Aug 6, 2015

The 5 Stages of Back to School Shopping

Yesterday I took Little Slick school supply shopping. Y'all, he's going to kindergarten. He's going to kindergarten. 

I have 18 more days with my little boy before he becomes a big boy, not that I've been keeping count or anything. 

As a teacher myself, I find great pleasure in shopping for school supplies. When those supplies show up in stores in July I have a rush of different emotions. The "Oh CRAP! It's coming, summer is ending" dread and then the, "YASSSSS! School supplies complete my soul!" kind of emotions. This year I experienced for the first time the trials of shopping for your own child. I've shopped for my "kids" before, meaning my students, but this was different. 

Here are the 5 stages of school supply shopping: 

1. Where TF are the pencil boxes? Oh, there they are! Wait, they only have pink. So, then you try to convince your child that he wants pink. "Hey buddy! Look there are pink ones, pink is mama's favorite color!" Then you'll see the big child come out via an eyeroll. "Mama, I do NOT want a pink box."Of course, the other boxes are located across the store at the other school supply section. Which brings me to #2. 

2. You won't be able to find everything in the "Back to School" special section. Here's the thing stores, YOU HAVE THE LISTS! You even provide print outs of the lists for unprepared parents to use, WHY do you not use these lists to make sure all the needed supplies are in one spot? Anger will bubble inside you about this, dear shopper. 

3. They will entice your child with the brand-spankin-new backpacks and lunchboxes in plain sight. You will then try to convince your child that his perfectly fine backpack and lunchbox are the best thing since sliced bread. When that doesn't work, you bribe them with post-it notes. 

4. Glue sticks! There they are! We need two. Where's the two pack? Oh, I can only buy a ten pack, of course! Because we totally need 8 extra glue sticks around the house. They'll dry up or melt away before you can use them, by the way. 

5. Yes! We're done, let's get outta here! You go to the front, get in line (of course the slowest line on the face of the planet), and then you realize you forgot the quart sized zip up baggies. Of course you found and have the sandwich sized ones and you even have extras of those at home. But who keeps the quart sized ones at home? I don't. So now the great internal debate. Ditch your position in line to go trek back across the store to get the baggies, contemplate sending your 5 year old on his very first rogue mission but you quickly realize you don't want to damage his spirit as he's sure to fail or get "lost" in the toy section, or leave and come back another time. For baggies. Whatever it is you choose, it will be the wrong choice. 

Now, for a list of suggestions:

1. Buy extra tissues to give to the teacher. Those things are like gold in schools. 

2. Donate those extra glue sticks, you don't need them. 

3. Don't buy the pre-made packages of school supplies. They're crap and then your child will be doomed to have the EXACT same supplies as half the kids in their class. Sure, you think, "Oh, I'll put my kids name on it all!" Guess what? That doesn't matter, I once found out two kids had mixed up their spirals months prior and August - October was in the right spiral and then November - February they had done all their notes in the other person's spiral. Their names were written on the front and inside and NEITHER CHILD NOTICED. And I teach middle school. 

4. Don't worry on our first back to school shopping trip about crying for your baby that's growing up, you'll be too busy scouring the shelves to feel sorry for yourself. But you might cry on the way home. Shopping at Target where there's an in-house Starbucks helps. Because, you know, caffeine = happiness. 

5. It's okay if you cave and buy your kid a new backpack or lunchbox. Or both. Their pride on the first day of school will be worth it. 

Now, go drink your Starbucks and lie about "something being in your eye" as you realize your baby is another year older. 

Apr 9, 2015

Invisible Loss

Adoption loss is often called the invisible loss. Adoption is full of loss. The biggest is when a child loses their first family. Another loss is the birth family losing their child. There is also loss of control, hopes, and dreams from all aspects. But the loss I’m talking about today is the loss of an adoption match.

On November 26th, 2014, the two year anniversary of our family day with Little Slick, we laid eyes on the most precious little chunky baby picture. We just knew this would be Little Slick 2.0, we knew he would be our son.

We were soon officially matched and so excited to be starting the process of bringing another little one into our family! We excitedly told family, including the new big brother to be. He was so proud of his little brother and even gave him the nickname Goose, since his last name sounded similar.

Our little Goose.

The paper work started to pile up, but we didn’t mind. We knew what was at the end of this hurdle. The process for this country is different than Russia’s, much less paperwork but more time. More waiting.

One thing that was different is that for the home study, they wanted to see the room where the baby would sleep. They wanted to see that we had adequately prepared, even though it could still be a year or more until we brought the little guy home.
His room was set up, bed was made, toys delicately placed around. Toys that his big brother had picked out for him from his personal collection and a few he saw in the store that his baby brother just HAD to have. All the items for his first care package were set aside, ready to send to him as soon as our home study was finished.

We were ready, just waiting.

