The day four became five…

~~~~~Good Friday will always be special…~~~~~
Besides Good Friday being a day to remember our Savior’s ultimate sacrifice, it has forever imprinted on my mind as a day that forever changed our family. On the morning of April 3, 2015, Corban was working in the garden and I had just set out on a several-mile-run-turned-change-of-plans-there’s-a-free-neighborhood-yoga-class when I received a Facebook message from a childhood friend I literally hadn’t seen in 20 years, Pamela Vanta.
“Nellie! Call me! My number is 928-xxx-xxxx.”
Knowing it was my only opportunity to exercise for the next several days, I wrote back, “I’ll call in an hour!”
She replied, “But it’s urgent!”
“Then I’ll call in 45 minutes!”I said, leaving no room for protest.
Maybe, deep down, there was a part of me that knew what that call might mean. We’d had several “adoption calls” in our months of hoping to adopt, and even had an expectant parent/friend who was planning to place her baby with us five months down the road.
Either way, adoption calls are full of feelings I’d best sum up as “I-sure-hope-so, but-nothing’s-probably-going-to-come-of-it, just-like every-other-time-before, so-I-don’t-want-to-get-too-emotionally-invested” feelings. All I knew is, I wasn’t too keen to give up my morning exercise for a MAYBE!!!
I’d no sooner finished yoga than I dialed Pam as I was walking home.
“Hey, I’ve seen your posts on Facebook. I know you and your husband are wanting to adopt and, well, my friend just had her baby. She’s not going to keep him, and you’re the family she wants to give him to. We’re wondering how quickly you could come to Globe.”
I had so many thoughts racing through my head! “Is this for real? When we’re supposed to get another baby in August? Does it really happen like this? Is the mom sure? What if we head to Globe and she changes her mind!? Corban is off four days for Easter, the timing is perfect! Will he be willing to take this baby AND another one in August?” My walk home turned into a breathless run, asking Pam as many questions as were racing through my mind in between panting.
As soon as I got home, I flew to the garden and said to Corban, “We have to leave for Arizona ASAP!” (His face answered me with a questioning look of “HUH? That’s not part of our weekend plans!”)
I rushed on. “Our baby boy was just born, and we’re the parents they’ve chosen. Are you willing to take this baby, knowing we’ve already committed to our other momma?”
“Of course. Let’s go!” he said.
We went in the house and offered up a prayer to HeavenIy Father, asking if this baby was right for us, after which I spent the ENTIRE day on the phone calling countless lawyers (no one wanted to help us on Easter weekend!), our adoption case-worker, and I was on and off the phone with Pam and Kai’s grandma, Kathy (they informed us the baby had been life-flighted to a hospital in Mesa, while birth mom was staying at the hospital in Globe; this was one of a few “complications” we bumped into, and we felt really unsure as to how everything was going to work out!)
We let my mom know her grandson had been born and that we were heading her direction. In between all the calls, we were trying to pack for a road trip, making sure to include all the kids’ Easter basket goodies.
The next morning, we headed to Globe, still not sure how the trip would go and IF we’d be heading home with a baby. We were about two-and-a-half hours from Mesa when Pam called and asked if we’d want to stop by the hospital and meet the baby. “Um, YEAH! But are you sure they’ll let us in? That’s not exactly on our way!”
She assured me the hospital would let us in, and we reset our navigation to take us to Cardon Children’s. When we got to the hospital, Corban and I were invited to the NICU to meet Baby Boy for the first time, and Pam generously offered to watch Corelle and Kelsen in our absensce.
It took what felt like HOURS to walk through the maze of Cardon Children’s Hospital; I giggled and chattered the whole way, asking Corban what he was feeling as we were about to meet our baby for the first time.
When we FINALLY walked through the NICU doors, they asked if we were the parents. I smiled. “Yep, that’s us!!!!!” I gave them the info they requested, and bracelets were placed on our wrists showing that we were the MOM and DAD of Baby Boy M.
