Friday, April 29, 2011


It's been such an emotional several weeks. Matthew has been able to meet his godmother, his aunt, uncle and cousins, and we have enjoyed spending time with so many loved ones.

Tomorrow, Beau and Sheila, Matthew's genetic parents, arrive here in our home to spend a few hours meeting Matthew. As much as I strongly support and am committed to open adoption (for my thoughts on why, click here), this is hard. Harder than I thought it would be.

Sheila first wrote and asked shortly after Matthew was born if they could come meet him. We always knew and agreed that they WOULD meet, so her question was about timing, not overall permission. At that time, I was so tired and hormonal that I really wanted to say no. I knew that my fatigue and hormones were talking so I told her I needed time, and she agreed.

Even though Beau and Sheila have never, ever, once given me reason to feel territorial, there was a part of me that when they asked screamed out, "No! He's my baby!!" Truthfully, a little part of me still does. And I guess that surprised me, because I know there's absolutely no threat or danger with them that they would have an inappropriate connection or response to him. But my blog has always been about showing the truth of Embryo Adoption, even the hard stuff, so there it is.

Once in a while I even have a nightmare-if they kidnapped him and the police did a DNA test, he would match them! How would I prove that he's really my son?? (I don't think Beau and Sheila are kidnappers-this just demonstrates the hold fear can so easily take on my heart!)

Plus, they're coming to our home. So I sort of feel like I'll be under inspection, and since I'm a pretty mediocre homemaker, that sends my stress level very high. Again, they've never given me reason to feel threatened, and the only reason that we're meeting in our home is that it's just the most practical place since they're traveling from far and anywhere public wouldn't permit us to stay more than an hour or two, and even if they would, Matthew wouldn't tolerate it.

Nightlight recently changed their contract to say that genetic parents can revoke the rights of the adoptive parents to any remaining untransferred embryos, so long as they provide 30 days notice. This really bothered DH and I on a lot of levels. Again, let me be so clear in saying that Beau and Sheila have NEVER given us reason to feel threatened, and we don't have any concern that they actually will revoke our rights and "reclaim" the remaining 6 embryos. But just the knowledge that they COULD, if we signed this contract, bothered us. We told Nightlight our concerns, and they agreed to let us sign a different document that eliminates that provision. I do hope they'll eliminate it for all clients. I think it undermines the treatment of this whole arrangement as an adoption. You can't just "reclaim" a born child years later (barring extreme, unusual circumstances that usually involve fraud or duress) so it bothers me that embryos are treated differently. But, I digress. This isn't meant to be a public criticism of Nightlight (whom we LOVE, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they heard our concerns and are allowing us to sign a different document), but I did want to post some since it's part of our current feelings.

I guess I just wonder if I'll ever stop feeling like I have to prove myself or please someone. As an adoptive parent in an open adoption, it's hard to know that the biological parents are out there, and have the potential to evaluate your choices for your child. What if we disappoint them? What if we do something that would make them regret their choice? What if they think that they could do better at raising him than we could? It's just a lot of pressure, even if it's all hypothetical.

I do stress that regardless of my own insecurities, we still believe that an open adoption is best for Matthew which is why we are resolved to always continue, regardless of how we feel. The only thing that could ever put the brakes on this is if for some reason, it ever became unhealthy for him. And Beau and Sheila are committed to that, too, so we can always reevaluate how well he handles it, etc.

So, I'm just a ball of nerves today. I'm nervous that they'll be pleased with us and with him and with how we've parented him so far. I'm nervous that they'll observe something that will make them go, "Boy! What were we thinking??" I know that it's very unlikely that those things will actually happen, but I still feel it and have to continually surrender this in prayer. I wish Mike was still here. He was such a strong advocate of open adoption and he knew me well enough to say exactly what I'd need to hear. He could always help me get out of my head when we'd talk about it. He taught me so much, on this issue in particular. And man, that sweet Skyler-boy is such a testament. Mike and Krista definitely have it right on this issue! Krista just texted me, "Just focus on loving them. Matthew will steal the show." I needed to hear that. They both were always so good about realizing that adoption is as much a ministry as it is a blessing.

I know Beau and Sheila have a ton of emotions of their own surrounding this meeting. I can't imagine that when they meet him, that they won't miss him. I know that I would. He's such a precious, precious boy. My heart catches in my chest when I think about him. Parenthood is the only time in your life when you don't have to learn to love someone. It's just automatic from the moment you say, "hello." There's no way to describe it.

