Two Weeks Is Not Enough Time

Have you ever had so many conflicting emotions? Feeling all the feels all at once? So many different things pulling at you that you don’t know which way is up? Thats been me the last few weeks. I feel so emotionally drained and raw right now. I feel like emotionally hung over. It is so hard to explain. So bare with me as I try.

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An old picture of all 4 kids together. With my daughter actually sitting on the lap of my oldest sons (adoptive) moms lap. This picture means the world to me.

I got to spend 2 weeks with my oldest son. My son I gave up for adoption. I am so blessed to have a relationship with him. To get to know him, see him, talk to him. I am forever thankful that his mom allows him to come visit us. She is truly the most incredible woman ever.

My 3 younger kids absolutely love it when their big brother comes to visit. They look up to him so much. They all get along SO well. It’s amazing to see them together. It makes my heart so incredibly happy to see them all together. But it also hurts so much. It is so cliche to say that its bitter sweet, but basically, yeah it is. I am so happy to see them all together, to have all my kids under one roof, to sit down to family meals. I feel complete. But I also feel like there is a giant hole in my chest. I feel like my chest is being ripped apart with every breathe I take.

Here is my son. Someone I carried within me for 9 months. Someone who I love so fiercely. Someone who looks like me. Sounds like me. Someone who is apart of me. And yet that isn’t my son. I didn’t raise him. I don’t know him the way I know my other kids. I don’t get to hold him like I can my other kids. He doesn’t call me mom, because again, I’m not his mom. I see a scar on him and I have no clue how he got it. Yet when I look at my other kids I can tell you every story behind every scar. I don’t know his likes and dislikes. I don’t know what those subtile faces mean. I’m looking at my son who isn’t my son. It’s hard. So incredibly freakin hard.

I love having him here. I love being around him. I love spending time with him. I’m over joyed every time he comes to visit. There are no words to properly describe the love and joy I feel. But there are also no words to describe how equally heart wrenching it is. How much it breaks me every time I say goodbye to him. How much is breaks me when he’s here and seeing him with his siblings, sitting at our family table and knowing it won’t last, knowings it is only for a few days.

I got to spend two awesome weeks with all my kids together. Two weeks that went by in the blink of an eye. Two weeks I will forever be thankful for.

~ Michelle

Half a Lifetime in Motherhood

 

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.

~ Michelle

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane – Book Review

I recently read The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, and I just have to share it with you.

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I was drawn to the idea of this book because it is about adoption, which as an adoptee  and birth mother, adoption is a huge part of my life. I was scared of this book when I first got it, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how adoption was going to be shown in this book. I scared that this book would completely break my heart. I was scared that this book would show adoption as something horrible – which it is not, not always. This book surprised me. This book made me laugh and it made me cry, for many different reasons. This book is beautifully written.

The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane is an amazing story about family, traditions, love, family separated by culture, and great distances, adoption and the love a mother has for her child. Li-yan’s mother for her, and Li-yan for her daughter, and her daughters adoptive mother’s love for her adopted daughter. A mothers love is strong and never ending.

Lets start the with the premise of the book. The book is about a girl named Li-yan and her family. They live in the tea mountains of China. They live a quiet life in their village away from the rest of the world. They are very much about traditions, traditions set long ago. The way Lisa See describes it all, the village, the forest, the tea, you can see it all. You can taste the tea, you can smell the tea. Lisa See paints such vivid pictures of Li-yan’s life you are left feeling as if you actually knew her and visited her. The way she goes into Li-yan’s family traditions, so much detail. I was left feeling like I had actually met all these people from the book, and was sad when I finished the book. Thats how you know a book is good- when despite the ending, you are sad its done.

But it was not the talented writing that drew me to this book and kept me reading, it was the story of adoption. If that makes sense. I was so invested in finding out what happened to Li-yan and her daughter.  It was being able to connect so strongly with two very different characters. I felt so many emotions reading this book. I could relate to two special characters on so many levels throughout this book.

