Monday, November 24, 2014

I Want You to Remember (A Letter to Prospective Adoptive Parents)



The letter that follows has been brewing in my brain for some time now.

When I first began penning it, I was writing to prospective adoptive parents. But the more I typed, the more I realized, it is as much a piece of writing for my own use as it is for others.

__________________________________________________

Dear Soon-to-be Adoptive Parent,

You're awesome!

Now, I know what you might be thinking, Wait a minute. How can you say that? You don't even know me.

You're right, we've never met. I don't know much about you. I couldn't tell you your favorite ice cream flavor. And I'd probably guess wrong if I was asked where you went to college or what baseball team you root for.

But I know one thing: You want to adopt a child.

And knowing that one fact automatically makes you awesome in my book.

I also know that you've probably jumped through hoop-after-hoop-after-hoop on your adoption journey.

Or if you haven't yet, you most likely will in the future.    

Adoption is beautiful, but also messy.

I know.  My husband and I adopted a baby boy in 2012. (And we're currently walking the adoption road for a second time, hoping to adopt a baby girl soon.)

During the messy times, I want you to remember a few things. (And when I say "you," I mean me, as well.)

1 | I want you to remember your goal: To adopt a baby. When you feel yourself getting discouraged, overwhelmed, anxious, just stop, close your eyes, and envision yourself holding your precious little one. I've also found that having visual reminders in my home has been helpful. In my closet, sitting on a shelf at eye level is a pair of black patent leather baby shoes. Each time I see them, I send up a quick prayer, asking God to send a healthy baby girl into our lives. There's also an adorable pink floral dress hanging in the nursery closet. When I pull open the closet door, a smile creeps across my face as I think of dressing my baby girl in it one day.

2 | I want you to remember that sharing your life and your dreams with friends and family and complete strangers takes courage. Some people may criticize your decision. Some may ask questions like, "Why aren't you trying IVF? Why aren't you adopting from the foster care system?  Why aren't you adopting internationally?" Don't feel as if you have to answer those questions. You get to decide what to share and what not to share. In many instances, simply saying, "We feel domestic adoption is the best option for us" works well. 

3 | I want you to remember that telling people about your adoption dreams (as scary as it might be) is a good thing. It does not mean you are bragging about your life. It does not mean you are perfect. It does not mean that you have to share every. single. detail about your fertility journey or your adoption journey. But people need to know that you are wanting to adopt in order for them to share your dream with others.   

4 | I want you to remember to ask for help. Ask for prayers. Ask for positive energy or good thoughts. Ask for advice or suggestions in an adoption support group.  Ask for financial support, if needed.  

5 |  I want you to remember to breathe. For me, just reading the word breathe, causes my body to automatically inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Did it work for you, too?

6 | I want you to remember that adopting a baby privately in the United States is expensive. You may have to cut back on your entertainment expenses, eliminate some travel, take on a second job, eat at home more, or hold a garage sale (or a combination of these), so you can afford to adopt.  Some prospective adoptive parents choose to borrow money from a bank or from family, too.  

7 | I want you to remember that there will be birth parents who do not choose you. With each situation, the reason(s) will be unique. They may not choose you because you already have a child.  Or because you live too far away.  Or because you and your husband are Caucasian and they want their child to grow up in a mixed race family. Or because they fell in love with a family two profile books ahead of yours in the stack and never even looked made it to your book. It's tough when you're not chosen, but for me, it just means that we're not the right parents for that particular child.

8 | I want you to remember that the adoption process could take time. You may have to wait and wait and wait. But your time will come.
  
And when your little one arrives, all of the time and effort and money that went into this process will be quickly forgotten. All of the worry, the fear, the anxiety will be replaced with bliss, as you cradle your newborn in your arms.  

All you will focus on is that beautiful child in your arms. All you will focus on is how lucky, how blessed, how happy you are.

That's what I want you to remember.






Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Currently | November


I'm currently...

missing my niece, Zoey.

packing for a spontaneous trip to Southern California.

reading this blog post and this blog post, both filled with tips for taking a toddler to Disneyland.  

boxing up all of my used rubber stamps to send off to my cousin.  (Thanks, Chris!)

eating yummy fresh pineapple.

listening to this podcast with Ali Edwards.

sporting my first ever pair of Converse shoes. (They're rad.) 

enjoying a massage.

piecing together a fall/winter capsule wardrobe. 

finishing up Music Together classes with Noah and Zoey. 

looking forward to doing it all again come January.

laughing out loud at this video. (If you have young kids, I think you'll chuckle too.)

scrapping my Week in the Life book using Simple Stories supplies. (I just discovered their products at Michael's and I'm in l-o-v-e!) 

doing more cleaning than I've done in awhile.

enjoying lunch and a pedicure with two of my favorite Mountain Moms. 

checking off my holiday shopping list. 

feeling grateful for time with Noah.

typing up three things each morning (that have happened within the last 24 hours) for which I am grateful. (And it's so cool to read back through my list from the last week and relive all the good things that have happened.)

renting this lens for our trip. (I'm ridiculously excited to shoot with it!)

loving these free printable thank you cards.  

What's happening with you currently?



Monday, November 10, 2014

Rubber Stamps For Sale

 
In an effort to make a little cash for Christmas (and let's be real, clean up my downstairs office), I'm clearing out the last of my used rubber stamps.  

First up is this set of nine Christmas stamps (pictured above), which would be perfect for holiday cards, tags, mini-albums or scrapbook layouts. Seven of the nine stamps were produced by A Muse Artstamps.  


Secondly, this HUGE lot of miscellaneous stamps would be ideal for crafters who make greeting cards for all different occasions--Father's Day, graduations, St. Patrick's Day, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Easter, etc.

I also have five sets of Stampin' Up! rubber stamps for sale on Etsy:

Just Celebrate

Friendship Blooms

Botanical Blooms

For a Friend

Happy Harmony

If you're interested in purchasing any of these stamp sets, check out my Etsy shop or email me directly at brianandjennieadopt@gmail.com.

I'd love to find new homes for these stamps soon.   

Thanks for looking! 



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Zoey!



Today, we celebrate a special little girl who entered the world two years ago.

I remember the day my niece Zoey was born very well--for I was in the delivery room--along with my sister, Nichole (Zoey's mom), and my mom.

It was my first time (and so far, the only time) witnessing a child take her first breath.

I know what you're likely thinking: But what about your adopted son, Noah? For reasons beyond my control, I wasn't there. But it's probably for the best...since he was delivered by C-section and I might have fainted at the sight of, you know, blood and stuff. I'm serious, I faint so easily--just ask my mom, dad, fifth grade teacher (long story!), or husband. (Perhaps, I'm part goat?! Just kidding.)


WOW, that was quite a tangent.  Let's get back to Zoey's birth, shall we!

It was nothing short of miraculous. A God moment, for sure. The kind that gives you goosebumps and makes you tear up. (I was tearing up then, and I'm tearing up now thinking about it.)

I remember holding my sister's hand during labor, and then letting go just as Zoey made her appearance so I could capture the moment with my DSLR camera (which at the time was my Nikon D90).

I won't be sharing those pictures here (for obvious reasons), but I'll always treasure those photographs. And I know my sister does too.

Instead, I am sharing this series of photos which I took on Thanksgiving in 2012. (And if you want to see a photo of 2-day-old Zoey and 10-month-old Noah, check out this blog post.)

Oh my, Zoey was so little (which in my head comes out wittle).

Sometimes, smiley.

Sometimes, sleepy.


She was precious then, and she's precious now.  

Over the past four months, Zoey (whom I affectionately call Zo-Zo), has danced her way right into my heart. 

I've hugged and played and bathed her.

I've fed and comforted and clothed her.

I've cuddled and tickled and read to her.

She's become like a daughter to me.


I have no idea what the future holds, but I know one thing for certain: Zoey will always occupy a special place in my heart.

When I think about being Zoey's aunt and what a blessing it has been, I think of my aunt Susie (my dad's sister), who was also in the delivery room the day I was born. 

Way back in 1978, forever and ever ago, when Susie was just 16 years old.

That's what happens, time marches on. 

The bond I have with my aunt has always been special. She's always made me feel loved and supported. 

She's cheered me on in countless ways--like in 2006 when I opened up an Etsy shop to sell handmade greeting cards and she was one of my first customers.

Not only has she loved and supported me, but she's also taught me through her actions what it means to care for others. What it means to set aside your own wants and serve others. She's taught me that it's important to show up, even when it's not easy or convenient.

