Friday, June 9, 2017

Cool Moms

One day, as I was attempting to shop with my two little ones, I passed, in the parking lot, a mom with her little girl. The girl was maybe 18 months to two years old, and she was dressed in a little dress with her hair pulled back into a tidy pony tail with a bow. She had tights on and was wearing two shoes that matched her dress. Her mother was also wearing a dress, but more like office attire, and heels. She was carrying the little girl and walking toward the store front. She was beautiful. Not too much makeup, but the right amount to enhance her lovely features. She was calm and collected. She looked like the coolest mom I had ever seen.

Meanwhile, I was trying to wrangle my children, who were too big for me to carry gracefully, into the car. Strapping them in, ignoring their cries for food and a drink and their complaints that it was too hot and they couldn't find their shoe. They were in whatever clothes I had pulled out of their drawers in a rush. Lucky to have matching socks. I had packed up the trunk, and put the shopping cart back where it belonged, trying to be a decent citizen. I hadn't showered, eaten, and certainly was not wearing makeup. My hair was unbrushed. I hadn't worn heels in at least a year, and my ankles were no longer able to support myself in anything higher than my flip flops.

In the morning the first thing I thought was, "When can I take a nap?" My second thought was: Today I will be kinder. Today I will not yell. Today I will take a shower. Today I will put on lipstick. Today I will have fun with the kids. Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.

Today I took a shower, I brushed my hair, I put on lipstick, I went to an appointment, I made certificates for my kids, I studied Spanish for an hour, now I'm writing.

My kids are now six and seven. They have an amazing father who is a professor of anthropology and, so, has taken them to field school to see archaeologists work on their first day of summer vacation.

But I still can't wear heels without serious support. I sometimes don't put on makeup. I never look calm and collected when I am out with my children. I am not always kind and I don't have a lot of days where I don't raise my voice. I have accepted that I will never be that cool mom.

I've also let go of some things. My car will be unwashed. My bathroom will not always be straightened. The kids may wear mismatched socks if they wish - and they wish for this every. single. day.

I feel like I fail mothering on a daily basis. But I also finally feel like I am gaining on parenting. I'm not caught up but I think I might win in the end after all. I have made several changes that allow me to have the time I need to myself, time with my husband, and time with the children. Last night I talked to both of them about their day individually. Win. I read Harry Potter to them. Win. They ate fruit. Win. They told me about their day, believing that I was interested, which I was. Win.

I can only do the best I can do. I am not Cool Working Mom. I don't hate Cool Working Mom. I admire her. But I can't be her. At my worst I am Angry Mom or Crazy Mom. But at my best I am Fun Mom. I am Crafty Mom. Most days I am just Mom. And that's a pretty good mom to be.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Importance of Popcorn

Hank and I had popcorn last night while we watched our Netflix movie. The reason was I had a mad craving for it. It was hot and fresh, buttery and salty-so good. We had it because Henry told me a story about popcorn.

You may or may not know to take everything a four year old says with a grain of salt. Half of what they say is jumbled, and half of the other part is just not true. Not malicious lies, just fantastical, meaningless, or impossible. Henry often tells me how he is going to fly away when he wears his cape, that he can get a toy airplane that really flies at the airplane store or the pet store, and that he doesn't like pasta, but he does like pasta, but he doesn't. (He does)

Last night he told me he put a seed in his ear.
Me: What kind of seed?
Henry: A popcorn seed.
Me: You put it in your ear?
Henry: Yes.
Me: Why?
Henry: [Another student] was doing it. One of the seeds fell out of this ear, and I pushed it back in.

With some further sleuthing, I decided it was possible. The details were pretty clear and consistent. Checking for consistency is one of the truest tests of truthiness when dealing with small children.

I called the parents of the other student, emailed their teacher, and called Kaiser. They scheduled an appointment because, if it's true, it had to come out.

The doctor looked into each ear, calmly checked his eyes, mouth, nose and chest, and then informed me that, yes, there were definitely popcorn kernels in each ear, and referred us to a specialist to have them removed.

