Silver Linings Necklace

I’ve been getting so many messages with questions about a new necklace I posted on my social media. So instead of replying individually again and again. I’m going to take this time just to write a post about it and share with all of you.

My adoption search, journey, whatever you want to call it, it hasn’t been easy. At times it defiantly didn’t feel worth it. At times I wished I had never even bothered with it. One time I even gave up with my search. I thought my searched ended 7 years ago. I closed that chapter and walked away from it.

In February everything changed. You can read about it Here and Here. Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind of a few months. I am still trying to process it all and wrap my head around it all. It’s truly been so surreal.

Just before my 35th birthday I can finally say that I truly do know my roots, where I come from, and who I look like. And can I just say I still find it completely weird and surreal to actually look like someone else? To see pieces of me in other people?! Its so weird, and so wonderful. I never realized that seeing people that look like you could bring you such comfort. Like I said, it’s weird.

These last few months have been so emotional on so many levels. I can’t even properly put it all into words. Everything happening at once, learning that the family I thought I was part of I wasn’t, trying to figure out where I belonged, doing a DNA test, meeting my bio Dad for the first time and then put into lockdown and isolation. It has all been a lot.

So, that brings us to my new necklace.

My silver lining. Get it, because its a silver bar necklace. I know, so clever, right?! So here’s what my necklace is and why I got it. Its a silver bar necklace with the date of the first time I met my bio Dad, and on the other side are the coordinates to where we first met. This entire lockdown has been stressful and emotionally draining all on its own, mix in not being able to see these amazing new people I just found out I’m connected to, and its been a whole new level of hell for me. So I got this necklace. This necklace holds several meanings to me. It’s my silver lining. That, even though my adoption search was complete shit, that it was so hard and ended so badly (or so I thought) that there is a silver lining to it all, I found him and his/my family. That even though I can’t see my bio Dad at least I got to meet him once before all this, and that means more to me than I can ever express. Its for the first time I met him and my whole world changed, the first time I felt like I belonged and felt complete. It’s my silver lining, knowing that I can’t see him now, but at least I know who he is (finally), and will be able to see him again. It represents and holds meaning for all the things I can’t put into words yet, all the things that have changed for me. That day was so much more than just simply meeting someone for the first time. Everything changed for me that day, I was effected in ways and changed in ways I never thought possible. And it all comes down to that day and that place.

Who would have thought one small necklace could mean so much? Pretty crazy, huh?

For the people messaging me and asking why, because I already got the adoption tattoo. I got my adoption tattoo long before I even found my birth mother, let alone my bio Dad. So yes, well he is automatically represented in my tattoo, I felt something else special needed to be done to recognize the date I met him and for everything else that changed for me. And honestly if the world was open I would have ended up with another tattoo, which I will probably still get at some point. But for now, I have my necklace.

So stay home, stay safe. Wash your hands. And hopefully soon we will be able to be with friends and family again.

~Michelle

Finding The Final Pieces

I think its safe to say my adoption search for my birth parents is finally over. 17 years after my search first started. 7 years after finding my birth mother, I finally know who my birth father is. For the first time, at age 34, I can finally answer the most basic questions, who’s your birth father and who do you look like.

See, two weeks ago shit hit the fan. You can read about that here.

The last two weeks are a blur. In two weeks everything changed. I lost the family I thought I had, and found a whole new one. I’m still trying to process it all. What it all means. All the new connections I have, all the new family members I have.

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My Adoption Tattoo

How can you even begin to process all this?

I know there are adoptees and birth parents and adoptive parents that read my blog and reach out to me. And how I wish I had some words of wisdom here. But the truth, I have no freakin idea what to do, how to process this, what the next steps should be, how to handle them.

I have so many conflicting emotions, all the feelings, its hard to sort them out and see clearly. I don’t know which to follow, which will subside, I don’t know what to embrace and what to let go.

Maybe if this journey had been spread out, and I had more time to deal with the feelings as they came on, instead of everything happening in one day.

In one day, everything changed. Then I had to wait two weeks for results from a paternity test. The longest two weeks ever. It was torture. I was talking to a stranger, spending hours every day talking to him, getting to know him, not knowing what the DNA test would say. I was mad at myself every day for getting attached to this person that could potentially turn out to have no connection to me. Then we got the results. We match. We are without a doubt Father and Daughter. And now here we are. Here I am, trying to process. Trying to figure out what I want and need, while considering everyone else. Yes this is my story, my journey, but it doesn’t just affect me. It affects my kids, my husband, my family, my birth father, his wife, his family. My circle just got so much bigger, and I want to take care of it, and do right by everyone.

Everyone keeps asking how I am. And I say fine, good, alright. Every answer, but the truth. Not because I’m lying, but because I don’t know. I honestly can not tell you how I feel. Part of me wants to run to these people, part of me wants to hide, part of me is happy, part of me is scared. So very scared. Scared something bad will happen. Even scared something good will happen. Figure that one out? If you do, let me know, because I can’t explain that one. You get the point. Every conflicting feeling, I have it right now.

The last time I found a birth parent, it didn’t go well. I thought I had all my answers. I thought I had all the dots connected. And I was ready to close the book on that chapter and leave it behind me. I basically did. I had walked away. I had gotten on with my life and came to terms with it. I was not prepared for all this. I never dreamed this was even a possibility.