From a birth moms, and mothers, point of view my heart broke for Li-yan during her pregnancy and as she gave her baby away, and all the days after that. From an adoptees point of view I could relate to her daughters story. I felt the struggle of both of them. I felt the heartache of both of them. I felt the longing of both of them. I couldn’t help buy think of my own story while reading this. When Lisa See describes Li-yan watching her daughter get taken away, I couldn’t help but remember the day I walked out of the hospital and watched someone else hand off my son to his new family. When she writes about Li-yan’s daughter returning to China for the first time I remember my first time going to the city where I was born. My own adoption is considered local, so I could not relate fully to the cultural differences that Li-yan’s daughter experienced. But I still felt her struggle and feelings.

Adoption is tricky to write and talk about. Not everyone is happy about it. Not everyone likes it. Not every one agrees with it. Yes this book was one of the best books I have read about adoption. Could parts have been improved on? That depends on who is reading it and their point of view on adoption. To me, the book was beautiful. The whole book, not just the adoption aspect of it. The background story, the detail, the other characters. The writing was fluid, the writing was beautiful.

This book left me wanting more. I actually spent some time researching China, tea making, adoption in China, the tea mountains in China, the history that Lisa See talked about in her book. I started this book strictly interested in the adoption story line in it and left loving every part of this book.

I will say the ending upset me! I won’t tell you what happened, as I don’t want to spoil it. But I could have kept on reading. I wanted to keep on reading. I needed more. I’m sure the author, Lisa See, left it that way so you could paint on your picture, write your own story. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to keep reading her story.

If you read this book, which I recommend you do, please share your thoughts and feelings of it with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on this book.

~ Michelle

*I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster, all thoughts are strictly my own. 

Adoption And The Holidays

Being a Birth Mom is never easy. It is not glamours. It never leaves you. It changes you forever. Your heart is forever missing a piece. Sometimes it is really hard. Sometimes it hits you like a brick wall. Sometimes you feel like you can’t breathe with the missing piece. Sometimes you feel like you are falling apart.

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I am a Birth Mom. My son was placed for adoption right at birth. His mom was at the hospital during my labour, heck, she even stood by my side while I pushed. I ended up in an emergency c-section and she was actually able to see him first and spend time with him before I was. They were always meant to be a family. I love my son. But he was always destined to be her son. But that doesn’t make it any easier. I miss him every day. I think about him every day. I always think “what if?!” Always. All my children are always on my mind, every day, every single day. I sometimes even set a place at the table for him. Its hard.

I am so incredible thankful that he does have the family he has. As much as I miss him, as much as my heart breaks, as much as I feel like I am missing out on everything, I also feel connected. My sons mother has always included me. Sent me photos, videos, visits, phone calls, FaceTime, anything that connects us. I am forever grateful.

Last week she went above and beyond. Although I am not sure she knows just how above and beyond it was. How much it truly meant to me. How much it completely broke my heart, shattered it, and yet made me feel whole all at once. This incredible woman, whom I love so deeply, sent me videos and pictures during his school Christmas concert. It was the most beautiful thing. She didn’t have to. She could have waited till it was over. She could have just told me about it. She could have just enjoyed it for herself. But she didn’t. She included me. She shared with me.

I sat there and cried, I cried sad tears, heartbroken tears, proud mom tears, happy tears, so many different emotions. I held my daughter as we watched together. She didn’t grasp just how important all of this was, but I sure did. It was a moment I will never forget. A moment I am forever thankful for.

I wasn’t able to physically be there, I hardly ever am, but I was and always am there in spirit. This made the connection for me even stronger.

Being a Birth Mom during the holidays is extra hard. When you are surrounded by family, and someone is still missing, a part of you is missing, your mind is always wondering what that person is doing, wishing you could be with them. This little action of her sharing with me made me feel so connected and complete during such a hard time.

It really is the small things that mean the most. Small acts that have the biggest impact.

~ Michelle

 

Talking To My Kids About Adoption

Something was brought to my attention and I felt the need to write this down. I am adopted, and I am a birth mom. There is no denying or hiding it. Its a major part of me. And really it is something I would never try to hide or deny. There is no shame in adoption, in being in any part of adoption. And there is also the  minor detail about having an adoption tattoo on my arm in plain sight that I show off proudly.

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Growing up I don’t remember any single moment that I was told I was adopted. It was a simple fact that I grew up with. When I placed my son for adoption I knew without a doubt that any future children I had would grow up knowing all about him. Fast forward 3 children later and they all know about him. My daughter is only 2, but she has spent every summer of her life with him, and sees him on FaceTime, and sees his pictures around the house. She may not understand, but she knows he’s her brother.

