Adoption Awareness

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month and November 15th is World Adoption day.

This is the month where awareness is brought to the fact that there are so many orphans around the world, many families may be hesitant about adoption and it may still be something that many would never consider. Each adoption story is unique and different, just like any birth story and there is no right or wrong way to do things.

A – Adoption

Was adoption something we wanted from the beginning. If I’m honest? No, not really. It’s something we had spoken about and loved the idea of adoption but we always wanted our “own” children. Perhaps if we had our “own” children first, we might look at the possibility of adopting after that. As we all realise at some point in our lives, life doesn’t always go according to “plan” and having our “own” kids was harder than we thought and just didn’t happen. If I could go back and change things would? Absolutely not!!

D – Decision

The decision to pursue adoption was really not an easy one for us. We contacted more people and organisations than we can remember. We met with social workers who made adoption seem like it was something that was not achievable. We had our whole life exposed to strangers – our finances, details of our marriage and relationship, our home was scrutinised to assess whether it was a place in which a child could be placed. Were there time where we were in tears and wanted to throw in the towel? Oh yes!! Many times!!

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O – Open vs Closed adoption

Many people have asked whether we have an open or closed adoption. We personally have a closed adoption in which we have no contact with our children’s birth parents. This is a personal decision and is not a “one-size-fits-all”. Many people choose to have an open adoption where they are in contact with the birth parents – whether that be directly or indirectly and they have an amazing relationship. It all depends on the people involved and the specifics of the adoption.

P – Patience

The word “patience” came to mind as this is something we had to practise on a daily basis when we were waiting for Maddi’s adoption to be finalised. The paperwork, court dates, potential delays in the system… all you want and dream of is that day when you are told that the adoption order has been granted and no one can take your child away from you.

T – Tell

Many people ask us whether we will talk to Maddi (and our newest addition coming SOON), about them being adopted and the answer is a resounding YES! Besides the fact that they will realise one day that we don’t look the same, it is important to be open and honest with them about where they came from, their heritage and how much they were wanted. Obviously what is told at certain times is something that would be age appropriate. The earlier they know they are adopted the better. There is no “lets sit down and tell you that you are adopted” but more just a knowing, and make it part of conversation as questions come up at different times through the years. Books are a great way to introduce the topic of adoption to young children and we have many books containing the theme of adoption and read these to Maddi regularly.

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I – Important

I always want my children to know how important they are to us and our family. There is a strong theme of “rejection” that is often associated with adoption but I see adoption in a very different light. Parent who adopt are very intentional about their decision to adopt. They make a decision to have their lives turned upside down and have someone else deem them ‘fit’ to be parents. In actual fact, children who are adopted are more than wanted, and I want my children to know that above everything!

O – Opinions

I know that many people have opinions on adoption and what the “best” thing to do is, but just as parents who have their biological kids don’t have it right all the time, neither do parents who have adopted. Besides navigating our way around just being a parent, we have the additional aspect of the adoption that comes into play. This might be more evident when our children become teenagers and try to discover who they are and who they identify with. We all need support and encouragement regardless. It definitely takes a village to raise a child.

N – Not change a single thing

Would I want to go back and change things? I would go back and change the heartache and devastation we felt with each baby that we lost. But I would absolutely not change the lessons I learnt and the person I became because of it. If I hadn’t got to a point where I was ready to look at other ways to be a parent, I would not have the most precious little girl and (soon-to-be son). I can’t imagine life without her and I never want to take being her mom for granted.

 

18 Months

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So our little Maddi Moo is 18 Months today! It still blows my mind that 18 months ago I had no idea that this precious little girl breathed her first breath. Oh how I wish I could have been there to witness that amazing day!

There is an aspect of the adoption that Mike and I didn’t realise we would have to navigate our way around as much as we do, and that is the fact that our adoption is cross-cultural. It has nothing to do with the fact that it changes the way we feel towards Maddi at all – quite the contrary. I have found myself asking Mike if she really looks Chinese because I just don’t see it. I don’t see the differences but we have had to navigate our way around how other people react to it. Mostly strangers. But it has caught me by surprise.

Most of the times peoples comments or stares are humorous and I can see the humorous side of it. Other times, it really hits a nerve and it takes a while for me to unpack and deal with it. My biggest fear are the comments people might say when Maddi is old enough to understand. I just pray that we have the wisdom that when and if they come, we can deal with them together.

