Category Archives: Family

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

 

Is this a moment I will remember? Christmas time reflections from the highway

December 25, 2014
I am in the passenger seat of our car basking in the aftermath of a lovely, relaxing Christmas morning with my husband and son. After a whirlwind holiday last year of cramming in and maximizing time, we made a necessary decision to simplify this year- to slow down and actually enjoy Christmas as our own family unit. To sleep in our own beds and wake up by our own Christmas tree.

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Now it is early afternoon, and as we get on the highway to visit family and keep the holiday going, I find myself with more time… Time to reflect, pray and remember. So many wonderful memories are filling my mind. My childhood Christmases when my siblings and I would open up a game to play while we waited for my dad to wake up. STOCKINGS! I have always loved that part. Spending the afternoon playing with my toys and trying on my clothes. I remember being a teenager and driving with my brother and sister to my grandparents’ house on Christmas afternoon. It was a time to talk and reflect and listen to music.  A ritual we had while making that drive was to play Everything But the Girl’s song “25th December”. There’s a line in it that keeps running through my head today…

“Oh I never, no I never ever realized”

Memories are so mysterious. We look back and romanticize and glamorize and immortalize. But when we are there, we don’t tend to realize. It’s funny what stands out in my mind now from my childhood. It’s not the big moments I thought it would be. It’s so many snapshots. Random experiences with people I love. A joke that turns into an inside joke that turns into a family story. It’s a look that sums up a relationship with perfect clarity. A smell that triggers a stage of life; not one particular moment, but the culmination of experiences that becomes a single memory.
So is it useless to try to remember? If we take enough pictures or videos, will we ever be able to fully recreate the moment? Or does trying to remember actually take us out of the moment?

December 28, 2014
Here I am again, reflecting and typing in the passenger seat of our car on our way back home. After our lovely Christmas morning opening presents and starting new traditions in our home, we spent the rest of Christmas day making memories and connecting with loved ones. Now, a few days later, I am already beginning to look back and sort through events and interactions and moments to see what stands out. I remember the moment when Dave discovered that the robot dog we got Josh for Christmas was set to Spanish mode instead of English. I remember Josh opening up his pogo stick from my sister and seeing the genuine excitement in his eyes.  I remember playing Calico Critters with my niece Aimee and laughing uncontrollably when her tiny toy rabbit’s ear broke off. I have those memories, but I also have a feeling. When I think about Christmas Day 2014, I hope I remember it as sweet, connected and special. I pray that I remember the warmth I experienced throughout the day and the depth and genuineness I felt from loved ones. When I look at pictures from that day, my wish is that they will not only spark memories of events, but also the feeling I felt that day and continue to feel now as I look back.

We don’t really know what will hold in our minds when we recall certain events and experiences. Since we don’t know what will stick, we have even more of a responsibility to be present- not to let moments pass us by, and also not to put too much focus on remembering any single moment that we aren’t actually “in it”. When we sit back and watch, let’s also lean forward and engage. When we grab for our cameras to capture a moment, let’s also pause and look at it with our own eyes first. Let’s laugh and cry together so that our memories can be connected to our relationships. Because from my experience, the memories that stick the most are the ones I share with others.

Let’s be present this new year. Let’s be engaged in life and relationships so that our collective experiences will produce shared memories and deepen our connections to others. But let’s also remember that, as hard as we try to be present, there will always be times when we will think, “I never, no I never ever realized”. After all, there are some experiences that cannot be fully realized without the passage of time. And there are gifts in those moments, too. But my prayer is that I will continue to learn to be more fully present and realize the beauty and pain and complexity of life all around me. Because even when it hurts, I would rather be present in my life than absent. I would rather remember than forget.

Especially the precious moments, like these.

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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.

Facing your fears- Honoring anxiety and courage in children and grown-up children

A New leaf part 3- Facing Fears

 When I was 8 years old, I heard a story on the news about a man contracting HIV through a needle left on a seat in a movie theater.  Panic struck me, and nothing felt safe.  Of course, going to movies was out.  There was no way I would fall victim to the same trap.  Eventually, it went beyond a fear of going to movies to a fear of public places.  If someone could be sick enough to put an infected needle on a movie theater chair, what’s to stop someone from putting a needle in the sand at the baseball field or in my backyard?  The fear became so consuming that one day I found a sewing needle on the floor of our garage, and I started panicking and shaking.  I asked my mom through tears and heavy breaths, “Why would God create a world and allow it to be filled with so much awfulness?” (Still a question that stirs me deeply.)

