Sunday, December 13, 2009

He's Leaving On a Jet Plane

It is 1:30 a.m., and Matthew has probably boarded his plane, which (if all is on schedule) left Inchon Airport in South Korea a little after 1 a.m.
In fact, he has probably already lifted off, inching his way ever closer into our life at last.
I wish I could say that I am sleeping now, but my life as a mother has already begun with THIS sleepless night.
(Time to trudge downstairs to retrieve the melatonin that will ease me into la-la-land at last.)
I feel like I did when I was five, and it was Christmas Eve, and it was just too exciting to sleep.
OK, that experience but multiplied by about 5,000, with emotions so much more intense.
I wanted it to get here, but I didn't, because then, it would be over.
This is hard to explain.

I have so many feelings, I can barely get my arms and my head around them.
When I take him for the first time, will my hands be trembling? (probably)
Will I faint? What if I faint? (Jeff: "Honey, you won't faint.")
What about all the strangers looking at us? I'm not sure I want all these strangers looking at us. (My mom: "I guarantee you, you will not see those strangers looking at you. You'll be too busy looking at HIM!")
What if I'm overcome with so much emotion that I can't manage him? (My friend [can't remember who]: "Your instincts will kick in and you'll know what to do. You'll immediately be busy caring for him.")

I cannot even believe this day is finally here. It's so very surreal.

My parents arrived after a long, 6.5-hour drive from PA that should have taken 4 hours, tops. Rt. 81 was a mess (closed for 1 hour; they just sat there).
Jeff's parents came over tonight and we all had a wonderful dinner together.
Jeff joked about it being "the last supper."
We talked and speculated about Matthew, about what he'd be like.
Our moms coached us, told us (or, I should say, told me) to relax and just let it happen.
"You'll know what to do."
My mom said, "Kathleen, just HAVE FUN WITH HIM. Enjoy him."
We hopped on the Internet to look up his flight.
We wondered where he was at that particular moment.
Getting on a shuttle bus or van or into a car, departing for the airport, maybe?
Saying good-bye to foster mom and dad.

I am feeling very sad for Matthew's foster parents,
for his "umma" (his foster mom) who is very attached to and who he will apparently be crying for.
She and her husband have cared for him since he was 4 months old.
And I am also thinking of, and honoring, his birth parents,
without whom Matthew--and the new reality that is "us"--would not have been possible.
Without them, we would not be having this amazing experience of parenthood,
of walking across the bridge to our beginning--our beginning as a family with children. Finally.
As I close my eyes tonight, the last thing I will be thinking of will be Matthew, his birth parents, and his foster parents.
And our future together as a family.

Please say a prayer for Matthew's safe flight
for no weather-related delays (a challenge during December)
and for our happy union at Dulles Airport about 17 hours from now.
I am completely overcome with emotion
overwhelmed with anxiety (my life as a worrying mom has officially begun)
and trembling with excitement.
But mostly,
just plain old happy.

He is almost home!
How do I describe these feelings in words on a keyboard?
I don't (at least, not adequately).
But I can make my best attempt.

Some things are too powerful to be cast into firm shapes such as words and letters, as much as I adore all aspects of language and writing and recording our lives for our kids.
Some experiences are just not meant to be pressed into a hard mold with edges and restrictions, even if the intent is to save the feelings for posterity, to be able to look back with your son years from now and say, "Bingo! THAT's what it felt like."
'cuz that is kind of like harnessing the wind
or drawing a picture of breath or air
or bottling the smell of the ocean.

How do you do it?
Maybe you just don't.
So I won't
try anymore.

I will just end with this:
Please keep us close in your thoughts and hearts.
I continue to feel your arms around us, my friends,
blessing us, loving us, supporting us.

I continue to feel like the luckiest person on the planet...
for all of the reasons and explanations
that I cannot begin to bottle
into something that has boundaries, edges, and a lid...
a beginning and an end.

Our son is coming home,
and I am filled to overflowing
with a joy that I have never before known.

A busy day awaits.
Good-night, everyone.
Good-night, Matthew.
I love you, my son.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WE GOT THE CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WE GOT THE CALL! Today at about 10:00 a.m., we finally got the call we've been waiting, wishing, dreaming, and praying for.

Matthew will be coming home to us this Monday evening, December 14, 2009, at 8:11 p.m. (Dulles Airport).

