Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Haiku

Seoul, South Korea...he's somewhere down there! (Image courtesy of Google)

I was ordering some Christmas presents online today, and the retailer offered the coolest thing: A free gift for submitting a "holiday haiku" along with my purchase! How cool! How fun! How random!

I jumped at the opportunity for some random, unplanned poetry. Hey, I can do 5-7-5, right? In fact, it'll probably be a challenge, given my penchant for long-windedness.

Plus, my order was in process, and I didn't want to get timed out--with my credit card number hanging out there, mid-transaction, in cyberspace--so I hurried to create the following haiku.

The subject will be no surprise to you...

From Seoul to my soul
He will be home for Christmas
Motherhood awaits

Pretty good, huh? I'll let you know what my free gift is.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Living Life and Letting Go and Being Grateful

As in so many other things in life, I suppose, just when we thought we had this whole adoption process thing down pat, BAM. There it goes surprising us all over again.
For those of you anxiously wondering what's up: We still have not yet received the call.

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year, and along those lines, I have all these thoughts that are crowding inside my brain, seeking to claim their space and tell their stories.
So, here goes: My attempt to extricate those thoughts. Not sure how coherent this post is going to be. I am all over the place!

For so many months and years now, Jeff and I have been pretty much living our life.
Knowing that we cannot control this journey we are on, so why try?
Just sit back and let the boat and the tides take us where they may.
Be pleasantly distracted by activities like drumming and yoga and singing and gathering with friends.
Stay as busy as possible, that was our mantra.
But, knowing the prospect of imminent parenthood,
we knew we had to stop going-going-going sooner or later.
So, we slowly tapered our busy-ness from a giant roar and a blur of weekly nightly activities barely filled with spaces to breathe
to the now-quiet weeknights that are filled with delicious wide-open spaces, with room for reading, watching TV, walking the dog, etc.

I have been so enjoying those spaces.
I am learning the art of living more simply, scaling back, enjoying just being at home, being OK with not having any plans, and being willing to let go of the need to give in to an expectation/demand (whose? Society's? My own? I don't know!) that life always be busy and scurrying and yes, sometimes, stressful as a result.
And up to now, I have loved every minute of our slowed-down life.
It was kind of an epiphany for me.

Except that the person who we thought would have been filling up those spaces
isn't here yet.
Except that now, every time the phone rings, I rush to look at the digital display.
Is it a 410 extension? If so, it could be Catholic Charities!
And now, I find that I am struggling to control the very process I thought I admitted I have no control over.
I am a study in contradiction!
Now, I find myself SO FRUSTRATED that there is nothing I can do to get him here sooner.
Now, every time the phone rings, I jump a foot in the air.
I am constantly and almost obsessively checking my cell phone.
Did I miss a phone call?
Any voice mails?
Something needs to change. We need to be just living our life and not worrying so much about when this call is going to come.

We had planned to not travel for Thanksgiving.
Were going to hunker down and just hang out.
Yes, waiting for the call.
But we have since decided that we NEED to travel.
Have something to look forward to, something that we can control.
I NEED to get a family fix and to play with my nieces and point to Seoul, South Korea on their globe and tell them that's where Baby Matthew is and he'll be home soon ("soon"? what does that MEAN, anyway? Argggh!)
My mom said, " that you've made the plans, you'll get the call."
I hope so!

I believe in positive thinking
AND I am having a tough time with it.
I thought he'd be a birthday baby (my birthday was yesterday).
If not, I thought for sure he'd be a Thanksgiving baby.
(Thanksgiving is tomorrow!)
And now, as tomorrow draws ever closer,
I wonder if he's going to be a Christmas baby after all.
And I pray that he gets here before he'll be a New Year's baby,
because I'm not sure I will be intact by that point.

Two different friends had dreams that he'd come on my birthday.
Or that we'd get the call on my birthday.
I thought that was a sign, for sure.
I am a big believer in the meaning of dreams.
Alas, not so.

Supposedly, this last leg of the wait is all about finding and training an escort for him.
(Maybe we should have traveled, after all? Would he be home by now, if that were the case?)
So many doubts creep their way in and insert themselves into my mind.
I try to handle them as I do in meditation: Just watch the thoughts come in and notice them and move on, without reacting or falling into the negative-thinking, self-doubting, second-guessing trap.
Just when we thought we had learned all we could possibly learn
about the art and skill of patience,
we learn that there is so much more to learn,
just as in life.

