Category Archives: Adoption

Consider this my sonogram

There is big news in the Fields Household! Our family of three is growing, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! I don’t have a belly shot or a sonogram picture to mark this milestone. I am not fighting back nausea and fatigue as I write this, grateful to be moving from the first trimester to the second. There is no big gender reveal party to attend where our friends and family stand by as we cut through the cake to find our destiny in the filling. We didn’t get Josh a cute shirt that says “Big Brother” yet, although I am sure I won’t be able to resist down the road. We haven’t started decorating the room because there are too many unknowns at this point. There is much we don’t know. But there is one thing we do know.

WE ARE ADOPTING AGAIN!

We don’t know who our next child is yet, but we believe that our child is already in the world. This is both exciting and overwhelming to think about. As a parent, I know that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my kid. I want to be there for this child, but I can’t yet. I want to remind this child that he or she is loved and valued and worthy, but my words cannot yet be heard. I want to hug and kiss and care for this child, but it is not yet time.

So in the meantime, I pray. I pray that God would protect this child that He has predestined for us. I pray that this child would feel comfort and peace and strength beyond comprehension. I pray that God would hurry. And I pray that I would have patience. I pray for my son Josh. I pray that he wouldn’t doubt how much we love and want him as we pursue another child. I pray that he would see and believe that adoption is not and has never been a second choice for us. I pray that he would grow in his security of who he is and his role in our family. I pray that he would pray, too.

It’s complicated. Even our announcement isn’t simple, and I hesitated for a while because I didn’t know what to say. But I decided it’s too important not to announce. We are preparing. That’s what the gestational period is for, and we are pregnant, in a manner of speaking. We made it through the “first trimester” of thinking and daydreaming and feeling a bit queasy. We have moved into the “second trimester”, and things are getting real. Our paperwork is almost finished and we have begun the process of connecting. We are talking to our family and friends, making contact with agencies and other adoption entities, and we are beginning to make room.

The third trimester looks a bit different for adoptive families. I want to nest-to prepare a room, have parties, begin to make plans for work and school schedules, and talk more openly with others about our new child. But there are too many unknowns. I can do a little, but until we get matched with a child, I can’t really paint a wall picture with our child’s initials on it or register at Target. It’s hard to make plans for this summer because it is very possible that by then we will be a family of 4 instead of 3. It could take months or we could get a call next week notifying us of a child who needs a home. There is a lot of uncertainty. But there is also hope and anticipation and energy.

When I see a sonogram picture on Facebook announcing the pregnancy of someone I care about, I feel excited. I also feel included. I feel invited to celebrate this miracle and to begin loving that child.  It symbolizes the transition from an intimate secret known by a select few to a public proclamation of intention and expectation. It says to me that, even though they know things can still happen and there is no guarantee, they are believing that it will happen and wanting others to celebrate with them; to experience it with them.

So this is my sonogram picture. This is my announcement. And this is my invitation for you to celebrate with us.

I started this blog because I believed I had a story to share. It’s a story of love and helplessness and pain and redemption. It’s a story of adoption. And the story continues.

adoption blog 1                      adoption blog 2

 

My Octobers: How pain and uncertainty can lead to connection and growth

When I used to think of October, the first thoughts that would come to mind were pumpkins, spiced everything, football, and the beginning of fall.  I love fall.  As a child, it was just what I longed for after the start of the school year.  It meant that the holidays were coming and there was a lot to look forward to.

For the past few years, October has been my most eventful and intense month of the year.  Three Octobers ago, my husband and I picked up our son Joshua for the final time and spent almost half the month in South Carolina waiting for paperwork to go through.  I remember feeling both intense joy and perpetual helplessness.  We adjusted to our “new normal” by enrolling Josh in preschool, introducing him to family and friends, and celebrating our first Halloween together.  We also attended my grandfather’s 102nd birthday.  I remember being in a constant state of awareness and disbelief.  It was one of the best months of my life, and one of the most exhausting.

josh and gramps meeting     100_2286

Two Octobers ago, my “not so new” family reunited in the mountains with some of our closest friends.  We experienced nature and rest and fun together.  Upon returning home,  two other dear friends were undergoing  an immense trial of having their baby, Ari, rushed to the NICU where she teetered between life and death for weeks.  Walking through such intense pain and heartache with friends created a  heightened emotional state that our entire community lived in throughout the month. I don’t think I have ever prayed harder in my life.  Everything seemed fragile. Alongside this intensity, my family was also experiencing our first round of “repeats”: Josh’s second year of preschool, my grandfather’s 103rd birthday, and the beginning of our second holiday season.

