Why I love my birthday…

I feel a little bit like a 2nd grader writing that title.

But, being born in December I have always had a stressful relationship with my birthday. I’ve even played with the idea of moving it 6 months so that I get presents twice a year, but that idea was a non starter.

I’ve spent my fair share of birthdays at Christmas parties, or taking final exams. I’ve gotten more than a few birthday/Christmas presents over the years. Combine these things with a childhood spent caring WAY too much what other people thought of me, and an obsession with being “cool” and it meant that most birthdays were a mix of both excitement…and disappointment.

For example…one year, my mom used those trick candles on my cake that you blow out and they re-light. I’m sure she thought they’d be funny…but they caused me so much anxiety that in a moment of panic I ended up spitting on my cake just to get them out. I was like 9 or 10 but I still remember that feeling…it felt like everyone was laughing at me for being so dumb that I couldn’t put them out…but also being mortified because I had ruined the cake for everyone.

While childhood birthdays were stressful, adult birthdays were a full on anxiety inducer. Suddenly I was far from home and no one was obligated to celebrate me on my special day. Should I tell people my birthday was coming? Would people plan something for me or should I? Did the people I called friends even love me enough to take time during finals week to acknowledge my birth? Would anyone buy me presents?

There was this one year my sweet cousin drove to campus to spend my birthday with me and make me feel special….which it totally did…and it was good she came up, because she ended up having to take me to the hospital where I would spend the next week fighting off a double kidney infection.

So yeah, the birthday and me have had a bit of a love hate relationship…and honestly while I don’t mind at all getting older…I had come to dread my birthdays a bit.

And then one year things changed.

On December 13th 2013 Ian and I sat in a courtroom and listened as Andrew’s dying mother surrendered her parental rights, making the way for us to adopt him. She was so sick at this point she couldn’t make it to the courthouse and she had to call in to make her statement. We listened over the speakerphone as she shared why she was making the choice, and why she had chosen us.

Less than a month later she had left this earth to be with her Savior.

I remember sitting in that courtroom…my mind swimming with thoughts of sadness and gratitude and an overwhelming sense that this woman was giving me not just my greatest birthday present ever…but the thing her heart treasured the most.

It was beautifully awful and the most painfully joyous thing to experience. To be trusted this much…with something so precious…but to know that loss was the thing paving the way for me to receive this gift.

4 years later we were sitting in the middle of the week that rocked our world. It had been a few days since we had found out about the pregnant young lady that wanted to know if we might adopt her baby, and we hadn’t shared anything with Andrew yet because we didn’t want to get him excited until we knew for sure. Then we got the text “I’m due the 17th.

4 days away

So last year on my birthday we told Andrew he might be a big brother…in 4 days. We spent the day getting fingerprints and background checks and filling out paperwork. We walked around Target staring at bottles and car seats and diapers unable to make any sort of decision we were so overwhelmed. We went to dinner with friends…most of which had no idea what was happening…and had quite, secret conversations with those that did.

Last year’s birthday was another jumble of emotions; excitement, joy, fear, uncertainty, grief. It was a day where I found myself deeply aware of the incredible calling placed on my life…to be mom, in the absence of mom.

This year, my birthday feels different. I’m not worried about how we’re going to celebrate, or who will show up. I don’t care about the gifts or the cake. I have just found myself reflecting on this life, on this family I’ve been given, on the children I’ve been entrusted with.

Before, I loved my birthday because of gifts and parties and things being all about me…but now I love my birthday because it’s this reminder that in an instant life can change. Grief can turn to joy, fear to peace, and loss to overwhelming blessing.

This year has been hard, and it’s easy to remember that, to remember the hard. But looking towards my birthday this year has brought me so much joy as I remember two of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

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The Conclusion…for now

Ok, I’m back with the last bit of the story of how Ezra came to us…keep in mind it isn’t wrapped up all nice and neatly at the end…there are still things that are uncertain; legal documents that need signed, and a last name that needs changed, before he is fully ours in the eyes of the law…but, spoiler alert, he is already fully ours in our hearts…this is just the conclusion of our journey to one another…

“He’s here!” A strange voice spoke on the other end of the phone, she told me what hospital and that baby and birth mom were both doing great, and she would like us to come to the hospital. I got off the phone and looked at my dad and older son…we were packing up a pack-n-play at my aunts house which would serve as baby’s bed until we could get a basinet or crib…I don’t remember much after that point, I guess I drove home, waited for Ian to get there, called my mom I think…it’s all kind of a blur…I just kept thinking, “did she say he?”

