November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I can talk forever about this, so lets talk again. Remembering that it doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read a book, or anything else, unless you are actually an adoptee, you will never truly understand. So please for the love of all that is holy, stop telling Adoptees how to feel, that their feelings are wrong, that they are over reacting, or anything else like that. Adoptees have every right to feel everything they feel, all the conflicting, hard to understand feelings, they are all valid. Just because you dont understand something, does not make their feelings wrong.
So lets talk about belonging. Its a strange thing. We simultaneously belong to multiple families, yet dont fully belong to any. We are forever an option. In our adoptive families we struggle to belong, we dont look like anyone, we dont have the same mannerisms, traits, we struggle to fit in and blend in with our families. We notice all the questioning looks we get by people trying to figure out our connections to each other. We have even had to deal with strangers comments and questions. Our adoptions are constantly pointed out to us, when people compare looks, especially at family events. We are constantly referred to as the “adopted children”. When we go to the doctors and asked for medical history, there is a big blank spot, or adoption is simply written there. In school its pointed out every time we are asked to do a family tree, learning about genes and asked to go back in our family tree with eye colour, hair colour and such. We are constantly asked if we will ever look for our families, then guilted as soon as we decided to do it. We are asked what its like to grow up in a home with strangers. We are referred to as being “chosen” or “picked out”. People ask us how much we cost for our parents to ‘buy’ us. When people do family trees there is constantly a symbol next to our names for adoption. More times than people care to admit, adopted children are placed for adoption again because they didn’t “fit into the family”, or some other issues came to the surface. We are considered an option. We are told we will be sent back. When we get in trouble, we are told in must be in our genes and what a burden it must be for our families to deal with us.
Then if and when we are able to find birth families, we are treated an as option. We have to wait to see if our birth families will accept us or reject us, again. Always an option. IF we do get accepted, we rarely ever fully get accepted. Our lives before they met us dont matter because they never knew us. We are never truly the first born, second born, third , or last born, because we weren’t there. When people talk we are separated in speech, like “my kids and you” or “my boys and you” its always “them and you”. There is always a subtle separation in speech. We are told to wait till kids are older to be told about us. We are told to wait because older generations can’t hear about us right now. We are kept secret from some members of the family. We are told to wait till their kids are fully grown before they will consider spending holidays with us. We are told they have their own traditions and things they love, and they won’t grow and evolve those things to include us. We are told that to involve us in traditions would be the same thing to them as throwing away years of family traditions with ‘their family’. Always the separation in speech. Never fully accepted. We aren’t considered ‘close family’ when it comes to family events, birthdays or holidays. We are told that people need time to adjust to our existence. We are told that people that are supposed to be our family need time to figure out if they want to ‘try to be friends and see where that goes’, instead of truly accepting that we are family and include us as such and work towards building relationships that way as sister/brother/cousin/son/daughter or whichever it is. We are always treated as an option. Someone that belongs, but not fully. We are welcome, as long as we stay in our little corner over there, and dont mess with their family setting and traditions. If we dont fit in just right, we are again abandoned, because we will forever be an option for people. An option they can walk away from whenever a single issue arises. We constantly walk on egg shells out of fear of being abandoned again. Many times adoption reunions fall apart after a couple years.
We belong to multiple families, yet not fully and truly. Its a weird sense of belonging, being on the outside looking in, longing for acceptance, longing for connection, feeling at home, being surrounded by family, being loved and accepted, and still feeling alone.
November is Adoption Awareness Month. As an Adoptee and Birth Mother, I have a lot to say on the subject. This is however a subject that only Adoptees can truly understand. It doesn’t matter if you are an adoptive parent, birth parent, know an adoptee, read an adoption book, or anything else, unless you are an adoptee, you will never really understand. And every adoptees journey is so different.
