October 15, 2008

I Carried You in My Heart

Today's post is part of a group post of sorts. I recently found out that my good friend Heinous adopted his son from Korea. I immediately emailed him and asked him way too many questions. In an attempt to get me to leave him alone, he suggested that we each post our adoption experiences on our own sites today. My story, rather, my children's story is below:

Did you know that you picked mommy and daddy to be your parents while you were in heaven? You saw us and you said, “There they are! That’s my mommy and daddy.” But mommy couldn’t grow a baby in her belly. She could only grow the hope for you in her heart. Soon, you met a very nice young woman named Bailey. You made each other a special promise. She promised to love you and keep you safe in her belly while she found your mommy and daddy. You were so little and needed her help. One day, she found your mommy and daddy. (That’s us!) She placed you in our arms. Then mommy and daddy made a very special promise to Bailey. We promised to love you and protect you always. Then mommy gave Bailey a piece of that hope she had in her heart. Now, mommy carries you in her arms, and Bailey carries you in her heart.


Henry loves to hear that story. It’s his story. His baby sister has a similar story that one day she’ll grow to love as well. It’s the most straightforward and honest way we can think of to explain adoption to them while they’re so small. People are often surprised that we talk to our children so early and so freely about their stories. We’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that Henry and Reese know their stories now. We want them grow up NOT remembering an awkward moment where they discovered they were adopted.



For anyone who hasn’t adopted, you’re likely to hear stories from couples who have journeyed down this road. They’ll speak of mounds of paperwork, parenting courses they attended and the emotional roller coaster ride of the whole process. All this can be true, if you let that be the memory you keep.

I like to think we’re just like everybody else. Remember your first sonogram? Remember how excited you were? Well, I remember the first phone call from the adoption agency telling us that we were approved. Remember that sugary gunk you moms had to drink to test for gestational diabetes? My version of that was turning in background clearance paperwork. My labor? The phone call we waited months to receive. Congratulations! A birth mother has selected you, but keep in mind, she can change her mind at any moment. Now wait for two more months. Good luck with that.


See? I’m just like you. I may not have gone through the physical parts of pregnancy, but I have some of the same battle scars. After we adopted Henry my hips spread about two inches. I’M NOT JOKING. I even cut my hair in what I thought at the time was a sassy mom bob. Turns out is was way more “mom” than it was sassy. After Reese came along, I purchased some expensive go-to-town sweats and suffered a long bought of postpartum depression. It’s true. Adoptive moms can have depression and dress in fancy sweats just like you!

Both of our adoptions were domestic, meaning they were conducted inside the US and both took place in Utah. As a matter of fact, Henry’s birth mom (Bailey) lives only thirty minutes away from us. I find myself looking for her when I’m out shopping.


Reese’s mom (Keely) only lived in Utah for a short time while she was pregnant. About four months ago, she moved back to her home state in the southern US. Even though she’s hundreds of miles away, I still look for her when I’m out shopping too.

The first time I laid eyes on Henry he was swaddled up and in the hospital nursery. There were two baby boys born within minutes of each other that day. Jeremy and I stood together, our faces and hands pressed against the glass trying to figure out which little creature was our son. Something drew me in closer to one baby in particular. I can’t describe fully why, but I just knew the little loud one on the right was mine. Although my eyes didn’t recognize him, my heart certainly did. I pointed to him, with tears in my eyes and said, “That’s him. That’s our Henry.” Jeremy hugged me and said, "God I hope so".


Reese came into our lives a little differently. We believed, along with her birth parents and two ultrasound technicians that Reese was a boy. When our caseworker called to tell us that Keely had given birth to a little girl, we were stunned and thrilled. (Mostly thrilled.)

Keely and Tim (birth father) waited to name her until we arrived at the hospital a few hours later. The four of us had grown closer so it felt only right that we should name this baby together. Her name is Reese, meaning lively and energetic. Her middle name is Michelle. I don’t know what it means and you know, it doesn’t really matter. It’s Keely’s middle name. That’s all I need to know.


I remain in contact with both of our birth moms somewhat. We reunited with Bailey when Henry was just ten months old. She was able to hold him and finally spend some one on one time together. We send her updates yearly and she has our blog address.

Keely and I email a few times a week and I send her updates as well. We’ve reunited with her twice since Reese was born. Keely is also a frequent reader of this here blog. (She even sent me the nicest message yesterday after reading Reese's post)

I have no doubt that my path will cross with these birth moms at some point during my children’s lives. Will it be a chance meeting at the grocery store? Will it be long awaited reunion when the time is right? Who knows? But whenever or where ever it is, I will welcome these women with open arms. They loved and carried my babies when I could not.



