Oldest Child Syndrome

This is a monumental time for us, because it marks Taelynn being out of my tummy longer than she was in it. Where did that time go?!

As any oldest child knows, including myself, with age comes GREAT responsibility! And Tae takes this responsibility VERY seriously. That’s right, she is only 9 months old, but makes sure that Tyce knows that she is in charge.

For example, let me give you a little play by play of their daily interactions:

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Don’t let their wrestling match fool you, they are BEST friends.

When people found out we were adopting, we had many people ask us how that was going to affect Taelynn. I can firmly say, Taelynn is better for having Tyce and visa versa. These two were meant to be siblings. I don’t feel it is any different than gaining a biological sibling a year or more down the road.

Taelynn has an old soul. She is a child I don’t “deserve” and here is why: I think getting a sibling is trying on any child, and I know it was tough on her little self at first. I became an older sister when I was 3 years old. I still remember the feelings of jealousy that I felt toward my sister. It was rough! I loved her, sure, but I also felt like I had been replaced. Here, Taelynn was only three months old when we jumped on that plane to Arkansas, and she was a little trooper! All of a sudden, she didn’t have 100% of my attention and there was another little human laying around. I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through her little mind.

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This was the first time that Tae looked at Ty. Until this point, she would do everything she could to pretend he wasn’t there.

She went through a lot of changes the first month with Ty. The biggest change was, she used to hate nursing, but as soon as she saw me try and feed another baby, that is all she wanted! She also never pooped without help, and then suddenly she was a pooping machine. She also got jealous very quickly, when seeing me hold a baby that wasn’t her or Tyce. I think it was her way of saying that one little brother was enough for now.

BUT, she got over it quickly.

Tae is already a better older sister than I ever was. She is always checking up on Tyce when he cries. She saves her biggest smiles for him. If he is hungry, she will literally stop eating and let me feed him first.

BUT, she is human AND an older sister. So don’t let that smile fool you. I can’t help but laugh as I watch her try and be sneaky, coming up behind Tyce, and trying to grab his toy or bottle or whatever he is holding. The best part, she will hurry and throw a different toy at him and crawl away as fast as she can thinking I won’t notice. Oh boy, the future is going to be fun.

I love watching Taelynn and Tyce learn and grow from each other. I know that they have their own way of communicating with each other. I love watching them race to give each other kisses in the morning and hold hands as I carry them around the house.

Taelynn is definitely more of my adventurer. I think that is perfect because she is the older sister and uses that to push Tyce along. She loves exploring and playing and being thrown in the air! Tyce is my happy observer. He loves to watch Tae and see what she is getting into. I honestly feel like Taelynn has helped Tyce hit his growing goals, because he looks up to her so much.

Yes, Taelynn was changed for gaining a brother, but she was changed for the better. Because who better to learn and grow with than a sibling.

 

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

– Desmond Tutu

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Adoption Stigma: “Savior” Mentality and Types of Adoptions

“I do not intend to be rude, but since you put yourself out here, I have a question. If the fact that some children are in need of parents is what made you interested in adoption, why did you choose infant adoption, when there is no shortage of parents for newborns?”

I received this question about adoption, and rather than answering back privately, I thought this was the perfect time to talk about infant adoptions versus adopting older children. I would like to say, “Thank you,” to the person that asked, because I think this is one of the big stigmas about adoption that needs to be broken. Keep in mind, everyone’s story is different, so I can only share my perspective. But, I did call on some friends for help, to help me find words for all of these emotions in my heart.

***DISCLAIMER*** I do NOT recommend asking anyone else this question. I opened up this blog so that people could ask me questions like this, BECAUSE  I want to shed some light on what adoption really means. So, I am totally ok with this! But, it can be perceived as a very offensive question. It is very personal to each and every person. 

