Friday, May 27, 2011

The fantastic Seven

As I am sitting here with my mind rolling, so excited for Disney I could jump up and down. I can't help but to think about where we have come from to get to this point of celebration. This brings me to my official "blog thought" for tonight. Aidric. Dillon. justin. Ace. This boy has had a few names in the past two years. Aidric is the official one. his mom and I recently talked about Disney world while our girls danced ballet in front of us. She told me about a hotel near Disney that has handicap accessible pools and everything available for a family like theirs. I wish I could find a way to help them get there!! I am not sure if I have talked about Aidric's family before, but now I am inclined to do so.
When you see his parents they look like nice normal, young people. But, they are so much more than that! His parents are quite a few years younger than T.J. and I. They have chosen a life like no one else I have ever met and they embrace every second of it. I have yet to tell one person about them without hearing, I could never do that. Yet, they do that! They have 5 children all 3 and under. Three of them are adopted and 2 are waiting for finalization. (fingers crossed on one).

To start to tell their story I will start of with Elijah. When he was born he was deprived of oxygen for too long. His birth mother knew that she could not care for him. When Elijah was just an infant his parents stepped in to care for him. He has most every need I have been aware of, a trach, a g-tube, a wheel chair, he has seizures, he is non verbal, he is immobile, yet if you hear his parents talk about him, see his parents care for him, watch how he is able to live life, you would not know. He has been taken from a life where he probably would have sat in a group home and he was the first child of a couple in their early twenties. A couple who chose this child to love. Elijah is now 3 years old. This is longer than they ever told his parents he would live. Every time he opens his eyes, arches his back or moves a little further out of his chair it is a moment that they weren't promised. He has not only opened my heart, but he has shown my children that all kids are the same. He is just Elijah to them, chair and all!

Next I will talk about Kimora. I could go on forever about her. She is smart, sweet, kind, funny, and she always calls me "Sarah Caito". "Sarah Caito, am I coming to your house". I love to hear her sweet voice. In the past 2 years she has become one of Anna's closest friends. How God has brought our families together still amazes me. Kimora is 3 like her brother. She is a beautiful little girl and a joy to be around. Her birth familiy had many problems and she went into foster care at the age of 14 months....with her parents. Her adoption was finalized shortly after we met her and we couldn't be happier for her. She is thriving in a wonderful home and I am so excited to see who she turns out to be.

Now onto Aidric, the whole reason why we even know about this wonderful family! Aidric was our foster son. We brought him home from the NICU, gave him his first bath, we were his first family. When we found out about the extent of his medical needs we were heartbroken. We knew we would not be the best place for him and I literally handed him up to God and prayed he knew what was best for him. I can honestly say this prayer was answered completely . The first time I met his parents I felt it. The first time his mom held him and looked into his eyes I knew it. He is where he was meant to be all along. It just so happened when he was originally placed his family couldn't have taken him. I think that was all a part of the plan. He was officially adopted last fall and he continues to amaze me. He has even stumped his kidney doctors with his kidney function. He is doing so well and is a smart little man. He is a momma's boy as well, which is so neat to see his bond with his mother. Even better, I still get to be a part of his life! Anna is and Wyatt as well. This little extended family we have created is more than I would have ever imagined our relationship could have been.

Gideon is next. I am pretty sure there has never been a sweeter baby. He has many significant needs as his older brother. A feeding tube, numerous corrective surgeries and Pierre Robin syndrome. He is thriving as well though. He just turned 1 in March and he is crawling, babbling, smiling and is so snuggliy. His future is still up in the air. I keep praying the God and the powers that be realize that he is in the best place that he could be and his adoption comes quickly.

The newest addition to the family is Manny. The spitfire! He is almost 3 and his story is a long one. He was born with multiple defects. This included heart defects that were fixed by two heart surgeries. His dad told me he spent 16 months in a hospital strapped to a bed because he could not move in fear of his heart. He is also deaf, has a feeding tube and a few other things. He is a beautiful little boy. Sweet and active, scared out of his mind of dogs! He has played and interacted with everyone from the moment we met him. There was a long process for him to become a part of his family. Many other families wanted him. But, in the end he is where he too belongs! His adoption will be finalized in October.