Be sure to visit my good friend Heinous (Jim) over at Irregularly Periodic Ruminations today. He has a touching adoption story about his six year old son Jacob. It was his idea to post together today in a tribute to our children.

(This week has been an emotional one for The Bee Family. I'm rounding the corner for regularly scheduled nonsense soon.)

65 comments:

Momma Trish said...

You know, it's so important that we know where we came from. I have no memory of when I found out I was adopted. I just always knew. Because my adoptive parents just made that a part of who I was. And I was always told how special that made me to them. I am glad you are that kind of a mom. You're a great parent!

Heinous said...

Simply wonderful. What an awesome story and what a beautiful family.

They both have that grin down pat.

I don't think it's possible to ask me too many questions about adopting ;)

Tricia said...

I love that you have so much respect for your children's birth parents. I'm sure that feeling and the obvious love you have for your children will shine through every day for Henry and Reese.

I became a mom through surrogacy, and I have this immense sense of gratitude and awe for women who help other women become mothers. Whether through adoption or surrogacy, the people who place children in our arms are truly amazing.

Thanks for sharing this. I hope you'll write more on the topic.

Heinous said...

I just noticed. We did not coordinate our titles for the day by the way. It just worked out that way. But you can see why they did :) But it would have really consolidated the dual post for the day.

So...pretend I never said that. Jen and I are simply creative and thematic genii. We'll go with that instead.

Cameron said...

Very cute and touching story. Your openness with your children I'm sure will be appreciated even more as your children grow. Your family is truly blessed, you with your children and your children with you.

Sherendipity said...

Wow. I have so much admiration for all of you, birth Mothers (and Fathers) included.
You've collectively given these two babies the happy, healthy, enriched lifestyle that they deserve.

Casey said...

Steenky, you continue to make me cry. Thanks for the awesome story and your awesomesauceness in general. Did I use it in the right context? I like how you're sharing your children's adoption stories with them. I think that will help them to be way more secure being kept in the loop rather than having you spring it on them one day and confuse them. I have no experience with adoption and I've always wondered how it works and what adoptive parents share with their kids. I love Henry's story, just... great.

Khadra said...

beautiful, again, and Im crying, again! Your children obviously have chosen very wisely :)

Sprite's Keeper said...

l love Henry's story and it tells so much about what an amazing family you are.
Jen, you've got me. Hell, you had me a while ago, but this cemented it.

HarryJack's Mom said...

Thank you for sharing your children's wonderful stories with us and for being such an inspiration. Thank you also for reminding me about the happier side of children being in Heaven. It's been a hard week here, too, so I appreciate the refocus :-)

DeeMarie said...

Oh sweetie. What a beautiful story. I love that you knew in your heart that he was Henry. I love how you share the stories with your kiddos. I love their stories. I love that you and Keely and you and Bailey keep in touch. I love it all. You are total awesomesauce.

Jenni said...

Oh, wow, Henry's birth/adoption story is just fabulous. You're killing me.

Jamie said...

How many more of these wonderful posts will be coming? I think I need to prepare. My kids are starting to wonder why I am crying every morning when I am getting them breakfast.

Such a wonderful post. Again, you are so blessed to have your little ones and Reese & Henry are so flippin lucky to have a momma like you (and I am sure your husband is pretty cool too. Cool and funny people beget cool and funny peeps - Someone as wicked kick ass as you wouldn't marry a total tool) OK, I am rambling - Wonderful post, now I have to blow my nose and get my shit together for the 2nd day in a row.

p.s. next time I go to Utah to visit my brother, I am totally stalking you!

Katie said...

Another beautiful post! I think it fantastic that you two have decided to let the kids know their stories. They will never have any doubt how much they are loved!

Tuesday Girl said...

I think it is great that you are so open and honest with your children.
I am glad with all the children who need homes, great homes and great parents there are at least two who got the chance to have that and more.

The Stiletto Mom said...

Just beautiful...again. Aside from being a genuinely wonderful person and caring enough about the birth parents to allow them to watch the children grow, you are SO SMART to have that dialouge with them now. I think that's what went wrong with my cousin, she never had that "you were wanted so much" feeling, hers was more shock and not really being able to absorb it when she found out at an older age.
You are a smart and loving mom, the children picked wisely from heaven!

Colepack said...

