The real person smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.

Little one, the past few weeks have been a huge mix of emotions. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’m not going to get into it right now, but this journey has been a rollercoaster.

Going through the past week has prompted me to reflect quite a bit. I went back and read some of our old entries, the very first ones in January and February. I have to say, it was a bit painful to read and tears were shed- but it helped.

I realize when reading those words that were written only ten and eleven months ago, it feels like a lifetime has passed. And it has. A lifetime of experience, anyway. Reading back I can see the hope we had in the beginning that everything would work out like clockwork, the images in our head that we’d have a baby born in June and that we’d get the storybook ending. I see the trust I had in this before. I see how crazy naive we were back then.

But that is not an entirely bad thing, Lo. Being naive and not knowing the outcome gave us the strength to even pursue this, and now that we’re in it- we’re in it until you are here. Besides, a storybook ending really is not our style.

And when I look back and read all of that, how we were taking baby steps and thinking it was all going to work out great, it makes me both happy and sad. Happy, because with reflection comes knowledge and perspective. We’ve come so very, very far in this journey. We’ve gone through things we’d never dream we’d have to go through, and we’re still fighting. We thought we’d have a bouncing six month old on our laps for Christmas this year, and that life would just go on like nothing happened. But as you know, that is not how this story panned out. Oddly though, that part doesn’t make me sad.

What makes me sad is the amount of hope and trust we had when this all started. I feel like with the experiences we’ve had as of late with failed matches, with scams, with hurt…it feels like the hope and trust we once had a mountain of in our hands is now slipping through our fingertips like sand. I’m clenching my fingers tight to keep any semblance I have left, but it just keeps pouring out.

That is the saddest part of all.

We’re not losing hope or faith in you, sweet baby. We’re not losing our sense of you being in our family. That we will never lose. We’re losing our trust. Every connection we make, I have to guard my heart. If I let myself feel attached and get invested, I ultimately end up getting hurt as I have every time. So to guard myself, I try to look at it objectively, logically, without emotions.

But I’m not a robot, baby. I cannot help but fall and let myself feel every ounce of hope, trust, faith…and then it all comes crashing down on my head again. It’s like filling a balloon with your entire self: your love, your hope, your faith, and someone just keeps popping it with a pin and letting all the air out. I’ve repaired it so many times, and I promise myself I won’t let it get filled up again, but it does. I can’t help it.

I can’t help it because it’s so personal, so close to my chest. It’s you in that balloon, sweet baby, because it’s you in my heart.

When I think back to the person I was earlier this year, I barely recognize that person. She was excited about this, she was learning new things every day about adoption and taking each day as it comes. When I put that person that I was next to the person I am now, it’s easy to spot the difference. Now I am tired. I am running myself ragged. I am hurt. I am healing. I am trying to take each day as it comes- but it’s harder than it has ever been.

I knew this journey would be hard, but I don’t think my head or my heart were prepared for it being this hard. This doesn’t change anything with us wanting to adopt, with us fighting for you as hard as we possibly can. It just means that your Dad and I are far stronger than we ever knew, far braver than we’d ever realized, and so in love and in this together than anyone could ever imagine.

I love the saying that it is always darkest before the dawn. We didn’t know this journey would get this dark, we didn’t know it would take this much out of us. But we’re strong, and so are you sweet baby. Your soul will find a way to get to us, no matter what. You are meant to be with us.

That is what this is all about, and all it’s ever been about, Lo. It’s about you. It’s not about our desire to be parents, our wants or needs. It’s about you, your life, your future.

I wish I had all the answers. I wish I knew why things happened when they happen. I wish for a lot of unfathomable things, especially lately. I just hope you’re not unfathomable. I hope that someone can open up their trust to us as we will to them. We’re ready. We’ve been ready for months now. Our hearts are still hurting from all the pain we’ve experienced lately, but we’re not broken. We’re ready with our arms wide open, but we need the other side. We need someone who is going to open their arms up and trust us just as we will trust them, and clasp our hands tight to form a circle of love around you.

Because this is all about you, sweet baby.

It’s always darkest before the dawn. I’m hoping to see that sunrise soon, Little Darling.

With love, reflection, and a renewed sense of trust and hope,

Never ever ever ever ever ever giving up.

Love,

Mom

A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.

Little One, we must learn from others. Others experiences, others journeys- they will teach us more than any textbook in this world.

So when the opportunity arose to participate in an interview project with fellow adoption bloggers, I jumped at the chance. I never knew I would be so lucky as to be paired with Lori Lavender Luz from Write Mind, Open Heart. Lori is a  soon to be published author (check out her book debuting in March 2013 and preorder here),  a mother through adoption and an open adoption advocate. She knows far more than I do about the open adoption journey, and I learned so much from my interview with her.

