Sunday, December 26, 2010

Days 5 and 6: Merry Christmas and Snow!

(The studio apartment above Doug's pottery studio where I've been staying this past week)

Christmas this year was much different from Christmas last year. Last year there was a steady stream of visitors coming to look at the precious new baby, then only 12 days old. This year, it was only Doug, Maura, Reed, Gigi, and me. Nice, relaxed and low key. Reed was very impressed with all of the presents under the tree, most of them for him, but we let him open them up throughout the day at his own leisure. I got some Christmas booty myself though, and maybe because I wasn't expecting anything, everything I got was perfect. A jar of almond butter, some pens, a workout shirt, granola bars, and a really great hat.

My favorite gift that brought tears to my eyes though, was a hard cover book that they had made about our journey together so far.

Starting from when Doug and Maura came to Alaska in the summer of 2009 to meet me for the first time...

through the birth...

All the way up to the different trips they've made this year and family they've seen.

That night it started snowing and continued all through the night. The next morning I woke up early to a stomach bug that had ravaged through their household the week before, so I quarantined myself to the studio apartment I've been staying in for most of the day. By this afternoon though, I was feeling much better so I joined the three of them for a walk in the snow. How beautiful it was! Reed loved the snow, and I was happy to get the full experience of winter during my short break from my usual equatorial, tropical climate.

And now it's on to the second leg of my trip; Texas to visit my own family. These past six days have been so wonderful and needed for me, and it will be hard to say goodbye tomorrow morning when they take me to the airport. It will be another 6 months until I see Reed again, and I can't even imagine how much he'll have grown and changed all over again. During this trip, I was able to get to know his many laughs, see his sweet smile, and discover his personality. And what a personality he has! How did this wonderful little guy come from me? Tonight he was pretty interested in Maura's and my belly buttons, and I was amazed that at one time he was on the other side of it. It has been so good to reconnect with him, and to continue to establish a firm and solid foundation of a life long relationship with Reed and his family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 4: Christmas Eve

When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was the big day. That was when we had our big Christmas dinner with a ham and a turkey, lots of sides and even more desserts, and after dinner we would all go sit around the tree and open all the presents we had got each other. Being a family of 7, if it was a good year our tree was quite an exciting sight! Makes me wonder what kinds of traditions will develop in Reed's family?

The highlight of my day today was my special walk with Reed. While Doug and Maura were wrapping presents and getting ready for tomorrow, Reed and I took a walk down the dirt road they live on. We went to see the nearby chicken coup and hoped to see the dogs that he loves so much, but they were inside their owner's house. Reed is walking like a champ these days, and sometimes he doesn't want to be disturbed in his exploring. But today, I think because he was a little sleepy, he wanted to be held and I was more than happy to oblige. I love that Doug and Maura make an effort to give me my own special time alone with him, and I take advantage of it as much as I can. Today during our walk we talked about what a dog sounds like, what I've been doing in Singapore, what kinds of sticks are the best for banging trees with, what he'll be like the next time I see him, how much more fun it is to walk on the trails in the woods instead of on the dirt road, and how much I love him. My goal is to tell him every chance I get, especially when we're face to face, how much I love him and how special he is to me. He will have questions, but I hope he never questions my love for him.

For our Christmas Eve dinner we decided on a vegan feast, consisting of salad with carrot-ginger dressing, nori rolls, and raw chocolate balls. All homemade from scratch and absolutely delicious. Maura's sister Gigi joined us for dinner and we had an excellent time eating, drinking and being merry.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 3: Reed Land

Yet another day in Reed Land. My jet lag actually seems to be working backwards, because this morning I was wide awake at 3am. I've lost an hour each of the mornings I've been here so far...WHY??? But then I'm reminded of how sleep deprived Doug and Maura have been this last year, and I remember I really don't have anything to complain about.

Anyway, today we took an exciting walk to play in the swing set at Doug's brother's house (they're neighbors), and then to see some dogs that another neighbor has. Reed loves dogs; every time he sees or hears them he makes this barking/grunting noise and gets a huge smile on his face.

