Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Little Common Sense... PLEASE :)

I am the first person to admit... I have NO filter. Though my filter has improved with old age and life experience, it still isn't great.  My lack of filter is probably  both a blessing and curse in my currently life situation.  And by current life situation, I mean.... the Biscuit.  I am raising a child that is the trifecta of  the cause of STUPID comments made by the general public.  He has very complex medical needs, he is adopted, and he has some behavioral issues.  People of the internet, please, PLEASE... don't be that person that makes me want to bite through my tongue in an attempt not to fly off of the handle.  PLEASE... In an attempt to make you feel more "at ease" in your comments, I will throw you a bone.  Here is a Top Ten list of things that I have heard with my own ears about my little person.  For the record, for some reason, I have heard every single one of these in the grocery store line at least one time.  I don't get it, but it is true. 

This post will be a 3 part post...the first addressing his ADOPTION:

TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS NOT TO SAY TO ME (OR MY KIDS) ABOUT MY CHILD'S ADOPTION.... and what I am really thinking about your comment.  Regardless of whether or not I actually say it.

10.  What is his "story." 
While I admit that I am MUCH more forthcoming with Biscuit's adoption story than many adoptive parents, it isn't a question you should ask.  If I mention it and you have follow up questions. Ask them, but do not be shocked if I don't tell you.  As he grows older and becomes more aware of what is going on around him, I will likely stop talking about it all together.

9.  Do you worry that his "Real" Parents will come back and take him???  
First off, I am his not worried that his "Real" parents will come and take him, because I am his REAL parent.  His father is his other REAL parent.  Thus, giving you "real parents" two of them.  The word that you are looking for is BIOLOGICAL.  Secondly, are you worried that your child will be kidnapped one day?? Heck yeah, I worry.  I worry a lot.  Legally they don't have a leg to stand on, but it is a heck of a lot easier to get a child illegally than it is legally.  Now, please excuse me while I Facebook stalk and take my ulcer medication...

8.  Do you love him as much as Bit??? 
Again,  have you lost your mind?  Do you love your two children differently??  Honestly, I love my children, BOTH of them, with every fiber of my being.  EVERY SINGLE FIBER!! I would die for them and use by last breath to remind them that I love them more than anything.  Bit is an easier child to raise, don't get me wrong, but I have nearly lost Biscuit way more times.  You don't know how much you really love someone until you are fearful that you will never hold them again. So, the simple answer to this is... EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I love them equally. 

7.  I could never adopt, it is just too hard. 
Good for you.  I didn't ask you to, but since you brought up the difficulty of adoption let me tell you a few things.  Adoption is HARD!!  Really hard.  So is LABOR. Labor = Work.  They don't call it fun.  I have done both. I almost DIED growing Bit. Neither of them were a picnic.  If you don't want to do it, don't. But you don't have to tell me how hard I worked. I know, I was there. 

6.  How come you didn't just HAVE a child???
This one is the "grocery store" conversation.  When I used to have Bit with me at the grocery store, it seemed that this question came up more than once at the grocery store.  The short answer- THAT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!!!!  You don't criticize people when they choose to get pregnant and give birth, why would you criticize for adopting a child???I would almost giggle if I saw someone looking a woman with her band new newborn saying, "Why didn't you adopt."  You wouldn't make it 3 seconds past her post partum hormones.   Next, think about what you are saying IN FRONT of my son.  You are making him feel like he has no self worth because I could have just "made my own."

5. Is he yours???  Pointing at Bit after they find out that Biscuit is adopted.
Ummmmm.... they are BOTH mine. In fact, I have a court order to prove it.  But, for real...  this was the response I gave someone when they caught me on a particularly long day.  "I am sorry, I don't understand your question. If you are asking if Biscuit caused stretch marks,  they answer is yes. I gained more weight with him than I did his brother.  If you are asking if Bit caused an episiotomy scar, the answer is yes. Thank you for being so curious about the history of my vagina. "  I bet they don't ask that question again...

4.  Where did he come from?
The answer is Nashville.  But why do you care?  I get this. With international adoption becoming more and more popular,  I can see your curiosity.  But, not every single adopted child came from another country.  Please don't find out he is adopted, walk up to us and start SPOUTING countries like you are playing the "higher or lower" game on The Price is Right.  Where was your child conceived??  Doesn't sound so cute does it?

