Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Book Advent (A Review)

I love Pinterest. I find so many awesome ideas on there and usually come away feeling really inspired. I can't spend too much time on there, because it's literally a time-suck for me. I can go on and spend HOURS just pinning and looking at awesome things that others have pinned.

In October, I came across something called "Book Advent" where you wrap 24 books (usually Christmas/holiday related) and each night as you wait for Christmas, you open a book and read it together. Since I'm doing the Scholastic Book Orders for Gus's class, I decided to start stocking up on books in October and November so that I'd have all the books needed for December.

I really enjoyed this project. I will definitely do it again next year and I think Gus really enjoyed it too. I made sure to take pictures every night to document our month of waiting. Enjoy!

It was super easy to do, and it really got Gus excited for Christmas. He loved unwrapping his gift each night and was full of excitement to see what the book would be. 

After we read each night, I put the book into a bucket and it became our Christmas bucket. We now have 25 books in our Christmas bucket and I can easily pull it out for Gus and Hugh in November of next year.

I HIGHLY recommend using Scholastic Reading Club to get your books, as they're super affordable and in November, there are TONS of Christmas books to choose from!!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Our Visit with Bekka

Hugh and his birth mom and her three children

I've said it before, and I'll say it again :: WE ARE VERY BLESSED.

People often comment on how lucky Gus and Hugh are to have us, but the truth of the matter is, we're lucky to have them. We really are so fortunate, and the more I experience motherhood, the more I realize that God knows what He's doing. While I still am not at peace with being infertile (not sure if I ever will be... and no, I'm not going to just "get over it" as it's been suggested), I know that God placed Gus and Hugh into our family for a reason.

While I think Gus hangs the moon and stars, I have a different amazement and point of clarity when it comes to Hugh. Probably because I know a lot more about Hugh's conception and how his birth mom came to select us... but I feel so very connected to him, and to Bekka.

When we matched with Bekka back in July of 2012, we knew nothing about her and only went on faith through the whole process. She never told her children about her pregnancy and how it came to be that she was choosing adoption. She never told her mom or sister, and pretty much endured her pregnancy alone and with the support of anyone other than her significant other. While he was supportive to an extent, for the most part, she was alone. I tried to be there for her as much as I could (there's only so much you can do from afar and with someone you've never met), but it deepened our friendship and our relationship was very strong before Hugh even came into this world.

I believe, without a doubt, that Hugh was put on Earth for me and Steve. With Gus, I think Claire and Hunter thought about parenting, but the timing wasn't right. They were young, and in school, and it just wasn't something that would have been best for Gus. I'm thankful that they made the decision to place him. I sometimes wonder if they regret their decision to place and because of that, I feel guilty at times about being his mom.

With Hugh, it's completely different. I know Bekka had over 50 people contact her to adopt her unborn child. She went through an agency and looked at their profiles and went online and looked at profiles. She knew she was looking for something specific and until she found it, she wouldn't stop looking. Then she found us and she just knew we were the ones.

It makes me feel all warm inside to know that she had an epiphany and realized that we were the ones she was searching for. She didn't settle for us, and didn't see us as her only option. She was searching and we had exactly what she was looking for. It's quite amazing when I think about it.

While she was pregnant, we talked about everything. We talked about the uncomfortable topics that most adoptive parents and expectant moms don't discuss. We talked vaccines, discipline, medical backgrounds, thoughts on openness and communication, and we talked about how we both came to be together as a match and soon-to-be family connected by this precious baby.

I've written about it before, but when I walked into Bekka's hospital room, it was surreal. I had never met her before, but I felt cosmically connected to her. I know for a fact that God brought us together and I am humbled to have been able to be present for Hugh's first breath. What an incredible gift... most parents take it for granted, but as an adoptive mom, it's something I never thought I'd get to experience.

Obviously we were in NC for his birth and then stayed until we had ICPC clearance to go back to GA. We made the most of our time at the beach and enjoyed the views and loved having Steve's dad and Sue Ann come down and then my parents came down too. We had such a great time last year, that we decided to head back to the beach again this year and to make it an annual tradition.