I was thinking last night about our infertility. I was thinking about how if we'd never heard those words in November 2007 that we'd never have a biological child, that we'd never have had our precious little Matthew. I can't imagine loving any child more. I can't imagine missing out on him. It actually makes me glad for our infertility, because I would not like my life without him. How wonderful are the ways of the Lord, even if we don't always understand them! When we first got that diagnosis, we'd already been trying to have a child for almost 4 years. When we started our adoption in 2008, it seemed like we'd already waited forever, and that we'd have forever more to wait. And yet, it all culminated in this precious baby boy, who I believe was always intended to be ours (Beau and Sheila concur). We started trying to conceive in January of 2004. Matthew didn't even exist yet (he was created later that year). If we'd have been successful with things according to our timeline and our plan, we'd never have this sweet little guy. I'm teary just thinking about it.

I know I sound sappy and sentimental and even a little cliche, but I really have come full circle with our wait and our journey. That little boy was worth all the wait in the world. In the 7 years that it took us to have him, Beau and Sheila gave him life, they had their own children, and they came to a place where they could make the difficult decision to relinquish him and his 11 siblings. When I think about it that way, 7 years seems sort of short for all of that to have happened. So I guess I will take this opportunity to encourage those of you still waiting that even though waiting is hard, and loss is even harder, God's timing is wonderful. It may take us a while to understand it, but I believe in time, He often reveals His reasons. Bless you who still wait. We worship with you and claim with confidence that His plan for you is perfect.

I know tomorrow will probably hold a lot of tears, but I also pray that it will hold a lot of joy. At the end of the day, it's not a bad thing for more people to love my son. I pray that he blesses them. I pray that their spirits (and ours!) will be lifted by this meeting, rather than pained. And I pray that God would continue to teach us how to best knit our families together for Matthew's own good. I'd covet your companionship in these prayers.

Love to you all.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Matthew's First Easter

We have had a wonderful weekend celebrating Jesus' death and resurrection with our friends and family, and especially with our baby Matthew! We spent yesterday with DH's family, and then we worshiped this morning with our church family. We usually start with a breakfast potluck but Matthew derailed that when he awoke at 5:00 this morning wanting to party!

Easter is my favorite holiday of the year--the joy among believers is contagious! Christ died on Friday and was discovered to have risen on Sunday. Diana made a wonderful observation that Saturday actually has a mystery all its own because sometime Saturday night is when Christ actually rose, as his tomb was discovered empty first thing the next morning. Wow! I'm actually sad that the day is over because I enjoy this holiday so much! Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!!

He also turned 3 months old this weekend!

DH's family has gained 3 members (myself and Matthew included) since the last time they had a formal family portrait, so we had one done yesterday. We also did individual family units. Here is a shot from my camera while the professional was shooting:

He also met Aunt Tina, DH's sister, for the first time this week:

We don't do or plan to do the Easter bunny (or Santa Claus or any of their friends) but I did want to commemorate Matthew's first Easter somehow, so we got him a little book called "What is Easter." Matthew and I sat in the chair and Todd read the book to us. I hope we can read it to him every year until he outgrows it and needs another one for an older child, and ultimately, the scripture itself. While I am content to keep him little forever, I know one of the greatest joys of him growing up will be watching him start to understand God and faith.

So here's my dapper dude:

And here he is with his book:

The 3 of us:

And changing his clothes, we had some fun mommy-son time:

Matthew is working on two new skills. The other day, I found him in his crib, rotated 180 degrees from the position I lay him in. Then I watched him on the monitor for a while and he flipped up off his back and on his side and tried to roll over. He made it almost all the way, and then he crashed into the side of the crib. He would have made it all the way if he hadn't crashed.

Then, today, he decided to grab onto a cup lid that Aunt T was holding. He held it by himself with both hands at times, and just one at other times. It was the first time he's ever intentionally held anything (he's grasped my hair or hand out of reflex but never actually held anything). It's so fun to watch his little mind develop.

