The beginning of “motherly love”

The pastor this morning asked us to think about that “moment” when you felt a mother’s love for your child. She started by describing the pregnancy and the feel of the baby within and the developing love as you bonded with this new creation. And then those first few moments after birth….and the first days and weeks when your love grew. The process is so very different when you are part of a system – the foster care system.

I was “in love” with Micah from the moment I first saw him in the hospital bassinet….barely listening to the social worker tell my sister and I about him. Yearning to pick him up as she briefly left to find a set of mismatched clothes to put on him. Staring at him in the back seat of the car….well, staring at the back of the carseat facing the other direction. Giddy about getting him home and holding him. In awe during the first few middle of the night feedings. I was in love.

But it was not a “mother’s love” – I was not his mother. There was a qualifier in front of the word.  “Foster.”  It was always there – “I am a foster mother.”  This is my “foster” child. We have “foster” children. It was not until Micah was 22 months old that I could jump over the “foster” word and leave it out altogether. Not until that moment in the court room with tears welling up in my eyes and my heart so full of love that I could fully claim to be a mother….that I could claim him as my son.

So that love was a journey….a push and pull….an embracing of the little boy and a slight holding back in fear and worry that it might not work out….that he might return to his biological mother. Yet I had a sense with him that it was almost 100% okay to love him. Similarly, it seemed so certain with Noah. He was two days shy of his first birthday when I was told that I was his mother, though the love had blossomed long before then.

And then there was Seth. Seth began with a phone call that asked if I was ready to “adopt another?”  I honestly wasn’t prepared to answer that within the 15 minutes that they wanted a call-back. I knew at that time that I was struggling with Micah’s behaviors. That Noah was just embarking on his two-year independence regime. That I was ramping up work on a new nonprofit organization. It was a busy time. Yet….and yet…Seth was blood brother to the boys. My answer was “yes to the fostering… time will tell about adoption.”

Two days after picking him up from the hospital, we went on vacation to the beach. I spent the week bonding with him – shocked and nervous about another boy. Trying to convince myself that this would and could work out. By the end of the week I was ready to be mother to another. And….a letter sat in our mailbox waiting for us to come home. A letter from a man in prison professing his love for his newborn son. Happy that he had a home to stay in until his father would be free to come get him. Struck down, I cried.

For months I received at least weekly letters and drawings from the alleged father. For months I tried to offer Seth a mother’s love while trying to protect my heart from the pain that was coming. For months I tried to talk to Micah about this “father” who would take Seth someday. Months and months (8 months and 6 days to be exact)….until the Not the daddypaternity testing.  We celebrated with a cake and my heart began to take away a brick or two, a shingle, a siding…open up some space…and let the mother love take hold.

 

 

  • To love is a very precious thing.
  • To become a mother is a very difficult journey.
  • To know of motherly love is very ephemeral
  • It is only in moments that you might touch it
  • Moments when you kiss the head of the sleeping child on your chest in security and comfort
  • Moments when you rejoice in the first touchdown or goal, heart welling with pride
  • Moments when you point to an adult and tell your 5-year-old “Someday, boy, you can be just like him. You can do whatever you want to do,” knowing of the dreams you have
  • Moments when you realize they are the air that you breathe, the last thought before you sleep, the face you delight in in the morning.
  • Cherished, loved, (entirely frustrating and maddening at times) and so delightfully mine.

My three sons…(minus the “foster”).

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Visit from our first foster child!

I don’t know ­how you’re supposed to get anything done with 5 kids around. I don’t know why I ever expect to. I keep thinking that weekends should be “productive”….and then I’m in the middle of one and just hoping to survive!

I keep reminding myself that with five swirling storms, it’s pretty unlikely that I might sweep a floor or mop the kitchen. I mean, why even try? So this weekend, we decided to up the ante and try having 6 boys around – 8, 6, 6, 4, 2, 1!

Maddox, our first foster boy and now 8, spent the weekend with us while his adoptive parents were out of town. I remember the day I went to pick him up when we first met him. I had been thinking in my head “hmmmm, an almost 1 year old – how bad can that be?”  I opened the door and he was running around his aunt’s house with a bottle hanging from his teeth….and I knew right then he was going to be one active boy. He was a delight while he stayed with us.