3.  He is so lucky to have you.  You will have jewels in your crown in heaven.  I would hate to know what would happen to him if you didn't "TAKE HIM IN."
I grouped these together, because they all make me crazy in their own right. Each and every one of them is someone's attempt to praise me, while insulting my son.   First off, unless you know specific details of his story, you have no real right to assume he would be living a horrible life if I hadn't swooped in like some Fairy God Mother and "taken him in."  Second,  he isn't a stray cat that I brought in and fed because it was cold. He was a cognitive decision and Josh and I made to grow our family.  You can NEVER accidently adopt a child. As someone has pointed out to me  in number 7, it is just too hard.   Just for the record, we are lucky to have him. He has taught us more and done more for us than we will ever do for him- that includes his 2 trips to Disney World.  We didn't adopt him to be praised as saints.  We did it because we felt this was the way we wanted to grow our family.  I mean, I would love to go to heaven, but Josh and I weren't signing on the dotted line saying, "We have got a Golden Ticket!!!"

2.  How much did he cost??? 
$19.99 they would have thrown in his twin, but we didn't want to pay the optional extra shipping and handling.  Again, I know where you are going with this... adoption is known to be expensive.  You are curious.  But in the process, you are degrading my son's position in this family to nothing more than something you would purchase at the grocery store.  Children are very literal. In addition, in this society, money is also very personal.  I don't ask you how much you make a year and what your mortgage is each month.

1.  Do you know his "REAL PARENTS??"
As I pointed out in number 9... WE ARE HIS REAL PARENTS. I just wanted to reiterated this one because it makes me SO FLAMING MAD.  We clean up vomit, kiss boo boos, sit in PICU and cry over his sick body, and haven't slept in 4 years.  Me and Josh... no one else.  Please don't say this to ANY ADOPTIVE FAMILY... it is just pain rude.  The answer is no, we don't know his biological parents.  We didn't make some back alley deal to adopt him.  It is true, some adoptions are open. This means that the families do keep in touch and know each other.  But, if you are interested in knowing that, you need to be very close to the family and you need to ask if it is an open or closed adoption.  I have met his biological father. Truth be told, he is a pretty likeable guy.  Neither Josh nor I have ever met his mother, but we did have telephone interaction with her a few times during meetings. 

If you have said and of this to someone, rest assured you aren't the first person and you won't be the last. And honestly, this may not bug everyone like it bugs me, but I have a pretty good idea that I am NOT in the minority here.  It you have said it to me, I still love you. Unless, you are some person from the grocery store line. In fact, if you are in the grocery store line with someone, and adoption is mentioned,  just smile, nod, and have no opinion.  It seems that the tabloid magazines almost always make peoples IQ drop like 10 points.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yikes!!! We were nominated for an AWARD....

Today I got the weirdest call.  It was a representative from a Congressman's office. She wanted to let us know that we were nominated for an award specifically designed for Parents that do amazing work in adoption.  I was shocked and humbled at this honor. Because, you know, it is an honor just to be nominated.  She sent me an email and requested a biography of our family that included certain information.  I figured since I have never really shared our family's story, I just assumed that everyone knew, I would share our biography on my blog. 

Here is the letter I wrote:
I am very excited that our family was nominated. We would absolutely be able to attend the events if selected. We love to travel and have always wanted to take the boys to Washington, DC. 
I am going to do my very best to keep my answers brief, but as you know that can be hard for a mom to do when talking about her family.
Josh and I were college sweethearts. After college, we got married, bought a house and always thought that children and likely adoption would be part of the equation. Shortly before our first anniversary, we learned that I was pregnant with our son, Bit. Nine weeks into our pregnancy, I started having complications. I was hospitalized and in and out of a drug induced coma the entire pregnancy. Finally, after a lot of hard work by a team of high risk doctors, Bit was born at 33 weeks gestation. He was put in NICU and had a few preemie medical problems, but over all was a happy healthy child. 
When Bit was a year old, we felt in our hearts that our family wasn't complete. We were advised by medical professionals not to attempt another pregnancy, so we knew that were were going to have to grow our family in an alternative way. Together, we researched adoption and we decided to pursue a foster/adoption. After speaking with a representative from foster agencies, we learned that we would likely be taking an at risk foster placement. This meant that which ever child we chose to take, we would agree to parent until permanency occurred. Permanency could mean that he went back to his biological parents or that he was adopted by our family. We had to be prepared, as a family, for things to go either way.

