Posts tagged adoption
Grace and Life
Grace. I understood it now. It was being able to give up something that it broke your heart to lose, and be happy about it.

— Robert McCammon, Author of Boy's Life

I think I understand it now, too.

It has taken me a long time to learn the true meaning of grace.

For last five years or so I been working hard to take back the reigns of my own power. From my ego. She has ruled for so long that her strategies for keeping control were deeply ingrained in me. I lived by her rules; of planning, organization, accomplishment, and to do lists. She kept me unsettled, and very busily focused on the end goal. As I work to let go of her unhealthy practices that had me not fully appreciating the many little and big moments of the life right in front of me, I have been more easily able to recognize moments of true grace in my world.

Grace = doing the right thing.

Being a planned, organized, control freak doesn't prepare you for the unexpected things in life that happen, like learning your baby is having a baby. Especially not when he is only 19 and clearly not emotionally or financially ready to care for a baby, and isn't even in a relationship anymore. And it does not prepare you for being a grand parent for the first time and not being able to officially claim the role you've been anticipating for years.

The thing that gets you through is grace. Doing the right thing, even if it is the hardest thing you can imagine.

The decision to give my grand baby up for adoption wasn't mine to make, thankfully. And while this situation was one I never thought I would be in, it has shown me how to be thankful for the little things, even if they don't work out the way you once imagined they would. 

I appreciate how very lucky to be even a small part of my grandson's life.

My son showed me the meaning of grace as he wrestled with his decision to either fight to keep his son, or to give him a chance at a life with two loving parents. He understood he wasn't ready to be a father, and wasn't strong enough to navigate a messy co-parenting situation with someone he was no longer even friends with; and yet babies are his thing. He has always had immediate and deep bonds with little ones. I know that making the decision to let go of his own child ate away a part of his heart. As it did mine.

His grace-filled decision to do the right thing was in turn mirrored by the beautiful couple who adopted his child as they agreed to an open adoption. Showing their grace in turn by doing the hard thing and allowing (strangers) to have a presence in their son's life. From the first moment we met them they offered us grace, and while I sometimes have a hard time accepting I am worthy of that kind of grace, I am fully thankful of how awesome it is.

This whole unplanned situation has been a great learning experience for me. It has opened my eyes to the many sides of adoption. I appreciate my grandson's loving parents for their willingness to stand firm in their acceptance of us even in the face of questioning from their family and friends. I realize his other grandparents would rather not share the role with my husband and I, and maybe even secretly wish we'd just fade away. I might feel the same in their shoes.

I understand why their friends and family question their decision to trust us to babysit. It isn't hard to imagine them thinking thoughts about us like "how can you trust them, they clearly didn't do a great job of parenting the first time around." Or, "what is wrong with these people that they wouldn't keep their own grand child?" Because once I might have had similar ones myself.

And I accept that most people may even judge us for giving him up in the first place. At one time I probably would have. Funny thing is, we often think we know what we would do in someone else's shoes, until we find ourselves in them.

I have come to realize, even the best laid plans go haywire sometimes. Every time I think of the family and friends who doubt my grandbaby's parents in letting us get to know him, I want to shout from the rooftops that we don't want to intrude, or to assume someone's rightful role, or to overstep--- we just want our grandson to know that he is/was always loved, always wanted and will forever have all the love in our hearts.

This situation is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Beautiful and Brutiful --in the words of Glennon Melton. Their willingness to include us in his life and in theirs is humbling. It is selfless and scary and overflowing with buckets of grace, and is something I will be forever grateful for.

Picturing my grandson's smiling little face reminds me to take a breath and allow grace to soothe me. To stop being sad for missing the special moments of his life and to rejoice in how lucky I am to even know him. As I continually work to appreciate, I am simply thankful to be a part of his life at all.

Huge gratitude to all the teachers in my life who have shown me through their actions what grace truly is. By their examples I am learning to both accept and offer grace, to myself and to others.  


Changing the World with Unconditional Love

Twice now I am an almost Grandma. And some days it is bittersweet. 

For those of you who don't know, my youngest son had a baby boy just over a year and a half ago and gave him up for adoption to a beautiful couple who do not live far from us and who are gracious enough to let us be a part of his life. I hesitate to say out loud that I am his "Grandma" because he has two others of his own and I would never want to take away from that. It doesn't stop me however from loving him just as much as his own Grandma's do. I might not get to celebrate the big moments of his life and spend holidays with him (like they do) but he is never far from my heart or my thoughts.

