grief with me. 

Over the past four years, countless people have shared with me their deep, personal losses and griefs. I have heard from so many of you about the stages of grief from losing a parent, a sibling, or worse... a child. Many have shared their private grief over the struggle to conceive a child. I have opened message after message about miscarriage and baby loss, and divorce and death and long battles with Alzheimer's or cancer or ALS. Some have shared their childhood memories of a life in foster care, some of you have shared their experience parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder/Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and a few of you have shred your stories of having these disorders.

In an effort to no longer carry my own grief privately and alone, I found myself with the holy burden of helping some of you carry some of yours. I do not take this privilege lightly. And I thank you for the honor of doing life with you in this one, small way. 

My sister's bff, Karen, recently shared an article about how dismissive it is to say to someone hurting that "everything happens for a reason." 

In the article it said

"Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."

For the past four years, all of you have helped me carry my pain. And in an unexpected turn of events, I have had the intimate and devastating honor of carrying yours. 

October 29, 2015

Day 29: Random Acts of I'll Pay Ya Back

I celebrated Day 29 with obscenely puffy eyes and a vulnerability hangover from publicly spilling all my saddest guys in last night's post. I seriously cried like an absolutely hysterical baby while I wrote, and then intermittently afterwards, and then every time I was alone today, which was twice for about 3 seconds each. 

My #AdamsActs was a day spent with my friend Lexi. When people ask me "how do you manage five kids and your business and a move and..." The answer is, well, Lexi. She helps me with the kids, she helps me stain my floors, she moves furniture with me, she will go buy puffy paint in an emergency... Seriously, the girl is willing to do anything to help my family. She is such a servant and a faithful friend. And we never hang out without the kids, so we haven't finished a conversation since nineteen ninety never.
She was the wind beneath my wings the week of the wedding, and girlfriend deserved a day-o-girly-fun as a handsome reward.

Except everything went awry. I won't get into all the details of my hellacious morning, but suffice it to say that according to London, "the smell of a rhino cage" was involved. After handling the rhino, I resisted the urge to hide in the basement in a fetal position, and I got the children to school (even Harper, although an hour and a half late). 

I picked up Lexi and treated her to coffee and a massage and an amazing lunch. Oh wait, that is not how it happened at all. 

1) I forgot my wallet.
2) I realized that right before we ordered coffee.
3) She had to buy the coffee.
4) And lunch.

At least I did find two crumpled dollars in my coat pocket, which I used to "treat" us each to three minutes in one of those very aggressive massage chairs at the mall. There is video evidence of how horrifying this experience was for me, but let's just say that I felt quite violated. 

After all these fails, we ended our day of girly fun with absolute chaos. Kids needed to get picked up from school, diapers were removed (and contents explored/spread) during nap, Halloween costumes were being made, plus dinner and open house at school and my rage-filled destruction of Jay's pack-n-play (or poop-n-play as it has been renamed.) 

Have you ever seen this garbage man lose his head over the garbage that won't come out? This is precisely what I looked like when I destroyed and disposed of my pack-n-play after nap. 

Poor Lexi.

There were some successes for Day 29 though... the blanket drive is yielding ridiculous heaps of blankets for the homeless! 

And as a kindness to my family, I have been hard at work making our family's Halloween costumes. Technically it is only a kindness to the girls because Jay doesn't care and Harper hates our family themed costumes. He just wants to be Spiderman every year like all the other 8 year old boys on planet Earth. But that's not how we roll. We roll as a family of Santas, or as brides and grooms, or something else absurd. And this year, we will be The Seven Dorves. (London gets pronunciation cred on that one.) Harper is not thrilled. Which is fine, that just makes assigning Grumpy quite easy. 

But the Dorf costumes are almost complete and I only had the one mental breakdown today, so I am counting that as my final kindness for Day 29.

October 28, 2015

Day 28: There was a brother.

There are moments, usually when I least expect them, that I am blindsided by the fact that my brother is gone. It can be something so small, like tonight, one of my kids pointed out that I am the tallest one in my family. 