For all the uncertainties before us, we put our trust in God as we blindly loaded our van that day before Easter. We said countless prayers that it would all work out, that we’d return home with the newest member of our family, and we were in awe of how SMOOTHLY it all went!!!! (If only the legal portion could have gone so seamlessly! But what, when it comes to law, is simple!?)
When we walked in to meet Kai, there were TEARS of EXCITEMENT and JOY! I just wanted to stare at his beautiful face! HE WAS SO PRETTY! I couldn’t believe he was ours (almost, if not quite!) I was rather certain I wasn’t the first, or the last, adoptive momma to ever feel true love in barely an instant!
The nurse asked if I wanted to change Kai’s diaper, and I jumped the gun in my excitement, as Corban fumbled to get out the camera and switch to video mode. I was in the middle of a difficult wiping job (we’re pretty sure his diaper hadn’t been changed in quite some time), and the sweet little man christened his already-adoring-Momma by peeing right in my face and all over himself (NO JOKE! The youtube video is attached at the end of this post).
Soon Pam was invited to bring the kids up, and with tears in my eyes, I looked into the face of the woman who’d been the link between Kai’s first momma and our little family, and threw my arms around her and thanked her. The moment couldn’t have been any sweeter.
We spent some time loving on Kai before heading to Globe so that the kids could wake up to a special Easter morning at Grandma Brenda’s house. Easter morning was special in more ways than one, as we met Kai’s dear first momma that morning. I felt such love and gratitude for the woman who’d made the selfless choice to entrust her perfect son with us.
Corban and the kids spent some time with me, Grandma Brenda, and Kai in the hospital before returning to St. George, leaving me alone in the NICU to bond with our precious new one. Kai and I spent two weeks in the NICU together, plus a week in Arizona taking care of countless legalities, when finally our lawyer said the paperwork was complete. I was anxious to return home to share our new bundle of joy with Corban and the kids, and he has stolen the hearts of many over in his first year of life. Countless times over the last year I’ve found myself thinking, “Never has a baby been more adored than this one.”
We’ll forever be grateful for Good Friday and the special Easter bundle we received ❤
Video:
Advertisements

Bedrest…”Are you going crazy yet?”

multiples are a blessing

The head nurse just came and checked on me (as so many caring people do often!), worried that bedrest is so hard and I’m going to go crazy in this room. Ideally, I wouldn’t love being in bed for 8 weeks (thus far…and still counting!), but we knew if I ever got pregnant again, this was a very real possibility. I’ve had four years to emotionally prepare for this moment, and four years of hoping to be pregnant just one more time.

I went through a similar situation with Kelsen, and when I look at his handsome face, every moment was worth it, a distant memory. The truth is, I’m blessed to carry these babies, challenges and all. In the grand scheme of things, what’s 3 or 4 months when our family will be forever blessed by these days in bed/in the hospital? I’d be lying to say I don’t count the days (every single one matters!), but I can’t complain about this blessing God’s given me. These little girls (all pregnancies, all babies!) are true miracles, and I love feeling them grow and kick inside of me.

I’ll enjoy these days with my girls while they last, knowing that I yearned my entire life to bear children and will very soon be closing this chapter. The childbearing part of my story didn’t go the way my younger self thought it would, but I’m okay with that. Because of the detour, my faith has grown, I have a deep appreciation for service that I’ll pay forward when the time comes, I’ve met amazing women through our adoption journey, and our family has been abundantly blessed with our sweet little Kai.

Am I going crazy yet? Nah! No crazy around here (well, that may be debatable, but as far as surviving the hospital, I’m doing just fine!)! Bedrest, considering the eternal perspective…it’s really only the blink of an eye! (And who knows…maybe someday when the little girlies are home and the kids are crazier than labradors high on Redbull, I might actually be willing to pay a high sum for one more peaceful day in my hospital bed…except, by then, bedrest will have expired and they’d be more likely to put me in a straight jacket in behavioral med!)