Being an adoptee is complicated. We are constantly told that we should be grateful, feel lucky, and be happy that we were “saved” or “chosen”. And here’s the thing, we can feel grateful, we can feel lucky, we can be happy with the life we did get, we can love our life, we can love our family, and at the same time we can still feel angry, hurt, sad, abandoned, long for a biological connection, we can mourn for a life we never had, mourn for the loss of all that could have been or maybe even should have been. And we can experience all of these emotions at once, and not have it take away from feeling grateful, or happy, or hurt, or abandoned. It is so hard to put into words that will ever truly explain what it is like to be an adoptee. To live with such drastically different feelings conflicting with each other all the time.
I’ve lived my life with people telling me how I should feel. Telling me my feelings are wrong if they have ever been anything other than grateful. I’ve had people be mad at my existence.
I’ve been called selfish and ungrateful, rude and mean, for wanting to find my birth family.
I’ve even been called selfish for wanting to then spend time with the people I found after spending my entire life apart from them.
I’ve been told I was never wanted and that they never wanted to ‘waste’ a name on me when I was born.
I’ve been called a home wrecker, intruder, and worse, because I found my birth family.
I’ve had people separate me from “real” family, and put in a little corner off on my own.
I’ve even been told I am too old. When I found who I believed was my birth father, thats what he said to me. This man believed I was his daughter right from the start and even tried to find me when I was 2 years old so he could fight for custody of me. But then when I was almost 28 years old, I found him. And he didn’t want anything to do with me. One of the many reasons he gave me, my age. He said I was too old now. He said I took to long, and I was too old now, and none of it mattered, and I was too old to celebrate anything, too old to care, too old to start building a relationship. He was so angry at me that I took too long to find him. He had other choice words too say to me over the years, but anyway, that was the first time someone complained about my age, used my age against me, told me i’m “too old” for something, but it wouldn’t be the last time. Throughout my journey other people have told me the same thing and used my age against me for various reason.
I’ve mourned the death of a man I believed was my birth father, just to find out years later he wasn’t.
I could go on and on about the things said to me. The way people treat me as an after thought, as an option, mad at my existence, and more.
But here’s what Adoption gave me, besides trauma, abandonment issues, heartbreak and more, it gave me a beautiful family that has loved me so fiercely. It gave me two parents, that at 36 years old I can honestly say they have always been there for me, never missed a holiday, from Valentines Day to Christmas, never missed a birthday, never missed a school event, been there for every milestone in my life, the birth of each of my children, they were there and visiting the hospital every single day I was in there. They have been there for each of my Mother Days, especially my first after my oldest son was born, which I couldn’t have gotten through without them. They even celebrate my wedding anniversary. Always there for me. And in turn they have always been there for my kids. Every birthday, every holiday, every school performance, every event at school, they were there. I’ve lost count of the amount of cakes my mom has baked with my daughter every time she says its a dolls birthday, or a stuffed animals birthday, it doesn’t matter, my mom is there to celebrate with her and make it special. Family trips all together. When my kids were/are sick, my parents were/are the first people I called, and my Dad would sit up with me during the night and the kids while they had croup, or an ear infection or whatever, my parents were there. Because of the parents I got, I was able to live in Kenya. The people I met there, amazing friends that have become family. Not to mention I met my oldest sons birth father there. Without living there, I never would have met him and had my son. And I can’t imagine a life without him. And my husband, who I met through a cousin on my Moms side. And now I have 3 more beautiful children, and an amazing man in my life. And I wouldn’t have had them, met all the people I have, lived in all the places I have, done all the traveling I did, if life hadn’t put me down another path, if someone else didn’t make one of the biggest decisions in life for me, a choice I didn’t make or was given a say in. And I am so incredibly grateful the life I have had so far, the people I have met, my family, my friends, my husband and my four kids. There is no way I could wish that away. But having said all that, I still mourn for what never was. I still feel sadness over missing out on years with so many other people. Its a complicated thing. It doesn’t make sense. And it is so hard to mourn for something that you never even had. But all while feeling grateful and loving the life you did have. So I dont know what else to say in this ramble. Other than its Adoption Awareness Month, and being an adoptee is complicated, amazing, beautiful, trauma filled, beautiful, and every other mixed emotions.When an adoptee tries to explain their story, share their complicated conflicting emotions, dont try to correct them, dont tell them how they should feel. Let adoptees feel what they feel, and not be shamed for it. Listen to what adoptees have to say, even if you dont understand it.