"You are the youngest kid in your family," she noticed, "how are you taller than your parents and your sisters." 

Yes. I am. 

I am the tallest one in my family. 


It's those small things that hit me with big realities. 

One remark like that and my mind is instantly filled with fresh, heartbreaking awareness...

How tall was Adam?
I can't remember how tall my brother was.
He was only 17 and still growing, how tall would he have become?
How can I not remember how tall he was!? 
I am losing the details of him.
I miss him.
I want one conversation with him as I am now.
I want to go back and be able to say goodbye.
I didn't want him to go.
I don't want to be the tallest one in my family.
She mentioned my parents, and my sisters. She forgets there was a boy.
I wish she knew to add a brother. 
I wish there was a brother.

Watching the news clip yesterday brought back such a flood of memories and emotions. Yesterday, the news remembered that there was a boy, a brother, and they told his story. And today, I just feel sad. I am so proud of this movement of kindness, and if Adam can't be here on earth living out these kindnesses himself, then I am certainly glad that all of us are doing so on his behalf. It's the next best thing to having him be right here. But that's just it, it's not even close to having him right here. And sometimes, little things trigger that very big, sad reality.

I know that it is normal to lose the details of a person, but we are always gaining new details. Sure, you forget how your childhood friend cut her hair in middle school, but that's because you can't stop picturing her as she is now. But, time and grief and loss are tricky that way. Time robs you of the details of your memories and loss robs you of new ones. And what's left is a sort of hazy dream of a person, something you can't quite entirely capture in your mind.

So Day 28 was about noticing and acknowledging small details. The internet guy came to our house today (in a cold, torrential downpour) and he spent a long time going in and out of the house, downstairs to the basement and back upstairs and then back outside, all to put a black, blinking thingy on the shelf. 

For #AdamsActs, I forced him to accept a hot cup of coffee, and after he left, I called the company to give a very specific list of everything he did super well. The rep I spoke with said that she was so happy that someone called with positive feedback and would personally call his boss to let him know my specific compliments. 

It wasn't anything major, but I think if a small thing can trigger big grief, than perhaps a small thing also has the potential to trigger big good. And I am for good. I need good. 

So I said nice things about Mr. Jeff the internet guy, because he matters too. He is someone's son, someone's daddy, someone's childhood friend, someone's boy, someone's brother. And the details of him matter. Noticing the details of a person is a kindness, and a privilege I long to have back. Until I get to see with my own eyes the glorious details of my brother, made completely new in heaven, I will have to settle for the details of Mr. Jeff and all the other earthly brothers and sisters that God puts in my path to notice, and care for, and love. 

October 27, 2015

Day 27: Haters Gon Hate Them Filthy Dates

Day 27 was a big day for #AdamsActs.

Our computer is having a panic attack, and by that I mean it is still "loading" since I tried to blog last night, so I'm pretty sure it's "retiring" to a nice computer farm out in the country, where there is plenty of room to run and play with other useless computers... but that means that from now on I have to blog from my phone which is the worst, and also means that I can't embed this link, but you should still click on it.

You. Guys. 

First of all, these people are calling #AdamsActs an initiative! Ha! I am so proud of all of you who have read and participated and shared the posts and hash tagged your little hearts out. I wish all of you could have been interviewed instead of me (partly because I had 20 minutes to prep for that interview - and by "prep" I mean... wash my hair in the kitchen sink to create the illusion that I showered today.) 

Okay, so in addition to the little debut on Fox News, our blanket drive was a wild success today. 

The bin runneth over. 

I will keep the sign and the bin (and those tiny pumpkins) out for the whole week so Rochester peeps can send me a private message for the address if needed. 

For Day 27, I had a cool run in at the grocery store. A young mom and her two little kids were eating spoiled dates, it was terrible. She was waiting near the check out because the cashier had to  ring me up before she went back in to return the rancid dates. I grand finale-ed  my grocery order with a candy bar for the cashier. I didn't plan to have an audience for that moment, but spoiled-date-lady had to wait there with her kids, who were getting crankier and louder by the minute.