So, we are going to pack the diaper bag with the list of "recommended items," double-check the carseat one last time, make sure our cell phones are charged and on us, pile the dog and our luggage into the car, and head to Dunmore, PA, on Friday.
We are living our life.
We are letting go of the control that we don't have.
We are learning that patience CAN be taken to quite an extreme level.
We are learning just how loved we are by all of you who read this blog.
We are learning to let go, again
and again
and again.
Letting go
so that our holding onto him
will be all the more powerful
when he arrives.

I am grateful for the lessons.
And the love.
And I will continue to remind myself of those blessings
all the weekend long.

Happy Thanksgiving.
I am grateful for it all.
Including you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We 3 Wait

This is all so surreal.
I know not familiarity with this feeling;
It's as though I'm watching someone else.
That happy, confident woman--face glowing with anticipation--
can't be me, can it?
The one whose heart--
once broken by infertility,
damaged by the death of a child--
is carrying her to dizzying heights of
There are no limits to what our life holds for us now
as we wait
for the wait
to end...
for the giant weight
to finally float off our shoulders
and into the sky...
to finally be able
to gulp in great, drawing breaths,
and to exhale,
knowing that
all will be all right
and we 3 will be OK.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Being a Mom, and Fixing Little Holes in the Heart

"The greatest heartbreak of my life has been my inability to conceive children.
The greatest joy of my life? Being a mom."

Enough said.

Thanks, Anonymous, for reminding me that being unable to conceive does not preclude one from the joy of motherhood.

It can't. It won't. I won't let it. It has tried and tried and tried to get me, but it won't. Amen to adoption and all of the wonderful ways that it has helped make me whole.

I say this during a week that is proving to be particularly hard for me. Grueling, actually. I'm not sure he'll be home for Thanksgiving, despite my best efforts to remain positive and prayerful and hopeful. And I worry, now, about what it will be like, for us and for him and his escort, if the traveling will be done on Thanksgiving, of all weekends (you know: one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year)! And I just want to cry but will choose to smile and look forward to him, instead.

Stay positive. Stay positive. Stay positive.

On Saturday (which is National Adoption Day!), we are going to a gala put on by Catholic Charities, in which the keynote speaker is Deb Dawson, the mother of Korean adoptee Toby Dawson, who won the bronze medal in the 2006 Men’s Downhill Moguls. The Dawson family’s story was profiled in a Sports Illustrated article a few years ago. Here's a link to the article.

Here's to the mending of those "little holes in the heart" that the author's little girl talks about in the article (confused? read the article). It gives a good perspective from the adoptee's point of view. As conflicting as it may be for us, the adopted parents, the birthparents are an important part of our children's stories. Without them...well, you know what I'm going to say. Parenthood maybe wouldn't have happened for us. And if him reconnecting with his birthparents, at some point in life, heals those little holes in his heart (one of the few things that we parents can't fix!), then I say, bring it on. Help him to fill the few gaps that I wasn't able to fill.

Sorry, this post is kind of all over the place! But then again, so am I...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Loving Him Like He's Already Here

Sitting at work on a rainy Wednesday morning.
The phone rings. It's a 410 area code (our adoption agency)!
{Breathe, Kath...breathe...this is it!}

"Journals, this is Kathleen." {I say, heart leaping out of my chest, breath ragged, trying to stay calm}
"Kathleen, this is M. (our caseworker)."
"Hello," I respond in a strangled kind of voice that even I don't recognize.
She must not either, because she immediately says, somewhat casually,
"Oh, no no, sorry...this is not 'the call.' Sorry to startle you like that."
{No problem at all; pardon me for a moment while I go curl up in the fetal position}*

So, no Matthew yet.
She was simply calling to tell me that Matthew was examined at the well-baby clinic on Monday,
and all is well. He is healthy and developmentally on track.
There are some minor issues to talk to the doctor about, but as my sister said to me last night, "Kath, no kid is perfect."
Hey, I have to have something to worry about, right?

He hasn't even hit U.S. soil yet and I love him (and am worrying about him) like he is already here.
Isn't love amazing?