 

I Could Never Do What You Did. Truly.

A woman blogged today about how awful she feels every time she hears someone tell her child’s birth mom, “I could never do what you did.” Before reading the blog post, I commented that I looked forward to reading the article. “Maybe I’ll think differently after I do,” I suggested.

But after reading the article, I felt no differently. Actually, that’s a lie. I felt such a strong reaction to it that, after a 12 hour work day, I couldn’t shut down my mind to get some shut-eye. Not until I’d sat down and expressed some of the overwhelming thoughts I had racing through my mind. And here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: We’re all just people writing about our experiences. None is right, none is wrong. Perspective is exactly that. To one person, politically correct means we shouldn’t say the G-O-D word in the Pledge of Allegiance. To some, politically correct means honoring the men who founded this country on the very basis of religious freedom.

The author said a lot of really great things that I endorse 100% (check them out here: http://adoption.com/couldnt-hurts/ ) However, when she suggested that the words “I could never do what you did” implicate that a birth mom chose adoption due to a lack or shortage of love, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I’m not saying she’s wrong…I mean, she obviously works for the largest online adoption website in the world (the one we have our own profile listed with, as a matter of fact!) I’m absolutely certain there are birth moms who’ve shared personal experiences around which she based her article, or adoption.com wouldn’t have her writing for them. I’m in no way claiming that what I’m saying here is right for anyone else….I just struggled to convince my heart that her words could ever be my truth. I know there will be some who disagree with my take on this…perhaps they’ll blog about it just like I’m doing!

People tell me ALL THE TIME that they can’t imagine doing my job (mental health counseling). What I hear is, “That’s hard work you do. That would be depressing. I don’t think I could stay positive if I were listening to all that painful stuff. I admire you for doing such an important work.” The reason I hear those words is because some people take the time to explain what they mean when they say, “I couldn’t do your job.” I get it. And I’ve said those words about other professionals before: I couldn’t be the men on hot rooftops building homes in summer temps, the pediatricians who see children die, the preschool teachers with the patience of Job who wipe snotty noses, who calm children when they’re bouncing off the walls, and who nurture screaming children when they just don’t want to go to school. Oh NO! I couldn’t do what THEY do!

I’ve said the questionable words before, “I could never do what a birth mom does.” My words had absolutely zero percent to do with a lack of love…quite the opposite, actually. Birth moms have an unselfish love that goes beyond anything I could dream of finding deep within myself. I could literally write novels about what the words “I couldn’t do what you’ve done” mean to me. They mean I’m too weak to place a baby that grew inside of me for nine months in the arms of another mother, and I’m too selfish to break my heart even for the sake of the baby, and I admire you with parts of my heart I didn’t know existed, and even though you may hate being called a heroine, there’s no better word to describe your selflessness and love.  Those words mean, I bet your heart broke the day you placed your baby, and every day since. They mean, “How can you stand not to go back and say, I think I made a horrible mistake?” on days that your heart is breaking and your arms are empty.

There is positive adoption language that I teach people myself, when given the opportunity, like how you never say, “She GAVE her baby up for adoption.” No, no, NO! You say, “She PLACED her baby for adoption!” And you never say, “Do you have any children of your OWN?” Instead, you say, “Are any of these your biological children?”  I won’t elaborate about positive adoption language, because, well…that’s not the point. The point is, positive adoption language can mean something different to each adoptive parent and each birth mom.

Personally, I would hope my birth mom would understand that when I say, “I honestly couldn’t do what you’ve done,” that she understands she’s my hero. I would hope she knows me well enough to know that I have a tender heart and a boat-load of compassion, and that there is nothing but sincerity and admiration in my words. I hope our communication would be open enough that she would be able to tell me if I ever said anything that came out wrong…that she knows that sometimes, we all have to look beyond a person’s words and consider the intentions of the heart. Because we’re human, each of us, and I can’t imagine a lifetime of feeling scared to open my mouth just in case the appreciative and vulnerable feelings of my heart came out sounding different in my head than they did when they came out of my lips. Truthfully, if being an adoptive parent meant I had to say everything right all the time, that might actually be a deal breaker for me!

