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 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.
I know WHAT was just said but it hasn’t sunk in WHO it was with…
I spent a lifetime dreaming, three weeks in suspense and here we are.
investigating. connecting dots. searching. asking questions. playing detective. a lot of this I had set out for yet it also fell into my lap.
i have written many blog posts “to her”… and as I write this one I can’t believe I know she will read it. on purpose. most importantly, I can tell her. I can call her. I can text her. I can update her.
she revealed our story to my ears. mother to daughter, daughter to mother… she opened her heart. she gave me answers. she asked her questions. I heard sadness and relief. I felt grateful and thanked her.
she loves me. she thinks about me. she misses me. she is proud of me. all of this I officially know and is no longer a segway to find peace or distraction to make sense of what I never knew.
we laughed the same laugh. we shared our strengths and weaknesses. she updated me on current life and explained her past. we both loved dolly’s and playing teacher. we both struggled with our academics. we both have wavy hair. all in 2 hours. I didn’t want to stop talking and I didn’t want to stop listening.
to know her biggest struggle was my biggest blessing. I told her, yet I can’t reiterate enough, that she changed my life. she may not believe me yet but I will help her to find the confidence to truly believe that. her decision to place set me up for success, love, strength, hope. sometimes it can be hard to see that but I am proof that that is the case.
so much i want to divulge about our conversation but i’m guarding it with my whole heart. so many hearts involved. so many eyes reading. so many emotions unfolding. reality starting to sink in.
we are both open. open to see what’s next. open to navigate this new beginning with each other.
when I give Brooklyn my blessing to find her bio family when she is ready, like you gave us, I want to reassure her to never forget me. never forget our inside jokes, nicknames, favorite time of day to cuddle. I want her to know she can always lean on me if the road to her biological past gets bumpy, blurry or seems untouchable.
through my journey, I never want you two to feel like i’m forgetting you. that i am needing something more. nothing will ever be replaced. nothing will be lost. never forgotten.
I have never been more grateful for the life you have given me. the opportunities because of your endless love and huge hearts. the lessons I learned through trial and error and through your stories and experiences, will trickle down to my kids, biological or adopted.
mom, I want to be exactly like you. you were my best friend. I was scared as hell of you because you were so strong + independent + vocal. you were strict but loving. you were protective. you have been gone for almost 18 years, more than half my life, and I still can remember the softness of your hands and they way you wiped your mouth during meals.
dad, I look up to you. your passion to live for other people above yourself is a quality that’s inspiring. you bend over backwards for people and never expect anything in return. you know how rare that is especially these days, right? you have taught me to never give up even when all the health and emotional obstacles hit me like a ton of bricks. you have been a huge advocate when I was struggling in school and my rock when i got my heart broken for the first time. being left to raise two teens girls on your own was no easy task but you always stood tall and loved so big. the love that you have shown Brooklyn is nothing short of natural and welcoming.
no matter where this road leads me, to immediate blood or farther down the lineage, it’s because of you guys and the way you raised me that I can handle what’s ahead of me. you have taught me and prepared me for this part of my life. I will still need you; I will still want you, whether long distance over the phone or through my prayers to heaven.
you both are literally impossible to replace now and forever.
to be welcomed. to be encouraged. to be informed. to be supported. to be validated. those were what I dreamt of when looking for my biological family. although never something I expected, especially on or near my birthday. the past few weeks my mind as been consumed with the potential of a biological mother especially with Mother’s Day nearing as well as my mom’s anniversary of when she passed. the thought of finding or even connecting with my birth father side seemed impossible and a thought that quickly left my mind as it entered.
Ancestry was one of the stepping stones that began my journey. 2016 I bought a kit to find my ethnicity. never thought it would be the link to a part of my heritage that I thought was impossible to find and there it was. an entire family within arms reach of me. searching and looking for the connections between me and them. I had been in minimal contact with one of my highest matches off and on since Feb of this year. a man already offering me information that may be helpful yet I had no feedback to give since mine was so limited. Fast forward to last week.
