I think Jennifer Rosson of Style Your Life is an excellent stylist.
Here is an outfit she styled for me.
Thank you, Jennifer!
I think Jennifer Rosson of Style Your Life is an excellent stylist.
Here is an outfit she styled for me.
Thank you, Jennifer!
Driving Camden home it was just the three of us. Andrew drove, Cam was in the car seat and I was in the back next to him.
Our minds were swirling with the words we had heard . . . colic, discomfort, tremors, seizures, . . .
Cam was content . . . . until he wasn’t . . . and then he was un-soothable.
I thought of the weekend ahead of us. It was 3:00 pm on a Friday and we were responsible for a very sick preemie. I was terrified.
I asked Andrew to call our doctor, to see if they would set up an appointment right away. We had one for the following Monday, but I could not possibly wait that long.
We knew pieces of his birth story, enough to know that he had not been well, he had been in the hospital, and then lived with a nurse and now he was being placed into our hands, and while Andrew is very capable I am absolutely inept at all things medical.
We have the most tremendous doctor and they fit us in at 4:30 on a Friday, just so she could look at this baby and help us know what to do.
Baby boy received great care. Our doctor took lots of time and taught us a great deal. We got to know this baby boy with our doctor. She went over feedings with us and “rooting,” an infant’s way of looking for food.
She showed us birthmarks and read his medical history and deciphered what medical appointments should be made for the week ahead. He would have three different doctors visits and she had doctors to send us to.
We had a plan. And it was no longer just me and Andrew, we now had a team of people in place for this poor, sick, infant.
We were collecting names and numbers and scheduling appointments when it happened: a shift in my perception.
Our doctor came back out of her office and stood between Andrew and me. She looked us each in the eyes and she said to us, “It is going to be ok. I want you to take him home and enjoy him. Think of him as a healthy baby, because that is what he is. He is a healthy baby. We will address your concerns and his issues, but for this weekend, focus on this beautiful, healthy baby.”
And in the midst of uncertainty, truth was spoken and we were both able to breathe and enjoy.
Shifting my perspective brought peace, anticipation, and joy.
And we had wonderful first days together as a family, a family with a healthy, happy baby boy.
Our experience of welcoming a child into our lives is so different from the images we see and the stories we hear that writing about it has been difficult for me.
Both boys that sleep peacefully in my home as I type came into the world in similar ways.
Their birth mothers did not know that they carried life for months as the tiny bodies developed.
Both boys were born in hospitals and then stayed in those hospitals for weeks.
They were cared for by doctors and dedicated nurses whose faces we have never seen.
They were rocked by arms that only held them for a short time. And then when the day came for those babies to go home . . . they were placed into temporary care.
Our oldest lived in the city apartment of a 76-year-old woman and baby Cam was placed in an upstairs apartment of a 58-year-old nurse. There was love, but there was no permanency.
We picked up Cole at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in the city. He arrived in a cab with his foster-mother and a box of his belongings. Business swirled around us, people smiled and moved on while our entire life shifted. It felt dingy. It felt uncertain. It felt rushed.
And then we put him in the car and drove home to our future uncertain. It would be over a year before the adoption was finalized.
When it came time to pick up two month old Cam, we requested that we meet him at his foster mother’s. I thought it would be more natural and less chaotic.
The truth is that is was still awkward and uncertain and it was hard.
We drove down an unfamiliar urban street. People were hanging out in groups in front of houses and looked at us as we got out of our cars. We followed an unknown DCF worker up stairs to a large white house I am unable to describe as I felt like I was walking through a tunnel of thoughts and emotions. I remember he opened the door without knocking. We entered a hallway and at the top of large wooden staircase he greeted a woman holding the a tiny baby.
I am sure she said hello, but I remember her greeting as being “He has colic!”
She placed the sweet-faced, cradle capped, little boy into my arms, bringing us into a living room while she bustled about gathering objects and telling us about the little one’s many medical issues. She offered us a large medical book. I declined, overwhelmed.
The social worker sat. Andrew collected the objects and put them into our car . . . a bouncy seat, a baby bathtub, bags of clothes and a large activity car for when he is much bigger. And she talked. She talked all about this little boy. She was anxious. He was sick. He’d had a fever, tremors, seizures . . . and the words swirled and I tried to bring grace and peace. I thanked her, reassured her. And while we headed out the steepest back exit staircase, I handed the baby to Andrew and grabbed the handrail to steady myself.
