Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When My Heart Is Breaking

There are moments in your life you know are life changing. The moments that embed in your memory forever, refusing to fade away even when old and gray. When your then boyfriend gets down on one knee and says he can't imagine life without you by his side. When you pee on a stick and a little pink line appears letting you know you are pregnant. When you get a phone call telling you someone has willing chosen you, yes you, to be the mama to her daughter. When you get to hold that tiny little girl for the first time in your arms.

Late on January 22, Chris & I received one of those life changing moments through a phone call. At first, I thought and hoped that perhaps the call was about another baby to adopt. However in the back of my mind, I knew.

"I'm so sorry to be calling you with this news Vanessa, but J, Xiomara's birthmom passed away."

Every part of me wanted to scream, "NO" but I knew that I had to pull myself together and ask the questions I needed answered for Xiomara's sake one day. The screaming and tears would come later, and still be here two months later.

Two months ago, our precious and amazing birthmom passed away. When I found out, it felt like the world had dropped out from under my feet. With adoption comes loss, but this loss is not one I was ever expecting. Our sweet Xiomara is only four, but she loves her birthmom a lot and has spent the past year daily talking about her. One day she will likely have questions about her adoption and want answers. She may never get a chance to get those answers now.

"When my world is shaking, heaven stands. When my heart is breaking, I never leave your hands."

For two months I have done nothing but cry, dream, and cry some more. The whole first week after I found out, I hardly slept. I would spend most of my nights crying and the little sleep I did get was spent dreaming of the amazing woman who chose me to be mama to Xiomara. Eating has been difficult. There were times that Chris literally had to force me to eat.

Grief is a strange thing. It comes and goes. It shows itself while making snow angels in the snow and talking with your daughter about her first mama who is somewhere up in those clouds in the big blue sky. Sometimes it shows up as anger towards God for taking away the one person who would one day have answers for someone you love very much. At times it is hard to plaster a smile on your face and talk to someone like nothing in your life has changed, when really, everything has. Everything. Other times, grief is ignored as if facing the reality of it is just too damn hard. Sometimes it comes when you realize you have been smiling and then you feel guilty for being happy when your heart is still hurting. Or it comes when you hear your daughter explain to her cousin that her birthmom is in heaven maybe even riding on a carousel with Jesus. It comes as denial that she can't possibly gone, right? Only to Google her name for the thousandth time and see her name staring back at you in an obituary. Still other times, grief pours out like a gushing river.

I know for some people, they will read this and have a hard time understanding why I would take this loss so hard. I mean I hardly knew our birthmom. We only met once and haven't talked a lot since that day. But here is the thing, I felt connected to her in a way I haven't to anyone else. Maybe because we are both mama to a little girl we both love. She truly was family to us. A woman who loved her daughter, our daughter, so much, she chose the most difficult decision she could have and chose life. My daughter is a part of her, and I grieved and will continue to grieve because of that.

"I know you hate to see me cry. One day you will set all things right. Yeah, one day you will set all things right."

Printing and laminating obituaries, ordering flowers, and receiving her funeral program in the mail are all things that have been terribly difficult to do. Telling your daughter that her first mama has gone to heaven to be with can't even imagine....that is excruciating and one thing that I hope no one else has to ever experience.

"You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book." ~Psalm 56:8

We chose to only tell a few close friends and family who would uplift us in prayer during these pasts months. To those people, I say THANK YOU. You were friends for such a time as this, and will continue to be our friends beyond this. Your prayers often sustained me through some of my darkest moments.

To Clarissa, I cannot thank you enough for the love and respect you have shown both J and her family, while also thinking of us. We love you!
To my sister, Genevieve, who sobbed with me and for Xiomara. It told me that even if no one else cared, you did and that mattered to me. I love you!
To Megan and Leann who were the perfect friends to meet up with for a girls weekend right after I found out. Thank you for letting me talk through my feelings, and for hugging me when it was hard.
To Jill, the first person I called in an absolute panic. Your calm presence and texts since, helped reassure me that I could get through this.
To Mandy, who has faithfully texted me, even on my darkest days. I'm not sure what I would have done without you.
To Sharon, who told me not to apologize for being sad and instead covered us in prayers.
To Rachael, who sat in a crowded restaurant with tears in her eyes and told me she understood my pain. That meant the world to me.
To my amazing husband, Christer. You have held me almost every night as I have either sobbed or silently cried out to God. Your strong arms have come up along side me and wrapped me in love and comfort as I could barely hold myself up some days. That is true love! Thank you for never telling me or pushing me to get over it and stop crying. Thank you for allowing me to grieve and for being there with me through it all. I love you more for it!