He also showed us the classic case of foster parenting. He stayed with us for 10 months and then returned to his biological mother. A few months later, she would stress out and turn to drugs for comfort and he would be placed into foster care. After 10-12 months, he returned to his mother and months later, he and his sister came into our care (that’s when we lived for about 8 months with one 3-year-old and 3 one-year-olds!  And I’m complaining now about being busy??).  Again, the mother worked to get her kids back….again she lost them….but this time they were older and starting to act out themselves in more serious ways….and eventually were placed in “therapeutic foster homes.”  (It is this first foster family that popped into my head the moment I heard the concept of a crisis nursery – and thought that the biological mother just needed a crisis nursery – some place to take the kids for 2-3 days so that she could breathe and get things done…..and so began my quest to open Jeremiah’s Place).

It was hard to “lose” Maddox three years ago. It was hard to understand how a judge would decide to take this boy from his “biological” mother and the woman he thought was his “mother” (my sister) and place him with his 4th family in 4 years. And at the time, we had no idea what the future held….so it was amazing that as soon as he was adopted, the forever mother called to reconnect with Kathy and so began some visitations and then this weekend.

Over the past 2 years or so, Micah and Ryan have talked a lot about Maddox. They remember him and they also remember an idealized version of an “older brother.” This weekend was not anywhere close to an idealized existence as they all had to figure out how to share space and attention and the iPad and the rooms and the Wii remotes and the younger two boys who thought this strange new being was a super hero of some sort.

And Noah just walked around asking, “What’s his name again?”

Foster parenting asks you to hold a kids’ heart in yours so tightly for an unknown period of time and then let the child loose into the world without possibly ever knowing anything about him/her again.  But sometimes….sometimes you have the joy of loving them again.

Celebrating the Foster-to-Adopt completion

I’m not going to lie – parenting is exhausting…especially if you’re starting to get a cold (two weeks of wiping aside snot and I’m finally starting to succumb). So hosting a party of 15 boys (under the age of 9) and 2 girls was definitely tiring – and yet so much fun. Yesterday we had a party to celebrate Noah’s 4th birthday and Seth’s adoption. This brought together the 17 kids for the birthday and about an equal number of adults for the adoption. Today I reflect on how wonderful it is to be surrounded by so many people who care about my boys and our family.

For many people, families and friends celebrate the birth of a child. Friends gather around the new baby and the beaming parents, visitors come and go (and people make you food!), and gifts pour in. Mothers stay home from work for some time (and it would be nice if we let fathers do so too)… cooing over how gorgeous the baby is, who he or she looks like, and “napping when the baby naps” (or at least that’s what people say they do!). It is very different when you adopt a child through the foster care system.

This week I have looked down at Seth every night as I plant a kiss on his forehead and say “goodnight, my son.” It is the first time that I’ve been able to call him my “son.” And it is the first time that I realize I can bond with him as my son. It is a very strange thing. As a foster parent, you are asked to “love the children as if they are your own” and yet to “keep your distance” as your job really is to hand them back to the biological parent (when at all possible).

So there’s this closeness of rocking them to sleep every night, and this guarding of your heart in preparation of possibly losing them. You pick them up when they fall and kiss the “boo-boo,” and wonder how long they will still be in your house. You bounce them and tickle them. You praise their every milestone as they grow. You hold their hand and protect them. You take them to day care and pick them up. You take them to doctor appointments, you sit and pray over them as they recover from surgery, you worry about every cold or fever or wheeze. You ache, you agonize, you cry, you comfort….you love. You know the baby needs a “mother” and you play the role of the “mother,” but you never know if you are the one who will be the forever mother. Until that very moment, years later, when a complete stranger in a black robe declares you to be the mother.

Then you sigh. Then you cry. Then you gather your friends and family around you and say “Celebrate with me. Sing with me. Dance with me….on the “birth” of my son.”

Micah – I met you May 22, 2006, and became your forever Mommy on February 26, 2008.

Noah – I met you Feb 27, 2009, and became your forever Mommy on February 23, 2010.