Please read the following interview with Lori, and learn as much as I did about this amazing beacon in the adoption community:

STBH: What motivates you to write? Have you ever faced writers block, and if so, how have you overcame it?

Lori: I’ve always been a wonderer. I’ve always liked to see the same thing from different angles to understand it better. I find, when I’m writing a post, that in trying to be clear with my reader, I’m also finding clarity for myself. This is why some consider writing as therapy — it requires focus to take an idea or issue or emotion and reduce it to words. It’s the yoga equivalent of finding my core, of honing inward. Writing is introspective and causes me to be more honest with myself, with my motivations. I also like to write because it makes me more observant, more present as I move through my day.
As for writer’s block, I do get it every once in awhile. Sometimes I just take a short break from my blog (usually not more than a week). Sometimes I just sit down with a blank page and commit to be there for an hour. If it flows, great. If not, so what. Guess what…? Usually it flows when I commit to showing up.
STBH: If there were one misconception you could clear up about open adoption, what would it be?
That open adoption is super-hard, that only exceptional people can “do” it. True, parenting in open adoption can be more complicated than parenting in a biologically-built family, but with complexity often come unexpected gifts that you don’t get from simplicity.
Know what’s hard? Relationships! In them we don’t always feel we have the power we want. We don’t always know how to get our needs met. We fear someone else being a “wild card” that makes things be beyond our control.This isn’t unique to open adoption relationships, though the feelings may be heightened in OA because of strong swirling emotions — guilt, fear, debt, regret, anger, sadness, envy.

May I address two misconceptions? The other is that love can ameliorate all possible adoption-related issues for the adopted child. Some people are probably wired to be relatively issue-less, and others not so much. Parents (biological and adoptive) don’t know which they are getting. I remember thinking that my children would come to me as blank slates whom I could fully influence with my love and guidance (and my husband’s). I forgot that they come to me with 23 pairs of other people’s chromosomes, which — surprise — pack a punch! These babies already had personalities by the time I met them as newborns — shocker!

So, because your child may have issues with identity formation as s/he grows up (and really, who doesn’t?) you might as well provide what you can to them about their birth parents. Maybe that’s contact, maybe it’s open-hearted conversations, maybe it’s just you not being threatened by their wondering and processing.
STBH: How do you feel about PAL (positive adoption language)? Do you think it affects the way your children view their family structure? 
I’m all for being mindful, for choosing one’s words deliberately. But if we’re too careful, if we tiptoe around the realities of adoption, we indicate that there is something to hide and that there is shame around adoption.For example, I don’t say to my daughter, “Crystal put you up for adoption.” It sounds so careless and impersonal, like you’re talking about a discarded toy. In reality, Crystal’s decision was anything but careless and impersonal. Instead, I would say, “Crystal couldn’t parent a baby at that time in a safe way, so she decided we would be your parents and she placed you with us.” I try to understand how the words would feel to my child.

I wrote about this topic once regarding whether it matters if I say “we adopted my son” (which indicates it’s something we did — or “my son is adopted” (which indicates it’s something he is). He seemed to pick up on this distinction, as I found out one morning at Take-Your-Parents-to-School Day. But does it really matter? Some adult adoptees have said that being adopted IS who they are. Or at least a part of who they are.

As for language affecting how our children feel about our family structure, yes, I believe it matters. The more secure and issue-less I can be about the way we became a family, the better the soil from which my emotions and words grow, and the more secure and issue-less our kids will have the opportunity to be. For then they can be left to deal with only their issues and not mine.

STBH: What has been the hardest part of your adoption journey so far?
Once we set out on the adoption journey, back in 2000, most everything seemed to fall into place relatively easily. It was the infertility process that brought me to my knees. Once I learned how to relax the grip I had on controlling my life, I was in a better position to yin-yang my way through the adoption process and now the parenting process. I was always good at the yang part — making things happen; I had to get comfortable with the yin part — letting things happen.
STBH: What do you like to do to relax?
I enjoy practicing yoga. For an hour I try to bring my awareness to the confines of my mat. It’s a practice of focusing attention, of taming the wild-child that is my mind. It yokes my mind to my body and helps me remember to be more present even off my mat. Through yoga, I’m beginning to “get” that life is a journey and not a destination and shed the “I’ll be happy whens.” It’s still a process. In yoga, everything is a process and no pose is ever perfected.I also love to read  and write and do cool things with my kids like paint pottery. My daughter, 11, plays volleyball and my son plays whatever sport it’s the season for, so Husband and I spend a lot of time cheering them from the sidelines.