April 17, 2018 my life changed forever. After being encouraged to log back onto my account after a few months away, I dove head first into the researching centimorgans, clicking back n forth between profiles, looking at maps, searching names on google. everything starting to fall into place. this man, the man behind my highest match is my biological uncle likely on my fathers side! can you believe it?! 6 days into knowing this and I still cannot. I bluntly contacted him and told him that I had a strong belief he was my uncle and his dad is my grandfather. his response, “call me!” if you know me, you know I am not one to just pick up the phone but I didn’t think twice! shaking with nerves within minutes of talking everything seemed so natural. he was very open to helping me connect the dots. we talked timelines, siblings, cities, dates.
this family owes me nothing. this family already has given me more than I could have ever asked. the time. the effort. the excitement. the welcome.
I got to meet this wonderful man, and his family. stunned by our resemblances. mesmerized by our comfort level. fascinated by the instant connection.
my newly found uncle and son sat in the middle of Starbucks yesterday and sang me ‘happy birthday’ with a wooden toy cake in front of me. never would have imagined this would unfold let alone on my birthday!
the story keeps unfolding. keeps evolving. more hearts invested. more stories connecting…
we took a trip to the happiest place on earth as a family of four. we had no idea bk would be apart of this trip when originally planned. there was no question as to if we’d cancel the trip since adding her to our family. we had looked forward to this trip and thankfully we pushed forward. what an amazing trip we had!
while on the trip i knew a deadline was approaching. birth parents right severance. to be in the Happiest Place on Earth and to meet this milestone was…
for the past 60 days we had a weight on our shoulders. an elephant on our chest. a storm cloud hovering over our heads.
this wait was over. oct 25th 2016.
before i started writing this post, i had read the document with mama L signature giving up full rights and irrevocable complete control of bk. when i got the text after 72 hours that she had signed, it meant something to me, it hit me. when just now reading it on paper and seeing her signed initials, her actual signature…. it hit me again.
emotions like these surprise me.
the pain + the comfort + the relief + the sadness + the excitement.
the most specific detail that has caught me off guard is her handwriting. to me, hand script can say a lot about someone. it can reveal truths or insecurities. i always wondered how she signed her name. did she use her full name or just initials? was it in cursive? all caps or small print? flowy or chicken scratch? these types of details all exposed on these documents as we move forward with finalization. i felt confidence in her signature. it seemed bold yet heavy. still can’t imagine what was going through her mind while she signed these papers. makes me take long, deep breaths thinking about it.
handwriting is one thing i miss most about my own mom. i don’t have much that documented my mom’s beautiful, thin, long cursive and we don’t have much that documents mama L’s, but it’s something to show bk when she is ready bc mama L’s handwriting is beautiful, just like her.
this is also why it’s so important for me to take the time and hand write out bk’s monthly update for mama L. i want her to see my feelings through my writing. i want her to feel that brooklyn is loved. she is wanted. she was longed for. she is safe. she is happy. she is secure. she is flourishing. i want her to trust through my writings that her decision will forever be life altering.
finding peace as we move forward. embracing the unexpected emotions that keep surprising me.
the following 48 hours were a dream filled with skin to skin, hundreds of newborn pictures, counting milk oz, plenty of poopy diapers, hearing test, carseat test (since she was premature), and lots lots of bonding. the amazing hospital staff at Arrowhead were so incredibly accommodating + supportive of the adoption plan. I was fortunate enough to get a room to stay full time with bk until discharge. they came to check on us a few times a shift but gave us privacy to bond. mama L gave me a wrist band, similar to the one that the other parent gets. I could bathe her, take her to nursery, feed and change her as I had given birth to her. to be honest, this part of the adoption journey wasn’t ever really thought of. i never really imagined what would happen post birth, maybe bc i wasn’t sure we’d ever make it this far.
first time i held my baby girl.
bk’s first bottle.
post first bath.
our beautiful girl.