Even before we adopted, or even knew about J, I wrote letters to our amazing birthmom. They continued all throughout our adoption process and after we met our amazing J, they became more personal and real. This blog has been my way of connecting with J even when she wasn't, to my knowledge, reading it. The night we found out about her passing away, I wrote her a final letter. I originally intended to post that only, but then felt compelled to write this & it didn't feel right adding that letter to this post, she deserved her own post. So that letter will come sometime in the days to come when I feel ready.

Writing that final letter is the hardest thing I have ever done. Somehow pushing publish makes it real that she is gone. And I hate that. Friends, I am struggling. Struggling to find God in this. Struggling for J's family who is left without her. Struggling for our precious daughter. I wasn't sure I could ever open up and share our grief and then somehow now felt like the time I should share.

Last month I got to experience the IF Gathering conference in my community. While listening to one of the women speak, she said this and it will forever stick with me:

"I can dance here because I have Jesus."

So I will continue dancing, although sometimes my dance may be slow or stumbled, or even tear-laden. I will dance because I still have Jesus.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Tonight I stood in the kitchen with big, fat, glistening tears running down my cheeks as you cried, yelled, and pulled at me for a reason you and I don't really know. My whole heart broke as I watched your heart breaking.

Sometimes your heart is in Georgia, even when you don't realize it's still there. Sometimes, you cry for reasons you don't even know. Sometimes you scream for what could have been.

And every single time, my heart breaks with you darling. For you.

I picked you up, rocked you, sang to you, and assured you that no matter what, I love you.

Every time you are loved darling.

Forever & always....every single time.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

He Makes All Things Beautiful....

4 years ago today a little boy was born to a woman whose name begins with "R". He was supposed to be ours. We were to have a son. A little boy. Which was strange because we felt like God had given us a girl name, and we had a vision of a daughter, but then we thought maybe we saw that wrong??

On March 17th, my world came crashing down around me in a way I never expected. The son I thought I would be holding in my arms became someone else's son.

And the world moved on while I lay in bed unsure of how I would survive the future without this little boy. No one outside of my husband really knew the utter pain and sadness I was in, knowing I had lost a son.

Today he is 4. Perhaps running through the beautiful Texas sunshine. Making a mess of his little hands and face as he digs into his birthday cake. Surely, being loved on by his parents. The ones meant for him all along.

I still wonder about him and wish that somehow I could convey to his parents how thrilled I am that they were the ones who were chosen to be his daddy and mama.

Of course, I always think of her, "R", the brave woman who had to make a decision she didn't want to make that day. She chose them and I wonder if she had her doubts. Doubts that she was doing the right thing, doubts that even though she originally chose us, were they really who she should have chose? I wonder if she knows him and has been able to see him like she wanted? Most of all, I wonder if she knew how much it killed me that day to not be able to give her everything she wanted?

I may never know the answer to those questions. I may never know who exactly "R" is, or even who that sweet little boy is. But I do know this, not a day has gone by in 4 years that I haven't thought of them. I've written about the loss several times over the years. I've prayed for both "R", the little boy, and his parents many times.

Ultimately, I've learned that God makes all things beautiful in His time.

Have you recently known someone who had a failed adoption? Check out this short post that I wrote on how to help someone who is going through one.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

On Loss With Adoption

Hi blog world! It's been awhile! I actually wrote this post a few months ago and then held it close to my heart, unsure if I wanted to share something so personal to me, and especially to her. Ultimately, I decided to share because I want to be honest in all aspects of adoption. Although I don't post very often, I still have hundreds of hits on this blog every month. I also often get e-mails asking me questions about how adoption works, which agency we used, more information on how we adopted debt free, and also questions on post adoption life. At the beginning of our journey, I promised to be honest in all aspects of our adoption, and loss is a big part of that. However, I also value my daughter and believe that her journey is hers to tell, so much of her story I hold close to my heart. I ask that you please be cautious in your response. It's easy to read a blog and to respond without thought of the feelings behind the other side of the screen. But I assure you she & her feelings are real and I am too, and lately, our hearts have been hurting.

This girl! Her smile captures all of our hearts!

She's 3.5 today.

Time has flown by faster than I ever could have imagined.

I'm still convinced that adoption is one of the most beautiful things ever.

3.5 years later, I'm fully aware that adoption also brings loss.

Lately, we have been feeling that loss more than ever before.

Just because Xiomara came to us at two days old doesn't mean she doesn't experience loss. She does. It has never been more evident than lately. Through tears, and lots of talking about her birth mom. Her heart has been breaking and so has ours.