Why adoption is for MY family

First, I would like to address the first part of the question. In the “Our Story” section of the blog, I talk about my Uncle telling my family about some kids in Romania, living in an orphanage, that needed families. I was in Elementary school at the time. This was not my first encounter with adoption, BUT the first time I had the impression that I wanted to adopt.

As I got older, and continued to think about adoption, I learned that there are several different ways to adopt. Infant adoption, foster to adopt, foster for reunification, International adoption, adoption with an agency, private adoption, transracial adoption, special needs adoption, open adoption, closed adoption, the list goes on. I researched a ton. But not just how to adopt. I researched the sociology behind it, the psychology behind it. I did a lot of self evaluation and wrote out my 10 +  year plans. Most importantly I prayed about it. (Realize that this is my side of the story, not my husbands. He had his own journey).

Now, not everyone believes in God or spiritual promptings, but I do. Our whole adoption journey was completely dependent on Heavenly Father and his plan he had in store for us. If he would have directed us to Foster to adopt, we would have. BUT he knew where our son was and he led us to him. I believe everyone is directed to where their children are.

“It is not about finding A child. It is about finding THE child that was meant to be in my family.”  -My good friend, Carly Thompson

As I also mentioned in the “Our Story” section, the reason we started the adoption process when we did, is because we had an opportunity presented before us to possibly adopt the baby of a family friend. That baby was never ours, but we truly believe that situation was placed before us so that we could be ready for our son. If we would not have prepared for that baby, we would not have been able to adopt our son. That was a true act of God.

We firmly believe that Tyce was always supposed to be in our family. It wasn’t chance. He is our son. He and Taelynn were meant to be siblings and grow and learn from each other.

Infant Adoption Vs. Adopting Older Children. 

Now, to answer the question more logistically. All kinds of adoptions require different abilities from the adopting parents. This is really hard for me to put into words, so I have a friend, Kaitlyn Phillips, from an adoption group, that is helping me out a little. She said,

“Adopting an infant and adopting an older child are not interchangeable. They are very different experiences, and each come with their own unique set of challenges and blessings.”

Whatever route you decide to take in building your family, you have to be prepared for the challenges that come with each situation. I would add, this also includes building your family through giving birth.

For me, we were not in a position to adopt an older child or to get certified as a foster parent. I like how Kaitlyn put it,

“I don’t think a person should “just” adopt an older child because they want to adopt. If a couple is adopting an older child, they need to be in a position emotionally, spiritually, and physically to care for, parent, and be a good fit for an older child.”

The same goes for an infant adoption. BUT that does not mean that being prepared for one makes you prepared for the other.

An older child that is looking for a family has different needs than an infant being adopted. I see so many amazing parents that have adopted older children. Some of the skills that they have blow me away.  They were meant to be parents to those children and those children were meant to be in their family. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional roller coaster that so many of these kids go through, in their search for their forever family.  They need parents that can give them the attention and support to heal and grow.

Unfortunately, I would not have had the right amount of attention or emotional stability to give an older child and a newborn.

Yes, There are so many older children looking for families. BUT, that can’t be your only reason to adopt an older child. You need to be prepared for what that entails. Otherwise, you will not be successful as a parent. This leads me to the “Savior Mentality.”

The “Savior” Mentality 

THIS IS IMPORTANT! (It is such a strong opinion I have, I dare to claim it as a FACT.)

When you adopt, you are not the child’s “Savior.” You are their parent. I didn’t “save” my son, and if he ever feels like he “owes” me because I adopted him, I will truly feel like I have failed as a parent.

Although, Taelynn and Tyce will always be free to try and repay me for the sleepless nights, the several ounces of spit up I have caught in my eye, mouth, bra and who knows where else…I JOKE!!! My point is, I am their mom. I expect the same respect and love from them that any mother should hope to receive from their kids.

I didn’t choose to build my family through adoption because I wanted to “save” children. I am not God. This misconception makes me so sad. I chose to adopt because I knew that I had a child out there that I had to find.

