Tag Archives: adoptive family

World Adoption Day

10 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Yesterday afternoon I was sifting through my Instagram feed when I came across this post from an actress I like:

world adoption day nina

Property of Nina Dobrev

Sharpie smiles? Happy faces? I like both of those! I checked it out and the photo caption indicated that they were celebrating something…World Adoption Day! Yesterday was the first ever World Adoption Day, an organization founded by many, but mostly pioneered by Adopt Together — a foundation that helps families raise money so that they can adopt (yes, having a heart big enough to lead you to adoption can cost a lot of money for the adoptive families!). It is “crowd funded,” meaning that the Adopt Together website raises money through donations of friends, family and even strangers. Yet another reminder of the power of love and the compassion that exists between people around the world :)

World Adoption Day invited people all over the world (and their friends and family) to post a photo of a “hands up smiley face” with the hashtag, “#worldadoptionday” to bring attention to the cause, to the families trying to bring a child home…and to adoption in general!

I was so excited a.k.a I immediately jumped on PicStitch, found some of my favorite photos and made THIS so that I could contribute to World Adoption Day!

WAD instagram

You, me and The B’s across the years!

Any and every foundation that supports, promotes and/or raises money for adoption warms my heart. There are so many elemental, beautiful things about adoption: creating families, helping children, spreading and sharing love, caring for others…adoption is beautiful on so many levels, I could never list them all. Open adoption in particular…I know my son, he knows me (and his birth father, and our parents and friends), and we’ve all gained such amazing extended families out of it. Every one — especially birth mothers! — deserve the opportunity to be part of something as beautiful as this. Little Man even knows to call me his birth mother now (a post on that is absolutely coming!). Sometimes, it’s stunning how lucky I am, and it’s all thanks to adoption. An entire day devoted to bringing awareness to it? I’m absolutely on board.

As I said in my Instagram post…”Open adoption is the thing, y’all. Spread the word!”

Many thanks to Adopt Together, World Adoption Day and all of its founders, organizations and supporters!

And thank YOU, Little Man, for bringing all of this joy to my life in the first place. Happy (technically late) November 9th, 2014, Liam. I love you more than words.

Love,
Renee (“Birth Mom” as you call me now :D)

And, of course, my official photo for #WorldAdoptionDay!

WAD smile

Check out World Adoption Day’s Facebook Page and “like” it to see all of the smiles!

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Happy Autumn!

28 Oct

Dear Little Man,

It’s fall in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, and there’s probably nothing prettier than fall colors in the Blue Ridge. Autumn in WNC means a lot of things: crisp air, cooler temperatures, pumpkins, apple cider, scarves, leaf piles, cold noses, reds, oranges, yellows, browns, cuddles under the blankets and so many other wonderful things. Fall festivals  and country fairs are another autumnal hallmark, and we got to go to one a little over a week ago in Valle Crusis. You came down (or up, technically) with The B’s and we festival’d together near my lovely graduate school. You all slept over and we had a dance party in the A.M. (to One Republic only, per your request) then went for breakfast and a trip through Blowing Rock.

And I rented a camera and became a classic “Facebook mom” — taking hundreds of pictures and posting…like…all of them. Not ashamed. But you probably will be when I pull them out to show to your dates in another decade or so.

*insert evil Halloween-appropriate laugh here*

I love you, kiddo. I can’t wait to see you for trick-or-treating in a few days. You’re coming to my {Grandma M’s and Pop Pop 3’s} house in beautiful Asheville while your parents go to a concert and we get to walk through the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in when I was a kid. It feels very “circle of life” to me…maybe if we have time, you can dress up like Simba and I’ll paint myself purple, learn Swahili and paint shapes on your forehead. Hopefully that reference will make sense to you someday. The Lion King better not be that out of date by the time you’re old enough to read these…

Moral of the story, I am yet again thankful for the beauty of the true openness of our open adoption. Hopefully it’ll catch on so that other families get the extraordinary chance to have a relationship like we all have together.

I love you, to infinity and beyond.

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The Weirdest Day of Every Mom’s Life

27 Aug

Dear Little Man,

Yesterday, the best and worst thing that could ever happen, happened.

Ever since I met J, I’ve watched her send Sports Man to school. When I met him, he was about to go into 2nd Grade. She told me about how he didn’t want to go because they had just adopted you a couple weeks beforehand, and he didn’t want to leave you. The year after that, when he started 3rd Grade, I drove down and spent the day with her — partially to see you and partially to hang out with her since she’s not a fan of “the first day of school.” Last year, she posted about how crazy it was that he was getting so big and this year, she told us how she cried driving him to his first day of 5th Grade.