Henry did tell me it hurt a little, that he could feel them in there, and asked me to repeat what I had said three times as often as normal as we went about our day today. I was still a little surprised that they are, indeed, in there. He was very matter of fact about it with the doctor. She told him not to put things in his ear. I told him, his father told him, the nurse told him, his teacher told him. He's been told before, though. This also applies to his nose.

The popcorn kernels in his ears is an exciting adventure in our lives at the moment, but that is not the point of this post.

I started attending a Happiness Project group. I have several areas of my life that I want to improve. My sister started this group for us to work on measurable, attainable goals. I started with the most urgent, and most important of my long list. I am learning and re-learning ASL due to urgency, and attempting to be kinder to the kids our of importance. I am working and re-working my goals around this. A goal that started out as impossible has evolved into spending 5 minutes of quality time with each of the children each day, separately. When I put it into words, it sounds so lame. You would be surprised at how difficult this is, though. TV time doesn't count, and I can't do it consecutively and they are so often together. Also, they prefer their father, so trying to get one alone with me usually involves bribes. So I finally came up with the brilliant solution of having a chat with Henry each night, for about 5 minutes, in his bed, before he goes to sleep. This morning Sam and I took a walk in the puddles. We have gone to the zoo, to Michaels, out to lunch, we rock at least once a day in his glider. He's easy. Henry goes to school longer, though, and his arrival at home is followed by Daddy's and dinner, or we are eating at the grandparent's house until bedtime, etc., etc., etc. It's a challenge getting even 5 minutes alone with him.

But I was convinced that this would be a good thing for our relationship. And it hasn't been very long, but it's been amazing.

He tells me things I've never heard before. He talks about his day (something he refuses to do when I pick him up from school). His vocabulary is excellent. His feelings about events are evident. The injustices of not being able to work in the block corner because someone else is using it, me picking up Sam and not him after lunch, his hatred of rest time, and his adoration of one particular friend. The popcorn kernels in his ears.

The first night he told me he likes talking to me. He means just that. He enjoys having my undivided attention and telling me about his day. No Sam, no dad, no dinner, TV or computer. Just him in his room, with the door only slightly ajar, and Sam tucked away in his bed, drifting off, or singing loudly, or banging on the wall with a hammer, but far away down the hall.

These children are so different. This morning Henry requested his umbrella as they headed to school in the rain, while Sam requested his hood off so he could feel the rain on his head.

Henry is the one I clash with. We are the most alike. He is emotional, and he is open minded, but once he has weighed the options and made a decision, he is hard to sway. He gets the hiccups a lot. It's almost like we're related. But it makes things hard for us. I am most critical of him, rather than Sam, not because Sam is the baby, but because Henry is like a little me. I want to correct all the errors of my life in him.

He is now growing popcorn inside his head. How long would this have gone on before we found out? I had no future plans for him to see his doctor before this incident. Turns out, popcorn was the snack Monday, but he didn't tell me about it until Wednesday. This is one example of how important taking the time to talk with Henry is. I remember a time in my life where I felt like no one cared what was going on in my life. It made my life feel meaningless, unimportant, and, most importantly, that I would not be missed should I disappear one day. I never considered taking the time to chat with Henry and find out more about his life. He talks incessantly, I assumed he was saying everything that was important to him. He wasn't. He's just filling the space in the air with noise. I ask him questions when I pick him up and he ignores me. He just needs some space, and time to process, don't we all?

I feel like he's four, and maybe there's enough time left that maybe I haven't damaged him beyond repair. I want to continue to build my relationship with him. If I would've never learned about the kernels, what else would I have missed? Bullying? Girlfriends? Insecurities? The little details that I didn't know I didn't know?

This is such a revelation for me, and I feel like I'm at least on the right track.

So Hank and I had our popcorn, he carefully spooned butter evenly over his, while I doused mine. It was delicious. I asked Hank if I was talking about having popcorn before I talked to Henry, and he said he didn't think so. I look forward to more hot buttery popcorn nights as I take in the stories I learn about Henry's life. Because it's important to him, it's important to me. He is important. His life is meaningful. He would be missed if he disappeared.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Henry Has Good Eyesight

The other day, Henry told Sam, "Let me look. I have good eyesight." Hank said, "Did he just say that?" Henry is not quite four years old. But he definitely did say that. He got it from us. When he sees something far away, or finds something small, we tell him he has good eyesight.