I am often told things along the line of, “Tyce is so lucky that you adopted him.” “You are so amazing to take on that child.” “wow, I couldn’t do that.”  I know you mean well, and I thank you for that. But, would you ever go up to me and say those things about Taelynn? Maybe you would, but up until this point no one has given me praise because I conceived her. WHICH IS HOW IT SHOULD BE! At least in my book.

In a way, I guess you could say we were all saved. Heavenly Father had his hand in this whole experience. And my family was “saved” because we all get to be together. My kids personally “save” me everyday. I don’t know what my life would be without them. BUT Matt and I didn’t do the saving.

To summarize- Matt, Taelynn and Tyce are my family. I get to carry the proud title of “Mom.” Being a mom gives me so much happiness. We all build our families in different ways and adoption just happened to be in the plans for us. We were led to Tyce. If you believe in destiny, I guess this would be the best description of it.

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Thank you all so much for reading my ramblings. I hope I could answer this question with justice. You are free to send me questions as well, and I will answer them in the best of my ability.

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The Adoption Stigma: Terminology

Although adoption is a completely normal and an AMAZING way of building a family, let’s be honest, there is hundreds of stigmas around it. The amazing thing is, the adoption community is working so hard now to fight those stigmas and to educate the world on what adoption really means. If you are like me, you have tons of questions when you meet someone that is adopted or has adopted, BUT you don’t know what is appropriate to ask. So I thought it would be fun to go over some great things that I have learned through my adoption process.

(I also created the contact me page so that you can email me and ask me any questions you have about adoption. I love learning more and sharing my knowledge with those that are interested)

Today, I decided to talk about vocabulary, because who doesn’t love a little English lesson;)

1- “Placed for Adoption” Vs. “gave up” “put them up” “get rid of”

One of the most common mistakes is to say, “gave up for adoption,” or “Put them up for adoption” or even to say, “the birth mom got rid of.” Really anything similar to that. How detrimental for a child to think that they were given away or unwanted. That simply is not the case. They are human beings, not hand-me-downs. That is why the adoption community is working hard to change this common phrase to “Placed for adoption.” A birth mother is placing her child into the arms of another family. The family that they chose to parent their child.  I love the picture that saying the word placed creates in my mind. It gives the whole process a lot more love and compassion.

Now, I’m not a dummy. I know it is just common to say, “gave up.” Just like at one time is was common to call flip flops thongs. But even though it is more common to say it one way doesn’t make it appropriate.

2-Birth Mother Vs. Expectant Mother

This goes for birth father and expectant father as well. There is a difference!! Someone does not become a birth parent UNTIL they have relinquished their rights. Until that moment, they are either the expectant parent, or if the baby is born, they are just a parent. This often gets confused. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know this before I started my own adoption journey. For example, if a family is “matched” with an expectant mother, meaning that the woman who is pregnant has chosen a hopeful adoptive family to  be the parents to her child, then she is still an expectant mother UNTIL she signs the paper work and places her child in the hopeful adoptive families arms. THEN she becomes a birth mother and the hopeful adoptive family is now just the baby’s family. Did that even make sense?

3- Mom Vs. “Real Mom” as opposed to fake mom?

Refer to point #2. I have had so many people ask me who Tyce’s “Real Mom” is. Well, I am pretty positive none of us are fake. I am quoting a friend that said,

“‘Real mom’ or ‘real parents’!!! We are all real! We’ve played different roles but none of are fake and I personally don’t believe that any of us are more ‘real’ than the other.”

This also refers to siblings. Taelynn is very much Tyce’s “real” sister. They may not be biological, but they are real. Their love for each other is real and their bond is real.  But as quoted above, Tyce’s biological family is also very real. Just avoid saying the word “real.”

4- Family Vs. Adoptive Family

Yes, technically Matt, Taelynn and I are Tyce’s “Adoptive Family,” but you don’t need to call us that all the time. I am his mom. Matt is his dad. Taelynn his is sister.