I couldn’t wait for michael to arrive that morning to meet his daughter. our dear friend kaily had come early to watch beckett so we could do this ourselves. i met him in the hallway in front of the elevator with her in her crib. we were the first things he saw when the elevator doors opened. he was smiling ear to ear and he still hadn’t seen her in person. in the adoption world, many fathers (and mothers) fear the bonding process of their adopted baby. will it happen naturally? will it be similar to their biological child? as we started walking down the hallway, pushing her crib to our room, he had so much pep in his step and confidence in his voice. we barely step in the room and he was ready to hold her. no hesitation. no fear. no anxiety. those emotions probably existed on the drive over but you could see those were left at the elevator.
i want to forever remember the way he looked at her for the first time. the way he held her. watching him sink into the bed as she sunk into him. both their breaths calm. so natural. so much love.
i never want to forget the way he checked out every single feature of hers; the wrinkles and creases on her feet + her ear lobes + her nose + her pouting lips + her long fingers + her freshly cut umbilical cord + her dark thick hair + almond shaped eyes. these features change so quickly, day to day, week to week. i took so many pictures bc i never want to forget. this moment was incredible; this journey can never be repeated.
beckett got to meet his baby sister in the hospital later that afternoon. i went back and forth with this because so much could still happen at this point and bk was not yet our daughter. the main reason we went ahead and included beckett in this part was bc if/when everything goes according to the adoption plan, we did not want to miss any opportunities to write her story. the hospital was a new place for beckett both in an exciting way and confusing way. i remember i could hear him coming down the hallway, then when he slammed opened the door he bolted to her crib, saying “HI BABY SISTER!” his voice definitely didn’t match his actions. he was scared to be near her, resistant to touching her and we were okay with that. he is on his term, moves slowly, and warms up when he is ready. he was both eager to leave but wanted to stay. he didn’t understand why mommy had to stay. we did our best at explaining each step of the way just in case something clicked for him.
the fresh 48 was all so perfect. to have a newborn with no leads, no oxygen tubes, no beeping monitors, no feeding tubes, no IV’s, no neighbors 3 feet away surrounding you watching you, wondering what your story is. no one to tell us we couldn’t hold our baby today. no one to tell us that we had to put our baby back bc it was overstimulated. we had privacy. time together. help was there if we needed but the hospital staff truly let me be her parent.
the bonding came easy but still with a little hesitation in the back of my head and heart. bk was not yet ours. she was mama L’s. i wanted to give her ALL my love but i was so guarded knowing this could all crumble as i’ve seen it happen to close ones in the adoption community. i wanted to be realistic. i wanted to play it safe, but she made my heart explode in a million pieces, a million different ways. my best friend back home advised me to let it all out. all the love, the tears of joy, the tears of pain for mama L… to truly FEEL each of these minutes as i will never get them back regardless of how this may all end. i had to keep faith, trust God, that this was our baby. He lead us to her. He led her to us. i recalled all those nights of prayers and pleas to grow our family. He heard them all. He heard all of us. i still pray for mama L. i pray for the story i know. i pray for her other children. i pray for her safety. i pray that she finds joy and love in the updates we send each month. i pray she feels the same love for herself through the pictures because brooklyn is a direct line to her no matter papers signed or last name.
i knew the time at the hospital was going to end. i had no idea what we were yet to face. since discharge was after 48 hours of birth, mama L could not sign consent until 72 hours so sweet brooklyn was discharged to a cradle caregiver through the agency who took her into her home until papers were signed. it definitely was not my first choice of how the fresh 48 hours would end but i tried to look at this with positive light. this would be a good time to spend as a family of three one last time. give beckett a breather since everything happened so so so fast. let his little mind settle and his heart expand. of course it all worked out. nicole, the temporary caregiver, sent me pictures throughout that night with bk and all her family members pitching in to love on her. my mind and heart were at ease. we had about 1 months of paperwork to plow through as well before the morning and it needed to get done before we could take bk home with us.
the biggest thing on my mind that night was mama L. would she sign? did she have hesitations or reservations? did she feel more confident after meeting me?
