Thursday, March 29, 2012

created for care - created for us

this past weekend was my visit to ga and a retreat with other adoptive moms at created for care.  the retreat focuses on sharing information between adoptive moms, providing resources, creating connections with each other and with God, and giving you some time to rest in a peaceful environment.  it took a little poking and prodding to get me to go, but i am so eternally grateful that i did.

i believe it was oprah who once said that God speaks in a whisper - and that is definitely true for me.  (at least until this weekend.)  kierstin suggested the retreat to me last year and i really dismissed it, thinking dax would be too young and it would be too expensive.  then when cherie mentioned it to me in 2012 i started to wonder why this was coming up so often.  i figured i had better look into it a little more.  after some research and listening to God - it just seemed meant to be and i decided i would go.  i secured my ticket for the retreat online and picked out my breakout seminars.  cherie and i watched for inexpensive air fare and decided to book our flights.  kierstin offered to share her hotel room with us, so now our rooms were booked as well.  it was all set.  there was no turning back.

the time between when i made all of the arrangements and when the next to last weekend in march would roll around seemed to go quickly.  before i knew it, it was time to pack my suitcase (which is always done the night before) and kiss my babies goodbye.  i was not as sad leaving for the retreat as i was once i got to ga and realized i'd just left my 4 month old baby at home.  i think the reality of it all hit me then.  still, i was with cherie and she and i chatted away.  she kept me busy and kept my mind off of it.  ellen picked us up at the hertz counter at atl and the three of us began to make the trek through atlanta's down town core and over to lake lanier.  i was thankful ellen was driving, since reading a map is not my forte.  we hopped off an exit and found a cuban place for lunch.  after some cuban coffees we were all back in the car and ready for the last leg of the trip.

we arrived to the resort just in time to check in to the hotel, sign into the retreat, pick up our nametags and itineraries, and be ushered off to our first break out session.  my first session was a class on african american haircare.  sweet baby dax does not have much hair right now, but i know (well i hope) that won't always be the case, and when he does have hair i want it to be well managed.  this class was helpful in learning techniques with cleaning, conditioning, using various oils, styling with braids, cornrows, dreads, swimming techniques, and products to use when the kiddos do get into the pool to help keep the hair from drying out.  i took good notes and got a lot of tips on products that we will try (since we never have enough product) once dax gets older.

after a dinner break we all headed to the main session in the hotel's grand ballroom.  we were welcomed with a slideshow of all of the moms and their children they'd brought home from various parts of the globe.  there were over 400 moms there mothering over 1000 adoptive children.  pretty impressive.  the main session with dr. susan hillis began by teaching us that we are perfume, we are mirrors, and we are treasure.  for some people, myself included, it was hard to hear those three things  - even though i wanted to believe them.  i practiced over the next several days, just reminding myself that - i am perfume - i am a mirror - and i am treasure.  its becoming easier to say and thereby easier to believe.

it was great to meet so many people that i'd only previously known online.  it was amazing to see how people are really as open and honest as they represent themselves to be through their blogs.  it was good to meet up and actually put a live face and personality with the blogs and stories i've heard.  everyone was so fantastically amazing!
saturday began with an early rise.  i had not slept much at all the night before.  the reality of talking to a 4 month on the phone was just not that rewarding on my end.  i just missed him terribly.  i got up very early to go to an 8am date with God.  the date with God was intended to help people reconnect with God and to listen to what he is trying to tell you - listening through a whisper - if you will.  the various stations (as part of the date) were to have you go to a prayer wall where you would pray for concerns, a painting station where you would paint what God sees you as, a sculpting station where you'd sculpt what God puts on your heart, a tent for quiet time and prayers where you'd go and sit and be still just listening to God, a gold path at the base of the cross where you'd read scripture that was speaking to you in this time, or a world map where you could physically lie on the country that holds your heart and share your prayer.  you could go to any station in the room, or you could visit them all - but you were only given 1 hour total.  i started at the prayer wall, wrote a prayer for our adoptive hopeful friends and our birthson's mom and then proceeded to pray for every prayer that was written on the wall.  after about 20 minutes at the wall i mosied on over to the tent.  it was whispering my name.

when i got to the tent i immediately found a cozy spot where i could sit and comfortably rest.  i thought this would be the perfect place for me to get answers from God.  after all, in this quiet he'd probably sway my heart one way or the other for adoption plan number two.  do we go international or do we adopt domestically or even through the foster system?  will and i have not been 100% on the same page about it, so i was ultra curious how God would weigh in.  i just sat back, closed my eyes, hung my head, emptied my heart, and listened.  when i listened i could hear my own heart asking for what i want, but nothing else was shining through.  i sat in silence.  i was pretty sad that nothing was coming.  i moved to thinking about my love of dax and my family - when there in the stillness - a light shined through my closed eyelids that made me stop and listen a little bit more closely.  when i starred into the blurry figure of light coming through my eyelids all i could begin to think of was my adopted sister beth.  (for a moment i was thinking why is beth here - is she going to help us decide which adoption we should pursue? - then the duh moment came to me and i realized this was not about me, it was about her.

