Harper’s new adventures

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Within the last 3 weeks, Harper has flown on an airplane to visit a friend in Chicago, started swim lessons, and started Flance Early Education Center full-time. All of these are firsts for him and he has been handling everything very well. Starting Flance had its rough times for Harper emotionally and attachment-wise, but nothing out of the ordinary for an 18 month old.

Flance Early Learning Center is a pretty amazing school. They are only 3 weeks old, and I’ve already grown such an attachment to the staff. The director, Beth, is one-in-a-million! I wanted to share not only the link to this great early education center in case any of you mommas are looking, but a picture from Harper’s first day and his first painting.

www.flancecenter.org

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Harper is such an awesome kid. He challenges me and teaches me something every day. I have learned great patience being a mom, how I would do anything for my child in a way I have never felt before, and just how in love with someone, other than my husband (lol), I can be. As Harper gets older, his little personality is flourishing. His vocabulary is huge and is ability to communicate has improved. I cannot wait to share more of Harper’s firsts and growths with you all. Speaking of growth, he is 33% in weight and 81% in height. My long and lean boy!

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16 months…

Can you believe Harper is now 16 months old?! What an amazing and challenging experience the last 16 months have been. He is such a cool kid with lots of personality and determination! He is always willing to give a hug or share and he will always express how he feels in one way or another…whether it be frustration or joy.

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Being a family of three feels much more normal for us now. What a transition it was to go from being with one other person for so many years to three people over night. It was pretty drastic, but I am so proud how we have made it work and have genuine, unconditional love for one another. Harper is easy to love though, that is for sure.

Being a mom has changed me in so many ways, though I still feel like the same person, my priorities have definitely shifted and I am thinking about and doing things I never imagines and loving it! It is a very specific transition that has happened inside of me from thinking of myself to thinking of Harper first and foremost, as well as, Jason of course, but there is something different when it comes to being a mom.

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I am so excited to watch him grow and see him learn. Seeing him experience things for the first time is really fun to watch. Harper will be starting an Early Education Center in June that is opening that month here in St. Louis. It is an amazing center called, Flance. This is going to be such an amazing opportunity for Harper and will help him develop socially and intellectually on so many levels. Jason, Harper, and I toured the new facility (designed by Trivers Architectual Firm) with the executive director for over an hour. The center has many great attributes, but I am very excited about the community garden the kids take part in planting and harvesting. I believe this skill will teach the kids empathy and give them an understanding of what it is like to take care of something outside of themselves and reap the benefits of watching that something flourish. 

http://www.flancecenter.org/

Fun times are on there way for Harper and I will be sure to keep you all posted!

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Dear Mom of an Adopted Child…by Kathy Lynn Harris

I ran across this writing again and had to share it. It was written by Kathy Lynn Harris and is an amazing piece of writing.

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Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.

I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.

I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.

I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.


Inspiring Quotes and Harper’s 1st haircut!

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! As part of the celebration and education, Adoptive Families magazine/website published these great quotes…

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Harper had an exciting day today, getting his very 1st haircut. We took the recommendation of a friend and took him to Dimensions Salon in downtown STL. A very kind woman, Chandra gave Harper his haircut. We plan on visiting her again in the future. He looks too cute for words!

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Our Big Day!

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October 16, 2013 is the day my family became “legally” whole. On this day, Jason, Harper, and myself became a forever family. Such a special day for us to celebrate our time together thus far and our future as a family of three.

 

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The day started by arriving at the Family Court building and proceeding to wait while our attorney, our social worker, and Harper’s attorney arrived. We spent most of this time taking pictures, which we later found out we were not supposed to be doing in the building… lol.  We, along with a couple of other families, found ourselves waiting in a room full of children’s toys. Harper had a good time watching other kids and playing with his Aunt Emma. We were the second family to finalize this day. Once it was our turn, we proceeded into the court room. Jason, Harper, myself, our attorney, Harper’s attorney, and our social worker all sat at a large table facing the judge. Both grandmas, one grandpa, and Aunt Emma sat behind us. Our attorney asked us questions based on our desire to legally adopt Harper. After the questioning of both of us and the social worker, the judge declared our adoption final! This whole process lasted about 15 minutes or so. We will know be issued Harper’s birth certificate, which will take 2-3 months to receive. Harper will also receive a social security number. Up until this point, he has only had a tax id number. After the hearing, we took pictures and headed to brunch to celebrate our finalization.

 

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I honestly cannot believe that my son is about to be 1 year old. This has been such a crazy, exciting, stressful, overwhelming, and totally worth it journey. Jason and I are nervous, excited, and beyond happy for our journey to continue. Parenting has changed us in ways we never knew were possible and we could not have wished for it any other way. We will keep posting our journey, whether it be hardships or happiness. I love sharing our experiences and helping others who may have a similar family situation. We are all in this together!

