Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable: One Small Moment

From the roundtable this time: write about a small moment that open adoption made possible.

When I first read this week's discussion topic, I must not have been paying close enough attention. I thought Heather was asking us to write about a small moment that made open adoption possible. My mistake. :)

But I think I'm on the right page now!

In thinking of our particular situation (and maybe others can relate), the entire relationship has been made up of a lot of small moments. In the past almost twenty months, we've had very few earth-shattering moments where our relationship with "A" is concerned.

And though I would still consider our adoption to be an open one, it is often more "semi-open," or even somewhat "closed" in practice. It's not for lack of trying; but, this is how things have more often than not played out.

So, maybe all the more because of that fact, I greatly treasure the one visit we have had since our sassy little girl was born. She was six months old at the time--the perfect age for still being a cuddly baby, and yet having so much awareness of her surroundings, responding to others, and being fully entertained (and entertaining) with smiles and laughter.

We spent the entire day with A, her family, and friends. We visited with those we had not see in six months, and we met others who had known our precious girl before she was born, not yet having had the opportunity to see her in person. She was passed from person to person, family member to friend, grandparent to grandparent, and mother to mother. She did beautifully the whole time, and on that day more than ever, I was SO grateful for her easy-going nature and flexibility in unfamiliar situations.

She was a baby, though, and naptime did come. I had wondered how we would manage to not push her past her limit, while still allowing A to savor every moment with her. I tried not to worry about it too much beforehand, and just decided we would take the day as it came.

It came time for a bottle, and A gladly did the honors. I loved that she got to snuggle her sweet baby as she ate. There's something so precious about feeding a baby--your baby. After mealtime was over, the room started to quiet down as others went into the kitchen to eat or went outside to chat and play games. People stopped coming and going as much, and the room became still for the first time all day. Maybe others sensed the need for a few quiet moments between A and the daughter she'd missed all these months, or maybe everything just fell into place.

She began to rock our sweet baby. She relaxed her arms so she would lay back in them. She cuddled her and stroked her face. She quietly "shhh'ed" her, just like all mothers do with their tired babies. It was the most natural thing in all the world, and in a way, I felt like I was intruding a bit by being present in the room. I quickly took a few pictures of the two, and then left to sit outside with my husband and enjoy the cookout. I told him what a precious thing was going on at that moment, and how I only wished our little girl would stop her attentive nature for just a few moments, so that she wouldn't be raising her head to look at me. We smiled at what a lovely day it really had been.

Days later, as A and I were corresponding via email about the visit we'd had, she noted that, among other things, she loved being able to rock our daughter in her sleepy state, and how it brought her such relief to see her craning her neck to watch Mommy. She commented that, as a "birth mom," she was so happy to see our girl safe and secure. She had been worried that their strong connection as a family, similar physical attributes, and other characteristics would make us feel sad or upset on that day, and how she hoped we understood that our parenthood wasn't being threatened.

I wrote back immediately and told her that, first of all, I had been worried that she had been upset by the neck-craning, and second, having a sense of acceptance and biological heritage for our daughter on that day was the thing I had most been hoping for on our visit. How funny that the things we were each fearing for the other were the very things that meant so much to us.

I will never forget the image of A rocking our baby girl. It was as if they'd never been separated. I'm so thankful to have the pictures from that day, but I'm also so thankful for the quiet moments between a mother and her child.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Today I decided to clean the top of the fridge. Why? I'm not really sure. No one sees it ever. It's not like someone is going to walk into my house and say "My, what a clean refrigerator top you have there." But it's one of those things that, when the mood strikes you, why not?

I've been trying to use less chemically-based cleaners and more natural, everyday ingredients for household cleaning. But my vinegar and water (the "all purpose" cleaner) wasn't cutting through the grime that somehow lands on refrigerator tops.

I remembered I had bought these some time ago:

I had never tried them on anything, but figured this was the perfect opportunity. And it really turned out to be. Just dampen the scrubby pad, work it around a bit in your hand, and it starts to foam. One side is like a scouring pad and the other is like a cloth. Works great, especially for removing sticky kitchen grime.

But, I noticed this warning on the side, listed after all the usual warnings of not using it on marble or aluminum, and testing it first in a small area:


Was this really a concern? Was there really some person out there who ran out of shower gel and thought this was a good replacement? Are there really parents out there who think "You know what would get this poop of my child's legs (and crib, and bedding, and pajamas...) in the quickest and least painful way? A Soft Scrub Scrubby Pad, of course!"

So... using Scrubby Pads for splattered kitchen grease? Good idea. But, ladies, the next time your special time of the month rolls around, please do refrain from using these to help yourself feel fresh and clean. Just in case the warning was needed.

What other funny warning labels have you seen?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It was bound to happen

My toddler woke up this morning and, instead of politely requesting "Mommy, please come get me up now," she sat and played. By taking off her diaper. And playing in her poop.

Poop on her pajamas, poop on the crib rails, poop on her bedding, poop on the pacifier... still in her mouth. DISGUSTING!!

It took nearly an hour to bathe her, strip the crib of the bedding (including the bumper), scrub the poop off the crib itself, disinfect everything, wash the bumper, hang it out to dry, and wash the rest of the bedding. Just what I wanted to do this morning.

Now the last load is in the dryer, she is napping in a freshly-cleaned crib, and I just remembered I still need to clean the tub.

I've always heard stories like this and hoped my child would never do that. At least I made it this long!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable: Wish List

The theme this time is: share your wish list for your open adoption. See the other responses here!