I just had a good cry. I am totally in awwww of how you are handling the adoption and have the up-most respect for you. You have completely removed the stigma of being adopted for them and I hope they carry that with them throughout their lives. It takes a ginormous amount of trust to do what you have done and I am in awwww.

Seriously Mama said...

Jen- Thank you for helping me be a better mama today. Sometimes life gets in the way, things start spinning out of control, toys get messy, kids get cranky and you have that "what have I done" moment. Today is not going to be one of those days. Today I am celebrating the pure joy that my L's have given me.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Just lovely. And it may be entirely inappropriate to say, but I just want to bite those cheeks on your girl.

Ellie

HeatherPride said...

Two beautiful kiddos, two awesome birth moms and two great adoptive parents = one great family!

Captain Dumbass said...

Number one Pacific Time! Ok, now I have to go read your post. You better not make me cry.

Bee said...

How beautiful and wonderful for your family. I don't have any kids and, at this point in time, I'm okay with that but if I change my mind down the road, I hope I'm as lucky as you.

Captain Dumbass said...

Oh! You almost had me in the nursery! Luckily Liam almost spilt my coffee.

Rhea said...

I love how open and honest you are with your kids about their stories. And the continued relationships with their birth moms. Impressive and amazing. I loved reading this!!

GreenJello said...

The last two posts have been amazing. Really amazing. As in, "Wow... reading those has made a difference in my life" amazing.

ali said...

That's such a great and emotional story, thank you so much for sharing! I never thought about the pregnancy and adoption parallels but yes, it's true! Wonderful post!

Cameron said...

Heh...I posted the 5th comment and didn't even cheat this time.

blissfullycaffeinated said...

I need to read this, but I am so short on time this morning. Back later to give it the proper attention.

XOXO

Maggie May said...

a great story, and a happy ending :)

Krystal said...

before I forget, you have just been tagged!!! okay,now I'll go back and read

Krystal said...

okay, yeah, now I am crying!!!

I am so glad though that you went for open adoptions. They will always be a part of your life and your children.

You are one strong momma and I applaud you, hug you, send kisses and more for that!

beth said...

I had never thought about creating and telling an adopted child "their story" to have before the topic comes up at preschool or kindegarden. Fantastic idea and I love that your child's story is simple and straight forward. Good parenting, I must say.

jen said...

are you this amazing all the time?
'cause seriously...you seem to be such an amazingly wonderful family, mom.
i strive to look that amazing.
forget labor and delivery...what you went through is just as heart wrenching. and the outcome is still the same.
that is what matters.
i tagged you for a meme at my site. i know you just did a similar one. i'm not expecting anything...but just in case. i love to read your stories...so...tag. you're it.
http://coconutbelly.blogspot.com/2008/10/sixth-of-sixth.html

Miss Grace said...

You have a beautiful family.

Zip n Tizzy said...

I loved reading your story.
Before we ever started trying to have children, we talked a lot about adoption. I nannied for years before having children, so I always knew that you love the kids you're with. People would say, "but you can never love someone else's child the way that you love your own." Now that I have my own children, I know for fact, that that's not true. I loved the children I cared for just as much as I love my kids today, I just knew that I would go home at the end of the day without them, and when their families no longer needed my assistance I would no longer help raise them... Loving them? That doesn't change.
I think it's so wonderful the way you are informing them of their history, and keeping their birth mothers connected. I'm sure their birth parents will always have pangs of sadness, or possible great sadness, that they couldn't raise their children, but truly knowing that their children are growing up in such a happy loving home, has got to be tremendous in easing the pain.
I believe we can never have "too many" people loving us. Your children are very fortunate to know what a large beautiful family they come from.

gingela5 said...

So sweet! I am so glad you posted about this! Your kids are so cute! I hope you save this so your kiddos can read it someday. They'll be touched!

Sammanthia said...

I love that you have so much love (was there enough love in that sentence for you?) for your kids birth parents. It shows what an amazing person you are.

goodfather said...

'Now, mommy carries you in her arms, and Bailey carries you in her heart.'

So beautiful. What a truly unique, special gift to give to Henry. He'll never have to wonder about about his origins, or ask whether or not his birth parents loved him.

Or look at John Larroquette and think, 'You know, it's possible...'

Chris Wood said...

Good on you for making sure your kids don't feel awkward about adoption!

1,000,000 cool points.

JuleeSLC said...

Another beautiful post. Love you!

Pamela said...

I don't remember when I found out I was adopted. I wish my parents had a special story like that for me. It was all very matter-of-fact, and sort of sterile. It's wonderful to see parents like you who embrace and celebrate their adoptees.

