stick + stones.

labels.

let’s talk about them.

one of the most frequent questions I get is regarding my thoughts and feelings about being labeled adopted or an adoptee. So let’s think about this together. Aren’t social media hashtags labeling? Isn’t your bio on Instagram that states adoptive parent or adoption advocate a label? Aren’t books titles “We Adopted You” labeling? Birth mom, birth father, labels? Even ‘friend’ or ‘author’ or ‘athlete’ all labels?

Do you think all labels are a detriment, withholding or just certain ones?

I am not here to tell you labels are bad or they are good. Personally, they are just that, a label. A category. ‘Adoptee’ isn’t my only title but it’s a chapter to my story. It doesn’t determine how I should or how I have lived my life. It never dictated certain decisions or created certain paths.

How did it affect me as a child, how does it affect me know?

In elementary school I was known as the girl who was adopted.

In high school, I was known as the girl whose mom died.

In no way did I let those terms degrade who I was. Is that a personality trait? How I was raised?

Adoptive mama doesn’t define me as what type of mother I am. It doesn’t make me real or fake, first or last, less or more. My son being labeled a preemie doesn’t limit him for his future but knowing this part of his story maybe helpful in a school setting or future endeavors. These labels, they can help us use our voices. They can help us in areas in our lives we may struggle or were we may thrive. I have made the choice and my mission to not let labels negatively affect me.

I am so incredibly proud to be an adoptee.

I am so incredibly proud to be an adoptive mother.

I am so incredibly proud to be a mama of a thriving 29-weeker.

I am so incredibly lucky to have been reunited with my birth mom and birth father.

I am so incredible honored to now know my birth mother and birth father.

I am so incredibly lucky to have been raised by the most altruistic adoptive parents.

I am aware that the way I feel about labeling isn’t the case for all adoptees/people but we are all different, unique and that is what makes this all okay! All of our stories start and develop in  their own ways. We aren’t always all happy or all sad. Labels are not the end all. They shouldn’t be blanket statements that define our struggles or our accomplishments. They are a small part of our identity. A chapter to our story.

I feel like you have the choice and the voice to embrace and hold proud your label(s). On the flip side I believe you can let it take over and become a negative tagline. I believe you have the ability and the right to change your level of comfort with your label. I believe your perspective can and will change as you navigate through childhood- adolescence-adulthood.

go ahead, label me, I dare you.

be brave.

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homesick.

it’s been 66 days since this all started unfolding.

4 life changing meetings in 3 days.

too many feelings to count.

a roller coaster of emotions with the highest peaks and deep, plummeting slopes.

I feel joy and true love yet somber and melancholy.

i’m on cloud 9 then feel a sense of depression.

poignancy: “positive and negative emotion mixed together.” it’s the ability to clearly feel two things at once without either being diminished. an accurate reminder that perfecting describes how I have been feeling and was brought to my attention by a new cousin when she reached out to me for the first time.

but the negative emotions surprise me.

new is unfamiliar and change is scary.

i have sat down on many occasions trying to blog about my first meeting with my birth mom, my first family event with my birth father and meeting my 3 sisters, nieces and nephews.

it’s been 2 weeks since i’ve been home and i am finally able to put a word to this rollercoaster: I am homesick.

homesick is experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.

i yearn to be with my new family. I hear and see their family functions happening around me that I can’t be apart of but this time only because of logistics.

I have always struggled with being homesick since i’ve left new mexico 3 years ago and the first time i left in 1998. family dinners, major and minor holidays, play dates with cousins, impromptu starbucks meet ups, company to the grocery store.

homesickness lessened about 1.5 years ago. i finally found my place in arizona. my group of friends are not much different than my family. for a while i kept finding excuses to not be homesick in hopes it would make it go away. it’s never gone away.

i have always been drawn to new mexico.

i have always called new mexico my home.

it will always be my home.

i believe i will always be homesick.

be brave.

love not label.

I have talked about my continuously unfolding story to strangers on the street, people on the internet, friends over the phone, and new relatives face to face. I talk about this story the way I have been used my whole and more specifically since I entered the adoption world as a waiting parent. seeing birth mama situations, using “the baby”, “her baby”…

and after 34 years, I get to change the verbiage. I get to change the titles, the labels, the pronouns.

GET, not have to.

“the baby” is me!

I am a big sister.

I have living grandparents.

I get motherly phone calls.

their mom… my grandma

his brother… my uncle

his daughters… my sisters

her sisters …. my aunts

but lets stop right there. I get asked a lot by many if and/or when I will change my language.

I am in no rush to use or claim these adjectives.

I have no pressure to label these new relatives let alone label all these feelings and relationships.

There is [hopefully] no pressure for them to title me.

when I do use them, it’s because I want to.

it may be tomorrow, yesterday, today. it may be the first time or maybe the last time.

when I use them, I consider and acknowledge all parties who also use them and have been using them for their whole lives.

when I do use them, I feel honored.

I am not replacing anyone or forgetting about anyone.

I am a stranger walking in and I do not want to walk over them. labels can take people to places of hurt but also healing.