We received each month’s well-baby check from our agency and looked it over and gave to our pediatrician who reviewed it all with us. There were some potential medical special needs but nothing that was too alarming and we, along with our pediatrician, were optimistic.

We received a few pictures of him. He has round, chubby cheeks and the biggest smile I've ever seen. His jet black hair is coming in and the rolls. Oh, the rolls! Such delicious baby rolls.

But, we’ll never get to meet him. I’ll never kiss those cheeks, never squeeze those rolls. Our agency has rescinded our approval for our adoption. We’d fallen in love with a boy we’ll never get to meet. As far as we know, he’s still healthy and still waiting but we are no longer seen as the right fit for him. While I understand the rule as a whole, I do think there need to be special circumstances, especially for a child who has been waiting as long as he has. He deserves better.

We have lost our son. Not through death, but a loss nonetheless.  We had to break our other son’s heart and tell him the brother he was so excited to have cannot be his brother after all.

My grief, anger, and guilt are overwhelming. It’s sometimes hard to function, in the beginning it was hard to get out of bed. I’m fortunate enough to have a little person here who needs me to be strong for him, otherwise I might fall apart.

Now for the why…

 Why are we now unfit? It’s not just the agency, although they could have held our file longer, I have conflicted emotions about that too. How can I ask them to hold his file when perhaps his forever family, likely not us, can get started on the process and bring him home sooner? And they could allow an exception to their birth order "rule" that they break all the time for other families.  The country also has rules. They have a one year policy. Meaning there must be at least one year between children coming into the home. Very few allow adoptions to proceed in circumstances like ours. 

You see, we found out on February 20th that we are expecting a miracle baby. No more miraculous than a child coming into a home through adoption, but a different kind of miracle, especially for us.

We gave up our dreams of a biological child three years ago. After five and a half years, this is actually happening.

It’s strange and surreal to experience. And what should be one of my greatest joys is also part of my greatest loss. But I’m still grateful…and excited…and nervous.  

But for now I’m still mostly sad. I’ll get there though, I’m desperately trying to choose joy but it’s really hard some days. Like the day I tried to go mail Goose’s first and last care package from us. The only thing he’d ever receive from us all nicely packed into a one gallon bag. I couldn't get out of the car. I couldn't make myself go inside. 

How do you fit a lifetime of love into such a small package?

I’m still processing all of this. WE are still processing all of this. We love this little life inside of me, but we also love our sweet little Goose, the boy we’ll never know. The range of emotions we feel is strange and overwhelming but we’ll get through it, but never over it.

We love you, Goose. There will always be a place in my heart for you. 

Mar 23, 2015

The K Word


Y'all, Little Slick is going to kindergarten. 

We went to open house and registered him last week. I was an emotional wreck that day (and night) but held it together while we were there. 

I'm adding this to the things I never thought I'd get to do category. Things I'm grateful to get to do, but man, it was hard! 

He is so excited, pumped to be exact. He tells EVERYONE about his new school and all the new friends he's going to make. And don't even ask him about the new playground he saw, he won't stop talking about it if you ask. So, don't ask! 

How can he be ready when I'm not? Most parents get 5 years to prepare for this, I only got 2. I wanted more time with my baby and now he's a big boy. He's GOING TO KINDERGARTEN! 

I'll just be over here wallowing about my baby growing up so fast. Ignore me. Or bring me chocolate, your choice. 

Nov 8, 2014

Preparing your children for Adoption Discussions

I wish I could wrap him in a little bubble, protect him from the world. He's already seen the worst of so many adults, I hate to think he might see more bad. I hate to think of the day when he experiences more because he was adopted. 

He's already had some questions and concerning comments said to him, but nothing he couldn't handle and nothing that was meant to be hurtful. But the day will come when his story will be used as ammo against him. 

Kids are mean. 

As a mother to an adopted child, I need to prepare him. Not say that people will say mean things about him and his story, but just fill him with so much pride and joy in his story that he knows no different. I also need to give him gentle re-directions that he can hand out when needed. I know the world is a cruel place, and he already does too. He just doesn't know that his current world is cruel too. 

But it shouldn't just be on me and on other parents who have children with a different story. This is the responsibility of any parent, to teach kindness instead of cruelty. 

I need to change what I said earlier. Kids are mean. No, ADULTS are mean. Where do you think they learn it from? 

Recently we were out to eat at a family restaurant just me and the little guy. He was being precious, smothering me in kisses one minute, charming the server the next, playing quietly one minute with his play-do, and then practicing writing his name on his coloring sheet the next. I'll let all you parents know that this does not always happen, sometimes he's a terror, but he's well behaved more often than not. 