This was actually a scary thing for me to hear. He may or may not have good eyesight. He has never been checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. We've never had a reason to take him to one. His eyesight does not seem to be an issue. Sam's doesn't seem to be an issue. They may have equally good eyesight. Or maybe Sam's is better than Henry's. Or maybe Henry's is better than Sam's. I don't know and it doesn't matter. What matters is that we told Henry he has good eyesight. And he believed it and remembered it.

I've always heard that you never call your kids names or they believe it. You never say they're "stupid" because they will believe they're stupid. That word is absolutely off limits in our house. The thought of my kids calling each other such an ugly thing, or worse yet, thinking they are, is horrible to me. While I believe it can happen, it hasn't seemed very real. Until Henry said he had good eyesight.

Henry doesn't know what good eyesight is compared to bad. He knows it means he is good at seeing things. But he has no reason to believe it except that he has heard us say it. And that is scary. I know for a fact that I have never called him stupid, ugly, cowardly, or weak. But what about ridiculous, selfish, deceitful, careless, and rude? What about implying that he is naughty, thoughtless, or slow? When I tell him he's made a bad decision, what is he hearing? When I ask him why he would "do something like that" how is he seeing himself? When I'm frustrated because he's moving at a snail's pace, what does he think I'm telling him?

It seems like everything I say or think is damaging. He lies, hits his brother, coerces, he's loud, he's at that age where he doesn't understand how jokes work and thinks silly is the same thing as funny. He screams. he cries at the drop of a hat. He's infuriating. He's three.

The way I respond, though, is what will stay with him.

We know they learn language from us. It's apparent when he says, "What the eff?" in the elevator for no apparent reason. That was me. When he's in the backseat saying, "Mother effer, mother eff," that's Hank. (Why can't we think of anything other than alternative swear words?) The other day he ran into his room and slammed the door yelling, "You're a booty butt and you're HORRIBLE!" Booty butt is Sam. Horrible? Not sure. He starts a lot of sentences, with "Well..." with my same inflection. Sam says, "I ca-han't." That's me. But the stuff that he thinks about himself rarely comes out.

It's difficult to put these thoughts into words, only because it's painful. In writing it, I realize that I have many times said, "You're being ridiculous." Well, he is. I haven't heard him call Sam selfish or tell someone that he is thoughtless, in the same way his eyesight is good, but that doesn't mean it's not in there.

Peggy O'Mara, publisher and editor of Mothering Magazine said, "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." How scary. I always thought because I had cut certain words that were absolutely taboo, that I was on the right track. But I cringe to think of the things I have said or implied at such an impressionable age.

If you have young children, you know that nothing can make you more angry than an unreasonable toddler except maybe an ex-husband. Maybe you don't have a toddler yet, and you look down at your sweet baby knowing she will NEVER be that way. And you will NEVER lose your temper at your little angel. I laugh in your face. I only have toddlers, I have yet to experience awkward 9 year olds, obnoxious pre-teens, and independent teenagers.

All I know is that when I send them to bed crying, I feel pain because I remember what that feels like, and it's the worst. Or when I yell at them, I think of how that might feel to them, because I DON'T remember that. I don't remember either of my parents losing control and yelling at me like I have so many times. At BABIES. I have lost control and yelled at BABIES. I know that I am a big, unpredictable person to them. They never know when I am at the end of my rope. They don't remember all the rules all the time. They don't know what thing is going to send me over the edge.

I know I can't be perfect. I didn't make my own baby food. I don't juice that often. I don't spend a lot of time with them one-on-one, or remember to be positive. I don't always follow up anger with kindness. They are watching TV right now because I don't want to deal with them. I rejoiced instead of crying when they started school.

Sometimes I wonder how I could become a parent without a realistic understanding of what it would be like. My only solace is that Henry has said things like, "I have good eyesight" and has not said things like, "I move at a snail's pace." I want to be a better mother. I'm not talking about being a pinterest kind of mom. with pinterest bedrooms, craft ideas and birthday parties. We are having facebook friends only to a spaghetti dinner for Henry's birthday because I'm too lazy to send invitations, but have enough in me to create a facebook event. I'm okay with that while he's still in preschool.