When Ian got home we rushed to the hospital and made it there before she was even in her room. We went to a waiting area and I can not even describe the emotions and fear and anxiety flowing through me…and then I saw them…I won’t ever forget that moment. We were sitting in a waiting area…trying to decide just how long to wait before checking the room again to see if they were there…and then I saw a stretcher start to come down the other end of the hall followed by a baby in one of those weird plastic cribs they put babies in at the hospitals. As they got closer I saw it was birth mom. I stood up, exchanged a few words with her to see how she was and tell her we’d be to the room soon…and then I saw him.

 

He was perfection!

The first moment I saw him the desire to run over to him and touch him, to sweep him into my arms and kiss his face was so incredibly intense…but it was tempered by uncertainty and a desire to respect this young woman…so instead I watched him pass by with out touching him, sat back down, and waited until it was appropriate to join them in the room. The entire time I felt like my whole being…not just my heart…was just going to explode out of me.

When we finally got to the room there were other people there…a friend of hers and some teachers that had supported her through her pregnancy…I felt so awkward. But, they immediately greeted us at the parents and were so excited both for her and us and over this little baby boy. I spent that evening in awe of this young woman as she gushed over her little boy, telling him how beautiful and perfect he was, how much she loved him…and then asking us what we wanted to name him, telling us she’d already signed all the paperwork so we could stay at the hospital with him, asking us what we wanted on some medical decisions that needed to be made…I found myself in awe of how selflessly she was loving this little boy.

When we told her the name we liked, everyone in the room agreed…it was a good strong name, and it was perfect…baby boy became Ezra Dante.

I don’t know how to put the hospital experience into words really. I think I experienced a full range of human emotion during that time. The moment I held him I felt peace and wholeness…he fit and my arms didn’t ever want to let him go, it was like my arms missed him the minute he left them…the moments I had to leave him to spend time with birth mom my heart wanted to spin out of control into fear and anxiety…the first time a nurse left him with Ian and I and walked out of the room I found myself wondering if I really could do this…then I’d walk by the nurses station to ask a question and they’d refer to me as Ezra’s mom, or us as the adoptive parents and the joy would bubble up in my heart…but when the nurse came in and told me we would be going home in 2 hours I have to admit I got hit with a wave of overwhelming everything…fear birth mom would change her mind, anxiety that I didn’t know what to do, excitement and joy because soon I would be walking out of that hospital with my baby boy and taking him home!

It’s been a month and a half since we stood out front of that hospital and said goodbye to Ezra’s birth mom…crazy how something can feel like it just happened, but also feel so long ago…there were hugs and words of gratitude and so many tears. Then we put him in the car and brought him home for the first time ever.

There are still so many emotions…it’ll be 6 months before the adoption is finalized and he has our last name…which means that I find myself hit by waves of fear, anxiety, and doubt daily. But our hearts decided not to wait 6 months…we have completely fallen in love with this little guy…the newest Dizon!

There is so much more to the story…because so much of it hasn’t even been lived out yet…but this is where we end for now…Ezra in our home and in our hearts.

The Continuation

“Would you be interested in adopting her baby?”

I don’t remember much of the conversation that followed…I remember asking some basic questions about her. She was young, very far along in her pregnancy…we were told 8 months at the time…and she was in need of a family for the baby she had decided to give up for adoption months before. There is more to be told of course, more layers to the story, more to why us and why then…but to go into those things is to wade into the waters of someone else’s story…and not for me to tell.

As I heard the words “would you be interested in adopting her baby,” something happened in my heart, it was like a jolt of energy pulsed right through it…and I knew…I knew the answer was yes.

I saw the months of heartbreak, the desire for a child I had wrestled with, the grief of loosing a child, and the preparation of my heart for an infant…something I had never been fully confident in wanting before…in an instant, something deep inside of me knew…and all I could think was, “this is what we have been waiting for.