Ari 2          gramps and josh   josh superman

This year, as October approached, I had much to be thankful for and look forward to.  Sweet Ari was thriving and doing great as we were all getting ready to celebrate her 1st birthday, for which we had fervently prayed.  I was busy preparing for the wedding of my cousin Molly who has been like a little sister to me throughout my life.  And in the midst of all the excitement, I expected one more thing to remain consistent- we would celebrate my grandfather’s birthday at the end of October like we always have.

Then I got the call from my brother that changed things.  My grandfather was in the hospital again, and this time, there was talk of “the end”. I spent the rest of the month of October going back and forth from Orlando to Gainesville visiting him in the hospital, then in his home with hospice care, and making his funeral arrangements with my family. When his 104th birthday finally came the day after his funeral, I felt depleted.  This October, with all of its extreme highs and lows,  took everything out of me.  By God’s grace, I mustered up enough energy from my reserve tank on the very last day of the month to enjoy a great Halloween with my family.

10563080_10105517083152951_3044614371198159223_n    gramps hands    halloween 2014

The last three years, my Octobers have been roller coasters of emotions.  I have agonized and waited. I have anticipated and celebrated. I have prayed desperately for life and I have made peace with death. I have spent time with my dearest loved ones and I have been reminded of the pain of separation and loss.  And I have walked away from each October feeling utterly exhausted, yet more connected and grateful.  In the midst of all the uncertainty and change, each October I am drawn more intimately to God and knitted more closely together with others.

Although I can look back on my Octobers with tremendous gratitude and fondness, I can’t help but also feel relieved to see November come.  While my Octobers have been filled with change and uncertainty, my Novembers seem to bring a familiar comfort.  The start of the holiday season is accompanied by traditions and history and collective experiences that feel warm and inviting.  The change in weather (even in Florida) seems to bring a change in energy that I welcome. I look forward to November.

But I do not dread October.  I have learned more about myself these past 3 Octobers than any other season in my life. I can push through the pain and heartbreak for the intimacy and depth of relationships.  And because of my Octobers, I have a clearer picture of redemption and faith.  When I find myself questioning if God really has a plan for me as we wait eagerly for more children, I can reflect on the October when my longing to be a parent was met with the sweetest face I have ever seen.  When I doubt that God answers prayer, I can scroll through Instagram and see a picture of precious Ari playing and laughing, and I remember how desperately so many people prayed for her.  When I find myself fearing pain and death, I can remember my grandfather’s dream about the never-ending road and the legacy of his life that lives on in his family.

And when I feel alone, I can think back on my Octobers and picture the moments of true connection I have experienced- watching my family and my husband’s family embrace our son in South Carolina; staying up late responding to group texts from my community of friends as we waited for updates on Ari; dancing to the Brady Bunch with all my extended family at my cousin’s wedding and reminiscing about our childhood.  Standing around my grandfather’s bed after he died with my brother and sister feeling fully known and understood and loved.

We can’t perpetually exist in a heightened emotional state without some pretty significant consequences, but there are seasons in life where we have to.  And in those seasons, I feel more deeply and acutely aware of my surroundings, my relationships, and my need for God and others.  Those seasons are my Octobers.  And I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Why my son will never watch Pete’s Dragon: Viewing movies from an adoptive mother’s lens

lens picture

We all have lenses we put on to see the world.  Some of them we choose and others we are born into.  Being a white,straight, middle-class American is a privileged lens for me.  Being a woman, a working mother, an adoptive parent, a counselor, a person of deep faith… these lenses get a little more delicate and sensitive at times.