I know that feeling. It's the worst. There is nothing more panic-inducing than watching your child slowly reach their boiling point and you KNOW it's about to get real, and there is nothing you can do except sweat, and pray and maybe whisper yell a little. You may beg for them to please just ignore their hunger and exhaustion and their need to urinate, and please just mindlessly remain silent. It's a terrible feeling. And it is always compounded by the judgey stares of onlookers.

This. Right here. Is why I will never buy dates. Also because they're disgusting.

So, after she got her dates returned and she started to leave, I just stopped her quickly to let her know that she is doing a great job, and that her kids are both so young and they are both at a really, really challenging, dependant age and that it will get easier.

No one ever became a better mom because someone shame-stared them down at the grocery store. 

She seemed really, truly uplifted and thanked me. As I made my way through the parking lot, I paid the quarter deposit for a few people's grocery carts (yes, I shop where you have to rent your cart). 

The spoiled-date-lady saw me doing this and finally said "Okay, really!? Are you always this nice because I have caught you three times now!" So, I went and explained #AdamsActs and how I am in the home stretch of this month of kindness, but that it does really change how you live all year long. She promised to find me on social media, and I really hope she does! And I hope she's reading this right now, and I hope she knows that I meant every word about her as a mom. 

And I hope she forgives me for calling her spoiled-date-lady.

October 26, 2015

Day 26: Making a Blanket Statement

Last year, my oldest daughter, Annalee, did an exhibition project about the epidemic of homelessness in New York State. She and her group of classmates focused specifically on the bulldozing of Tent City here in Rochester, which displaced countless homeless people from the only safe haven they knew at the time.

Annalee (age 10 at the time) and her group came up with the idea of collecting blankets for the displaced homeless population. The blankets were then donated to an organization that was temporarily housing those whose tents were bulldozed by the city of Rochester. The whole thing was handled terribly and the treatment of the residents of Tent City was deplorable in my opinion. The small box of blankets was one fifth grader's way of showing compassion.

For Day 26, I am inspired by my daughter's efforts and have continued them with our own neighborhood blanket drive. I posted the information on our neighborhood Facebook page and will keep this obnoxious sign and a bin in my front yard for the next week. 

All blankets and/or sleeping bags will be donated to local missions and shelters who provide services for the homeless men, women and children in our community. If you live in the Rochester area and would like to donate, send me a private message and if I determine that you are not a creepy pervert, I will give you my address to collect your donation. 

Most of us have more than we need, just in general, but blankets and sleeping bags are some of those things that mean nothing to us when they are stored away in a linen closet - but could literally save someone's life in the harsh, record-breaking, farmer's-almanac-cursing, Rochester winter we will undoubtedly have for the zillionth year in a row. 

October 25, 2015

Day 25: Tom and Jesus Save a Wretch

I do not believe that you can give something that you do not have. If one does not feel loved, it's nearly impossible to give love. At least in a healthy way. And it is hard to give hope to another, if you yourself are hopeless. Spreading kindness to others through #AdamsActs would be impossible, if I had not first experienced the greatest kindness - the wild, unbridled love of my Jesus and the enduring, life-ending kindness done on my behalf: His death, in place of my own, that I might spend forever with him, the ultimate act of love and selflessness. The truest act of love was done, just for me. 

And for you.

I share that because it is not possible for me to continue sharing about these #AdamsActs without explaining the reality  that every single act of selflessness or kindness or grace or love is purely a response to having first been loved by Jesus. I am helpless to do good apart from Him and I am certainly not capable of being kind for 31 days straight. I am simply not that well-behaved.