No, telling my children that they have an older sibling that was placed for adoption did not hurt them, or scar them in any way. No I did not tell them “too soon”. Well unless you mean I talked about their older brother even before they could talk, then sure, maybe it was “too soon” as they couldn’t talk about it and join in the conversation.

My children have grown up with the fact that they have an older brother. Being that my oldest son was placed into an open adoption. My oldest son was able to meet my 3 younger children all before they were 6 months old and been able to visit them every few years.

Adoption isn’t something to be hidden away, kept in secret, only talked about in dark corners in the middle of the night in whispers.

I am adopted. I am a birth mom. Why should my children grow up not knowing these things?

Yes, my children miss their older brother. Yes, I miss him. Yes, it hurts me to know they miss him. Yes, I have answered many, many, many questions over the years and will probably continue to do so. Yes it is hard, some days harder than others. Yes, we have all cried countless tears. Is it worth it? Yes. My children all know each other and get to grow up together and create their own special bond together. Seeing all four of my children together, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Adoption should be talked about. All the time. Adoption is not a bad thing. It is nothing to be ashamed about. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Adoption is all about love and family. Because of adoption my family has grown in numbers and love, a love that crosses the oceans.

Just as my kids grow up knowing that the sun rises and sets, they know that they have a brother who has another family and has his own life path to follow, but that he is still their brother no matter where he lives.

~ Michelle

The Aftermath Of Mother’s Day

It is the day after Mother’s Day, as I’m sure we all know. And this morning I find myself sitting here trying to sort through all the different emotions that were felt yesterday. It is almost as if I am in an emotional hangover. I felt so many different strong emotions yesterday, my head is feeling fuzzy this morning with it all.

First and foremost I feel incredible blessed that I am lucky enough to actually celebrate Mothers Day from the view point of a Mother. I had three beautiful children wake me up early yesterday. I kissed each of their little perfect little faces and cried a little bit. In that moment of pure joy I was lost in happiness, then it hit me. Like a brick wall. Like an atomic bomb going off. I sat there staring into the eyes of my 3 beautiful children, and missed my other two babies so much. My son I gave up for adoption was out there some where showering his mom in love on this special day, and my angel baby that I never got hold, I would love to believe is watching over us all. Two pieces of my heart were missing, and their absence grew throughout the day, each time I smiled I also cried on the inside. I broke a little more as the minutes passed yesterday.

My son that I gave up for adoption is so blessed. He has a mother that loves him so fiercely that DNA doesn’t matter. I know yesterday that he was loved and with his mother showering her in the love and attention she so deserves. His mom is truly an amazing, wonderful, empowering, beautiful soul. He is where he belongs with a mother that loves him. It does make the days easier knowing this. As my heart breaks, this knowledge slowly starts to cover up those cracks. Slowly, but never completely.

Yesterday, outside of my own little experience in motherhood, I felt so much pride. I was surrounded by so many strong woman yesterday. It was very empowering as I looked around the room. I saw my mom. My beautiful mother that has stood by my side through everything, supported me, encouraged me, loved me, her faith in me has never wavered. She taught me what a mothers unconditional love is like. If I become half the mother she has been to me, I will be incredibly lucky. In the room was also my 90 year old Grandmother. She is amazing. Words don’t even being to describe this amazing lady. She has 13 children, 30 grandchildren, over 50 great-grand children and 1 great-great-grandchild. I am just in awe of her. She has never forgotten anyones birthday, or anything. She has lived, and continues to live such an amazing life. I just can not even put into words how empowering and wonderful she is. And I can not forgot my aunt. A single mom of 2 girls that she adopted and a foster mom. She loves every child that comes into her home. And continues to open her home and heart up to more children when these kids are placed back with their families. She has so much strength. She such an amazing woman and mother. It is amazing to watch her in her journey of motherhood both as a mother and foster mom. Not to mention all the other moms that were in my house yesterday! I was surrounded by 7 amazing moms yesterday. I could go on and on about all of these beautiful people, but there is not enough time left in the world for that. It was really amazing to be able to celebrate all of these beautiful souls yesterday.