Over time, both my mother lens and my adoptive mother lens continue to sharpen.  One realm where I find them rear their heads often is in the consumption of entertainment.  Frequently in movies, especially children’s movies, adoption is depicted as the unfortunate result of tragic death or appalling deception toward the biological parents. Typically along this story line, caregivers and adoptive parents are portrayed as evil or unkind in some way and the redemption comes when the hero is reunited with his or her biological family, or at least differentiates from the adoptive family in some symbolic and permanent way (e.g. throwing one’s evil adoptive mother off a cliff).

Watching some of the same movies I enjoyed as a child with an adult lens is eye-opening enough, but when I put on the lens of adoptive parent, I am doing two things at once.  I am viewing them critically for appropriateness and deeper meanings, and I am also trying to see them through my son’s eyes.  At times, I can almost feel his brain moving, trying to make sense of how his own story fits or doesn’t fit.

Although this is in no way comprehensive, I have put on my adoptive parent lens to provide some examples of themes I see in certain children’s movies that relate to adoption- 2 themes that may create tension and confusion for adopted children and a third theme that I see as positive and even hopeful.

Theme 1: Birth Parents are Gods or Royalty

Risk for Adopted Children: The tendency to over-romanticize birth parents, leading to tremendous let-down and confusion.

Hercules: The evil uncle kidnaps baby Hercules and tries to kill him. Good people find him and raise him, and as soon as there is reconciliation with the birth parents (who happen to be gods), there is no more mention of the kind, loving adoptive parents again. Hercules always felt different, and it all comes together for him when he learns he is the child of immortal beings.  He spends the rest of the movie trying to “earn back” his god-like status so he can live with his birth parents on Mt. Olympus.

Tangled: Oh Mother Gothel… She gives ME nightmares. A horrible witch steals a magical baby, creates a codependent and abusive parental dynamic with her and exploits her child in exchange for youth. Rapunzel longs for the Magic Lights that occur on her birthday every year, which she later learns is her birth parents’ commemoration of their little princess who was stolen from them.  Redemption happens when Rapunzel finally learns the truth, stands up to her evil adoptive mother, and is eventually reunited with her birth parents (the king and queen) after her adoptive mother shrivels up and falls out of the tower.  Bottom line- Rapunzel is going to need to A LOT of therapy.

tangled

Theme 2: Social service systems can NEVER be trusted.

Risk: Foster care and adoptive children may become mistrustful of anyone connected to government services or law enforcement and believe they must stay in negative situations because no one will help them.

Despicable Me:  In many ways, I love this movie.  I love the transformation of Gru and the moral of the story that love can soften even the nastiest of people… But let’s not forget a few things about this movie.  The orphanage the girls come from is oppressive and abusive and the social worker punishes them with a “box of shame”.  They are exploited for financial gain, and treated like property when Gru walks in and takes custody of them without any formal process. (Job title: Evil Villain.  Sounds like a great placement for three little girls.)

despicable me

Pete’s Dragon: Don’t get me started. My sister reminded me recently of how horrific this movie is. A sweet orphan boy is bought like a slave, physically abused, treated like property, and the only thing keeping him from having to go back to his ruthless adoptive family at the end is the destruction of his “bill of sale”.  Yuck.  If you think of this movie fondly and want to keep it that way, don’t click on the hyperlink on the film title.

Theme 3: It is natural to feel conflicted about being adopted.

Benefit:  By seeing this in movies, adopted children are given permission to wrestle with this struggle and to honor the complexity and tragedy of love and loss.

Tarzan: Ironically, this may be my favorite children’s movie about adoption.  Orphaned baby is found by a female gorilla and adopted as her son, and, despite the obvious species difference, is embraced and loved.  My favorite part of this story is when his wonderful adoptive mother gorilla gives her son room to explore his origins without making him feel guilty or choose.  In the end, by giving him the room to do this, he chooses to embrace both his biological humanness (by marrying Jane) and the environmental and familial influence of his gorilla community and family.

Star Wars:  I think we can all agree that Luke and Lea were better off being adopted.  Finding out his father is Darth Vader is not an easy pill for Luke to swallow, but he wrestles with it and grieves the father he never knew and even finds room to love his father for who he is now instead of holding on to a fantasy of who he once was.

star wars

 

There are many more examples of movies that depict adoption both in positive and negative ways.  My motive is not to dampen anyone’s viewing of these movies or force any agenda.  My intention is only to provide a lens that I didn’t have two years ago.  And since this is one of the lenses my son will use to see things through for the rest of his life, I will too.  And I pray that he will stretch himself to put on other lenses that are not as familiar to him so he can learn to see the world from other perspectives as well.

