A Mothers Day Story

In November I wrote an article about ADOPTION that was picked up by the Huffington Post. It received an outpouring of love and support and many people shared their own personal stories. One that stood out to me was from a friend back in my hometown. Jennifer placed her child for adoption 22 years ago and shared her story with me. It’s beautiful. Bring the tissues out. But more importantly it’s raw and a pure celebration of love, sacrifice and the truth about being a mother.  Whether you are like me – and adopted a child or like Jennifer and placed your child for adoption… This Mother’s Day I want to share Jennifers story with you as we celebrate mothers, mothers who gave birth to us from their bodies and mothers who birthed us from their hearts.

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Mothers Day

I was 17 years old, pregnant, scared, and in complete denial about everything! When my parents found out I thought for sure I was going to be on my own. Boy was I wrong!! With love and support they helped me get through everything one day at a time. What I didn’t realize, was how cruel the outside world could be. The stares, the snickers, the cold looks. I was completely on the fence as to what I was going to do as far as whether or not to keep the baby or place the baby up for adoption. Abortion was NEVER an option!!! My parents suggested that I make a pros and cons list for both situations and then maybe go visit a few of the adoption agencies. Well that’s where life got tough. So called friends said horrible things like “what are you thinking giving that baby away”, or “you can’t keep that baby, you’re just a kid”. There were so many hurtful words. So I thought ok, let’s visit a few agencies and see if they can be more helpful. I walked in the door and was greeted by smiling faces and a comment of “you are in the right place, you have to do the right thing and give your baby up for adoption”. Excuse me? I don’t HAVE to do anything I chose not too!!! Needless to say I didn’t say much while I was there, and I left in absolute tears. How can they tell me what I have to do!! So, on to the next agency I went, and of course I had my guard up and was probably even a little rude to the ladies when I first walked in. But the experience was so much different. They listened to me, they asked me how I was feeling, what my thoughts were, what my plans were. It really helped to have someone on my side and not telling me what I had to do.

After that last visit and going over my pros and cons lists, I knew adoption was the best option for my son. He needed a family that could spoil him rotten and could stop on a dime for him. I can’t say that the adoptive parents would love him any more than I could, but I knew they could give him so much more than I ever could.

Here it is “birth”day. Emotions are out of control! Am I sure this is the right thing, did I chose the right parents, am I making a mistake…. And look at this little face…

The next day I left the hospital without him. The following day he will go home with his new mom and dad. But deep in my heart I knew I made the right choice. Do I think about him? Of course I do, every day and especially on his birthday. I still shed tears talking about it, but I am not ashamed or embarrassed about what I did!

But unfortunately the pain of people’s words would still strike! I got comments like you would not believe. “Don’t you regret what you did?” “You’re his real mom how could you do that?” I literally had to stop talking to certain people because I couldn’t take it anymore. What people don’t realize about adoption is that there are two sides to the story of the child involved. And two moms who’s hearts have been through so much. While the biological mom is trying to move on with her life, the new mom is trying to make changes to adjust to a new baby at home. A baby she has longed to have, or maybe even helped save, or maybe god just wanted her to have. Please think twice before asking either of us your questions. One heart is feeling lonely, while the other is feeling overwhelmed with joy. The questions to the new mom about the biological mom are none of anyone’s business. I pray to god that people don’t think I was this drunk or drugged up teenager that got knocked up by some strange boy. That is not even close to the truth!

To this day I have people ask why I have chosen not to find him yet. My answer to that is simple… I promised him on the day he was born that I would never stalk him, invade his space, or track him down unless he wanted me too. I left that door open for if he ever chose to come and find me. If he chooses to never find me I am at peace with that. I just pray he has gotten the most out of life and is proud of the parents he has. People look at me funny when I tell them that too. It’s not that I don’t want to run right out, look up his address, and knock on his door. What it has to do with is I gave him that choice the day I gave him up. I don’t know if he thinks about it, or if he is just so content in his life that he chooses not to find me right now.

And it is ok!

Please don’t judge either one of us, just remember us all in your prayers, and remember that you will never know the full story, and always remember that it’s the child’s happiness that both of the moms involved are after.

Many Blessing to you all,

Jennifer Pratt

Jennifer Pratt

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10 things never to say to adoptive parents.

November is National Adoption Month.