 Most days I am content to sit on the sidelines sending my love and celebrating each milestone he achieves while appreciating how lucky I am that he is in my life at all. It is kind of ironic that one of my number one expressions of gratitude is that he is a part of my life ---and yet that seems to also be the number one thing that people feel the need to remind me of how lucky I am to have. (I know they mean well but it also makes me wonder if they think I am unable to recognize and appreciate that on my own). I do admit there are days when I shed tears of regret-- that the situation isn't different, that I am not a full -fledged Grandma, but mostly I just appreciate.

I biologically have two sons, and yet I also have an "almost" daughter. Most people assume almost daughter means that she is connected to one of my sons, as in daughter in law, but in this case she is not. She is my daughter, well at least she is a daughter in my heart. If she didn't already have a biological mother and an adopted mother, I would love to take on the full fledged mother role for her. But since she is already well covered in the mother department, I am often referred to as the "other mother". And technically the "other mother" has no real rights or significance. I just love her and support her as best I can while honoring that she will forever have her own "real" mothers.

When your "almost daughter" has a baby girl-- you become an "almost Grandma" or the "other Grandma". My almost daughter had a beautiful baby girl about three weeks ago. They currently live in our house until they can swing their own place. Happily I get to be "Grandma TT" for the time they live with me, even longer if I am allowed. And yes, in case you were going to remind me, I AM very thankful for the time I have with them.

Since I once again am not a "real" Grandma, I continue  to tread lightly so as to not step on the real Grandma's toes. (Knowing that you could lose your tentative place at any moment forces you to learn to appreciate every single precious second.)

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be fully and rightfully a legit Grandma who can be loud and proud and not have to worry about doing something wrong and losing my tentative place. I hope so. I'd like to think I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons in the last few years about unconditional love and that my presence will be a loving one in the lives of all of my "almosts."

For now I am thankful to have the opportunity to love on beautiful babies who I feel connected to and who I love as much as one heart can.

As this Mother's Day approaches it makes me appreciate (even more) my own mother and all the "other mothers" who have influenced my life so far. And it encourages me to send some serious gratitude to those "other mothers and grandmothers" I see stepping up to share their love, support and guidance with their "almosts" --simply because their hearts know no other way.

Unconditional love is awesome. I am convinced it has the power to change the world.

My Christmas Miracle

I have tears of happiness in my eyes today.

I was granted one of my greatest wishes this weekend.

I was able to babysit my sweet grandbaby two evenings in a row. I got to feed him dinner, change his diaper, play balls and cars with him, give him a bath, read him a story, cuddle him and tell him how much I love him. I got to watch his little face express determination, curiosity, silliness, happiness, frustration and deep intelligence. I saw him walk, not crawl across the room for the first time and I was reminded of how busy a little boy can be.

I do not take those things for granted.

If you are reading a post of mine for the first time you may not know that my son gave his son up for adoption. And by the grace of God it is an open adoption and I am able to know my grandson; a gift so incredible it never fails to move me. Or to start the gratitude to his adoptive parents flowing.

This weekend I was able to watch my husband, the love of my life, be a real grandpa--- to make his grand baby laugh, teach him how to bounce a big ball, bathe him and rock his soft little body to sleep. I was able to see three generations of boy put together a racetrack.

I was also gifted the special moment of experiencing my baby reading a bedtime story to his baby and of seeing the sweet look of love on his face as he rocked him to sleep, their two hearts beating as one for a moment in time. I will lock that moment in my heart forever.

What a gift.

What a joy.

What a blessing.

I will treasure the wonderment of having Ford reach his hand back for mine as I stood by his crib, as if to make sure I was still there.

It made me see that love is all that matters.

It made me wish for him to know that anytime he reaches for it, my hand will be there for the taking. And as he tucked it in close to his chest I felt my heart melt with a rush of unconditional love so big it overwhelms me even now.