In fact, if you Google the direct Hebrew-to-English translation for the word wretch, my Facebook page will actually come up in the search results. I could have been the poster child for sins and mistakes and selfish ickyness. Yet, I see my face on the front page of a (albeit a very small) newspaper as some sort of poster child for kindness, and so I feel I must explain. 
The good you saw in my brother Adam, and any good you might be fooled into seeing in me, and the good that so many of you are spreading through your acts of kindness are a ripple effect from the first act of true love Adam and I ever knew. The love of a kind God shown through his kind son, because he longed for his beloved to remain his own for eternity. We get to be that beloved. I, the definition of a sinful wretch, get to partake in that offering of grace and love.

The result is that I have, and therefore am able to really give

Some of my favorite kindnesses are those where I can return kindness that was shown to us. Because on top of the ultimate lovingkindness, I have been blessed beyond measure by a community of people who choose to shower our family with love and kindness way more than anyone should be. We are truly spoiled with love from others. Many of you included. 

As my friend Lexi once put it "I don't know what it is, but PEOPLE LOVE YOU!" I wasn't offended by her shock and confusion in my lovability, although super rude, because I know what she meant, she meant that people love on us such an irrational amount that it is perplexing. 

Today, for Day 25, we wanted to repay a kindness from a neighbor. She brought us cookies to welcome us to the neighborhood a couple weeks ago, even though her brother had just unexpectedly passed away. Kindness in the midst of grief is the hardest to muster, but probably the most healing. So, we wanted to thank her for exerting the effort to make homemade cookies for us during her hard time. In part because they were some of the best sugar cookies I've ever had and I want her to bring them to us on a regular basis, (see, total selfish wretch) but also because we wanted to offer help during a time of grief and sadness (see, also redeemed!) 

We wrote a little card...

We wished for us to be "frens" and offered some raking...
Thanked her for those amazing cookies just to remind her that they are gone and may need refilling soon...
And we went to rake...

And then I couldn't breath because whatever chest cold I have is allergic to raking and other forms of hard work...
So Tom saved the day...


October 24, 2015

Day 24: Tom Comes Clean

Day 24 was a bit of a fail seeing how I barely left my house and am a bit of a sick zombie at the moment. Tom and I both sent encouraging emails to different teachers, so that's something. I also took a little time to respond to some Facebook messages about #AdamsActs that I have neglected. A few were even from recipients of #AdamsActs! Thank you all, by the way, for the messages! They do mean so much to me, it just takes me longer than I would like to respond, and for that I apologize.

I tried to force Tom to guest blog as an act of kindness to me, but the man don't like his hand forced. So, instead we attempted a video blog. Here is the first (and only) take. I thought the world would want to see his big secret revealed.
You're welcome.

October 23, 2015

Day 22 & 23: Choosing Life and Love

Leaving at the end of a visit with Jay's birthparents is never easy. If it's bittersweet to reunite, then it's just plain bitter to separate again. I don't want to make it sound like there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, because there's not. But, there is a heaviness that settles in deep. There is a daunting weight and heft to open adoption. It comes with a constant awareness that there is so much to our story - both beautiful and tragic - and we sometimes feel the tragic more, when leaving, than we do the beauty. Yet, every time I struggle through the emotional layers of open adoption I remind myself that they chose life. 

So. I choose love.

Coming home after a visit is not easy either. Harper, who is already facing challenges every day, is faced with the additional feat of processing the difference between his and Jay's adoptive experience. Feelings of anger and confusion and jealousy are a natural result of comparison (in general I think) but especially when every emotion he experiences tends to have a sense of rejection tethered to it. For a child already struggling with outbursts of aggression, these visits with Jay's birthparents have been a trigger for Harper. So I am going to be kind to myself and my family by laying low this weekend. As I expected I would at some point during this crazy month, I have run myself completely ragged and this cold I now have is getting progressively worse by the minute. 

For Day 22 I placed little notes around Sweet Melissa's apartment. She lets Jay and I stay with her whenever we need, she spoils me rotten, she verbally abuses me in the best possible way. (See "awesome, but useless" in previous post.) It goes without saying that she deserves a few hidden notes of encouragement and/or silliness. Some notes are awesome, and some are useless. 