Just recently we were in South Africa on holiday. Adoption has definitely become more common and I have a lot of friends who have adopted there. More often than not the adoption is also cross-cultural, and I wonder how many of my friends also experience looks and comments that can be rather insensitive at times.

Obviously, with us going back there, it was strange for people to see a couple with a Chinese baby – as that is not typically the norm at all. I can definitely appreciate the peoples curiosity. However, I could totally write a book on just the comments alone that I have received from people. (not just in South Africa but here in Singapore too.)

Towards the end of our stay I got a comment from a  waitress at a restaurant we were at and I couldn’t shake it off until I realised why is stuck with me (in a good way). She looked at Maddi and said “Oh you are so cute” then looked at me and asked “where is she from?” Now, I know you might be thinking whats so important / different about that…. well for the first time I didn’t have someone ask “Is this YOUR baby”? “Have you adopted?” By her simple question of “Where is she from” she skipped past the whole “Maddi-is-adopted” part and simply asked where she was from. She didn’t question if she was MINE, or if we had adopted her.

For the 2 weeks prior to this I had been inundated with comments from people. One guy at a checkout counter next to me, asked if she was adopted. After I replied yes, he asked where we adopted her from. His response was “well done!” Well done?? Well done??

Another lady at a checkout counter asked if madd was OUR baby and then actually couldn’t believe it when we said yes…. “seriaaaass?? Seriaaaass”? was her response followed by the fact that she can’t believe she is our baby. Back in Singapore, while unpacking our groceries from the trolley, we were asked “Did you buy from China?” At first I thought she was referring to the apples I had just unpacked (because yes they are actually from China and are very delicious), but no, she was talking about my daughter!! 😦

There are days where I just want to be a normal mom. A mom who has her daughter cry in the shop while standing next to her and not have a lady come up to Maddi and ask if she has lost her mommy…. (true story), to not feel like I’m being judged at all times when I’m out with Maddi (some people can stare holes through us).

It has made me more aware of others around us who are different. I know curiosity causes us to stare sometimes but its not for us to make judgements or try wonder “whats the story there…”

I am just a mom who has an immense love for a little girl who was born to another mother, but yet she calls ME mommy!

Connections

 

Last week we had a family photo shoot – something I never thought we would ever have but always dreamed of. I was somewhat aware that when we met our photographer she would “know” that Maddi was adopted.

Often when people look at family photos, people would notice the similarities in physical characteristics between the parents and children or siblings. I found myself feeling very self-conscious that we didn’t look the same.

However, when I saw the photos, the one thing that stood out for me was the love that we all had for each other. I could absolutely see it in the photos. I saw a happy, 14 month old girl who loves her mommy and daddy. We definitely feel the same on the inside!

When I sit in our rocking chair and give Maddi her bottle at night, we sit together in the half dark and have a special cuddle and stillness together. While she sucks away she looks up at me and I see such a strong resemblance between her and her birth mother.

Maddi looks exactly like the picture I have of her birth mother.

She is beautiful!

My mind still grapples to understand that someone else gave birth to my daughter – but yet I feel SO incredibly and absolutely connected to Maddi – as if she is 100% my flesh and blood.

Thats the incredible beauty of adoption!

Yesterday we celebrated with some very very special friends who went through the same agency as us. The adoption of their daughter was finalised this week!!! They have journeyed a long road so it was great to walk around to their house with a big bottle of bubbly and CELEBRATE!!

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The call that changed everything…

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52 weeks ago our lives changed forever!

Friday the 6th of February 2015 started out as any ordinary day ….. until 2:45pm when I got THE call.

THE call to say that there was a 10 day old baby girl for us.

I needed to talk to Mike after school and we had to let the agency know what our answer was as soon as possible. Well, trying to wait until the end of the school day was near impossible.

As one can imagine, the conversation on the drive home was unlike any other…! There was a baby girl for us! For US!! This could be OUR little girl that we had been waiting for. Our hearts were leaping saying a gigantic YES. Logistics and finances were saying: now hold on a bit!!

Our hearts won!

After calling the agency back with our answer, he said that he would meet with us that very evening to go through the procedures etc with us.

In an hour, our house has NEVER looked as neat and tidy as it did on that night! What must I wear? What should prospective parents wear? What should our house look like? Should we pull out our happy wedding pictures? Family pictures? Have the smell of banana bread baking in the oven?

Shortly before they arrived I got a message to say they would be bringing the baby with them. My heart could hardly contain itself – was I about to meet my daughter?

