birthday bashes

My only “cheat” during the week of my six-year-old’s birthday celebrations was a few pieces of gluten-free pizza, and a taste of the birthday cake (not worth a whole piece, since learning about my horrible sugar crash tendencies). It all went off just fine, and my dye-sensitive child even did pretty well eating mostly her GF cake, dye-free frostings, chocolates, and a few pieces that did have dye (she guiltily admitted to me). She held it all together even though her first/birth mom surprised her (this could’ve been a recipe for an understandable fit of anxiety) with a limo and spent the party with her. It ended up making her super happy! There may still be some emotional fall-out, but it hasn’t occurred yet, and she had a super fun party at her horse stables, with her favorite friends from school and horseback riding, and of course, her big sister.

The only awkward moment was when, after she had asked birth mom about her bio dad (whose whereabouts are unknown), she thought that the limo driver was the dad in question, and burst into the party room exclaiming to me, “Mom! I have a daddy, I do!” I said calmly, “well let’s talk about that in a little while, first we need to have your cake” and she was sufficiently distracted from the topic in front of all 20 something guests! #adoption

Last week I had a lot of potato broccoli soup  (recipe in link), and tried out a different local grocery store to see what they had by way of organic stuff. Not much, honestly. We took the only two organic broccoli heads they had, and I was completely unable to find organic rbst-free greek yogurt. The soup was great, though, and if you’re going to follow the recipe above, I’ll just note that I used 4 cups of broth and 4 cups of water (as opposed to bouillon) and there’s no need to blanch some of the broccoli ahead of the soup if you’re ok with the soup just being blended or creamy, as opposed to having solid broccoli pieces. I feel like it just adds an extra step, and I sure don’t have time for that!


mother/daughter closeness

My daughter and I are super close. Probably most 3-year-old daughters and their mothers are really close, but having never had a 3-year-old before, it’s surprising to me. Like, I’ll literally think about something, like muffins, and my daughter will then say, “Mom I want to make muffins!” It’s eerie.

Now she knows that babies grow in the tummies of mommies. She likes to point out tummies with babies in them (even when that tummy is not necessarily a pregnant one, much to my embarrassment). I’ve tried to use this as a way to talk about adoption, and introduce what it means. “M, did you know that you grew in your other mommy’s tummy, before you came to live with me, when you were a tiny little baby?” And she usually says, “No, mommy. You’re silly. I was in YOUR tummy!” She seems to think I’m joking around. It is sort of heartbreaking, to have to tell my daughter that we were not, in fact, that close (physically) at any one time. That I did not grow her in my tummy, even though I wish I had. It opens the door to new heartbreak, and the question she will eventually ask: why didn’t my other mommy keep me?

Parenting babies and young toddlers is so breathlessly easy, although exhausting. You can keep things simple. Food, drink, potty, snuggles, play, and repeat. Now we get to the nitty gritty of life, the burning details, the sorrowful layers.

As politically incorrect as it is, I wish I could tell her she had grown in my tummy. I wish I never had to tell her that someone else couldn’t take care of her, or made choices that put her in danger. No matter how beautiful adoption is in the end, it’s always a tragedy at the start.

anger “on behalf”

There are so many adoptee bloggers out there who would read this post and get all sorts of upset about what I’m about to say… but I think the sentiment behind it is a real thing, and not something I should necessarily be ashamed of.

My daughter’s bio mom is back on facebook and posting a lot of pics of herself and the latest boyfriend. I don’t actually care how many boyfriends she has or how often she puts pics up of herself and the guy, but I do begin to get irritated that she never asks me about M, never comments on M’s photos, doesn’t act interested in all. I know she has a lot of issues and intellectually I can understand the many barriers there are to her expressing these things to me. Maybe she finds it too hard, doesn’t know what to say, is too altered by drugs and alcohol, feels overwhelmed by defeat and loss, etc and so on. I completely believe those things are true. Nevertheless, something about it stings.