to be continued…
they even wheeled me out as if i had given birth to her.
since when did a month prep happen just within days? well that is how our birth story unfolded. as most of you know we matched with mama L on a tuesday, that following thursday we were invited and excited to meet her and attend the future prenatal appointments.
on saturday, august 13th, i had some mama time as we had a rough friday attempting to potty train a non-ready toddler. i headed to get a much needed pedicure and manicure. i had been contemplating on whether i should go get a few preemie outfits since we were told that there was slight UGR (uterine growth restriction) so it was unlikely she go to term. michael had told me to hold off a little bit but if you know me, i won’t rest until i feel ready (wait, is it even possible to feel ready for something like this?!) so, off i went to carters to grab a few preemie onesies for baby girl JUST IN CASE and i promised to keep the tags on them. i was shocked on how little section there was for preemies. i guess i never realized that when we had beckett early bc most of his small days were spent in the nicu and had leads coming out from every hole possible. then we got discharged and our tiny miracle had turn into an almost 8 lb newborn! i wish parents had more options for smaller babies so they, we, can be just as excited to shop all the options and picture them in cute outfits. anyways, after i let my emotions take over for a little bit i headed to grab michael and i starbucks drinks before heading home to my boys. while i was waiting for my iced 3 pump vanilla latte macchiato and his same with coconut milk, i was stopped by a girl to congratulate me on being “paper pregnant!” i quickly remembered that i was wearing a shirt that was gifted to me anonymously when we started the adoption journey. she was embarrassed to jump out at me but it isn’t everyday you can connect with a stranger on this level so it was great for her to say hi. she was also paper pregnant and waiting to her baby girl from China! these are the small instances in the adoption community that i love to connect with. it was so great to hear “congratulations” but it was still so very surreal to me. i had a very guarded heart.
5:00 pm: i am pulling into my garage after stopping off a target for groceries for dinner and i see our case worker’s name pop up. my heart SINKS into the ground and then jumps back up into my throat. i quickly answer and first thing i say is “will there ever be a time that my heart doesn’t stop when i see your name?” she quickly tells me in an exciting voice, to start packing our hospital bags bc mama L water broke!
yup! mama L was on her way to the hospital to check into triage and we were to prepare for baby girl to come potentially any minute!
SEE! i told you it was a good idea for me to grab a few preemie onesies! ha!
i run into the house and quickly try to reiterate everything that was told to me but i couldn’t even remember a thing.
except, to pack.
my fellow adoption friend cari had prepared me for this bc of her personal experience but i didn’t take her warning seriously as i STILL didn’t believe this was actually happening. she had already sent me a list for the hospital bag, the baby bag. um, but where did i put that list? what type of bag do i pack? what do i bring? will i just be there a couple hours? a few days? do i leave my bag in the car? how awkward and weird is it to walk into your expectant moms hospital room with a bag in tow saying, HEY! I’M HERE! i had never met her before! how was it going to go? do i hug her or shake her hand? do i introduce myself? no, she knows who i am. remember kira, she PICKED US! what are the do’s and dont’s? how involve does she want me? or us? we haven’t had the time to chat and figure out any details at all. i immediate text, casey, our consultant at CAC, asking her to brief me! do i bring flowers? i legitimately go into pure panic mode! can michael come with me? i can’t do this alone. what do we do with beckett? do we explain what is going on? where is my phone charger? don’t forget your camera. wait, can i even use my camera? oh gosh, i stink. i need to shower. oh and dinner, we all need to eat dinner. i walk into the kitchen after pacing our bed room 50000000 times and my amazing husband is making dinner for all three of us as i tend to my “go mode tornado” mindset.
i spent the rest of the evening trying to organize myself and my thoughts and trying not to pace around like a nervous crazy person. i am on and off the phone with local friends trying to figure out a plan for beckett for that night and the days ahead. i am texting a million people trying to update and ask for advice. so many people were willing to step up and help us out. it was truly incredible!
ok, my medium-not-too-big-not-too-small-bag was packed, belly full, clean hair & body… I’m “ready!”
michael and i had decided it was best for beckett if he came in the morning so our loving friend kaily was set up to show up early the next day to play with b so michael could come meet me.
i keep checking my phone wondering if i was going to get the call to come tonight… or would do i just go to bed bc who knows, maybe they’ll just monitor her.
hurry up to wait.