Like she did over five years ago, weekend after weekend, when her mother got sick and needed care. During that difficult time, my aunt Susie showed such strength, such compassion, such devotion.

She's also taught me that it's important to laugh--sometimes, at yourself--especially when it comes to being a mom.
 
I'm hopeful that I'll learn more from my aunt in the coming years. And, in the future, I hope to model some of these same qualities, these same actions, for my niece, Zoey--and of course, for my son, Noah.

But for today, I'm going to stay right here rooted in the present. I'm going to focus on celebrating Zoey--and her two years of life--among family.

We're planning to live it up, Elmo-style (because well, Zoe IS Elmo's best friend after all!), and celebrate a sweet, smart, spunky, and silly girl (my left-brain loves that all those adjectives begin with the letter s!) whom we've all come to adore.

Zoey: Thank you for blessing our whole family (including your mom, Uncle Brian, Cousin Noah, Nonni, Pop, Aunt Katie, Uncle Preston, me and many others) with your light.  

Keep shining on, sweet girl. 

We love you. 






P.S. Speaking of Aunt Katie and Uncle Preston: Happy Anniversary, you two! Hope you have fun today celebrating your first year of marriage. We wish you many more years of happiness!

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Thoughts on Week in the Life 2014


"For what is joy if it goes unrecorded, and what is love if it is not shared."

This quote from last season's final episode of Call the Midwife really resonated with me. So much so, that I paused the DVR, jumped off the treadmill, grabbed a pen and paper, replayed the scene, and jotted it down word for word. I then reread it out loud and thought, Yes, yes, yes!  

I didn't have a clue what I'd do with the quote, but I loved it.  It articulated two things I wholeheartedly believe: 1) That documenting life matters; and 2) That loving others is one of the main reasons we are here on this earth. 

It seemed fitting to share these words today because this coming Monday, I will be recording my joys and loves during Week in the Life, a 7-day documentary project started by one of my favorite scrapbooking gurus, Ali Edwards.
 
If you've been reading my blog for a year or more, you know that this is not my first rodeo. I participated in this project in 2013, 2011, and 2010.

I love looking back at the photos + words from those weeks, reminiscing about what life was like back then, and taking note of all that has changed from then to now. 

This year, though, with everything we have going on, I considered not taking part. But after looking through the photos + words from past years, I've decided to do it. Why? Because I think it's important to document what life looks like for us right now.

No matter how crazy it is.

How imperfect it is.

It's our reality.

It's our story.

And the great thing about this project is that I can make it anything I want it to be. I can choose to make it as big or as small as I want.

This is the attitude I've adopted this year: Something is better than nothing. I'd rather take a handful of photos and scrawl down a few words than have zero photos and no words at the end of the week.

With that said, in an effort not to get overwhelmed, I'm going to focus strictly on shooting and writing next week and leave the rest (the photo processing and blog posts and possible album making) for future weeks (okay, more like months since the holidays are fast approaching).

Here's my game plan:

1. Shoot every day--with both my iPhone 5S and my Canon 5D Mark III.

2. Post at least one photo each day on Instagram. #weekinthelife #weekinthelife2014

3. Jot down some of my thoughts; they can be related (or unrelated) to the photos.

4. Hand the camera over to Brian, so I will be in some of the photos, too. (First, I need to show him how to use back button focusing.) 

Here are my ideas for possible photos:
  • A pair of Noah's and Zoey's shoes
  • Their favorite toys
  • Their potty chairs
  • Most requested bedtime books
  • Bath time (take the shot sitting on the floor)
  • Music Together fun
  • Costumes (shots taken during the day for better lighting)
  • Zoey and her mom
  • Pumpkin carving (with Brian)
  • Kids gazing at the jack-o-lanterns in pitch black (may need tripod)
  • Baking the pumpkin seeds
  • Just Brian and me
I'm sure I'll think of more ideas when I begin shooting with my Canon 5D. I'm pumped to capture our daily routines from behind the lens. To detail on paper the little things happening in our lives. To slow down a little bit and take stock of all that I have--all that I am grateful for.
 
In the meantime, I'll be charging up my camera's batteries and gathering up some paper and a few pens. 

Who's with me? Will you be participating in WITL this year? For more information, check out this post by Ali Edwards.

Happy documenting,



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