The social worker spoke to me as Andrew placed the tiny baby in the cavernous car seat. “The visits are on Mondays, so we will need to schedule that.”
I looked at him, overwhelmed by the whirlwind that was, and completely empty of understanding. This baby has visits? With whom? “. . . Ok . . .” I tried to say, tried to think.
“Maybe we will change that, I will call you . . . ” He said more to himself than to me, and he was gone, waving and in his car.
And then we were in our car. I have the same picture of Cam, in the car seat, but I cannot publish pictures of him.
And at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon I asked Andrew to please call our doctor. We had a sick baby and a weekend ahead and I didn’t know what to do.
And the uncertainty began.
In my last post I wrote about our debate as to whether or not to have an Adoption Registry. Here are our top ten baby items to be thinking about when you may be having or receiving a baby.
Ergo Baby Carrier - This baby carrier is wonderful for so many reasons. It keeps you close to baby and allows you to adventure with them for years (I carried our 3-year-old on my back in it). Our baby falls asleep in it every time. I sometimes moby our little guy at home, as it is softer, but if I had to pick one carrier, this would be it. Intentional connection and adventuring.
Zutano Baby Booties – Babies do not need shoes, but as they grow having something that stays on their feet is ideal. These booties stay on, they are snuggly and they are machine washable by a wonderful Vermont company. Intentional clothing.
Swaddleme Swaddle Blankets – Newborns love to be swaddled. We have found that our little guy falls asleep faster and stays asleep longer in a swaddle. These swaddles are super easy and super-snuggly. Intentional sleeping.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base – We love this infant car seat. It is highly rated and tremendously easy. Intentional Safety.
Snap-and-Go Stroller - These are two different purchases (making this list more than 10 items), but they go together. If you need a stroller in those infant days then this snap and go is the way to go. It is light and easy. I like it better than the bulkier stroller that is part of the “travel system.” Strollers are abundant. This is best for shopping and small trips. We move from this to an umbrella stroller. You may want an additional jogging stroller. Intentional travel.
Nursing Pillow – Though I am not breast-feeding, this pillow has still been very helpful for a baby who has had acid reflux and spits up a good deal. It is easily portable and he can be propped up anywhere. Intentional comfort.
Hape My First Gym – We absolutely love this little wooden “play gym.” It has a mirror and a little bell. I would choose it over a plastic one any day. Intentional play.
Side Snap Shirts – For early days these side snap shirts are ideal. When baby spits up one does not have to take the wet and icky shirt up over baby’s head, instead it is easy on and off. Diaper changing is easier. These are a must. Intentional dressing.
Sophie the Giraffe - Sophie is designed to “awaken baby’s senses.” The design is intentional. And the result is a beloved first toy and teether. Intentional teething.
Cloth Diapers & Wash cloths – Maybe we are really unique to have two babies that spit up a lot, but these items have become central to our day-to-day. We use the cloth diapers under the baby to protect whatever he is lying on and we use the wash cloths to wipe up spit ups throughout the day. Intentional Clean Up.
Blankets – Having baby blankets around to lay down for tummy time or to bring along in the car is helpful. Intentional stocking up.
When Cole came to us we felt uncertain about everything.
Creating a registry just felt wrong.
We had a month to prepare. This was not “our child.” This was a child we had agreed to take care of . . . and so began my own journey of uncertainty about what really made me a mama (a story for another time).
Graciously friends and co-workers gave us boxes with clothes and gadgets and things. We were independent and quietly walked forward into the unknown.
We knew more this time. More about what we needed to gather.
We had five days this time. I started searching Craigslist right away. We were both working. There was no weekend before baby would arrive. So we decided to go ahead and go for it. We would put a registry out there.
And we didn’t feel good about it. It felt hard, to ask for other people to take their time, to use their money.
It felt worse when the story seemed to change in two ways . . . the baby had some real medical issues that we were not sure we could handle and the more we knew the greater the chance that this baby would return to his family of origin.
Honestly, we struggled with it.
