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.

 

The Importance of a Name

Choosing a name for our kids has been very important to Matt and I. We put a lot of thought into it, and make sure that there is a story behind it.

The day after we were sealed to Tyce, Matt was able to give him a fathers blessing in which he gave Tyce his official name that would be kept in the records of the church. Taelynn received her blessing in August, just a couple months after she was born. (I didn’t have a blog then, so you get to hear about both of our little miracles.)

The name we chose for Tyce is Tyce Mitchell Kabua Bosen. 

A lot of people have asked me where we came up with the name, so here is your answer. Since I was in elementary school Ty has always been my favorite boys name. I knew that my first boy was going to carry that name. When I think of the name, I think of power and culture. I also feel that it is a gentle, yet manly name. I could see a baby with that name and I could see an adult with that name. I didn’t want it to be Tyler or Tyson or any of the other names that could be shortened to Ty because that just wasn’t fitting. I just wanted Ty.

When I was living in Russia, one of the girls that I was living with was telling me about her friend Tyce. I had never heard that before and I really liked it! I still had the ability to say Ty, but it added some more… character. So I locked it into my name bank.

When Matt and I got married, I had three girls names and 3 boys names. I gave him full veto power if he didn’t like one, but to my surprise he only vetoed one of the names. It worked out though, because I wasn’t fully invested in the name he did veto. But, we did know that our first girl would be Taelynn and our first boy would be Tyce. I’ll explain her name in a little bit. So now that we knew their first names it came time to middle names.

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Originally, we had a different middle name picked out for Tyce. I won’t reveal it here, because I still want to use it in the future, and I want that person to be surprised when they find out our child is named after them. 🙂 BUT, when I was on the plane to Arkansas, I was sitting next to my dad, and he had a way about him that was making me feel so at peace. Here I was, in the most stress filled situation, and my dad was completely calm and supportive; knowing exactly what to say. He never questioned Matt or I, but instead, trusted our instinct and the spiritual promptings we had received. After we landed, my dad went to gather our luggage and I was standing back with Taelynn. I called up Matt and asked him what he thought about making Tyce’s middle name Mitchell (My dad’s name is Glade Mitchell). He said he loved it and that was that. The name Mitchell to us stands for hard work, integrity, love, trust, devotion and spiritual strength. Those are all things we hope for Tyce.

As we got closer and closer to the finalization day, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from Tyce’s name. It didn’t feel complete. I was talking to his birth mom one day and learned more about her last name Kabua. The name Kabua comes from Kabua the Great, renowned paramount chief. To date, the two RMI presidents (Republic of the Marshall Islands), are grandsons of Kabua the Great. Well, being part of a culture that loves genealogy, I thought this was really neat. So we gave Tyce the second middle name, Kabua, in honor of his birth mom. The name for us stands for love, sacrifice, family, culture and heritage.  And just like that, his name felt complete.

We can’t forget my little Taelynn Fedelina. When I was younger, I used to baby sit a little girl named Taelyn. It was such a fun time. She was the most ADORABLE baby, and I loved the responsibility of taking care of a baby. Her family was incredible and I only have happy memories when I think of the time we lived next to them. That name has always stayed with me because it was a time that I learned responsibility and I guess you could say, my motherly instinct came out.

BUT, what made it even more special is that it carried the name Lynn as part of it. My mother’s middle name is Lynn and she then gave me the middle name Lynn. So I guess you could say it is tradition. On top of that, my grandma’s name is Carolyn. Both my grandma and my mom are two of the most influential people in my life. From them I learned service, love, gratitude, friendship…you name a good quality and those two woman possess it.

But, while we are going off the importance of the name Lynn, we have to add Matt’s grandpa into the mix (because not everyone can be named after my family! hahaha!) Matt’s paternal grandpa is also named Lynn. Talk about packing meaning into a name.

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Fedelina, this name came to me shortly before I gave birth. I knew that Taelynn was already named after my mom and my paternal grandma, but it didn’t feel right leaving out the third most influential person in my life, my Grandma Esther, my maternal grandmother. She grew up catholic and as such, has several names. I tried to memorize them once, but I don’t fully remember all of them (she didn’t remember all of them right away either, so I feel a little better). One of her middle names is Frieda. However, my grandma is Spanish, so if you were to say Freida in spanish it would be Fedelina. How beautiful is that?! So of course, it had to be. So, Tae may hate us when she has to fill in the little bubbles to write her name on tests in the future, but I feel like it will all be worth it. Those names stand for courage, love, charity, honesty, virtue, devotion, love, hard work, perseverance, a little bit of stubbornness but most of all family. (I kind of sound like I am checking off the Young Woman’s theme…)

*****

I don’t think there is anything more powerful than watching all these strong influential men in your life, standing around your child in a wall of protection, giving a blessing to my most precious gifts. Both times I have been able to experience this with my children my heart has burst, as I feel at peace that my kids will always be protected and watched over. I don’t know if all of you men know the gentle power you have. I sincerely thank you, for honoring your priesthood and using it to bless and protect my children.

Matt gives the most beautiful blessings, and I am so glad that I have friends and family members that were smart enough to record them. I can’t wait to let Taelynn and Tyce listen to them in the future. As a mom, there is something so heart warming about listening to your husband, the father of your children, talk to God and ask our Heavenly Father to grant these blessings on our babies. What is more attractive than a father that loves his children beyond comprehension?!

I felt like I was in the movie, The Lion King, after the blessing was finished. Matt lifts our children in the air, presenting them to the ward, and you can hear a rumble of happiness and “awe’s.” You can bet that puts a proud smile on my face.

Of course a celebration isn’t the same without food, so afterwards we went to our house and served up our take on Cafe Rio salads. (Anyone that knows me, is that even a surprise?)

Blessing days are my happy days! Family, Food and Perfect Babies! Thank you all for helping us celebrate our wonderful children!

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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