Adoption Stigmas: A WAP attempt to talk about White Privilege and Transracial Adoption

“Is Matt okay with you adopting *that* kind of child?”

These are painful words to write. In fact, it’s taken me months to figure out how to talk about this topic and I probably still won’t get it right. I’ve gotten in many unintentional arguments with people I love because white privilege is a tough subject to talk about. Why? Because it involves emotion. I’m mostly going to focus on how White Privilege is involved in adoption, but this waves out to everyday living for a large portion of the world. So as you read this, I beg you to put emotion and preconceived notions aside and listen sincerely with the desire to learn.

IMG_9260.jpgūüéą”When I¬†was a kid I thought Zootopia was this perfect place. Where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out real life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means hey, glass half-full we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So, no matter what type of animal you are from the biggest elephant to our first fox.. I implore you… Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.” -Zootopiaūüéą

 

Since welcoming Tyce into our family, we have had¬†an overwhelming number of people ¬†make comments to us, acting as if we are unaware that Tyce has darker skin than us. It’s always “well meaning” people that think they somehow have this insight into what it means to be a Person of Color¬†(any non-white person) because they have a friend or went to school with someone who was also a Person of Color. I get it. I grew up in a suburban white neighborhood. You can’t get much “whiter” than where I grew up. When I was six, I got a black Bitty Baby for Christmas, and I thought I was diverse. And let me tell you, I thought I understood and could empathize.

What is “White Privilege?”

I think it is important to first establish what the definition of White Privilege is. I’m not talking KKK or White Supremacists. I am talking an unseen power that white people¬†are naturally born with. There are so many facets to this, but i’m going to stick with the very simple definition so I don’t lose you all.

 

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“White privilege is a term for societal privileges that benefit people identified as white in Western countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.”

So, what does this mean? Let’s start with a disclaimer- I’ll be honest with you, when I was first told that I had white privilege, I took it really hard. But, then I took to education and did everything I could to learn about the WHY. Having white privilege doesn’t necessarily mean you ¬†hate people of color. The term “white privilege” doesn’t even necessarily mean you think you are better than a person of color (although, I could get into a lot more definitions and examples of how this can subconsciously and consciously apply). BUT, now that you know the definition of white privilege, lets get into how it impacts your life as well as the lives of our brothers and sisters.

Let’s start with the first comment I included at the top of this blog:

“Is Matt okay with you adopting *that* kind of child?”

Oh, the stab this leaves in my heart. This “well meaning” person, and I am saying that because she genuinely did not see the hurt of this question, thought that she was showing concern and compassion for my very white husband. And this question in itself shows her systematic, unknown white privilege as well as racism in general. Sadly, this isn’t the first time we have received similar comments and questions.

It’s easy to come up with the snarky remarks to make light of a horribly awkward situation, such as “by *that* kind of child do you mean adorable and perfect in every way, yes!¬†Yes, Matt was okay with that.” But there comes a time when we have to face reality.

Reading it back, it may seem obvious to many of you why this question is inappropriate. So what about some these comments:

“Was his adoption cheaper because he isn’t white?”

“His family must have been poor.”

“What if he grows up to be violent?”

“Why would you adopt a brown baby when so many white babies need families?”

“Are you worried that when he gets older he will have a hard time getting dates?”

“Wow, you are so¬†amazing for adopting a child that looks different than you.”

You guys, I can’t even bring myself to type all of the comments that I am forcing myself to remember. I have tears pouring down my face as I think of my little boy and the confused world he is going to have to learn to live in. I have a pretty strong armor when it comes to hearing these things, but then I realize one day my son is going to grow up and he is going to understand the comments that people say to me at the grocery store. And one day I am not going to be able to be his voice.

Now, I posted some very negative comments I received, but I want to dive a little deeper and show how this issue can be super subtle.

One of the most common arguments I see against White Privilege is:

“I know white people that struggle just as much as any black person.”