Just like me.

For Day 23, I put little thank you notes on candy bars to give to some of the F.U.P. (Frequently Underappreciated People) in my life. This included some lunch monitors, the front desk secretary at the school, our mail carrier, the bus driver, and the school custodian.

All these people work very hard, and do it with a smile on their face! Seriously, these people are wonderful. And I am at this school three times a day, every day. (Yes, I am aware that three times a day is excessive.)

Buuuut, I bring the kids to school every morning and pick them up every afternoon, and on the specialist's recommendation, I join Harper for lunch every single day at school. I get a lot more face time with the F.U.P. at Briarwood than most parents and if I were them, I would have stopped smiling at me weeks ago. But, they are nice, literally, every single day. 

The front end person at any school or business has a huge job of setting the tone for one's experience with said operation. And the front end person at Briarwood is a wonderful secretary who buzzes me in the doors up to thrice a day with a joyful attitude. It was such a small gesture compared to how kindly she engages with the students, parents and staff, still she thanked me and said that my note of appreciation almost made her cry! That is a sign of some serious underappreciation! 

We have just over a week left in October. That is plenty of time to plan some simple #AdamsActs for the F.U.P. in your life. I know that it's tiring on the homestretch. Some of us are sick, many of us are exhausted and countless are carrying a butt ton of heavy burdens. This is when we need to remember how powerful kindness can be, that compassion and expressed appreciation can uplift and encourage a weary soul, that we have been given the power to lift one another up, or put down, to bring life or death into this world. And we get to choose. We get to lift up. We get to choose life. 

And love.

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

October 21, 2015

Day 21: Traveling Mercies

For Day 21, I have to backtrack a tiny bit because I forgot about one #AdamsActs that was less a random act of kindness, and more an intentional "thank you/I'm sorry for my general uselessness" type of kindness.

I am staying with, the one and only, Melissa Waheibi. Sweet Melissa is host extraordinaire, a walking map, a born problem solver, and also maybe a spy. Basically, she is useful AND awesome. 

So imagine her disappointment to discover that, while awesome, I do not share the aforementioned skill set. Long story short, her friend Geoff kindly drove us around Queens late at night to find a good, free parking spot for the week. He literally drove the car around for me. It took forever and it was late on Sunday night, freezing, and a total imposition. But he was gracious and willing to help.

Then I forgot my purse in the car. So the next day we had to trek all the way back to Queens so that my purse didn't get burgled. I had a minimum of four crumpled one dollar bills in there... So, it was pretty urgent. 

But I couldn't remember where I was parked. And by couldn't remember, I mean that I didn't listen to any parking information Geoff gave me. It was like 8th Grade Earth Science all over again. I just couldn't listen to the instructions. 

So, we can't find my car. Geoff has to save the day yet again. "Sweet" Melissa couldn't just ask for help, she had to insult me via text message. As pictured here: 

Melissa is hilarious. Cruel. But hilarious.

Geoff didn't confirm nor deny our suspicion that "cleaning the bathroom" really meant he was mid-soak in a glorious bubble bath. So, we thought he and Lisa deserved a lovely bottle of vinegarette for their troubles. 

Vinegarette is the new wine, in case you are not up on the times. 

In addition to this small act of gratitude, Melissa helped put together these incredible #AdamsActs which I handed out to some homeless people tonight while with Jay and Pop (his birthfather.) 

We handed out one of my all-time favorite books. It's hilarious and touching and poignant and irreverent and smart and all the things. The homeless have multiple challenges, but one that is frequently overlooked is having a significant number of idle hours during the day. Passing time, particularly when in a state of hopelessness or strife, can be daunting. I would imagine that reading an excellent, thought-provoking book about stumbling upon a messy, imperfect
faith in the midst of challenging circumstances cannot be a bad way to pass that time.

Additionally, each book had one of these incredible resource cards inside the cover.

