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.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.

Sunflower fields forever

Little One, when I was little I had trouble sleeping. I attribute it to having multiple surgeries at a very young age- I would go in to the hospital, and wake up unable to move. I was terrified to go to sleep for fear that I’d wake up in the hospital. So when my Mom worked nights as a nurse, my Dad struggled to get me to drift off to sleep. He’d kneel down next to my bed, stroke my hair and try to get me to relax. One of our nightly rituals was him talking me to sleep, and often times he used (what I didn’t know at the time what it was, but with adult eyes I now know) meditation.

He would push my hair out of my face, and whisper to me, “Imagine you’re in a sunflower field. All the bright sunny flowers are everywhere – as far as the eye can see. The breeze gently sweeps through the field and the sunflowers wiggle, and the wind blows your hair. The sky is big and blue, the clouds are fluffy enough to sleep on.”  It would go on for hours and hours. Eventually, my mind would be fully immersed in that sunflower field, and I would feel relaxed enough to give in to sleep.

I cherish that memory, Lo.

This week was a rough one, sweet baby.

 

We thought we were so much closer. We had a lead. We met her in person. It all seemed so perfect..until her name glared on one of the scam boards.

An emotional scammer- not looking for money, just craving attention- had us sucked in and made us more hopeful than we’d been in a long time. We were all excited at the possibility of having you here by October, the due date she gave us. She sent us sonogram pictures. She told us we were chosen. And then it all came crashing down.

And I feel like ever since that fateful email that it was all a sham- that all our dreams were false- I feel a bit numb. I feel like I can’t even cry. I feel like it’s going to take a lot for me to trust that this will work, to trust another contact or lead. We’ve had our hearts broken twice now, once with a fall through and once with a scam. The scam hurt far, far worse. The fall through was meant to be, it was fate. The scam was all smoke and mirrors (we don’t even believe she was actually pregnant) and for no purpose other than someone elses selfishness. How could anyone do that? How could someone be so mean and hurtful? And she was not only scamming us, but at least six other hopefuly adoptive couples. Why would someone do that?

Because they are hurting, too. Badly.

It’s sad, and I feel terribly bad for this person. She needs help that we cannot provide for her. She needs to find peace.

And it hurt. A lot. Depths of your soul, how am I going to make it through this alive kind of pain. But for you sweet baby, for you I refuse to let it overcome us. I’m a fighter when it comes to you. I won’t give up. Not now, not ever.

Your Dad and I went to a local sunflower field on Saturday. After this week of the highest of ups and the lowest of downs, we needed to step off the rollercoaster and plant our feet somewhere familiar. To us, the most familiar place is nature. 

Driving up the road, out of nowhere we saw it, a gold mine- a sea of yellow beauty. The kind of beauty that only comes from nature, or God, or whatever diety you believe in. It’s not beauty from a photoshopped magazine. It’s beauty one rarely sees with their naked eye.

It gave me hope, that beauty still exists in this world. That faith, hope, and love are alive and well and on their way back into our lives.

And as I trunched through the waist high field of sunflowers, nothing but yellow petals for what felt like miles, I finally felt free.

 

We’re going to focus on the positive. It would be easy to throw our hands up and say, “Well, this is too hard. We’re not good enough for this. It’s just not meant to be. We’ve just been hurt too much already.” But kid, I’m not, nor have I ever been, a fan of easy. Life is hard. Adoption is hard. But the outcome…my God, baby, the outcome is going to be worth every single heartache we’ve ever had. I will not give up on you. Not now, not ever.

I will not give up on everyone else either. Your first Mom is out there. I cannot be doubtful when she comes into our lives. I cannot second guess giving her my love, just because one other sick person misused it. I refuse to let that person win. I will let your first Mom win though. I will love her with everything I am,  for your benefit and your sake. And I will not lose my faith in humanity or the good in people.

Sometimes, sweet baby, people hurt. They don’t know why all the time, but they will try to take it out on you. First of all, you’re better than that. Don’t let it get to you. Secondly, know that it’s not personal. It’s not about you or what you stand for- it’s about their pain and suffering. People that hurt other people are in a bad place, and they need understanding and love more than anyone else in this world. That doesn’t mean that responsibility rests on your shoulders- a lot of times it is outside the realm of what you can give. So my only advice when encountering someone that is in so much pain that they use it against you for no reason is this: respect yourself enough to give them space, and respect them enough to know it’s not about you.

So that is what we’re doing, Lo. We’re letting go of the hard feelings, and looking to the sunshine, just like the sunflowers taught us to.

 

I’m no longer afraid of sleep. My parents helped me get over the fear. And though this experience has been a life lesson, we won’t let it get us down. We won’t be afraid of this proccess- because in the end it means having you here in our lives forever. And that is all that matters.

 

The good thing about faith, Little One, is that the sun always rises tomorrow. It hasn’t let us down yet.

 

With my petals outstretched to the sun, ignoring the shadows but looking for you,

 

Love always,

Mom

 

So I’ll be bold as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart, and I will wait, I will wait for you…

 

Image

Lo, sometimes I just sit in your room and wait.

Maybe in my mind, if I am sitting in a room that is complete, it will happen faster. I know the reality of that is wrong, but I cannot help but feel that if I physically sit there it will tell the universe somehow, “Ok, now she is really ready. Look – she’s even sitting in a completed nursery. She’s a real live Mom now. She deserves this now. It’s her time now. It’s go time.”

Maybe I sit and imagine what it would be like. I let my mind wonder, finally, after having it trapped in a cage of doubt and misgivings – I let it roam free for just a moment. I imagine what it would be like, to hold you in my arms, to feel your little tiny chest heave with every breath, each breath out of your lungs the biggest gift I could ever ask for in this universe. Each tiny movement a signal from the world that it was worth all those nights in the empty room, waiting.