No.

It’s true, there are white people that live in poorer areas and there are people of color that live in rich neighborhoods. But, that is missing the point.

Let’s take my friend who lives in Utah with her husband who is Hispanic. One day they were driving along and got pulled over for a traffic violation. Her husband was asked if he had proof of citizenship…. Now, I’ve been pulled over a few times and¬†every time I get asked for my drivers license and my insurance. I’ve never been asked to give proof of citizenship.

I have¬†another friend who has a black son that just entered Junior High. I saw a post of hers on¬†Facebook recently asking where she can find bright, non-threatening beanies for her son to wear during the winter because she is scared to let him put his hood up as he walks to school in the cold. Comments from other moms with black sons of similar ages were all commenting about how they got beanies that look like frogs and other juvenile characters in an attempt to make their children look childlike and non-threatening… Not once, growing up, did I ever have to think about these kinds of things for myself or my brothers.

That is white privilege.

White privilege is the ability to go about your day and not have to worry about small things like being suspicious while buying your cereal, or¬†whether or not you’re going to get a job interview because your name isn’t a “white” name.

A few years ago, I would have argued with people that told me these things happen. They’re¬†being “too sensitive” right? But then I saw it happen. And then I saw it happen again. And then I adopted my son who is a different color than me and I saw my own white privilege come out when I experienced shock at the first comments I received. And then I realized how much white privilege I have because I had assumed people were being too sensitive because I had never experienced it.

It hurts. It hurts a lot to admit. It hurts even more to accept. But then, it feels freeing to acknowledge and fight for change.

What that means for transracial adoptions

So, what does white privilege have to do with adoption, specifically transracial adoption? Matt and I stepped¬†into the adoption world extremely quickly. In fact, it was more like a dive. I didn’t have time nor did I realize how much I still needed to educate myself. Basically, I did everything backwards from how I wish I did it. So for my friends that are looking and in the process to adopt, here are some things I wish I would have known about transracial adoptions.

First, I wish I would have understood the importance of social mirrors. Mirrors are the people and customs that represent where your child is from and who they are.

We have been so blessed to find many people in our area who have adopted Marshallese children. It is a huge blessing to be able to introduce Tyce to people that¬†come from the same culture and heritage as him. I still feel like it’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Second, If you are considering adopting transracially, make sure you do your research and learn what cultural barriers your area will have on your child. This is a good point in the adoption process to put your future child first, and decide if you are in the right position to meet the needs that your child of color will have that as a white person you never experienced.

Third, color blindness is not a thing, and it is more harmful than good. Our country went through a “phase” where it was proper “not to see color.” And by pretending color didn’t exist, we¬†pretended racism and bigotry didn’t exist. And that is a problem. It is okay to acknowledge that cruelty exists in the world. It is ok to recognize in yourself how you can improve and show love. Action is how we improve the world and our society. Action is what will make a difference. ACTION is what I urge everyone to take to unite our world, our families, and our nation.

Why am I talking about this?

I recently heard someone say,

“If a¬†white¬†person were to stick up for a Person of Color being treated unfairly, treatment is more likely to change for the better. If a Person of Color were to stand up for another Person of Color, treatment is less likely to change. So a¬†white¬†person can use their privilege to help others.”

I am not the expert on this topic. I am still learning about it myself. But, I vow to keep learning and trying because it is worth it. I barely hit the surface, but for now, this is what I have.

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***If you have any questions or concerns about this please message me! I am continually learning and would love to get perspective from everyone.

***If you are starting the learning process yourself, please message me! I would love to point you in the direction to more resources that I have found helpful.

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Two Worlds, One Family: An Adoptive Mothers Insecurities

Jane: “He isn’t one of them! They aren’t even his real family!”

Professor¬†Archimedes¬†Q.¬†Porter:¬†“Have you ever known a family not to be real?”