After what seemed like an eternity, there was a knock on the door and in came our visitors. The one last was carrying the most beautiful little Chinese baby burrito that I had ever seen. She looked like a porcelain doll and I desperately wanted to just grab her and stare and hold her but Mike had warned me not to – not until we had a serious talk about logistics and finances.

After what seemed like an eternity, our conversations drew to an end and I asked if we could hold her. I went on over and held her in my arms and just thought she was THE most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I gave her to Mike who looked at her, looked at me and said in Afrikaans “Is dit ons dogter? Is dit onse Madison”? (Is this our daughter? Is this our Madison?)

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We both knew in that moment that she was! She was ours and we needed to do everything in our power, to pull together all our financial resources to make it happen!

That was the night our lives changed forever!

 

Dear Birth Mom…

imageDear Birth Mom,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you but we will be forever connected through a little girl we now call, Madison Grace.

I have thought of you so often this past year- often trying to put myself in your shoes and try wonder how you are feeling. I can imagine you are thinking of the little girl you said goodbye to a year ago – especially this week as she turns 1.

I don’t know the situation and events that led up to your decision but I’m sure it was difficult. I’m sure there were times you longed to just see her or hold her. I’m sure there are times you wonder what she looks like, what type of personality is emerging.

After seeing a small picture of you, I can see that Madison has some of your beautiful features.

I don’t know if we will ever meet but in an ideal world, if we did, I would put my arms around you and say THANK YOU!! The little girl you carried for 9 months is our answer to prayer.

An answer to years of prayers. And we couldn’t imagine a more precious and perfect girl than Madison.

So on her 1st birthday I am thinking of you too and the sacrifice you made.

THANK YOU!!

Love Madison’s Mummy

xxx

 

 

Maddi in the making…

Today was a big day!

Today I met with our adoption agency and collected the final papers in our adoption.

Amongst those papers were 8 scan images of Maddi when she was growing in her “tummy-mummy’s” belly. Well, the tears just flowed when I saw those pics – for 2 reasons.

The first being that I want Maddi to know that her story started even before she joined our family. She had a “tummy-mummy” who carried her for 9 months and that she is “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Even in that secret place, God knew her and had plans for her life. I never want her to forget that! In her adoption book that I am making, I left out a few pages at the beginning, specifically for these scan pictures. Her story started at the beginning like every other baby and she is our miracle baby.

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This pic was probably taken at about 6 weeks or so. (It doesn’t have the Gestational Age on it)

The second reason the scan images brought tears to my eyes was that for years I longed to see pics like that of my baby. None of my pregnancies got to a viable stage. There were times when I had a great scan with a growing baby, but ironically, it was those appointments where my doc had run out of paper in her machine, so we left empty handed. Finally, I DO have scan pics of MY baby. She may not have grown in my tummy. My tummy might not have been her safe home for the first 9 months but she is MINE and now I have her scan images.

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Maddi at 20 weeks.

And to her “tummy-mummy”…. I am forever grateful!

Grateful that she gave us our miracle baby that we had been praying for for SO long!

Grateful that she chose LIFE!

Reversed Pregnancy

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I have often likened our adoption journey to a pregnancy in reverse: We first got the baby and then went through “the process”.

Ironically, Maddi will be 9 months old tomorrow and we are in the final stages of the adoption process. I am feeling exactly how I imagine a pregnant woman who is at her due date to feel: frustrated, uncomfortable, anxious, emotional, sleepless nights and “over being pregnant”.

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Each big ‘milestone’ in our adoption process has felt like a ‘milestone’ for a pregnant women. In one of my previous posts, I likened our court date to the point in a pregnancy here the baby becomes viable – surprisingly, that point came at about 26 weeks into our process, which is when a baby is officially known as being viable and would be able to survive outside the womb. That specific court date was a huge milestone for us – one where we breathed a big sigh of relief at the thought of getting to that point.

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I know we are in the final stages now and I’m excited for that day – I think of how much ‘lighter’ I will feel knowing that Maddi is wholly ours. Yes, she has been ours physically, emotionally and spiritually from the beginning but for her to be legally ours, will complete our process.

Just like a pregnant women giving birth and her child, who is now physically with them, completes that process.

I feel frustrated, emotional and anxious – not physically, but emotionally and I just want this ‘process’ to be complete.

She IS the child we prayed for, for SO many years!

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