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.