Seth – I met you on June 2, 2011, and became your forever Mommy on February 12, 2013.

Tonight I lay on Micah’s bed beside him as he snored and looked around the room at my sleeping family. My sons. Beautiful each one.

And I love each of them….

now with my whole heart.

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Ten Bits of Wisdom for a New Adoptive Single Mother

I talked to a colleague this week who just adopted a little boy five weeks ago. She’s single and in her forties and asked me what I thought about single parenting and adoption.  I said “mothering is full of ups and down….usually within the same second.” And though my kids are still pretty young, here’s what I’ve learned so far (a bit more than I shared over the phone with her):

Five “hard” things that will surprise you:

You are going to fail. It’s really hard when you’re used to being a successful, professional woman, but it’s true. There are moments in mothering that you are going to totally and completely bomb. And you’ll know it. You’ll know it the moment you are in it…and yet you won’t be able to do anything about it. You’ll be in the moment and you’ll be doing it all wrong. But…. that moment will end. You will forgive yourself. Your ego will be bruised for a while, but you’ll forgive yourself. And you’ll learn that all moms do that. All moms fail at some moment. What makes a mom great is realizing it, forgiving yourself, trying to learn from it (yeah…..), and moving on. Because you love your child and your child loves you.

That’s the hard one. But it’s true. Here’s another hard one. There will be times that you hear this little voice in your head that says “I wish I never made this decision.” It’s probably somewhere between wiping the poop off the crib railings and stepping on a lego in the middle of the night. It’s probably somewhere in between 39 months of no more than two nights of real sleep in a row and lugging a stroller, diaper bag, kid and two suitcases down the airport hall. It’s there… somewhere. It’s fleeting. It’s shocking. But it’s also real. Life just flipped upside down, you’re on a rollercoaster in the dark, and sometimes you’re not sure you can handle it. And you are scared. But you can handle it. You really can. And you know in your heart of hearts that this is exactly what you want to be doing.

Hmm, I’m on a roll with the hard stuff, because there also comes that time when you realize that parenting has brought out the worst of you. The really ugly side comes out….like anger, grumpiness, impatience. And previously, if you didn’t like a situation you were in or the way it made you feel, you could leave. But now, you can’t. Parenting is 24/7, it doesn’t end. You wake up – the kid is there. You go to sleep – the kid wakes you up. So you must find yourself some breaks and forgive yourself again.

You are going to miss your single life. You’re still “technically” single, but it is so very different now. It’s hard to come to grips with the new limits on your life. No longer can you just jump in the car and head out of town for the weekend (without some serious planning and a trunk full of crap). No longer do you meet up with friends for dinner (without first finding a sitter and contemplating the balance of how many evenings you are away from home). Spontaneity is a whole different version now – you can still have some….until the baby is old enough to need a schedule and then spontaneity becomes “which room do I clean first today?” Gone is the time when you wake up on a Saturday and say “hmmm, what am I going to do today?”

And, you might struggle with the concept of adoption. You might have some bumpiness in bonding with your new one. You might grieve that this child, as beautiful as he is, doesn’t look the least bit like you (or you might rejoice in this). You might be hurt by other people’s glances or words. You might even go so far that you doubt your parenting ability for the child and wonder if some other family should have adopted him. And for this reason, you must have someone in your life who tells you as often as needed, “you are the very woman who is supposed to be his mom.” Because this is true.

Believe me – you will not survive this alone. Don’t even try…for many of the reasons that I’ve just listed. You must have some allies in your camp – a cheering squad, a supporters group, a cadre of friends. (And it’s helpful if all your friends don’t know each other so you can whine to at least 5 or 6 of them about the same thing that the little kiddo just did.) If you have family, move as close to them as you possibly can. Build up a network of people who can take the baby for a couple hours, drop off a gallon of milk in a moment’s notice, sit by you in the ER when the little one is sick, or get out of work early to get the kiddo off the bus on the day you have a really important 3:30 meeting. Cherish these people. They will keep you going. And do not be afraid to ask for help.