If you have been following along with this blog you will know that adoption is near and dear to my heart. I am adopted, you can read about that here and I am also a birth mother, you can read about there here. I even have an Adoption Tattoo.
I knew my entire life that I was adopted. There was no moment that stands out as “the moment” that everything changed and I found out. My family talked very openly about it. When I turned 18 I began the legal search for my birth mom and hoped that she would lead me to my birth father. As my birth father was not aware of the adoption, or me, he was not on any paper work, or at least thats what my paperwork said. It took nearly 10 years to track down my birth mother (Don’t even get me started on the government and the stupid ways they handle adoption and records). That was about 7 years ago. She was able to tell me about my birth father. Finally I would get answers and learn about my roots and where I came from.
Finding out about my birth father was a hard pill to swallow. Finding out that he did in fact know about me my entire life and wanted nothing to do with me was hard. Dealing with that rejection was hard. But at least through him I did find a half sister. We bonded and got to know each other. For the past 7 years I’ve talked to her off and on, watched my nephew grow. I’ve talked to other relatives, aunts and uncles and cousins. Then my birth father died. I had never once talked to him or met him, but still I mourned his death. I was so angry with him for so long. For years I held so much anger towards him.
And then last year my son I gave up for adoption did a DNA test on one of those sites. He was curious to see what his ethnicity was. Because even though he knows who his birth parents are, both of his birth parents are actually adopted as well. So even though I am in my sons life I can not give him certain answers. A few months later my sons mother offered to buy me a DNA test on the same site so that we would be able to determine which side of the family comes from where. So I did. I didn’t think anything of it really. I didn’t expect much out of it. I figured I knew. I was doing it for my son.
So I got my results. I didn’t really check the DNA matches since I figured I knew what would be there. But then I noticed something as the matches started coming in. No one had the same last name that my birth father had. So I searched through the over 6000 matches on the site, no one had his last name. It didn’t even show up in peoples family trees as a distant relative. The truth started to sink in. The man I believed to be my birth father, the man I had been so angry at, the sister I had gotten to know, they weren’t actually related to me at all. She’s not my sister. He’s not my birth father.
A part of me didn’t want to deal with that. A part of me just said “hey maybe no one in that family has ever signed up on this site. Thats possible. They all know each other, so why would they.”
One morning I woke up to a message “Hi, it looks like I’m your cousin” and she proceeded to fill me in on so much family history that that was clear that she was not related to my birth mother and no possible way to be related to who I had believed was my birth father.
I tried to talk to my birth mom about it. She insisted that he was my birth father, until I told you about the DNA test site. And the truth came out.
And now here I am, at the age of almost 35, and after 10 years of searching, 7 years of accepting what I thought were truths, getting to know people, mourning a death, I am back to square one. I have no idea who my birth father is. I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would search for so long for a family just to have them taken away again and start all over.
So apparently my adoption story is not over. Not even close. My journey continues.
And now I deal with trying to find my actually real birth father, and possibly being rejected again and going through that all over again.
I can’t believe its December 1, 2019 already. I honestly have no flippin clue where this year went. Okay, yeah sure I do, it went up in a puff of anxiety, stress, and doctors offices. That pretty much sums up this year. Looking back this year had so many ups and downs. Possibly more downs than ups. There were a lot of doctors visits, ER visits, I had vertigo, I spent 2 days in hospital and they found a clot in my lung, my daughter needed surgery, again. I just can’t even with this year. There were some good parts, we had a lot of great adventures. We went to Florida and spent a week at Universal Studios. My oldest son came and spent 2 weeks with us in the summer.
I’m pretty sure I accomplished at least some of the goals I had in January. But honestly I couldn’t tell you for sure because I lost the notebook that I wrote them down in.
Going into this last month of 2019, and looking forward to 2020 I have no freakin idea what I am going to do, what I want to do, what I should do. Part of me always feels this rush of feeling a new, fresh in my motivation, full of goals. The other part of me, thinks this whole “New year, new you” thing is total BS. That you don’t need a date on a calendar to tell you when you should change, make goals, and start fresh.