This may quite possibly be the best baby swing set in the world.

And Reed obviously LOVES it!

After Reed went to bed for the evening, Doug, Maura and I had dinner and when we weren't quite ready to finish talking, Doug broke out the bottle of port wine and some chocolate and caramel treats. As we sipped our port and nibbled on dessert, we reminisced together about our whole experience, recalling and retelling our thoughts, feelings and reactions about when I first found out I was pregnant, my decision for adoption and process of choosing adoptive parents, our first conversations together, their trip up to Alaska for our first meeting, all the way up to Reed's birth which they were a witness to and his first Christmas as a newborn. We were smiling the whole time, laughed, got teary eyed at points, and ended with one of those moments when everyone is silent with peaceful grins on their faces, soaking in the memories, the present, and each other. This is the stuff that family bonds, stories and traditions are made of. This is the stuff families are made of.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 2: Counseling

Today, still being jet lagged, I woke up at 4am. It just so happens that with a baby in the household, that’s often about when Reed’s family wakes up too. Maybe this jet lag is working to my advantage? I can tell you that I would rarely be up by 4 or 5 (or 10) under any other circumstance! After Maura’s parents left to go back to NY and Doug left for work, Maura and I sat on the living room floor and had a wonderful time chatting, drinking hot tea and watching Reed keep himself busy with his books and toys.

The big plans for the day, besides Reed’s one year checkup, were to go to the adoption agency we used so Doug, Maura and myself could meet with a counselor. Maura, being a therapist and recognizing my need for support through this whole process, had asked me a couple of months ago if I would like to meet with a professional during my visit, and I thought it was a great idea.

I’ve really been wanting counseling. It’s not because I feel negative about the adoption, in fact I still feel very positive about the whole thing. Even as much as I miss Reed and think about him, I have no regrets. Especially now, seeing how happy he is and what wonderful parents Doug and Maura are! But just because adoption was the best decision I made, doesn’t mean it was the easiest. Just because I feel very positive about how things are going doesn’t mean I don’t feel any pain. Just because I’m not the one raising my own son and I chose not to do so doesn’t mean I don’t miss him so much that it hurts down to my fingertips, and just because I’m genuinely happy and thankful for the life I lead doesn’t mean I don’t shed any tears.

I consider myself a pretty sane, rational and well adjusted individual, so if there weren’t any counseling I think I would still continue to be sane, rational and well adjusted. But oh how wonderful it would be for me to sit with someone who is experienced and familiar with what I’m going through, and talk and cry and sob and share my joys and confess my fears and they would just listen and ask me questions and hand me boxes of tissues and they wouldn’t try to fix my “problems” or pretend to have all the answers, but would just help guide me through this forest of emotions because it can be very dense at times.

Not only would counseling be hugely beneficial for me, but it would be really great if Doug, Maura and I could have guidance together as we’re still getting to know each other and work out our own relationships. They have been so wonderful so far, and again, if we never get any guidance, I’m confident that we can figure things out and make them work because of our love for Reed and for each other. But how nice it would be to have a professional setting with an experienced third party opinion to help us.

That’s what we were hoping for today as we headed off to the adoption agency, who promised life-long counseling as part of the deal. We had the appointment set a month in advance with the professional who is suppose to be able to see to these kinds of things, and I had already been going through in my head some questions I had or issues I would like to address. Just thinking about being able to finally talk to someone about it made me emotional. However that professional forgot about our meeting and was out of town, and we ended up speaking with a couple of other well meaning workers at the agency. As good as their intentions were though, it quickly became apparent that they could not offer us the kind of help and support we were seeking, so we cut the meeting short and left early. Since we’ve already been working on building a strong relationship and have been pretty successful thus far, the three of us agreed that we could do a better job and be more productive on our own. Not that we won’t continue to seek outside help, support and guidance in the future, just not from that source. Unfortunate.

In the car ride home, Maura and I continued to talk about some of the things that were barely starting to be touched on that we would have liked to discuss in counseling. As usual, she was very easy to talk to and we ended up getting a lot accomplished just in the drive home. It’s so wonderful to be working with such open minded and open hearted people! But there will be things that I can’t work out just by talking to Doug and Maura, and for that I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that there will be someone hopefully sooner than later whom I can meet with.