I know there are some things that just shouldn’t be said, but I can’t accept that I can never tell our birth mom that her sacrifice was so amazing that I couldn’t have done it myself. Because I couldn’t. It makes me teary to even think about the pain involved for these selfless mothers who place a piece of their hearts into the arms of another set of parents. So when I say “There’s no way I could have done what you did,” I hope our own birth mother hears that my admiration for her is beyond words, that I love her, and that she’s the bravest person I know. Because THAT’s what I really mean!

break my own heart

do what you feel in your heart saw that you were perfect

To kid or NOT to kid?

When a person begins the adoption process, everyone’s got an opinion to share. One thing that stands out in my mind is the time we were told we should leave our birth children off our adoption profile. “Birth parents are interested in who you and Corban are so that they might select parents for their child. They’re not interested in who YOUR children are,” we were told.

I momentarily felt a nervous butterfly in my stomach. Our profile had been up for months; it had never before occurred to me that I might be “doing it wrong.”

So I chewed on that suggestion, tossed it around in my brain, and I just couldn’t be at peace with their suggestion.

It’s true, our kids are not on display. But our family is seeking to welcome another child, and our children are at the center of our lives! Not only are they at the center of our lives, but our next baby will be right up there in the middle of them, taking pictures, joining in family adventures, being doted on and, well…bragged about. It’s such a large part of who we are that, to leave them out would paint a skewed picture of who we are as a family. After all, without them, we wouldn’t be a family.

We adore our children, as most parents do. Our days are planned around their activities…getting them to and from school, doing homework, going to play groups, playing at the park, neighborhood birthday parties, dance classes, swimming, bouncy castles, family walks, and bedtime stories. Corban and I make sure we do a date night at least every other week (yes, we have a relationship as friends and partners, even without the kids around!), but often, we’re just as happy bringing the kids along!

In working on our third profile (as a result of our adoption agency doing away with their website, itsaboutlove.org), I worked to include a good mix of Corban and myself on our childless adventures, in addition to posting family pictures and pictures of the kids. It is my prayer that any birth parents, seeing our profile, will get a good glimpse of the friendship we share, as well as the kind of parents we are.

We’ve been doing this parenting thing for six and a half years now, and even though we’re still learning, we’ve developed some great parenting skills since we first began (we attend parenting classes every year or every other year). As parents, we’d describe ourselves as attentive, kind, devoted, fun, good teachers, hands-on, adventurous, outdoorsy, and we work together as a team.

We vow to love and adore your child. Your child will be one of our own, right at the center of our universe! We will make no distinction between “birth child” and “adopted child.” We will lovingly refer to each as “our child.” We’ve spoken with each member of our families, and everyone is thrilled to welcome our new baby through adoption; this baby is likely to be the last child to join the ranks of our family…making the 18th grandchild on Corban’s side and the 8th on Noelle’s (WARNING: there could a slight risk of spoiling since this baby is likely to be the caboose!) We also acknowledge the chance that our adopted child might possibly have two other sets of grandparents who might want to know him or her!

In being true to our future birth parents as well as to ourselves, there is no way we could choose not to include Corelle and Kelsen in our profile. We know that no two sets of birth parents are the same, and that there’s a set of parents out there who will choose us because they want their child to have adoring siblings and parents who’ve already started refining their skills!

We hope that seeing us together as a family, even in pictures, you will feel of the love we have for each other as a family, and that you might also feel of the love Corelle and Kelsen have for each other and will, undoubtedly, have for their third musketeer. There’s an abundance of love to go around, and we await the day when we will finally be able to welcome the next member of our family!