Maybe its just my time to change. My season of change. And maybe it just happens to line up with this time of year. But I feel change, I feel like I want-to/need-to change. Or maybe I am just pulling my head out of the anxiety fog that has been 2019 for me. Maybe it’s that my 35th birthday is coming up and I should be feeling more of a an ‘adult’ than I do now. Or that next year I will official have 3 teenage boys and things are quickly changing. Crap, I don’t know.
Let’s try to focus on what I do know. I have awesome kids. I have an awesome husband. And if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m a pretty awesome wife and mother, although it doesn’t always feel that way. We all have those days if we are going to be honest. I have two completely different creative outlets that I love and I want to continue moving forward with both. And I have this blog, this poor neglected blog. I want to blog. I love to blog. But when I sit down to type, I tend to write it out like how I talk, and then I tend to get side tracked, and 1 blog post turns into 3, and I go down a rabbit hole of posts. Or I feel like what I want to share, I shouldn’t. Like no one wants to read about my anxiety, depression, bi-polar, my adoption story, the days I struggle with it all and parenting, and so much more. Like I’ve been conditioned by society to feel bad about those topics and keep them on the down low. I also feel like, a sort of, impost syndrome when I sit down in front of my computer to write. I look at other blogs and they all have something they are a ‘professional’ in. They all have beautiful photos. But let’s be honest, most of those photos are staged, and I just don’t have the time for that, or patience for that.
So what is the point of this post? I have no idea. I set out with the intention of writing something completely different and yet all of this came out.
I think things are changing. I’m changing. I’m not sure where this will lead. But I’m excited for it. I hope you will continue to join me on this crazy adventure.
One of my favourite things to do in the summer is make coloured ice in the evening, and in the morning its ready to go. Its one of the first things we do in the morning, get up, kids eat breakfast and then outside to play with ice cubes. Why do we do this? Because it ensures I get to drink a hot coffee while the kids are distracted and having fun.
You can make simple coloured ice cubes with just water and food colouring.
You can fill up a container with water, food colouring (optional) and place little toys into it before freezing (also optional) (also make sure the toys are safe to put in water and freeze!). This adds another level of discovery to play time.
And now, lets talk Ice Chalk.
Its super easy and fun.
– Half Cornstarch
– Half Water (or maybe a little bit more water depending on the consistency you want)
– Food Colouring
Optional: Glitter, small toys.
You can use normal ice cube trays, or fun shapes. We use both.
And have fun!
I blog, clearly. I am also on Instagram, Facebook and even on Twitter. I post photos almost daily. I share on some form of social media almost daily. Two years ago I wrote a post about not sharing my kids faces and personal stories on social media. You can read that post here.
My 13 year old and soon to be 12 year old don’t have any social media accounts. Shocking, I know. A lot of their friends do however. So when my son turned 13 I asked him if he wanted an account. We talked about it. He asked me about the kind of stuff I post, so I told him. As we were talking it come up that he knows a lot of kids who’s parents have posted about them for years, pictures and stories, including personal and embarrassing stories and photos. During the conversation my son thanked me. He explained how he was so thankful to not have his life put out there for everyone else to know before he could share it himself.
In the conversation I asked him how he would feel if I did start posting photos of him on social media. He thought about it, and ended up asking me not to. And I totally respect that and my childs decision.
So when you look at my photos and wondering why my kids aren’t in them, why their backs are turned or I full on cropped their heads out of the photos, you know why. Its a fine balance trying to share my stories, my life, my motherhood journey without actually sharing information and pictures of them. But out of respect for them and their wishes, I will continue to crop their heads out of pictures. At least just the pictures I post online. Not to worry I have plenty (thousands and thousands) of pictures of them. In realty I am basically my kids own personal paparazzi.
Like this photo:
I really wish I could show the world how incredibly happy she was. The giant smile on her face as she jumped and splashed us all. But the picture I’m showing you, I had to crop out her head. But trust me when I say her smile was radiant and she was having a blast.