Last night we took a road trip to St. George, UT to see Tarzan at Tuacahn. Tarzan has always been one of my favorites. The music, the colors, the costumes! The story of a little boy raised by Apes that discovers he is really human. I have fond memories of when the Disney version came to theaters and I went with my Aunt Tel to the drive in movie to see it. However, as the opening song started and the actors took their places, I realized I was watching a very different story unfold before me than the story I had grown up with.

The songs were the same, the characters were the same, but I am not the same.

When Tyce was first placed in my arms, I remember looking at his tiny form and knowing that my life was forever changed for the better. My love for him was and is real. But with adoption comes insecurities.

There are insecurities in every level of the adoption triad. If you get on any adoption related group on Facebook, you’ll be bombarded with all those insecurities. But, that is what happens when you mold two families into one.

I’ve been really good about pushing past¬†ignoring my own insecurities involving adoption. I joined a million adoption groups when we started the adoption process. I talked with birth mothers, adoptees, other adoptive families; A common theme seemed to be insecurities. I have learned so much and am learning so much more about perspective. My mind and heart were constantly on those birth families and adoptees that expressed the loss they felt.

I felt selfish in my happiness.

But for the first time in Tyce’s 10 months of life, while sitting there watching this musical performance, my insecurities hit me in full force.

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

After Kala finds Tarzan she sings to him one of the most memorable songs in Disney history. An ode from a mother to her son.

You’ll Be In My Heart

“Come stop your¬†crying it will be all right.
Just take my hand old it tight.
I will protect you from all around you
I will be here
Don’t you cry
For one so small, you seem so strong
My arms will hold you
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry
‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

I’ve been singing “You’ll Be In My Heart”to Tyce since he was born. It is just the first song that comes to my head when a baby is crying. I never paid attention the words, I just knew it said, “stop your crying.” So it’s bound to work, right?

But, as I am watching the story unfold I realized I was no longer in the Tuacahn ampitheater, but instead in the NICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Instead of Kala holding baby Tarzan, it was me holding baby Tyce. So yes, I am comparing¬†myself a gorilla.

Through the song, Kala was making promises to her new son that looked nothing like her, but was indeed her child. Just like I did with Tyce. I promised Tyce I would always be there for him, that I would love him unconditionally, that I would protect him and support him. I also told him that everything was going to be okay.

Little did Phil Collins know, that when he was writing this song, he was writing it from the words and feelings in my heart. (Do you think that is enough for me to get a cut of his earnings?)

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

¬†I love the scene where Kala is holding her hand up to Tarzan’s hand and then pointing out how they both have brown eyes. Showing him that they really aren’t that different.

I don’t know how Tyce is going to think or what feelings he is going to feel, but I want him to know that I love him with my whole heart.¬†I can’t tell you how many times I have had scenarios run through my head of when Tyce is older and asking me questions about adoption. We are so blessed¬†to have an open adoption. I know that will ease some of the questions, but I know that it can also create more questions. I can only guess what insecurities he will have as he grows. The only thing I can do is make sure that I am prepared for whatever he may¬†need.

I sat in my seat, feeling all the feels, loving the adoption¬†connection I made to the play…and then the story continues… and Tarzan grows up.

Everything That I Am

Tarzan: “Ooh I want to know where I belong
I want to know where I came from
I want to know the reason why I’m here
The way I am
Feeling the things I feel
Is this my family?”

 

Tarzan is given the choice of whether he should go back to England with Jane and the other humans, or stay in the Jungle with his family. He decides that he wants answers to his questions and makes the decision to go back with Jane.

This is the moment that my insecurities hit me in full force. They hit so hard they started rolling down my face.

Kala is sitting there watching Tarzan make this decision, and the look on her face is filled with so much pain. But despite all of her hurt, she demonstrates her love for her son by letting him go.

My mind starts racing as I envision¬†myself and an older Tyce on the stage. I wonder, “am I not enough?” “Do you blame me?” “Could I have done something different?”¬†Then I wonder, “am I strong enough to do the same?”

