Monthly Archives: May 2012

Decorating DJ’s Room

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Someone pointed out the other day that getting ready for DJ is a bit like trying to compress nine months into a couple of weeks, and I wholeheartedly agree.

There have been so many things to do and to think about that life has felt a bit surreal. After fourteen years of it just being John and me, we will become a family of three!

But despite the years of waiting and preparing leading up to all of this, I’ve been in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed and unprepared ever since we found out that we were chosen to be DJ’s forever family. At the same time though, I’ve also been horribly impatient for him to be here.

One of our biggest projects has been transforming our former office/dogs room into a bedroom for a boy who is not quite a tween but not a little boy either.

My ever-industrious husband had a whole list of to-do’s before we could even start painting or buying furniture. He updated the outlets, added a ceiling fan, patched up the walls, fixed the windows, and refinished the floor. Meanwhile, I had the much easier tasks of searching Pinterest for decorating & furniture ideas and coming up with a color pallet for the room.

Decorating my child’s room has been a dream of mine for a long time. While part of me was a little disappointed that we wouldn’t be starting off with a nursery, I can honestly say that decorating DJ’s room has truly been a labor of love. I’m not normally much of a shopper, but I loved looking for things for DJ’s room. Here are some of my favorites:

Of course, once we finally started the painting, the city experienced a rather unusual heatwave, even for late May. The up-side was that we had a lot of time to listen to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball on the radio. (Normally, listening to the Pirates wouldn’t be very enjoyable, but they’re doing pretty well so far this season so we’re determined to enjoy it while it lasts. Let’s go Bucs!)

Here are some pics of our progress…we finished all of the painting this weekend and my awesome brother & sis-in-law installed the curtains (that my sis-in-law made herself!) on Monday.

So that’s all for now. Folks will have to wait for the big reveal since we’re not quite there yet. In the meantime, we’re keeping busy making our travel plans out west, finishing up the room, and making a big list of all of the great things that we’re going to do with DJ this summer.

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A Shower of Friends

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My First (Almost) Mother’s Day

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My first mother’s day as a mom…I can’t even type that without tearing up. For years I have anticipated the second Sunday of May with a mixture of gratitude for all of the great mothers in my life and despair because I still wasn’t a mom myself. But even though DJ isn’t here yet, this was a really wonderful Mother’s Day.

In the morning, I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Curewith several members of my family. While I was nervous about the weather (it is Pittsburgh so it was bound to be rainy & chilly regardless of how nice it has been lately), the event felt especially important this year since a good friend of my sis-in-law is battling breast cancer. I know from doing the walk in the past that it is a very humbling and empowering experience being surrounded by so many cancer survivors and their loved ones. I also felt really fortunate to be able to participate this year as a mom myself.

In the afternoon, my family threw us a book-themed shower for DJ. Like every event that my family plans, it was amazing! From my favorite flowers to the delicious food to the great decorations, I was really blown away.

Photo by Susie Puskar

Photo by Susie Puskar

One of the best parts was the “advice tree” that they made where all of the guests could pin their words of wisdom for John and me. As you might’ve guessed, the advice ranged from the profound to the silly. I was really touched by how often family members encouraged us to call on them when we needed help or encouragement. Our family has been so amazingly supportive throughout all of this, and I feel an immense sense of gratitude to all of them.

Some of the most poignant advice came from our nieces & nephews:

Play toys with him.

Don’t ask about girlfriends.

Be good at packing lunches.

Don’t feed him peanuts. (DJ has a peanuts allergy)

But the single piece of advice that I’ll probably repeat to myself an infinite number of times over the next few years came from my dear brother-in-law:

It is always a good day when you don’t go to the emergency room.

Throughout the day, of course, my thoughts were with DJ. I couldn’t help but be envious of his foster mom who would be spending the day with him. What must be going through his young mind? For him, Mother’s Day must be–at best–bittersweet. And this year, not just a little confusing. He can’t be with his biological mom, and then there’s this strange “Mom” in Pittsburgh that he’s never talked to or seen in-person before.

It makes me more than a little sad that even though it will always be an especially joyful day for me, Mother’s Day will never be an easy or simple time for DJ. In the years to come, my hope will be to help Dominick make it a day that he can focus on good memories of all of his “mothers”: myself, his grandmothers, his aunts, his biological mother, and his foster moms. And more than anything, I hope he knows how proud I’ll be to be his mom!

It’s Complicated

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Thanks to everyone who’s been checking in, and my apologies for not posting for so long. I’ve actually had quite a bit of trouble writing this latest post. About a week and a half ago, I fell into a bit of a pre-adoption funk, as I’ll call it, and it’s taken me a while to feel comfortable writing about it. Instead, I spent far too much time trying to make myself write about what I think that I should be feeling as an adoptive parent who is a couple weeks (hopefully!) away from meeting their child.

I slowly came to the realization though that if I’m going to blog about my experience with adoption that I should talk about the frustrations and disappointments that go along with it in addition to all of the joy and excitement…

After a very full and happy couple of weeks with lots of updates and progress, things have really slowed down as we’re waiting to hear when the final paperwork will be finished and when we will be able to travel to Oregon. At the same time, I finished up my semester–always a bittersweet time for me but especially now that I’m only an adjunct. I’ve also been babysitting my sweet one-year-old niece and working on getting DJ’s room ready. The result of all of this is that I have had too much time to dwell on the particular challenges of adopting an older child, especially one who lives across the country. All of this brooding has also brought to the surface some of my lingering grief about infertility.

In a traditional adoption, we would have had plenty of opportunities to get to know DJ by this point in the process. We would’ve started with visits with him and the foster family then day outings and built up to an overnight trip. At the very least, we would’ve met him several times and had a much better sense of his personality, his likes & dislikes, his habits, and vice versa. But instead, I’m pretty much a complete stranger to my son. And for now, this child who has become the most important person in my life is still a stranger to me.

In recent weeks, I’ve also been really surprised by how many feelings have come up again in relation to not being able to have biological children. Honestly, I thought my sadness about infertility would magically disappear once we got this far along in the adoption process. And the fact that it hasn’t has been an enormous source of guilt for me.

It’s not that I’m particularly sad about not having a biological child of my own–although I would be lying to say that I didn’t start tearing up when I recently watched the episode of Scrubs when J.D. and Turk find out that Carla is pregnant. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be completely over not experiencing a full-term pregnancy and giving birth, but that is familiar and well-tread territory.

Scrubs (TV series)

What I’ve been so darn upset about lately is that I’ve already missed out on so much of my son’s life that I wouldn’t have if he were my biological son. DJ will be almost 9 1/2 years old when we meet him. I will never know him as a baby or as a toddler or a little boy. What I do know is almost entirely based on two phone calls with his case worker and official paperwork in big, white binders.

So that’s the ugly truth that I’ve been struggling with lately and will have to continue to deal with in the oncoming weeks and months and maybe even years. But like so many parts of our adoption story, even the rough parts can be beautiful. Because what I know is that I’ll be all the more grateful for the moments and the memories that I will have with DJ. And in the end, those will amount to a greater whole than I can possibly imagine now.

Thanks again for keeping up with my story. I plan to post in the next week about the wonderful showers hosted by my friends and family as well as my thoughts on my first Mother’s Day as an almost mother.