Our Imperfect Lives


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Summer Time Fun

It’s been a while since we last shared with you all, which means a whole lot has happened (not much on the legal front) but there have been first steps, first solo swims and Meg and the kids have traversed three states – we’ve been busy!

Now, before we get into the fun stuff let’s get the handwringing, headshaking legal updates out of the way… First off, one of the most noteworthy legal developments over the last two months is that we will likely have to testify. The trial is now combined with a decision about placement, so the lawyers will call witnesses and argue not only for the question of parental rights but also where the children should be placed, if the parental rights are terminated. As a result, we’ll be presented as an adoption option/placement by the Department of Children and Families. As you may remember from a previous post, the birth parents are also presenting their own option for placement (a grandparent). Of course, it still remains to be seen when we’ll be called to testify.

The trial dates we laid out in our last post are all in the books and the lawyers burned all of their time in court questioning one witness. That’s right, they spent all that time on testimony from one person, the first ongoing social worker on the case. As a result, four more court dates have been scheduled through late September. Time will tell if more dates will need to be scheduled come September, but it seems pretty likely.

As always, we just sit and wait and hope for the best. We also take some comfort in the notion that the children’s lawyer and social workers believe the longer Sport and Sunshine are with us, the less willing a judge will be to remove them from our home. In fact, they will have been with us for one year in October – making us the longest placement for both children since they were born.

OK, we promised you fun stuff….

Let’s begin with Sunshine’s first birthday! It’s hard to think of how the day could have been any better than it was –the early morning rain clouds scattered, the sun came out to play, it was warm – but not too warm – the birthday girl was in good spirits and so were her Moms. We had about twenty adults and a handful of kids running around in the background, a table full of snacks and a grill turning out tasty food.

Our birthday girl, who had to have three costume changes because of all the messy fun she was having, was all smiles and made the happy discovery that she loves cake! She ate as much cake as a grown adult and wore an equal amount on her face, hair and shirt.

The next big adventure was a trip to Vermont, but sadly it wasn’t a trip for the whole family since Marcy and the dogs had to stay home. Even though they were short one Mom, Meg and the kids headed to the Green Mountain State to meet up with our friends and their three kids and had a great time. They got to do very “Vermont” things like feed chickens, pick strawberries and go hiking. Sport even got the privilege of sleeping in a bunk bed and in the top bunk no less. Although before he got the official go ahead to claim the top bunk for his own for the night he had to prove he could safely get up and down the very short (the top bunk was only about 4 feet high) ladder and make his way to the bathroom, which, being the athletic little guy that he is, he had no trouble doing.

We enjoy the great outdoors so naturally we’ve spent a good amount of time soaking in the sun, playing in the yard, splashing in the water and walking in the woods. And we’re lucky enough to have a pretty good sized back yard for living in a fairly dense city, so we’ve spent plenty of time out back. Sport has played almost all of the major American sports in our yard including football, soccer, baseball and basketball. He also is working to develop a bit of a green thumb by helping Meg plant and care for the vegetable garden.

In addition to the joys of gardening we’ve been teaching Sport the wonders of a walk in the woods. At not quite three years old he can spot and follow trail blazes. He also loves to find walking sticks to carry with him as we make our trek. Sunshine has also started to enjoy riding in our new-to-us child carrier for hiking. She gets to face forward and sit up nice and high and take in everything around her. She particularly enjoys when we get nice and close to a tree so she can reach out and run her tiny fingers along the rough bark.

A new favorite outdoor toy from Sunshine’s birthday was a water table, which has brought a splashing good time in the backyard, but not the only fun splashing the kids have taken in this summer! We also took a trip to a park with a splash pad with our friends and their two year old daughter. Sport wasn’t a huge fan of not knowing when the water was going to spray and while he wouldn’t get too close to any of the water elements he managed to have a splashing good time. Even Sunshine, who was under the weather, enjoyed the park – maybe a little too much since she kept trying to crawl across the paved splash pad, scraping up her knees.

And yet the splashing fun didn’t end there! We’ve been taking full advantage of Meg’s parents’ pool. Sport started off the summer being very hesitant about swimming, even with his new life jacket he doesn’t like to be in the pool without having contact with an adult, even if it was just a hand on the life jacket buckle. However, fast forward a few pool sessions and he’s finally able to “swim” a little on his own. He swam from Marcy to Meg a whole five or so yards apart. It’s not much but it’s a start!