About this time is when Tarzan looks at Kala and says,

“No matter where I am, YOU will always be my mother.”

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PC: Emma Matheson Photography

Adoption is not the easy way, but it is the way I chose and I have no regrets. Adoption doesn’t mean that Tyce is mine and that’s it. No, I get to be Tyce’s mother and because of that I accepted the responsibility to always be what Tyce needs me to be.

Adoption is bigger than an adoptive parents desire to be a parent.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I was given the honor of being Tyce’s mother, I didn’t just get a son, I got a whole new extension of my family. Tyce is still Marshallese, he still shares¬†genetics with another set of parents. That doesn’t go away when we sign the adoption papers.

BUT despite my insecurities, they are nothing compared to my love for Tyce. Now, I give him another promise.¬†“I promise that I will never let my insecurities hold you back in anyway. I promise that I will always stand by you in your journey. I promise that I will always make you a priority, even if that means that I need to sit back and promise to always be here when you need me. You will ALWAYS be in my heart.”

You’ll Be In My Heart (Reprise)

No one could understand the way we feel
How would they know, how can we explain?
Althought we’re different, deep inside us
We’re not that different at all
‘Cause you’ll in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
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Adoption Stigma: Open Adoption

In honor of Mother’s Day and Birth Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about our open adoption. Open Adoptions have a lot of stigmas and questions around them, and so I think it is important to address some of the questions that we get asked daily.

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After 6 hours of driving, 2 flights and very little sleep, we finally were all able to meet. (***Side note: I am pretty sure I left that jacket in Arkansas, and it’s my favorite… )
Now, I know you all are wondering where Tyce gets his good looks! One of the most common questions we get asked is if we have an open adoption. Then, it is followed by the question, “Isn’t that hard?” or some comment about why the person talking could never do something like that. Pamela, Tyce’s birth mom, gave me permission to share some pictures of our journey, and so I thought this would be the perfect space to give some insight on why an open adoption is perfect for us!

A lot of this is really personal to me and my family, but I feel it is important to share in order to understand why open adoption is an amazing possibility! I would also never share any of this, unless I had permission from Tyce’s birth family.I  want to make sure it’s clear I am not sharing this on a whim.

When Matt and I decided to adopt, we discussed and agreed that an open adoption was really important for us. On the surface it seems really daunting, but it really isn’t. I personally Love it! I actually hate that we are in Utah and Pamela and Jibon are in Arkansas. And I look forward to visiting them in the future.

Some of the immediate blessings of an open adoption are:

  1. I get to text Pamela whenever I need, to ask her questions pertaining to Tyce’s health, personality, growth patterns ect.
  2. I get to learn more about Tyce’s heritage.
  3. And one of the biggest ones is we are able to extend our family, not just by one, but by many! (I went to start counting, but the number just kept going up! and so I gave up)

BACKGROUND

Because of the fast moving pace of our adoption, we weren’t able to meet or talk to Pamela or Jibon (his birth parents) before Tyce joined the world. I had created a little profile on my family, that was only two pages long and on a Word document, which was all the information they had on us.

Tyce was born several weeks early and so he was immediately flown to Little Rock to the children’s hospital there. As a result, Pamela and Jibon never got a chance to really meet him.

Me, my dad and Taelynn flew to Kansas City to meet my Aunt Dana and then we drove to a cute little city in Arkansas to pick up Pamela and Jibon and then continue onto Little Rock, so we could all “meet” him together.

I’ll be honest, I was completely terrified. I was so scared that they would look at me and see me with another baby and completely change their minds. I didn’t know how I was supposed to approach them. Do I give them a hug? Shake their hand? My mind was going a mile a minute. BUT, when Pamela opened the door and I had a wave of love come over me. I quickly learned, they were as nervous as me.