I'm talking about the stuff that counts. Does he feel loved? Does he know I will love him no matter what? Does he know I will always make sure his needs are met? I'm not sure he does. And I'm trying, I really am, but I'm falling so short that I'm afraid it won't be enough.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"It Goes So Fast"

It's so often that I'm out with the kids, and people say, "Enjoy it now, it goes so fast."

With MY kids, though, more often, it's, "Oh, yes, I remember those days," meaning when my kids were pulling stuff off shelves, running away from their mother, shrieking, crying, throwing themselves on the floor in the middle of a store, asking for things, throwing things, poking their fingers through fresh bread, and biting packaged cheese.

The kindest people say, "It won't be like this forever."

One of my best and oldest friends, Brooke, sent me a video of a mother who had two boys. Brooke also has two boys. Of course, every parenting experience is different, but having two boys is special, and there's a bond with other moms who have two boys. This video pointed out that you think the children will always be willing to cuddle up with you and ask for a story at bed time, and love you, and want to hold your hand, and basically, the point is that all of a sudden they're going off to college.

I was just thinking, it's so true. What I said in the second paragraph is also, true, and more of the time, they are doing those things than snuggling up for a story or asking me to sing them a song when they are in bed. But it must even out, because I keep doing what I do, and I keep loving them. And those little moments, I enjoy. I often think about how fast time is going by.

They are crazy, but at least I have those little moments. When they're teenagers, you only get the crazy.

Just the other day I was dressing Sam in some hand-me-downs of Henry's. He was in Henry's clothes head to foot, shirt, shorts and even sandals. I said, "Are you my baby?" and he said, "Yes!" But when Henry was wearing those clothes, he didn't seem like a baby. I regret that we didn't get to enjoy the littleness of Henry when he was only Sam's age. Henry has always been the big brother, and he's only 3 1/2. Since he was already 19 months when he came to live with us, and Sam was 3 months, Henry already seemed so big. We didn't get to enjoy any special Henry only time before Sam was born. We didn't get to see his first smile, or steps, or words. And there were a lot of expectations of him because he was bigger.

There are a lot of things I wish I was better at. I want to be kinder. I want to spend more quality time with them. I want to say "I love you" more than "no." I want to squeeze every last, "I love you, Mommy" and giggle and story out of them before they turn into pre-teens and it's over. I don't want to look back and wish I could have this time back and regret that I didn't enjoy the parts that I WAS able to enjoy. When I see their beautiful smiles and their big dark eyes, it's no so bad that I didn't get to conceive and carry them myself. Although I missed a big piece of their lives, I don't want to miss what I have now.

The nearly two years that I've had them have been the hardest and some of the happiest of my life, and I don't want to miss the good parts.

Because it has gone so fast.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Could I Love an Adopted Child Like My Own?

It's been a while since I've posted and the reason is life is busy. If I don't make writing a priority, it doesn't get done. Since the last post, we found out that my sister is pregnant and today we found out she is having a GIRL!!!!

This is beyond exciting for me. I didn't hope it was a girl, I NEEDED it to be a girl. I cried when I got the text, "I guess you can buy that tutu now :)" I had geared myself up for a boy, but secretly didn't think God would be so cruel as to withhold a girl from me AGAIN.

What this means to me: those tea parties, doll strollers, and frilly dresses ARE in my future. Everything I have given up to raise my beautiful, healthy, adorable boys, I can have in the form of my niece. I went shopping right away, for the tutu, and while I was out, also bought two bracelets, a head band, and a matching purple sweater and pants set.

Although I have and have had other nieces, this is the baby of my only sister. It is also my only blood-related niece at this time. But this is not why I will love her.

Which brings me to the point. With my only sister having a baby, and it being such an important event in my life, it has me thinking about an issue a lot of people are faced with: Could I love an adopted child as much as my own?

Yes. It's easy for me to say. And maybe I'm not qualified to answer because I don't have any children of my "own." But let me put it this way. Let's take my littlest one. He was three months when I first held him in my arms, when he first laid his sleepy head on my chest and drifted off to sleep. He cried in the middle of the night for food from one of his sleepy parents. Now he plays balls, balloons, blocks and bubbles with the only father he remembers. He calls, "Daddy? Daddy?" and the occasional "Mommy?" in the morning until one of us goes to get him. We are the only parents he knows. Do you think he loves us less than he would his "own" parents?