I told her I would drive down to visit next year since I don’t think she could actually drive the car through all of the tears she’ll have going on his first day of (gulp) middle school. To which she responded , “You and I might just need to cry and hold each other for a little while because on Monday, Little Man starts preschool.”

Yesterday, you started preschool.

Okay, so it’s only three days a week for half days, but still…it’s school. It’s a milestone. It’s a big event. And according to J, you were super pumped. You ran right over to the toys and the other kids and you got right down to business. You weren’t the kind of kid who cried when his mom left; you were the kind who cried when he had to leave school. But right now, school mostly consists of toys and play time, so I guess I’m not surprised. Either way, I have to admit, that makes me proud. Plus if I were J, and you did cry when I dropped you off, I might die a little on the inside. And then whisk you home and never let you go ever again. I’m weak that way.

My baby officially goes to school. And before I know it, I’ll be seeing you off to your first day of 5th Grade. But for now, you are three and you are in preschool and you are blissfully unaware of how fast you are growing up. Unfortunately for me and J and parents all over the world with children in school, we are acutely, almost agonizingly aware of how quickly you are speeding away from the infant who used to fit perfectly in our arms.

So even though I didn’t get to be there in person — and even though you loved going — I officially became a mom who cried on her child’s first day of school. The upside of this is that J now has a crying buddy. The downside is that now both of us will be crying too hard to drive either of you anywhere. That’s probably the real reason behind why school buses were invented.

It was a big day for everyone. There was laughter, there were tears, but most importantly…there were pictures :)

Cutest backpack ever? (Nice job, J!)

Cutest backpack ever? (Nice job, J!)

 

You're a big boy like Sports Man now!

You’re a big boy like Sports Man now!

You're already making friends :)

You’re already making friends :)

And playing with trains...look how excited you are! I love it :)

And playing with trains…look how excited you are! I love it :)

Off you go...and so it begins <3

Off you go…and so it begins <3

Thank you for the pictures, J, they were perfect :)

The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Learn

26 Aug

Dear Little Man,

This past June I did what every 20-something should do at least once: I backpacked through Europe. Now before we get any grand ideas, by “backpacking” I don’t mean I trekked through the mountains of Europe in hiking boots with just a compass and my sense of adventure. I mean I pre-booked trains and flights and hostels and had a few minor panic attacks when I thought I was going to miss any travel connections. But I did pack a month’s worth of belongings into an over-sized REI backpack…ergo, I backpacked through Europe. Just roll with it.

No matter how you define “backpacking,” I saw some incredible places on my trip. Your Aunt S and I met up in France and traveled to Spain, Germany, and Ireland at which point we parted ways and she flew home as I continued my European exploration in England.

I climbed the Eiffel Tower (despite my paralyzing fear of heights because, um, it’s the Eiffel Tower)…

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel 2

And hung out in the Alcázar Palace in Spain….

Spain

And drank massive beers in Munich…

Giant Beer!

Glug, glug...

And went scuba diving in Nice…

Scuba Diving

And found five-leaf clovers in Galway…

Five-Leaf Clover

And ate and ate and ate some more.

European Food!

It was amazing. The people I met, the cultures I was immersed in, the daily adventures I went on with your Aunt S…it was everything I always thought it would be. I’ve always wanted to travel, especially around Europe, and my month-long excursion was definitely worth how poor I am now. I ate and I laughed and I danced and I could really breathe for the first time in months. It was glorious, and perfectly timed.

But everywhere I went, I thought of you. I wanted to show you the carvings on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe and the view of Paris from the tip top of Montmartre. I wanted you to see just how blue water can be and how fish look when you’re swimming right beside them. I wanted to tell you about the feeling you get when your legs are dangling over the edge of the Cliffs of Mohar (not entirely legal, by the way) and you can’t even breathe because it’s so beautiful and you feel so small.

But since I couldn’t bring the real you with me, I brought our story instead. But the first time I brought you up, I noticed I was a little nervous. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know how adoption translated…literally and metaphorically. How do I say, “I have a son but I don’t have him because I chose other people to raise him and be his family because I thought that’s what was best for him?” That particular sentence is not in any French phrase book. I know, I was surprised too.

The first person I told our story to was our friend and host, François — he was kind enough to let us sleep on his couch during our stay in Paris. I was going through pictures on my phone at dinner one night, and since most of my photos are of you, he glanced over and saw one. He asked me, “Is that your nephew?” I smiled and corrected him and quickly launched into the story of your adoption and The B’s. He looked surprised at first, but just for a second…and then he asked all about you. One of the last things he said to me was before we left for Spain was, “Say hello to your little boy for me. It’s things like him that make life beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.” So, hello from François :)

When I told our story to the woman we stayed with in Provence, Elodie, she started talking about how she couldn’t wait to have children with her soon-to-be husband. She told me the boy and girl names she’d already picked out.