Post-Placement Complete!… and Positive Adoption Language

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This last Thursday was our final post-placement visit by our social worker. The post-placement supervision is a 6-month long process. Our supervision started when Harper was around 2 months old. We now have to wait a couple more months for our finalization court date of October 16th. One interesting fact we learned recently is that not only do we have an attorney, which we hired months ago, but Harper has a state appointed attorney to represent him at our hearing. We feel no doubt that Harper is our son, but it brought home the reality of our situation of adoption at this last post-placement visit during our discussion of the upcoming finalization hearing. At this hearing, Harper will receive a birth certificate with the name we have given him listed, as well as, Jason and I listed as his parents. This will be such an amazing finale’ to this part of our adoption journey. We are ready to move forward to the next phase!

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I have been wanting to post this for a while now, as I find it extremely important. I would not have known the “positive adoption language” prior to going through the adoption process. I do, however, feel it is something we should all be aware of in order to be sensitive and intelligent regarding how we address families formed by adoption. As I have read and completely agree with, “The way we talk and the words we choose say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say adoption is a way to build a family just as birth is. Both are important, but one is not more important than the other.”

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Positive Adoption Language vs Negative Adoption Language:

Birthparent vs Real parent or Mother /Father

Biological parent vs Natural parent

Parent vs Adoptive parent

My child vs My adopted child

Child from abroad vs Foreign child

Was adopted vs Is adopted

Make an adoption plan or choose adoption vs Give up, give away surrender, relinquish, or place the child

To parent vs To keep

Making contact with vs Reunion

Terminate parental rights vs Give up

Court termination vs Child taken away

The adoption vs The placement

Search or locate vs Track down parents

It is necessary to use appropriate language and to gently correct those who do not. You will begin to notice that others will begin to use and copy the terms that you use. By using the above positive adoption language, we educate others about adoption.

“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”-Socrates

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While I was at work a couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers regarding whether or not she believed Trayvon Martin had been racially profiled by George Zimmerman. I respect this particular person’s opinion, as she was a foster mom for years to an African American boy. I was approaching this discussion as a concerned mother for my son’s future. As she and I were beginning our conversation, another co-worker chimes in quite loudly with her point of view and takes the stage. She informed us that we were wrong if we thought there had been racial profiling in the Trayvon Martin case and that this type of mindset is what is perpetuating “racism”, which she does not believe truly exists. She continued by stating that we are living in a world of reverse racism  and white people are scared to say anything to a black person for fear that it will be seen as racist. She strongly feels that race should not be an issue and that we should not place so much emphasis on it.

Then, she took her comments to a very personal level. She told me that there is no reason to raise my son as my “black son” and that I should be raising him as just my son. Different cultures, in her opinion, do not really exist. She used her ethnicity of being Polish as an example by saying how her mother did not force her to learn how to cook Polish food. I stated that I wanted to embrace my son’s culture and empower both of us with education. Her next comment of, “you don’t buy a book on how to raise a black child,” caught me off guard. Yes, I have bought many books on transracial parenting and adoption. These books are continued means of education for myself while living my new life as a multi-cultural family. I want to read about other people’s experiences and learnings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, if I was not doing this, I believe I would be doing a disservice to both my son and myself. I could not believe she made that comment and continued on the way she did about my ability to properly raise my son without causing him a complex for being black. She ended her rant by printing out the following article for me and by telling me that her black friend in Texas feels the same way as her…since I guess all black people must feel the same way, right?!

http://bondaction.org/content/article/37076/Black%20Racism%20Killed%20Trayvon%20…

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After this “conversation,” I felt upset as you may imagine and had to compose myself so I could get on with my work day. I felt as though I had been attacked and violated on a very personal level. My parenting of my son and my multi-cultural family unit had been racially attacked. I am still very bothered by this situation and have yet to do anything about it. I do feel that I need to talk to this person, as I see her on a very regular basis at  work. She may not change her mind or be cured of her ignorance and naivety, but at least I can speak my mind and let her know that her comments were not appreciated and were completely out of line.

I am reading a great book right now, Come Rain or Come Shine, by Rachel Garlinghouse. She provides a list of “Things I often hear white people say” that I would like to share with you.

 “Race doesn’t matter.”

“I am colorblind. I couldn’t care less if someone is white, black, purple, or green.”

“I’m not racist. I have a friend who is black.”

“Why is there a black history month? Shouldn’t there be a white history month?”

“Why is it ok for a black person to call another black person a nigger?”

“Talking about skin color puts too much emphasis on race.”

“I don’t understand why everyone says that President Obama is our first black president. He is white and black.”

“The world is a melting pot.”

“I’m so tired of people playing the race card. Slavery and civil rights times are over. It’s time for them to take responsibility for their actions.”

“Don’t worry about teaching your kids about race. They are too young to understand or care. And by the time they are older, racism will be a thing of the past.”

A book that Garlinghouse suggests reading, which I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on is, “In Their Own Voices:
Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories” by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Rhoorda. These authors interviewed many transracial adoptees and find that the vast majority of them feel hurt by their parents’ lack of education and lack of incorporation of their black culture into their families. Maybe my co-worker should read this book.

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