Then this family came in and sat next to us. They looked like a normal family to me and then they started talking. One of their daughters made a different choice than her family. I don't know what the choice was but I could tell it was a trivial choice, like her meal choice for the night and her family thought now would be a good time to make fun of her. I've been there, families give each other hard times, no big deal. 

The mother: "We forgot to tell you that you're so different than the rest of us because you're adopted"

Family: They all laugh

The father: "Yeah, you know how those adopted kids are!"

Family: Laughter again 

Why was this okay? Why is it that calling someone adopted is a dig or a negative thing? And "those adopted kids" - you mean like the wonderful one that was sitting right next to you? 

Lucky for this family, I did not ask them to please watch their conversations due to little "adopted" ears that are close by as the server came to take their orders and they switched to another topic. And even luckier, my little guy wasn't paying even a little bit of attention as he was too wrapped up in his imagination and was building towers with his crayons. 

Parents, don't tell your children they're adopted as a joke. It's not funny. 

Don't give them the impression that adopted means less loved or not normal. Don't let them think that it makes someone bad or different, it just means one thing; they were chosen. 

Children only have bad attitudes about topics such as these when their parents do. And parents only have these bad attitudes when they were taught them. STOP IT. Stop it now. 

This isn't okay. This isn't funny. 

And next time, this Mama Bear will ruin your nice family dinner. 

This picture was found on Google. Click the pic for credits. 

For another thoughtful post about this, visit here:

Nov 6, 2014

National Adoption Month!

November is the BEST! It's National Adoption Month! It's also the month we became a forever family, so I might be a little biased :)

What is adoption?

The word adopt has many meanings. From, I found one I like:

And you know what’s funny? This definition wasn’t even talking about adopting a child, this one was talking about adopting an item or new nickname.

When you choose to adopt you choose to forever hold, love, and cherish that child as your own.
Adoption is love.
Adoption is a choice.
Adoption is hard.
Adoption is (most of the time) expensive).
Adoption is a long process.
Adoption is giving children what they deserve; love and support.
Adoption is worth it.

There are also some misconceptions about adoption.
Adoption isn’t temporary.
Adoption isn’t second best. It might not have been a family’s first attempt but it’s never 2nd best.
Adoption isn’t loving someone less.
Adoption isn’t for everyone (but I wish more people would consider it!).

Are you considering adoption? Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Reach out! I’d love to talk or visit one of these resources below.

And if you need proof of how awesome adoption really is, just check out this awesome little dude. He is definitely worth every single hard part of this process!

Sep 20, 2014

I'm so very thankful.

“There is so much loss wrapped up in adoption that it is unfair to ask a child to be thankful.” – Brooke Randolph

Over the last year and a half (almost two!) Little Slick has spoken so very little about Russia and the orphanage. Tonight while tucking him into bed he asked me about the lady with the green car (our facilitator and all those babies guardian angel!) and if she took him to the hospital (yes, she took him after our first trip and he was there for about a month). 

And then he said something I didn't know, he asked if I knew the two "big old ladies" that used to take care of him and the other children. When I said that I only met them once, he said they would sometimes bring all the children candy and everyone would eat it so fast that it was gone before everyone had theirs. He then kissed me and said goodnight.

I'm so thankful those ladies gave my baby a good memory. He deserves the good since he's lost so much. 

And after that I was just a ball of mush and tears. 

I know they'll never read this and I'll never be able to properly thank them, but I hope they know what a difference their care and love made and perhaps still makes if they are still watching those sweet babies. I saw how much he loved them, how his sweet face lit up when it was time for him to go back to them. And I saw how their hard faces softened and they held their hands down to lead him back, oh so gently. 

Thank you for loving him. Thank you for giving this sweet face a smile when you could. 

Jun 10, 2014


I wonder about you. Do you ever wonder about me? 

I know, without a doubt that you wonder about him, the boy that forever connects us. 

I wonder what you look like, how tall you are. I'm betting you're tall because he is tall. But who knows? Do you also love pickles and cheeseburgers? Are cheeseburgers even a thing in Russia? 

Do you bite your fingernails or is that something he picked up on his own? Does your hair get wild when you sleep too? What about those freckles, where did they come from? 

Did you sing him to sleep? Did you kiss his cheeks a million times a day too? These are the things I want to know, I don't want to know the other things, the things that most people ask me; the things about why I am his forever mama and you are his first mama. 

Some people say things like, "You're his real mom!" and they're right. I am his real mama and I am his forever mama but you were his first mama and you are real too. You hold pieces of him, secrets that I'll never know. But then again, I hold some too. I wish I had all the answers for him, I wish I could give him more. 

I'm saddened for your loss, maybe more than I "should" be, but I don't know how to stop feeling like I do. Someone close to me called this survivor's guilt, and maybe it is a little bit of that. But more so I think it's just my love for him. Because you are part of him and he's part of you. You are part of his story, so I'll always keep you in thoughts and constantly be...