We loaded up in the car and drove the last three hours to Little Rock, where Tyce was. (He was the lucky one and got to ride in a helicopter.)

Let’s get real for a second, it takes a strong woman to give birth and then jump in the car, with no sleep, and drive 3 hours! I was in awe the entire time. I was torn between wanting to ask a million questions, but then also letting Pamela and Jibon sleep. (SORRY I’M A TALKER, PAMELA! You probably thought I was a crazy person!)

When we got to the hospital, it got really complicated because the staff at the front desk had a hard time comprehending that an adoptive mom and a birth mom were there together. Eventually, we got ahold of the social worker from the hospital and we started making some progress to see our sweet baby.

After who knows how long, we were invited into the NICU to see Tyce. Pamela had me go first. It was the kindest gesture from her! She still had some paperwork to fill out and she didn’t want me to wait. But, I thought it was important to let her hold him first and change his first diaper. It sounds silly, but that was her right. Tyce was hers first.

I have engrained in my memory the sweet way she looked at him. Only a mother can look at their child in that way. It was full of love and caring. Make no mistake about it, she loves Tyce. That is one stigma I want to throw out the window. A birth mother is still a mother filled with love. 

We were quite the sight for all the nurses and staff. We were in an open area where the NICU beds are all in a row, so basically everyone could see us trying to figure out our new roles. There is a lot of emotions at this time. It was hard to figure out a way to make time slow down so we could all delve into this moment, while still trying to figure out the complications of paperwork. I don’t have much more that I want to share on this experience.

At some point during this time, I asked Pamela if I had her approval to breastfeed Tyce. It was really important to me that she gave me her blessing. The most reassuring thing was when she gave me a big smile and said, “yes.”

Eventually, we parted for the day so that everyone could get some rest. Pamela and Jibon went with my aunt and dad back to a hotel to sleep.

Matt flew in early the next morning. I was so beyond grateful he would have a chance to meet Pamela and Jibon. My dad had to be back in Kansas City to catch his returning flight that day, so we didn’t have much time.

BUT, we will have a reunion in person one day.

OPEN ADOPTION STIGMAS

Open adoption is a lot more common now than it used to be, and I LOVE THAT! The term “open adoption” is different for every situation, but basically it means you have open contact. For some it means sending picture a few times a year, where for others, it means frequent get togethers. That is something you decide between families. ***Keep in mind every situation is different!***

For us, we have a pretty open adoption. Obviously, there is a distance barrier, but we text often with pictures and life events. We also are beyond lucky to have a great relationship with two of Tyce’s biological siblings that were also adopted, but I want to respect their privacy so I won’t go into much more than that.

One of the big questions I get asked is if I feel “threatened” as a mom. I can honestly say, I have never once felt threatened. Pamela makes me feel so confident in my ability to parent Tyce because of the way she treats me. I have never felt like it was a competition for Tyce’s love. Yes, he is still a baby, but I don’t see that changing. We both have different roles in Tyce’s life and both roles are extremely important.

I remember one moment, as I was preparing to get a picture of something Tyce was doing, I mentioned that I was trying to get the picture for Pamela. The person I was with gave me a weird look and asked me “why?” The truth is, I get excited to share things with her. How many people can say that they have someone that is just as excited to see your child’s accomplishments as you? I can send Pamela endless pictures and videos and stories without her getting annoyed about my “bragging.” (No, grandmas don’t count.)

I understand why the natural tendency is to feel jealous or threatened. Before going through this experience, I would have thought that is how I would feel. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. I think what helped me the most was putting myself in her shoes.

Again, I can only speak of my experience.

I also get asked if having an open adoption will confuse Tyce in the future. I actually believe it will do the opposite. I’m not trying to hide Tyce’s story from him. I want him to know his heritage and where he came from. It is part of his identity.