STBH: Being a self proclaimed new age libertarian, how do you feel about the upcoming election? 
I wish we could break free from our two-party system. The way it is, a candidate doesn’t have to get you to vote FOR him (or her); he only has to get you to vote AGAINST the other guy (or gal). So campaigns are based on smear and fear and that makes everyone feel dirty.My family lives in a purple state (and a purple home!) and are thus bombarded with ads and robocalls and fliers that indicate only jerks, idiots and crooks want my vote. My kids have been told by the campaigns that no matter who wins, we’re all doomed — DOOMED I tell you! Husband and I have been doing some damage control surrounding these ubiquitous messages

STBH: Tell about your upcoming book on open adoption.
I was thrilled to announce that my project had a heartbeat last December and that I was going to give birth, metaphorically speaking. I spent the next several months gestating The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole with the help of a lot of midwives (and their male equivalent; midhusbands?). My daughter’s birth mom, Crystal, is a contributor to the book, as are a host of other adoptive parents, first parents, adult adoptees and adoption therapists and advocates who shared their insights, viewpoints and wisdom with me — many who are part of this Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project!The book will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in April of 2013, and if you’d like to be notified when the book is available, you can get on the contact list. Thanks for asking 🙂

Lori Lavender Luz

Again, thank you to Lori for the amazing interview. I cannot wait to read your book when it comes out!

We can learn so much when we just open our eyes and ears to others experiences, Lo.

With my eyes and ears wide open,

Love Always,

Mom

This post is a part of the Adoption Blogger Interview Project. To read more about the project or to read other bloggers interviews, please visit the projects page . To read my interview with Lori, please visit her post.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Little One, the quote above is from the late Steve Jobs, a fellow adoptee who undeniably changed the landscape of technology forever. How did he accomplish so much? He followed his heart with a level head.

If there is one thing I want you to learn in this world, the most important lesson that I am relearning everyday, it would be this: follow your heart, and trust your intuition. 

I’ll say it again.

Let the words sink in.

Follow your heart.

Trust your intuition.

We have been presented with a few situations where it was a tough call so far in this journey. At times, we’ve had to make really, really tough decisions.Hard things to face. We’ve had to say no to some things, some people- and it’s been incredibly difficult to make those decisions. But when something doesn’t feel right – you need to trust your intuition. And when something feels so right that no matter how much thinking you do about it, you can’t get rid of that indescribable, airy feeling of hope- trust your heart.

It’s been a lesson we’ve learned a lot recently, and it can be applied to almost everything in life. It’s tough to balance the logic of your brain and the flood of your emotions. It takes some fine tuning and finesse to be able to detect which one is leading you where at what times. But there will be two very distinct feelings you can never ignore.

The first of which is that feeling in your gut. The one that gnaws and tears at you, no matter how good you may think you feel about something. It’s the voice in the back of the theater screaming fire while you’re blissfully watching the movie play out in your head. It’s the friends advice your ears won’t let you hear. It’s that outside perspective. It’s that fight or flight feeling. It’s your intuition, your sensory point of danger. Trust it. Put your life in it. You won’t want to hear it a lot of the time. You’ll want to drown it out with positives, put a new spin on it, get your emotions involved. It’s incredibly hard to ignore, and at the same time, incredibly hard to listen to. In my life so far, my intuition has been a beacon, a lighthouse that brings me back home in the darkest of storms and roughest of seas. It’s the keeper of the logic, the neutral safe place in your head that gives you another perspective- not for any reason other than to keep you safe. It’s the cold armor of truth round your warm heart.

And then, sweet baby, there is your heart.

Trust in your heart. Follow your heart. When someone says something is impossible, trust in your heart to guide you. Your heart is not the booming voice of intuition, it’s the tiny whisper that you have to slow down to understand. It’s that little voice inside of your head that when you’re so down on life, it softly tells you to try again. It’s your soft side, the ship that will take you to the lighthouse. It’s that gnawing feeling that you need to stop thinking and make the leap in the zero hour. Sometimes it’s the illogical decision that no one understands but you. Sometimes it’s going against the grain.

Don’t follow trends, Lo. Follow your heart instead.

And they need each other, these two. Intuition needs heart, heart needs intuition. There may be times where it hurts so much to take this advice. Where it feels like the world is crashing down because you are following one or both of these feelings. But know that it’s not.

Following your heart is following hope.

We have been burned so far. A lot. But we follow our hearts. Our hearts are telling us to not give up, to keep going, that maybe we’ve already made the contact we need to make. Our hearts are telling us that this is not a matter of if, but when. That when may not be this month, next month or the following month, but when is when it’s meant to be. Our intuition guards our hearts from the people who could potentially hurt us, but lets its guard down when something is safe.

Together, trusting these two feelings will help us find you. And once you learn to trust in them (which is something we’re still learning every single day) they will help you find peace, acceptance and where you’re meant to be.

And you’re meant to be here with us, sweet baby.

With trust, love, and a gut feeling about this going right, 

Love always,

Mom