It inspired this Christmas Wish:

Ford-- I hope you know that I will always be there to take your hand when needed. I will love you from afar and take every chance I can to be present in your life so that you always know how special, wanted and loved you are. Ashley and Travis, I wish you to know how much I appreciate your grace and trust, and to explain that no matter how hard I try I will never be able to fully express the depth of my gratitude to you for allowing us to know your son.What may seem weird to others is nothing short of a miracle to me. You have inspired me to share grace in any way I can throughout all situations in my life. Your kindness brings me to my knees. When others doubt or question your choices in regards to allowing my little family to know Ford, please remind them that adoption goes both ways with healing. As much as you needed Ford, we needed you to provide for him what we could not. And letting go was the greatest way we knew how to show grace. Allowing us to be a small part of Ford’s life has not only been healing; it has been life changing. I wish for them to see us as additional support, and not as a threat. We never wish to compete with or intrude on the wonderful life you all have made for Ford. We only wish to let him and you know that he is surrounded by loved on all sides.

This Christmas miracle has inspired me from this moment on to take every opportunity I am offered to show LOVE, share LOVE, spread LOVE, and receive LOVE.

Because love is all that matters.

And I will keep the sweet scent of my grand baby’s freshly washed hair in my nostrils, the feel of his little hand in mine, and the joyful sound of his happy giggle in my heart as I head intochallenging times.  When I feel lost or scared I will remember the sweetness of his heart beating next to mine as I rocked him to sleep, and I will know that everything will be okay.

Related blogposts:

The View From Here

My Glass is Truly Half Full

The Here and Now

The Here and Now

Putting their beautiful heads together. My son playing with his son. A treasured moment in time.

I haven't written anything about my grand baby in a while.

I don't often even say the words ''I am a grandma" or "I have a grand baby."  So most people I meet never even know. I would like to talk about it more, but I don't feel I have much right. You see, my "baby" created a baby and ultimately gave him up for adoption. It could have been a devastating thing, but by some miracle it was an open adoption, and the adoptive couple is gracious and inclusive and a perfect fit for little Ford. We get to see him. Joy of joys.

I've been keeping our interaction 'close to the vest" as the saying goes, not because I am embarrassed about what happened, or worried what others will think, in fact I am really proud of the decision my son made in doing what was best for his child. I am not sure I would have had the courage to make the same decision myself. I am simply not sharing because it hurts too much. It's an open wound.

I suppose I hide it fairly well, my inner sadness that is, but it doesn't stop it from lingering.

It might always be there. Like a hole in my heart. A wish unfulfilled. A dream that crashed and burned. You know, one of those feelings. I am strong enough not to let it rule me, or hold me back, but it when it surfaces, it is painful. Raw. Open.

It used to be that every time I saw a photo of Ford it made me tear up. It isn't like that anymore. I still feel the tug, but it isn't sadness exactly that immediately rushes to the surface--Ford's happy smile in Facebook pics never fails to fill my heart with love, awe and gratitude. But that tug, the one I experience in the area of my heart when I see his picture in everyday life---feels like a sadness, for at least a minute or two.

Until I bring the focus around to him and his happy family. And remember that this is the way it is supposed to be.  And all is well. This isn't about me. Even though it sometimes feels like it is. It feels like a direct sign that I have been judged and have fallen short, so now I have to suffer this loss of my grandchild. Kind of like a punishment for what I should have done, what I should have known.

I know the "tug" I feel is selfish in nature. Self-critical. A waste of energy. But it doesn't stop it from happening. It is a powerful combo of regret and resolution, and a resignation that I don't get a second chance to do it right with Ford.

Ford will never be fully "mine" in the way I wish he could be. It just wasn't meant to be the way I dreamed it to be. He has a couple of other grandma's who see him regularly, who babysit him often, who get the sleepovers and the vacation time I crave with him.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and I have never been anything but conscientious about any responsibilities that have landed on my plate. Problem is, I got too caught up in doing parenting "right", by the book as I had been shown and taught, and I forgot to make time to  enjoy it.

I forgot to have fun. It should have been fun, darn it. But that is not what I remember... and my kids and husband probably don't remember it that way either.

Oh don't get me wrong, I could have done a worse job. I am not saying I was a complete failure, I did manage to keep everyone safe and clean, accident and germ free (for the most part), but I missed all the little precious moments that I can never get back. The moments of being. Of appreciating. Of enjoying. And somehow I allowed my children to think that they were not good enough, as they were. My focus was always on the future... an if you would have done this, then this...kind of a thing. I was taught that from a young age. It didn't serve me. And it didn't serve my children.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.  It was so wrong for me to continue that belief. So far from the truth of what is really important.