One day, while I was making supper in the kitchen, she was quietly playing in her room with her sound machine. We always keep it on a white noise, so I was surprised to hear her going thru different sounds on her sound machine, something we have never done before. She came to the heartbeat sound and out of her mouth was a gasp and then words that broke my heart, "I love that sound. It's my favorite. That was from when I was a baby with my birthmom." She listened to that sound over and over. Tears came from my eyes. My baby was experiencing a loss that was never more known than at that moment.

My mama heart breaks.

For my daughter and the loss that she has. I wish with all my heart that she didn't have to experience that loss. I want to cry out for her. No 3.5 year old should ever have to experience a loss this great. It doesn't seem fair. I wish I could take the pain of that loss away. But I know that is not a possibility. So instead, I hold her through her tears and cry some of my own.

My greatest joy has been her greatest loss. As my heart beats with hers, it becomes my greatest loss too. I grieve with her. I hurt for her.

Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is loss. Adoption is love all around.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You A Merry Christmas

Monday, July 8, 2013

She's 3 Today

Three years ago today I met my daughter and her birthmom for the first time. I wrote this on Xio's birthday, but I share today as today is a special day for all of us and one I will never forget. As I watched Xiomara's birthmom so beautifully hand us her daughter and then walk away sobbing, my heart broke in half and I promised to do my part in allowing her to be a part of Xiomara's life. This is one little way I can do that.

Dear J,

Our daughter is three today. Three sweet and precious years old. Can you believe it?

That teeny, tiny, precious baby is definitely more grown up now (although thankfully not all grown up). Instead she is talking, running, tantruming, pottying, singing, dancing, and making us laugh daily.

She's been talking a lot about you lately. Asking me questions, or just declaring random things. Tonight at dinner, Xio declared, "My birf (birth) mommy gave birf to me in a bath tub". I told her the story of her birth again (although it wasn't in a bath tub), and then I showed her pictures of you and pictures of her. She sat there staring at the bright screen with her thumb in her mouth mesmerized, and probably a bit confused at it all.

I'm thankful she is free to ask questions. I'm thankful I have so many answers, thanks to you.

On this day I always think and pray for you, maybe a bit more so than others. I know as a mama, that birthdays are special and a mom never forgets the birth of her child. I'm hoping by now you received the package in the mail filled with pictures and a DVD. I'm thinking hearing her voice for the first time may be a balm for your soul.

Today the plan was to take her swimming as she is a little fishy, but we had rain here and it made it so we just stayed home and played (she liked it anyway). She wants vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting for her birthday cake and has asked me all day long when she gets to eat her cupcake! :)

I'm so thankful for her, J! I know I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again, I never knew joy until she came. She brings a certain spunk and happiness to our whole family. I know one day, you will get to experience that yourself, but for now, just keep cherishing these memories and these moments, in your heart.

We always love you and thank you on this day, as we do each day. Kisses from afar from your little girl.

With much love...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Update and An Interview

I know it's been a little while since I've's how life goes and you can always catch up more on my life, or see pictures on our family blog.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you all know that I was interviewed for an article on Going Into Debt for In Vitro or Adoption: Is It Worth It? Feel free to check it out, but know that my name is not Kirsten; I promise it's Vanessa! :) Edited: It's been updated correctly to Vanessa.

The post should be syndicated on The Huffington Post at some point, so look for it there, and I'll come back and add the link when it finally is! Edited: Here it is!  It was an honor to be interviewed and just showed me once again how God was in control of our debt free adoption, and not us as He wanted this story told to a million people or more. Please note that while the article states we took out a small loan, what it failed to mention, is that the loan was paid off almost immediately after we adopted Xiomara. I just wanted to mention that in case anyone was confused by that statement!

He has pretty incredible plans for our little girl! Speaking of her, I couldn't share an update without a picture and a little bit about what life is like for her right now. Xiomara is all two right now. That means she is into everything. Her newest adventures include coloring over her dolls with pens, crawling up on the bathroom sink to play with the water, and every once and awhile throwing herself on the floor in a tantrum. She honestly spends most of her days smiling and laughing! She is talking a ton now and repeats a lot of what we say, or what her older sisters say. She hasn't quite mastered potty training, but with summer and her third birthday coming up, mommy is going to work on it with her. She finally ditched her paci, only to replace it with her thumb. While it sure is cute, I'm pretty sure it's worse to have a thumb sucker as I can't get rid of her thumb!

Everyday with her is a joy and I can't imagine my life without her. I'm looking forward to watching her grow into the amazing girl, and one day woman, God is already forming her into. •

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