~authored by Noelle

IMG_9449 Edited

IMG_1987this_seat's_for_you
There’s plenty of love & plenty of room for our next baby! “Hey Baby, we’re saving this seat for YOU!”

 

Dr. Einstein & Mrs. Nonsense

March 13, 2015

Today at SeaWorld, Corelle fell in love with penguins. She was giggling as they scratched their butts with their beaks.

“Can you imagine not having any hands and having to scratch with your mouth every time you itch?” Then I tickled her face and asked, “What would you do if you had an itch RIGHT there?”

Without even a moment’s pause, she said, “I’d ask someone else to scratch it for me.”

Say what!!!!!? I don’t think I would have thought of that myself! Sometimes she floors me with the stuff that comes out of her mouth. And then there are moments like last night, when I told her to go potty before bed, and she threw up her hands and spouted out, “I just went! What do you think I am…an octopus who can just go every time you tell me?”

I stared at her. Dumbfounded. “Yes. I definitely think you’re an octopus.”

“Well I’m not and never will be one of THEM!”

I was fighting to keep a straight face by this point. “Well, thanks for trying to go potty for me anyway!”

Sometimes she talks like Albert Einstein, and sometimes, her mouth is like the Bog of Eternal Nonsense (for any Labyrinth fans out there, that’s my twist on The Bog of Eternal Stench)!

There are moments I wonder where on Earth this girl came from. And then I remember… she didn’t! She’s one of Heavenly Father’s masterpieces, and He surely broke the mold when He made this one!

For all the entertainment and sass, for all the giggles and drama, we’re certainly glad Heavenly Father lent her to our family!

IMG_20150228_124110 IMG_20150302_113751 IMG_20150304_213130 IMG_20150313_155659

Little Eyes Are Always Watching: The Influence of a Mother

Our Lil’ Miss Picassa came home from school today with a picture she’d drawn of the Easter bunny and his basket, with a beautiful butterfly and flowers. Being highly impressed with her masterpiece, I said, “Corellie, you could be an artist when you grow up!”

Without hesitation, she assured me, “Nah! I want to be a heart doctor when I grow up!”

This being the first I’d heard of this, I thought for a moment and asked, “The kind of doctor who cuts people open and makes their hearts better with surgery?”

“No, the kind of doctor that makes people’s hearts happy, Mom…like you do!”

I didn’t explain that if she wants to be a “doctor like mom,” she’ll have to get a Ph.D. (which is not one of my claims to fame…although I do dream of going beyond my Masters in Counseling someday!) Instead, my face echoed the smile in my heart “Ah, thanks, Honey! I’ll be happy no matter what you choose to do when you grow up, but how neat that you want to be just like me!”

The most important thing I got from our little exchange is that she is watching me. Her beautiful eyes are studying me, her suggestible mind recording glimpses of who I am. And, of course, there are the moments when she opens her mouth and I hear myself come out, whether for good or bad!

In moments like these, my mind fills with wonder as I’m reminded that she’s using me as a model for the woman she wants to become. The-Mom-I-Want-To-Be recommits to being the best example I can for this blossoming little soul, who will someday be a woman with young eyes watching how she carries herself through this world.

No overwhelming pressure or anything, but mothers have the power to influence generations. For my daughter, I pray to be positive, that she might see good in the world. I hope to be encouraging, that she never fears to try. I want to be gentle, that she will learn to be kind. I want to show gratitude, that she will learn to express thanks. I pray to be aware of her most tender feelings, that she may grow to be  a woman of compassion.

If I could succeed at only one thing in my life, I’d pray that it’s in my role as mother. Someday when I am gone, these sweet little people will live on, and I hope the person I am is someone I’d be proud to see reflected in the people they become!

Mothers, be prayerfully aware that little eyes are always watching. May we never forget the honor it is to have been entrusted with the noble calling of raising His children to become good and righteous people in this sometimes scary world!