6 Full Days!!! Day 1

I finally made it!!! After over 30 hours of airports and airplanes, terrible food, and as many renditions of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" as you could possibly imagine, I finally made it to North Carolina Monday night. Reed was already sleeping by then, so I just peeked into his room and saw him resting peacefully. There is a studio appartment just above Doug's pottery studio right next to the house which is where I'm staying, so on Tuesday my jetlagged self woke up at 5am and walked over to the house at 6. I was greeted by this...

As the day went on, I spend as much time as I could with him, and as always, their whole family was wonderful to be around. Maura's parents who were visiting from New York even stayed an extra day just so that they could see me. They have truly adopted me into their family as well. I also loved learning as many little tidbits as possible about my son, re-learning who he is all over again. I found out that...

He LOVES to eat, and is even pretty good at feeding himself. It's kind of a joint effort, but he manages to get a good amount of food in with his little plastic spoon.

He loves his books, and can spend a decent amount of time (for a one year old) just sitting there and looking at them.

He loves the outdoors and playing in the leaves. And eating them.

He's such a happy boy; it's so easy to take really cute pictures of him because, well for one, he's just really cute, but to make it better he's almost always smiling!

Towards the end of the day we had our Christmas High Tea with Aunt Gigi and Cousin Meredith, Maura's parents, myself, Maura and Reed. It's a tradition we started last year that consists of lots of yummy snacks and a wide assortment of tea served in unique handmade teapots made by Doug's various potter friends.

So far I'm loving spending time with him and the whole family... this is going to be a wonderful week!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Monday was Reed's birthday. As I'm typing these words, I still can't believe he is a year old! I have been as excited about his birthday as I would be my own, and I wanted to make sure I spent the day with him, even though I'm 9,870 miles away. Here are the tools involved in my day of celebrating the little man who came into my life one year ago.

The 'Reed' Playlist
1: Starting with this song; "You Were On My Mind" by We Five. It's pretty much been my theme song since I first found out about him, and I played it over and over again on his birthday.

2: "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" -The Lauryn Hill version. When I was still pregnant with him in Alaska I would imagine lying in a bed with him just afer he was born, and I would sing to him, "You're just too good to be true, I can't take my eyes off of you, you feel like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much, at long last love has arrived, and I thank god I'm alive..."
3: "Blackbird" by The Beatles. This was the song playing at the moment he was born. "You were only waiting for this moment to arrive"
4: "Green Eyes" by Coldplay. This was my NC song to him; "I came here with a load, and it feels so much lighter since I met you..." Fitting, no?
5: "Everywhere I Go" by Willie Nelson. "No matter where our trails will finally wind, our paths will keep on crossing yours and mine, Until then in my pocket you must go, I'll take you with me everywhere I go"

Birthday Cake (of course!)
Nevermind that he wasn't there to eat it, I love him enough to eat it for him. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! I did manage to experiment with the recipe; I substituted flour with ground flax seed and ground sunflower seed, subbed the oil with pureed apple, and subbed the water with almond milk. I also mixed pumpkin seeds and walnuts into the batter. The recipe was vegan to begin with, and it actually turned out pretty good! The frosting was made of soaked dates, cocoa powder, coconut oil, soaked cashews, honey, cinnamon, and jasmine green tea.
(I was going to take a picture of the chocolatey goodness, but plans changed and I ate it too fast!)

Birthday Dinner and Card
My original plan was to celebrate Reed's birthday at the Botanic Gardens, but the weather wasn't having any of that. So instead, I went to one of my favorite places in Singapore, Little India, where the general atmosphere is festive and lively every night. I went to a cheap food stall and had some delicious Murtabak and hot milk tea, and started writing Reed's birthday card. I told him all about the day he was born, who was there to witness his first breaths, how excited we all were, and wonderful it was to finally meet him. The card I chose for him was a hand made card of an ox, his Chinese calendar animal, that I found in Chinatown.