And through out all of this, all I can think of is the damn song from Frozen 2: “Into The Unknown”. And also “When I am Older”. Because maybe one day this will all make sense and I will understand why things happened the way they did. Why I had to go through so much pain first. Why I had to wait till I was 34 for answers. Why it happened this way.

~ Michelle

I took a DNA test and found out that my adoption journey and search isn’t over yet 7 years after I thought I found my birth family.

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.

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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.

Michelle

End of the Decade

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.

~ Michelle

Things I wish we brought with us to Universal Studios

Planning a trip can take weeks, sometimes months. I like to plan a couple months in advance for trips, especially big trips, like going to Florida for a week. But sometimes you just have to go on random road trips. Like deciding Friday afternoon that you want to go to Florida for a week, and get a 5 day pass to Universal Studios, and leave Sunday morning at 4am to drive 24 hours straight there. Oh, and doing all that with 3 little kids.

I tend to over pack. Ask my husband, it drives him nuts. I’m the person that packs 20 pairs of underwear, 15 outfits, and 3 pairs of shoes, for a 1 week trip knowing full well I can do laundry there, and won’t even wear half of what I packed, and only actually use 1 pair of shoes. So when I had about 24 hours to pack for a family of 5 for 1 week in Florida, it was a bit crazy around here. And I forgot some stuff. Even with all my lists I made.

So here is what I wish I had brought with us. That in hindsight, may seem obvious.

1. Extra sunscreen. Especially a bottle to actually put in my backpack that I brought to Universal Studios with us every day.

2. Umbrellas, or better yet ponchos. It rains in Florida, a lot. One day when we were at Universal Studios, we got caught outside in a Tropical Storm! There was no shelter expect a patio umbrella with 8 other people under it. In the middle of a Tropical Storm. A storm that lasted 30 minutes, soaked us all, and knocked down palm trees. Oh and I should mention that my daughter is scared of storms. Not out greatest moment.

3. Fan water bottles. I have two at home. I got them for like $4 each. But I forgot them at home. They would have been super awesome to have in the Florida heat walking around an amusement park all day. And yes the do sell some at Universal. But they were smaller, and the ones I saw were $15. I seriously could not justify buying them. We made do with ice cream and lots of slushes.

4. Stroller. Yes my daughter is 5. So let’s hear it mommy shamers. No my kid doesn’t use a stroller on a regular basis. But spending all day, every day for 5 days, at Universal Studios, in that heat, chasing after her big brothers, a stroller was nice to have. Plus I could hang bags on it. So yes, I did give in and bought one of those cheap little ones from a department store. When the cost of one of those was the same as renting a stroller for 1 day from Universal, it made sense to buy one. We found her a cute one with a canopy and a basket underneath. Perfect for holding extra bottles of water, and putting bags on.

5. A hat and sunglasses. I managed to pack a hat for everyone else in the family, but me. And I managed to pack all the sunglasses, expect for my 13 year old. Not my finest moment.

6. Extra hand sanitizer. I love those pocket size ones, but they can be lost easily. It would have been really nice if I had thrown in the extra one like I had debated about before leaving the house.

7. Bathing Suit. We didn’t actually go to the water park, but there is a splash pad and water play area in one of the kids areas. I did pack extra clothes, so that was good. I just never thought to throw in a bathing suit.

8. Change. Pennies and quarters. My daughter kept finding those machines that you put a penny in and and some quarters and you get some thing with a design on it out of the machine. I can’t for the life of me think of what they are called at the moment.

9. Portable charger for my phone. Between taking pictures, videos, using the Universal Studios app, sending pictures to grand parents, my battery took a hit each day.

10. Wipes/ Hand wipes. For messy faces and hands covered in melted ice cream and chocolate. So much easier than having to take them into a crowded bathroom.

 

Having listed all the things I forgot, you would think I was horrible at packing, have no idea what I was doing, and that we didn’t have a great time. But none of that is true. We had an amazing time. And I do know how to pack. I just was very forgetful this time on such short notice for a trip!

So hopefully this list will help you, and me, next time!

~ Michelle

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

Why I Consider Myself an Overland

Why do I consider myself an Overlander?

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Ever since I got my drivers license, I’ve been on the road travelling as much as I physically could. I love talking long drives, finding roads less travelled and seeing where they take me. I love the outdoors; camping, fishing, hiking & outdoor photography. The most basic definition of Overlanding is self reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the goal & my hobbies fit right in with this.
I may not be tackling tough trails that haven’t seen travel in decades, bushwhacking my way from point A to B, nor crossing many country borders but I am out there, enjoying the drive and places/people I meet along the way. Also, it is a pretty cool way of teaching your kids all of the things that they don’t learn while stuck within 4 walls at school everyday. It’s cool to watch those ‘lucky’ ones on YouTube that can Overland full-time (as they’ve found a niche way to fund their journey while on the road) and dream of exotic locations with super-cool rigs loaded with the latest gear and gadgets, you have to remember that you don’t need any of that to hit the road and explore.
Use what you have, improvise with what you’ve got and slowly build out as you go. It doesn’t take much other than some very basic camping gear and a reliable vehicle to drive.

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Jason