In other big milestone news Sunshine took her first steps! She started about a week before she turned 13 months old with only 2 teeny tiny steps! Of course they happened pretty quickly and she didn’t want to do it for the camera so we didn’t get any video or photographic documentation but we’re excited that we were both in the room when it happened (only Marcy was there for her first crawl). It’s been a couple weeks now and she’s only up to about 4 steps at a time. She still prefers to crawl because boy oh boy is she fast when she crawls now!

We recently took the kids to Marcy’s old college stomping grounds – Portland, Maine. We visited the children’s museum and the Portland Headlight. Meg’s cousin and her husband live nearby with their daughter who is two weeks older than Sunshine, so we hit a nice park in Portland and swung on the swings, raced down the slides and played in the sand. We also stopped at a tasty BBQ restaurant where Sunshine drank from a cup using a straw for the first time while her forgetful Mom had to run out to the car to retrieve her sippy cup.

We did so much so far this summer we just can’t even cover it all in this one blog but here’s a quick rundown in photos of our summer so far:

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And we still have a lot more fun planned for the remainder of the summer – Meg will actually be taking the kids on another road trip this coming week while Marcy stays home and we still have the YMCA Family Camp at the end of the summer. It is important to note that before we took off on any out of state escapades we received permission from DCF to do so. Also, when planning any of our trips we must plan them around the children’s bi-weekly visits with their birth father at the DCF office.


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Holiday Whirlwind

The holidays have always been busy for us since we’re both very close with our families and they’re both pretty local, so we try to fit everything, and everyone in. Now, add in two children under the age of three and then the holidays really get busy. Except this year we made everyone come to us.

Even though Sport is only two, he’s just old enough to get who Santa is and all the excitement that surrounds the jolly old man in red – of course he was still terrified when it came to sitting on the bearded guy’s lap, but what kind of parents would we be if we didn’t do the requisite crying toddler photo?

We started the holiday off with our foot to the floor and going fast. Christmas eve kicked off with spending hours disinfecting our house since we both had the stomach bug just before the holiday and the last thing we wanted to do was pass it along to anyone else (Thankfully the virus fairy took pity on us and stayed clear of the kiddos!). Then we kicked it into overdrive and had to scramble to get everyone in their holiday best for the Christmas Eve service at church where we met Meg’s family.

Church went amazingly well considering the candle lit service started at the time we’re usually getting the kids ready for bath time. Following the service we continued to push the needle to the red line and went to a family friend’s house. We figured since Sport knew Santa was coming it was going to be hard to get him to settle down for bed anyway, so we just put him in his Santa PJs at the party and by the time we got home at around 10 o’clock he was sound asleep from all of the activity.

The night was over for the kids, but not for us. It was time for our first shot at playing Santa. Marcy’s parents were very careful with their Santa versus Mom and Dad presents; they would use two different wrapping papers and Santa’s gift tags would be printed while Mom and Dad gift cards were written in script. This was a tradition Marcy insisted we follow. We realized that the kids were too young to pick up on the difference, but that it would be a good practice for years to come, because hopefully the kids will still be with us.

Christmas morning started with unpacking stockings followed by a couple presents, a snack, then more presents, then brunch with Meg’s family, then more presents, Marcy’s family came over, then more presents. The presents continued. All. Day. Long. It was a very slow going process. Sport opening one present and obsessing/playing with it for a bit then a short while later we were able to continue tackling the mound of presents. Each time he opened a present that was a clothes item he had to put it on. At one point he was wearing a t-shirt, a sweater, a t-shirt, a football jersey and a hat. When he opened his Snoopy sweatshirt we had to strip him down and start all over again with the clothes before he melted from the warmth.

It was busy. It was chaotic. It was amazing. Christmas is a whole new thing with small children in your life.

Well, it was a short week and then another holiday! This one was a bit lower key, in the sense that it was just the four of us. We went away for New Year’s Eve in what we imagine was the kids’ first vacation away. We traveled two hours north where we were able to swim in the hotel pool, hike in the woods, slide across a frozen lake in our boots and take a scenic train ride.

Our midnight celebration wasn’t quite like what we had celebrated in the past, in fact we were sound asleep when the clock struck midnight. However, we were wide awake a few minutes after the ball dropped because our littlest bundle of joy wasn’t so joyous. The dry air in the hotel room was wreaking havoc on Sunshine’s nasal passages and she couldn’t sleep. Thankfully Sport slept through all of the crying, coughing, and constant on and off of the hot steaming shower.