That night I came home and was able to see Reed in all of his one year glory on Skype. An extra treat- Bill was visiting from Colorado, so I got to have a nice long conversation with Bill, Reed and Maura. Maura's mom even made a guest appearance! Reed was delightful; he told me what a dog sounds like, he showed Maura and Bill where my nose was, and then stuck post-it notes on my forehead. We also showed Bill how we play cyber peek-a-boo, one of my favorite games. Sometimes he would be looking at the computer screen and smile at my image... there are just no words to describe it.

And now, I'm finally getting ready to see him again in person. With this week starting off with celebrating Reed's birthday and knowing that by the time the week is up he will actually be in my arms, well, it made it a whole week of celebration for me. Everyone knows that birthdays are suppose to last at least one week anyway! Again, I'm having trouble finding the words to describe how excited I am for this two week break I'm about to leave for, but I will say this: Of all the times I've traveled across the planet, of all the times I've taken jobs in distant places, relocated myself, not knowing what I was getting into, who I would meet, or where my road would lead afterward, I have never been as excited, nervous, anxious, and just plain giddy as I am now to go on this trip to a small town in North Carolina.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

How does a nomad spend one of the most homeliest of holidays without a home? Let's recap:

Thanksgiving 2005- Zion National Park, Utah, at the bottom of a gorgeous canyon. Worked that morning, hiked in the afternoon, and then had dinner with my mom and two of my sisters who had flown from TX for a visit.

If you look closely, I mean reeeeeally reeeeeally closely, you can see the roof tops of the lodges where I was living.

2006- Flew back to Texas to have Thanksgiving with my family between another fall season at Zion and my second stint on the cruise ship in Hawaii.

2007- San Diego, California, celebrated with a friend and her family and then met some people to go rock climbing and camping in Joshua Tree National Park.

2008- Crested Butte, Colorado; The Great Transient Thanksgiving Potluck where those of us who were gearing up for the ski season all met together with plenty of food and then finished the night off at one of the local bars.

2009- Pittsboro, North Carolina; celebrating with new family I never dreamed I would have.

2010- Singapore; spent quality time giving thanks for my bed and the ability to sleep in 5 days out of the week, went to the gym and gave thanks for the little Turkey who's 10,000 miles away that caused my baby belly that I'm still trying to combat, picked up an extra class in the evening for some extra cash (Christmas presents!), and then went shopping for said Christmas presents followed by a search for the perfect thanksgiving dinner.

Every so often a huge tent is set up in an empty lot outside of the center where I work, and is filled with food vendors as well as booths filled with all sorts of odds and ends. I think there's an actual name for it, but I don't know what it is. This was the site of my quest.

Lots of choices to chose from, most of them fried and on a stick.

Waffledogs... Not really my style.

Finally I decided on a turkish kebab

And this was the guy who made my Thanksgiving dinner. When I told him about the significance of the meal, he smiled and heaped on an extra load of meat.

Just to remind myself what a year will bring...

Last Thanksgiving in North Carolina, learning the merengue with my own little Turkey cooking in the oven:

And exactly one year later, coming home from work on the MRT train in Singapore:

I have LOTS to be thankful for, and just because I was alone and working on Thanksgiving doesn't mean it was any less meaningful or celebratory. I'm amazed daily at my life and the fullness and blessings this journey has brought, and am SO THANKFUL!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Things in October, and the Great Wide Open video

Significant events this month:

*Reed turned 10 months old on 10/13/10

*I turned 34 years old on 10/10/10

*I was able to celebrate my birthday with Bill by going on a snorkeling trip to Malaysia

*Today marks the longest I have lived in one place (175 days) since May of 2005 when I began this nomadic lifestyle.

I wanted to share a short video that was made by a friend at UNC who has an interest in adoption stories. She heard about us while I was still in North Carolina and asked if she could focus one of her assignments for her photo journalism class on us. We think she did a great job!

The Great Wide Open from Elena Rue on Vimeo.

