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Happiest Mother’s Day

For years, I had a favorite Mother’s Day memory. (Which is saying a lot, because after several failed attempts with adoption agencies, Mother’s Day was just one more reminder of what I couldn’t have.)

We were at church. I didn’t really want to be around all those cheerful moms with hips full of toddlers. But we had responsibilities.

Our church actually did a great job of recognizing all women for the role they have in the lives of children. Still, I was at a breaking point. I stood in the auditorium aisle, my path to the bathroom blocked by a large family. All I wanted was to escape and let the tears fall.

Before I could push through the group, I heard my name. Turning, I saw my friend’s young son tearing toward me, pudgy little legs pumping. He leapt into my arms as I knelt to catch him. Throwing himself against me, he buried his face in my hair and said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Struggling with my emotions, I hung on tight as people washed past us. He held me just as tight.

I don’t know how he knew, but that little boy saved my Mother’s Day.

I *had* a favorite memory.

This year trumps that day, by far.

For the first time, the kids spontaneously created artwork. I came downstairs to find our son clearing off the kitchen table. (Who is this child?) After church, we went to my favorite restaurant, then to a national park.  The kids SMILED for pictures. Both of them. At the same time.


Our daughter walked beside me on the trail, her arm around my waist, mine draped across her shoulders.

Our son said, “you’re the best mom in the world.” This is a kid who’s lived with seven families…I feel like he’s sort of an expert on moms. Pretty much one of the most amazing moments of my life.


We have some pretty tough days with these kids, dealing with PTSD, RAD, ADHD and general behavior craziness. But today was absolute beauty. I’m so thankful for this new favorite memory. And so thankful to Hubby for orchestrating everything.


Today, truly, is a happy Mother’s Day.





Adoption = Gotcha Day!

I’ve read several views on Gotcha Day (“adopted kids love it,” “adopted kids hate it,” “it’s really for the parents”). For us, making it to Gotcha Day (the day we got ya) hasn’t been a simple journey.

Our first Gotcha Day celebration happened 6 months before the actual adoption.

Our social worker had some kind of personal connection with our kids’ birth dad and made things extremely difficult for us, showing up unannounced (which sent the kids into a tail-spin emotionally and behaviorally) and delaying paperwork. (She’s also the one who called me “hyper-vigilant” when I tried to get her to do her job and show up for school meetings to secure extra help for the kids.) Not my favorite person in the world.

We were very concerned she might continue to delay the adoption, so we asked if it was okay to throw a “Gotcha Day” party near the target adoption date. Color me manipulative, but in addition to celebrating the upcoming adoption, scheduling the party was a way to test the waters. If she nixed it, we’d know we were in for more problems.

She asked us to put it off several times but finally agreed we could go ahead. So, hoping to adopt that month but having no definite date, we invited everyone we knew to officially introduce them to our children.

Our girl had a great time being the center of attention. It was probably her greatest moment thus far in our home. I was happy to see her interacting and having fun. Our guy…not so much. He ran around with his buddies for about an hour, then realized people were playing in his room. With his stuff. Breaking it (not intentionally). Once we closed off his room to the general public, he calmed down but still stuck by my side and wanted to be carried. He buried his face in my shoulder and ignored the strangers wishing him well. At the time, his PTSD was in full swing, so in hindsight, he did great.

Even after the Gotcha Day party, the social worker dragged things on another six months. I was beginning to worry that we’d have to return all the beautiful towels and the six irons (oh, wait, never mind…that’s a wedding). Having to return the kids, however, was a huge concern. I think she really was hoping to move the kids again and somehow return them to the people who hurt them.

She has since “retired,” so I assume she was throwing wrenches into other cases, as well.

Don’t get me wrong—I know that there ARE people who SHOULD have their children back. I’ve read about several nightmarish situations in which parents (or someone on their behalf) reached out for help and it ended with unfounded removal of the children.

Finally, she acquiesced and set a date. May 10, 2013, the Friday before Mother’s Day. It seemed appropriate.

We stood before a judge and prayed she wouldn’t change her mind mid-court session. We made vows similar to those in a marriage, then signed the paper. Unfortunately, the court did not allow pictures; I really wanted a photo of everyone signing. As soon as we finished, we scatted. (Not the animal-poo kind. The rushing-out-of-a-building kind. I think we’d have had repercussions if we did the other scat.)