What a joy that he will never have to question where he is from and who he is. He now can see that he has a huge army of people surrounding him that love him. My favorite part is, the openness doesn’t just include Tyce, but all of us! One of Tyce’s biological brothers, adoptive mom (that’s complicated to explain) recently told me how her daughter was so excited that I also had a daughter because she has always wanted a sister, and now she has some. We are all connected because of Pamela and Jibon and these precious children.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, PAMELA!!!

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Feel free to message me if you have more questions about how open adoption works, or just adoption questions in general. I will answer them the best I can.

 

Families can be Together Forever

“Families can be together FOREVER, through Heavenly Fathers Plan. I always want to be with my own family, and the LORD has shown me how I can.”

The day that made all other days have very little meaning. When Matt and I got married and sealed in the temple it was exciting and beautiful! But, we agreed, the day we got sealed to Tyce put that day to shame. There is something so magical and spiritual about being sealed to a child. It is completely different from birthing children. NOW,  that isn’t to down play the importance and magic of biological children. The day we had Taelynn, I thought my heart would burst. But, I didn’t have the panic and urgent feeling with Taelynn, because I already had the peace that she was sealed to us for eternity. Well…technically I didn’t even know I felt the peace until I felt the urgent longing that I experienced with Tyce. (Any of you other adoptive parents out there, feel free to help me figure out a better way of describing that feeling! I can’t find the right words to emphasize the importance.)

I know not everyone readying this is LDS, but just so you know, we believe that you can be sealed to your family after death. Death isn’t the end. When we get married in the LDS temple our biological children are automatically born in the covenant or sealed to us, but when we adopt, we get to go back and seal that child to our family so that our spirits are sealed for eternity.

***Get ready for picture overload***

 

April 16, 2016 – This day felt like an eternity away. In Utah, there is a law that you have to wait 6 months to finalize an adoption. That means that we couldn’t get sealed to Tyce in the temple or even have his baby blessing until he was “legally” ours.

The 6 month wait felt like an eternity. But, let’s be real here, it was closer to 7 months because of court dates. We knew it was going to be hard and that the adversary would be fighting against us, but goodness, even with that foresight, it was a painful fight. Satan knew exactly what would cause us the most stress and anxiety and he hit it right in the bullseye. But, despite all of that, WE MADE IT!

The night before, we had the beautiful experience of going through the temple with my cousin, Kaela, for her first time. It was such a perfect way to bring the peace for the rest of the weekend. Plus, it was perfect because that meant she could be apart of Tyce’s sealing the next day.

Matt and I woke up early on Saturday and started getting everything packed up. There was a feeling of peace circulating the house. Just thinking of it now, feels my heart with this eternal happiness. The babies woke up and were so happy. We got them dressed in their whites and they looked like little angels.

We got Tyce a tea leaf Lei in honor of his birth family. I love them with all my heart and it didn’t feel right unless we made sure they were a part of this day. He made the best faces when the leaves would touch his face. Tae was a little jealous and kept trying to put it around her neck or in her mouth…

My mom met us at the Provo City Center Temple, so she could help us take care of the kids while Matt and I got everything in order. We walked into the temple together and temple workers greeted us with such excitement! They all knew us by name and eagerly welcomed us inside.

We wanted the ceremony to be very intimate and so we just had our close family come, and it worked out perfectly. I don’t want to go into much more detail than this, because it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. Nothing I write will give justice to the feelings of joy and peace that we felt. I will say, that when my mom and the temple sisters brought Tyce and Taelynn up to me and Matt, nothing could hold back the happy tears that fell from my face, as I began to understand the true meaning of Christ’s love. I looked at the faces of each of the people that sacrificed so much to be there with us, and I knew that this was my heaven.

We walked out of the temple doors a forever family. What excitement we felt,  to see our loving family waiting for us. It truly is like walking through the gates of heaven. It was a true blessing that our family could make this experience as big of a deal physically, as it was to us in every other aspect. We will forever appreciate that.

