BRAE-ISMS

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Brae is a complete chatterbox. In fact, at our recent family vacation (pictured below with Sienna and their cousin), he attracted the new nickname “Comma.” (because there are no periods when he talks). With that, here’s the latest edition of Brae-isms:

1) Brae: “Mommy, will you marry me?”
Me: “Aww, I love you, son, but I can’t marry you. I’m married to Daddy.”
(Wheels turning)
Brae: “If I were taller, would you marry me?”

2) I was upstairs in the laundry room getting ready to take Brae to the park. He’d just peed his pants (which he often does if he hasn’t gone for a while, and starts playing really hard). He was taking off his wet pants, putting them in the washing machine, and putting on a new pair. As he was doing this, I thought, “It’s really hot outside. I should probably change out of my jeans.” So, I pulled a pair of my shorts out of the dryer (yes, clean clothes often stay in our dryer for days, and sometimes require re-drying to get the wrinkles out). As I was taking off my jeans, and putting on my shorts, Brae looked at me, wide-eyed, and said, “Mommy, did you pee your pants, too?”

3) Brae has learned the word “stupid.” I think from the older kids at school. I scold him whenever he says it, and sometimes he has to go to time out if he doesn’t stop saying it. The other day, I caught him singing, “Stupid, you so stupid, stupid, alalalallaaaaaa, you are s-t-u-p-i-ddddddddd!” “Brae!” I said. He turned to look at me, in bewilderment. “Brae, I’ve told you we don’t say that word. It’s not nice.” “But Mooommmmmyyyy,” he began, “I’m just singing my song.”

4) I was hosting my friend’s baby shower. She and I were outside by the front door just chatting, watching some of the kids play in the front yard. Sienna was sitting on the front stoop. Suddenly, I turn to see Brae standing at the open front door, above Sienna. And before I could even catch my wits about me, he had dropped his trousers to his ankles and was peeing right over Sienna’s head. It was like the McDonald’s golden arc right over my daughter’s head. I thought my friend may have gone into labor right then and there, she was laughing so hard.

ADOPTION: HOW OPEN AM I?

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Recently, I overheard a friend telling Sienna’s story to a group of people I barely knew. It caught me a little off guard to overhear her revealing such an intimate and personal experience to people that I would not have openly shared this information. I winced in the background as my friend continued on at great lengths about Sienna’s story, getting facts wrong along the way.

I know my friend and I know her intentions were well meaning, but the pit in my stomach caused me to question why was I so bothered by this?

After much thought, I think it is because I view Sienna’s story (and Brae’s story) as their story. It’s their story to share with whomever, how ever, whenever, and even if they want to. Certainly, my family and friends (and this blogging community) know their story. And that is because I feel grateful for this platform and opportunity to share such an amazing and life-giving adventure. I want more people to know how amazing adoption is — in every form. It’s also because Sienna and Brae’s stories are part of my story as well. So, I’ve invited people along on this journey with me.

But, somehow, I feel like a faint line is crossed when I’m not a part of sharing my children’s story. Perhaps it is because I’m so mama-bear protective of my kids, I want to be in charge of how the message is delivered. I don’t want to run the risk of some well-meaning stranger making an off-the-cuff comment and someone else not responding in a way that I would have.

I also want to hold my children’s stories inviolate. I’m their mom, yes, and their stories are part of my story, yes, but I also want to be respectful of the fact that they, not me, will be the target of any disrespectful or ignorant comments about adoption. I want them to decide whether they want to share their stories, and if they do, I want it to be on their terms. I don’t want to rob them of that, or unnecessarily put a target on their backs.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m absolutely not ashamed of their stories or how they came to be in our family. I think God has set them apart, has divinely chosen them, and they are beyond special and privileged. I’ve been the one blessed by them; not the other way around. It is an honor for me to be the one they call “Mommy.”