Today is my telecommute day, so it was just me and Rich, the pest control sales rep, at home when the call came. Jeff was at work. I was hoping that we'd get the call when we were together, but oh well. There's always my buddy Rich. I kept Rich's business card to put in Matthew's lifebook...just for kicks!
Jeff and I were doing an awful lot of cleaning this weekend, and we were both wondering if it wasn't the universe sending us a message (we are, ahem, not known for being very vigilant cleaners)! Plus, we got the tree up (it's naked right now, soon to be decorated as of this evening) and the household decorations up, too. Both of us had a strong feeling that it would be this week. So did our caseworker. So did a colleague of mine at work. A friend of my sister in law's called her yesterday to ask her if we had gotten Matthew yet, because she had dreamed that she adopted a baby boy from Korea! So many signs of life about to change...

I just want to say thanks to everyone who follows this blog, especially to those of you whose lives parallel mine in beautiful, almost eerie, ways. And the new friendships I have formed BECAUSE of this blog! (I never imagined I'd be that blessed!)

It has heartened me to know that people actually want to read what I write. And it has strengthened me so, blogging like this. It has helped me clear my mind, at so many times, and sort things out. It has allowed me exactly the creative outlet I've craved and needed. I'm so glad that I started doing it, and that all of you have been there, many of you right from the beginning (early 2008), reading and cheering from the sidelines.

Today, as I continue to receive countless emails, phone calls, and Facebook comments, all with heart-filled wishes and genuine love, I am feeling the wonderful fellowship that comes with good friendship--and the true lifesaver that it can be.
I am feeling your arms around me (virtual though they may be), and I am feeling "held" by your love and friendship.
I really can feel it (you think I'm kidding but I'm not--it's really hard to explain!).

I was going to end this blog once Matthew came home.
I have changed my mind. It seems that I have a lot more to say, and I want to keep saying it.
And I'd love for you to keep reading it.

Thank you for being there with me on this incredible journey.
Thank you for reading the words of my heart, scrawled right there on my sleeve for all to see.
It has been such a learning experience, such a blessing, such a wild ride.
I have learned that "patience" can indeed be pushed to its limits yet still exist, somehow.
I have seen the definition of the word "friendship" take on a whole new life--
without our friends (and family, of course), we would NOT have gotten through this.
So namaste, I bow to all of you--friends, family, fellow parents alike--I love you with a depth that I can't even begin to describe.

So, thanks for listening, and reading, and being there.
And thanks for coming back, again and again and again.

Here's to the end of one long journey, and the beginning of another.

Here's to Matthew Seong-jin Halverson, finally coming home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My "Real Child" Matthew

Main Entry: re•al

Pronunciation: \ˈrē(-ə)l\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, real, relating to things (in law), from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin & Late Latin; Medieval Latin realis relating to things (in law), from Late Latin, real, from Latin res thing, fact; akin to Sanskrit rayi property
Date: 14th century
1: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things (as lands or tenements)
2a : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory

Excuse me
while I vent my raw pain onto the page--
for what I am about to share
just happened a half-hour ago
and I am still bleeding (on the inside, that is).
The scab is a long way from forming,
but the scar is already here, with me, forever.

This is not a mere blog posting.
It is a plea to the whole world
to be more sensitive and to think before speaking,
especially when talking with the parent of an adopted child.
Because sometimes, the words you say in casual conversation,
the language you choose to use,
burns and sears and scars.

So hear me out
with eyes wide open.
And if you have been blessed enough with birth children,
listen especially close,
for this was said to me by a birthmom of three grown children.

I thought I was a mom, pure and simple.
It's taken me a long time to get to this place
of calling myself a mom, even though the child I gave birth to
is no longer on this earth,
and even though I have never carried a child to term.
It has taken me a long time to be okay with
choosing to not define myself by adding the adjective
"adoptive" in front of the noun that is now me ("mom").

It never even crossed my mind
that Matthew may be seen as not a real child.
Until today.

Today at noon,
I took a step backward, in so many ways, all because of one casual, meant-to-be-funny-and-consoling comment.
It was anything but.

An acquaintance who shall remain nameless
asked me if I was going crazy with everyone asking me
"any news?"
I said yes, somewhat.
Said I wish I had different news to report, but it's always the same.
Said I am ready to lose my mind.
Said I am frustrated, and we just want him to come home.

She then said "Well, in this way, it's like having a real child.
This is what the real thing is like. People walk up to you and notice that you're still pregnant and say 'Wow, you're still here. You haven't had that baby yet?!?'" And you get so sick of people saying that!"

Ever been punched in the stomach?
That's what it felt like.

I know she didn't mean it, but it hurt all the same.
Words like that, they hurt me. 
They hurt my friends
friends like CatherineMaureenLauraDebbieMaryClareMichelle

and so many others.

And then, five minutes later, in a conversation with yet another person (this person asked me the same thing, essentially--"aren't you going crazy?"), the acquaintance repeated the exact same story!

It reminded me of that time I was at a party, a few months ago, and a friend compared my agonizingly long wait for Matthew, to the week-long wait she had to endure when adopting their puppy.

I am a person who believes in the positive
and in highlighting, focusing on, the good things in life.
The bad things can still be bad and crappy,
but by not focusing on them, or obssessing over them, we allow them to lose their
powerful hold on us, to diminish in value,
and maybe, even, to go away altogether.
That is what I believe.
But I have not been able to practice what I preach today.

If birth children are real, what is Matthew, then, a fake child?
Is he not living and breathing, same as other children?
Is a real child one who remains with his birthmom his entire life?
Is a child real only if she is raised by the same woman who carried her?
Is pregnancy the only real thing, the only real way, to parenthood?
Yes, I am getting deep.
Intentionally deep.
I have been told my whole life that I'm "deep"
so this will probably be no surprise to many of you.
But I want to get deep
because I am so pissed off,
I want to punch a wall.
And I am so hurt,
I can barely breathe.
A knife was stuck into my side today
and then it was twisted upon repetition
of what real really means to some people.

For those of you who have not been touched by adoption,
I implore you:
Please, please think before speaking to a waiting parent of an adopted child.
Use your words carefully.
Please, please use positive adoption language.
This incident made me want to step proudly onto my pedestal,
despite how preachy I may be perceived as being,
and tell the world
that phrases like real child and natural parents
have no place.
In the same way that the phrase gave her child up for adoption has no place.
How can loving your child so much that you make an adoption plan for them
be twisted into such a heartless phrase as gave her child up for adoption?
Gave her up speaks not the truth.
Rather, use the phrase made an adoption plan instead.
Realize how brave and strong these women are,
and how much love it takes to let go.

Giving a child up for adoption.
All of those words and phrases, they HURT.

In the name of my real child Matthew...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Old "But's"...Living in Limbo...the Land of "And"

Another cool image of Seoul, this one at night. What an amazing-looking city!

Oh, this post is all over the place. Yes, another one. Sorry, folks. And even the title of my post: Man, it was hard to name it. So I named it three things!

Let's call today's blog posting "fun with language," shall we? Puns and wordplay abound in this attempt to bring myself up out of the mire (looking out the window doesn't help: It's pouring down rain!).

First, a story...

Last night, the phone rang at 7:00. It was a 443 extension (Waldorf, MD).
Jeff and I were sitting in the living room, reading.
We usually screen, but Waldorf is close enough to Baltimore, and I thought maybe a social worker was calling us from his/her home.
We decided we'd better pick up.
(At this point, I am even picking up on those 800 numbers that are so clearly telemarketers! Argggh!)
As Jeff reached for the phone, I put my book down and tried to calm my heart,
which was absolutely positively ready to jump out of my chest.
(I can see now what Edgar Allen Poe's character went through in The Telltale Heart. What's it going to be like when we really do get that call?)

"Hello?" asked Jeff.
"Yes, hello, is Israel there?" the stranger on the other end said.
"Sorry, wrong number," Jeff replied.

{insert exhale here}

And now, a somewhat bumpy transition to my random musings...

{My English professors at Blooomsburg U would have been less than impressed with this abrupt literary transition!}

I am bound and determined to remain positive.
Helping to move the energy of the universe ever closer to bringing him home.
There can be no room for negative thinking.
Sweep away the negative thoughts.
In with the positive.

Still...I will say this (note my intentional use of the word "and"):
Positivity is a great thing.
AND it's really hard, this living in limbo stuff.

Call this post what you will:
An exercise in the power of positive thinking?
A head game for l'il old adoptive mama me? (Mamma Mia!)
An exercise in futility?
Can positive thoughts really cause the universe to shift?
I believe that they can.

Regardless of what you call it,
I think you get what I'm trying to do here.
Psych myself up. And out?
Pull myself up by the 'pits and INSIST that
I not let this delay get me down.

{Oh, I so want to go to that place of "but I thought he was going to be home by now!" I might even add a "dammit" or two. The song "I'll be home for Christmas" brings on a whole new meaning, and WILL cause the tears to flow when I hear it for the first time this season...}

So, this first week of December,
I hereby reject the pull that I am feeling toward all the big old "but's" that are coming up for me (pun oh-so-intended).
Rather, I choose to remain rooted in the land of "and."
It's a much nicer place to be, don't you think?