Ian and I left the conversation and I did the only thing I could think to do…I ran to find my best friend. I found her husband instead, “What do you need her for?” he asked “EMOTIONAL SUPPORT!” I said as I ran off to call her.

I don’t remember much of our conversation over the phone…except there were both tears and laughter…and sooooo much excitement…as she reminded me she had predicted this was how Dizon #2 would come to us one day…and encouragement that I could do this, that Ian and I could do this, and that we wouldn’t be doing it alone.

The next several days are a blur. We got in touch with the adoption agency we used with Andrew. They reassured us that 8 months pregnant meant we would have to work fast, but that it was possible to get us certified in time and they would work with us to make it happen…then when we found out she was actually due in just a few days, we all scrambled to get background checks done and paperwork in to make it the impossible happen. Ian and I started to pick out car seats, bottles, diapers, and to communicate to the people in our lives that NEEDED to know that a big change could be coming…all while not yet having met Ezra’s birth mom or even really knowing if this was for real.

I was riding an emotional roller coaster of uncertainty and excitement. Maternal instincts were kicking in and I wanted to prepare for my child…but was this my child…it was happening so fast I needed to prepare for this child…but if it wasn’t my child wouldn’t it just hurt too bad if I began preparing and dreaming and hoping…if I didn’t prepare and it was my child how would we get home from the hospital, or change diapers, or feed…basically my mind and emotions were everywhere.

Saturday…one week after the conversation that changed my life…we met birth mom.

We left the meeting reassured that this truly was what she wanted for her child, and completely impressed by how selflessly she loved the baby growing inside of her. It seemed that a baby was coming our way soon…so we ordered a car seat, bought some diapers, grabbed some basic things from my cousin, cleaned the house, and did all the laundry…we did everything we could think of and manage to do as quickly as we could do it to prepare for what may happen…at this point it’s worth noting that we had all decided that baby was a girl and dreams of pink and sweet dresses were part of the preparation.

Then Sunday we got a phone call…he was here!

…to be continued…again…I know, it’s just cruel…but the next part is already written this time…I’ll post next Tuesday.

Featured image by Michaella Photography the last image by me 🙂

 

Is it harder?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel, closing this joint down, and pretending like this blog never even happened. Because, my life isn’t that interesting, and what could I really even have to say, and being open with all of you is HARD!

And then, as I’m going about my day something strikes me. A thought, a phrase, a situation that brings my heart joy or deep grief…and I find myself wanting to share this thing with you, to encourage you or challenge you…maybe sometimes even to make you laugh.

So, after weeks of silence this is where I find myself, with a thought that I want to share with you so badly that I’ve decided to allow you to see into my heart a little bit.

I have had this thought for a week or so…or this stream of thoughts really…about adoption, and parenting, and teenagers…I feel like I’m ALWAYS sharing about this, but this is my reality so it probably is going to be something I talk about…anyways, back to the thought.

It began as I left a brief conversation with a kind and loving woman that left me a bit unsettled…not angry and not hurt, it’s just that something about the conversation didn’t sit right with me…it’s a conversation I’ve had before, and the words she said I will most likely hear again.

“Adopting a teenager is such a hard thing to do.”

Why does this statement bug me so much? It’s true. Adopting a teenager is hard. But, I think what bugs me about it is the implication that adopting a teenager is somehow harder than adopting an infant, a child, or having a biological child…but is it?

Is there some sort of scale I don’t know about, some sort of system for quantifying and measuring the difficulties of parenting that I have been left in the dark about? Do biological moms sit around discussing their child raising and the one that has it the easiest gets some sort of all expenses paid trip to a private island, and poor me doesn’t even get to be in the running for it because I adopted a teenager (insert dramatic music here)!?!

Sure, there are things that are harder. Walking through his grief and trauma with him is hard. When behavioral issues arise, weeding through what’s learned, what’s instinctive, and what’s teenager is challenging.