I want to be a critical consumer; an attentive parent; a thoughtful woman; a follower of God; an ally to the oppressed and marginalized, whoever they may be.  This means I will have to be uncomfortable at times and stretch beyond my own worldview.

What are some lenses you wear that shape how you view entertainment and see the world?  What movies should I re-watch from these lenses to foster deeper understanding and challenge me to expand my perceptions? Help me see things through your eyes.

 

 

 

“I’m a happy mother”: Honoring the joys and sorrows of Mother’s Day

mom and me

Growing up, my mom’s response to the exclamation “Happy Mother’s Day!” was always the same.

“I’m a happy mother!”

Now that I am a mother, I see this response from a more personal lens.  I have always wanted to be a mom.  I know that not every woman shares this desire for motherhood, which I respect.  But for me, it was something I just assumed would happen, along with every other goal or dream for my life.  I don’t remember yearning for it when I was younger and even newly married, partly because I was pursuing other ambitions and passions, but also because I believed it would happen exactly how and when I wanted it to.  I didn’t see the point in dwelling on it.  I would be a mom, and it would be great when the time was right.

Long gone are the days of simple assumptions about anything.

2 years ago, I remember sitting in church on Mother’s Day feeling alone and angry.  Dave and I had been “trying” (awkward) for longer than I was admitting to myself or others, and it wasn’t happening.  I watched loved ones and not-so-loved ones around me getting pregnant like it was an item on a lunch menu.

I‘ll have a salad.”

“And I will have a baby.”

My beliefs about life and the way the world worked were being challenged in a painful and paradigm-shifting turn of events.  After buying in to the adage that I was “Taking Charge of My Fertility”, both by preventing and then by not preventing, the realization finally hit me that I really have very little control over it at all.  This always reminds me of Charlotte on Sex and the City when she says, “I spent all of my twenties trying not to get pregnant and all of my thirties trying to get pregnant!”

So here I was, sitting in church, watching adorable children pass out carnations to the standing women- the mothers– and I finally yearned to be one of them.  It went beyond a “you do you and I’ll do me” mindset and it became personal.

“Why them and not me?”

In that moment, I felt like I was becoming the person I hated.  The person who believes that everything is about her and that someone else’s fortune is somehow in direct competition with her own.  And then something happened.  I stopped looking at the women who were standing and started looking at the ones who weren’t.  Young women.  Old women.  Single women.  Married women.  Women who looked annoyed and others who looked embarrassed.  Women who fidgeted in their seats and those who looked around smiling and nodding happily at the standing women around them.  I didn’t want to judge them.  I wanted to know them.  “What are their stories?”

What I am learning as I allow myself to be vulnerable with others about my story is that there are a lot of complicated, painful, confusing, uncomfortable, and tragic stories all around me.  There are also countless stories about love, redemption, second chances, joy from sorrow, strength in weakness and healing amidst loss and grief.  I am not unique.  But my story is valuable.  So is yours.

Today, on Mother’s Day, my mom’s words resonate in my heart and soul.

“I am a happy mother!” 

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I am not happy because I got what I wanted, nor am I happy because I deserved it all along.  I am happy because I have seen God work in my life in a real and personal way.  I am happy because God had a plan all along that was better than mine, and I didn’t know or understand that two years ago.  I am happy because the deep yearning I felt that day in church and the story I have been telling myself since childhood are connected.  For me, that’s the key to my story now.  It was never about getting everything I wanted.  It was about the desires, passions and visions God put in my heart the day I was created that have strengthened and evolved into something more beautiful than I could have imagined.

Mother’s Day is a painful day for a lot of people.  It represents loss as much as it represents gain.  It reminds people of what they used to have and what they have never had.  So in addition to my happiness today, there is room for grief.  I grieve the loss of my son’s first mom.  Today, while I celebrate my “mom” status with my son, she will feel her own loss acutely, and that pains my heart.  I grieve the loss of my parents’ mothers.  I am reminded of my mom’s face when my grandmother died and the deep wailing in her spirit as she verbalized that she had become an orphan.  I mourn with my friends and clients who never knew the love of a mother.  I weep with those who have lost a child or who have a child who is sick and hurting and they don’t know how to help.  I hurt with those who yearn for  a child deeply.