When I told Florian, our German host, he told me he hoped that if he had any kids, he wanted them to have curly blonde hair like yours.

When I told the woman who worked in the coffee shop in Dublin on my last morning there (she stole a glance at a photo of you like François did), she said she’d never heard of anything like our adoption story, but that it was inspiring because she and her husband were trying to adopt in Ireland and they’d been on a waiting list for over a year. She said our story gave her hope and made her smile and she was glad I had walked in that morning.

I learned a lot of things when I was overseas. I learned about cultures and languages and history and methods of travel. I learned what orejas a la plancha means (pigs ears…don’t order it) and how thin hostel mattresses can be. I learned how you can live on zero sleep and still feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. But what surprised me the most was that our story did translate…it didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language or that some words only elicited confused smiles and shoulder shrugs.

Love is palpable. Especially the love I have for you and The B’s…it doesn’t need to be verbalized to be felt.

All of these people I told our story to, they have dreams of that kind of love too. They hope and they dream of beautiful, curly haired children that they want to love someday. Different people from different countries with different languages, all with the same desires. So different in culture, but so similar in heart. We are not alone. Love…it really is the universal language. That discovery — even if it had been the only thing I learned — would have made the entire trip worth it. I thank you and Europe for teaching me that.

Oh, and just so you know, ‘adoption’ in French is the same as in English. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about translating it after all :)

“The most important thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

12 May

Dear Little Man,

I know it’s been a while, but I could think of no better day than Mother’s Day to reconnect with you and Letters to Little Man. Yesterday, after a crazy busy school year (as you might have noticed due to your lack of letters) I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree and you and The B’s were there to cheer me on (more on that later!). I spent the rest of the day goofing around with you, watching you play, listening to you laugh, feeding you strawberries and giving you hugs and kisses and high fives. Just in time for Mother’s Day :)

I hope you know that nothing has made me happier in life (not even my brand new Bachelor’s Degree) than bringing you into this world. You are and will forever be the best thing I have ever done. It may be Mother’s Day, but you’re the one I’m celebrating. I love you, Liam. You will be my Little Man forever and always.

My Main Man

Laughing!

Goof Ball

Silly Boy, Grad Cap

Cute Couple

Cute couple, huh? :)

Goofy Minds Think Alike

18 Feb

Dear Little Man,

As I told you last week, you are always and forever my Valentine. However, with my schooling and The B’s constant desire to have you around (what’s up with that, right?), getting together on Valentine’s Day can be a little challenging.

But wait!

You see, J and I have honed our method of communication for the days we wish we could spend together but unfortunately can’t. It goes like this:

My Valentines

 

 

Picture swapping! This photo was sent to me Valentine’s Day afternoon. So in my always classy, naturally sophisticated way, I responded like this:

 

Back At Ya

 

 

See? We totally got to hang out on Valentine’s Day! You loved my photo, by the way. Apparently when J showed it to you, you said, “Nay-Nay come to Liam’s house?”

Nay-Nay definitely wants to come to Liam’s house, I can promise you that. You are incredibly photogenic, but this mama loves to see that beautiful face in person too. But thanks to J, you still got to be my Valentine and until I get to hold my Little Man in my arms again (for the 10 seconds that you’ll let me), that is more than enough for me :)

To My Favorite Valentine

14 Feb

Dear Little Man,

Today is Valentine’s Day! I know that doesn’t mean much to you yet, so I’ll tell you a little bit about it.

Today is all about love. Love for your family, for your friends, for someone special. It’s about celebrating the people in your life that cherish you, and that you cherish back. It’s about loving yourself for who you are. It’s about realizing how much love you are surrounded by, period. Again, I know this doesn’t mean much to a two-and-a-half year old, but I find it to be very convenient since I am crazy, madly, head-over-heels in love with you.

When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of romantic love (which is definitely lots of fun!). You won’t have to worry about this until you’re at least 45, so don’t worry about it too much yet. But today E and J may have something special planned or they may swap cards and cute little gifts. Somewhere right now, a girl is getting chocolates in a heart-shaped box and a guy is planning a romantic evening. As you get older, things like this are what Valentine’s Day will be about.