These cards are part of an initiative to help locate the more than 4,000 homeless people in Manhattan and help them find resources they may not know are available. As indicated on the card, essential services such as meals, medical care and shelter can be accessed through these resources, assisting them in finding an alternative to homelessness. 

As I handed this book and card to one man in particular (who had a very large boil on his forehead), I felt a great sense of relief knowing that one little card provides access to information and resources that we take for granted.

I wrote yesterday about feeling overwhelmed by the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness. www.dontwalkby.org prompts people to not just walk by, but to do something in Manhattan. We all know, though, that the homeless are not confined to Manhattan and in every city there is an underprivileged community and a homeless population. As a follower of Christ I have a biblical obligation to care for the poor, but regardless of your beliefs, all of us can and should concern ourselves with the plight of our fellow citizens. 

So, for Day 21, I challenge each of you to do what you can in your own community. Give someone a book to pass time, help people find access to resources, volunteer at a shelter, make a donation, bring people vinegarette for pete's sake... Just don't walk by.

October 20, 2015

Days 19 & 20: Seeing and Loving

Jay and I are in Manhattan staying with my friend Melissa for the next few days. We are here to visit Jay's birthparents, so this will be the big city/open adoption edition of #AdamsActs. Spoiler alert: big city Jay doesn't sleep great and he rolls on the sidewalk when his suburban legs simply can't make it another block. It's very unsanitary. (Pardon the blurry image, but the kid can really roll.)

For Day 19, Jay and I brought some fruit to a homeless gentleman who suffers from a deformity of the foot. When we walked over, and I had Jay say "Hello, sir!" and hand him an apple, the man seemed taken aback.

He thanked us and remarked that he couldn't remember the last time somebody addressed him as "sir." After we walked away for a bit and turned back, the man was still smiling and waving to Jay.

So, Day 19: Seeing a man who feels invisible. Addressing him respectfully. Giving him fresh produce - which can hard to find in an "urban food dessert". Hopefully, restoring a bit of dignity. 

I am always overwhelmed by huge issues of social justice - poverty, child slavery, human trafficking, sex trafficking, systemic racism, deplorable work conditions in developing countries... Issues like these seem so insurmountable. I know it's easier to pretend that these problems don't exist. I know it's overwhelming to acknowledge their existence. I know that we can't "fix" poverty through one act of kindness.

I also know that my God sees us and knows us intimately. He does not change our hearts from a distance, but through regular, intimate connection. I think that He models that for our benefit, so we know how to change things around us.

To change our culture, we must regularly connect with people. We sometimes have to crouch down and place our hand on a disfigured foot. We have to see people. Really make eye contact. 

And say Hello. 


My name is Jay, and I approve my mom's message. 

Day 20. Jay reunited with the lovely Miss N. (his birthmom) this morning and our #AdamsActs for today was bringing her a gift. She loves to color (so do I by the way, it's seriously therapeutic) so we brought her this amazing adult coloring book. 

Then we spent the day at the park with her and his birth sister. And while Jay is napping I am trying to quickly catch my breath before we meet up with birthdad in an hour. Navigating open adoption isn't easy, in fact it is one of more emotionally draining things I have experienced in my life. 

I have this constant sense of responsibility to Jay... I have to take a lot of pictures because what if they close the adoption and these are the only moments we have with them. I have to remember everything they say so I can be mindful of their preferences and so I can answer Jay's questions when he's older. I need to keep Jay on a good schedule, not just accommodate everyone else. I don't want to push him to engage more than he in comfortable with. 

But I also have this overwhelming sense of responsibility to his birth family... I have to divide our time evenly between everyone. I want to make these visits as easy and comfortable for them as possible. I want to be sensitive to how these visits might trigger a variety of emotions for them. I want to push Jay to engage so they feel connected with him. I feel obligated to "prove" that Jay is happy and doing well and that we are good parents, so I feel pressure for him to be well-behaved and not, I don't know, roll around on the sidewalks like a lunatic. 