Once all of the training was completed and the home visits were done, we waited. Finally, one day, we got the call. A 6 week old baby had been released from the hospital and needed a placement that night. The placement agency said he was a "healthy, white, baby boy." He had adoption as one of the goals on his permanency plan and, of course, we said, "yes!" That night we met Biscuit.

He came to our home with only the clothes he was wearing, a donated car seat and nothing else. We didn't care. He needed us and our family was there for him until permanency happened- whatever that meant. We were his and he was ours, for as long as he needed it.
The next few days were filled with many doctors' appointments and lots of shopping. We learned that Biscuit was born in a home that didn't meet codes, in less than ideal circumstances. At birth, he tested positive for Opiates, Cocaine, Marijuana and Benzodiazipines. He was angel flighted to Vanderbilt. We also learned that he had been on ECMO. ECMO is the most aggressive form of life support that is used.

Biscuit's entire life has been filled with over 100 nights in Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. He has had countless surgeries and procedures. At times, it seemed that he received a new diagnosis every week. At one time, he had a hospital bracelet for every month of his life from a hospital admission. He has died in my arms 3 times. He has had at least 3-4 therapy appointments per week since he was brought to our home. Either his father or I have attended every appointment with him. He has never spent a night in a hospital alone. When Biscuit was 11 months old he had a G-tube placed. During that time, I used FMLA so I was able to stay with him during his extended hospital stay. My husband and I have learned to everything necessary to care for his medical needs and provided him everything necessary to thrive. Often, that meant paying for items and medications that insurance would not pay for out of pocket. Our life had turned upside down. 
During the entire two year process, we were asked several times if we wanted to continue the placement. With a foster adoption -preadoptive placement, the foster family also has the opportunity disrupt the placement if they feel that the child is not a good match for their family. The DCS workers and his guardian at litem were compelled to ask because Biscuit's care was so involved. Each time, we declined the offer to disrupt the placement. It is our belief that a family does not get to pick the child that God gives them. If a family grows through birth or adoption, you just aren't meant to pick. We were given the baby that we were meant to have and we would see things through until permanency.

Which we did. Biscuit's adoption was finalized on November 2, 2011. Only a few weeks before he turned 2 years old.

Fast forward to today. Biscuit is 3 years old and Bit is 7.  Biscuit continues to be very medically involved. He has a private nurse at our home 60 hours per week; while I work as a Social Worker for Jimmy John's sub shack and his Father works as an Insurance Adjuster for Elmo. We continue to take him to therapy and all of his doctor's appointments and he continues to grow and surpass all of the expectations that doctors have provided. A child that has half of a working vocal cord can talk. He has a diagnosis of hemiparesis and can walk and run. We will never let him be just a diagnosis.

Biscuit can make a person smile on their worst day. He has taught us about perspective and what family really means. His placement has not only blessed our family beyond measure, but other families as well. In June of 2012, my husband was blessed to be able to donate a kidney to one of Biscuit's friends from Vanderbilt. Today, she is 4 and thriving.

So, that is a little about our little family. I hope this provides you with the information that you need. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing back from you and I am excited at the prospect of participating in this event.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cutting out the Cancer

Mark Glamack said, “If you surround yourself with the good and righteous, they can only raise you up. If you surround yourself with the others, they will drag you down into the doldrums of mediocrity, and they will keep you there, but only as long as you permit it."  

Holy cow was that dude right!!!  

Ladies and Gentlemen- it has been a long, rough couple of weeks.  Since Monday, Biscuit has had more medical procedures than I can count (in one day), had a seizure- like the kind that results in a non-responsive blue child and been diagnosed with MRSA in his airway and lungs.  To say that my ulcer is growing by leaps and bounds is a bit of an understatement. 