I was a scared, anxious kid.  When I heard about something bad happening to someone else somewhere else, I immediately assumed it would happen to me, too. (This could also have been the beginning stages of narcissism now that I think about it.)  Once I had a fear in mind, it became consuming and would lead to irrational scenarios where I would be doomed and there was nothing anyone could do to help.  Looking back, I empathize with my mom and siblings. It must have felt so helpless to watch me panic inconsolably.

One of the reasons why I became a child and adolescent counselor is my deep understanding of how small and vulnerable a child can feel and how big and scary the world can seem.  Although I still experience acute fears and high levels of anxiety at times, I no longer exist in that place of constant fear that consumed much of my energy as a child.  As I got older, my fears took on more of an existential focus.  Who am I?  What is my purpose?  Does anything I do really matter?  Are we all just a speck of dust on the top of a flower being carried by a clumsy elephant named Horton?  You know, the little things.  Although these questions could consume me if I let them, I have found ways to re-focus myself from them by connecting with others, engaging in purposeful activities and embracing faith so that the unanswered questions could coexist with what I believed to be true.

I asked my college students to write down alternative words for common emotions like sadness, anger and fear.  A descriptive emotion that came up to quantify fear was the word petrified.  Literally paralyzed; frozen with fear.  Think of the curse “Petrificus Totalus” from Harry Potter.  The victim’s body goes rigid and the only thing he can move is his eyes.  I know that feeling.  And as I incorporate my thoughts and beliefs about fear with my passions and visions for my life, that word seems to be a common reaction to moving forward with my dreams.  Sometimes, I literally feel stuck where I am out of fear.  Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of change… Staying still feels safer, but in actuality, it perpetuates the state of fear- the petrification.

As a parent, it is remarkable to watch your child overcome fear.  My son has a beautiful blend of a cautious and adventurous spirit that I really admire.  I can see his initial concern and fear when he is presented with something he doesn’t understand or hasn’t experienced before, but it is followed by a desire to try.  It’s like he  knows he will regret it if he lets his fear take over.  He has a bit of a formula for how he handles his fears.  He starts out tentative and stays close.  He checks things out for a minute or two and takes it all in.  Then he slowly engages.  He tries this new activity for a few seconds, then looks back and smiles.  *This is my cue.*  “Stay close, but I am going in.”  After participating for a little while, he runs over to me with excitement in his eyes and asks if I saw him.  I answer “I sure did!”, and he returns to the activity, not as a novice anymore, but as a student who is catching on and ready for more challenge.

Josh learning to ride without training wheels

Josh learning to ride without training wheels

josh karate

Josh’s first day at Karate

josh jumping on trampoline

Josh jumping at a trampoline playground

josh climbing

Josh climbing his first rock wall

I want to experience life that way.  I don’t want to miss out on adventures because of my fear.  And I don’t want to model for that my son.  I want him to know that fear is normal and appropriate and even necessary, but that it doesn’t have to win.  Some things are more powerful than fear- like love.  In the third book/movie in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, one of my favorite characters, Eowyn, niece of King Theoden, wants to fight with the men. When talking to Aragorn about fear, she says that she fears neither death nor pain, but rather a cage“To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”

ewoyn in battle

Eowyn does fight.  In fact, she defeats the witch king, who  touted that no man could ever kill him.  (To which she responds, “I am no man!” Love it.)  And she doesn’t do it for valor or for pride or even for her country.  She does it for her friends.  Her family.  Love.  I have things to fight for.  People to face fears for and take risks for and even get hurt for.  As she rides to battle with the childlike hobbit Merry riding with her, she says the words that I hold on to any time I feel weak and petrified in the face of of my fear.  “Courage, Merry.  Courage for our friends.”

The next time you think about avoiding your fears, ask yourself, “Who needs my courage right now?” And “Who could suffer if I don’t stand up and fight?”