The child she gave birth to is legitimately amazing. She is funny and creative and strong-willed and kind and smart as hell. I’m proud of her every second. I’m her biggest fan. I love her more than anything else in my life. So I guess that’s why I sometimes project onto her how I would feel if I was her. I guess she may grow up and say, I don’t really care what my birth mom did or said or how much interest she expressed in me as I grew up. I mean that could be the case, and I’m only assuming she’ll care. I’m taking personally what isn’t mine to take personally. But what could be more personal than the way your child feels?

this only happens to foster-adopt kids

My mom took M to the yearly lake association picnic yesterday while I worked. There’s a neighbor who has an ice cream truck, and he always brings it to the picnics and gives away his ice cream for free. He noticed M, heard her being called by her name, and asked if she might have been adopted. Turns out, he’s her uncle, bio-mom’s brother. He doesn’t have much to do with his family now but he knew his sister had had a baby with that name three years ago who was adopted locally.

M totally scored in the uncle department! She got three free ice creams at the picnic. Whenever the ice cream truck rolls around now she can put it on her uncle’s tab!

in open adoption news

I don’t post much in the way of open-adoption anymore. Partly it’s that we’ve gotten so busy with life and partly it’s because it can be so uncomfortable and such a pain to make the effort to visit M’s relatives. The aunt, first of all, has asked for money once and last I heard from her she was texting me several times a minute that she “needed” to talk to me. I didn’t respond except to say I was at work. I just don’t want to get sucked into the awkwardness of saying no to paying the water or electric bill, knowing M’s three cousins are the ones who pay the price. The last we saw them was at her birthday party in March.

I’ve also had a bit of trouble with the facebook I created to keep in touch with them. I can’t pull it up on my phone without all of these errors and problems switching back to my regular facebook, so I went ahead and tried to friend the aunt and grandpa on my regular account. Grandpa friended me quickly and makes nice comments about M and what she’s up to. Last week M’s older bio-sister (age 9) was up from Texas with her grandma (her paternal grandma, not related to M). I found out at the last minute. She claims she tried to contact me but due to the facebook problem I didn’t get her message (although I gave her my phone number last summer, so…). I found out at the last minute and even though I was working, I had my mom meet them at a park so M could see her sister. Apparently, according to bio-sister’s grandma, the aunt’s kids have been removed from her by CPS and she is into some drugs. They may be with their dad or in foster care, I have no idea.

As far as M’s bio mom… haven’t heard anything from her since Christmas. No texts, no facebook accounts, nothing. Time to search the county public records for arrests, I guess.

Also, yesterday was April 15th

And that means it’s been three years and one day today of being mom to my awesome girl. We don’t celebrate the day that she lost her first family (and they lost her) because it was of confusion and pain for my daughter and the people who loved her. Not at all like the day most people meet their beloved child, but that’s our story and it’s nothing to be ashamed of now, just something to remember and make the best of. That day three years ago changed my life for the better in so many ways, and despite the sadness involved, I like to think it was the beginning of something good, too.

April 16, 2013

the “Arlo cake” party

M had one focus for her birthday party: her Arlo cake (Arlo being the main character in Disney’s newest dinosaur movie). In fact, she would call it her “Arlo cake birthday party”. Since I didn’t want her eating dye or bromines in her cake, I decided to make it with naturally dyed sprinkles and organic chocolate cake. I used regular frosting and pudding for the outside in middle. It was chocolately chocolate, because M is a chocolate lover. She loved the cake, even though it was falling over. She helped make it the night before, and helped decorate it with palm trees next to the volcano and figurine of Arlo and Spot I got for the top. She had three candles to blow out (because what’s a birthday without blowing out candles?) and all was good in her world. Except, she didn’t eat any cake!!! Kids.