You know when we adopted Lily, she was 3. Things changed for us at a speed we were not expecting. Since having Thomas – biologically, the pressure and the stress is the same but the support is very very different. Looking back we didn’t get the support we so desperately needed. I think people …even today… don’t think that adoptive parents go through the same things that you do when you have a biological child. People say some pretty insensitive things to me about adoption almost on a weekly basis. These days we don’t really talk about Lily’s adoption since it has been 6 years. But in the beginning… it was a daily barrage of ridiculous utterly insensitive crap which came from those around us. This being National Adoption Month, I though it would be fitting to maybe help people reword some of their questions when speaking about adoption. All of these statements have been said to me more than a handful times. I know! It’s crazy!

The New York Mom
Every year we celebrate “Lily Day”. It’s the day our adoption was finalized.

1. You are so lucky you never had to go through childbirth and gain weight and depression and contractions and all of that stuff. Adoption is so much easier. ( this is usually accompanied with an equally incompetent laugh and nudge) No!  instead I went through 2 years of heartache, waiting and stress to birth my adopted child from my heart! Adoptive parents go through a version of Post Partum Depression. While there isn’t a biological change in your body, there is the same sort of mental state when you have a child. Check in on your friends or family who have adopted a child. Regardless of the child’s age, the adjustment to life with a child is still exactly the same and sometimes a little more challenging depending on what the child has gone through.

2. Don’t ever EVER EVER EVER EVER say – So will you have your own children. This is the most insulting insensitive thing you could ever utter. Think about this statement. Your OWN children… so what is my adopted child? Maybe the term ‘biological children’ would be a better way to word this.

3. Keeping the theme of the above comment. Never ever say – “We’ve always wanted to adopt after we have a couple of our own first. “ What does that mean! That’s awful to say. Don’t say that. You are setting yourself and your children up for confusion. Get rid of that “my own” children part. When a child enters your life and your family it is YOUR child. regardless of how that happened.

4. She looks nothing like you. Thanks for pointing out the obvious… in front of my child. I have encountered this so many times and now I just smile at the person saying it and give them a death stare! Lily gets nervous and waits to see how I respond. Why would someone point this out anyway.

5. So where are her REAL parents. What do you mean real parents? I am the real parent. You mean the biological parent.

6. Does she have any issues? I have had strangers ask me this question. why .. why .. why in the world would you ever think this is appropriate to ask. Why would I tell you, and why do you assume all adopted kids have issues. Not all have issues and even if they do have issues it’s the same sort of issues all kids have.

7. Are you afraid she will want to see her real mom one day. Again with the ‘real” word. I am her real mom and yes i’m sure one day she will want to meet her biological parents and we will deal with it. Just remember that this topic is very sensitive to adoptive parents. It’s something we know will happen and we have been prepared for it from birth so imagine going through a decade or more always knowing in the back of your mind that your child might want to meet their biological parent one day. As supportive as I am of this… it tugs at my heart.

8. Now that you adopted, you will totally get pregnant!  Not OK to say on many levels.  Why do you have to think that everyone who adopts tries to get pregnant first. Not everyone wants a biological child. And for those who have tried to conceive and haven’t been able to. That was a rough emotional, expensive road… so joking about how she will get pregnant is not funny or welcome.

9. How much did she cost?  What an awful question to ask someone. We are talking about a child. She cost nothing. Do I ask you how much your biological child cost … hospital fees, doctor visits, shots. Yes, we had adoption fees and travel costs but ‘SHE” did not cost anything. She is a child just like my biological child.

10. That’s so sweet. We adopted our dog too. Not the same people. We are talking about children here. I like to say, “We rescued our dog”. The term adopted being used relating to dogs or highways can be very demeaning to kids. Kids hear this and think… oh it devalues me or simplyfies my process. We’ve had conversations about this with Lily. So please find other words to describe your rescued dog or ‘clean up’ of the highway.

*Bonus*  – Because people say some pretty insensitive things… i could go on for pages!

11. So if you could get pregnant, why did you adopt? Because some people like me believe in adoption and don’t really worry about having biological children. A child is a child.. is a child.

We have been blessed with the best of angels who has made my life complete and shows me ways to be a better human everyday… just like my biological child has. I love talking about our adoption process, I love talking about Lily. These comments and questions hurt the heart and when the child hears some of this, it’s particularly confusing.