Out of all the moms I had the honour to be around yesterday, my own birth mother was no where in sight. She didn’t even speak to me yesterday. My journey to find my birth mother did not go how I had planned or expected, and our relationship was nothing I ever imagined. Her absence was missed, but it didn’t break me. I am so lucky that I have such an amazing mom that loves me. My birth mother gave me life, I love her for that, and I would love her for more if she let me, but our journey didn’t go that way. And thats ok. I have the best family a girl could ever dream for. My heart is full. I have been loved enough by my mom for the both of them.

Like I said before, I felt a lot of big emotions yesterday. Some good, some amazing, some down right hurtful, and some that broke me. But overall, after all was said and done, as I sit here today in the aftermath of emotions, watching my daughter destroy my living room, I feel love. Love for my children, all of my children, for my mom, for all the amazing moms in my life who have inspired me in one way or another.

It may be a day late, but Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there, step-moms, all the moms who have lost their babies, never got a chance to hold their babies, or are still struggling to have their babies, and to all the dads pulling double duty.

 

 

~ Michelle

Three Years After I Found My Birth Mother

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Roses my Birth Mother gave me the one and only time we met in person

3 years ago, yesterday actually, I found my birth mother. Or she found me? We found each other?

I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a cold winter day, I was about 10 years into my search, I had made a break through and actually finally found people that knew her, one problem, no one seemed to know where she was at that time. I was trying to clear all the stress and drama while I walked to school to pick up my boys. On the walk back home my phone rang, as soon as I saw the area code my heart stopped, it was the area code from where I believed my birth mother was. I tried to calm myself, telling myself it was probably just some numbers calling me back after I left messages. I took a deep breathe and answered the phone.

On the other end of the phone was a woman asking for me by my birth name. It was her. She was real. She was alive. She was actually on the other end talking to me.

I screamed.

Then I verified her information, made sure it was really her. It was real. It was really her.

I screamed again.

When I got home I didn’t want to attempt to get the boys in the house, since they would be so loud, so I sat outside in the cold. (If you know me, that is a BIG deal) I was outside for over an hour. We talked about everything, mostly just shooting off question to question at each other.

The first few days and weeks we talked all the time. There were good morning and good night text messages, phone calls, a constant string of texts, I had to re-charge my phone countless times during the day. I have never used my phone so much or talked on the phone so much.

The “honeymoon” stage was such a blur. So much information was exchanged, so many questions were asked, so, so, SO many feelings were running around. Then something happened. The phone calls stopped, the text messages slowed and stopped.

3 years later I sit here, trying to figure it all out. Trying to piece together what happened. Trying to figure out why. Why it went this way. Why this all happened. Did I do something wrong? Was I not good enough for her? Was I not what she imagined?

3 years later and she has become a stranger again.

In all the questions asked, I’m left with a million more.

I don’t know what will happen, I don’t even know what happened!

This whole journey has been such a strange, crazy, unpredictable, emotional, rollercoaster. Sometimes I can’t even tell which direction I should be facing.

Should I have found her? Yes. Did I ever imagine that something like this could happen? No. Would I change it? I don’t know. Because I don’t know what I should change. I don’t know where things went ‘wrong’ to lead me to this path. I don’t even know if this is the ‘wrong’ path!

What I can tell you is that I never dreamed it would be like this.

Growing up I had a million different scenarios in my head, none of them even close to this.

In an adoption everyone wants a happy ending. Most birth mothers hope that if and when their child comes back it will be happy. Most adoptive parents want it to go well because they don’t want to see their child hurt. Most adoptees just don’t want to be hurt, they want answers.

When I think of my adoption journey I almost feel like a failure. I was lucky to finally find my birth mother, I was lucky she wanted to find me. But some where, some how, something, maybe, went wrong. Or maybe this is just how it was meant to be. I don’t know.

I imagined that we would have some sort of relationship, friendship. I didn’t imagine I would meet her and lose her again. I never thought she would become a stranger. I never knew someone and a situation could cause such confusion, and bring on so many questions, and so many different feelings all at once.

I found my birth mom 3 years ago, and I have even more questions than when I started.

This journey has been so much harder and emotionally draining and confusing than I would have dreamed possible.

Maybe the next 3 years will bring some more answers. Maybe. If there are even any answers to be had.

~ Michelle