***FUNNY SIDE NOTE- My mom was with the kids the whole time we were in the temple. They have a nursery area for families that are being sealed. Well, the temple sealer called down to have her bring up the kids, so she was racing to change their diapers. As she was changing Tyce’s diaper he decided it was the perfect time to see how far he could pee, and low and  behold, he made it all the way to his face, getting it in his eyes, mouth and every other crack and cranny. Let it be known, he hasn’t peed on any of us since he was a month old.  My mom decided not to tell any of us until after the ceremony, which means Matt and I got our fair share of pee kisses.

At this point, the kids were beyond exhausted. They had already skipped two naps, yet somehow were as happy as could be. BUT, as you look through all the pictures and see Ty’s head down, just know, he is fast asleep. Nothing we did could keep that kid awake. He didn’t even get jostled when we would move him around and put him in different positions for pictures. There were a few moments he would randomly wake up and give us a few perfect, happy smiles, and then two seconds later his eyes would roll back and he would fall asleep again. It was impossible not to die laughing.

 

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There is a reason I have always tag Tyce’s pictures with the hashtag #thejourneyofty (The Journey of Ty). He is on quite the journey, touching lives along the way. So many people have had a hand in bringing him home to us. My eyes are pouring, right now, as I think back on the last 7 months. I think of my parents who dropped everything when I called them that beautiful Sunday in September, without any warning, to tell them that our baby boy was being born right then. Right away, my dad jumped online to look at plane tickets for us and canceled all of his plans for the week so that he could fly to Arkansas with me so that I wasn’t alone. My Aunt Dana, who was so excited, she picked us up from the airport in Kansas City, and took me shopping for baby clothes, and then drove us the 6 hours to Little Rock and back. Matt’s mom, who came and spent a week and a half with me and the kids in the NICU, after my dad and Matt had to go home, and then helping me fly home. And then of course to so many of you who donated help to us after we encountered some unexpected costs. Some of you I barely knew, but I think and pray for you all daily. Thank you for being so in-tune with the spirit and answering our prayers so that we could get home. You all have a special place in my heart. And this is just a few of the people that are apart of Tyce’s Journey. Really, that doesn’t even brush the surface. Tyce’s Journey has been a remarkable one. I can’t express the appreciation I have to you all for believing in him and in us.

After the temple, my parents took everyone to Los Hermanos in celebration. Because let’s be honest, nothing says celebration like one of their fresh (virgin) Pina Coladas. It was so much fun to sit and visit with everyone. What a blessing it is to call these people my family. The legacy that they have paved makes me want to be a better person. Their example, love and compassion brings me to my knees. Family to me, isn’t just bodies to take up space, but spirits that come together to mold us as individuals. I am so lucky to be a part of a group of people that holds family above all.

Thank you everyone that helped make this day unforgettable. I can’t say enough how truly blessed we feel. What a reaffirming testimony that, “families can be together forever.” I’m sure glad I get to spend forever with this bunch.

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***I need to express my love and gratitude to both Emma Matheson Photography and Kurns Photography. Emma had taken our family pictures the week before we adopted Tyce. When she found out we had another addition, she immediately volunteered to take new family pictures for us with our handsome little guy. AND THEN, the wonderful Courtney Kurns volunteered to help take pictures for us at the temple, right after getting arm surgery, so we would have pictures to commemorate this day. I love you both and am in love with my forever keep sakes you gave me! Thank you! 

Picture Credits:

Emma Matheson Photography

Kurns Photography

 

We’re Finally Finalized! The newest Bosen

There are very few reasons going to court is a good thing. My car accident last year… not so much! Yet, April 13, 2016 will be forever marked as the day I looked forward to appearing in court, because it meant that Tyce is¬†legally my son.