Oh – I’m squeezing in a number 6 — Parenting is painful. That surprised me. I never really considered how many times my head was going to get knocked by a flying block. Or a door slammed on my big toe splitting the nail. Or being jumped on from behind when you’re squatting to put on a siblings shoes and falling onto the floor. But the one that always kills me is leaning over your kid to plant a tender kiss on their head, only to have them rear back to look at you and split your lip open or bloody your nose. Real nice. (Okay, back to my list….)

Five wonderful things that will surprise you:

You are going to be amazed at how much you love that child. It is such a powerful emotion, that makes you wipe snot off a nose for the thousandth time. That leads you to lie down beside them long after they’ve gone to sleep just to watch them breathe and their eyes twitch for a few minutes. That causes you to fiercely defend them even when they don’t need it. The love between you and your child is better than anything you could have dreamed of and you can’t even imagine life without him.

You have never known pride until you’ve been proud of your kid. Oh sure, you have felt good about an accomplishment of yours. You’ve been happy for your team or colleagues. But when you watch your son kick his first soccer goal or your daughter stand up and take her first steps – wham! That is powerful pride.

The first time you say it – and believe it! – that you are the baby’s “mother” is pretty fantastic. When you say to yourself, “wow, I’m a mommy. Wow!” It will finally settle in…and your new identity forms. But what’s even more delightful is when your child looks at you and for the first time says “mommy” – you won’t ever forget that moment.

You will spend an entire day getting absolutely nothing done and you’ll be okay with that. You’ll be amazed at how long you can just sit and stare at a baby. You’ll wonder why it took two days to do a load of laundry when you’ve had to sort and fold the clothes over and over again when the boys have “underwear war!” You won’t worry about the dishes in the sink anymore or the crumbs under (and in) the couch – your new “accomplishment” for the day is to have fun, tickle and kiss….and keep the kid alive.

You will understand that becoming a mother was truly, truly the best decision you ever made. Sure you might want a little less vomit to wipe up, but you will know that there’s no other description of yourself that’s more important than to say that you’re a mother. You will be worn out more than ever imagined. You will be frustrated and confused at times. You will do things you never expected to do. And you will be happier than you thought possible – and so grateful for your child and the chance to be a mom.

Call me or a friend to share any of these 10 things…and for anything else.

(Oh….and here’s a couple other simple words of wisdom
– subscribe to Adoptive Families if you want to do a bit more reading and get some suggestions
– definitely sign up for Amazon Mom for free two-day shipping ….including diapers!
– always have extra milk or formula in the house – running out at 9pm is a huge mental drain!
– keep babywipes (and tissues) within an arm’s length…ALWAYS)

Surprise…again

I guess kids should surprise you.  I mean, why wouldn’t they?  They are their own little independent selves, interacting with a world from the perspective of adult knees and trying to make sense out of the chaos of noise, lights, movement and touch that surrounds them constantly.

They are naturally built to focus in on certain things.  They know to look at the human face to read emotion. They know to pay attention when enumeration begins, but that it’s possible to ignore for quite some time the word that’s supposed to signify their identity (ie, the eldest responds to “One….” much faster than he answers to “Micah….”).  They know that if they crawl into bed at 2 am and say they’re “scared,” the warm body there will accept them and drape an arm over them in protection. They know that the relationship between a mother and her child is vital to the child’s survival and they will attempt to repair it whenever needed.

But they also seem to know that it’s pretty unconditional – and that relationship can be pushed pretty far and stretched out and pulled and yanked… and yet the coil will still spring back. So my kids love to check the pull of this coil.  They love to see how loudly they can screech as they chase each other around the loop of the house.  They love to test how much water is too much water out of the bathtub as they splash gleefully. They like to explore the effects of cheerios flying through the air and scattering upon the carpet and then eating them up “like doggies.” They like to measure how frequently the word “no” can be said before it is followed by a long tirade of how and why “no means no,” or a distinct rise in the ending tone of the word, or a movement of a large parent towards them to block their original goal.