*[giving credit where credit is due, my friend Kellie first used that fetal-position comment, when I was telling her this story, and I thought it was perfect!]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Me and My Button

I'm not sure why I haven't ever posted photos, except for the one I use for the blogger profile page, but I haven't. Until now.

So many people have been asking me "What's the update on Matthew?" In fact, so very many people have been asking me that my wonderful friend Debby made me a button last night.

Yes, a button! Attached is a photo of my button.

It's a nice purple shade, and it matches marvelously with most of my outer vestments.

And it's a nice, quick answer for everyone. This way, when you see me and my button, you'll immediately know the answer to that question you were going to ask! I wish the answer were different, but for now, it's the same:

"Not yet!"

Don't you wish you had a friend with a button maker, who could make you a button of your very own?

What would yours say?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Love Story Begins

Shouting out to my friend M.D.,
a woman who has inspired me so much over these many months.
Fellow waiting mom, single-parent-by-choice, friend from way back in the day.
She and I have shared many an email in the past year, commisserating about our latest commonality on the friendship spectrum: our imminent parenthood, and that crazy four-letter word (W-A-I-T) that has both of us wondering how we still have any hair left on our heads.

Well, her wait is over: On Friday she brought her son B. home...
into her heart, into her life, into her family.
All this waiting, then BAM! There he was.
"Adorable" goes without saying.
"Beautiful" does his description little justice.
A late-Thursday-night phone call: "You've been selected by a birth mom!"
A trip to the hospital on Friday. He was born that day.
They went home together on Saturday.
And so begins yet another love story
of family, of meant-to-be together people whose definition of love is defined not by DNA but by destiny.

My friend is the definition of optimism, positive energy, and vibrant spirit.
She has waited a long time. She has been so giving to others.
She is amazingly gifted with children; she is just plain fun to be around.
Over the years, she has posed in many a photo, holding newborn nephews, newborn children of good friends.

well, this time, the woman in the photo is not an aunt, or a friend.
She's the "Mom."
This time, the child in the HER son.

This post is dedicated to M.D. and B.R.D., a knock-your-socks-off mother-son combo who I just know is going to rock this crazy world with their silliness, their strength, and their love for each other. All the best to you and your son. You and he are blessed indeed.

Monday, November 2, 2009

8 Months In This World

Dear Matthew,

As of today, you are 8 months in this world.

Can't believe I didn't think of this until 4:47 p.m.,
after a day spent clicking and clacking away on my keyboard,
nagging authors, proofreading journal articles, managing freelancer invoices, and ticking off items on the to-do list.

Tonight, there's yoga (with me as student! what a treat!)...
and dinner with the love of my life (just to reassure you...yes, that would be your dad!)...
and reading books in the living room with the dog splayed out beside us...
maybe some vino, too.

Yes, definitely some vino.

And when my head finally hits the pillow, Little Man,
my dreams--as always--will be of you.

Happy 8 Months, Matthew Seong-jin! We Love You!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Perspective Shift

We went to the movies tonight.

Can't help thinking it might have been our last movie before Matthew comes,
before that day when (as everyone tells us) we won't have the time or the energy to go out to the movies anymore.

So out we went.

And during the previews (that seemed to last forever), one preview stuck with me.

It's called "Blind Side," and it was written up in the latest issue of Adoptive Families magazine as a "thumbs-up," adoption-positive movie. Supposedly it gives all the right messages, uses adoption-positive language, and overall gets an emphatic nod from the adoption community.

To avoid making this blog posting too long, click on the link below to view the preview. The movie opens later this month.

In the trailer, there is a scene where the rich woman, the adoptive mom (Sandra Bullock, who adopts a high school-aged African American boy), is talking with a friend. The friend says, "You're changing that boy's life."

And Sandra Bullock replies, "No, he's changing mine."

Taken aback, I think I audibly gasped. Instantly, my shoulders shook as the quietest of tears sneaked down my cheeks. Yes, right there in the theater! How did that script writer know EXACTLY how I am feeling? Is he or she an adoptive parent themselves? How can a freaking TRAILER make me cry? Wow.

Here's what I'd like you to do: The next time you think about how lucky Matthew is, or what great people you think Jeff and I are, or how we are doing so much to change the life of one little boy, please remember this...