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

What an utterly rivetting read.
Really, I haven't taken a sip from my cup of tea through that whole post.

Those two children are so very lucky to have picked you two out to bring them up.

What a fabulous example of adoptive parenting.

Off to read Heinous now . . .

Kat said...

Jen,
You once again made me cry, but you are so totally forgiven. Adoption stories always make me cry. My grandfather was born during the depression and he had a mother that could no care for him properly. He bounced between family members and boys homes until he was old enough to enlist in the Army. It is angels like you, who give children a loving family and home, that give me faith in humanity.

for a different kind of girl said...

They are so insanely glorious! Everytime you have their photos here, I bask a little bit in the sunshine they have in their smiles. You've got some happy children. From his photos (That smirky one? Awesome!), Henry strikes me as a bit of a spitfire, the kind of kid I'd definitely want to hang out with because he'd tell you all about how he's got the world figured out and the world better darn well hold on.

Thanks for sharing your story. Your family is beautiful.

Ron said...

I need to start keeping tissues handy for all your stuff this week. It's great that a relationship is possible with the birth parents.

Jenni Jiggety said...

Again...really beautiful, Jen!

TattooedMinivanMom said...

I love the way you explain things to your children. I couldn't have thought of anything better.

I think I like your serious side as much as I like your funny side. Which one should I ask to the prom??

P.S. Sent a little "gift" to your email.

Rock and Roll Mama said...

I love your explanation to your kids. My folks did kind of a similar thing, they just told me every year on my coming home day (Columbus Day!) the story of how my birthmother loved me too much to keep me. Mine was in 74, so quite closed, and I can't tell you how much I admire parents like you who are letting their children grow up without that lack of knowledge, and the void it brings.

When your kids have questions about their birth families, you can send a letter if you so choose, and that's an amazing, amazing thing. I met my birth family after 26 years, and I still can't believe I can just pick up the phone and call them.:)

mongoliangirl said...

Perfect Mizz Steenky Bee. Absolutely perfect...and you know I know what I'm talking about. OK...you know I know what I'm talking about on this topic, but otherwise it's a crap shoot.

blissfullycaffeinated said...

You amaze and astound me. That your heart is big enough to hold not only your children but their birth parents also. I'm absolutely blown away.

You have gorgeous family.

Thanks so much for sharing.

apathy lounge said...

What a lovely story!! Your children are gorgeous! I'm reminded of a quotation by Charles Dickens which says, "It is not a small thing when those so fresh from God...love us". And because that's so it doesn't matter HOW children come to us. Only that they do.

Lola said...

I swear, you are the sweetest woman I think I've ever "met," and I also think that letting your children know all along how they came to be your little bees is the best possible way to handle it.

My husband found out his father wasn't who he grew up believing he was, and it caused him to never totally trust his mother again.

You are an awesome woman and an incredible mother. Oh, and the bees are adorable!

I'm off to see Heinous.

Red Cup Mom said...

Love your post! Thanks for sharing. I get what you mean about the sassy mom bob being more mom like and not as sassy. Your kids are adorable! I love it that the birthmoms are accessible and can read your blog too. Happy I read this! I came over here from Heinous's IPR blog.

Miss Jack said...

You're really getting on my last cryin' nerve here! But seriously, your stories are sweet and from the heart. I would like to think that we would handle ourselves the exact same way as you and Jeremy have....telling the kids all along about their adaption/birth stories. It's awesomesauce!

Jennifer said...

I think it's great that you're so open with them about the adoptions. Henry's story is fantastic! I also think it's great that you're in touch w/ the birth parents--it sounds like you really have ideal situations all around!

They are both so cute and I love their names. Keep those stories coming!!

monkey said...

*oh* that story you tell henry. i swear, i'm sitting here bawling while my baby stares at me and i'm trying to explain to her that some tears are good because true beauty makes you cry. so far, at nine months, i think all she's learned is that her mom is a little bit crazy. oh, and how to pinch the cat.

anymommy said...

Gah, you're killing me today. I shouldn't have tried to catch up all at once. yes. beautiful. exactly. you say it all and you say it so very, very well. This makes me want to tell our adoption story, but not for a few weeks because I'll never say it like this.

Rebekah said...

What a lovely world your beautiful kids get to grow up in! They will (most likely, anyway) always know that you gave them the FULL picture of who they are, where they come from, and how to navigate between birth and adoptive worlds.

I'm an adoptee who found her birth parents as an adult, and who can't believe the closed adoption model was ever considered "best".

Thanks for the moving post!

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