The moment I became a mom was hard. It wasn’t simply an elated moment of joy where the child I had spent 9 months growing and loving finally arrived. Instead it was a moment where the child I had spent years praying for and loving from a distance was finally here, and that moment of joy was shared with deep grief, because to acknowledge me as mom means to recognize the loss of the two moms that came before me. The moment I became his mom meant choosing to open my heart fully, to love him with abandon as a mom should, and then to grow into that in time…and to pray he would choose to love me back…it is still a bit terrifying! So yeah, that’s hard.

But, how do I quantify if this is harder than parenting any other child, if these pains are worse than having the child of your womb telling you they hate you…because I’m pretty sure that HURTS!!!

Then, this week, clarity came in the form of a shared video on FaceBook and I heard these beautiful words…

“Healthy seems easier, healthy seems normal, healthy seems nice. What I didn’t know then is that easy, and normal, and nice would do little to make me a better and more complete human being.” Heather Avis watch the video here

Those two sentences welled up a crazy mix of emotions in my heart and I found myself overwhelmed with grief and joy…seriously, I can’t even write about it or re-watch the video without becoming a crying mess…they are written not about teenagers, but about adoption in general, and adopting children with special needs specifically. But, they spoke so clearly to my heart because I suddenly realized why that statement above had bothered me so much…

IT’S A LIE

It’s not harder…it’s scarier, more complicated, messier, and abnormal.

But so many of us have bought into the lie that somehow adopting older children is harder. Adopting children with special needs is harder. And when faced with the opportunity or the challenge this is the lie that many of us tell ourselves to justify inaction…I’m so guilty of this when it comes to special needs.

But, the truth is, our lives were never meant to be about easy, simple, or normal. 

My mom-ness may be more complicated than most. I may not have memories of my child as an infant or toddler. I didn’t hear his first words, or see when he took his first steps. I wasn’t there to send him off to his first day of school. But I have been given an incredible gift. Because when those moments come when I’m discouraged…as they do for all parents…when I feel inadequate, and like there’s no way I can be the parent I need to be, there is a sudden gust of wind that rushes in and lifts me back up and reminds me…I was chosen for this…I was chosen for him…he was chosen for me.

Is adopting a teenager hard…yes. Is raising a young man hard…yes! Is being a parent hard…YES!

But this was never meant to be about simple and easy. Because what growth, what depth, what demonstration of true love ever came out of simple and easy?

…HOPE…

I’ve been seeing lots of posts in the last week about people choosing 1 word to define their 2017…I guess it’s the new resolution…and while at first I thought it was a little bit silly and a bit lazy…how much easier is it to pick a word than set an actual goal…but then I realized that I have a word…HOPE.

It’s not a magical word that suddenly became meaningful or important as the clock struck midnight on 12/31/2016…in fact my most recent tattoo and a recent blog post Faith>Fear are both focused on HOPE…but it is the word I want to hold on to as I walk boldly into 2017.

Four years ago Ian and I were waiting for a child. We didn’t know how God would choose to bring this child to us…but we knew there would be a child. We didn’t know when He would bring our child to us…but we knew there would be a child.

 And then sometimes I didn’t know…sometimes I doubted. Sometimes I felt it would never happen…the obstacles seemed too great. Sometimes fear took over and it drove out hope and I found myself afraid to even speak my desires for fear of the pain that would come with failure.

One night Ian and I had the privilege of speaking with a couple that had adopted. They shared their story with us, it was powerful and incredible, but then at the end of the conversation the husband said something that spoke straight to my heart…and continues to run through my mind over and over…

“Don’t be afraid to hope.”

That moment changed my heart. I decided to share with people the things God had put on my heart, I began to speak openly about our path to pursue adoption. When God began to place specifics on our hearts about a 12 year old boy, HOPE is what gave me the boldness to pray for my child, to begin to write him letters, and to share with others to pray for him…because I knew there was a child.

Our boy would have come to us even if I doubted…but would I have been ready for him, would I have been so quick to answer the call…how many people got to see this AMAZING thing God did, because I choose not to be afraid…because I choose to HOPE.

A few months ago “don’t be afraid to HOPE” began playing in my head again…over and over and over…I don’t know if this is the year we grow. I don’t know when or where the next Dizon is coming from, I don’t know how old…or even how many…their will be this time…but I know there will be more children.