beth came into our family before i was born.  all i knew of her was that at my birth she was there with her long flowing blond curls and her sweet blue eyes full of excitement for her little baby sister to be welcomed into our family.  to me - life before i was born was just unimportant.  i never concerned myself with it at all.  (well, until you had some school project that poked in to get some details to fill out a timeline or a worksheet.)  i don't recall having any conversations with our parents with regards to beth's story - her history - as to where she was born - where she spent time before coming to mom and dad - or how she processed all of it.  it was in this moment that i realized that her biology and her past was just never a concern of mine - and for that i felt great sorrow.  i thought the right thing to do, when i found out she was adopted, was just to never talk about it again - and by doing that i thought i was saying - hey - i love you just like we were born from the same womb - and that's all you want - right? 

but that was just not the right thing to do.  instead of opening up, i shut down.  even after we started plans to adopt a child of our own, i still never reached out to beth to get her take on things and ask her for advice.  i never thought about gaining insight on her perspective.  the one time i did ask her something about the adoption she just suggested (very gently) that we pursue an open adoption.  in her statement at the time, all i could think about was standing in her kitchen, some 12 years ago, and listening to her story of finding her paperwork in a mess of holes, gaps, and inconclusive information.  it was not until i was sitting under that tent that i realized the pain that she was feeling 12 years prior, and for all her years before and after that time. 

i was never there, and i don't personally feel like anyone in our family ever really was.  for me to feel like such an adoption advocate now, i felt almost two faced for letting this go on any further in our own family.  i had to text her, not get it off my chest, but just to - as quickly as possible - start some form of healing and forgiveness.  i left the date with God and rushed out of the hotel and kept walking until i found a quiet spot.  i stood there and through my tears, i texted beth and asked her to forgive me for never understanding her loss and grief in adoption - and for that matter never trying to.  it was a release of emotion and something that should have been said years prior.  we did not know then what we know now about adopted children suffering the loss of their biological heritage (but i thank God for carissa woodwyk really explaining this to me), and i never once thought how uprooting, damaging, and scary that all must have been for such a tiny young girl.  in a better understanding of the need to know your own personal history i want to do whatever i can to help her heal that wound, gather that information, and find that sense of acknowledgement and fulfillment that she so desires.

not to diminish any other portions of the retreat, but my other sessions on nurturing your marriage and domestic/foster adoption in the us were the ones i was most looking forward to.  nurturing your marriage was something i really wanted to focus on because i want to make sure that dax (and our other future children) always have two loving parents who model sacrificial love for them.  the session was open and honest and covered some delicate topics.  everything fell on listening ears and i was eager to get home and tell will about what i had learned.  we're in a good place that can only get better the more we focus on it and put into it.  the session on domestic/foster adoption was a series of stories of adoptions and foster care journeys that were told by those who had experienced them first hand.  each story was heart felt and chock full of similar experiences we'd had just recently in adopting dax.  will and i have discussed fostering children and foster to adopt programs in the past, so it was good to make a connection with someone in this arena.  this foster mommy has had over 126 children in her home!  she is by far the expert on the topic.  i left this session leaning more towards doing another domestic adoption in the future.  i don't feel that will nor myself could emotionally handle a fostering situation because we do become so attached and in love with people so quickly.  we'll sit this on the back burner for now and come back to it later.

so, even though this past weekend at created for care was a journey that i planned to take for my own self and my own child(ren), it was so much more than i could ever have imagined.  this past weekend has given me the opportunity to make things right with my sister and my parents and help us all heal from a life long journey of living in a closed adoption.  we're ultimately so thankful and grateful to God, beth, cathy, kierstin, bethany, and anyone else who suggested we move forward with an open adoption plan - and know that daxton will always know where he came from before his life "started" here in our home.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


who ever thought the skin of a baby would be cause for such great concern? 

little daxton who does not even possess much skin, has had more skin issues in his short 4 months than will has had his entire life.  (i leave myself out of the comparison because i have had my fair share.) 

