Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year! New Possibilities!

     It's hard to believe that there are only a few days left in 2011.  As the year draws to a close there is definitely some sadness that our baby did not come to us this year.  Jim and I both really felt that this would be our year.   We had several almost situations and a match that unfortunately didn't work out.  It would be easy to look back and question our choices.  What if we had said this?  What if we had done that?  Would things have turned out differently?  Did we miss our chance?  
     The answer is a resounding no!  We don't understand why the wait has been so long, but we still believe more than ever that there is a baby for us.  There is an inner peace in us that just won't let us give up hope and for that I am very thankful. 
     This year has had its difficulties, but it also has had it's blessings.  

     We saw an increase in our contacts:  We updated our letter and did lots of personal networking.   Many friends passed along our contact information and blogs.  As a result, many more potential birthmothers have the ability to find us

     We did have a match:  Even though that match did not work out, someone picked us!  And if it happened once, it can happen again.  We gained valuable experience about the match meeting and matching process.  We also gained gratitude for the amazing workers at our agency who showed us so much compassion and encouragement after the match fell through.

     I started writing again:   I love to write and it has always been a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings.  I stopped writing for a time after we lost our baby.  It was just too painful.  But thanks to my friend Cindy's encouragement, I started this blog and am loving writing again.  My blogs often end up being mini-devotionals to encourage me.  And someday this blog will be a great record of our adoption journey.

     Many friends and family have joined our journey this year:  God really has blessed us with great family and friends who love us, pray for us and encourage us on a daily basis.  With our facebook page and blog we are able to keep in contact much more easily and regularly.  We are amazed at how many of you go out of your way to post my blog, send us an encouraging word, or just check in and say hi:)   Thank you!!!

     We do have much to be thankful for this year!  Most importantly, God continues to walk with us on this journey.  He provides the resources, strength, and hope for us to continue on each step.  He has a plan for our future and we continue to put our trust in Him.  We look forward to 2012.  It's a new year with new possibilities:)


Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Yet to Come

     Heather of Open Adoption Bloggers recently added a prompt to write about a holiday moment made possible through open adoption.  Since we are a waiting family, I took a different approach.  I hope you will enjoy reading about our wishes for a Christmas yet to come.

     Christmas is our favorite time of year, but it can also be a bittersweet time for families like us who are waiting to adopt.  There are a multitude of kid-centered activities to enjoy and we often find ourselves making statements like, "When we have a baby..." or "I can't wait until we have kids and..."  That doesn't mean that we miss out on having fun.  We just borrow our family and friend's kids and have a great time spoiling them!  But in the back of our minds, there is always the hope and prayer that next year we will be celebrating with a little one of our own. 
     We've thought and talked and dreamed about how the holidays will change once we adopt.  So here is our "wish list" of some of our favorite holiday traditions that we look forward to celebrating with our kids someday.

     Baking Christmas Cookies:  Amy especially loves to bake.  We look forward to sticky fingers, a messy kitchen, and packaging up a box of goodies to send off to our child's birthparents (or having them join us if they live close enough).

     Caroling:  We both love to sing.  We love the thought of bundling up the kids, spreading some "joy to the world," and then heading home for some hot chocolate and cookies. 

    Decorating the tree:  If you've read my previous post, you know how ecclectic our tree is.  We look forward to adding a baby's first ornament as well as kid created ornaments.  We also envision fun times heading out to cut our own tree, tromping through the snow to find just the right one.

     Zoo Lights:   There is something magical about Christmas lights.  Add lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) and hopefully our kids will be as mesmerized as we are. 

     Bronners:  Speaking of fun family outings, Bronners is one of our favorite places to visit!  We don't get there as often as we used to, since it's back home in Michigan.  But this 5 football fields worth of wonder is at the top of our list to take our kids to.  We can't wait to see their faces light up with amazement and joy.

     Christmas pageants:  Our nieces and nephews have often enjoyed putting together a Christmas play for the adults.  There's nothing cuter than little kids dressed up as angels, wise men, and shepherds.  Definitely a picture perfect moment! 

     Christmas Morning:  This may sound crazy to some people, but we are really looking forward to waking up to the sound of kids jumping on our bed and yelling, "Wake Up!  It's Christmas!"   We will race down the stairs with them to see what "Santa" has left under the tree!

     The Christmas Story:  It has been a tradition in both of our families to read Luke Chapter Two before opening gifts.  It reminds us of the greatest gift-Jesus- and the love God has for each of us.  The story takes on new meaning as we anticipate a baby coming into our lives and changing our world forever. 

Friends and Family:  Spending time with friends and family is one of the best things about Christmas.  Hopefully, through open adoption, we will have plenty of opportunities to share some special time with our child's birthfamily whether in person or through skype.   

     These are a few of our favorite things...we hope you will add some of your own! 


Saturday, December 3, 2011

O Christmas Tree!

     Putting up our Christmas tree each year brings back so many wonderful memories.  In my family, the tradition has always been to put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  My Dad would set up and shape the tree and then wrap the lights.  Afterwards, we would all take part in decorating the tree together as a family.  Each ornament held a special memory and we enjoyed talking and laughing and singing Christmas carols together.
     Jim and I have continued this tradition and we cherish the togetherness we share as we decorate our tree each year.  We usually put our tree up right after Thanksgiving and leave it up until the end of January  (One year it was actually still up on Valentine's Day so I replaced the ornaments with hearts and ribbons).  Jim sets up the tree and wraps the lights while I put on some Christmas music and make hot chocolate.  Then we decorate together. 
     Our tree would never win a fashion contest!  There is no set color scheme.  The ornaments do not match.  And in recent years, our tree has started to lean a little to the side (probably from the weight of too many ornaments!)  But we LOVE it!  Each ornament holds a special memory.  We talk, laugh, cry, and remember as we hang each ornament in it's place.  When we finish, we always see not only a beautiful tree, but also a beautiful picture of our life together. 
     So for this blog, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite ornaments and the memories behind them with you!
       Some of our ornaments pre-date our time together such as this santa ball and gingebread man that I made in elementary school.  When I was in school, we made ornaments almost every year.  Many of them have been lost, but these have remained and continue to grace our tree each year.  They remind me of simpler times and the pure joy of being a kid.

     Of course we have an ornament to celebrate our First Christmas together as husband and wife!  We had a December wedding.  The church was all decked out in pine boughs, white lights and candles.  It was a beautiful and magical night.  This year we will celebrate 17 years of marriage...and I can honestly say that Jim is still my very best friend!