The body is a vessel. It's a wonderful thing to carry your own baby and be able to experience all the joy and pain and discomfort and excitement that comes with it, but it's just a vessel-albeit a very important one. Once the baby is out, do you think that you will love that child more than I loved my sweet little Sam when I first picked him up, and told him he was coming home with us? Do you think it is THAT different to say those same words to a baby you just pushed out of you? Maybe. You may have waited a few years for various reasons, and now you're waiting nine months, which is something that most adoptive parents haven't done. But we have been waiting years. But you knew he/she was coming those nine months, and that there was very little risk as far as that baby being yours forever. What a gift.

Here's another way to look at it. After your first child did you wonder if you could ever love another child as much as your first born? I did, with my Rose and Sam. I didn't think it would be possible to love another child as much. But I didn't know how much love my heart could hold, and you didn't either. And you love all of your children equally, but also differently for their individuality.

Maybe your whole life you thought of what your babies would look like. What traits they would share with you and the love of your life. You would love them because they were part of you and they were part of someone you loved enough to bring a life into the world with. Maybe things worked out that way, maybe not. That was something I always hoped for. My children do not share a single blood line with me. You have to go back to Adam and Eve (creationists) or Africa (evolutionists) to find a gene we share. They don't look like me. But Henry gets the hiccups like me (all the time). Sam has an easy going temperament, but is given to being strong-willed at times. They have the same accents as me and their father, and the words coming out of their mouths are all us ("Go for it." "Here comes trouble." "Do you love it?") Random things that when we hear coming out of their mouths, we know is something we say a lot. They are part of me because I am their mother. And I love them for that and because Hank is the only man I want to raise my children with, and they are part of him because he is their father.

I love my nieces and nephews dearly, and they are too numerous to name. My best friend's kids, my ex-sister-in-law's kids, my brothers children, Roxy and Royce, and I will love my other brother's step-children. I love them all and in different ways, and not a single one of them is related by blood to me. But Karen is my sister, so I will hold a special place in my heart for her little girl. But it's not because she is my blood niece, or because she might look a little like me, or because I'll see features of our family in her. It's because she will be amazing. Just like her mother.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Henry Ate Ants

The other day my husband said, "When Henry said he ate ants, I think he meant he ATE ANTS." "What?!? Why would he do that?" "I have no idea." "Henry, did you eat ants?" "Yeah!" "Henry, we don't eat ants."

This is a conversation I never hoped to have. I must confess that I ALWAYS imagined tea parties, and ruffled pink dresses, and, later, shopping, lunching, girl talk, slumber parties with pillow fights. Not to say my boys don't wear pearls, my heels, try on lip gloss and carry an old purse, but it's short-lived, and there are more bugs, snakes, and dinosaurs than baby dolls, playing house and hairstyling.

I don't want to generalize gender. But my boys are all boy in the traditional sense. I hope I am instilling in them a knowledge that I will accept, love and support them no matter what lifestyle, college, partner, or career they choose.

A daughter. I wanted what my mom had with my sister and me. I figured we would have a girl and a boy and the girl would be mine and the boy would be Hank's. Even when we had Rose and Sam, though, Rose was fiercely in love with Hank and Sam always called for Mommy. It just goes to show you can't plan your kids lives for them.

Still, when Henry ate ants I realized that tea parties were not in my future and I had to make peace with that.

To this day I cannot say that I absolutely believe our family is complete. But when I think about having another baby, my stomach clenches, and my maternal feelings for darling, tiny babies melt away when I think that after baby comes toddler. And the terrible twos, which, although Henry turned three on Saturday, are still going strong for him and starting with Sam.