I am blood.

I am dna.

I am home.

“God opens millions of flowers without forcing the buds, it reminds us not to force anything for things happen in the right time.”

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her handwriting.

a lot has unfolded in the last couple months. new family members. new connections. news stories to hear. new stories to be told. friends and family have continually checked regarding my birth family reunions, mothers day, my moms anniversary. to be honest, it’s been A LOT. not bad a lot. but A LOT. over the past few days, as busy as I have made myself, I have had time to reflect on the reality of my life; where it stands now.

new family. missed family. people who get to fit in. people who are missing out.

this anniversary has been different from the rest.

I get to RETELL my story.

I get to RELIVE the love I have for my mom.

I get to REMEMBER the amazing memories but I also get to remember the trauma and hard times that have led me right here. all crucial steps in the grieving process.

the dust has settled. apprehension has lessened. I decided to torture myself by looking at photo albums my dad brought on his last visit here.

i’ve been so worried about forgetting her. forgetting our connection. forgetting her personality. forgetting the sound of her voice. her mannerisms…

…her hand writing. right there in front of me. a trait I haven’t seen in a long long time. I think my heart skipped few too many beats. handwriting seems like an oddly personal attribute these days and here, through and through the pages of these albums she’s narrating our life memories; illustrating her love for traveling + adventure.

then, to see my name in her handwriting filled my body with so much love. which was the most perfect way to close out this month of moms + memories.

this weekend as given me a different perspective about my past. it may just be for this anniversary but this is the one I need to worry about now. guys, ask me questions because i want to answer them. it’s okay to see me cry. it’s okay if you want to cry. it’s okay to feel the pain but to remember I am still healing. it’s okay to give myself grace. 18 years later.

be brave.

giving it back to Him.

after discovering my adoption file was missing in march, the next step was to file for my original birth certificate. seemed like a fool proof, safe plan b. from that we’d obtain my birth mother’s name and maybe get lucky with a birth father name and begin the search for contact.

recently I discovered that my original birth certificate is also untraceable. at first, I light heartedly joked that my missing file was due to my unknown royal heritage, now I just feel like it’s a conspiracy.

I feel like I had an emotional setback today because of this missing document. it sounds and seem ridiculous when i say it out loud especially because i know my biological family and they are basically in front of me. But I have to be honest and say I was really counting on this step. hoping + praying this would allow me to move on + forward + process.

it’s as though without this “proof” there is fear that these absolutely wonderful people may not really be mine.

it’s really frustrating that this part of my identity is so hard to grasp and tangibly hold. i do understand that there is more to the story. will i ever discover it? maybe but maybe not. i’m really trying to process this. still.

I needed this.

you must know, I am forever thankful that I have already found my birth parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. everyone so loving + welcoming + understanding + helpful + open + honest.

giving it back to Him.

surrendering with intention.

be brave.

today.

today is my first year celebrating MY birth mom. the fact that I got to text her today is overwhelming + unimaginable. today is bringing up very surprising emotions for me- joy, happiness, excitement, peace yet sadness, guilt.

is it hers?

is it mama L’s?

is it my own?

is it my moms?

i’ve thought about my birth mom for my whole life. I’ve thought about this celebration as a potential. here I am left with many tears and zero words.

still processing all of this.

still sifting through my thoughts + emotions.

the most common word flooding my mind:

thankful.

thankful for her decision.

thankful for my life.

thankful for this reunion.

thankful for her bravery.

thankful for her honesty.

thankful for her openness.

thankful for her story.

thankful for her.

today, I know her favorite colors are turquoise and cobalt blue.

today, I know her favorite flower are sunflowers.

today, I know her favorite food is mexican.

today, I know she has a sweet tooth verses salty taste buds.

today she knows I am thinking of her and I know she is thinking of me.

today is much more than I thought it would be.

be brave.

may fourth two thousand and eighteen.

thirty four years of not knowing who he was, what he looked like, what he loved, what he hated, if i’d ever speak to him or know his name, I sit here in front of him after knowing him for only the past 17 days. almost starring into a mirror physically yet learning about the man behind it.

we talked faith.

we talked adoption.

we talked family.

we talked childhood.

we talked similarities.

we put pieces of the past together.

we talked about the hard emotions.

we talked about the happy emotions.

we talked about honesty.

each of us in our own unique positions of the triad.

each of us processing. allowing one another to process together + on our own.

he is kind.

he is open.

he is silly.

he is honest.

he is confident.

I have known for 34 years that I was placed for adoption.

my birth mother has known about me for 34 years.

he just found out that he has another daughter. one he never ever knew about…. his first born…

that’s a lot…

and for that he is brave.

a few nights after talking to him on the phone for the first time, I dreamt that my newly found uncle dropped off his youngest daughter to me for the weekend. when I looked down at her in my dream, the baby in my arms was me.

I was reassured that an Angel was delivering His message to me that night.

the message: I found myself.

the man who reassured me of this beautiful message is my birth father; the man in front of me.

“welcome home.”

be brave.

we even squint the same 🙂