Also required for a birthday: balloons. She came with me to get her six balloons filled and drag them around in the car with us. Very exciting for her. Other than that, she had a small pile of presents to open (I told everyone no presents, but I provided a couple and my mom brought her one, and her bio grandpa brought her one. It was much better than people feeling they needed to spend money to come, and she doesn’t have a ton of crap for me to put away or her to lose! So yay!). She also likes birthday cards and she received plenty of those, along with some dollar bills. She took the dollar bills and handed them out to her cousins (who gave them back). Ah the innocence of youth!


Literally every birthday present except for one or two was dinosaur-themed. New puzzles are what I got her, and she got a book and a dress and a robot dinosaur for us to take apart and put together. Something for her to build with parts. My mom got her her own water wings to wear swimming. Her favorite present of all was the one my grandma gave her in the morning: those damn hatching dinosaur eggs (like I got her at Christmas). She is still carrying those dinosaur babies around everywhere!

M’s three cousins and oldest sister (age 13)

The party attendees were evenly divided between my family and friends and her bio family, which I think is cool! Her bio grandpa came (along with a few people whose relationships I’m not clear on). Her aunt came with M’s three cousins and her oldest sister! On my side was my sister and niece, my mom, and my oldest friend and her mom. I bought bathing suits for all of her cousins because they didn’t have any, and luckily bought extras in different sizes that her sister was able to wear. We all went swimming after the party, in a pool totally packed with kids and one overwhelmed life guard. It was pure chaos but they did have fun.

Reading cards with her grandpa

After M’s grandpa made her a snowman in the parking lot with a cigarette stub for a nose, we went to my sister’s house for the after party, which included dinner and beer (for the grown-ups), and several rounds of hide-n-seek. It was a nice, relaxing way to end a crazy, hectic day! I think M’s birthday was everything she was hoping for, and I had a lot of fun watching her dreams come true. I’m sure she won’t always be so easy to please!

Blowing out the candles. Check out the way my cake collapses in the back!

Christmas, just the two of us

Just the two of us, plus a hospital visit.

I can’t lie, I was super frustrated on Christmas Eve when my kiddo wouldn’t sleep. She finally drifted off at 11pm. We were almost there so many times, but a cat would jump on the bed, or make some noise, and she’d be back up again! She had absolutely NO idea that there would be presents under the tree in the morning. She woke up at 8am whining about wanting to play with my phone. I was like, come on, come on, let’s go out, it’s Christmas morning! This is the first time EVER that I have had to get her out of bed, instead of the other way around!

‘Twas the night before Christmas… and mommy was very, very tired after waiting ’til after 11pm to set this scene up

Needless to say, her mind was pretty blown when I carried her out and she saw all the toys and presents. She dropped her jaw and just pointed at everything! Then she went right for the castle and started playing with it. Since my grandma is in the hospital, my mom was staying with my grandpa. She ran down for a few minutes to watch M open presents, but then had to go right back (my grandpa was asleep but when awake he might wander out of the house). Unfortunately, this meant we had to encourage M not to play with whatever she just opened and keep opening. I really didn’t want to do it that way!

M’s very favorite gift was the discovery hatching dinosaur eggs. We put them in water and she waited and watched until we left for the hospital. When we got back, some had cracked! She carried the bowl of water with the eggs everywhere, and jumped up and down as they started opening, squealing. Later they started hatching out and M tried so hard but just couldn’t wait another minute, and ended up pulling them out the rest of the way. Then she carried them around, her “babies”, for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, whatever they’re made of was not durable, because later in the bath she pulled too hard and two of them started breaking apart. Very sad! That was the end of “Long Neck” and “Dragon”. “Spike” is still in one piece but I might just throw them all away now… they are pretty gross and sticky.

In the evening we called Cindy, her birth mom. It’s the first time we’ve spoken to her since last Christmas. Of course, M can talk a lot more now, so she was able to talk about her presents and carry on a sort of conversation. M called her “mama Cindy” which is what I call her to M, and said “I love you, too” and “I miss you, too” which I think made Cindy very happy. During the night, however, M woke up twice sobbing and kicking me, saying “I don’t want you!” This time she said she wanted my mom, and my mom had to come in and lay with us for a minute. Then M kicked her out!