Even as items began arriving at our door before the baby, it all felt hard.
But it did shift.
As friends and family purchased items and connected with us it started to feel like we were not alone.
As we came to feel sure that this baby would be with us for months, years, and hopefully, forever, we wanted more and more to share him and our adventures with him with others. And even if it is not forever . . . he now enters the world with his first blankets and onesies from the people we love. And that is a great beginning to a little life.
A humble and great heap of gratitude to our friends and family.
And for other foster-to-adopt-mamas, go for it, reach out and register. It opens your hands to receive and isn’t that what adoption is about?
Andrew and I received a phone call on a Friday afternoon about a little boy in need of a home, and on Monday we chose to step forward and say yes, that this little boy should come join our family.
We didn’t say yes right away. We took time to think about it, the impact, the fit.
This little boy was sick, he was a premie, he had not had good prenatal care. There would be doctors visits, possible surgery.
This little boy would not be “ours,” may never be “ours.” Someone could come forward.
There was a lot of risk. A great deal would be required of us.
But there was a baby in need of a home . . .
I do want to note here that in foster care Andrew and I have said “no” at least as many times as we have said yes. We have always taken the time to talk through the scenario, talk through the impact and the fit, and we recognize very clearly that there are times and circumstances that do not line up and we were very clear that this may be one of them.
But on Monday, with all of the risks, with all of the impact, with all that it meant, we said yes.
On Tuesday we learned that Friday would be the day he was coming to be with us and we started preparing.
On Thursday we got the email.
Twenty-four hours before we were set to pick up baby boy we learned of an additional possible medical issue. And for us the need of care exceeded what we felt prepared to give. It was heartbreaking and we needed to re-evaluate and make a clear headed best decision for the baby and for us.
I headed to Halibut Point. Halibut is my piece of nature where I can feel my head clear and where I re-center. I just made time and space to get there. And I walked and I prayed. I got quiet and I felt open. I was open to the yes, and I was open to no.
And as I gazed out over the ocean this singular boat made its way slowly before me . . .
And I was very clear.
Before us was an opportunity.
I do not get to set the full course. I do not get to choose the destination.
But we have been invited to enjoy the sail.
So we said yes.
And on Friday, we picked up baby boy.
Our time in Prince Edward Island was grey. The drive back was rainy. We had decided to head home early.
Two hours from the border I looked at my phone. I had turned off all calling features since we were out of the country . . . but there was a little circle letting me know that I had a voicemail.
The voicemail was from a particular city, and we both knew what that meant.
Andrew and I have been doing foster care since 2007. That is six years now. We primarily do short-term placements. It is a good fit for us. A few months ago we decided to say that we were open to adoption again. We did the switch in paperwork quietly and without fanfare. And we chose to walk forward with open hands, our motto.
This particular city that the phone call was from probably meant it was a call about fostering short-term . . . but we both knew that it could mean an adoption placement. I did not say that outloud, Andrew either. We decided to just wait until we crossed back into Maine and were able to check the voicemail.
The time ticked by slowly and it rained.
When we did finally arrive at the border, the line of cars was long and there was a second voicemail, same number.
“You can check it and we can pay the extra dollar or whatever,” Andrew said watching me look at my phone.
“I can wait . . .”
As soon as we crossed into the states I started to call and Andrew made a wrong turn and . . . we were all turned around. I waited until we were cruising down 95 south.
It was our caseworker. There was a baby. An eight week old baby boy. There were some medical issues. They wanted to place him in a pre-adoptive home. We were the first choice. Were we interested? Should they look at other families?
At 3:00 on a Friday afternoon the phone-tag began and finally we just pulled over, put on the speakerphone and allowed the reality of the moment to sink in, if only for a few minutes.
Our family had an opportunity to grow . . .
. . . but there were medical issues
. . . but there would be a concurrent plan of reunification
He was eight weeks old. He had spent the first part of his life in two hospitals and then had been living as a foster child with a nurse.
. . . we had not been preparing for nine months, were we ready to shift everything for an infant?
. . . how would Cole react?
Our thoughts raced.
We recognized that phone call on the side of the road had the potential to change our lives.
And we chose to step forward into the unknown.
Four years ago our little boy Colton had been born. The plan was that he would come to be with us and that we would move forward with an open adoption.
