15 years married

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It was 15 years ago on this date, that I married my best friend in front of family and friends on a beautiful warm autumn day on Long Island.

I can look back in my mind’s eye to this beautiful happy day like it was yesterday.  We did not know what the journey ahead would be for us we just knew we wanted to spend our lives together.  We have been together for 19 years having dated for 4 years before marrying.

What began as a friendship and blossomed into romance and now has deepened into a love and relationship that I could never imagine.  To have this man by my side is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Over the years together we have had our ups and downs and we have weathered the storm coming out as a stronger team together.

I could never have imagined the journey our lives together would take and would never change a thing.  This man who is now the father to our children.  Each of our girls entrusted to us at birth. Our family expanding not only with the addition of our daughters but with each of their families. The love and friendship we share with all of our girls families only enhancing our love for each other.

Here we are 15 years later, we lived in San Francisco then to our first home purchased together in El Cerrito, then onto Hercules and now to our home in Poet’s Corner.  We have traveled together including Alaska, Mexico, back and forth to the East Coast and our honeymoon in France and Italy.  Later visiting friends and wandering through Australia.  I first started camping with this man and now our family enjoys yearly summer camping together.  We drove to our first daughter’s birth in Minnesota seeing it as an adventure leaving behind our coupledom .

Raising two girls together who are now 8 and 6 years old.  The fun and hectic parts of our daily lives that doesn’t always leave time for us.  I cherish our family time together but most importantly I cherish the time we get together just the two of us whether it’s after our girls have gone to bed or we’ve actually gone out on a date! The ups and downs of everyday life have only strengthened our friendship and love for each other.

Here’s to another 15 years and more, my love I wouldn’t want to share this crazy life with anyone else, Happy Anniversary!

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thinking back … remembering how it all started …

Start

memories thinking back to when we began our journey to parenthood …

Our journey to parenthood began officially in July of 2005 signing on with an adoption agency here in San Francisco and signing on with a well known and trusted adoption facilitator in the area as well.

After our homestudy was complete we began work on our outreach, telling the world we wanted to be a Mommy & Daddy and we were looking to adopt! Our letters mailed to healthcare professionals, and our website turned on on the internet to help us become a family … The letters and website both were done and up and out by Thanksgiving of 2005.

We started to receive phone calls from our website, but there was one that my husband (who answered the phone) felt connected to. C called in early December and talked to my husband for quite some time that day. He listened and heard her and asked some questions. After he got off the phone, we talked together and wondered could this be the call?

The holidays that year came at us in a rush … and before we knew it C called us back again in early January. We had previously shared with the facilitator we were working with the info we had gotten from C on the first call and then the two of them spoke. At that time, C was very early in her pregnancy (about 8 or 9 weeks) and we were all told this was too early to be considered a ‘match’ (the engagement of prospective adoptive families with an expectant mother) and were to build a relationship and see what transpires.

C lives in Minnesota and we live in California so building a relationship meant phone calls, emails, and instant messaging through YAHOO! We did develop a relationship … all three of us … and before we knew it she was six months into her pregnancy and it was time to meet in person. Arrangements were made for C to come visit us here in our home and to meet with Ellen, our facilitator. I can still remember the date of her trip … April 29, 2006!

Picking her up at the airport was nerve wracking, we did know her through our communications, and we each knew what we looked like as we had all shared many photos … but we were meeting in person for the first time … we were meeting the young woman who might choose us to parent the baby she was carrying … how do you prepare for this meeting? We bought her her favorite flowers that we took to the airport, we also had bought her favorite fragrance of showergel to have in the guest bathroom and when food shopping had her favorite foods and drink! We are a family that food is always part of any kind of celebration so for us that felt right!

Meeting her in person, my nerves melted away … it was like an old friend coming to visit! My husband felt the same way and so did our dog, Cody! We had a great time getting to know each other in person, showing her the sights of San Francisco, having her see the home we hoped to raise her baby in and just spending time together!

By the end of our visit she had officially asked us to be the parents of her baby and asked us to join her for a birthing class and to meet her OB/GYN back in Minnesota the next month. We happily agreed.

In July near the baby’s due date we packed up our car, our dog, and everything but the kitchen sink to be with C when she gave birth and then on July 21, 2006 we met our daughter.

When our first daughter turned one, we began talking again about adding to our family. We found this time we were a little slower to get some of the things done … her birthday is in July and in July of 2007 we asked our agency for an updated homestudy and we finally finished it by February of 2008. By the time we officially re-signed on with Ellen, our adoption facilitator, it was just after June 2008 ….

At the beginning of August 2008, we were called by S having ‘met’ through our facilitator Ellen, to meet in person. S lived an hour south of us and as luck would have it when she called my husband and daughter had just left for their swim lesson so I told her we could meet later in the day.

We drove down to meet S full of excitement and nerves! We knew before meeting S that her baby was due in two weeks … after building a relationship with C for almost seven months this would be very quick and different from our previous experience.

We got down to where she lived a little later than we anticipated and wondered would she care that although we called we were late! So not only were we nervous we felt bad we might be starting off on the wrong foot … with our elder daughter in tow we sat down to get to know each other, all of us sharing how nervous we were … she telling us she had never known or met any adoptive parents before and us sharing we were just nervous meeting her … our nerves and fears subsided and before we knew it we had all been talking, laughing and watching our daughter for over four hours. After our meeting we immediately called our facilitator, Ellen, and shared with her we would be very open to moving forward whatever S decided and unbeknown to us, S phoned Ellen and told her we were it, she had found the family for her baby.