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On Lily Day

New York Mom

This week we celebrated LILY DAY! 6 years ago we arrived back in New York as a family of 3! In the adoption world… it’s called “gotcha Day”. But for us… LILY DAY!  Each year we have a small wonderful get together with our family members who live near us. Lily loves spending time with her aunts and uncles and so we make it a whole event. It’s always laid back but full of activities and just hanging out.

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This year we headed to central park to see the cherry blossoms. They were glorious and we enjoyed the cool spring air as we picnicked and played with bubbles and rolled around in the grass.

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Lily has always wanted to sail one of the motorized sailboats around the boat pond in Central Park. You can get to this pond by entering through 72nd street. It’s pretty much in the enter of the park so you can enter from the east or west side.  After handing over our $11 for 30 minutes we were handed boat 55. The best boat on the pond! Matt and Lily spent the whole 30 minutes trying to get the sail to catch the wind. While they did achieve this a few times… I think most of their time was spent trying to predict the direction of the wind and swapping lochness monster stories I’m sure.

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Thomas ran free. He rolled around the grass, chased after dogs, chased after the girls and was just his 16 month gundu baby self! It’s great to have family close by. While we don’t see each other as often as I would like… we try to make a once a month date with everyone.

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What a blessing these kids are in our lives. The riches they bring us are beyond anything we can imagine.

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on this thursday 6 years ago

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While Maundy Thursday is significant for us Christians, it holds an especially important meaning to this little family of mine… in this corner of the world.

6 years ago on Maundy Thursday – during the week of – Easter Sunday, Matt and I received a phone call from our attorney in Florida who said, ‘”now I don’t know what sort of miracle happened but the adoption is a go. how quickly can you get to Florida”

I was on a flight a couple of days later. and 2 weeks after that, Lily came home to New York to be with us forever.

You see we had tried to adopt Lily a few years prior to that when she was 18 months, but it had fallen through unexpectedly. We fought for her to come back with all our resources – financial, emotional, mental… and we thought all was lost. 2 years later – we were still fighting to get her back. So when lily was 3.5 yrs old …to get this amazing phone call was nothing short of an Easter miracle.

Lily has blessed us with an abundance of love and laughter, joy, adventure and passion for everything in life.  I don’t talk much about her adoption since she is growing up and I’m trying to phase her stories out of this blog space of mine. Because as she grows she owns her stories. But this day… this thursday is so very important in this family. Because this Thursday gave this family its legs.

The years where we lost Lily were the darkest I have ever experienced but Matt and I made it through.  Our story is a tough one. But in the end we were blessed beyond anything we could have expected.

I hope you all have an amazing easter season. I hope you can truly take a moment to enjoy the blessings in your life. and go hug those blessing really tight!

 

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5 Months

This little man-man is 5 MONTHS. already! I know!

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A solid 17 pounds!

Gosh my heart just aches when I think about how fast he’s growing up. and Lily too.

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Matt and I met Lily for the first time when she was 5 months old. She was {and is} such a special baby. We had an INSTANT connection. I remember meeting her and there was this moment when I knew… I just knew she was meant to be in our family. At 5 Months she would look at me with these telling eyes and just smile and squeeze my cheeks and give me wet drooly kisses. It was meant to be. It was as if Matt and I were waiting for Lily all along and never even knew it. because when she made us a family… we all fit. perfectly. And it could not have been any other way.

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Thom at 5 months is also giving sloppy drooly kisses.. or trying to eat me… i can’t quite tell.

Although 5 months is a relatively short period, having him does feel like forever ago because of all the activity around these parts and I just could not imagine our lives without him.

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Since we skipped all these precious months and years – until age 3- with Lily… all this is a whole new experience for both Matt and myself. Babies are cool folks! I mean just watching them change every single day is such a gift in itself.

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Thom pretty much, eats, smiles, poops, and sleeps. He started saying ‘ MAMMA” 2 days ago and says it on a constant loop. Now yes, i know that he’s just saying this sound not knowing what it means… but man does it ever melt my cold cold heart!

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He’s always happy and smiling and sometimes just stares at me with these gorgeous eyes in serious thought … I think he’s just plotting a takeover.

5 Months is fassssst. Word on the street is that  it only gets faster from here… they do so much more so quickly. It breaks my heart you know… I wish they would stay little just a bit longer.