However, what I lack in tea parties, I more than make up for in tee ball, balloon wars, and dinosaur facts. I love reading to them, and getting them up in the morning, cheerful and ready to attack the day. They love swimming, making loud noises, and playing hide and seek (although they are really bad at hiding)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


If you've ever have (or even if you have not) thought about adopting or fostering a child in need of a home right here in our own country, state, or even in your own county, please consider it now. If you live in Merced or Fresno County, our own adoption agency, AspiraNet (, was wonderful all the way to the end, Adoption Day at the Merced County Courthouse. They also have offices in Greater Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Adopting our boys has been the greatest blessing, next to my husband, of my life, and one of the greatest blessings in our parents', and grandparent's lives, aunts, uncles, friends. It can be a little heartbreaking, and a lot complicated, Aspira made adoption easier and affordable.

If you need more inspiration, check out this video. If it doesn't inspire you, maybe foster care is not right for you. But if it does, talk to your local county, or an adoption agency near you.

There are lots of pros to working with an FFA, like AspiraNet, and a lot of pros to working directly with the county you live in, and I am more than happy to discuss them with you. It depends on your specific needs.

My experience and choice to adopt was painful. There are many reasons to adopt, one of the main ones being unable to carry a child yourself, whether because you have a same sex partner, are single, illness, a hysterectomy, injury, miscarriages, or a number of fertility issues.

This was one of the reasons I chose to adopt. I have a number of friends right now who I know are thinking about adoption, which is why I wanted to put on paper my own very personal reasons.

Adoption isn't talked about much by people who plan on becoming parents. Or even people who don't plan to be parents. Often people see the options as abortion or raising a child you didn't plan on. There is a third option, which is adoption, but it can be very painful for a birth mother, emotionally and physically. Still, it's an option, and some women are willing to make this huge sacrifice.

Some women are not willing, but have their children removed for abuse or neglect.

Like all young married women, I planned to bear children myself, and carry my husband's child. Things didn't work out that way, and we chose to take some further steps with no results.

However, it wasn't necessarily over. Some women know they will never have children. Sometimes it's black and white. But more often than not, you can try certain procedures or medications, or keep trying. One of the most difficult things is giving up on the dream of becoming pregnant.

People say things that get your hopes up. People swear by herbal remedies, certain doctors or procedures, prayer, fasting, blessings, alternative health services, ovulation kits, books. Everyone knows someone who's been through it and ended up in pregnancy. A lot of people have been through it themselves. These people like to say, "Keep trying. It will happen." These people are the most clueless. Don't they realize that it just doesn't happen sometimes?

I am the cold hard voice of reason. It might not happen. And it will be hard.

It did not happen for me, and it will not happen, because now I have elected to have a hysterectomy. I have no uterus.

I didn't want to keep trying and trying. Taking my temperature every morning, using ovulation tests, using an app called MyDays, all the planning and scheduling. My doctor was hopeful. Another doctor referred me to a third doctor, and I decided to stop.

I was lucky in that I didn't stress about it. I had a feeling that it wasn't going to happen. I just wanted someone to confirm it. All of my tests were normal. No one could say it absolutely wouldn't. I could try extreme, expensive procedures.

Finally I had to make the choice on my own. I decided it wasn't going to happen. Time to move on.

For me, moving on meant adoption. It did feel like a second-best. But as I met babies and very young children, I realized I could love them as much as my own. And as I started to get calls for potential matches it was almost as exciting as missing a period, and when we got that one call...but I'll come back to that.

My husband and I thoroughly discussed what route we wanted to take. Although we discussed all of the options (birth mom, private adoption, fost/adopt, foreign adoption), I knew already I wanted to do fost/adopt.

We went to an adoption orientation provided by Kaiser. They had people from all different forms of adoption there. Sharla, from AspiraNet was one of them.

We quickly decided to go with AspiraNet, who works with the county to place foster and adoptive children. I'm not going to lie. It was not easy to get certified. Above the certification for foster care, we had to be certified for adoption. CPR, fingerprinting, classes, swim safety, home evaluation. We had to have a first aid kit, up to code smoke detectors, a fire hydrant, gates around the fireplaces. We filled out endless paperwork. Our lives were examined-everything from our divorces, to our current relationship, why we wanted children, how we had been raised. Our pets, our siblings, our parents, grandparents were discussed. We had a home study which had to be edited and revised.