That’s the beauty of life, really.  Feelings are not compartmentalized; they are fluid.  They don’t exist one after another, but in a magnificent tapestry, woven together intricately and gently.

If you are a happy mother today, celebrate that.  If that label does not fit for you, honor that however you need to.  For me, I will enjoy my presents and cards and cherish every hug and acknowledgment.  I will also make a conscious effort to be sensitive to the stories of others and leave room for grief and contemplation while still embracing my “special day”.

My road to motherhood was not simple, but it was just as it was meant to be.  And for that, I am certainly a happy and grateful mother.

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The most uncomfortable day of my life

A New Leaf Part 3- Embracing Discomfort

Our comfortable life

Our comfortable life

My husband and I sat on our couch, stunned and speechless.  The last big barrier in our process of whether or not we could adopt Josh had just been removed.  “Talk to each other about it, and let me know what you decide.” the lawyer said.  What we decideOur decision.  We had wanted to be parents so badly, and now we were faced with the reality of it, and we were scared.  Petrified.  I remember feeling like my body was on fire.  As I sat on our couch and looked at my husbandI could see in his eyes the same feelings in my own heart.  All the fun thoughts of parenthood fled and we were left with the intense and uncomfortable thought: life as we know it will never be the same. 

Are we ready for this?”

Hard things happen to people every day.  Horrific things in some cases.   We hurt, we struggle, and (hopefully) we grow.  But I have found that, for me, there is a huge difference between hard things happening and choosing hard things.  When Dave and I were faced with the decision either to adopt Josh and completely change our lives or to opt out and maintain our stable, comfortable lives, my flesh cried out to stay the same.  But my spirit knew that the comfortable choice was not the right one.  And in that moment of desperation and clarity, my heart longed for discomfort.  I couldn’t go back to the comfortable life I had lived before that moment because I knew that, after seeing a glimpse of something more meaningful and significant, my old life would never be enough.  I would never be satisfied where I was.  Despite fear and panic and a million “what ifs?” that filled my mind, I was ready to be uncomfortable.  Nothing had ever felt more right.

As human beings, we desire comfort.  I would choose a hot shower over a cold one any day.  I turn my air conditioning on when I am warm and my heat on when I am cold, and I don’t think twice about it.  I eat when my body tells me it’s hungry (and often even when it doesn’t) and I surround myself with people I like and agree with most of the time.  But then something will happen that will momentarily shake the foundation of my comfort, and in those moments, I have a choice- to seek to return to comfort at all costs or to be adventurous.  To continue existing or to really live.

Historically, I have sought the road leading to comfort.  As a child,  it was a joke in my family that I was the cautious one who would dip her toe in the water before getting in and who couldn’t stand it if my sock had a wrinkle in it.  My sister, on the other hand, was free-spirited and a bit wild (compared to me).  She would dive headfirst into a freezing cold pool without a second thought.  She would act first, then think, and I both envied her carefree attitude and feared for her safety.  By not taking many risks, I knew what to expect from life and I felt secure- until life would act on its own accord, leaving me helpless and confused.  This led to a lot of anxiety and fear that was debilitating at times.  Gradually, I learned that, although I can control some variables in my life, I can’t control them all.  But I still desired to maintain my comfort at all costs.

Fast forward to that night on the couch with my husband, as I am faced with the most uncomfortable, overwhelming decision of my life.  All of a sudden, in the midst of such discomfort, I felt more present than I had ever felt before.  Every part of my mind, body and spirit was responding, and I felt alive.  Being uncomfortable was exhilarating and liberating.  By not choosing comfort, the world was wide open to me.  Everything in my bones knew what I wanted to choose, and I was ready to lean in to my discomfort.