we've gone to the dr. multiple times for cradle cap and baby acne while we found ourselves at another appointment yesterday for an unknown rash on the thigh, calf, and scalp as well as some chafing in the diaper area.  the dr. went through a gamut of products and basically deterred me from using everything we are currently using to try this new regimen.  he says that it does not appear to be the cloth diapers vs. the disposable seventh gens rubbing, but that we just need some diaper cream on the area for protection.  i cannot bring myself to use the suggested a+d diaper ointment and will continue using the burt's bees diaper ointment instead.  if that does not continue to improve i also purchased california baby diaper cream which has more zinc in it. 

he asked that we get eucerin, or some other "non baby lotion" for the thigh area, which i purchased.  i also picked up mustela stelatopia cream for eczema-prone skin, since that is what they keep saying that we're probably looking at down the line.  i feel like we have a full arsenal of products and don't want to put his baby skin into shock with so many new products, so we are trying them out slowly to see if anything will clear up these issues.  he does not seem itchy or uncomfortable, so hopefully we can get this cleared up and he will be back to smooth non-irritated skin shortly.

the dr. said to keep him dry to help with the chafing.  we were changing him about every three hours (during the day) and he never sits in a poopie pant for more than 5 minutes.  i have started changing him every two hours now, but even yesterday he soaked a diaper and sprung a leak in 1 hour and 52 minutes.  should we wake him up at night to change him?  anyone have a solution for the chaffing except diaper cream and going bigger on the diaper? 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

less than a year

in a lot of ways it's completely impossible to imagine that just last year in the month of april we were attending the annual bethany seminar for adoptive hopeful parents.  while we'd filled out our initial application and were gathering things for the final, we were no wear near done or even sure of what we were about to embark on.  the path was never clear, but we just knew that in the end - some how - some day - we'd find the child that God wanted us to parent.

it was such a breathtaking conversation then to fast forward to about a month ago when we were asked to participate on the panel of adoptive parents who'd speak at this year's annual seminar.  i was shocked that we'd have the honor of participating in something so powerful and so important.  i recall many things that were spoken by the panel on the day of our seminar and i was hoping someone would connect with something we stated as part of our journey that might also lead them to adopt. 

we went to the seminar with just some bullet points in mind of things we'd like to talk about.  will and i chatted the night before about what we'd tell and what we'd rather keep private, when each other would speak, and what our signal would be if the other person needed a bail out.  will started talking first and felt comfortable and at ease holding the microphone.  he did an excellent job of conveying our story of infertility, how we got on the same page about adoption, how our hearts were opened to openness with a birth family, and how transracial adoption was never a question that crossed our minds.  we felt comfortable to speak openly and freely about our journey and where it's taken us.

it feels good to have come full circle.  being on the other side of the table, like we were last year we were scared, intimidated, fearful of the unknown, unsure of ourselves, unsure of how this would all work, worried about the finances, worried about how long we'd have to wait, worried about what we'd do to occupy ourselves, but all the while just trusting in God that this was the right way to build our family.  however, being on this side of the table was empowering, moving, broke down barriers that i thought were long gone, helped us reminisce about where we'd come from and how far we had actually come, made us reflect with thanksgiving and gladness, and made our hearts happy that we might hopefully encourage someone else to build their family through adoption too.

my oh my, what a difference a year makes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

4 months

it's been four months since daxton was born.

it's been four months since this sweet boy found his way into our lives.

it's been four months since our hearts grew exponentially with a love we never knew.
i have to jump right on in the deep end and just say some words from one of our latest america house original songs:  "my baby is the cutest baby, is the cutest baby, is the cutest baby!  my baby is the cutest baby he's the cutest baby i know!  my baby he's the cutest baby, he's the cutest baby, he's the cutest baby there is!"  now that this is over you can go back to the regularly scheduled blog entry.

daxton's new reflux medicine (prilosec) has changed his life.  he no longer has so much tummy upset and indigestion from his formula.  he's been switched over to that for about a month now, and he's also been on earth's best organic formula for about that long too.  so far we like the changes we're seeing in his behavior and comfort level.  hopefully his digestive system will continue to give him less and less stress.

daxton's getting a lot happier with his tummy time stints.  he's happy to go down on the blanket and check out all there is to see.  he'll even lay there and play for a good amount of time before he'll loose balance of one arm that sends him crashing to his left or right.  he used to get to this point and just fuss until you'd roll him over, but now he actually just contently plays stuck there on that one side.  he loves laying on blankets just babbling and talking to the stuffies and their plastic counter parts.  its cute to watch.  he loves holding his head up and has very good neck control.  we gave him a couple of go's in the bumbo seat, but his belly and back were not thick enough to get the support, so after wrapping him with blankies he seemed to like it okay, but we're hoping it will be more impressive when he's a little bit bigger.