I have lived 50 years with a mean inner critic. She isn't about to sit back and not take the opportunity to scold me about this. I recognize that I wasn't the best parent I could have been. I know I had the right intentions, but my execution sucked. While I am not one to dwell on would've, could've should'ves---I would take a do over if I could.

Knowing my grand baby is not really mine and that I won't get a second chance to do it right with him, makes me sad. Really sad. Unexplainably devastated. Because I want(ed) another chance to do it right.

I give out a lot of advice these days. To others. And I firmly believe in living your truth. The good parts and the bad. So I get it. I know I have to be okay with acknowledging that I tried my best with my kids. It might not have been good enough, but it was my best. I did it with the right intentions. With love. 

And I have to be okay with knowing I won't have the luxury of fully being Ford's grandma and learning to appreciate his little habits and quirks. I once imagined having lazy days of babysitting where I'd get to be 100% focused on my grandchild, without any distractions and free from the responsibility of doing it right. As a grandparent it wouldn't be all up to me--I could be the kind of person I always wanted to be.  I could Spoil. Meander. Play. Indulge.

But it isn't meant to be. Not yet.

So parents...spoil your kids with your time and love. Love every second of your time with them: the good and the bad. Savor those sleepy weekend mornings, the movie time snuggling (even if it is for the the 50th time), and the slow walks in the woods. The ones where you never actually get anywhere. Let your kids get dirty, play in the rain, and stay up so late they see the moon. Let them wear mismatched shoes out in public and not think it is a reflection on your ability to parent;  let your kids instead be proud they dressed themselves.

Live in the moment. Your example of living in and acknowledging the "now", will be so much more important than keeping your house clean or getting the laundry done.

I see so many young parents doing it right these days and I am so happy for them --and at the same time sad that I wasn't smart enough to have done the same.

Stop trying to follow the advice of your parents and grand parents --chances are when they do become grandparents--they will be attempting to make up for the time they lost, too. Trying to right wrongs they were taught to believe in.

What I would do differently.

Show your kids by example what is really important. Listen to them. Answer them to the best of your ability. Align your words and actions. Spend time --QUALITY time--with them, sharing everything you can. Stop making a plan for everything, instead give yourself time to just enjoy the moment. Even if the moment has you feeling frazzled, tired, frustrated, or exasperated.  Learn to appreciate that you will never have that moment again.

Be present, and also be the best parent you can be in the present moment. Don't save your best self for an opportunity for a do over with your grand baby that may never come.

I understand that my adorable grandson is exactly where he is supposed to be, and with who he is supposed to be with. That makes my heart happy, and now most of the time when I look at a picture of him, it makes me smile with joy that at least he is in my life. No matter if it is different than I once thought. No matter that my do over, my second chance will have to wait.

Related posts:

One cool dude is right.

My Glass is Truly Half Full

The square of ice over my heart melted last night, and made its way down my cheeks and out through my tears, in its place grew gratitude.

Letting go of expectations is freeing.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about the View From Here and while I was writing the post I grieved for what I thought I had lost; another chance at being the kind of mother (in this case grandmother) I wished I had been the first time around. Never ever imagining that a grandchild of mine would be born and not be a part of our daily lives, I made the mistake of looking at the situation selfishly and concluding that it sucked. I concentrated on all the negatives, what things I would be missing out on-- the "do over chance", the cuddles, the opportunities to spoil him--all ridiculously self-centered things. I worried that this child might someday think his biological grandparents didn't care about him. Those thoughts left me feeling sad, guilty and like the whole situation was a direct reflection of the type of parent I had been (or had not been) to my own son. It is very much a reversion to an old pattern of thinking that has ruled most of my life -- and it doesn't make me happy to admit I slipped backwards.

Proof that we are all human and even though we "know" better, it does not stop us from repeating our mistakes.

It took my grandson's incredibly gracious adoptive parents to show me that once again I was taking the glass half empty view. Instead of recognizing that my husband and I did well to raise a child who was able to make a hard decision in the best interest of his own child, I chose to focus on the things that didn't add up to what I'd once expected. What I failed to acknowledge was the awesome opportunity my grandson has to live the beautiful life he deserves. I realize now how fantastic it is that my grandson will be raised by a loving, beautiful, supportive young couple, who have been in essence just waiting for him.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend time with the couple that adopted my grand baby. As they shared a meal and traded stories (and laughter) with my own family, I was able to hold my grand baby against my heart and smell his beautiful baby smell while kissing his soft head. That snuggle I had once wished for.. became a reality, a moment I will never forget. I can already it see it being a happy place I will go when negativity tries to weasel its way back in.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

l see now that life has been preparing me for this life event for a while. Having an "almost daughter", whom I love with all my heart, I know what it feels like to love someone else's child as your own. DNA is clearly not the only requirement for being a parent.