I will not be afraid to HOPE!
I will cling to HOPE with all my might!

I will remind myself that my HOPE lies outside of life’s circumstances, that my HOPE is constant and steady, that with all 2017 throws at me…good, bad, disappointing, joyous, and painful…that HOPE will remain.

This may seem crazy to some of you…most of you…but I know I have more children, I know some of them are already in this world and my heart is sick from waiting for them…but I will HOPE and I will trust God’s perfect timing.

Please join my family as we pray for direction, timing, and provision on bringing more of our children home. Step 1 is finishing the basement so we have room for more.

This Christmas

It’s December! The cold has arrived…kind of…snow has fallen…a little…Christmas lights are going up all over the neighborhood, the shopping has begun, the Christmas worship rehearsals have begun…goodbye lazy Sunday afternoons as a family…and the plans for Christmas Day have begun.

So far, this holiday season has been the hardest on my boy. I don’t know if it’s because it will be just the three of us this Christmas…no big trips to London or grandparents visiting…or if it’s because he’s getting older and emotionally processing the losses he’s experienced differently…or if it’s simply because with time he’s finally allowing himself to remember and to miss those he’s lost.

All I know is that my boy misses mom #2.

She LOVED Christmas! She loved decorating, went all out with décor and throw pillows and lights all over the house.

I am just not that person.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, I’m just not a major decorator. I have some simple decorations I put around the house…and then forget about and leave out the whole year…sometimes we put some lights around outside…but I don’t have throw pillows and garlands don’t hang gracefully from my ceiling.

Andrew misses that. He misses the decorations and the garlands and Christmas throw blankets…because they remind him of his mom and his Grandma…and they are who he really misses. He wishes he could have just one more Christmas with them. One more Christmas full of tradition and routine…because his Christmases now are anything but routine and we have weird traditions…

As mom #3 I find myself in this awkward place of being fully mom…but also not…sometimes I find myself wondering what mom #2 would have done…if she would have been better at handling a situation…and this Christmas I have found myself wondering if I should be better at decorating to fill that spot in his hurting heart.

I want to help his hurts, to fix his pains…but these are hurts that can not be fixed, they can heal but they will forever leave scars, they will forever be tender spots in his heart…even if our house turns into Santa’s workshop it will still hurt…it may even make it hurt worse, because it would be me pretending to be her

So instead I bought him a tree for his bedroom…I set it up for him so that when he came home from school it was there and ready to be decorated…because I wanted him to know I love him and I wanted his heart to find comfort, and I thought that instead of me pretending if it was him finding joy in decorating his space it might be healing…he loved it!

But then…

I get all ugly on him because he wants lights to hang all over his room, and he wants to use lights I had planned for decorating the porch…yeah right like that will happen…and he asks if he can get some of those $3 wired lights from the dollar spot at Target and I suddenly transform from loving mom to selfish beast…I grinched outwhy would I buy more lights when we have a box downstairs that work perfectly fine you just don’t like the color and you’ll just have to use what’s there…he leaves to go back upstairs and “make do” with what we have.

He doesn’t give me attitude or get yucky back at me, he just says ok and walks away…but I can see the disappointment on his face.

And that’s when the quite, peaceful, and loving voice inside me starts to talk to me…why did you do that? Isn’t it the most important thing that he knows you care, that you see his pain and that you are a place of comfort? Are your things and plans really more important to you than bringing his heart joy? Just spend the $9 to make his heart glad!

So, we went and got him lights and now it looks like Christmas exploded inside of his room!

As mom #3 I recognize how easy it would have been for this child to take the stance that he already has a mom…two in fact…and to lock me out of his heart.

I am so grateful for my boy who has a heart open to all three of his moms. He calls us all mom…he says things like my mom before this, or my birth mom, or this mom so casually it both blesses and breaks my heart…he loves us all for different reasons and in different ways, but he loves us all as his moms…and the weight of this is not lost on me…even when I have grinchy moments!