But, at the same time, I’m a realist. I know there exist a lot of naive and uninformed stereotypes and misconceptions about adoption. I want to protect my kids from those arrows. So, until they can shield themselves, I want to be the ones in charge of delivering their very unique and beautiful stories.

Am I wrong?

SIENNA’S EAR SURGERY

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Last week, Little Miss went in for ear tubes. She is 13 months old. She has had a chronic history of ear infections since she was born. In fact, her baseline has pretty much been congestion since birth. We have done the “wait and see” approach before, as well as have used antibiotics — both with limited success.

Brae also had ear tubes placed when he was 18 months old. He was never quite as consistently congested as Sienna, but did have a chronic history of ear infections. Again, we did the “wait and see” approach, and used antibiotics. Again, both offered limited success. But, the ear tubes were hugely successful for Brae. He had one ear infection after the tubes were inserted, but that’s it. The tubes were functional for a full 18 months.

Sienna’s most recent bout with double ear infections resulted in 3 weeks of antibiotics. And they only cleared up one year. After the last meeting with the ear doctor, he recommended Sienna was a good candidate for ear tubes.

We decided to go forward with it.

The surgery itself was pretty uneventful — just about 15 minutes under general light anesthesia. The doctor confirmed she had yet another double ear infection, so I feel it was good we had the tubes put in. Little Miss did great coming out of the anesthesia (contrast to Brae’s bloody murder screams), and all she wanted was food (of course. That’s my girl).

Although I was hesitant, at first, to have the surgery when she’s at such a tender age, I wish now that we had them put in even earlier. The girl has changed . She no longer has a consistent runny nose, cough, etc. She’s no longer fussy — at all. While her walking was a little wobbly before the surgery, she is now full steam ahead with walking. You can just tell that she feels so much better. Praise God for little plastic ear tubes!

As an aside, it’s curious to me how two children, not genetically related, are both prone to chronic ear infections and were both good candidates for ear tubes?

My research shows there may be two environmental culprits: 1) school/day care and 2) milk.

First, children who are in a school or daycare-like environment tend to generally get more colds, which can result in more ear infections. This makes sense. As a product of daycare myself, I can say that the course of colds I got when I was younger has strengthened my immune system. Since I started kindergarten, I’ve rarely gotten sick, and I’d like to thank all the snot-nose kids in my daycare for that! (Now go blow your nose!)

Second, apparently kids who drink a lot of cow’s milk get more ear infections. I have to say, my kids both like milk, so this makes sense as well.

I’m not advocating that ear tubes are for every child. Certainly not. Personally, I think the wait-and-see approach serves most kids the best. If that doesn’t work, I think the next step is to see if antibiotics help. If, however, ear infections seem to persist without much relief, I think tubes offer a very viable solution, and I’m thankful they are available . . .

ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS WE CHOSE OPEN ADOPTION

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I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, not quite sure how I wanted to talk about it.

A couple months ago, Brae’s birthmom informed us that her daughter, Brae’s biological half sister, was recently diagnosed with a medical condition. In the interest and respect for their privacy, I won’t name the condition or discuss details. I will say, however, that this is a commonly diagnosed medical condition, but one that will nonetheless change her life. My heart goes out to Brae’s birthmom as she is dealing with the imports of this diagnosis.

Hearing of the diagnosis spawned a host of concerns for Brae. Could he also have it? If so, what will that mean for his life?

One should never do medical research on the internet. I’m just sayin’.

After dousing myself in armchair diagnostics, I marched to the doctor’s office.

I told the doctor about Brae’s biological half-sister’s diagnosis, and listed a litany of possible reasons why Brae may also have the condition.

The doctor laughed in my face. But, to amuse me I suppose, he examined Brae and poked and prodded.

“No,” he said. “Brae does not have it.”

I left the doctor’s office feeling relieved. But not so much that Brae didn’t have the condition (for which I am thankful), but relief that I have the kind of open adoption where Brae’s birthmom not only has the courage and willingness to share this information with me, but she actually has the access to me to do so.