     I received many special ornaments during my time as a teacher.  Pictured below are two of my favorites.  The first is a simple gingerbread tree given to me by one of my special education students during my first year of teaching.  He had cerebral palsy and could only communicate through a special sound board,  but his smile never failed to light up the room.  The second ornament (the green one) was created by one of my 7th Grade Pre-Algebra students near the end of my time teaching.  It has a fan inside that spins as the heat of the Christmas lights rises up into the cylinder.  Both ornaments make me smile and bring back so many memories.

     Ornaments from former students are not the only kid crafted ornaments to grace our tree.  Our nieces and nephews have kept us well supplied with their creations over the years.  Many of these now adorn the bookshelf in our bedroom.  Since we live away from family right now, it makes me happy to wake up in the morning and have their smiling faces greet me.  The ornaments hold love, laughter and an infinite number of hugs to make my day a little brighter!

     Several years ago, Jim and I started a tradition of buying a Christmas ornament whenever we traveled to a new place.  We have a ball with a toucan from St. Thomas, a cable car from San Fransisco, Mickey Mouse ears from Orlando and so many more!  They are all unique and hold special memories of our travels.

     Some of our ornaments bring us tears and hope.  We have a baby carriage ornament that represents our desire for a baby, noah's ark ornaments that represent the theme of our nursery, and a hope ornament that reminds us to keep believing for our miracle.  There is also a special angel ornament given to us after I found out I was pregnant.  Now it reminds us of our baby in heaven who we look forward to meeting some day. 

     Other ornaments are just there because we liked them for one reason or another.  There are snowmen to represent the snow that we love, nativity sets to remind us of the reason for the season and some santas just for fun. 

     Looking at our tree makes me happy and reminds me of just how rich we in memories, rich in friendship, rich in family, rich in love!  I joyfully remember the past seasons; I am thankful for all God has blessed us with this year; and I am filled with hope for the future.  Soon we will need a new, bigger tree to hold all of our ornaments and memories.  We look forward to adding more special ornaments along the's first Christmas, our own little toddler creations and reminders of special times spent with friends and family. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

     Happy Interview Day!  Today you are in for a special treat:)  For the past several months I have been part of an online blogging group- Open Adoption Bloggers.  Heather, the awesome moderator, put together a very cool project where adoption bloggers from all walks of life were paired up to interview each other.  
     I was doubly blessed to be partnered with Elle from It's All Write Here.  She is an adoptee and the birthmother to an adorable one year old boy.  I really enjoyed getting to know her through her blog and our interview.  She writes with passion and raw honesty.  She really has a unique voice to offer!  By the way, she also interviewed me.  You can read about it on her blog at
     In all there were 120 participants in this year's interview project!  You can check out the other interviews at . 

Here is the interviewer:)  Enjoy!

1.)  The quote on the home page of your blog is beautiful.  "And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.  And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.  Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."  I see it is an excerpt from a song by Mumford and Sons.  Why did you choose to add it to your blog and what does it mean to you? 

     Oh, I just love that song. I feel like it embodies everything I have gone through and as it is with life will go through in the future. I always wish that with everything I do I do it with grace. When I think of the last line "with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair" I imagine the little child part of me dancing with a free spirit away from all the burdens of an adult life and the choices I have made. I think we all have hills to climb and when we do reach the top of whatever it is, we will dance away with the freedom and happiness we find. Ah, probably the child me talking, haha. 

2.)  Congratulations on your upcoming move to Arizona!  It sounds like there are a lot of changes ahead for you.  What are you most looking forward to about the move?

     I think I am most excited about doing something different. I feel like I have been stuck in this rut living in this place I have lived for the majority of my life and this move will force me to get uncomfortable. Even though I am essentially estranged from my family I think putting that space between us will either patch up parts of the relationship or it will crack and fall apart even more. Either options are fine with me but I would love to rip this band-aid off and find out. Ok ok, I am actually most excited about the school part. I love learning and I love school so I cannot wait to be back in school. 

3.)  I read in your blog that you grew up in a closed adoption and did not find out that you were adopted until you were 14.  Today openness in adoption is the "norm."  How do you think an open adoption would have impacted your life?  If you could go back and change one thing, what would you change?
     Oh boy I think open adoption would have really changed my life. I would have grown up without feeling like I had no one in a sense. I always kind of felt like I never belonged to anyone and while having my birthfamily in my life while growing up may not have changed that knowing who they are now. Knowing who they were, seeing their pictures, knowing their names, possibly having a relationship with my siblings would have put to rest so much heartache I went through because I never knew. I think it would have calmed me down a lot and I don't really know how to say it but I was always on edge wondering if this or that person was my birthmom and it made me so incredibly anxious all the time. It I could change one thing...I wish I had been placed with a different family. In some respects I agree with my birthfamily choosing adoption for me after getting to know them, but it would have been placed into a family that my birthfamily would have picked out. 

4.)  You searched for your birthfamily (nparents) as an adult.  What is the best thing to have happened as a result of finding them? What is the worst/most painful thing?

     Best thing, filling that void and having my questions answered. Worst thing, finding out they really and truly never wanted me, tried to abort me and probably thee most painful thing was finding out my birthmom never held me and never cared to know I was a girl. That hurt so bad. She didn't choose adoption because she loved me so much she knew it was the best thing, she chose adoption because it was convenient for her. 

5.)  It is evident from your posts, just how much you love the son you placed for adoption, Asher.  What are the most important things you want him to know about you as he grows up?   

     Oh geez, I guess it would be that even though I am not parenting him he is on a daily basis my world. Every life altering decision I make comes down to him. I want him to be proud of me and I want him to know that even though I made this choice for us it was done purely out of love. I would do anything for him, no matter what. In my mind, he will always be my son and he will always have my unconditional love. 

6.)  What are your biggest hopes and dreams for Asher as he grows up?   What are your biggest fears?

     I have so many! I want him to be happy(Asher means happy & blessed). I hope that he values education. I hope his parents give him the freedom to explore his talents and the things he loves to do. I hope that one day we can have a relationship and he lets me be apart of his life. My biggest fears are that he won't understand the choice I made. That he decides he doesn't want me in his life would probably be the biggest fear. 

7.)  I've read (and experienced) that loss is not something you "get over", it's something you learn to live with.  You write about the "new norm."  What does your "new norm" look like today?  Who/what is the support system that helps you make it through? 