All of that changed and Colton was placed in foster care. The Department of Children of Families would not be working with our adoption agency. The goal was reunification and “all doors were closed, we would not be adopting him.”
We walked quietly through those days. Even four months later when a call came asking if we were open to adopting that same little boy my steps forward were so tentative, so quiet that a year later there were family members who did not realize we had officially adopted Cole.
Adoption is a different road to walk down. The waiting is different. The expanding of one’s family is different. International adoption and domestic adoption are different. Adopting through a private agency and adopting through the state are different. It is a strange and sacred road.
There was some part of me that was scared to share the process as we walked with Cole. I did not want a shower. We did not announce his arrival. We waited to have any kind of celebration with friends until he turned one.
We are in a new and sacred place. There is a new little guy with us, and it is not a sure thing that he will be with us forever, but there is a possibility. I have decided to adventure forward in a bolder way.
I am going to blog about it, because blogging helps me process. I am going to blog because it is a strange and beautiful journey. I am not going to wait to post until things are clear and sure. I invite you to join us on the adventure of fostering and possibly adoption. It will be a beautiful road.
We have a wall in our kitchen that has become a focal point for our shared goals and lives. We have changed our kitchen wall once again. This is our fourth evolution.
Here are the previous three versions. We love having a place in our home that reflects our goals and intentions.
When our ceiling had to be replaced this summer, and therefore the kitchen repainted, we went ahead and took the opportunity to spruce up our wall, making it even more functional for us.
We redefined what we really wanted on our command center wall. We use a shared calendar on our computers. That includes what is for dinner each night, so we decided that we did not use the monthly calendar or the weekly menu on our wall, at least for the summer.
Instead we put up our Summer Adventure Goals. Keeping track of those here has been so fun.
I like the idea of having Seasonal goals here that last longer than our monthly goals (monthly goals are in a google doc now).
The other pinboard may hold anything we like. For the summer we went for this “centering” picture I found on Pinterest.
We have been choosing various short phrases this year that we like and that are centering. This is actually January’s choice, but we reinstated it this summer.
We made the silhouette of Cole this past November and gave it as a gift to his grandmother’s at Christmas. Here is a link to the tutorial we used.
We love the cheery yellow (actually a cream colored paint) and the versatility of the wall.
I am linking up at the following places:
Here he is in his own words:
What is your favorite color?
Green and Yellow.
What is your favorite toy?
Teddy Bear (Probably because it was the toy he had with him at that moment. Cole has lots of favorites, and whatever he has with him is often his favorite).
What is your favorite show?
Jake and the Neverland Pirates (The most recent show he has been introduced to).
What is your favorite thing to eat?
Watermelon (he adds and juice, sometimes his papa puts watermelon juice into a little teacup for Cole as a special treat).
What is your favorite outfit?
A tie and a nice shirt (Cole and I had been to the theater, he does love dressing up, though it does not happen often).
What is your favorite animal?
What is your favorite song?
Old Macdonald, The Itsy Bitsy Spider (I asked him about show tunes because we have been listening to a Pandora station and he has been singing his little heart out. He chooses Chim Chimney and I ask him about Tomorrow).
What is your favorite story?
The Three Little Pigs
Who is your best friend?
“You and Bella”
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Play in my sandbox, play with my toys.
What is your favorite drink?
“Juice and milk and water . . . . and apple cider” He has a good memory he had apple cider in the fall and loved it.
What do you like to take to bed with you at night?
His teddy bear.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A teenager. (He really does look forward to being a teenager. I did get him to say now that he will listen to me when he is a teenager . . . ).
What is your favorite thing about Papa?
“Playing with him . . . Tick-Tock, Tall Mater” (I asked him about this. He says that he and Papa play Tick-Tock, like the crocodile from Peter Pan, and that Tall Mater is playing cars). “I love Papa, and he can fly me like Peter Pan. I can fly! I can fly! I can fly!” (Andrew is really good at flying Cole all around).
What is your favorite thing about Mama?
“You. You snuggle me in your bed . . . Play with puppets.” I brought up going to the theater.
What’s your favorite thing to do?
Play with boats.
Happy fourth birthday, dear boy! We love you!