So, that makes the fantastic 7. A family made up of different races, colors, creeds, needs and nothing is ever seen but love. I have learned so much about love from this family and each of these children. I am so happy that my kids will grow up learning this love as well. I hear so many negative things about foster care and Domestic adoption. This is a story that should inspire. This is a story worth sharing. This is only a small part of it. Maybe someday I can talk them into writing a book. I know I would read it in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

poems from the past

When my sister in law was pregnant with my niece, and my nephew was only 2, my other niece only 8....the unthinkable happened. My brother in law passed away. That October day in 2005 their entire lives changed. My sister in law was 5 months into a pregnancy, carrying the baby of a man who was now gone. Raising children who did not understand, unable to explain anything, because she did not understand either. It may seem odd that I am sharing this story now. I think of Doug often, especially as his children grow each year without him here. Today I was trying to find a document and I came across this poem. I wrote it on the Anniversary of his Death. I wish there was a way I could take away the pain that his family feels each day. I wish I could bring back the father and the husband that left too soon. I can't do that, but I can help to keep his memory alive with a poem and a prayer. So today, this is what I am doing.

Life goes forward
until we reach today
then time has stood still
memories have stayed
four years without you
four years of laughter
four years of pain
four years to watch our children grow
the pain still remains
each passing moment
each passing day
the love
the anger
the sorrow
so many feelings
the same
so many things have happened
life seems to go on
but today will always be the day
when a big part of life was gone

Monday, May 23, 2011

God has another little angel...

A few months ago a friend of mine asked me if I could contact a friend of hers. They had just had their ultrasound and their diagnosis. Their son had Encephalocele. This is a neural tube defect, similar to Anencephaly where the skull does not close completely. The baby's brain usually forms on the outside in a sac. Sometimes this can be a liveable condition. There is a much higher chance of survival for days, hours, months, even years with Encephalocele than there is with Anencephaly. Still, their doctor told them about inducing, about how their child would die and that they could have the baby then. They knew right away that they would carry their son as long as they could. Last night, little Korbin was born. He lived for one hour before he went to be with God. It is amazing how this little man's brief life brings such a rush of emotions to me. It is about impossible not to put myself back into her shoes, the shoes I stood in two years ago. As I think of his mother leaving the hospital it makes me so sad. Knowing the pain of leaving in that stupid wheelchair, empty arms, broken hearted, wondering where to go from here. Planning funerals, burying your baby. I know what is ahead for her, maybe that is why it breaks my heart a little each time I think of her. I understand how it will feel when her sister has her baby shortly after Korbin. I know how it feels to watch that child grow and wonder how it would be to see them play with your child who has passed away. I know she will survive and I am pretty sure she will be a different person than she was two days ago. Certain things in life change you. Having a child changes you forever, losing a child changes you even more. As I reflect back on the past two years I think back to the times it hurt the most. Due dates, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. Otherwise happy events in the life before death. I pray she and her family find a little peace today and in the days that follow. I know Korbin has already found a couple of friends to play with and that he is well cared for in the hands of God. It is those who he has left on Earth that have to heal. I know that the little girl God sent before Korbin will be the greatest part of their healing. A reason to wake each morning and a reason to smile. Please send a little prayer up for the Soldano Family today. For Peace and for Strength and for a few good memories that last forever.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Other peoples lives....