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Even my Lilypie, I notice fun changes in her every week… attitude, personality. She’s such an individual and is already teaching Thom some of her fun tips on life. I can’t wait! I can’t wait to see the two of them in action, Lily teaching Thom how to dig for worms, or how to swim or how to climb trees or where to hide the candy stash all over the house and both cars!

the new york momEvery night she reads books to him, her favorite books and he stops what he’s doing and listens to every word she says. When she’s done with the reading he gives her the gummiest-no-teeth smile you have ever seen and looks at her as if she’s the most beautiful girl in the world.

She is.

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So here we are 5 months… can we freeze frame this please.

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Lily Day

Today we celebrate Lily Day… the most special day of the whole year and one of the most important days of my life.

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5 Years ago on May 2nd Matt and I headed to Florida for the final time to bring back our Lilypie to be with us in New York. Our adoption story is a tough one and I wont share that with you today. It’s Lily’s story.

My sweet Lily. I love you so very much- Your adventurous spirit + your silly songs + your thoughts on life + your kindness and most of all your patience… your patience with me.

You dance through your days with such freedom and abandon and I hope you never lose that. I don’t think you ever will.

I love you to the moon. I love you more than anything nothing left. What would I ever do without you.

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Why yes, I AM MOM ENOUGH

By now you have probably seen the shocking *gasp* pic on the cover of Time Magazine. The mag comes out tomorrow but the image is viral. It struts a very attractive- not an ounce of fat on her body, blonde haired, tall – 26 year old mom, standing upright and looking right into the camera while her 3year old son stands on a little chair sucking on her breast. {p.s. – fast forward 15 years from today – this kid is NEVER going to live this down!}

Hmm… Happy Mothers day y’all!

The headline reads.. ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?

The article is about attachment parenting and yada yada… go read it if you care.

My issue is the question presented. Asking me… AM I MOM ENOUGH?

Mom enough for what? for who? and who is judging?

Let me tell you right now that there are so many pressures being a parent, specifically a mother.  Mothers constantly juggle family life, career, loss of career,  social life and that ever-present “I am losing my identity” crisis.

So why is TIME magazine asking me if I am mother enough and what does that mean and how is TIME justifying this?

I skipped the baby years with Lily. We adopted her when she was 3 years old. She was potty trained, speaking, walking, eating solids and she was awesome.

So does this disqualify my mommyhood status?

I didn’t suffer through the infant years and went straight for the cute years?  I didn’t breastfeed, or practice attachment parenting, diaper changes, or have months of sleepless nights due to crying baby…what else am I missing?

I might just not be MOM enough.

Of course this article has to come out during Mothers Day, why celebrate the good of motherhood when we can ask them a question to make them feel insecure.

My house is messy, I sometimes forget Lily’s snack, I still have christmas presents wrapped that need to be sent to my god children, I don’t cook often, I don’t plan meals, my laundry is overflowing because the laundry fairy has quit us, the guinea pigs cage is not clean right now, the flowers are not planted, my kitchen apron.. i don’t have a kitchen apron, I don’t have full make up and a dress with stilettos when I greet my chirpy kid from school every day and I …. oh gosh i could go on!

But I AM mother enough and so are you and don’t let some sensational mag cover desperate for selling issues at our expense make you feel any different.

Be proud of your ways and charge forward, that little one looking up at you thinks you are the QUEEN BEE so own it!

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Is she ‘really’ your daughter

I’m convinced that some people on this Earth were off sniffing glue the day God was handing out brain cells.

Just hear me out – this scenario has happened to me now 4 times!

Time #1 –

I’m at Lily’s (then 4 Years Old) preschool, kneeling down in front of her to zip up her winter coat.

A mother next to me looks at me and says, ” Is this your daughter? “

Me: Yes, this is my Lilypie. What’s your child’s name?
The Mother: Really?
Me: (perplexed) Yes, really.
The Mother: She doesn’t look like you

I was stunned! I was seriously stunned that someone would have the audacity and insensitivity  to say this IN FRONT OF MY 4 YEAR OLD KID!

I got myself together and said: Yes this is my daughter Lily and she’s 4YO and I’ll see you later OK.

The lady continued to say something, not an apologie, and I just ignored her. I would see her everyday at preschool pick up and steer clear. And she would just stare me down and give me an awkward smile like I had a secret I was not telling her.

Times #2 and #3 were similar. Where right in front of me some insensitive woman would question whether or not Lily was my child and when I would say, “yes she is”, they would continue with an idiotic, ” really? ”

Time #4 was the worst… which sparks this blog post.