“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy & depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”
-Joy Landers

Step away from the pit…

Good news everybody…I have decided to step away from the deep dark pit of loneliness and self pity that I was sitting on the edge of this past week…mind you I was not in the pit wallowing in the sludge at the bottom, I was just sitting on the edge…what was so horrible about last week you might ask…great questionmy hubby was on the other side of the world, just about as far away from me as it is possible to be on this earth. And, yes I am one of those girls that no longer sleeps when he’s away because I just miss him too much…not really sure when I became this personbut now he has returned, hooray, and I have decided to step away from the pit.

Upon my departure I realized that I have lost my focus a bit the last couple of weeks…I feel like I JUST wrote about this, am I seriously back here again so soon!?! I’ve kind of forgotten my purpose, forgotten why I started this adventure in the first place, and lost a bit of my brand identity in the process. I’ve gotten really caught up in the hustle of opening a shop, the anxiety of watching statistics and waiting for sales, the excitement of seeing them rise and sales come in, and the confusion of seeing them drop.

So, I’ve spent most of this week focusing not on designing or making jewelry, but on the businessy stuff of owning a creative business. Oh the businessy stuff…businessy is not a real word but please humor meit is the stuff of my nightmares and my #2 enemy in this venture…the post office was #1 but having conquered that enemy the sewing machine has moved into the #1 spotI’m just not really very inclined to business type things.

Historically I have done best at jobs with flexible schedules, lots of human interaction, lots of moving around and changing tasks constantly. I’ve worked as a secretary twice in my life both times for a couple of months, and both times the end of the job felt like the release from some sort of punishment that consisted of sitting in a chair, staring at a wall, and listening to the same stupid music all day…one of these jobs was working for my aunt and I feel I need to share that I loved the people, loved working with my aunt and cousin, but hated the desk, the chair, and the phone! I drank SO MUCH COFFEE when I worked there; it was like I was trying to drown my boredom with caffeine.

So this past Monday morning I made a giant pot of coffee and got right down to it. I started at the beginning…asking myself why I started doing this in the first place…who am I making this jewelry for…why jewelryand then I worked my way through my websites and blog and FB page and Instagram accounts, I evaluated my products, my packaging, my photos, about sections, shipping information, checked all my links…and now I have a list of things that I need to fix, adjust, change, and redo.

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Detail from my chalkboard…ADOPTION…every day it seems I want this more…I’m ready for the rest of our kids!

Basically, at the end of a very thorough audit of all things businessy I have a long…seemingly endlesslist of more businessy things I need to do. …but instead of being overwhelmed and stressed and discouraged by it I find I have drive…and even a bit of excitementto plow on and do it…and I think it’s because I started at the beginning.

Frippery House began…because I love making jewelry…actually I love making anything I can, but pretty rocks are so fun! 

Frippery House began…because I wanted to have a source of income that can go directly towards growing my home…adoptions.

Frippery House began…because there are things that God has put on my heart for the future with working in missions again and I believe this is step one.

Frippery House began…because being a SAHM is what is right for my family right now but there’s a lot of alone time involved…and me bored is just BAD news.

Frippery House began…because I believe God uses our stories to inspire, encourage, and transform lives, because I love people, I love the people in my life and their stories, I am inspired and changed by their stories…business allows me the platform and opportunity to share these stories with others.

Before I pounced on my to do list I sat down with my newly acquired chalkboard…It’s a precious gift from the Treus, made by Brandon and used by Ernie, and fortunately for me unable to travel to Irelandand I wrote down all the reasons for Frippery House, all the things I need to personally remember. And, you know what’s not on there…numbers! There’s not one reason for Frippery House related to sales, stats, likes, follows, or shares. Sure, I have business goals for sales and such…but numbers have nothing to do with why I stepped out into entrepreneur life.

At the heart of my business is people and stories…Love is at the heart of Frippery House….I don’t ever want to forget that.

For today I have learned this lesson, hopefully it sticks this time, I pray it takes root in my heart and I just live it out and don’t have to learn it again…but I’m human and I’ll probably need reminding, but the beautiful thing is that now I have all of you to remind me!

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I did find a bit of time for the creative this week and I finished up a design I’ve been working on for a few weeks. I’ve had several requests for the very popular the Ernie but smaller. This 18″ necklace with a delicate mini spoon is precious…meet the Mini Ernie. 

Available now on FripperyHouse.com