Until the day my kids decide to share their own photos and stories, I will crop their heads out or take double the amount of photos trying to stage them so you can’t see their faces.
I some times wonder about my husband and his love of camping. He’s fascinated by it. He can spend days, weeks, out in nature. Me? Well I spend an hour and I end up covered in hives. So nature and me aren’t really on good terms. I love nature, I think its beautiful. I just love it from a safe distance.
But marriage is about compromise, give and take, all that crap. So camping we go.
At least this was just a camping trip with the two of us. No kids. So it would be totally restful, right? Right. Completely restful if you don’t take into account having to walk almost 10 minutes each way just to go to the bathrooms.
This was my first camping trip in a while. I was honestly a little rusty. I forgot just how important meal planning actually is. And how super important it is to make sure you actually have all the ingredients for the meals you foolishly planned out in your head but not fully in reality. I also really need to learn how to pack light. I for the life of me can never pack light. Ever. Especially if kids are involved. Which they will be on our next camping trip. (Did I really just say ‘next’?!)
I may not have meal planned all that well, but at least I made pillow cases for the trip! Thats got to count for something!
Did I mention that my husband built a bed to fit in our van?! Crazy right?! More on that in another post. It needs its own post.
It was a a nice escape from reality. Surrounded by nature, having a campfire, no noise, no tv, no radio. And when you have a husband who loves camping as much as mine, and who also likes things just a certain way, there does tend to be very little to do in regards to site set up and take down.
I will admit at first it was very odd to just sit and have no distractions. It is amazing how much noise we deal with in a day. Radio, tv, ads that pop up on websites, on games on your phone. We are forever being bombarded by advertisements. They are every where, all the time, non stop. That part I really enjoyed about camping. It was nice to just be fully in the moment.
I told my husband that. Apparently we will be camping more, and soon. So stayed tuned for tips and tricks when it comes to camping, overlanding, all with 3 little kids.
As I approach my 34th birthday I am reflecting a lot on my life, on what I have accomplished, what I still want to accomplish, my family, my kids, life in general. And that’s when it hit me; I have been a mother for half my life. Half my life.
For those doing the math, let me help you, when I was 16 I was living in Kenya, I was in grade 11, I met a guy, an older guy from another school, he was a senior. So of course it was super cool to be dating an ‘older guy’ from another school. Well one thing lead to another, and I ended up pregnant. Just after my 17th birthday I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy (ok, 1 of the 3 most beautiful boys, because all my boys were of course the most beautiful ever. I’m not bias at all!).
When I was 16 and pregnant I had to start making choices I never dreamed I would have to do at that age. As my belly grew, my responsibilities grew as well. I made the choice to give my son up for adoption. You can read about that here.
Since that day in a friends basement bathroom when the stick showed two lines, my life and my choices have always had to factor in someone else. Now I have to factor in 4 kids and a husband.
For half my life I have been a mother. For half my life my heart has been walking outside my body. For half my life my decisions have been about other people. For half my life someone else, and a growing number of someone else’s, have been put first ahead of myself.
And do you know what I have learned from all this motherhood-ing (that is totally a word), is that I don’t know a damn thing about motherhood. Just when I think I got a handle on it the kids go ahead and grow up and things change.
I’m still trying to figure out how anyone can really call themselves a “parenting expert”.
I have given birth to 4 incredible humans. Four drastically different humans. Four people that are constantly changing, growing and evolving. Four humans that constantly surprise me, challenge me, push me to be a better person, show me what unconditional love is, push my patience to its breaking point, make me laugh, make me cry (happy tears, sad tears, frustrated tears, a lot of sleep deprived tears), and make me the proudest mother ever.
I can’t imagine my life any other way. I can’t imagine not being a mother.
Half my life has been spent navigating motherhood, and I’m still trying to figure it out.
Have you ever heard of Overlanding? Someone being an Overlander? Yeah, me neither. My husband introduced me to it a while ago. And honestly I am still trying to figure it out. Basically to Overland is to travel by car over great distances, days, weeks or even months at a time. Basically it evolves a whole lot of driving and camping. Not really my scene, but other people seem to love it. Some people are even considered “full time overlanders’. Apparently there is a whole Overland lifestyle out there.