I follow pretty many blogs at this point. It all started when my cousins adopted their daughter, Suzanne, from China. She had started a blog about their Journey and I started reading. From her page I found so many blogs about families who have adopted from China. Some have brought home 5, 6, even 7 or 8 children and are awaiting more. Most of them having some kind of special need. There are a few of these blogs, and therefore these families, that I have followed for months. You get kind of attached as you read the emotions of the parents who share their worlds online.
Last week I opened the blog I follow closely and saw terrible news. This family, who recently got the paperwork to help them get closer to the 2 daughters who awaited them in China, had found out one of the children had died.
She had a heart defect, she needed surgery and they were aware of that. They planned on bringing her home and helping her. Fixing her heart, nursing her back to health and making her a part of their family. They had known about this child, Esther, for months. They had named her, they had pictures of her, she was already a part of their family. Now without ever having the chance to hold her,to touch her, she is gone.
As I read this blog and I learn about her grief I realize how similar it is to losing a child that you are carrying inside of you. Much of adoption is like waiting to "have" your baby. You find out who your children will be long before they are actually yours. I can't help but wonder what kind of grief this woman is going through. She has a lost a child, yet the child was not legally hers to lose. I am so glad for her that she keeps this blog that she does. That she has so many people who know and understand the love she has for Esther. The loss she feels. Grief comes in so many forms. Losing a child is something that changes you forever. When you are pregnant and you lose a baby, especially far along, when you know their name and you have an ultrasound picture and you have shared all of your news, people can grieve with you. I can only hope that everyone who surrounds this mother treats her the same way. I know she has received a few things to help her physically remember Esther. This is my way of letting her know I care. I have lost a baby early on, I have lost a baby mid pregnancy, I have had a baby who was born still and I have awaited a child through adoption. With all of these put together I still don't know what she is feeling. But, I keep her in my prayers and I pray she finds strength and Peace.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1 in 20,000.....

I am a picture nut. I am the first to admit it. From the time I was a little girl I loved looking at picture albums. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that I had a lot of family I either never got to meet or that I didn't remember. I learned to "Know" my brother through pictures, I figured out parts of my grandparents personalities the same way. As an adult you will seldom see me without my camera. I take it almost everywhere I go. In the past five years since Anna was born I think I have taken somewhere close to 20,000 pictures. Yes, that was not a misprint, I said close to 20,000. Granted some of them are the same attempted shot 20 times over, some are silly and some are bad shots, but I love them all.
Five out of Six of my nieces and nephews have birthdays in the next month. So I decided to make them each "facebook albums". I looked through all of my old pictures and put their lives in order as I have taken them. When I started this little project it was kind of to clear my mind. To empty my head of all of the thoughts and emotions I had collected from Austin's balloon release this weekend. Little did I know, Austin had other plans.
When Austin passed away last year I went through all of my pictures. I was pretty sure of each of the dates I had taken his picture on. Most were parties, play dates or at school. I spent hours working on projects with his pictures and I was so happy I had taken as many as I did of him. Then today I was going through pictures for Corey's Birthday album....and there it was. I couldn't believe I had missed this. For some reason I never remember seeing it. Most of my pictures I have some kind of memory of, but not this one. It is the same thing I see when I close my eyes at night. It is the face that greets me when I think of him. Those huge brown eyes and that little grin.
This is why I take so many pictures. This is why I love every picture I have captured. This is one of those little things that both made my day and brought me to tears. You're still up to your little surprises buddy.....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mother's Day....

As I was laying in bed last night I was thinking about being a Mother. When I think about it, I am just that, a Mother. I am so lucky to have my full time "job" be doing what I love most. As I thought about all of the women I know who have struggled to become mother's, those who have still not been able to feel the joy that Motherhood brings, I thought of how lucky I am! In the blogger world there are many different titles and names given for each thing you may be talking about. There are AP's for Adoptive Parent and TTC for trying to conceive, CTT for carrying to term, and many more. I realized I have fit many different "titles" in my motherhood. I am a Mom, first and foremost, but I am a biological mother, an adoptive mother, a foster mother, a mother who has carried to term, and a mommy of 2 angels. My children run the gamut of about all there is to offer! Who would have ever thought that I would have this life, who would have ever thought that I could be so blessed. To know that love. The love of all of my children. I know that life has brought me to this place and helped me to appreciate everything I have been given. Two days ago I was able to spend the afternoon with my "foster" son. The baby I believed was going to be mine not long ago. God had different plans for him than I did. And even though at the time I didn't understand them, I do now. There couldn't be a better place on this Earth for him. We are so happy that we can still be a part of his life. I am so lucky that I not only get to watch him grow, but that I consider his mother a dear friend and Anna feels the same way about his sister!
This year on Mother's Day I hope all of the Mothers out there are able to enjoy a little time with the ones they love. For those who aren't able to hold their children, who visit the cemetery instead, I pray they are brought a little peace on this day. As for me I will do both. As I write this I have a dramatically calling 5 year old who "needs me" and a spunky little 3 year old who came down just to give me a kiss, I will take them with me to visit their sibling's headstones. What a blessed life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day