I have spent a week more or less- on the couch, staring off into space, feeling like I have an elephant on my chest.  You all have felt it- that tight chested anxiety feeling; when your lips tingle- like they are asleep. Only this wasn't caused by my puny baby. It wasn't caused by the fact that Bit is starting 2nd grade- GASP! It is caused by MY choices.  I feel like some of the people that I choose to surround myself with are, simply put, like poison.  Like a cancerous growth that has attached itself to my everyday life. Something that is slowly sucking away my self confidence.  Making me question my ability to do what is right for my children. Causing me to NOT be all that I can be where they are concerned. Which makes me think.  What can I do to change this predicament that I have put myself in?   I have decided that I will be cutting out the cancer.  

Here is the thing. If you have a friend or relative that is raising an "easy to love but hard to raise baby," cut them some darn slack.  Trust me, they get judged just fine by everyone in the world.  From the lady at the grocery store that wants to tell her how their mother's, brother's, cousin's, nephew did just that and they simply had to point their finger at them and say, "no!" and that baby walked the line. To the countless therapists, hospital social workers, doctors and specialists that can't figure out how to "fix it" so it is obviously a problem with their "home life."  WE DON'T NEED YOU TO JUDGE US TOO!!!!!!!!!  

In fact, when you do it- it is quite difficult for us to swallow. You see, families like us have only a few places that we can go where we don't live on edge.  Half of the time, we can't even spend time at our own house where we don't live on edge.  Because of the countless home visits done by those "experts" that can't figure out our kid, either.  We are either preparing for a visit or recovering from one.  Our own house isn't even a "safe place."  So, if you have taken the time and energy to express (verbally) that you are one of those friends/family members that is willing to take the good and the bad, better and worse, of our child and LOVE them AND their parents unconditionally don't take the when the going gets tough (or in this case- steroids; lots and lots of steroids) the tough gets judgmental approach.  News flash- we are aware that out kid has issues.  It isn't like we are sitting around twiddling our thumbs hoping that we can miracle him out of this one.   

Needless to say: I have decided that I don't need people like that in my life. You aren't worth it.  It is true that raising a child with special needs causes to people to isolate themselves from the world around them. Their circle of tried and true friends is certainly just that.  TRUE FRIENDS and UNCONDITIONAL FAMILY MEMBERS.  But, with "friends" and "family" like a few that I have encountered in the last year; WHO THE HECK NEEDS ENEMIES????? I for one- don't!  

So, here is your one warning: If you can't love our family, ALL OF US, unconditionally, step aside and leave us alone. You are nothing but Cancer to our awesomeness. There are a lot of things about my life I can't control, but I can and I will control this.  I won't allow my children, specifically that very active, cute, little one, to believe that he is BAD because YOU needed to blow out someone's candle just to make yours burn brighter.  Perhaps attacking the behavior of a 3 year old is causing you to feel better about your own short comings? I don't know and it isn't my problem.

I won't allow what I now realize were my own needs to hurt my babies or myself.  This mama bear is on a roll and cutting out the cancer like a hot knife goes through butter.  With that- I will be stepping OFF my soapbox now.  I promise that I will not be another blog post that isn't sunshine and rainbows for at least 6 months.  This one just had to be done. Look at it like a necessary evil :)

See the people in that picture below?? Those are the only ones whose opinion that I care about. Just in case you needed a visual aid. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Top 10 Things My Kids Say...