So why did my husband who knows how much nature and bugs hate me, want to introduce me to something like this? Simply put, this is totally his scene. He loves stuff like this.
So after much talking, mostly done by my husband, I have agreed to go on adventures known as Overlanding. Still not sure what I have gotten myself in to.
One thing is for sure, this is not a full time thing. At least not right now. I am still very much a fan of running water and sleeping in my own bed in my own room. Plus nature and bugs hate me. I go for a hike and end up covered in hives. So this is going to be an interesting experience.
So as I learn more about this lifestyle, as we go on adventures, you can follow along here and on Instagram.
And if you know anything about Overlanding, tips, tricks, advice, help, please send me a message!!!!
This week I don’t know if the planets have aligned just so, or the moon is in the perfect location or bigger forces are at work here. I am going to go with bigger forces are at work here. This week has been insane. This week has been all about putting my life and my situations into perspective.
We’ve all heard the sayings “You better eat your food, there are starving kids in this world you know” or “don’t be so upset, you know someone out there in the world has it worse than you”. I’ve heard those sayings so much, that honestly I am kind of desensitized to them. Of course there is always something going on in the world, there are what like 7 billion people. So of course the chances that at this very moment someone is finding out good news, finding out bad news, welcoming a new life, saying goodbye, having a great time, having a bad time, someone is laughing while someone else is crying and hurting. Just because someone else out there is having a worse time, or a better time, doesn’t under value what you are experiencing at this moment.
In saying all that, I do think that sometimes other experiences can help put your own into perspective. Not undermine them, but give you a chance to come to terms and deal with your emotions and to reevaluate and adjust you’re point of view.
This week I forgot to pay for school pizza lunch for my kids. Not that we couldn’t afford it, but I just forgot to pay for it. And my kids were super upset at first. And honestly I stepped back and looked at them. This was their biggest issue. Not getting pizza lunch at school. They still had a lunch to take, but it wasn’t a pizza lunch. And this is what my kids have to get upset about? Damn, my kids have it pretty good if this is their biggest problem right now. My kids don’t have to worry about their next meal, they don’t have to worry about being taken out of their home, about being hurt, or scared. They are safe and happy, and they know it, because lack of pizza lunch one time is their biggest problem.
Then I was doing the endless piles of laundry. Like seriously people have to be living here that I don’t know about for the endless supply of clothes I have to wash and fold every freakin week. And I was folding a pile of my daughters clothes and something hit me. I was overcome with emotions. I am actually sitting here complaining about this?! About clothes?! I was actually complaining about folding clothes for a child that my husband and I tried for for so many years. We fought with fertility issues for years. We miscarried. We had our hearts broken. And then we were blessed with our beautiful daughter after a high risk pregnancy, where we thought we would lose her multiple times. And here I am, after going through all that, complaining about her clothes?! Seems kind of ridiculous in comparison doesn’t it? Don’t get my wrong, I still hate doing laundry. But that laundry represents the tiny lives I fought to bring into this world, all my pregnancies were high risk. And as much as I hate it, I am so thankful for my kids, and the ability to be their mom, to be home during the day so I can do the laundry while listening to my own music and dancing around like an idiot.
Its all the mundane things around the house. All the things I complain about, the things I hate, all those things I get to do because I have 3 beautiful children that I have been blessed with and an amazing hard working husband, that makes all this possible. The mess, the endless laundry, the forever filled sink with dirty dishes, the mess of toys every where, the sleepless nights, the list goes on.
I have anxiety and depression, so it is super easy for me to get wrapped up in my head with my emotions. Sometimes they are very big, very scary emotions. So for all these things to come together this week to get me out of my head, its been pretty eye opening. It doesn’t mean I will stop complaining about the endless messes, the dirty dishes I find all over the house, it just means I know why those things are happening and I love and appreciate the tiny humans behind the messes. I’m grateful for them. I’m grateful for the chance to do all these mundane things. It’s all about perspective. Finding joy in the little things. Enjoying the moment.