As I think about this week which leads to Mother's Day, I think about being little. Making cards and projects for my Mother, thinking I would make it the best day ever for her. She always made it seem to be the best day of the year for her. She was happy and sweet and loving ....happy. Now as an adult, as a mother, as a mother who has lost babies, I realize she must have been an amazing actress. As happy as I am to spend the day with Anna and Wyatt, it is still a bittersweet time. It is like a giant reminder that you are not whole. My mom was 27 when she lost my brother. This age may have seemed "old" years ago to me, but now I know how young she was. By the time she was 28 she was spending Mother's Day with her child in Heaven. Of course she had my sister and then later she had me, but she was always without Mikey. I wish I had known when I was little even a tiny bit of what she had felt. Now I know. I would have never imagined having so much in common with my Mom. As much as I have always looked up to her and admired her, I never envisioned having such drastic characteristics in common. Someone told my Mom after Emma died how lucky I was to have a Mother who truly understood my pain. Who actually knew what I was feeling. I am not sure if this is the kind of dumb luck two people are to be dealt, but it has been an amazing comfort to me. My Mom has been a big part of my healing and a huge part of my strength. Not only being there, but leading by example for the 28 years that preceded the loss of my baby. She has taught me most everything I know about being a mother and has been an amazing Grandma to my children. She has been devoted and loving Grandma to all of my babies. She has not changed an ounce of love whether they were only here for a short time, on Earth and with our family. She has loved each of the children we have brought into our family with her whole heart. Even knowing we would say goodbye to Connor and losing "Dillon" after a short time. Love was never something that came in any way but whole heartedly. Because, that is the only way she knows how to love. She has been called Grandma, Granny, Maw maw and more. She has helped to guide my sister and I, and tried to step back when we need to figure things out on our own. We are lucky to have such an incredible person in our lives, a supportive Mom and friend. Through grief, through pain, through joy and happiness, through all that life has brought her, my Mom has always shown strength and poise. I am lucky to be able to have someone I respect and admire to call my Mom.

Monday, May 2, 2011

For Austin ....Without you here

Has it really been six months
without you here
is it possible that life
can go on
that the days continue to pass by
that the rain continues to fall
how is it that these things
can so normally occur
when life as we knew it
the day you left this Earth
everything I think of
everything I do
every choice I make
is marked with your smiling face
life will never be the same
we were forever changed
that October evening
has it really been six months
without you here

Six months....

This past Saturday marked the 6 month Anniversary of when we lost Austin. I say we, as if he were mine to lose. He wasn't, but I have felt grief as strong as I did for my own babies. I have been brought to my knees in pain and watched dear friends fight to start to survive the rest of their lives without him. I have realized that I have changed once again, if possible I could love my kids even more. This past Saturday was not only the 6 month mark, but also the first Saturday that was also the 30th. Two days before that a good friend of mine was camping with her family. Her 4 year old daughter was riding her bike, lost control and fell. She was non responsive, her eyes were locked to one side and she couldn't see. She was transported by ambulance to a hospital where they planned on air caring her to Children's. When I read the email the next morning, the email ending with wonderful news that she was okay, it all came rushing back. Six months ago I may have called to check on her, sent a card. Post October 30, 2010 I went over. I hugged my friend with tears in my eyes and then I hugged her daughter. I brought her a present, one she could sit and play with! I was there because I had to see her for myself. I realized in that moment that I was this different person. I am for the 3rd time in my recent life still trying to figure out who I am. The new normal is much easier this time, not effecting every aspect of my life, like it does Austin's family, but it is new to me. I have always loved my friends children, I have always worked to make them a part of our lives. Now it is different. Now I know how profound of an effect each of these little ones has had on me. Maybe this is one of the ways Austin has changed me. I can see his face whenever I want. I can close my eyes and think of him. I can visit his grave and sit with his Mom. I can watch his brother play and steal kisses and hugs from him as he wears my shoes through the house. But, I will never get to hold Austin and steal a kiss from him. So, to all of my friends, if we are ever on a play date and out of nowhere I decide to hug and kiss your babies....know it is a little part of me and a little part of an Angel working together.