And that kind of access to key pieces of information, like medical information that has already come in handy on more than one occasion, is just one of the many reasons why we chose open adoption.

And it goes farther than just Brae. We also have an open adoption with Sienna’s genetic family. I’m grateful for the access we have to not only medical history on a piece of paper, but medical information from the mouthpiece of the people who lived through it, and are still. Medical information that is current and up to date. Our donor’s daughter, 10 years older than Sienna, has lived through 10+ years of life, of which I get the benefit. She and Sienna have already shared several medical similarities for which I am so grateful that I can discuss with our donors. Everything ranging from “Soooo, how did you get your daughter to stop gagging on her food?” to “Whoa, Sienna has torticollis. Your daughter did, too. How did you get through it?”

I also so appreciate, that with Brae and Sienna, having an open adoption gives me a crystal ball, of sorts, into their future. Brae’s biological half-sister is a few years older than he is; Sienna’s genetic siblings are 10+ years older. In both cases, I already see a ton of similarities. I also see a ton of differences. But it is really neat to get a glimpse into what your child may look like and be like when they get older.

I recently heard of a medical study that determined that who we are is 99% a product of our environment. Brae and Sienna are products of me and Tygh. However, that 1% genetic blueprint variable is an unknown. I am grateful that, with open adoption (for us), the unknown is a little more knowable.
***
And on a related medical note, Little Miss is getting ear tubes this week. Eeekk!

REFERENCES FOR ADOPTION TAX CREDIT

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Here are some references for Britney’s adoption tax credit blog:

http://blog.oregonlive.com/finance/2010/05/adult_children_get_health_cove.html

http://taxes.about.com/od/deductionscredits/qt/adoptioncredit.htm

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/News/20125972.htm

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/13/pf/adoption_tax_credit/index.htm

http://www.change.org/petitions/help-make-adoption-affordable-keep-the-tax-credit-and-make-it-refundable

INFERTILITY: MERCIES IN DISGUISE?

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Recently, two stories of a friend (and a cousin of a friend) hit me hard. Each reminded me that this world is a broken place with broken bodies and ugly illnesses that rob us of our loved ones. Each also reminded me that while I may struggle with my own ugly and unexplained illness, it may also be a mercy in disguise. Infertility, to me, may be a mercy in disguise. Infertility, tried as it might, did not rob me of motherhood, or of experiencing pregnancy. And, just maybe, it is sparing me other unknown heartaches.

I can only pray that each of the women below, in working through her own story of pain, is experiencing her own basket of mercies in disguise:

1) My friend, who I will call Faith, recently delivered her first child in a very traumatic delivery that nearly cost her life. This was a completely spontaneous, ordinary course, pregnancy. No problems. When it came time to deliver, Faith developed a fever. Her son was born via emergency C-section. Faith developed a uterine infection. Her uterus would not contract. She was bleeding out. She was intubated. Her life hung in the balance. They performed a complete hysterectomy to save her life. She has a miracle son, but she will not be able to be pregnant ever again.

2) My friend’s dear cousin, who I will call Hope. Another completely spontaneous, ordinary course, pregnancy. No problems. A healthy baby boy, who I will call Noah. At 10 months, Noah started having seizures. A month later, he was dead. His life was taken suddenly, and with not much explanation. He had a rare genetic disease that his mother, Hope, gave him. Hope may not be able to have any other genetic children without passing along this same disease.

Today, I am grateful for my two children. And today, my heart aches for Faith and Hope. Although they did not experience infertility, they are having struggles of their own.

All of us are.

OBAMACARE AND THE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT

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You may have seen the US Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare”. What you may not know is what this does to the adoption tax credit.

In the overhaul, Congress boosted the $12,150 federal adoption tax credit by $1,000 starting this tax year. It also is refundable, meaning you’ll get the credit whether you owe taxes or not.

Good news for families wanting to adopt that may have been stymied by the cost.