Maybe it is the newness of the room. The smell of the paint and fresh carpet that reminds me of a brand new house, a brand new start, a brand new chapter. The furniture fresh from its boxes assembled and everything lined up perfectly, all brand new. The crib that has never been slept in, the changing table that has never seen a baby bottom, the stuffed animals that are brand new. They are aching to be used, aching to have child spit worn into their fibers and wear and tear marring their perfectness.

Maybe I use that empty room as my sanctuary. Perhaps it is the one place in this world I can sit and feel at peace, because it is a physical reminder that one day you’ll be here, come hell or high water. It’s like a security blanket for my racing mind – a place I can finally feel happy and at peace. The bright walls splashed with yellow the color of a cartoon sun, the rocking chair waiting patiently to hold a new mother rocking and cooing her infant to sleep under the fake tree on the wall gives me a sense of comfort and peace I haven’t had in a long time.

Maybe it’s all of the above.

I feel like if I sit in there, even if only for a few moments a day, I suddenly feel centered.

I feel closer to you, in some way that seems to be slowly slipping away from me lately.

I’m trying so very hard to remain positive, to be the glue that holds this together. But lately, I’m finding myself slipping – wondering if this is real, if it’s going to ever happen. Then I pull myself together, take a deep breath and remember that my job as your Mother right now is to soldier on and find you, even in the darkest of nights.

Today is your Dads birthday. I wish I could get him what he really wants, the title of Dad.

But I know its coming, slowly but surely.

 

And until then, I’ll be waiting for you.

You can find me here.

Image

 

Meet you under the owl tree soon, little one.

 

Love Always,

Mom

It takes a village…

Image

Reflection: the view from the hike we took in the park by our house on Saturday.

Little One, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately. I’ve realized lately that adoption is the ultimate truth to the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child… only with adoption, it takes a village to find our child.

And boy, Lo. We’ve got quite a village around us.

 

Over the weekend, we recieved gifts from complete strangers of the following:

Image

Your future things!

It’s a baby bath tub, a co sleeper, a high chair, a changing table pad and a closet organizer. My sister has also put a lot of stuff aside for you from your cousins. Our neighbor is holding on to things for us. There is an entire community cheering us on every step of the way. It’s such a beautiful thing to be thought of and given things from strangers, neighbors, family and friends. We’re so incredibly lucky, Lo.

You’re so incredibly lucky.

I have friends calling to tell me they’ve seen our flyer up at places where we haven’t put it up. Our family, friends and neighbors are working hard to get the word out on our behalf. They are all so involved and caring. They ask how we’re doing, they excitedly inquire about potential nursery decor and offer words of encouragement when we’re having bad days. Strangers happily say congratulations when we tell them the news that we’re trying to adopt. The world has been painted in a much more positive and beautiful light for us since this journey began.

 

Here is the thing, sweet baby… this whole village isn’t just surrounding us for the here and now. The village surrounds every aspect of adoption. You’re so lucky in that aspect. Most children have two people involved: their Mom and Dad. To make our family, there will be at the very least six people involved just for the match to be made. There will be us, your biological parents and two lawyers. That is not counting the potential counselors, social workers, physicians, nurses, extended family on both our end and your biological families end. There will be an entire team getting you to us: a team Little One. We’re part of the founding members of team Lo, but trust me your team has more members on it than an NFL league.

It will take a village to even get you here, baby.

 

If you’ve never seen the symbol for adoption, it empitomizes this theory. It’s a triangle intertwined with a heart. It symbolizes the three sides of adoption: the adoptive parents, the biological parents, and the adoptee (that would be you, Lo). They are all intertwined within a heart to show that all three sides are touched with the unwavering love of the adoption, and each other. We’re going to love your biological parents so much, Little One. They are giving us the best gift in the entire world. Hopefully, they’ll love us an incredible amout as well. After all, they are trusting their greatest gift with us, in our hands and our care.

 

And you will love both sides, and that is perfectly okay. We want you to love both. We want you to realize the sacrifice your biological family made for you, and realize that we’re no better than they are, and vice versa. We’re just pieces to a big family puzzle, Lo. We are people that love and care for you above all else, and we just happened to be in different places in our lives at a certain place in time. That doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about you, and we want you to love and care about them too.

 

Don’t ever, even for a split second think that you loving them will make us feel threatened. It won’t. And to that point, we’re not the important piece here, we’re not whose feelings matter in this equation. It’s ultimately you who matters most, sweet angel. It’s your feelings, your love to give. We respect and honor that. We realize that your heart has so much room in it, room for more than just us. And that is okay. That is a concious decision we made when we  decided to adopt, and why we would like an open adoption. We realize that you have enough love to give to this entire village that brought you here.

Love the village, Lo. Love every entire person in the equation. It will only make you a better, more well rounded person.

I’ve thought a lot lately about how it may seem for you as a child. Will it be normal to be adopted? Will it be special? Will you boast with pride when people ask about your family? If you have a visit with your biological family, will that seem normal to you, or will you wonder why other children don’t have those visits?

No matter how you see it when you’re young, I hope you see that we are making the decisions that we think are the best for you. You might go to school and talk about your Mom and your First Mom, and that may confuse your classmates. But always know that it’s a blessing to have so many people care and love for you, not a curse.

It’s a blessing to have this village. I hope you see it as a blessing too.

 

I’m sure it will also take a village to raise you. But I’m not worried. Between our supportive family, the beauty of open adoption and the community around us, our village will be nothing but people ready to help you and our family.

 

We have a full team of “love soldiers” working on our side. When you make your appearance, it’s only going to get better. You’re going to have this love and support forever, as are we- and for that, we’re the luckiest little family in the world, Lo.

 

The Village Waiting Mother,

Love,

Mom