As a Mom, I am pretty sure that I am screwing up my kids about 80% of the time. Someone (I can't remember who) once told me that if you are concerned that you are screwing your children up, you probably aren't, simply because you care enough to be concerned that you are actually NOT being a perfect parent.  But let's face it. NONE of us are perfect parent's. If you THINK you are a perfect parent,  you are wrong.  Lately, Bit and Biscuit have made some little statements that show me that I am not a complete screw up where they are concerned.  I mean, don't get me wrong, they will still have plenty of stuff to talk to their therapists about one day :)
So, here is a top ten list of recent quotes or actions that lead me to believe that I am not as unfit of a mother as I often feel.
10.  Biscuit says The Pledge of Allegiance- He is 3 years old.
9.  They both call either mine or my husband's name when they are scared.  That means they trust us to protect them.   
8.  Bit is often heard telling Biscuit that he he needs to calm down because he isn't breathing well and it isn't good for his airway.
7.  Biscuit sits in timeout and says, "Faith in God. Trust in God. He died for me. Can I get out now?" 
6.  They will both apologize when they feel that they have wronged someone AND they will accept an apology when they are wronged. (Something many adults that I know can't do.)
5.  Biscuit told a crying child at the YMCA childcare, "It be ok. You Mommy and Daddy will come back for you. They may have to leave, but they will always come back."
4. When asked, "Who's baby are you." They always respond. " I am my Momma's Baby."
3.  If you accidentally pull the car out of the garage and they aren't completely buckled, they make you stop the car until they are properly restrained.  Safety First :)
2.  Biscuit is obsessed (maybe a little too much) with sunblock application. He will tell complete strangers, "I am very concerned, you aren't wearing sunblock and you could be burned by the sun."
1.  Today I forgot that that I had promised to do something for Bit. When he reminded me, I turned the car around and told him that I would make good on my promise. He responded with, "Mommy I don't care that you messed up. I just love you." 
So, Maybe I am not as big of a parental screw up as a thought.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How the Grahams Filled Their Lovin' Cup....

I often, in an attempt to get love and kisses from my boys, will ask them to come over and fill my Lovin' Cup.  If I just want one more hug/kiss, I tell them my cup isn't full yet and I need a refill. The Biscuit often climbs in my lap and wants to hear the story about our Family "Lobin' Tup."  Until this post, I have only shared this with very few people.  Most of them, have asked me to write it out, because they feel it is a good adoption story. So, here it is.  This is our adoption story.

A long, long time ago there was a Mommy and a Daddy.  The Mommy and the Daddy loved each other more that anything in the world.  In fact, they loved each other so much that their lovin' cups were over flowing.  The love from their lovin' cup was over flowing everywhere. It flowed out of their hearts, onto the floor, out the front door and into the street!  Everywhere they went, everyone knew that Mommy and Daddy had a lot of love.

The Mommy and Daddy decided that they needed to share some of their love. They decided to ask God if they could have a baby.  God said, "yes" and put a baby in the Mommy's tummy. That baby was born and the Mommy and Daddy named him Bit.  The Mommy and Daddy loved Bit so much.  He was a sweet, wonderful little boy and had a great big heart. Bit had a big heart like his Mommy and Daddy. Now, the Graham family had a new problem. Instead of having two loving cups that were overflowing- out of their hearts, onto the floor, out the front door and into the street; The Grahams had three loving cups.  There was love spilling EVERYWHERE!!! No one could catch all of the love that was surrounding them.

So this time, Mommy, Daddy and Bit decided to talk to God again and ask Him for another person to love. This time, God said that the baby would not come from the Mommy's tummy and they wouldn't go get him from a hospital. Instead, God would pick a special baby. One that had a great big lovin' cup to fill. The baby that needed it's cup filled the most. God would send that baby to them with one of his angels.  So, the Graham's waited and waited.  They waited for what seemed like forever. Finally, one day they got a telephone call asking if they wanted a baby.  The Mommy knew in her heart that this was the baby that God had planned for their family and soon their lovin' cups would stop spilling over.  So, she said,  "Yes!!" 

That night, God sent his angel to the Graham's  home.  The angel told the family that she was bringing the family the baby to love, but she didn't know how long that the baby would get to stay. The angel said, "More that anything, this baby needs love right now. But, if God decides that another family needs this baby more, I will have to take him there."  The angel brought the baby to their home and nothing else, no clothes, no bottles, no toys- the baby had none of the things that other babies had waiting for them when they came home from the hospital.  That was ok, because the next week when she came to check on the baby she realized that the baby, who the family called Biscuit, had clothes and toys. She also realized that his lovin' cup was very, very full. In fact, she realized that the entire Graham family's lovin' cup was perfectly full. Love had stopped spilling everywhere.  This news made her very happy. Though the Grahams were very scared that Biscuit could be taken away, they continued to love Biscuit as if he were already theirs- which is what God knew that he needed.

A long, long time passed and God finally told the angel that it was time to make official, on Earth, what Heaven already knew. God said, that the angel's job was done, everyone's lovin' cups were perfect, and it was time to talk to the Judge. 