The visits are so bittersweet. To see the look on Miss N's face as she registers how big Jay has gotten since our last visit, to watch her rub his hair, to see her hug him goodbye while he reaches for me instead, to hear him call me "mama" in front of the one who gave him life... these are things that crack my heart wide open. 

It is nothing heroic and I am not pretending that it is. But, to sign up for this, is a sort of kindness. To them, to Jay, to myself. It's hard, certainly, but it's also so, so very good. 

Waiting for Miss N. And Baby Girl
Feeding Baby Girl

Pretty much sums up these two...

October 18, 2015

Day 18: Tangerines and (The Big) Apple

Greetings from New York City!

Yes, you read that right. I spent Day 18 traveling to NYC because we are due for a visit with my youngest son)'s birthparents. My #AdamsActs consisted of giving tangerines to two homeless men holding "hungry/down and out" signs but that was when I was back in Rochester.

It's been a long day traveling, and I am pretty exhausted... so I thought I would repost a blog I wrote which seemed to help a lot of people understand what open adoption is and why we chose to participate in one. 


We have an open adoption.

A lot of people think we are crazy.  (We also think we are crazy, but for totally different reasons.)  Actually, maintaining a relationship with our son's birthparents is one of the least crazy things we have ever done. When the alternative is withholding a relationship with people that created him, it seems insane to do anything else. Trust me, I am not being judgemental, I know that there are a million nightmare scenarios where a relationship must be withheld for the child's safety and well-being. But that's not what I am talking about. 

I am talking about two people who absolutely adore their child. I am talking about a beautiful, bright, amazing young woman who created a life from scratch, and then birthed absolute perfection. She not only gave him the gift of life, she gave him the gift of a family. And for some reason that blows my mind every single day, she chose us to be that family. 

I do not think of choosing open-adoption as some heroic act of mercy like some people think it is. Mercy is when we don't get punished for something, even though we deserve it. I think that is how a lot of people look at it, like birthparents lose their right to be involved if they choose to place their child for adoption.  If I gave birth to a child that I did not feel prepared to parent at the exact moment of their birth, I cannot imagine the pain of receiving a life sentence of separation from my child because of it. I honestly don't feel like we are doing anything remarkable by facilitating a relationship with Jay and his first mommy and daddy... rather, I think we have the privilege of being part of something remarkable.

We fell in love with our son's birthmama, Miss N., the moment we first spoke with her on the phone. She and I have been texting and calling and facetiming and sending pictures and videos... almost daily ever since. Yes it is a huge commitment.  Yes it is time-consuming. Yes it can sometimes be messy and enmeshed (see why I have a low tolerance for that with neighbors!?)  No, it is not easy or convenient to travel to New York City every few months to visit them. Still, it is nothing remarkable on our part.  What she did was remarkable.  She entrusted us with the life of her only son... and we are merely reciprocating the trust and respect she showed us, even though we did nothing to deserve it.  That is called grace.  To give a blessing that someone does not deserve.

Adoption is such a sweet picture of our belief system. We actually believe that we are adopted by God, because he essentially traded in His only son so that we (ie; heinous sinners) could be made His perfect sons and daughters. That is both grace and mercy. He showed us grace in pursuing us though we did nothing to deserve such love... and He showed us mercy by not separating His perfect self from us, even though I sin enough in my sleep to warrant permanent banishment from His perfect presence.  I know how crazy this all sounds... which is why I admitted that texting my baby's birthmom is hardly the craziest thing I do.  I actually believe this Jesus stuff, and I know that makes me wacky to a lot of people.

But, here's the cool part. Because I actually believe this stuff, I get to live with a peace and a reckless abandon that nothing else in this world can give. So, sharing my son with the only other people on this planet who adore him as much as we do, is not that hard in light of my own adoption through the grace and mercy and loving kindness of my God.

Photo cred: Me, but that was easy thanks to his DNA.
DNA cred: Pop and Miss N.