     My "new norm" is really just dealing with the things right in front of me not thinking ahead to the what-ifs and maybes. There is a lot of grief there that I have to constantly swallow down because I don't want it to interfere with my daily life. Life needs to continue, I will not let my emotions get the best of me. I have to remember that with every choice I make there is someone(Asher)who in the future or even maybe someday soon might be affected because of those choices. I think most of my "new norm" is hiding. I tend to hide it all with smiling and being this happy person that if I were to ever be emotional it would just be so strange because it never happens. I know that I have most definitely grown as a person and I like that about myself. I have a richness about the way I look at life and choices people make. 

8.)  In your "About the Author" section you explain that writing your blog is a "release" and that you hope to look back in ten years and "be in utter awe" of how much you've changed.  If you could jump ahead ten years, what would you like your life to be like?

     I definitely hope to be done with school and in my chosen profession. I would like to at least have my Masters degree. I would like to say married with kids, but I honestly don't know. Definitely want to be able to say I have been to Australia, New Zealand and Europe. 

9.)  What is the most annoying question people ask you about being an adoptee?  a birthmom/first mom?  (Hopefully I haven't already asked it!)

     About being an adoptee: hmmmm, I always hate the questions that assume your birthparents are terrible people and your adoptive parents are saints. Hate those. About being a birthmom: Probably my biggest pet peeve is when people say "I could never do that"(in reference to relinquishing their child) or "you are so strong/brave"...hate those.

10.)  What is one thing you'd like to talk about that I didn't ask?

     I think you asked some GREAT questions. I would hope that if you or anyone else wanted to ask me questions they should definitely feel free to do so. 

11.)  And finally...Describe a perfect moment or perfect day- recently or in the past-  that still makes you smile when you think about it.
     My friend S and I went out and we randomly had a sleepover a few weeks back. We didn't get home to bed until 7am and we spent the whole morning laying in bed laughing over anything and everything and random pictures we were taking of each other laughing. Pictures of pure happiness, laughter and ridiculousness. It was SO much fun to be able to let loose like that and just enjoy being in my early 20's. That was definitely a perfect morning. A perfect day is yet to happen ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Travelers on a Journey

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Travelers on a Journey: The following blog was written by my awesome husband Jim. He was inspired to write this after a walk we took a few days ago. Waiting...

Travelers on a Journey

     The following blog was written by my awesome husband Jim.  He was inspired to write this after a walk we took a few days ago.  Waiting for our birthmother and our match to come along has been difficult, but we are both learning so much along the way.  Hope this encourages you as much as does me!

     We went for a walk a few days ago.  It was a longer walk, inspired by the cooler air, the changing of the seasons.  It was relaxing.  It was a chance for us to talk, to destress, to bond.
     At first we mostly just enjoyed being back outside, the cool breezes, the falling leaves, a dozen deer slowly crossing the road in front of us, the ensuing stopped traffic.  The leaves were starting to turn colors, the trees entering a new stage of life.  Clouds checkered the normally blue sky.  A few birds were singing and rustling in the sagebrush.
     We started down the hill of Skyline Park and headed into the valley.  We crossed the bridge over the stream and continued to reminisce.  As we advanced along the foot path flanked by juniper trees we began to leave the shadow of the hillside we were rounding.  A few more steps and then...something moved by Amy's feet as we walked by.
     I am not always the most perceptive person, but somehow this caught my attention.  A stick moved as we walked by it.  We stopped and looked at it, even took a couple of pictures.  The natural light was just perfect to accentuate the moment.  We were walking our paved path and this little traveler was just trying to get across it.

Our little walking buddy
      We walked a few more feet and saw more fellow travelers.  We took a really good picture of one with its shadow just right.  They were "walking sticks", a type of creature I do not notice very often.  But, on this pre-twilight stroll Amy and I saw NINE of them.  Some others had been stepped on.  They had not been seen. 
     As we started to reach level ground near the top of the valley, I had a thought.  How often have I walked by these creatures and not seen them?  How often have I been unaware of fellow travelers along my journey?  Sometimes I have been convinced I was alone when I clearly was not.  Others have journeyed with me; on this walk just a few days ago I began to be more aware of their company, more thankful for our shared space.
     Our conversation changed to the adoption process as we began to climb the final hill on our walk.  We talked about some of the phone calls.  We had heard about two of our birthmother contacts who had given birth.  We wondered how their journeys were progressing.  We even breathed out a prayer for them as we walked.  May they complete their journeys and arrive safely home.  May they not get stepped on; may their journeys be seen by other fellow travelers who can help them along their way.  May the mothers and babies find happiness. 
     As we crested the final hill our thoughts were on the road ahead.  We still had a journey ahead, but there would now be a downhill slope into the home stretch.  Conscious of those who have already walked with us along our adoptive journey, Amy and I offered one more prayer:  "God, be with our birthmother and let us all make it home safely...and soon."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strength for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