When the day came to talk to the Judge, Bit talked to the Judge. He told the Judge about everyone's lovin' cups over flowing before God sent Biscuit. He explained that now our family's lovin' cups were perfectly filled and he wanted Biscuit to be his little brother forever.  The Judge listened carefully to everything that Bit said and after careful consideration said, "Yes!!" So, the family went home, without worry that they would ever be separated. Their lovin' cups were perfectly filled and everyone got refills any time they needed them. That is how the Graham went from two overflowing  to a family of four perfectly filled lovin' cups. 

The End... or is it just the beginning?? :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Playdoh and Biscuit

I haven't posted in a while, but it is because I have been so busy.  The Bit and the Biscuit are growing like weeds and let's face it- they are time consuming.  Lately, Biscuit's sensory seeking has been, well... intense.  Of course, we moved, in June, so we are in the process of getting the house together. With two kids, and a job and a life, that takes some time!  In like the old saying goes," If you can't beat them, join them."  So, I have decided that while I put the house together, I will add little sensory things to help Biscuit... well...not kill himself.

So, I have been painting, scouring the Internet and picking the brain of his therapists to make sure that he lives in a home that allows him to be safe while getting that craving that he very much has.  Part of that craving is that he LOVES to be in the kitchen. There are so many cool sensory things in a kitchen.  Water, heat and lots of cool smells. Not to mention the input a person can get from cutting things and kneading dough. 

So, with that, I bring to you- Peanut Butter Playdoh :)

Disclaimer-  Please don't try this at home if your child is allergic to peanut butter, milk or under a year old. Also, I am not a therapist, doctor or anything else that has the authority to tell you that this is safe for your child. I am just telling you what works for my child.

Peanut butter playdoh recipe:

1/3 cup of honey
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/2 - 1 cup of powdered milk

Mix these items together adding powdered milk until the texture is no longer sticky and resembles playdoh.  This is edible and pretty fun to play with :)

As you can see the Biscuit had a lot of fun. He likes to sprinkle and likes to add ingredients.  I gave him a little powered milk. Eventually, he conned me out of  some uncooked grits and cheese.  Which gave things a different texture and well he enjoyed it.  All in all, I would call this a success!  He ate a little bit of the playdoh and I cooked an entire meal without having fight him off of the stove or out of the sink. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A letter to my baby on his birthday,

Little Biscuit Monster,

Happy birthday my special little one. I am so blessed and thankful that God has chosen me to be your mother.  This day is always bittersweet for me. Each year as I celebrate you entering this world, I realize that I wasn't there to protect you.  The realist in me knows that I had no control over the circumstances of your entering this world.  The optimist in me understands that without those circumstances you would never be mine.  The mommy in me will forever wish that I could have protected you. Oh Biscuit, how I wish I could have been able to wrap my love around you and shield you from all things harmful as you were growing and developing in your little womb.

Though I wasn't there then, I am here now.  I will be here forever.  I promise you that as your Mommy, I will do everything in my power to help you become the best you that you can be. 

I will try to do what is best for you. I will be your biggest cheerleader and president of your fan club.  However, there will be times, as much as it will hurt me,  I will have to let you fall. Sometimes, I will pick you up and sometimes, I will have to watch you struggle to pick yourself up.  I will do it because I have to. Because sometimes, struggles make you stronger and make you the person that you will eventually become.

I can't promise you that you will be given everything that you have ever wanted. But, I can promise you that you will have everything that you need.  I want you to appreciate the things that you do have. I want you to understand that although MY world revolves around you; Everyone else's may not.  I want you to become selfless-NOT selfish and appreciative for everything.

I want you to respect others and most of all LOVE. Love others, but most of all love yourself.  If you don't have a healthy love for yourself, you can't love anyone else. I will show you love every single day.  Even the days that you are making me crazy. 

Sweet heart, I have loved you before I even knew you. Even when there was just hope of you I loved you.  I will love you until the day that I leave this earth.  You were wanted, prayed for and fought for. You are the answer to three years of prayer.  Don't ever forget that.  You are a special little person. God has a certain purpose for you and I can't wait to see what amazing things that life has in store for you. Thank you for being "Mama's baby!"  I love you, sweet little Biscuit Monster!!