A few years ago I would never of had the ability to understand that someone else could love my grandchild as much (or more even) than I could. And yet I have no doubt that they really do. He is theirs and he has not only their glorious love to grow up with, but the love of their extended family as well. How great is that! I know that they will make sure he knows we care and will send pictures and share the important milestones so that we feel a part of what is going on, without stepping on the toes of his real grandparents.

How silly of me not to have looked at the glass half full side of this experience to see that this adoption would end up bringing great joy and healing to another family. Where there was once a heaviness in my heart, there is now a bright light of love and thankfulness for the experience. 

And anyway I slice it, that is progress for me.

The View From Here ... not exactly what I expected it to be.

And for the record I'm not talking about the view shown here; that one is beautiful. I'm talking about the view from this place in my life, it isn't exactly what I once thought it would be.

Did you ever think about the kind of mother, grandmother, dad or grandpa you were going to be, long before it was actually time for it to happen? I did. I'm a thinker, a dreamer....I have always loved other people's kids -- I have infinite patience with them, so I once thought I would be a really good mom.

Only I wasn't. Oh, I kept my kids safe, clean, fed, and attempted to teach them what I thought they needed to know, but I missed a lot of live-in-the-moment opportunities. I think I knew it too, at the time, but I couldn't stop myself. The to do list in my head was way too long, the responsibility to achieve, to make myself useful too ingrained.

As a young mother I felt the guilt of knowing I wasn't taking enough time to enjoy my kids. I realize now I spent way too much time doing the unimportant things, like keeping my house clean, sending out Christmas cards, or doing what I thought I needed to do look like I was on top of it all. (Homemade cookies for the boys' birthday treats, handmade gifts for teachers, whatever it was I thought people expected of me). I felt shame when I lost my temper, or rushed through bedtime stories, or listened to my boys with only one ear while I was intently focused on accomplishing  <something>, anything to prove my worth and my value to others.

But I powered on through my life hoping to make up for my mistakes one day -- when I was a grandma I was going to be awesome. My biggest fear was  that my boys would move away and I wouldn't be able to see my grand kids often enough. I wanted that second chance to do it right.

I would do it all differently,  I would appreciate every moment, read the books slowly so I could savor every minute of the snuggly cuddle and relish every sloppy kiss. I vowed not to care about spills or messes, instead I planned to enjoy my grand kids' uniqueness and quirky personalities. I loved the thought that I could have f-u-n with them and not have to feel the weight of responsibility of trying to teach them all that they needed to know to succeed in life. 

I hoped that while I never really shined at mothering, grand mothering would be my thing. I could dote, spoil, play, enjoy ---on my time, and then send them back home when I needed to. I would be a great grandma.

I never dreamed I'd be a grandma who didn't even know her grandson. But this is where I learned someone had another plan for me.

Because I AM a grandma, but I've never met my grandson. My grand baby is just over three months old now. He doesn't know me. Or my family (yet) because he was given up for adoption. A difficult decision, but not mine to make. I am glad it wasn't up to me, it takes a lot of courage to let go and I am not sure I would have been able to make that selfless decision, which was in the best interest of the baby.

I hear he has loving parents; I pray they think he is the greatest thing ever. I'll bet he also has loving grandparents who take time to savor the little moments with him.

The ultimate irony, right? Never put off the present moment for some time in the future because it may never actually come. And if it does, it may not be what you anticipated. It just isn't the way I saw it all happening, without me in it.

This grandma won't be savoring any snuggles, cuddles, stories, or little moments any time soon. I will be lucky if I get to meet him at all.

If I needed proof that the control I clung to for most of my life was a big fat waste of time; this is it. It is a perfect reminder to enjoy what is right in front of you, when it is right in front of you. Or you may never get another chance.

I choose to believe that everything happens for a reason, and the view from here is one I needed to experience, even if it sucks, even if I don't yet understand it.