"But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips."
-The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reed had his nine month birthday the day after I got back from Bali. I know it annoys some people when parents acknowledge every single month-birthday in the first couple of years of their child’s life, but I can’t help it. For me it’s another month of being without him, wondering what he’s doing, another month of me missing him. For Doug and Maura, it’s another month of watching in amazement how he’s growing, getting to know this little man who’s now a part of their family. Also, nine months of course marks this important milestone for me: Reed has now been with Doug and Maura longer than he was ever with me.

(Me, sipping tea and enjoying the view in Bali)
My week long vacation in Bali was amazing, but I thought about this upcoming nine month mark constantly. I was traveling with a friend, and I found myself trying hard not to talk about Reed all the time. He was always on my mind, I thought about him everywhere we went. I looked everywhere for a gift for him, but ended up getting nothing because I couldn’t decide on anything perfect enough for him (I’m going to have to work on that). I finally got him a postcard but even that took me forever to decide on; I wanted it to be the perfect postcard that he could look at later and be inspired by what is waiting for him out in the world. I thought about all the things I want for him in his life, how I don’t want him to be hindered by anything from seeking and living out his dreams, and how I want to live my life to be an inspiration to him. I think just being in Bali would have made me more introspective anyway, it’s just the kind of place that has that kind of effect. But with the impending nine-month mark and everything it meant to me, I was taken back to my days in Thailand, when I first found out about Reed, when it was just me and him hanging out on a beach, snorkeling, eating and eating and eating, and I would talk to him and sing to him and tell him about the kind of life we’re living now and the kind of life he’s going to have.

(Me -and Reed- in Thailand on a snorkling boat, April 2009)

(Reed and Doug at Doug's kiln)
Emotions about Reed have been running high for me lately. For starters, I finally bought my plane ticket back to the States to see him over Christmas. Just thinking about seeing him again after he’s changed so much brings on a flood of emotions! I have two weeks off for the holidays, but Doug and Maura have other family to visit, so they will only be in NC for one week of my vacation. I’ll only have one week to be with him, one week to get to know him all over again. That made the prospect of spending another week without him seem miserable to me. I had to get over that by thinking about the opportunity I’ll have to go to Texas to visit other friends and family that I love and cherish, a trip that I wasn’t planning on before. Other things that have brought up emotions are songs I’ve been hearing that I use to sing to Reed when I was pregnant in Alaska, being constantly surrounded by babies on the public transport system, even watching a movie preview. Seriously, have you seen the preview for the film “Babies?” It’s a film that follows the first year of the lives of four different babies from four different parts of the world. Just watching the trailer made me cry, thinking about all of the things I’m missing in the first year of Reed’s life.
But it’s not all depressing. For starters, this is what we planned. This is what I decided on. I have this life to live, and even with all the tears, I absolutely love it. I love being in Singapore, I love having all the free time I have with my incredibly easy job, I love the people I’ve met here, the exploring I get to do, the independence I get to have, being so closely surrounded by other countries with other cultures so completely different than my own, and having open doors of opportunities stretched out before me for seemingly endless miles. With a teachers schedule here, my year is sprinkled with one week vacations and I’m already planning out a list of different places I want to visit. I plan on taking every opportunity I can to make the most of my time here.
Another thing is that’s not depressing for me to think about at all is Reed’s life and the opportunities in his future. Doug and Maura told me from the very first conversation with me that “the more people that love a child, the better” and Reed has so many people who are head over heels in love with him. Doug and Maura of course want the very best for Reed and are doing everything they can to provide a spectacular life for him. And then there’s Bill and me, who hope to be inspiration, role models, and tools of encouragement for Reed to have everything he needs to make his life spectacular. I love and am excited for Reed’s life of possibilities just as much as my own.

(Maura and Reed- he's not walking yet but he's enjoying pulling people around!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

'Support From Professionals' Discussion

This is a discussion that was started on a site called 'Open Adoption Roundtable,' a forum for anyone who has been a part of open adoption. I can't tell you how much I appreciated the posts I read from this site when I was still pregnant, and now as I continue my relationship with my new family through Reed's adoption, it continues to be helpful and insightful. My post isn't nearly as interesting as some of the other experiences I've read about, but I'm thankful that I don't have any major horror stories to write about.