But adoption was exciting. My mom and sister threw me and Hank a baby shower. Because we had decided to take one to two children from infant to three years old, and hadn't requested a specific gender, it was difficult to register for the baby shower. We registered for things we knew we would need regardless, like bath toys, a diaper genie, a glider, crib/toddler bed sheets. We chose a neutral green for the nursery and planned to finish the decorations with pink for a girl, and blue for a boy.

We were surprised when a boy and girl were placed with us. The boy was just under one, and the girl was just under two. They were 11 months apart. And they were a handful. We had taken them as foster children and they were in reunification with their birth parents. Both parents were using drugs at the time, and visits were supervised. I had to take the children to visit each parent separately, take them to the doctor, report any exhibited behavior that would be cause for concern. If they were hurt, I had to file an incident report. Each month I had to fill out a sheet of paper with visitations, doctor's appointments, complete with receipts for clothes I was required to buy, as well as how their "allowance" was spent. I had to meet with their social worker with the county as well as the AspiraNet social worker. They went into therapy, and I had to interact with their horrible mother, who I so dreaded leaving them with for their visit with her, and their father, who was a nice, grateful man who truly wanted to get his life in order for his children.

But we loved those children so much. Even as they were being reunified with their birth parents we were growing closer and closer to them, until finally they were taken away, and my heart was broken. I knew it had to be that way, and they were with their aunt and uncle, but I would never see them again, know how they were doing, or how they had turned out. Our choice. It was too hard, and I knew that at least they were safe.

I was certain I would never love another child as much as I loved them.

We decided we could not go through foster care again. We decided to only take adoptive placements, and only if they were close to adoption.

I assigned AspiraNet their own ringtone, and every time I heard it, my heart would nearly stop. It was almost always a potential match. Most of the time we said no. Our county social worker had liked us so much, she was trying to place kids from her workload with us, but she only had kids who had tried reunification and the parents weren't able to get it together, so she was limited. We wanted children who were a little younger and healthier. It was hard to say no, not knowing if anyone else would be willing to take those children. We got some calls that I hoped would work out, but in the end, another family was chosen.

Finally we got the call. In my heart, I knew these were my boys. I had wanted a girl and a boy, but I couldn't deny what my heart was telling me. Two boys, three months old and 19 months old. It was the closest thing I would ever have to finding out I was pregnant.

When I saw Henry I knew he was mine. When he came home it was like he had always been here. Sam was a happy baby, it was so rare to get a baby! Raising a baby was so fun. I had been willing to give it up, but was grateful that I had the chance. Rocking him to sleep was one of the most wonderful things I have done in my lifetime. And they were mine. There was no doubt in my mind about that. It was the closest thing I would ever have to giving birth. And completely painless!

Adoption day was graduation day. The paperwork was over, the birth certificates with my name on them were on their way. New social security cards were applied for. Best of all, my whole family and most of my dearest friends were there. All of us piled in the courthouse, them in the jury box snapping pictures, and us with the boys, in their sweater vests, at a table with the judge, signing the final documents.

I can't describe how much it meant to me to have my family there. I didn't know if it would be a big deal to them. After all, we'd had the children for 8 months already, and it was an ADOPTION, not a birth. But there they were, early in the morning in a different county, right on time, either before work, or taking the day off. Everyone from uncertain David to would-never-miss-it Mom. Our social worker from AspiraNet was there, we had come full circle-Sharla was the one who had presented the option, trained us, done our home study, made the placement call, and had now seen the adoption to completion. The social worker from the county was there. She had done the bulk of the adoption paperwork, and worked hard to get it done sooner rather than later. Even the social worker who made the placement was able to make it, although it is not part of her job. She said how nice it was to be able to see this part of the process, and shared with us that when she placed the boys, she had the feeling she was placing with them with the right family, a sense she doesn't always feel. I attribute that to our prayers and the prayers of our friends and family-that peace of knowing when it's right.

Some of my very best friends were able to make it. Again, I didn't know if they would feel the importance of what we were doing, but they made the sacrifices to be there because they did understand.

All in all, I just could not have hoped for any more. I never got to be pregnant, and I never will. But my boys found me anyway, and my friends and family were just as supportive as if I had given birth.

I'm their mother in every way. And it's great being the mom of boys.