So, for the past two years, we’ve had a quiet family Gotcha Day celebration, just the four of us. The kids talked about our Big Gotcha Day, asking when we’ll have another, but I finally realized they aren’t actually into the big celebration. They just want another big cake. Instead, we go out to eat (their choice) and let them pick something from the Big People’s Menu instead of the Kid’s Menu (which completely blows their minds; so many choices!?!?!).

Today, Gotcha Day happened to fall ON Mother’s Day. Hubby and I decided to celebrate Mother’s Day on Saturday (more on that later) to give the kids their own day, and I’m so glad we did.

As we checked out at the restaurant, I said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” to a great-grandmother-aged lady waiting to be seated. She said, “Happy Mother’s Day to you, too,” paused, then finished, “if it applies.” I knew she didn’t mean anything nasty, but it made me pause (especially considering my earlier post). I kindly told her that I think all women should be celebrated on Mother’s Day. I did not tell her the rest of my thoughts: “Lady, you have no idea how MUCH it applies.” 

Sometimes, adoption is very difficult. The adoption process is overwhelming, but the even harder part comes as children attempt to wrangle emotions and mindsets to become part of a new family.

On days like today, though, it’s easy to forget the crazy mess. I am so thankful for both of my kiddos, and for Hubby. I can’t imagine my life without them, and I’m so glad to have a reason to celebrate finally getting from Maybe to Gotcha.

Adoption = Mother’s Day Sucks

For many years, Mother’s Day was…not the worst day of the year, but close.

Everywhere I turned, mothers rejoiced with the young darlings surrounding them. I didn’t understand why, with such a strong desire to be a good mama, children of my own always seemed to be just out of reach.

Looking back, it’s obvious to me that every step of our journey was directed by an unseen Hand, but as we went through the ten years before our kids arrived, I didn’t always feel it. Hope and trust kept me going most of the time, but Mother’s Day made faith a bit more difficult. Ten years is a long time.

Of course, in the Bible story, Abraham and Sarah were close to 100 when their first son arrived. In comparison, I guess ten years was a light sentence.

Several years ago, I experienced the worst Mother’s Day of my life. Both of my younger brothers’ wives were pregnant, and though I was happy for them…it didn’t help my personal feeling of loss. Usually, I made it through the Mother’s Day church service without spilling tears. Our church does an excellent job of recognizing ALL women on Mother’s Day, giving flowers to every female and celebrating the influence the women have on all the children. “It takes a village” and all that happy trappy.

Don’t get me wrong. It was better than watching only women who had birthed a child receive a flower but it still couldn’t take away all the pain. Sort of like that bubblegum-flavored gel they give you at the dentist to numb the area before the Novocaine syringe. It sort of dulls the ache, but you still feel the cold stainless steel sliding into your gum.

So, that particular day, I was especially edgy and just wanted to leave. As I walked down the aisle toward my seat, I heard a chirpy little voice behind me. “Happy Mother’s Day!” A little boy I knew, but not well, leaped into my arms. I knelt down, wrapping my arms around him.

Tears pricked my eyes and slipped down my cheeks. I looked around to see who was cutting onions in church, and then whispered, “Thanks, Buddy.” He squeezed my neck tight, grinned at me and skipped off.

That kid saved my Mother’s Day.

I tell this story, not so you will feel sorry for me but to make a point (unless your sympathy prompts you to send me Godiva chocolate. In that case…by all means, go ahead).

Here’s my point. There are women in your life and mine—possibly even reading this blog—who are in that same place. Look around for her tomorrow. Notice the downcast eyes, the slumped shoulders, the less-springy-than-usual stride. Give her an extra hug. If one of these women has been an influence in your life, make sure to thank her.

Has she dedicated time to your children? Make sure THEY thank her.

Many women who don’t have children spend many mostly-unnoticed hours caring for others. Pay attention. Search out those ladies. Give a hug, squeeze a hand.

If you are that lovely woman who wishes for children and endures Mother’s Day, know that I understand the depth of that pain, and that my heart is with you. Thank you for everything you do. To the women in my life who have been “adopted mothers” to me, to my husband and to my children, I hope you know how special you are. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.

(And although this post isn’t about bio moms, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mom. Love you so much!)

Make tomorrow the BEST Mother’s Day ever for someone in your life.

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