IMG_20150306_133031~2~2

most important work #2

LincolnCollage

the big stuff

just like you

most important work

Enchanting winter wonderland & building Mrs. Frosty!

February 23, 2015 goes down in history as one of my favorite days ever with my kiddos. I was laying in bed trying to talk myself into getting up, when I heard Kelsen holler, “Mom! Mommy! Come see!” And then he ran for my bedroom like a tornado whipping through! He grabbed my hand and led me to the window, where the yard was blanketed in a few inches of snow, beautiful snow.

I remember as a kid the excitement that I felt waking up to the magical white stuff in our Arizona desert. When Globe Unified School district declared a snow day, my brother and I would traipse across the desert trails until we climbed the barbed wire fence into our grandparents back yard. Those are undeniably some of my favorite memories with my brother.

It wasn’t until I spent seven years in places with frigid, snowy winters that the magical enchantment of snow was replaced with the dread of driving in it, yearning for the sunshine, spending dreadfully long winter months indoors (that’s suffocation for a girl who grew up in a place where a person could be outdoorsy all-year-round!), driving in it, and shoveling it (which I even had a hubby to do for me!) Living in the snow taught me just how much of a desert rat I really am.

Nearly three years ago, Corban accepted a job in the DESERT! And hallelujah! My soul rejoiced! I am once again able to see beauty in the sparkly whiteness, knowing it won’t last more than a day! And this morning, when Kelsen squealed with delight as he looked out the window at the enchanting winter scene, Corelle came running and started jumping up and down at the sight! With a smile, I looked at them and sang the words (from Disney’s Frozen), “Do you want to build a snowman?”

Which, of course, they did! We took some pictures before I whisked Kelsen off to school (Corelle didn’t have school due to parent-teacher conferences), and as soon as Kelsen returned home, we enjoyed building a snowman (who turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself!) Rock eyes, carrot nose, candy cane smile, tree-branch arms, and a scarf to complete the ensemble! My one regret is that I didn’t get a picture of the 2 foot snowman Corelle was proud to have built by herself…her very first one EVER!

I loved seeing the twinkle in the kids’s eyes when they looked at the beautiful winter wonderland. (“Is Santa going to come now?” Kelsen asked. Bless his heart…it’s so confusing when you’re three and the snow doesn’t come until February!) I loved seeing Kelsen run through the front yard screaming like Kevin from Home Alone when I first let them out the door…I loved showing the kids the flocked trees and snow-covered foothills on the drive to school…I loved a peaceful, quiet morning laughing with the kids in the snow as we sang Frozen songs…until the screaming began!

You know the feeling…when your fingers and toes are so cold that they start to burn like they’re on fire! I’d say the first time it happens, it’s kind of scary! And that’s how I knew it was time to come inside! (I admit, I kind of chuckled inwardly at the thought that Corelle has at times insisted she loves the snow and wants to live where it snows all winter, but I knew immediately by her wailing and screaming that once a year will likely be just fine for her!)

The kids stripped off their wet clothes, I warmed a rice bag for each of them, and we snuggled on the couch until the hot cocoa was ready. This made for a morning that has etched itself in my mind and heart among my fondest mommy-memories. I love that the rarity of the snow makes it a magical moment the kids and I can enjoy together…once a year (or when we drive to it…whichever comes first!)

IMG_7487snowmanIMG_7494IMG_7493

IMG_7501
The joy was replaced with PAIN! The looks on their faces cracked me up! NO MORE SNOW, they seemed to be saying!
IMG_7483
I managed to snap a few pics before the kids went RUNNING!
IMG_7476
Enjoying a “taste” of the snow in our jammies first thing in the morning. Literally. Eating the white stuff is what the kids love most about it

IMG_7489

 Click here to see Corban’s & Noelle’s adoption profile