Over time, I settled into my routine as a working parent.  Life is pretty predictable and stable, and I am grateful for it.  But when I think back to that night on the couch, that moment of pure discomfort, I have to admit that I miss it.  I miss the sensations of uncertainty and the flood of emotions.  I miss the intense connection I felt to God, my husband, and my own passions and visions that day.  I know that I cannot exist in that place all the time.  It would be too much.  But what would it take for me to be that uncomfortable again?  What are some daily ways that I can push through my desire for comfort in an attempt to live more courageously and less carefully?  I want to be like my sister and do a cartwheel into the swimming pool and say, “Ta-da!” with my arms raised high.  I want to teach my son to be thoughtful and use common sense, but also to be uncomfortable and take risks and face hard things head on.

What makes you uncomfortable?  I mean really uncomfortable.  How can you lean in to that discomfort?  I am discovering as I pursue my dreams that fulfilling one’s passions and life visions is the epitome of uncomfortable.  But it’s worth it.  And in the end, I think it’s the only way to really live.  So let’s lean in to our discomfort together.

So worth it.

So worth it.

Embracing my love-hate relationship with Christmas cards

I love Christmas cards.  I love the thoughtfulness.  I love the deliberateness.  I love the creativity.

I hate Christmas cards.  I hate the pressure.  I hate the expectation.  I hate the reminder that so many people I know, even those much busier or more overwhelmed than I, find the time to send a meaningful card. 

I received a Christmas card from my husband’s grandmother who has been in the hospital the entire of month of December.  If that’s not humbling, I don’t know what is.

The truth is I want to be a Christmas card sender.  I really do.  I have done it twice.  The first time was 2009- the year I got married.  Our wedding was in July, and by the end of November, I still hadn’t sent thank you notes yet.  (For the same reasons that I struggle to send Christmas cards obviously.)  At that point, I had three choices: 1) Send regular thank you notes at the same time others are sending Christmas cards, 2) send a Christmas card that can double as a thank you note, or 3) climb into a hole to further avoid the pressure of both and slowly alienate myself from all meaningful relationships. So I sent Christmas thank you cards. (A serious etiquette violation, I am sure.)

Fast-forward to 2012.  My family underwent significant changes, culminating in the adoption of our son.  Our year had been so rich and full of blessings, and we received so much support and encouragement during that time from our family and friends.  It only seemed right to send Christmas cards.  I wanted to.  I had a second motive for that card, too.  (You notice a theme here?  I really like to “kill two birds with one stone” if I can).  Although my husband and I tried to be open about our process of becoming parents, we hadn’t had the opportunity to really share our story with a lot of people in our extended support networks.  I was concerned that some of our older relatives without Facebook might see our Christmas card and be extremely perplexed at the sudden presence of an adorable 4-year-old boy.  I also felt ready to share more of the story, and this seemed like the perfect time and venue.  I included an insert in the Christmas cards about our journey toward parenthood that culminated in the finalization of Josh’s adoption on December 12.  It was a year worth celebrating.  It was most certainly Christmas card-worthy.

I thought this would be the start of the new me.  The Christmas card-sending version of Karin.  I knew it would take energy and time, but it felt worth it.  So as the holiday season approached again, the plan was in motion.  We had scheduled to take family pictures with a photographer friend of mine, Linda Bainter, on December 12th-the first anniversary of our adoption finalization.  It was a beautiful day filled with love and cute poses.  I couldn’t wait to put the pictures on our Christmas card.  I knew I would be cutting it close since we decided to wait until our adoption day to do the photo shoot, but I felt ready for it.  I was embracing my identity as a Christmas card sender.

Well, here I am.  2014 has begun, and no Christmas card.  We just completed a whirlwind 12-day extended family and friends holiday tour, and now I am sitting down on my couch, heavy with the realization that I didn’t do it and contemplating how late one can send out Happy New Year cards.

Since the start of a new year is a good time to make changes, I thought about making it my New Year’s Resolution: Become someone who sends Christmas cards.  In fact, let’s throw in birthday cards and thank you cards, too.  But as  I thought more about it, I realized I had already told myself that before and it didn’t seem to work.  I realized I was missing something in this resolution.  I needed to dig deeper.  So instead, I decided I want 2014 to be the year of thoughtfulness.  Maybe that means thanking someone (in writing) for a sweet gift.  Maybe it means sending more letters (by hand) to dear friends who are far away.  Maybe it means calling someone instead of texting to say hi.  Hopefully, it means sending Christmas cards next year.  Not because I have to or feel obligated to, but because I want to be someone who can slow down and be thoughtful enough to remember and honor people in my life.  I truly do want to Wish them a Merry Christmas and send Love, Joy and Peace and say Happy Holidays.  I also enjoy the opportunity to celebrate my own family and invite others to celebrate with us.