We had two weeks to start developing a relationship that would last all of us a lifetime and we all made haste to get to know each other … we had her over for dinner a few times and we met at a park near to where she lives another and then we got the call …. her water had broken and it was five days before her due date … like with C, we were invited to be at the hospital to support her and meet our newest addition …and on August 22, 2008 our daughter was born.

Our girls are now 7 and 5 years old, we have extended our family not only through each of our daughter’s birth mothers but through their extended families and at the time each girl turned 4 we reconnected with each of their birth fathers. We could not imagine it any other way!

So you never know what a first meeting will bring … but in each of our cases it started what is now a life long relationship with each of our daughter’s families that have seamlessly become part of ours 🙂

Its the memories of where we started to know where we are today that got me thinking about our initial journey to parenthood.

(whispered) Do they know they are adopted?

There are occasions when someone learns our family journey to parenthood, that this question happens in a whisper to us if our girls are present.  I understand there was a time that talking about adoption didn’t happen often and even still there were children who did not know they had been adopted. 

I’m never offended, I usually smile with a bit of a laugh and say they sure do!  You see we have ongoing in-person family relationships with each of our girls birth mothers and their extended family and their birth fathers and their family.  It would be a very hard secret to keep anyway!  When we changed our path from trying to have a baby to hoping to adopt for our family building we basically sat on our rooftop and shouted it out to the world.  SO a lot of people in our immediate world know how our family came to be. 

Our girls have heard their story pretty much from the time they were born.  Each girl was entrusted to us right after their birth from the hospital.  My husband created a song/lullaby that tells them their story about our family entwined with their birth families.  Each girl can now proudly and loudly sing their song 🙂  There are many story books that we incorporate into our night time reading that talk about adoption “Tell Me About The Night I was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis, “How I was Adopted” by Joanna Coles, “We Belong Together” by Todd Parr, “Happy Adoption Day” by John McCutcheon, and “Forever Fingerprints” by Sherrie Eldridge. 

Our girls are 7 and 5 years old now and can understand their story, that they each grew in another’s tummy.  That their birth mother and birth father made them and that’s who they get certain features and some of their personalities from.  That we were chosen by their birth parents to be their Mommy & Daddy.  That they are loved by all of us.

So it’s okay to ask in front of our girls if they are adopted, they know and they may even answer you who they were born to and who they call Mommy & Daddy all by themselves.

 

What the Baby Veronica Case brings up for me ….

Everyone’s story and journey to parenthood is different, ours changed from trying to get pregnant to not needing to be pregnant to become parents and then deciding on the family-building option of domestic open adoption.
 
From the outside looking in our adoption journey was seamless and painless, but that is not always the case.  We made tough decisions along the way and when our second daughter was born there was more than those on the outside looking in were aware of.
 
Our journey to parenthood was guided by the late great Ellen Roseman of Cooperative Adoption Consulting.  Her guidance and wisdom were with us throughout our journey as well as the education she provided on openness in adoption and not leaving anyone out in the family especially expectant/birth fathers.
 
It was this aspect of the process that reminds me part of our journey to our daughter J and the decisions we were faced with after her birth.  We met J’s birthmother 10 days before she was born which truly was not enough time (in our mind) for her to make a permanent placement decision.  We had begun talking about her parenting after the baby was born and she turned this discussion into our sharing parenting as she works through her thoughts and feelings for what decisions were ahead for her.  The plan became about her taking the baby home from the hospital and then passing her onto us with S’s time becoming less and ours more if she decided that adoption was going to be her plan.  Then on top of that when my husband contacted the baby’s expectant father he went from first thinking our adopting his baby was a great idea, and hours later he didn’t.  We realized at that moment we might have to walk away from S & J.  Heartbreaking to say the least but we knew we had no place to fight him if he really wanted to parent his daughter and this was something he and S were going to have to discuss.  Their relationship was long diminished before this and that is why he was not initially part of her decision to consider adoption for their baby.
 
During this time, S wasn’t still completely sure what she wanted as far as parenting or entrusting her daughter with us.  We had to step out of the conversations at that point as it was not for us to be involved it was between them.  Ellen was there with us along the way and guided us through. 
 
It was hard, very hard but we knew we weren’t part of this discussion and we couldn’t be, it wasn’t our baby to fight for even though our hearts felt otherwise.  We had our two year old daughter to be parenting at this time so we had to still be there for her while all this was going on and she was to stay our focus.
 
We waited and waited to hear what the final outcome might be.  We heard from Ellen and S that the baby’s birth father had in fact consenting on the adoption placement. 
 
To this day we don’t know what brought him/them to this decision.  This last December we reconnected with him and his son (J’s brother) in beginning to establish a relationship as a family together.   At first he wanted nothing to do with J and us as a family.  We always left the door open knowing someday J would want to know him.  Then just like that last October he commented on a photo on facebook (we had become friends even though we didn’t communicate).  From that initial re-communication we planned on getting to know each other in person.  Our first in-person meeting was in December 2012.   Today we are planning another get together in honor of J’s birthday.
 
So yes from the outside looking in no one would suspect what had happened on our second journey to parenthood … I can still remember it like it was yesterday and reading and following the story of Baby Veronica it brings back these feelings and memories.   I don’t fault the prospective adoptive parents in how they may be feeling, but I really feel when the father of this little girl started fighting for her when she was an infant they should have bowed out.  Now there is an almost 4 year old girl whose life is turning upside down yet again.  This case and others like it bring to light the non-ethical professionals in adoption as it appears from the outside looking in in my opinion that they are not being correctly guided … very sad for all involved.