10:04 pm a different case worker calls me. of course our assigned case worker was sick so she couldn’t make it to the hospital to be with us. which i was PANICKED about but gosh, i wouldn’t have had it any other way when all said and done. she tells me to get in the car, its time. a few minutes later, i get another call, her voice very low whisper saying “get here quick, this is happening fast!”
i flew off the couch, kissed michael, hopped into the car… i. was. out!
the hospital was about 20 minutes away but i made it there in about 14 (oops!).
I decide to call my bffe on the way there so i could attempt to distract myself or freak out with someone bc this was REALLY happening. so much still to happen, so much still can go wrong, so much still can go so right.
I’m at the hospital, time to hang up. i text the case worker that i am at the hospital. i run into an unknown place trying to navigate my way through with a huge lump in my throat. i find the elevator. head up to the second floor, labor and delivery. no one in sight.
a small hidden voice appears from the nurses station. the nurse at the desk looks at me and asks if i am lost. yes. yes i am lost. she asks if she can help me find someone but i stutter all my words into one and am literally making no sense. who am i looking for? i don’t know mama’s last name. i don’t even know the case workers last name. so i just stand there frozen and text the case worker. she tells me she is will me in lobby shortly.
hurry up to wait.
shortly turned into what seemed like 4 hours. i still am not sure how long i waited. would she know who i am if she saw me? was she going to wait with me? was she going to take me back to meet mama L? was i supposed to be apart of this? or do i just get comfy in this large waiting room with the other families waiting for their babes to arrive?
i felt so alone. i mean i was alone. husband was at home. family is all in another state. case worker was with mama L. i just sat there alone. i was cold yet sweating profusely. i keep checking my fitbit to see if it was actually tracking my insane pulse rate. it wasn’t of course. my bffe then text me asking for a selfie. so i sent her one. well played distraction, friend.
“mama L is getting her epidural, i will come meet you while that happens, then we can go back to be with her until baby comes.”still waiting. still alone. now i have to pee. of course. i run into the restroom bc I’m so scared i will miss the case worker who was on her way to meet me in the lobby. thankfully, i did not miss her, or should i say them. i haven’t been that happy to see someone in a long time. someone to talk me through this. someone who knows what they are doing bc i have no idea whats happening, what could happen, or what i am about to walk into. i finally got to meet two ladies who i will never forget. two ladies who were about to enter a whole new world with me. they were going to hold my hand, laugh with me, cry with me, encourage me, guide me. they both share with me how eventful and intense the night had already been with mama L. they weren’t sure if she was even going to make it out of triage before delivering the baby.
aside from the adoption part being totally foreign to me let me remind you that i didn’t not get this labor and delivery experience with beckett. this was ALL new to me. real contractions. real pain. i had no idea what to expect. will mama L like me? what will we talk about while we wait? how long will we wait? what can i do for her? what does she need from me?
nurse comes to the lobby to get us.
it was time to go meet mama L.
i sent a quick text to michael, grabbed my bag, took a huge deep breathe… here we go.
on the way down the winding, quiet, cold, hallways, our case workers are quickly informing me of my roles, per say. mama L wants me to be involved with the entire labor & delivery. she wants me to hold her leg. cut the cord. be with baby girl in the nursery. all of this can change at a moments notice. i know that, i am prepared for that.
12:10 am. we knock on the door and enter quietly. i make both case workers go before me. before we cross over, around the closed curtain, i can hear baby girls heart beating loud and rapid on the monitor. that was our baby’s heart beat.