     I am a little embarrassed when I look back and see that my last blog post was almost a month ago.  I could make an excuse and say I've been busy (which is partially true), but in reality I was just not in the mood to write.  All writers experience writer's block at some point or another, and I think in life we can also experience blocks.  Maybe it's depression.  Maybe it's fear.  Maybe it's just fatigue from our journey.  Whatever the case, we all have our days and/or weeks that are more difficult to get through.
     A few weeks ago, I experienced one of those times.  I was feeling pretty down about our long wait to adopt a baby.  I was trying hard to stay postive and hopeful, but just wasn't feeling it.  I sent up a simple prayer that God would send me a sign that He still cared and that our prayers for a baby would be answered.  By the next morning, He had sent me six!  They were little things that may not have meant much to someone else, but they definitely spoke loud and clear to me.  Before I forget them, I thought I would write them down and share them with you.  Hopefully they will encourage you (and remind me) to keep on hoping and believing. 
     The first sign I received was a phone call from our Pastor's wife.  She called to update me on a young woman who had stayed with them a while back.  She is pregnant and at the time was considering adoption.  Since then she has moved to another state and is staying with family.  We have no idea if she is still considering adoption or would be interested in us (although that would be wonderful), but that was not why it encouraged me.  It was encouraging because it reminded me what great friends and family we have.  So many are laboring with us through this journey.  They (YOU) pray for us, pass along our letters, share our links on facebook and lift us up when we are down.  
     I saw the second sign while shopping at Kohl's.  They have a fundraiser going on for a children's charity.  One of the books they had on display caught my attention because it is one of my favorites, On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman.  When I saw the book, I felt a whisper in my heart say hang on, you will get to write your baby's story.  I love to write and have often shared with Jim my desire to write a story about our baby's birth and adoption and all the love surrounding it.  Of course we bought the book and a cute plush polar bear to go with it.   
     After Kohl's we went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse.  We were seated in the booth next to my third sign, a cute, adorable and very active baby.  All through dinner, he kept turning around and smiling at me.  I would smile back or play peek-a-boo and he would gurgle and smile some more.  He also kept trying to hand me the lid to his baby food and later his cheerios.  I think his dad was worried that he was bothering us, but each smile seemed to make my heart a little lighter.   Before we left, two more babies were seated across from us and I could only shake my head and think, "Ok God, I get the message."  But He wasn't done yet.
     The next morning I was on the computer and received two signs.  First, when I was on facebook, I saw that the IAC (our agency) had published one of my blogs, Living in a Glass House:  Being Open in Our Open Adoption Journey.  In the blog I talk about how being open is sometimes hard because it means we have to be vulnerable.  We are inviting people to join us in our journey, not know how long the path is.  It's scary, but it will be worth it in the end when we get to celebrate with all of our friends and family.  As I re-read the blog I had written months before, it encouraged me to keep believing and to not give up hope. Second, I read an email from my friend Cindy that she and her kids had prayed for us that morning.  This was yet another reminder that we are not on this journey alone.  Our families live out of state.  Brian and Cindy and their kids have truly become our family here in California.  We always know that their door and hearts are open to us.  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness when I think of them and others God has placed in our lives. 
     Later that afternoon, I received the final sign.  It was a thank you card from our friends Patrick and Aubrey.  They recently had their fourth baby and I had sent them a quilt I made for their new baby boy.  God has used these friends over and over to encourage both Jim and I during our adoption journey.  It's funny because whenever I start feeling the "baby" blues, a card or email from Aubrey almost always arrives within a few days with just the words I need to hear.  She lives across the country, but her words are like a big hug for my soul. 
     Six signs.  God could have sent one.  He didn't have to send any.  But His love and faithfulness never cease to amaze me.  It reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  There is a line that says, "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."  This is a day by day, sometimes minute by minute, journey.  Sometimes I forget that.  I get tired and worry that I won't have the faith and strength to finish the journey.  But I don't have to have strength for tomorrow, I only need strength for today.   God has promised that He will give me that strength when I ask Him.  Not only that, but He gives me hope for a bright future as well. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Run the Race

These days, I've traded running for hiking, but I still enjoy being outdoors

    I was a runner in high school.  I was not the fastest or strongest, but I did enjoy the satisfaction of finishing the race.  My cross country coach, Coach T, was great.  He encouraged me to do my personal best and gave me some great tips that have been helpful not only in racing, but also in our adoption journey.
    The first tip from Coach T was to prepare.   In cross country this involved stretching and coming to the race with a good attitude.  Muscles needed to be warmed up for the grueling work that lay ahead.  A positive attitude kept the mind focused so that I could "push through the pain."  In adoption, preparation is also important.  My husband and I spent months researching adoption and deciding what path was right for us.  We talked about our expectations, made a plan for our finances, and gathered our friends and family for emotional and prayer support.  
     The second tip from Coach T was to pace yourself.  Cross-country involved a 3.25 mile run.  In track I ran the one mile and two mile.  Sprinting would not have been a smart option.  Very quickly, I would have been out of breath and unable to draw upon the resources needed to finish the race.  Adoption is not a sprint either.  For most of us, our adoption journey involves a long distance run.  Some of us are one milers, some two milers, for some it may even seem like a marathon.  The longer the journey, the more important pacing is.  We could easily be consumed by all the work involved in adoption:  the homestudy, the birthmother letter, and networking.  We could use up all of our resources and be left unable to finish our race.  Pacing ourselves, through setting small manageable goals and taking breaks, is the best way to ensure success. 
     The third tip from Coach T was to press in.  In cross-country the course is varied.  There are flat runs, twists and turns, uneven ground and even obstacles such as huge hills to overcome.  Coach T taught us that the most important time to press in was when there was an obstacle.  Most runners lose steam going up a hill, so he taught us to take that opportunity to push harder and pass up our opponent.  There is something very empowering about tackling a hill at 100 percent.  In adoption, there will inevitably be obstacles along the way-failed matches, long waits, delayed paperwork.  That is the perfect time to press in even harder.  Facing these obstacles head-on will help us to grow stronger.  This is the time to draw upon the resources of your faith, friends, and family. 
     The final tip from Coach T was to persist.  Finishing the race is what really matters.  As I said before, I was not the fastest or strongest runner, but I was still an important part of the team.  Whether I finished first or last, it didn't matter as long as I did my personal best.  The adoption journey takes a lot of patience and persistance.  There are days when it would be easy to give up, but then we would miss out on the prize of parenthood.  It doesn't matter whether we are first or last as long as we keep running and finish the race!

Hebrews 12:1  "Let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us."      

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Beauty Will Rise

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Beauty Will Rise: "This is an old picture, but it reminds me of how forests grow back with such beauty after a fire
The last few weeks have be..."