The downside of the weekend was that my best friend left, which was just so, so difficult. When we've seen each other before since they moved, we've always had a "next time" planned. Now, things are just open-ended and we don't know when we'll see each other again. It's so hard to be apart, and to not be able to share this special time with each other and our kids. For 3 weeks, things were so beautiful and normal. I miss that. But the time she was here was amazing, so I'm trying to focus on that.

We have some fun time with Aunt T in store for us this week, so I am looking forward to that.

I hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection day! God bless you all!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dedicating Baby Matthew

This last Sunday was a special time in the life of our family. The protestant church has a practice parents publicly dedicating their children to God. In terms of cultural significance, it's the equivalent of infant baptism, though the two practices mean different things to each of their respective denominations. Baby dedication is a time for parents to publicly commit to raising their child in the ways and knowledge of the Lord, and for the family's church body to commit to supporting the parents in this endeavor with their spiritual wisdom and helps.

So on Sunday, we had the great joy of dedicating baby Matthew publicly to the Lord. Sunday wasn't a change or anything new, it was just a chance to publicly commit to doing so. Both sets of our parents attended. My best friend and brother were able to be there as well. Great grandparents celebrated with us by video. Afterwards, the family and our WWF family (the two other families from church with whom we are very close) came to our home for brunch. It was such a special day for us.

The Pastor first asked both sets of parents if it was our intention to raise our children for the Lord. Then he asked the congregation if it was their intention to commit to helping us with that purpose. Everybody said "yes."

He prayed over the other baby and then came to Matthew. Here is the video of Matthew's blessing. It's a little choppy because I edited out the other baby because I don't have her parents' permission to broadcast her all over the world wide web, but my editing skills are lousy.

But, without further ado:

It's a tall order. Having a child has added such a different dimension to my faith. Even when I'm not disciplined about it for my own sake, having him makes me more serious about it because I want to be the best example for him that I can be. I still have such a very long way to go. We're so grateful for a wonderful family and church family who have already and will continue to walk with us. This baby boy is abundantly loved, that's for sure!

Oh, and it's hard to see on the video but the reason people are giggling is that when Pastor Jon told him that we love him, God loves him, and the church loves him, Matthew gave him a big smile. Then when PJ said he was going to pray, Matthew smiled again. :)

He'll be 3 months old on Saturday! If we could get his sleeping nailed down, I'd be perfectly content to keep him little forever!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week 11

We're in Matthew's 11th week of post-utero life. Can you believe it? Someone said that the days are slow but the years are fast. I think that's the exact right way to describe this time. In my sleep deprivation, the days sometimes feel like they drag on. But when I realize that he is 11.5 weeks old already, I feel like everything has happened in the blink of an eye.

He's just exploded in social development this week. He's started really being responsive and generous with his smiles. He's responds when we tickle his belly or play peek a boo with his blanket and when we sing him songs and give him big smiles. I think he's close to laughing, too. He made a noise yesterday that sounded sort of like a hyena cackling. A cute hyena, of course.

Thanks for your prayers for wisdom about vaccines. We came to a nice, middle-of-the-road solution and he responded well (as in, not at all) to what we did choose to give him.

Which reminds me: where are the resources for those of us who live our lives in the middle? Birth and parenting seem to be so dominated by extremes. Every subject-pregnancy, labor, delivery, sleep, discipline, feeding, medical care, education, etc all seem to be run by loud-mouthed bullies demanding an all or nothing acceptance of their way, leaving those of us who like to cherry-pick things and reside in the land of compromise to feel somewhat lost and without resources. It's so incredibly frustrating. Let me be clear when I say that I do think matters of capital-T Truth are black and white, all or nothing. But I don't think any of those subjects (aside from love your child and treat them well) are Capital-T Truth issues, and I think any one who says they are would be hard-pressed to find biblical evidence of that. I just wonder who those people think they're helping--what benefit they think they're creating. Anyway, I digress.

I talked to Sheila last week (or the week before?) for a long time. It was interesting to hear what our kids have in common with each other, and what is different about them. Matthew and his genetic brother seem to have a lot in common with each other. But in other ways, Matthew is very much his own little person who is very different from them.

My best friend and her kids are here--it's been fun to spend time together. Todd's sister comes soon, which will also be wonderful. Matthew will get to meet Beau and Sheila soon.

I wanted to write more about the last paragraph but little dude has just decided he wants to eat, and he wants to eat NOW, so I must go.

Not without a picture, first! My happy little dude: