Adopting, for me, has been a healing process. I was in and out of a foster home from birth to age of 11. I finally had my forever family at 11 but unfortunately, I came with 11 years of baggage. Part of my baggage was wondering if I am actually loved by my family as much as they love other children who they gave birth to. Part of my baggage was wondering if they adopted me because "they had to" or because "it was their duty". Part of my baggage was how people see me, knowing a large part of my story. I've had millions of conversations with mom and little by little, my baggage became smaller in size but it was still there. Even to this day, I still have some things I struggle with as result of my childhood. But...
Adopting Jada and baby girl (name to be revealed soon!) has done wonders to my healing process. Knowing how deeply I love them, knowing how far I would go for them, knowing how natural it feels to be their mama really helped me understand how my own mom felt. Over and over again, my mom would say she loves us all equally. I get it now, I really do. I love both of my girls.
I couldn't love them more if they grew in my belly. I really couldn't. I already love my girls with so much intensity, so much depth, and there is no end to this love. It grows, expands, overflows, over and over again.
Girls, I love you both so much, forever and forever.
I don't even know where to begin. Many of you know we are adopting again and we're expecting a baby girl to join our family soon. We've been trying to expand our family through adoption and through birth for four years with no success, then this little baby came into the picture. As soon as we found out about her, we worked very hard to do everything needed to be considered as a family for her and we jumped through every hoop to get us approved. In May, we were chosen as her family.
I can't reveal too much information (due to confidentiality agreement) but I can say this, it has been a journey filled with plenty of downs and few ups. Yes, we were chosen for this baby. Yes, we were approved to adopt this baby. Yes, we have seen her few times and will continue to visit her over next few days (or weeks?). Jada has met her. Our pets met her. She has been at our home. We have been at her foster home. We have done many things together (with many "firsts" for her and for us!). However... due to legalities, paperwork and disagreements between agencies in regards to the process, the placement date has been postponed several times. We were supposed to bring her home in June. We were supposed to bring her home first week of July. We were supposed to bring her home last week. We were supposed to bring her home on Monday. And so on... You get the picture.
We still do not know when we will bring her home. In the meanwhile, please pray for us. It has been difficult for all of us and I've decided to share today because we really do need more support and a million more prayers. Thank you.
Last Christmas, James bought me a new camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T4i. I admit, I have not been using it enough but I've begun playing around with different features and hope to take more pictures through the summer. Below are some of my favourites from our Christmas break! :)
The story of Mack.
James had always wanted a black lab. Growing up, he often went to a friend's house to play and they had black labs. James would spend hours and hours playing with them, then go home to beg his mother for a dog. Unfortunately, with James being in the dorm during the week and his mother working two jobs, it would not be wise to get a dog. So, he grew up never having a dog (or any other pet).
After James and I married, brought Jada home and moved to Milton, we began talking about getting a dog after we settle into our new house. Not too soon, though. Maybe in a year or so. That's what we said.
One day last spring, my niece sent an email to everyone in our family about a black, male, 9 weeks old, Black Lab and German Shepherd mix puppy. Her friend's dog had puppies and all except one were adopted out. Her friend really needed the puppy to find a home because she already had her hands full with two (or three) grown dogs. She was asking if anyone of us wanted a puppy, that it would be free and he would come with things we will need to raise a puppy.
I remember very clearly that day, all three of us were chatting on the couch and we read the e-mail together. Jada immediately begged us to get him home then James and I looked at eachother and said "why not?". Few hours later, my niece and her friend brought him to us.
He was very timid, very shy, very quiet. We thought "maybe that's why nobody picked him" because he really was very shy, very adamant to stay with the friend and would not approach us. When we held him, he would stay very quiet and look away. I admit, we were kind of worried that he would not grow to be a friendly dog.
We couldn't be more wrong. Today, he is the most affectionate, most gentle and most friendly dog. He is very good with kids. He listens well (most of the time). He really does act like a human sometimes! He blended into this family effortlessly and we cannot imagine life without him!
Mack, we love you oh so very much!
What tough 6 days it has been! Every few months, we go through this phase of Jada not sleeping well, eating less, constantly moving around, not listening (more than the usual) and talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk every second, minute, hour of the day along with constantly tapping our shoulder, legs, arms, head, etc... You get the picture.
Jada does have ADHD: hyperactivity. She takes medicine for it. She is on a behavioral program. She does really well most of the time. I find her to be responsible, obedient, gentle and kind most of the time. But...
When she goes through this phase, I want to pull my hair out and scream! I have to give myself "time outs" and tell myself "it is not her fault, it is ADHD, it is not her fault, it is ADHD" over and over again. It works... most of the time. I cannot imagine how this is for Jada though. It must be frustrating for her not to be able to sleep, to sit still, to think, to successfully complete an activity and so on.
I guess her body goes through changes every few months and it takes time for her to adjust. It could be changes in her life. It could be chemical imbalance. It could be that she is growing and the medicine has to be adjusted. Whatever it is, I take comfort in knowing it is not permanent. This happens approximately twice a year at different months and at different length of times.
Our mantra for the meanwhile... This, too, shall pass.
J-girls. Jada and Jaelyn. Two peas in a pod.
I love watching them together. They are extremely close, despite differences in their personalities and age. Jada is 7. Jaelyn is 5. Jada prefers to have things in right order, likes her spaces clean, keeps herself clean, is wary of strangers, very loyal once she bonds with someone, loud and funny when she feels comfortable, hates being alone, loves dinners but hates breakfasts, very artistic. Jaelyn likes to go with the flow, doesn't mind mess, can be found with food on her clothes and face, would greet strangers with no fear, sensitive and likes having her own space once in a while, loves breakfasts but hates dinners, very athletic. They are polar opposites. Yet, they play together so well. They get each other. Jada knows when Jaelyn needs her space. Jaelyn knows when Jada needs a cuddle. They take turns playing games they want to play. They fight but they don't get overtly upset because they know their friendship is strong enough to withstand a fight. Every Monday, they sit quietly and catch each other up on what they have been doing over the weekend (if they are not together that weekend). Every day after school, they play together, fight, give each other space, then cuddle on the couch. Not even 5 minutes after one girl leaves, the other will ask to be with her.
I love watching them together and I hope they stay best friends for many years to come. <3
It has been 11 months since you went home with Jesus. Those are some of hardest months I've ever had. Some days are worst than others but there has not been a day without a tear. Growing up, I had always told myself to be prepared for the day you died because you were in your late 50's when you became my mama. I thought I would be well-prepared and that I would be able to cope with your death better than some. I thought I would breeze through the grieving process and although I knew I would miss you very much, I thought I would be able to cope easily. I couldn't be more wrong. Some days, I don't want to get out of bed. Some days, it feels like I am crawling through mud to get through the day. Some days, I would breeze through the day only to break down at night. It seems to take a lot of effort to smile, to laugh and to socialize. I miss your weekly e-mails. I miss our bi-weekly visits. I miss your hugs. I miss having someone who I can truly talk to. You were my person. You were the only person who truly understood me to the core. You saw me at my worst, you saw me at my best, you saw me through everything in between. You understood my fears. You understood my struggles. It is hard to lose the only person who truly understood without me having to explain. I miss our talks about nothing and everything. I miss our cuddles. I miss our time together. I miss your advices (imagine that!). I miss knowing you are there. I would imagine that it'll take some more time to adjust to my new reality of not having you here. To the reality of being motherless again. I will never stop missing you, loving you and looking forward to the day we would be reunited. I didn't thank you enough for everything you've done for me but I hope you are able to see my heart from where you are and know how much you truly mean to me. Thank you for being my mama. Thank you for being exactly who I needed you to be. I love you.
Often people say, "Oh, you did such a good job with Jada! She wouldn't be where she is if it was not for you guys!" but the truth? If Jada wasn't a fighter, she would not be where she is today. From the day she was born, she fought to not only survive, but to truly shine. It is her own zest for life, her own inner strength and the drive to do better that brought her to where she is. Sure, we gave her opportunities, tools and plenty of love but if she didn't have that drive, she would just simply exist.
She was born under 2 pounds with a long list of health problems. She had a heart defect, she was not able to eat, she was underweight, she had low muscle tone, she was barely breathing on her own, and the placenta was all dried up, meaning she was developing in the womb with minimal nutrition. She had a heart surgery, G-Tube inserted, and not able to leave the hospital for months. She had all those odds against her and guess what? She lived.
First two years of her life was tough. She was neglected to point where she was only 12 pounds when she was two years old. She was severely malnourished and at this point in her life, all she could do was stare at a wall all day long and not move. She was not able to sit up, roll, crawl or walk. She had no words. But guess what? She lived.
Next two years of her life, she moved from foster home to foster home. Although she did not have a stable, loving home where she could truly begin to develop loving relationships, she slowly gained weight (through g-tube), began to move around and learned how to communicate her needs through behaviour. She also began to smile, to cry, to get angry, to scream in excitement and to engage in various of activities. Guess what? She didn't only live but began to thrive.
At age of 3 years and 10 months, she met us. Her new mommy and daddy. Her forever family. When she first came home, she was able to show moods, to gesture, to sit up, roll, crawl and walk (in her own special way!) but she still had to learn how to eat, how to communicate through ASL, how to go to bathroom, and most important of all, how to be in a loving relationship. There was not a single day where she did not want to learn. There was not a single moment wasted. She was on the go and really wanted to utilize every opportunity to do more, to be better, to learn. Every single day, every single situation, every single moment, she wanted to understand. This is all her. Every single day, she learned a new sign or two. In matter of weeks, she was potty trained. In matter of months, she was able to eat full meals and slowly became independent from G-Tube. In a year, she truly began to bond with us, to trust us and finally, she knew how to love. Guess what? She thrived.
Today, she's an amazing 7 (going 16) little girl with same zest for life. She's a mommy's girl through and through. She's a gifted artist. She's a loyal friend. She is compassionate, loving, creative, hilarious and wise beyond her years. She loves anything pink. She loves glitter. She has a journal she writes and draws in everyday. She loves to help us cook. She especially loves to clean and keep things organized (you will never see her bedroom messy). She talks non-stop about our trip to USVI last year. She wants to travel to Mexico, Cuba, Kenya and Florida soon. Her favorite classes are art, computer, social science, health and most important part of her day in school is recess. She misses her grandma who "lives with God and does not limp anymore" very much. One day, she would like to be a chef, to marry someone like daddy or marry her best friend, Jaelyn, have two kids ("I am not as crazy as mommy who wants 5 kids" she says), and she wants to buy a house next to mommy and daddy's.
She is definitely a survivor.
What does it mean? To dare to live in full bloom? Life has a habit of throwing you curve balls, putting you on a roller coaster and every now and then, surprise you. It is just how it is. The challenge though? To remain in full bloom, to have inner joy and see happiness in daily life. It is a daily challenge for me. Some days, I fail. Some days, I succeed. Here, in my own little spot in the gigantic world of web, I dare to celebrate a life in full bloom.