Tyce is our son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew ect.

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Hopefully this helps you a little when talking to people from the adoption community. BUT KEEP IN MIND, we understand that certain phrases are just common to say. I personally am not going to hit you over the head if you say one of the naughty ones above, but I can’t express the joy and appreciation I have for the people that refer to my adoption correctly.

I’ll have some more similar posts coming in the future. I apologize if these annoy you! But, adoption is a passion, and can you blame me?!

AND PLEASE, send me a message if you have other questions I can answer. Whether it has to do with adoption, or just my little family, I would love to know what you all would like to read about.

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Water Babies

IMG_3726You’ll quickly learn through my ramblings, if you didn’t already know this, that I don’t like being told that I can’t do something. When faced with a dilemma of being told something is impossible or that there is no way it can be done, I often think,

“Says Who?”

And then I go on to see if it is in fact out of my reach. I remember, when I was pregnant with Taelynn, someone told me that I was throwing my life away by having kids so young. I thought that was a little silly and my “never upset” husband actually became angry at the comment. However, it got me thinking about things that I could still make possible even with kids.

Two kids later and I still am determined to have a great experience through this journey, not just for my kids, but for me! Matt and I do what we can to make any adventure possible. Road trip to Las Vegas, no problem! What about a road trip to California, BRING IT! Romantic evenings aren’t dead. Goodness, I am even working to get my Real Estate License. My point is kids have never “gotten in our way.” They actually make life a lot more fun for us.

(Pictures from the first time Taelynn went swimming. It just happens to also be at the Provo Rec Center.)

Swimming was one of those things I was questioning the possibility of. Before Tyce was born, Taelynn and I would go all the time. BUT, adding another baby to the mix makes staying a float a little more challenging.

My awesome SIL is here visiting with her perfect little boys, Ben and Andy. Of course, like any 3 year old, Ben wants to get out and have adventures! So after thinking about it, I decided why not join them at the Provo Rec Center. I was slightly terrified. I packed the swim bag, made sure we had enough diapers, got the kids ready to go and a short hour later we were finally out the door.

We got to the Rec Center and I was approached with my typical questions of,

“Are you babysitting?”

“Are they both yours?”

“Are they twins?”

But I guess in a way every mom is a permanent babysitter.

Then we finally made it to the pool.

2 adults against 4 children (Jessica’s SIL on her other side also came and observed)

My children are scared of tubs of water… They are shower babies. So sitting in water up to their waist in the kiddy pool was a little traumatic. They literally were gripping each others hands and hugging each other around the waist. It was adorable to see! If I wasn’t in water I would have had a million more pictures as proof.

As they started warming up to their new surroundings, I could see their eyes light up as they started to have some fun. I braved the water, and took advantage of their clinginess, and we made it over to the lazy river. Lazy might not be the best way to describe it, as I was trying to juggle two children that decided they liked floating around.

One woman failed to realize that the section of pool she was in was designed for kids, as she kept giving my kids dirty looks and shoving past me…but not everyone can have fun swimming I guess…

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Taelynn really got excited by the end and was giving everyone that passed her a full body wave. Seriously, there is not a more animated wave in the world. I made a little barrier with my legs because Tae kept trying to swim off to play with her cousins because she is obsessed with them (the water was only about 4 inches at the deepest where we were). Tyce enjoyed looking at the water from the safety of my arms. He had a death grip on my swim suit that you wouldn’t believe, and Taelynn kept checking to make sure he was ok.

After they kids decided they were worn out (because holding onto mom is hard work) we packed ourselves up, slowly but surely, and made our way to the car. Tyce was asleep before we got to the parking lot and both were asleep by the time we got home. Let’s just say the moral of the story is, if I have stuff to do, take the kids swimming because they will sleep for hours!!

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I would say the day was a SUCCESS!

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