We each interacted with at least one professional during the adoption process (agency, lawyer, facilitator, consultant, hospital social worker, etc.). What was one thing that they did that was most supportive of open adoption? What one thing was least supportive?

There were probably as many different reactions to my decision on adoption as there were emotions I had about being pregnant. I'm not talking about professionals just yet, I'm talking about friends, families, co-workers, strangers, those were the people I was around. The only professional I saw of any kind for the first 6 months of my pregnancy was the general practitioner in the small town in the middle of Alaska whom I went to for my monthly checkups during the summer I was there. Once I met Doug and Maura through and we started making plans towards adoption, they put me in touch with IAC, the adoption agency they were using that was very supportive of open adoptions, and I talked to someone once on the phone and a couple of times through e-mail while I was still in Alaska. I know that doesn't seem like much, but I had already found the adoptive parents of my dreams, and we had already started building the foundations of our open relationship. I moved to NC where Doug and Maura were at the beginning of my third trimester and finaly met a representative from the IAC in person, and met with her once on my own, once with Bill, and once with Bill, Doug and Maura.

From the professional side of things, I had some very positive support, especially once I moved to NC where my son's soon to be adoptive parents were. The midwives at the birth-center were wonderful in respecting my wishes for my birth plan, which included Bill, Doug and Maura, my friend Shelley and sister Kathryn all present during the birth. But perhaps the most helpful thing that I experienced was how careful the IAC was to not push any kind of decision onto me or Bill. I already knew what path I wanted to take, but the IAC still assured me that even if I change my mind, or if Bill changed his, then they would support us no matter what decision we made. Our counselor never referred to our adoption as though it were a done deal while I was still pregnant, and she gave us lots of information on what our options were if we decided against it. I knew Reed was suppose to be part of Doug and Maura's family, I couldn't have been more sure of my decision to complete their dreams through adoption. And the four of us had already done most of the work in crafting our own unique plan of openness and how we wanted to be a part of each others lives. While the IAC did help us put that plan onto paper and offered helpful insights into how to go about designing the kind of openness we wanted, it sure helped knowing that no one was pushing me in any way, and it was all completely my own free will to go through with it.

As far as what was not supportive, well, I'm happy to say that on my end as a birth mother there was not a single professional that I encountered that was not helpful. When I told people my plan for an open adoption, there were no raised eyebrows from the midwives at the birth center, or even from the instructor or other couples in the birthing class that I went to (accompanied by Bill, Doug, Maura, and Shelley- Team Rachel). I'm so thankful for the professionals that I worked with as well as the people in my life that were constantly showing their support for me (as well as for Bill, Doug and Maura and our relationship together), because I needed them all the more when I also had to deal with the instances of judgement and criticism.

You can read more responses from birth parents and adoptive parents here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dreaming Of The Future, Missing The Now

Grandparents are awesome. What a life they must have! Their grandchildren adore them, their kids finally appreciate them and respect them. Today as I was walking home from work, my random thoughts wandered over to the greatness of grandparents. Let me attempt to explain my thought process: I had a mental image of an elderly couple, surrounded by their children and their grandchildren, all happily together. Yup, I thought, getting old can’t be that bad when you’re surrounded by people you love. Ah, but there’s a catch, I realized. A grandparent has to put in the time with having kids to actually become a grandparent. Which then creates a dilemma, how do I become a grandparent if I don’t have a family of my own? Oh, but I DO have a family of my own! Have I just solved the problem of becoming a grandparent without having kids? Amazing!
Again, I want to stress that I’m not exactly against me having children in the future, if the situation called for it. I love kids, I work with them every day and they are a constant source of laughter, frustration, joy, delight, and learning. But when I do think about the future and what I want out of life, children are not on my list. I could easily see Reed being the only child I have, and for now I’m ok with that.