I, however, like to think of Valentine’s Day as how I said it earlier: “It’s about celebrating the people in your life that cherish you, and that you cherish back.” I don’t save my all of love for one person (although if there was a list, you’d be at the top!), I like to give it freely to everyone important to me – my mom and dad, my beautiful friends, The Boyfriend, The B’s.

In a way Valentine’s Day is like Thanksgiving for me – it makes me realize how many people love me and care about me. It’s a day when I realize how wide my support system is and how lucky I am to have everyone in it. I have some of the best friends in the world, friends who have known you since you were just an 8-week old ultrasound picture, who love you almost as much as I do. I have a wonderful Boyfriend who makes me feel special, who loves hanging out with you. I have parents who never fail to take care of me when I need it, who want to take care of you too. We have all of this support because we have love.

So on this lovely Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that if you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day the way I do, you are going to have the world’s biggest support system to be thankful for. You will have The B’s who already love you beyond words. You have J and E’s parents who love you to pieces and feel so lucky to have you. You have my parents you brag about you endlessly and have their home wallpapered with photos of you. You have my friends who ask to tag along on every visit I take to see you and swarm my house whenever you come to town. You have your awesome big brother who loves teaching you things and playing with you. You have everyone you’ve touched along the your journey from me to the B’s.

And lastly, you have me – no matter where you go or what you do. I am proud of you and I always will be. It is so important to me that you know how much I love you. Which part of the reason I write you these letters – so I can tell you every day. Not just today, which is dedicated to love, but every day I possibly can, whether I’m with you or not.

So Happy Valentine’s Day, my handsome Little Man. I’m so happy to be yours.

You and I on Our First Valentine's Day :)

You and I on Our First Valentine’s Day :)

Happy One Year Anniversary!

11 Feb

Dear Little Man,

A year ago, I had an idea and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I knew that I wanted to tell you things. I knew I wanted to tell you about yourself and your adoption and your beautiful adoptive family. I wanted to tell you about how we all came together. I wanted to tell you about me and my life. But mostly I knew that I loved you and that I loved to write.

Sometimes I would see things and they would make me think of you. I would see a father playing football with his son at the playground across from my apartment and I would think about how you couldn’t even say your own name but you knew how to say “touchdown.” I would see the scar on my cheek (from an unfortunate incident I had with a wooden bench when I was four) and I would think of you and the time you fell on a toy grocery cart that you got for your first birthday. And when I would think of you, I would want to talk to you. I wanted to be able to tell you all of these stories someday. All of the stories of your incredible life — I didn’t want to leave out a single one.

So I talked to a friend who had a blog. And then I did some research. And then I was buying the name “Letters to Little Man.”

And then I wrote you a letter.

That was February 6th of 2012. That was one year and five days ago. Since then I have written you 142 letters that have been read by over 15,000 people. And one day, I hope they will be read by you.

Happy Anniversary, Little Man. I love writing you letters and even when I’m too busy to get them to you right away, I’m always thinking of you. I’m thinking of things I want to tell you. I’m thinking of things I want you to know. I’m thinking of the dimple in your chin and the sound of your laughter. I’m thinking about the moments we’ve shared and the smiles we’ve exchanged. I’m thinking about all of the adventures we have yet to experience that are going to make wonderful memories. I’m thinking of how connected I feel to you even when I don’t get to see you. Even when I miss you.

But out of everything I’ve written you — out of all 142 letters — I still believe that my first letter carried one of the most important messages I could ever share with you: I love you. Love came to mean something entirely new to me after you arrived — you defined it. You embody it. You are love to me. You are love and as long as I have you, I will always have it. Thank you for that gift. Thank you for being you.

Happy One Year :) Here’s to many more years, many more memories, and many, many more letters…

 

One Year Anniversary

Brought Together at the NFL Playoffs

20 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Today, you and I are going to be doing the same thing — just not in the same place. And no, I’m not talking about running around in our underwear.

I’m talking about watching the NFL PLAYOFFS!

At 3 p.m. the San Francisco 49ers are going the beat Atlanta (who I pulled for in their last game…but not now. Sorry Georgia) but at 6:30 p.m, I have a dilemma. I was born in Baltimore, but I was raised a Patriots fan. I had this problem last year — the Ravens played the Pats in the same exact game. Last playoff game. Winner goes to the Super Bowl. What to do?!

Last year, the Ravens kicker screwed up and lost them the game. But this year, Tom Brady’s passes remind me of those “trust exercises” where you blindfold yourself and let other people lead you around. Only they’ve ditched you so you keep walking around in circles and running into things. So we’ll see about Playoff Game 2013.