We booked a beachfront condo back in June and I was so excited to head back to NC and to see Bekka again. I had missed her so much. I know she was nervous to come and see us, and I think it was a mix of excitement and just the anxiety that comes when seeing the child you placed again for the first time.

My parents met us at the condo on Saturday the 28th and we were there for a full week. It took us about seven hours to drive to NC and the boys did great in the car.

My mom and dad arrived right at dinner time and we were able to enjoy some time together before heading to bed. 

Sunday was spent relaxing and enjoying the view and then Monday was when Bekka and the kids came to visit.

Bekka had told me that she was coming with her youngest (Gabby--2.5) but wasn't sure if her older kids ("The Bigs") were going to come with her or not. She had asked her mom to come, but her step-dad had surgery and she was not going to be able to make it. 

Ever since Hugh was born, I've been asking if and when she was going to tell her kids about Hugh. She wanted to tell the bigs, but wasn't sure if they were ready. She had many conversations about adoption with them to feel them out, and each time, came back with signs that they just weren't ready.

So when she said she was coming with Gabby and Mariah (13)... and was going to tell her on the way down, I was nervous. She said it was time to tell them, and she wanted them to come and meet Hugh. She said Bailee (15) had wrestling practice and wouldn't be coming... but then on Monday, said he'd be coming too. She was going to tell them both on the way to the beach.

I was so antsy for her. I prayed that God helped her find the right words and that they be open and accepting of the news that Hugh wasn't Bekka's God Son, as she had been telling them, but that he was their brother.

They arrived around 2pm and it was so amazing to see her again after a year. I couldn't wait to hug her and just bask in the glow that she radiates. I just love her so much, and then it was even more amazing to finally meet her children.

I told my parents that she was bringing them, and that she was telling them about Hugh on the way to the beach. My mom is so wonderful with teenagers... I'm so thankful she was there with us and helped to make Bailee and Mariah comfortable. We talked about the big news and they said they were happy to meet Hugh and Gus. Mariah said she had figured it out a while ago and was just waiting for her mom to tell her the truth about Hugh... but Bailee had no idea.

It was amazing to be there to watch them meet Hugh and Gus and to really bond and connect with Hugh. I loved it.

 Instant connection

 I just adore this one... I love the way Bailee is looking at Hugh

 Mariah loves babies anyway, but really loves Hugh
 Gabby and Gus were immediately drawn to each other and formed a fast friendship

We spent the entire afternoon and evening laughing, and just soaking up the love that was saturating the air. It was so awesome to be there to watch the bigs interact with each other and Gabby, and then to add Hugh and Gus to the mix, was exceptional.

They spent the night and then Tuesday afternoon, we headed to the beach for some fun in the sun. My mom had a package that was being delivered for my dad (a surprise Christmas gift), so she waited in the condo while we headed to the beach.

 Hugh wasn't happy about sand on his feet and absolutely wanted NOTHING to do with sticking his feet into the Atlantic Ocean

 Funny how things change in just a year

 My dad had a great time playing with Gabby and Gus in the sand

 Everyone was playing on the beach and Bekka and I had time to just chat.-- it was so awesome

 Gus and his buddy, Gabby

 I love this picture and I love these kids!!

 I love this one because of her hand on his head. It's so simple, but so sweet at the same time.

 One of my most favorite pictures ever

After playing on the beach for a while, we headed back to the condo and it was soon time to say our goodbyes. We had hoped to see them again on Friday, but things didn't work as planned and we weren't able to see them again.

I'm so thankful that Bekka found the courage and strength to tell the bigs about Hugh. It would have been a completely different visit had they not known the truth about how we're all connected. My parents consider them family now, and I hope they consider "Gram and Pap" to be part of their family too.

We really enjoyed seeing them and hope to see them sooner than a year from now. We told Bekka that the door is always open for the bigs and Gabby to be part of Gus and Hugh's life. We want them to know that our open adoption includes them as well and we're all in this together.

We are just so blessed and so thankful that God brought us all together.