She loves her Bapa

We spent the day at the hospital, and also at a park (it was 50 degrees and sunny, so crazy). M sang Jingle Bells in the car, and we ate a leftover turkey dinner, just the two of us, while watching Jurassic Park. I was kind of lonely, I miss the big lively gatherings that you think of during the holidays. But in the end, I was still really happy, light years happier than I would’ve been pre-motherhood. I love being with my daughter, playing with her and being her mom!

Merry Christmas everyone! I loved reading about all of your different celebrations 🙂


Not on Christmas eve!

Our visit with bio grandpa went well. M loved her present and really warmed up to him. They have a grandson who lives there and M loved playing with him, too. I tried to get a few more stories about her birth mom. Randomly, her step-grandma’s daughter’s boyfriend, who lives upstairs, knew where M’s dad’s family is from in Mexico. He couldn’t spell it but I’m going to scour the map for it as soon as I can. It’s strange to still not know his real name but I’ll take any info I can get.

Sadly, a lot of what I learn about bio mom, especially during her pregnancy and five weeks before M came to me, is hard to hear. M’s relatives live in the same county, and yet we are world’s apart, culturally. The houses, ramshackle and grimy on the inside, the lifestyles riddled with drug use and prison, the children, born to so many different combinations of people, yelled at and swatted constantly. It’s hard to imagine my daughter growing up in it, and it’s easier and easier to understand how much her life has already diverged from its original path.

I don’t mean to say that these aren’t nice people, they are. They are well intentioned, friendly, generous, and love M as one of their own, which she is. I remain grateful that we are bridging the gaps between us for the sake of the little girl we all love.

We were planning to stop by her aunt’s house (who is in a lot of trouble these days) but I got a call that my grandma wants to go to the ER. If she wants to go on Christmas eve, she must really need to go, because she’s never allowed us to take her near a holiday. It’s literally the worst timing ever, being the first Christmas that M is really excited about, but here we are at the hospital.

At least we made Christmas cookies this morning, I got her desk finished, her castle is all in one piece, and the presents are wrapped. We’re going to do Christmas morning one way or another.

Christmas eve eve

It’s the night before the night before Christmas, and this year I made a rookie parenting mistake: waiting until the last minute to prepare the presents for Christmas morning! Remember, I had an art desk to put together and a wooden castle. I forgot there is no preschool this week, and kept thinking I’d do it when she was at school. Then, CRAP, I realized that I would have to come up with another plan, and my daughter is my absolute shadow. I had to wrap presents in the bedroom with the door locked and her out in the living room with my mom, hollering the whole time. I now have two thirds of the desk put together, out in the garage, in the cold. I was going to finish it tonight but… little miss was wide awake when I got home and didn’t fall asleep until 10pm.

I got up after that anyway, and prepared sugar cookie dough. Why the rush? I want it chilled for the morning, so that we can cut them out, bake them, and decorate them, because at noon we are going to visit her maternal bio-grandpa, and I’d like to bring something with us. He hasn’t seen her since summer, and he is all excited because he bought her something for Christmas. After that we will try to stop by her aunt’s. I don’t know what I’m going to do for her five kids… I might put five packets of hot coco in a little dollar store stuffing along with a few other simple things.

The one thing I’m nervous about is the fact that I want Christmas to be a wonderful time for my kiddo, but seeing her bio family will probably bring to the surface some strong, hard emotions. I think it’s beneficial to do it, in the long run, but it is hard to force myself to take her knowing that I will have to deal with the fall-out afterward, and on Christmas no less.

I had a patient today whose parents adopted him (and many other children). They told me that I would never regret keeping these connections alive for her, because someday soon they will be very important to her, even though they aren’t that important at this moment while she’s two. I took it to heart and also saw it as a sign to go ahead and call her grandpa back and set a date and time.