While the whole holiday season had a number of ups and downs we wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Now, here are a few photos from the amazing celebrations for your enjoyment:

Stocking

New clothes

Emma opening her present

Bella on alert

Checking out the new toys

Hiking

Hiking

Checking out the frozen lake

Checking out the frozen lake

Hiking

Train ride


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Happy National Adoption Month

November, widely known as Movember or Moustache November, is a month where many men grow facial hair in awareness of men’s health, specifically prostate cancer. Since Marcy’s father kicked prostate cancer’s butt not once but twice, we are all for promoting prostate cancer awareness; but it’s not the only awareness issue that November focuses on – it’s also National Adoption Month.

If you didn’t know it was National Adoption Month, don’t feel too badly because we weren’t aware of it before this year either. Adoption has been an important part of our lives for quite some time, especially Marcy’s life. Marcy’s older sister, Melissa, is adopted. Now, because adoption is such a huge part of our lives and the way Marcy’s parents chose to start theirs, we feel the need to pay a little attention to this celebration.

Our story, which we hope will soon become an adoption story, is just one of many, many adoption stories. Some adoption stories are created through familial adoptions, some international adoptions, others through state care like ours, and an additional route to take is through private agencies, which is what Marcy’s parents did over thirty years ago.

Many families turn to adoption when doctors say conceiving a child is not an option. We never bothered to speak with a doctor regarding one of us trying to conceive because we knew it wasn’t the path we wanted to take. We believed there were children in state custody who were waiting to complete our family. However, Marcy’s parents did speak with a doctor about conceiving a child, and he said it wasn’t possible. Obviously the doctor wasn’t one hundred percent correct in his prognosis, since Marcy is sitting here as we write this blog. Marcy’s parents, eager to start a family, started looking into adoption. Marcy’s parents chose to use Catholic Charities as their adoption agency, even though they are Protestant and not Catholic.

Marcy had always known, since she was old enough to understand, that her sister was adopted. The story was no secret in the family. In fact, Marcy and her siblings joke that Melissa is “The Chosen One” because she was adopted and Marcy is “The Miracle” because she wasn’t supposed to be able to happen. However, even though we previously knew the broad strokes of the story we had not discussed it in much detail until we started on our adoption path. For example, Marcy never knew that her parents didn’t care about the gender or ethnicity of the child they were placed with – they just wanted a child to share their lives with, just like us. Even though they didn’t care if their child looked like them, Marcy’s parents were placed with a baby girl with blond hair and blue eyes, just like Marcy’s mother. Coincidentally enough, even though we were open to children of any race, we were placed with two children who do share similar characteristics with us; Sport has dirty blond hair like Meg while Sunshine has darker, slightly curly hair like Marcy.

Our journey to adoption has also stimulated similar discussions with Melissa on the subject. She has shared her views on open adoptions, molded by her personal experiences. Melissa was born to two teenage parents who recognized that they could not care for a baby girl and gave her up for adoption. However, that is the bulk of the information we knew about Melissa’s parents until recently; she was adopted through a closed adoption. Marcy’s family was a happy family, and from what we know from Marcy’s experiences as a child and from Melissa’s words herself, Melissa had a happy childhood and she loves her parents dearly. Nonetheless, the older she got, the more she yearned to know about her birth parents (as an adult she has been able to unearth a bit more information through extensive research).

A large portion of this yearning came from wanting to know ethnic lineage and medical history. Melissa knew her adoptive family tree, which an aunt had tracked all the way to Governor Bradford and the Mayflower, however, it wasn’t her biological family. Were her health problems related to her family history or just dumb luck? These questions are a large reason why Melissa has encouraged us to have an open adoption if and when the time comes. And we have decided that if the situation is right, we will agree to an open adoption.

We love the adoption stories of real families, families we know personally and the ones we learn about through friends or on the internet. But we also enjoy the fictional story of an adoptive family portrayed on ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” We must note that we were particularly drawn to the show because the family is headed by a lesbian couple. For anyone who’s looking for a feel good, highly dramatized and simplified adoption story we encourage you to check it out.

To learn more about National Adoption Month, visit the National Adoption month website or the Adopt US Kids website.

Finally – here are some photo highlights of our weekend…

Swimming at the YMCA:

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Basketball at the YMCA:

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Hiking at a local wooded preserve:

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Dance party in the living room:

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