West Coast Adventures Part 1-The Enigmatic, Lonely Traveler

josh and mommy before trip unedited

After a lovely, relaxing morning together baking banana bread and watching a movie on Wednesday, I took Josh to school (as late as I possibly could and still make my flight), and I said goodbye for 4 days.  His friends greeted him excitedly, questioning his whereabouts for the first half of the day and eager to catch him up on everything he missed.  I kept returning for one more kiss, thinking of something to tell him or to say hi to a little friend.  Finally, he gave me a big hug, and, with a look of awareness and love, he smiled and said goodbye.  He didn’t grab at my ankle or cry.  He wasn’t shaky in his words or pouting at me for my decision to take a trip and leave him behind.  We said “I love you’s” and “see you soon’s” and he joined his friends.  I almost went back over for one last kiss, but I realized that would have been for me.  He was telling me he was okay, and I needed to show him that I could be, too.  I walked out of the classroom and peaked in through the glass window. (This is nothing new.  I do it pretty much every day.)  He knows I do this, and sometimes he indulges me by looking up and waving.  This day, he lifted his head and smiled.  I waved, mustered up all the courage I could find, and walked away.  And then I sobbed while singing along to the Frozen soundtrack in the car.

This might seem silly. I am sure plenty of parents leave their kids with their extremely trusting and capable partners for a few days or longer.  But I haven’t.  This is the first time I will be gone for more than 2 nights and the first time I won’t be an hour or two away from him since we brought him home.   I am reminded intimately of the drive away from him Dave and I had to make after the very first time we met him.  In that moment, we were leaving our son in a home that was not his with caregivers who were not his parents and there was nothing we could do about it.  We were driving back to our old lives 6 hours away knowing things would never be the same.  It was the best and worst feeling.

Today, almost 2 and half years later, I am leaving my son under very different circumstances.  He is home with his daddy.  He is looking forward to riding his bike at the park and playing Wii and wrestling and eating pizza.  A few days before I left, he said, “Mommy, it’s okay that you are going on a trip.  I will get a lot of good time with my Daddy.”  It’s like he had been thinking about it, and this was his conclusion.  Don’t get me wrong, he gets a lot of time with his daddy on a regular basis, but I knew what he meant.  It was an opportunity.  It was their own adventure while I was off on mine.

After a good cry in the car as I was driving away from his school, my travels began.  The sadness lingered, but another sensation came upon me- excitement.  I was eager to get to my conference and connect with a dear friend, but before that, I was actually looking forward to a day of traveling all by myself.  For those who know me, I don’t typically like the phrase “all by myself” to be associated with my name very often, but something about it felt sort of mysterious and adventurous.  For a day, I wouldn’t look like a mother or a wife or a counselor or a teacher.  I could be whoever I wanted to be.  I could be enigmatic.  I could be a loner.  I could be quiet.  I could be someone who orders a glass of wine and a rice bowl in the Charlotte Airport and eats by herself.  I could be going to California or going to Japan, and no one would know the difference.  I could be from anywhere in the world making a stop on any journey I want.  It was an adrenaline rush… for a little while.

airport meal

I got about halfway through my dinner before the loneliness hit me.  It wasn’t a consuming feeling, but it was there.  As an extrovert, airports are complicated for me.  On the one hand, I love that I am surrounded by all kinds of people moving in different directions and operating at a fast pace.  But being surrounded by thousands of people and not knowing a single person is like a tease.  And there isn’t much impetus to get to know anyone because there is little possibility for small talk with a stranger while waiting for your boarding zone to be called to turn into a meaningful friendship. (Although I am sure it happens on occasion.)  It is not just talking I want.  It’s connection.  It’s familiarity.  It’s relationship.  And it’s pretty difficult to have those things while being mysterious and stand-offish.  So maybe being enigmatic isn’t all that important to me after all.

By the time I boarded my flight for my final destination of San Diego, I threw all mystery and intrigue out the window and I Facetimed my family.  I talked loudly, I flipped the camera around to give Josh a full view of the cabin and held my arms up in the air as I waved it around.  I made kissy faces and said I love you about 12 times.  And it felt great.  The jig was up.  I could no longer pretend that I was a human rights activist in Africa or a French artist on her way to New York for an exhibit.  I was just a mom who loved her kid.

Seeing their faces made me miss them, but I also felt a support that had been absent throughout my solo traveling experience up to that point.  This is my first real trip since becoming a mom, and I realize now that I don’t want to compartmentalize my life anymore.  I don’t want to leave my identity behind for adventure and excitement.  But I also don’t want to be afraid to step away from my normal life and explore unknowns, both with and without my people.   I carry them with me wherever my travels take me, whether it’s to the grocery store down the street or to the Pacific Ocean.  So I am not an enigmatic, lonely traveler.  I am a loved, supported and connected traveler with people and things I love on both ends of my voyage.  So I can wait it out in the in between and have a meal with my oldest friend.  Me.

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

IMG_1490

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.