(insert full body chills as i relive this right now.)
there she was. there was mama L sleeping. they attempt to wake her up but bc of her eventful evening leading up to this point she was out cold. i walk up to her bed side, holding my arms tight around my body, i lean over and introduce myself to her. she opens her eyes and tells me how nice it is to meet me before going back to sleep.
hurry up to wait.
although the room was filled with silence aside from baby girls heartbeat, there was a lot of personality to pass the time. the nerves were broken bc we were all freezing. mama L had 4 blankets piled on her. each case worker and myself were bundled up with our own. people always say prepare for a cold room… no. this was freezing. the gauge was broken and it was an arctic tundra in there. while we sit and wait, one of the case workers is explaining the contraction monitor to me- “see, it looks like Sedona right now and we need it to look like Flagstaff.” mama L’s contractions had majorly tapered off bc she had received the epidural and she wasn’t moving around to keep the body in active labor.
hurry up to wait.
1:55 am. mama L starts feeling really uncomfortable. she keeps trying to move around, starts to complain and then begins to beg the nurse to remove the monitor as she is experiencing really bad pain. she tries to move her bed up in a recline position and screams! the nurse lowers and the bed and looks at all of us…. “its time to have this baby!”
mama L’s eyes open wide and she looks over at us and says “lets get this family their baby girl.”
(more full body goosebumps as i type this out).
immediately, loads up people are starting to shuffle into the room, into place. NICU team shows up bc baby girl is at 36 weeks. nurses wheeling in equipment. prep time was fast and intense.
doctor arrives with a big smile on his face! asks if she’s ready, and she excitingly says YES! he then asks her a list of questions:
“who do you want involved with delivery?”
“her mother,” she replied.
“who do you want to cut the cord?”
“her mother,” she replied.
“who do you want to hold her first?”
“her mother,” she replied.
“where do you want the baby to go afterward?”
“the nursery with her mother,” she replied.
everyone looks at me. i look at her. i tell her i have never done anything like this before. i thank her for including me in all of this. she tells me that i am courageous and brave for doing this and i had to stop her and reassure her that she was the brave one. she was the courageous one. she was the selfless one.
doctor interrupted us, told me to grab her leg (i literally left nail indents in her leg by the way). it was time. baby girl was already forcing her way out. within the next 20ish seconds, baby girl was born. 2:07 am.
it’s go time.
congratulating ME on the birth of our baby girl.
cutting the cord.
seeing our baby girl born was breathtaking. cutting the cord was incredible. being apart of this moment was unimaginedble. I’m quickly lead to go meet baby girl for the very first time. i got to weigh her, 6 pounds 7.4 ounces. i got to see her get measured, 17.5 inches long. i was able to witness her first footprints getting stamped.
it was because of mama L,i got to experience EVERYTHING.
it was because of this brave women, my entire life had completed changed forever.
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its a balancing act between equal time with mama L and baby. too much time with baby may come across as baby driven leaving mama feeling neglected. too much time with mama can come across as not interested in baby. each move made came with a thought process. it moved naturally but also strategically. i needed both of them to know and feel my love and appreciation.
I made my way back to mama L’s bedside. she looks up at me and immediately asks, “so, what are you going to name your daughter?” i look back at her and tell her we want to honor her and involved her so if she had a name picked out to let me know so we can incorporate both families. she then tells me her brother mentioned “Jocelyn” in the past but it never stuck to her. She then tells me that we should name her since we will be giving her the life to live up to her name. i then move forward with how we came up with brooklyn kay and the story behind her name choice. with tears filled in her eyes, she replies with “thats dope.” we both giggled. later i find out that she knew god had sent us to her but what solidified it was that we had chosen a name ending in -lyn which was the only part of Jocelyn she liked when her brother brought up that name. she told them, we were meant to be her parents.
i thanked her again for blessing our family. i reassured her that if she wanted to see the baby or myself while at the hospital to let the nurses know and they’ll come get us. she then asked, “have you held your daughter yet?” and i had said no, she then touched my lower back and gently pushed me away while saying “well then go hold her!” i gave her a tight hug and followed the delivery team to the nursery.