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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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