I feel like someone has just given me the permission to dream of my "ideal" situation, all that I hope for our relationship with our daughter's first family to be, and even some of what I fully expect it will not be. I'm continually learning (and re-learning) that this relationship -- not unlike any other -- is a two-way street. I am only in control of my half of the road, but there is a great responsibility in that.

If I could make a wish list in our situation, it would include things such as:
  • More frequent visits
  • Consistent and reciprocal communication
  • Sharing my daughter's birthdays with her first mom in person rather than via letters, cards, packages sent, and late night emails (but, I feel I should note that I AM thankful for those things as well)
  • More honest and open discussion of feelings and emotions -- a throwback to what it once was
  • Clear answers for my daughter about some fuzzy areas of her story
  • Communication from her biological father that comes with a pure intent
  • Medical, social, and family information from the paternal side
  • An open relationship with her biological father's side... someday... maybe...
  • The ability for my child to pick up a phone, write an email, or send a letter to either of her first parents, and the expectation that her communication will not go unanswered
  • A feeling of acceptance and love for her in ANY part of her biological family
My wish list for our open adoption is fairly extensive (I am a particular person, after all!), but my ultimate wish, prayer, and hope can be summarized into one basic thought:

That my daughter will be completely fulfilled, happy, and at peace with her life and its unique circumstances.

That's really all any parent could ask for, isn't it? We all want our kids to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted. We want them to be kind, respectful, honest, and responsible individuals. We do our best to mold them into the people they were born to be, and to be what God created them to be. We never, ever want to see them hurt from something outside of their (and our) control, and that is often times a real and present fear in the adoptive family.

So, even if our adoption never achieves the new heights of openness that I myself would desire, I wouldn't change it, as long as my sweet girl can understand why she was placed, who she was meant to be in life, and how much she is loved by all who are blessed to call her part of their family.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's that time of year again

The first of the teacher resource catalogs appeared in my mailbox today. One quick glance at the Carson-Dellosa materials, and I wonder, would it be selfish of me to want to homeschool my daughter so I can maintain my stay-at-home mom status while still teaching?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making a (non) pillowcase dress

I really hate sewing. I'm definitely no "seamstress." But, I decided to make something else crafty this week (a mei tai!), and while I was at it, I decided to give these cute dresses a try, too.

Have you seen these pillowcase dresses that are in every boutique and Etsy store these days? They are SO cute. I've seen adorable ones with embroidery, monogramming, all kind of cuteness. But gracious, they are EXPENSIVE for being such an "easy" item!

So, for less than $5, I made my own. And if I can do it, ANYBODY can do it!

First, find a cute print that you like. If you are starting with a real pillowcase, your life is that much easier because the sides are already sewn shut and you shouldn't have much trouble lining everything up so it's even. But if you are like me and don't honestly know where they sell pillowcases that are cute enough to be dresses separate from the rest of the bedding set (and for this cheap!), you can just buy a yard or so of fabric (depending on the size of your little one, of course). I bought two squares of pre-cut fabric from Wal-mart that were 18"x21" a piece. I wanted something for my little girl to wear on the Fourth of July in a few days, so I went with a red cotton with white stars.

Isn't it cute?

But... here's what's not so cute. Every anti-seamstress' dread.

The sewing machine! Brings back horrible memories of junior high home economics class, and having to make my own skirt. Which I then had to wear. To school.

I borrowed my mom's sewing machine, since I have misplaced mine (due to never having used it in the six years I've had it). My mom said the reason it's called "brother" is because when you get it out to work on a project, you end up saying "Oh, brother, why am I doing this?!"

Okay, but it's truly not that bad! At least this project isn't. You'll first want to break out the iron (another task which I dread, but it does make life easier on this one occasion) to fold down your hemlines. Then, I hemmed what would become the bottom of each piece.

You'll need to cut off both corners at the top to allow for the armholes. One site I found said to measure 2" along the top and 3" along the side, then cut a straight line across to connect those measurements. Another site said to simply cut out a "J" shape from each corner. I kind of did a mix of those. The measurements the first site gave didn't quite seem big enough, so I fudged them a little with the "J" shape idea. It's fine. We're into individuality.

Fold down the top and allow room for a ribbon to pass through. Hem.

Next, you'll want to lay your two separate pieces together, outsides facing in toward each other. Double check to make sure your tops and bottoms are lined up. You don't want the dress to be three inches longer in the front than in the back.

Stitch both sides together, leaving room at the top to allow for the armholes.

And, I don't know what took me so long to notice this, and maybe there's a totally different use for this feature of the sewing machine, but right about this time (after I'd been using the sewing machine all day) I noticed these nifty little lines parallel to the needle. Could it be this was put in place to help lopsided sewers like me keep their fabric in a straight line while sewing? I felt a little smarter after that.

The last step involving the sewing machine was to hem each of the armholes. You really could do this earlier in the process, but I saved it for last, mostly because I thought it would be the hardest part. I also wasn't sure if I had left enough room for my toddler's skinny little arms to squeeze through. I ended up folding the edges down once more to open it up a smidgen.

Turn the dress right side out.

Both your top and your bottom should be open, so it's more of a "tube" or a "tunnel" at this point, rather than a dress.

You should have two wides hems to allow for two ribbons to run through them.

And what would be cuter for an Independence Day ensemble than navy blue ribbon? I used a grosgrain ribbon that's not quite an inch wide. String a ribbon through each side. Length depends on how long you want the ribbon to hang down upon completion.

Bunch the fabric together a bit to make the top a little more fitted. Tie the ribbon into bows. Or, if you like, double knot and let the ribbons hang flat. That looks cute, too.

And, in one of the newly discovered words from my daughter, ta-da! Finished product. Totally simple, totally cheap, and totally CUTE!