during his 4 month photo shoot he decide to ramp his rump up into the air and start scooting like he thought he was just going to all of the sudden break out into a crawl.  i am not so sure that he was just not done with the clickety clack of the camera (or will says he was running away from leg warmers), but it was a sight to see.  i told him he was too young for crawling, so he needed to stay calm and stay put!  i need my sweet baby to stay where i left him!  he's a huge fan of spinning around in a 360 degree circle, but when he starts moving off the blanket, we better look out!

daxton loves to have something to focus on.  if he's got something better than his own two hands and ten fingers then he will be happy with whatever that item is, but if they are all he has, he will be perfectly content with those just the same.  he has a fondness now for his sophie, any sort of blanket, and an upcycled elephant.  we keep him stocked with toys when we need to be in the car for longer than 5 minutes so he can keep busy.  he's no longer a huge fan of laying there watching the world go by.  all though, we have determined at target that he is a people watcher.  his eyes would bounce from one row to the next, from one cart to the next, from one lady to the next - just soaking it all in.

his bed time is still going splendidly well.  he still goes to sleep every night right around 9:30.  he'll have prayers, a story, and get zipped up in his sleep sac with the sleep sheep going in the background.  give him his passie and he is ready to go down for sometimes 13 hours.  no complaints here!   we have learned that wearing cloth diapers helps him to sleep lots longer.  he's only ever had one accident in a cloth diaper, and he had given that diaper a run for its money.  we pray that bed time will always be a place of family, a sense of peace, a place of rest, and a loving space that will help dax recharge his batteries.

it's been four months of 864 diaper changes.

it's been four months of 869 bottles.

it's been four months of cuddling, rocking, and loving on our boy.

it's been four months of the purest joy you'd ever know.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

welcome dax party

after your wedding, the next big event most girls plan in their lives is some aspect of a baby shower.  with failed pregnancies, failed matches, and a lot of waiting, we just really never thought this day would come.  but - it did.  this past saturday we were invited to head to roanoke and spend the afternoon being catered to for our "welcome dax party".  everything was a secret and we were not allowed to know any details surrounding the big event.  people had driven from as far away as pa  and western nc just to be there to meet and spend the afternoon with mr. dax.  months of planning had gone into the food selections, baking things, and even the adorable decor.  will and i had hearts overflowing with joy being surrounded by all of the family and friends that had supported our 8 year journey to find the family we've built.  it was great to celebrate and thank them for all they've done for us.

the highlights of the party were the delicious handmade chocolate truffles with baby deer adornments, the sign in station with a painting of watercolored deer and guest's thumb prints for tree leaves in the forest, the candy table with gorgeous turquoise ball glass filled with various types of candies and colorful treats, the deer cake with antlers (driven to the party all the way from asheville, nc), and as always my favorite paper straws - no party is complete without a good straw, and these were divine.

we had a great time reconnecting with old friends and their new little one.  we spent the morning chatting away and just reminiscing.  it was good to talk mom to mom with someone now.  its kind of strange, but not something i get to do too often just yet.  it was great for dax to get to spend time with friends and relatives who wished and prayed for him to join our family.  everyone wanted to hold him and give him the lovins.  we opened lots of presents and continued in the tradition of spoiling dax with everything a baby could ever need + more.

we returned home late sunday night and had to head off to our tax prepaper's office on monday afternoon to discuss how we should go about filing our taxes when we were still waiting on dax's a tin number.  husband kindly filled out all of the requested paperwork back in november of 2011 and we were told to wait patiently for up to 8 weeks.  we'd waited that, and then some and still no a tin number.  so i started calling, and calling, and calling.  finally, while we were out of town for the baby shower last weekend - they called me back and left me a voicemail.  great.  so tuesday and wednesday i spent every break i had calling and leaving more voicemails on the irs vm inbox.  apparently persistence pays off, because not only one, but two irs workers called me back in the past 48 hours to give me dax's number and apologize for the glitch in the system that prevented it from going out on time in the first place.  then, just as i was calling husband to tell him the great news about scoring the a tin number i saw an unmarked envelope in the mail box.  i opened it because it was from the courthouse.  i knew it had to be eitehr really good or really bad news.  one or the  other.  i opened the envelope and could not believe my eyes.

we received daxton's final decree - the papers state that he is legally our son forever.  i was so shocked i had to read it about 4 times to make sure i saw what i thought is saw.  then i called will and read him the papers (2 pages) word for word.  we were ecstatic!  this sweet boy is officially our son.  welcome home dax - welcome home.  we went out for a family dinner of three to celebrate, have a cheers, and enjoy a nice relaxing dinner.  we came to this same restaurant to celebrate our formal application's approval, so we thought it pretty fitting to have come full circle.