I’m not really good at thinking so far into the future though. For me, thinking ahead is knowing I’m going to be leaving one place in a couple of months, and so I plan ahead to where I’ll go next. The most I’ve ever thought about my long term future is in regards to my health and my desire to take care of myself now, doing my best to avoid becoming prematurely cancerous and brittle. Reed has added in a point of longevity to my thinking. I love thinking about when I’ll see him next, in December just after his first birthday. How much he will have changed! I love thinking about my subsequent visits, imagining us playing together, or thinking of silly jokes to tell him, or those precious opportunities I want to have to read to him before his bedtime or sing to him as he’s falling asleep. You have to understand that this is all new to me. Even just thinking about being in Singapore for two years is still taking some getting use to. I’m finding myself already looking at job opportunities and flight tickets, and I’ve only been here 3 months. This is the first time in a long time that the 3 month mark hasn’t come with the need to start sending out resumes and searching flights. With Reed, it’s easy for me to think ahead five or ten years or even longer. I was smiling from ear to ear when I thought about him making me a grandparent. My next mental image was years and years in the future, me sitting around with Doug and Maura at a family reunion of sorts, Reed with his lovely wife and lovely children running around with the rest of the extended family, all of us beaming as we’re watching this unique family we’ve created together. (And yes, I am fully aware now why my parents are always wondering if I’m ever going to ‘settle down.’ Luckily, since I’m the middle child out of five, they have other chances to become grandparents. My brother already has 3 kids, and I’ve made it clear that Reed IS their grandson, and that I hope they can have that relationship with him some day. Also, I’m fully aware that Reed may not ever want to get married or have children of his own- maybe it will run in the family?- or maybe he will find his own unique situation instead of the cookie cutter family that was in my daydream, and I will still be happy with whatever he brings into my life.)

The point of it all is, I now have people that will be in my life forever. Bill will be in my life forever. That’s a bit more difficult to think about since Bill’s life is almost as unpredictable as mine, but we are both committed to being able to share our lives with Reed and each other.

Meanwhile, Reed is growing and changing now, which is being witnessed everyday by Doug and Maura. All I have are my memories of the past and visions of the future, but they have his every day. This becomes hard at times for me to deal with, especially as I’m watching my little students (mostly 4-6 years old) interacting with their parents, their faces lighting up when they get out of class to see that their mommy or daddy is waiting to catch them in their arms. I have to make it a point not to think about Reed at work. Then there’s the mall, or the supermarket, or the bus or subway, or practically anywhere, where parents and children are sharing their every day’s together. Even when they are being naughty and the parent is exasperated, I sigh and think about how precious that every day moment is, that moment that I’m not sharing with my son.

Pictures certainly help with that. I may imagine a lot about Reed in the future(even up to the point of being a grandparent to his children- yikes!), but pictures help me see him for what he is now, what I'm missing. If I had my way, there would be a constant steady stream of snapshots being taken throughout the day at the Dotson household so I could witness as much of Reed’s days as I possibly could. I also know it’s a lot easier for me to wish for that then for a hard working and sleep deprived new mommy and daddy to send photos every day. Eventually I’ll have to get a web cam so I can communicate on skype, that will ease my heart a little.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Joy and Pain

I’ve always had very vivid dreams, sometimes they’re random and hilarious (like when I dreamt that Edward Norton was trying to break me out of a prison and my prison “uniform” was made entirely out of pork chops and bananas), sometimes they’re very telling of my fears, insecurities, and what is really going on in my heart (like one that I described in a previous blog). But recently my dreams have been just plain fun. One involved Bill and I hanging out with Reed and spending a whole day together, and the other was Reed and I hanging out and having a good time, but we both thought something was missing so we went and got Maura and we were all really happy.

Most of the time when Reed wanders his way into my dreams, he’s older, about 4 years old or so. Perhaps it’s because I know that the next time I’ll see him will be in the future, when he’s already walking and starting to use his own baby-speak. Or perhaps it’s because I want so much to be able to communicate with him, and I know that I’ll have to wait until he’s older to do that. Well, when I woke up from the dream I was having on Sunday morning on his 6 month birthday, I smiled at the thought of getting to know my little boy. But then I thought of him as he is now, and I suddenly felt a huge emptiness because my son is 6 months old and I don’t even know how many teeth he has! It reminded me of how much I don’t know about my son now, and how much I miss him terribly.