I’m at Lily’s elementary school at the school office picking her up early one day. There is a mom in the office doing the same with her child.

Lily comes into the office and I give her a big hug and sign her out.

Lily: Mom, I’m so excited about our trip. (We were heading out on vaca)
The Mom: Is this your daughter?
Me: Yes, this is Lily.
The Mom: She’s your real daughter?
Me: (Slightly annoyed) Yes
The Mom: She does not look like you
Me: Ok, I’ll see you later. Have a nice day.
The Mom: She’s a different color.
Me: Uncomfortable and totally angry at this point – I just give the woman a look that says ‘shut it’ and walk out of the office with Lily and mumble to her. Ok then, take care, { translated – stop sniffing glue}

Moments later in the parking lot she comes up to me with her daughter in tow and says: “Maybe you have a white husband that’s why she’s white”

If Lily had not been there I would have seriously drop kicked this stupid lady across the parking lot.

Lily heard all of this!

Of course I had to explain this conversation to Lily in the car. She was OK with it. She asked why the lady was asking those questions and I said, well some people have no filter and they also don’t have manners and then continued to give her examples of all her friends who are adopted and from other countries who don’t look like their parents.

Here’s what – I don’t need to announce to the world that my child is adopted. Also what difference does that make? And why in the world would I tell any stranger that my kid is adopted? It’s none of their business.  I feel uncomfortable telling people that Lily is adopted when Lily is present, this is just strange I feel awkward about it. If these women had asked me about Lily when she was not present I would have totally said… well she is adopted and that’s why she doesn’t look exactly like me and my favorite color is air and I dream of fluffy unicorns and rainbows!  And that would have been it. But the fact that these unfiltered glue sniffing ladies had to say all this right in front of my kid is so very insensitive and makes me really angry!

I see lady #4 all the time at school and she has tried a couple of times to talk to me but I can’t stand it. One day she even tried to ask me if I had any other children.  When I told her I didn’t have any other children she said, “Oh, Empty womb?” WHAT THE!!

This woman was certainly sniffing glue the day God handed our brains.

I took this experience to a few of my friends who also have adopted kids and most adoptive parents have had similar experiences and just shook their head and said, “you’d be surprised how ignorant people are”. I’m not surprised. This does not excuse this behavior.

Why do strangers feel the need question your parental legitimacy? And is adoption really such a foreign concept in 2012 that people can’t just figure this out on their own.

Are you an adoptive parent? Have you experienced this in the past?

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Lily Day 4 years!

4 Years ago, Matt and I came back to New York with a new addition in our lives… LILY!

She has changed our lives in a thousand amazing ways that I just could never have imagined.

Matt and I went through the toughest 2 years of our lives when we were finalizing Lily’s adoption. Not knowing which way the Florida department of children services would swing. Our adoption story is a rough tale but I am so glad the ending is a happy one.

Today I am most thankful for Matt and Lily and my amazing life and the adventures that lie ahead.

We celebrate LILY DAY together as a family. Something low key, like a special dinner. Lily knows her adoptive story and she knows today is her special day. While some adoptive families make this day – Gotcha Day-  a big event with friends, we keep it a private celebration just between the 3 of us!

Do you celebrate your adopted child’s “gotcha day” ? What special things do you do to celebrate?

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4 years ago, we had a miracle

4 years ago today, we received a phone call from our adoption attorney saying, ” I don’t know how this miracle has happened, but the adoption is moving forward”

I cannot express to you the joy and shock Matt and I felt when we got this news.

Lily was with us when she was 1.5 yrs old. We thought the adoption was final but the state of Florida and the social workers and their crooked ways made a horrible mistake and we lost Lily after being with her for just 45 days.

I won’t go into the details for why we lost her.

After 2 years of the darkest sadness and dealings with attorneys and birth parents and wicked social workers… she finally found her way home to us!

Lily has changed my life in ways I could have never imagined.

My mom calls today, Lily’s Miracle Day. We flew down to Florida as soon as we could. To help the transition, Matt and I stayed in Florida for a few weeks and came back to NY in May as a family. Lily remembered so much from being with us few years back. She remembered her toys, our Newfoundland dog Lincoln, and even her backyard and where to find the best worms.

It was meant to be.

Easter and Springtime is a season of rebirth, Lily coming back to us was a rebirth for our family and I will always cherish this time of year.

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