Either way, I know your brother Sports Man wouldn’t let you miss a big football day like today. You probably won’t watch the game (something about having a 5-second attention span), but you’ll be there while it’s on. To me, it’s kind of like being separated from someone you love, but at night you can look at the moon and be comforted by the fact that they’re looking at the very same one.

Only in this case we’re watching football. And that’s way better :)

My Son Was Adopted…Now What?

15 Jan

After a baby is adopted, a birth mother doesn’t just go home and pick up where she left off. Everything is different then. Nothing is “normal” anymore. The bed where you slept so comfortably is now the place where you spent your first few minutes of labor. The porch where you like to sit on summer days is now the place where you took all of your maternity pictures. All of your Facebook friends with babies seem like they’re rubbing your face in their motherhood. The sun streaming in through the kitchen windows doesn’t make you smile anymore. Everything feels…off.

That’s how I felt. I felt like I was coming home, but I didn’t belong there anymore. I didn’t fit anymore. Everyone was going about their business but my entire perspective had shifted. My world was different from everybody else’s but I was still expected to live in their world with them. My sense of belonging wasn’t the same. I think that’s because I felt like I belonged with you.

After you went home with The B’s, I made a lot of changes. Not because I planned them, but because I realized I had to. I had to change. I had to do something. Anything to distract myself. Anything to keep moving forward, because if I didn’t, I might get stuck in that sad place forever.

Though I planned to keep living with my parents while I “recovered,” I moved onto campus. Since I lived with them while I was pregnant (my first semester at The University), I had yet to get involved in campus-type stuff. Suddenly I realized that I wanted that college experience (and I do mean suddenly). I decided that I wanted to be the college student that everyone else got to be. So that weekend (yes, that suddenly), I moved out of my parent’s three bedroom, two story house into a single room I shared with one girl and a bathroom that I shared with three.

I became a workaholic. I worked at a restaurant as a server at the time, and I dove into it. I picked up shifts, worked late even if I didn’t have to and went out after my shifts with my co-workers just to make it last longer.

I started running. I ran around campus, and once I discovered the university gym, I ran there. Sometimes, I kept a workout journal to log my miles. Sometimes, I just put on my running shoes and took off and didn’t bother to count.

I joined clubs and went to campus concerts and took up snowboarding (and fell down a lot) and signed up to go to Greece the following summer and declared my major and went on midnight trips to Cookout and basically said ‘yes’ to everything. Except drugs of course. Nancy Reagan need not be ashamed.

You know that saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead”? I took that saying to heart. If I was already in bed and someone called asking me to come out, I got up.

I don’t know if this sounds good or bad, but part of the reason why I became so “do or die” that year was because I figured since I gave you up — since I was going to have to live without you — I might as well live. I was going to live as fully as I could. I owed that to you, but I also owed to to me. I owed it to myself to live a wonderful life.

I hated missing you. It always hurt so bad and since I missed you everyday, I hurt everyday. So whenever I would miss you, I tried to think of how happy you were, growing up with your family. Then, I tried to think about me…I would think about me and how I could be happy too.

For quite a while, I felt guilty for giving you up. I felt like I was being selfish and that if I was less selfish, I would have given everything up to raise you myself. But even then — even thinking that — I still knew I loved you. I loved you so much. And the reason I could never bring myself to give everything up to keep you was because it still wouldn’t have been enough. It wouldn’t have been enough to give you the childhood I had, the life you deserved.

But placing you for adoption didn’t give me “freedom.” It was a sacrifice. It hurt. And while the pain has lessened through the years and through my incredible relationship with The B’s (who I truly owe for taking that pain away), I still miss you. Every day.

But instead of hurting when I miss you, I can smile now.

I can smile because I have updated pictures. I can smile because I can think about how I saw you last weekend. I can smile because I can write to you. I can smile because somehow, missing you gave me new life. You went to a loving family to live a beautiful life and though I felt broken and left behind, I was able to put a new me back together. Someone you can be proud of; Someone who will be able to tell you amazing stories of her Grecian adventures or funny stories about her midnight Cookout runs with her dorm buddies.

And at the end of the day, I want to be able to tell you that all of those stories — of adventure or triumphs or just plain silliness — were thanks to you, and my desire to be someone you take pride in. I’m already proud of you. It’s only fair that it goes both ways :)

Recovery happens. Sadness ends. Time heals. Birth mothers get better and adoptive parents can help them. New life is created…in the form of you and, now, in the form of me. That’s why I have hope. That’s why I have never regretted my decision. Because you are happy — and because of that, so am I. We’re survivors, you and me, and we have our whole lives ahead of us to be incredible. I know you will be. So…now what? :)

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