Sometimes I want nothing more than to see him and hold him, hang out with him and watch him grow, and be his mommy. Then at other times I think that he was so specifically made for Doug and Maura, so much so that he almost looks like them. As much as it hurts me to be away from him, I think he really was made to be Doug and Maura’s son.

But he’s MY son! part of me uncontrollably cries out. The thing is though, is that the ‘but’ in that exclamation doesn’t have any part of this. Yes he is my son, he will always be my son, and there is no changing that. And yes he was made for Doug and Maura. As jealous as I am of their life with him, if I could go back in time to change anything I wouldn’t do it. Maura wondered aloud to me one time if I was jealous of her being Reed’s mommy. I told her of course I was, but I chose her to be jealous of and I’m glad I did. I can’t imagine Reed not having them, there is no doubt that he belongs with them.

This however has no effect in diminishing how much I miss him. In a conversation with one of my sisters (who is adamantly against the adoption but seems to be accepting what is reasonably well) before I left for Singapore, that there was going to be pain no matter what I chose to do with Reed. Both of us would have known certain kinds of pain as a result of my decision to keep him if I had done so, and both of us will know different kinds of pain as a result of the adoption (maybe I’ll touch on this topic more in a different post). After I told her that it was going to be really hard on me to leave Reed when I went to Singapore, she said that I didn’t have to choose a path that caused so much pain. The way I look at it, since pain was going to be inevitable, I chose the path with the most joys.

And joys have certainly been a part of this journey. Needless to say, Doug and Maura are getting to experience the joy of Reed in their lives every day. I wonder if he’ll ever fully realize how much of a dream come true he is for them? And he has brought untold joy to mine and Bill’s life as well. Bill tells me that at times of frustration, all he has to do is think about Reed. The last couple of weeks that Bill was in NC before going to his summer job in CO he was able to stay with Doug and Maura in their extra studio apartment by their house. When I talked to him on the phone, his first words were, “Reed is SO cool!!!”

For me, Reed has brought so many joys that I didn’t think I ever wanted or would ever have. I still look at the pictures of my labor and his birth with an uncontrollable smile. It was nothing short of wonderful with everyone as involved as they were. I still remember the sensation of feeling him move around inside of me, the most wonderful physical feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life. And now seeing pictures of him, seeing how happy he has made so many people around him and how happy he is makes it all worth any kind of pain that comes with the territory. Reed has made me so happy, but so have Doug, Maura, their family, and Bill. Pain will continue to come, I’m sure of it. But so will the joy.

And with perfect timing, in the middle of writing this post, I checked my e-mail and read an update from Maura. Here’s most of the e-mail:

Hi Bill and Rachel,

We thought of you both a lot this weekend. The IAC [the adoption agency we went through] picnic was Saturday and then yesterday was Reed's 6 month birthday, of course. I hope sometime we'll be able to go to the picnic together. It was a hot, but very nice event - so much fun to see new and old families created through adoption, meet people who we'd been rooting for via internet, see so many babies and kids thriving, etc. There were a few birth families present which was great, but it would have been nice if there were more. Jen, the woman you met at the dog park in chapel Hill, was there with her family too! [When I met Jen at the park I was still pregnant and I ended up telling her about our open adoption plans. That really resonated with her and her husband who had initially been thinking about international adoption, and shortly after they contacted the IAC and started their own process.] They just finished all of their paperwork and their home study is almost complete. They are excited to be done with all that and are optimistic about matching with someone soon.

Meanwhile Doug's parents were here looking at houses in the area so Reed got some extra grandparent time and Marli [his 1.5 year old cousin] time - which he loves! It was nice to celebrate Reed's birthday with so many family around. We didn't exactly have a party, but we sang happy birthday to him (which he gets very excited about), told him his birth story again, and played and doted on him like we always do, which still feels so celebratory every day.

. . . . .

She also told me he has 3 teeth. :)