Beauty Will Rise

This is an old picture, but it reminds me of how forests grow back with such beauty after a fire
     The last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.  We have experienced great joy and great sorrow, peace and confusion, faith and doubt.  This hasn't been an easy season, but it has been a time of growth.  I thought I'd take a few minutes to share a little bit of what has comforted and encouraged me, in the hopes that it might encourage you as well. 
     As most of you know, we recently matched (and unmatched) with a birthmother for our adoption.  We were so excited to match!  It really was a time of rejoicing and expectation.  We were so happy to be able to call up family and friends and share our great news (so many had "labored" with us for years, offering up prayers and sending words of encouragement our way).  We talked to the birthmom almost every day and things seemed really solid.  Even though we knew that nothing was a guarantee, we began to make plans for bringing our baby home.  We talked about baby registries, joked about preparing for sleepless nights, and basically allowed love to blossom for this little one we had never met.  We traveled to have our match meeting and the first day of meeting the birthmom went relatively well.  We spent the whole day together...talking, dreaming, and making plans for the baby and her.  She even invited me to feel the baby kick and as the tiny foot thumped against the palm of my hand I thought, "Wow, this is really happening!"  We went to bed that night, so happy, so thankful, so at peace.
     But what a difference a day makes.  Without going into details, things began to deteriorate with our birthmother the second day.  Instead of spending the day with her, we sent text messages back and forth...beginning to suspect that something was wrong, but unsure of what to do.  When we did spend time with her that day, it was a very different experience from the day before.  It felt like our world was crashing down around us and there was nothing we could do about it.  We tried to hold on, we kept hoping for things to turn back around, but in the end (and after many tears and prayers) we had to let go.  This was not our match...we were crushed, confused, and left wondering how things could go so wrong, so fast.
     As the days went on, it was confirmed over and over again that we made the right decision to unmatch.  In reality, the birthmother had likely already walked away from us- but we were still left with so many questions.  What had gone wrong?  Why didn't we see the red flags earlier?  What would happen to this baby that we were already beginning to love?  Why were we allowed to come so close to having a baby, only to have our dream crushed once again?  Why did God allow this to happen?  How much longer would we have to wait?
     We still don't have any real answers to our questions, but faith and trust and peace are slowly returning.  We do know that God cares and has given us awesome friends and family to encourage us and hold us up in prayer.  Thank you!  You don't know how much it helped to hear from so many of you that you were praying for us and believing with us.
     One one particularly hard day, I put in a cd by Steven Curtis Chapman called "Beauty Will Rise."   The songs on this cd were written after he and his wife lost their little girl to a terrible accident.  The words come from a place of grief and pain that I can't even imagine...yet the songs also speak of hope.  Much like the Psalms of David, his faith is renewed and restored through raw honesty with God.  I found myself encouraged through lyrics like:

     "When I cannot have the answer/ that I'm wanting to demand/ I'll remember you are God/ And everything is in your hands..."
     "Even then I will say again/ God I trust you, I will trust you/ Even when I don't understand...I know your heart is good/ your love is strong/ your plans for me are better than my own..."
     "God is it true that you are thinking of me at this moment?/ God is it true that you hear every prayer that I pray?/ God is it true every time my heart beats you know it?/ Well if it's all true then that must be you I hear saying 'trust me'." 
     But one song really captures the prayer of my heart right now.  It is called "Beauty Will Rise."  It is based on Isaiah 61:3.  "To all who mourn, He will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair..."  The song talks about how "Out of the ashes, beauty will rise." 

     "Out of these ashes/ Beauty will rise/ And we will dance among the ruins/ We will see it with our own eyes/  Out of these ashes/ Beauty will rise/ For we know joy is coming in the morning/ In the morning/ Beauty will rise"

     Ashes are not beautiful.  They are grey, lifeless, and an ugly reminder of destroyed dreams and hopes.  Yet, God says that out of these very ashes, He will bring beauty...He will bring hope...He will bring Life.  What a comforting thought.  We don't know why we had to go through this.  We definitely don't like the pain.  But if we allow Him to, God can and will cause beauty to rise in our hearts and lives.
     More than ever, we truly believe that there is a baby for us...we continue to pray, to hope, and to trust.          

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Bumps in the Road

Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt: Bumps in the Road: " Vacations rarely go as planned. There are usually little bumps, sometimes boulders, in the road that attempt to derail the fun and rel..."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bumps in the Road

     Vacations rarely go as planned.  There are usually little bumps, sometimes boulders, in the road that attempt to derail the fun and relaxation.  This week Jim and I have been in Denver.  He is here for work.  Me...I'm having a mini vacation before our real vacation next week.  We have definitely had our share of bumps this week....
     Bump #1:   The first bump in our trip was waiting at the airport for the hotel shuttle to pick us up....outside on the 95 degree weather...for over an hour!  There was a whole group of us waiting and each of us received a different story when we called the hotel. 
     Bump #2:  Our first night in Denver we were given a tiny room with a double bed- yes, ONE DOUBLE BED!  I didn't think there were any hotels left that still used double beds.  Jim and I sleep in a queen size bed at home.  When we were newlyweds I think we had a full size bed.  Trying to sleep in a double bed made for an interesting first night and neither of us got much rest.
     Bump #3:  The hotel we stayed at had a free shuttle that would take you anywhere in a five mile radius.  This was great, except for the fact that it was always going to the airport and was not available to take us.  Most days, this was fine (we didn't mind walking) except for Tuesday when we ended up getting caught in a thunderstorm.  First lighting (did I mention we were walking under large power lines?), then sprinkles, then a downpour...we ended up taking cover in the lobby of a little business and waiting until the worst of the storm had passed.  
     Bump #4:  Today I decided to do our laundry.  Usually I wait until we get home, but since we are going from this mini-vacation into our real vacation, we needed clean clothes.  There was no problem washing the clothes, but the dryers were BOTH out of order.  With all the other "bumps" this week, I just had to laugh.
     Yes, vacations rarely go as planned, but despite the bumps in the road (and maybe even because of them) we had a fun and entertaining week!  In the end, everything worked out.  The hotel shuttle did eventually arrive at the airport.  We were moved to a larger room with a king size bed for the remainder of our stay.  The hotel dried our laundry in one of their commercial dryers.  And the shuttle was available our last night in Denver to take us to one my favorite restaurants- Panera Bread.  The "bumps" in the road were good bonding experiences and we will be telling these stories for some time to come.
     Life also rarely goes as planned.  Our road to parenthood has had it's share of bumps and even a few large boulders.  We could choose to let those "bumps in the road" discourage us.  We could give up and decide the pain isn't worth it.  But we would be missing out, not only on our final destination (parenthood), but also on the many bonding moments along the way.  In the end all of our experiences, even the bumps, will become part of the story of how our baby came to us!  And that will be a story worth telling!!!

Here we are at one of my favorite restaurants- still smiling!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Production, Not Reproduction | A blog about open adoption & host of Open Adoption Bloggers: Open Adoption Roundtable #27

Production, Not Reproduction A blog about open adoption & host of Open Adoption Bloggers: Open Adoption Roundtable #27

The Weekend Intensive

     Recently I joined Open Adoption Bloggers.  It is a group of online bloggers from all walks of the open adoption process- adoptive parents, birthparents, waiting families etc.  From time to time they have a online roundtable discussion and this month's topic is "first meetings".  I've enjoyed taking a little time this afternoon to scroll through the other blog posts- most have been touching stories of the first moment the adoptive parents saw their new baby.  Sweet, precious stories, and yes I'll admit it, a few brought tears to my eyes (especially the couple who picked up their new baby girl at Starbucks!

Our adoption agency, Independent Adoption Center- Pleasant Hill
      Since we are in the waiting process and still anxiously looking forward to that first meeting, I thought I'd take a totally different approach and talk about our first meeting with our agency- The Weekend Intensive.  Technically we "met" our agency for the first time at an informational meeting a few months earlier, but this is the meeting that truly began our relationship with the IAC.  The Weekend Intensive is definitely appropriately named.  It is a weekend to jumpstart the homestudy process that includes interviews, a class on adoptive parenting, lots of information and lots and lots of paperwork.  It's hard to truly compare the experience to other first meetings, but there are aspects of a first date, job interview, and summer crash college course. 

Jim in front of the IAC
      First Date:  We were so nervous!  I don't think either of us got much sleep the night before.  Jim usually doesn't get nervous so the fact that he was nervous made me even more nervous.  I labored over what we should wear- something not too dressy and not too casual.   Checked and double-checked my hair and make-up and tried to eat some breakfast.  That didn't go over too well.  It just added rocks to the butterflies flying around in my stomach.  We arrived really early, so we sat in the car holding each other's clammy hands and took a moment to breathe and pray.  Finally, when we thought we were in the "appropriately early" range, we went in and were taken back to a conference room to wait.  Of course we were the first couple there!  At first the wait was excrutiating, but slowly other couples and singles began to come in (looking just as nervous as we were) and we finally relaxed- a little.

Amy by the pond in the courtyard during one of the breaks
      Crash Course:  My husband used to take something called J-terms when he was in Seminary.  It was a course taught during one of the breaks (January, June, or July).  Basically, the idea was that a whole semester course would be jammed into three weeks.  The Weekend Intensive is the J-term of the adoption process.  At the beginning of the weekend we received a two inch binder filled with information on all sorts of topics:  how to write a birthmother letter, requirements for photos and website design, ideas for networking, guidelines for the homestudy visit, various articles on the adoption process and raising adoptive children, how to pay for your adoption etc.  Some may have felt intimidated by the binder, we actually took comfort from it.  We knew there was no way we would be able to remember everything we learned over the weekend, so having a reference to take home with us was invaluable.  And although our brains felt fried by the end of the two days, it was extremely helpful to have an overview of the entire adoption process so we knew where we were going.

Jim by the same pond
      Job Interview:  Part of our weekend was spent completing the necessary interviews for our homestudy process.  First, Jim and I met with our adoption coordinator, Kerrin to sign our contract and complete our profile.  Then we were interviewed together and separately by our social worker, Devon.  Both women were very warm and friendly, but we still had interview jitters.  We had already done the "hard" work of writing our autobiographies and filling out our questionares.  This definitely helped to prepare us for the interview questions, but the butterflies returned anyways (thankfully this time without the rocks).  We answered all sorts of questions about our childhood, our philosophy toward parenting, our educational and family backgrounds, our marriage and why we wanted to be parents.  Most of the information was already in the application and paperwork we had turned in, so I think part of the interview process was for our benefit- to help us begin thinking about how adoption would change our lives. 

Amy in front of the IAC
      Remembering back to that weekend, I think that over the course of the two days our nervousness subsided while our excitement began to build.  The first thing I did when we got into the car was call my parents, and then my sister and brother, and then Jim's family.  It was the weekend that the adoption process went from an idea to a reality.  We were on a journey (and still are) to becoming parents!  So while we wait for the first meeting with our baby, we look back to the first meeting with our agency where it all began. 

Our celebration dinner at Half Moon Bay


Friday, June 24, 2011

Buds Of Hope

Waiting for our rose bush to bloom

      I love roses.  I love the sweet smell.  I love the delicate petals.  I love the splash of color they add to our garden.  Each year when Spring arrives, I look forward to watching our rose bushes burst forth with new life and beautiful blooms.  This year, however, has been a test of patience.  First of all we had a cooler and wetter Spring than usual so everything is behind in growing (including our roses).  Secondly, we lost a few early blooms due to some hungry deer who thought our rose buds would make a tasty snack.  So here it is, middle of June, and we are still waiting for the first buds to open. 

     We water and fertilize the bushes.  We drag the pots out onto the sidewalk so they can soak up as much afternoon sun as possible.  We drag the pots back onto our patio at night to deter the deer.  We watch and we wait!  It would be tempting to give up and quit except for one thing- the buds!  The buds show that something is happening.  Some of the buds even show little glimpses of the colorful blooms to come.  The buds are the hope that the blooms we have been waiting for are not far behind. 
     It started me thinking about our adoption journey.  It too, has been a test of patience.  We don't know why we have waited so long.  We long for sweet baby gurgles and delicate little fingers and toes.  We long for stroller walks through the park.  We long for visits to see Grandma and Grandpa.  We long for the joy of parenthood and a long awaited prayer answered.  We long to have our baby home and in our arms.  And sometimes we wonder how much longer we will have to wait!
     I recently read a post from another waiting mom to be.  It was a post about giving up, losing hope, and wondering whether it was really worth it to continue the wait.  It was really sad.  Several members of the forum posted encouraging comments and I pray that she was able to regain her hope and continue on.  When life seems the darkest, that's when we need to cling even closer to God and the hope He has given us.

     Waiting isn't easy and Jim and I have had our dark days along the way.  But I am so thankful for the buds of hope that God so faithfully continues to send!   A song on the email from a friend...a sweet prayer offered on our behalf...a whisper to our hearts...these buds show us that something is happening, even if we can't see it!  New life is ready to burst forth not only in our garden, but also in our lives!  So we continue to watch and wait....and we are even more confident than ever before that our baby will be with us soon! 

       Wherever life finds you today, don't give up hope!
"And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."  Galatians 6:9

Our roses are now blooming!  There are new blooms to enjoy everyday.  I couldn't resist adding a few pics to last weeks blog:)  As our garden grows and blooms, so does our hope that our baby is coming soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lessons from Kung Fu Panda II

A giant panda for the nursery (but not a Kung Fu Fighter)

     Life lessons come from all around us.  We might have a truth whispered to our heart through a song on the radio.  We might gain wisdom from the loving words of a close friend.  We might see a lesson played out in front of us at the mall or on our job.  We may even find lessons in unexpected places such as a Pixar animated film about a panda bear named Po. 
     Jim and I recently went to watch "Kung Fu Panda II."  We expected to enjoy Pixar's great animation (and we did!).  We expected a good storyline and lots of laughs (We were not disappointed).  But we were also pleasantly surprised with an adoption story that although sprinkled with a big dose of Hollywood drama contained some very good lessons about adoption.
     I should mention here that if you haven't watched the movie and plan to, you may want to read the rest of this blog later (unless you are someone who likes to know the plot ahead of time!)  For those reading on, here are the lessons we were reminded of.  

Lesson #1:  Adoption and secrecy do not belong together.

     In the story, Po the Panda, is now an adult living his dream of being the Dragon Warrior and an integral member of the Furious Five Kung Fu Fighters.  During a battle he has a flashback that makes him question his identity.  He later asks his father, Mr. Ping the Goose, about his origin and finds out that he was adopted as a baby.  This sets off a mini identity crisis for Po and he becomes obsessed with finding out about his birthparents and why they "gave him up."  Although the movie treats this adoption discovery with some humor (Po the Panda is raised by a goose but never suspects he's adopted and is shocked by the news), it warns against keeping adoption a secret. 
     In the U.S., adoptions used to be closed- meaning the adoptive parents and birthparents never met and were only given minimal information about each other.  Adoptive parents were told to raise the baby "as their own" and not burden the child with the news of adoption until he or she were old enough to handle it (if ever).  Consequently, many children did not find out about their adoption until their teen or adult years.  Like Po, they were shocked and began to question their identity.  "Who am I?"  "Where did I come from?" "Why was I given up?"  Today, adoption practices are much more open.  Adoptive parents are encouraged to make adoption a natural part of their child's birth story.  Birthparents and adoptive parents often meet and many families stay in touch after the birth of the baby.  With open adoption, the child is able to hear the loving words of why they were placed for adoption (often from the birthmother).  This helps to minimize feelings of rejection and abandonment.  There are no secrets and the child benefits by feeling loved and secure and by having the freedom to ask questions.

Lesson # 2:  All children have the need to identify with their roots/heritage.
     Po asks the questions that all children ask at one time or another "Who am I?" and   "Where did I come from?"   This is a natural part of growing up, whether an adopted or biological child.  Who we look like, where we get our talents, why we act the way we do?  These are questions we consider while growing up and forming our identity.  When a child is denied that information, he or she will often "fill in the blanks" with fantasies that range from fairy tale to tragic.  In the movie, Po has a dream that he meets his biological parents and they have traded him in for a radish.  The radish then beats him up and Po awakes disturbed and feeling rejected.  Information about and contact with the birth family helps prevent the need to "fill in the blanks" with fantasies.  Truth helps to build a foundation of loving reality.   Even when the birth family chooses not to remain connected, adoptive parents can share what information they do have and reassure their child that he or she is loved and was not rejected.  Not all pain can be avoided.  Po's story is tragic.  His parents are presumed murdered and birthmother saves his life by hiding him in the radish crate.  But although the truth is painful, Po still benefits from knowing the story of where he came from and realizing he was not replaced with a radish. 

Lesson #3:  Adoptive parents are real parents (and so are birthparents)!

     The adoption language is not always "correct" in the movie, but the message is clear.  Po's birthparents are real parents.  They loved Po, gave him life, and made the best choice possible for him (to literally save his life).  Mr. Ping is a real parent.  He raises Po from a baby.  He feeds him, comforts him, teaches him and loves him.  Children can experience love from their birthparents and adoptive parents without being confused.  Open adoption acknowledges this love.  It is not shared parenting.  The adoptive parents are Mom and Dad.  In the movie, this concept is reinforced when Po returns from his conquests.  He tells Mr. Ping, "I am your son" and they go off to cook together.  Po benefits from the knowledge of his birthparents; loving sacrifice, but Mr. Ping is still his dad!

Huge Spoiler Alert!!!!!  In the very end of the movie, we see that Po's birthfather is still alive.  This may pave the way for a Kung Fu Panda III and more exploration of adoption themes!

     Jim and I really enjoyed this movie and it reinforced our committment to open adoption.  We look forward to celebrating our child's heritage and to many, many tellings of his or her birth story!  We are so excited about becoming parents and pray every day that our match will come soon!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


     Last week you heard my "When I was a kid..." stories.  This week it is Jim's turn to share some of his favorite childhood memories.  Again we promise no "walking to school through snow and sleet" references- just some of our favorite memories that we'd like to pass on to our child some day.  Enjoy! 

Jim at Easter when he was four years old

When I was a kid, I loved the outdoors...

     As a child, I spent hours each week hiking, exploring, bike riding and swimming.  If a tree was big, tall, or unusual, I probably climbed it.  Hemingway describes an old growth forest like a cathedral.  I experienced this often- the woods behind my home was truly a sanctuary for me.  From early ages I was refreshed by babbling brooks and mini waterfalls.  I am still refreshed by nature today.  Amy and I love to go hiking on one of the many trails near our home or take a drive up to Lake Tahoe for a mini escape.  I can't wait to pass on my love of nature to our child.  Sand, pine needles, and autumn leaves, I look forward to feeling these under my bare feet along with my child's small feet. 

When I was a kid, I loved holidays and family gatherings...

     When my brothers and sisters came home from college I always enjoyed spending time with them playing board games, watching movies, just sitting and talking for hours, no agenda, just family and friends spending quality time together.  I am the youngest of five children and was always fascinated by what my siblings (John, Peter, Heidi, and Becky) had to say about their lives away from home.  I still love to get together with family and friends on holidays.  Celebrations are always best when shared!  I look forward to celebrating with our child and introducing our child to as many friends and family as possible.

When I was a kid, our kitchen usually smelled like a baker's paradise...

     How many times did the aroma of fresh baked cinnamon rolls fill every room in our country home!  Strawberry rhubarb pie, pineapple upside down cake, peanut butter cookies (Man, I'm getting hungry!)-these are the smells I grew up with.  Mom was such a good cook.  If it could go in a casserole, she made it work.  And when she canned cherries or grape juice the smell coming from that kitchen was a thing of beauty.  Mom shared that love for good food with my siblings.  John and Peter have an appreciation of the finer things that years of being bachelors couldn't erase.  Both Heidi and Becky have become fantastic cooks in their own rights, this process began when they practiced on us all years ago!  And, of course, Amy is constantly making our apartment an inviting home by the love she puts into her creations.  Our child will be able to enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of this paradise.

When I was a kid, I loved Christmas...

     Vibrantly colored gift wrapping dazzled my young eyes.  Life always seemed at peace whenever the tree was up, decorated with lights and our mismatched, but well loved ornaments.  Lights and scented candles were everywhere and mesmerized me year after year.  Hearing the story from Luke chapter 2 about a special  baby and His arrival brought joy to my world.  Giving of gifts and the enjoying of gifts given felt right in this happy context.  Christmas was a magical time and a time of togetherness.  How many board games did we wear out from use each Christmas!  How often I was warmed by hot chocolate and marshmallows after hours of sledding with friends or family on the hill across the street!

When I was a kid, I used to play sports with kids in the neighborhood...

     I can still remember every rut, hill, or mound on the field where we played.  Football, baseball, soccer- it didn't matter- the game was always fun.  Sometimes the neighborhood dogs would join in the play and new games would be created.  There was always a dirt path between my house and my neighbors and it was always well-worn!  As I got older, I traded the field for the basketball court, but I never lost my love of the game.  As a high-schooler I enjoyed volunteering as a soccer referee.  I look forward to refereeing, coaching, and/or cheering again someday when my child is playing.

When I was a kid, my dad taught me to garden...

     My dad always said the garden was the most naural place to feel close to God.  He showed me how to plant, fertilize, water, weed, maintain and finally harvest a sizeable vegetable garden.  I loved the smell of the tomato plants and the crisp pop of green beans fresh-picked.  One year I stood, overwhelmed by pride, as I saw several of my tomato plants towering over me- over six feet tall!  Money was tight in those days and I am sure we saved quite a bit by having a vegetable garden, but looking back I think my dad had other reasons.  Looking back I see not just a boy cultivating and growing a garden, but also a boy cultivated, raised, and shaped by his father's garden.  This is the legacy I ache to pass on to my child. 

When I was a kid, I learned to love music.  I had a growing hunger for knowledge.  I came to know God and began a relationship with God that has impacted all my other relationships for the rest of my life.  I learned to work hard, to play creatively and enthusiastically.  I learned not to be overly affected by what other people do to me, but to remember to "consider the source," as my dad used to say.  I loved to watch television, sometimes too much!  I enjoyed spending time with others and walking this journey of life together.  I really look forward to walking the road ahead with all the people in my life, and I look forward to a set of small feet coming with me on this road.

Friday, May 27, 2011


     We've all heard "When I was a kid..." stories- "When I was a kid, I had to work twenty hour days for a $2.38 paycheck."  "When I was a kid, I walked ten miles to school uphill, in the snow, and I was barefoot."  "When I was a kid, I mowed lawns in 100 degree heat and saved up enough money to buy my first car and house!"  I promise, this is not going to be that kind of story.  My "When I was a kid," story is a chance for you to learn a little about my childhood (and Jim's in the next blog).  It is also a chance for me to share some of the things I loved about childhood and would like our child to experience some day.  So, here goes...

My first grade school photo

When I was a kid, it was all about family...

     I grew up in a small town in Southwest Michigan.  Our town only had one stoplight and the joke was that if you blinked while driving through, you would miss the whole town.  My family (Mom, Dad, younger sister Christy, and younger brother Joe) rented the house next to my grandparents.  My other grandma and many aunts and uncles lived on the same street.  So family was always around.  I have happy memories of going to my Aunt Jan's for Thanksgiving Dinner, my cousins coming over to play on our tire swing, and playing basketball in my grandma's backyard with my uncles. 
     The best part was living next door to my grandma and grandpa!  We only had to run across the yard to get a warm hug or sweet treat!  Plus, my grandparents had a huge garden full of yummy strawberries, blackberries, sweet corn and tomatoes.  One of my favorite memories happened when I was around five or six years old.  There was a huge blizzard and the snow came up to my dad's waist.  It was impossible to go anywhere...or maybe not!  My dad shoveled a path from doorstep to doorstep and carried us one by one to my grandparents house.  Instead of being homebound, we spent a fun evening all together.

When I was a kid, I loved school...

     I carried a book with me just about everywhere.  Although I probably shouldn't admit it, my best friend Alyssa and I would even occasionally take our books out to recess.  Yes, I was a bit of a nerd!  But school was fun for me and I had great teachers.  I decided I wanted to be a teacher when I was in first or second grade.
     One of my favorite teachers was my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Long.  He gave us interesting, creative projects like making models of a civil war battle scene and creating marionettes to walk in the Memorial Day parade.  I still remember winning second place in a contest (I don't remember what the contest was) and getting to go on a special trip with him and his daughter to see The Sound of Music.  It was fun to get all dressed up and go out for a nice dinner and play in the "big" city (Kalamazoo).

When I was a kid, I loved to sing (but not talk)...

     As a child I was very shy.  I hated to talk in front of groups and was very quiet in class.  However, I loved to sing!  Put a microphone in my hand and give me a song to sing, and my timidness and fear just melted away.  When I was around eight years old, I even competed in our town talent competition.  There was a room full of people, but I just closed my eyes and sang out loud and clear!  All through my childhood, music played an important role- and I still love to sing to this day:)

When I was a kid, creative play was the best kind of play...

     Not that I didn't appreciate my toys.  I do remember my first Cabbage Patch and Barbie dolls (as well as the beautiful clothes my Mom and Grandma crocheted for them).  I also remember the year Christy, Joe and I got a gaming system for Christmas!  But some of the best play were the games we made up!  We played cops and robbers, detectives, and school.  We built castles in our sandbox, had races between our house and our grandparents, and argued over whose turn it was on the tire swing.   One of the silliest games we made up was "beauty pageant."  On hot, summer days, my sister and I would put on our swimsuits and jump, leap, and twirl through the sprinkler in our yard.  My poor brother had to "judge" who did the best performance and runway walk. 

When I was a kid,...
                prayers, hugs and kisses were a regular part of our bedtime routine.
                I believed I could be anything I wanted to be.
                I could always run to Mom and Dad to feel safe and secure.
                I was loved, nurtured and made to feel special.

     These are the things I want to provide for our child someday.  I want to create great memories with family and friends.  I want to foster a love for learning and creativity.  I want our child to grow up feeling loved and cherished.  I want hugs and kisses to be in abundance.  I want our child to feel safe, secure, and special!