It’s the start of a new year, and I want to start this year off on the right foot.  I resolve to be more thoughtful and deliberate this year.  I resolve to value relationships over expectations and performance.  And I resolve to continue to use this blog as a way to share my heart and connect with others.  Thank you for all the support and encouragement you have given me through this vessel.  It means more than I could say.  Whether you are family, a friend or an internet stranger, you are blessing to me.

So to all of you who take the time to read my posts, here is my Christmas card.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and I wish you love, joy and peace in 2014.  I pray that each one of us will continue to grow more fully into the person we were meant to be this year and every year of our lives. God bless.

Fields Family Web Sz-5592 Fields Family Web Sz-5904 Fields Family Web Sz-5947  Fields Family Web Sz-5316Fields Family Web Sz-5518 Fields Family Web Sz-5299

A very special thanks to Linda Bainter at Lovin’ the Light for capturing the spirit of our adoption day.  My son keeps asking when we can play with you again. 🙂

Nesting: Honoring the journey on the anniversary of our family

Nesting: The emotional, psychological, physiological, relational, spiritual, and practical process of preparing for parenthood. -K. Fields

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My appreciation for my own nesting process feels close to me these days in light of the the 1st anniversary of our adoption finalization (known around my house as “Joshua Day”).  12-12-12.  That was the day when we stood in front of a judge and swore to be Josh’s parents for the rest of our lives.  By that point, we had already been living with our son in our home for almost 2 months, but there was something significant about that act; the formality of it.  The permanence.  The symbolism of raising my hand and swearing to love, support and take care of my son no matter what. (Hmm, do you think we could initiate this type of symbolic commitment in hospitals before parents bring their babies home?  Or better yet, prior to the moment of conception? That was a joke.  Kind of.)

On January 1, 2012, my husband and I both believed that we would be parents that year.  We didn’t know how or when, but we felt confident that we were supposed to move toward it with openness and determination.  So you can imagine my astonishment and awe when I realized on the drive back up to South Carolina to finalize our son’s adoption on December 12, 2012 that our vision had been fulfilled.  Everything we went through to get to that point- every disappointment, fear, negative experience, blessing, struggle, connection- was all worth it.  We were parents.  And we would never not be parents again.

Although we tried to become parents biologically prior to the start of 2012, I mark that day on January 1st as the official start of our nesting process; the beginning of our gestational period where 9 months later we would bring our child home (even though we had no idea at the time what our journey would look like).

So this other part of my life creeps in every now and then. I am a doctoral student, and occasionally I have to do “student” things. It was difficult for me to stay invested in school during my process of becoming a parent, especially when Josh came home to live with us.  Thankfully, I had kind and understanding professors and I discovered my love for qualitative research.  Through this vessel, I found a way to connect my personal journey to my professional endeavors, and I found a renewed passion for research and my academic pursuits.

I became fascinated with the concept of  nesting, and I was curious about how the nesting process for adoptive parents compares to the nesting process for biological parents.  I had to conduct research and complete a project in my qualitative data collection class, and after struggling with where to start for several weeks, I eventually decided to begin the research with my own journey of preparing for parenthood. I interviewed myself and made a video comparing the nesting process of biological parents to my own journey toward parenthood.

I wrestled with whether or not to put this on my blog, but in the end, I decided that leaning on the side of vulnerability has been meaningful and worthwhile.  So, why not?

I will refrain from inserting my own commentary here because I have already done that in the video.  However, I do feel the need to include a disclaimer that, despite my attempt to be “artsy”, I realize that my production quality is below that of most 5th graders.  Next time, I hope to enlist the help of a middle schooler to teach me more about video production.  Okay, enough disclaiming.  Enjoy.  *Vulnerability Hangover commence.*

*The term Vulnerability Hangover is borrowed from an amazing therapist/researcher/writer/speaker Brene Brown.  If you aren’t familiar with her work on vulnerability, I urge you to become familiar with it.