I was so full of emotion yesterday that I had to wait until today to be able to express the gratitude and love I feel in my heart. My mom worded it perfectly:

Who said you can’t have a fantabulous sunshiny day when it’s raining? Today a judge bound all of the bazillions of heartstrings that I’ve had wrapped around my little peanut, to an official, legal document! Tyce is not just tied to my heart for eternity, but LEGALLY my grandson! I love you, Aubree, Matthew, Tae, and Tyce!¬†¬†‚Ä™#‚Äéadoptionrocks‚Ĩ¬†‚Ä™#‚Äéthejourneyofty‚Ĩ¬†‚Ä™#‚Äéthereignoftae‚Ĩ¬†‚Ä™#‚Äéfamiliesareforever‚Ĩ¬†‚̧

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I’ve been waiting for so long to get my picture with the Judge!! My kids may be looking in different directions and Tyce’s drool may be slowly dripping down my shirt, BUT This is exactly what I wanted.¬†

All morning, Tyce was giggles and smiles. He woke up earlier than normal and just wanted me to cuddle with him. He kept looking up at my face and stroking my cheek. It was like he knew it was a big day. Taelynn on the other hand, was my somber queen. It was like she could feel the intensity and impact that this day would bring. During the whole court proceeding my normally busy bee sat on my moms lap and quietly waited.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but finalizing an adoption was a really neat¬†experience! I felt like I was doing Mock Trial all over again, except it was real, and I wasn’t trying to put someone in jail. My awesome mom came to celebrate with us and help us watch Taelynn. We¬†met our Lawyer,¬†K. Paul MacArthur from MHM Law Offices, at the Provo court house. I didn’t know I could like lawyers until I met Paul MacArthur. He brought us into the court room and we went and sat up front in the defendant chairs.

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Our wonderful Attorney, K. Paul MacArthur from MHM Law Offices

We talked for a little bit and he gave us some of the questions he would be asking us. Then, the Bailiff walked in¬†and¬†said, “All rise for the Honorable Judge David Mortensen.” And in walks our judge with his fancy black robe.

Matt and I each got our own microphones to answer the questions. I went first and was asked questions along the lines of, “When did you get married? When is your birthday? When was Tyce under your custody? Why did we want to adopt?… ect.”¬†¬†Then it was ¬†Matts turn. He was asked, “Do you agree with everything your wife said?” :/¬†really? haha

At this point, Judge Mortensen declared us fit to be parents legally and lawfully to Tyce. He said that they used to have him stamp the legal documents to make it official, which made it really dramatic, but now it is all electronic so he just has to click a button. BUT for our benefit, when he clicked the button he yelled out, “BOOM!” He then gave us a document with the Fourth District Court Seal, where he had written out his thoughts on adoption. I will keep this document forever. In one part he quoted a book entitled The Soul of Adoption, by Catherine E. Polman, saying:

“Adoption is an exquisite grafting of humankind. For both the birth and adoptive parents it is a defining transition, a deliberate lunge beyond childbearing. For the child it is permanent relocation accompanied by the hope of increased opportunity…Successful participants learn to comprehend the needs of everyone involved and afford those individuals freedom to choose and grow in ways consistent with their unique personalities and talents. Boundless and unwavering love can develop. “

I love this because my family has been grafted like an Olive tree. My family tree now includes branches grafted into the trunk making it bigger and stronger. It may not have all grown from one seed, but the new additions work with the old and grow from each other. However, they cannot grow strong and tall and straight without proper care and love and devotion. But just like any tree, the branches are all different shapes and sizes. (Thank you for letting me get cheesy for a moment).

Afterward, the Judge was gracious enough to let us take some pictures with him to mark this historic day for us. And just like that, Tyce is legally a Bosen.

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Tyce Mitchell Kabua Bosen

 

To celebrate, we went to the BYU Creamery for some Ice cream. We were a little notty and let our kiddos have a bite because it was a special day. Taelynn may have gotten a little carried away…. Tyce on the other hand, not a fan!

 

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***A special thanks to MHM Law Offices. They were the most honest, helpful, caring people and I am so glad we got to work with them.

 

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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