It still surprises me, though, when Micah has one of his really big blow-outs. Like this afternoon, when we decided to get into the car and go someplace fun, but he gets upset and starts the fight with removing his seatbelt as we’re driving 50 mph. This calls for an immediate pull off the road and a discussion on safety….and yet it’s followed by repeated hitting of his brother, taking off the seatbelt and throwing things in the car.  Each time, I pull over and remove him from the car.  I breathe deeply.  I count to 10. I try to remember all those tips from numerous parenting books (none of which has mentioned specifically how to handle a size 2 boy shoe thrown at the back of one’s head while driving…hmmm….). We work ourselves up to 4 hours of time-out upstairs by the time we’ve spent 40 minutes in and out of the car… going nowhere. I feel bad for the other two in the car. And when Micah and I finally talk about it later and I ask “why,” he says, “my brain tells me to be bad.”  Okay – what do I say to that?

Gosh, I’m glad he doesn’t surprise me too often with this. But it does stop me in my tracks. I start to wonder what’s going on…and if I’m supposed to be doing something else with him. Am I working too hard and ignoring my kids? Should we go back to therapy? Does this kid need something else? What sparked all that? Is this something I’m triggering or continuing? Is he starting to react to the stress of the craziness that is hitting our lives recently?tracks in the tub

I prefer the surprise of being called to “look what we did!” and finding car tracks encircling the bathtub. And sharing the joy of creating something new out of connecting toys. And smiling at the surprise of making a tunnel under a pile of snow. And giggling together over a video of funny cat tricks. I so often hear the phrase “oh, the joys of parenting” and there are many joys for sure, but the sarcastic tone that sometimes accompanies that phrase is also very true some times. There are some “joys” that are hard to handle. But the coil always snaps back into place….

It is a very tight coil built of the strongest material ever – love.

(8:00 pm addendum: Now I’m wondering if today’s blow-up was a harbinger of illness. Micah fell asleep on the couch at 6 after complaining of “being cold” which he never is and a headache. Sigh. Gotta love these viral-infested little guys!)

Glimpses of love

A Steeler fan

I am a sucker for plush baby animals…..squishy….delightfully comforting softness.  I just am.

So, after an absolutely perfect morning at the zoo the other day, I decided that of course, Seth needed a new stuffed animal.  I have a monkey theme occurring in his crib – but the white polar bear was just too precious.  (You have to inspect all of them and pick the face that touches your heart.)

Seth smiled and clasped it to his body….for all of 3 seconds and then he shoved it aside and concentrated on the live animals.  Oh well, I thought, pushing the white softness into the bottom of the stroller.

But later that night, Noah found the little polar bear.  He lifted it high into the air with a huge smile and said “Did you buy this for me?”  “Oh yes,” I replied happily (I try to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, except in cases like this little white lie.)

He spent that night and the next day playing with the polar bear.  When he brought the adorable little creature to bed last night, I asked “So, what is your bear’s name?”  He replied “Mawzi.”

And Mawzi it is.  Mawzi gets lots of loving.  He likes to have his belly scratched.  He loves it when you rub his ears.  And he’s particularly happy when you go fishing over the edge of the bed with a pole of glow-in-the-dark wands to catch him some fish.  And if he seems to be getting full, you can just put the extra fish in a bucket for tomorrow.  Mawzi will be so happy, apparently.  I’m learning a lot about polar bears.

I was actually a bit surprised that Mawzi was still getting attention on day 3 of his adoption.  Apparently he is also ideal for monkey-in-the-middle games and doesn’t seem to mind being bounced on the floor, landing behind the TV, or snagged from mid-air by screeching 6 year olds.  Mawzi is very adept at fitting into the household of boys.

I was at a meeting tonight and when I returned, I did my typical “tucking in” of the boys.  I put the covers back on, kiss them goodnight, and linger for a minute in peace.  I walked into Noah’s room wondering if Mawzi had made it upstairs with the babysitter.  As I leaned down to kiss Noah, his eyes fluttered open.   “I love you,” I said.  He sleepily replied, “Can you get my Mawzi?”  I just smiled and went downstairs to answer the request….only to find Mawzi sitting upright joyfully playing with a little red fire truck.  He seemed ready to get to bed, though, so we trudged back upstairs.  Noah tucked him under his head as a pillow and drifted off to sleep.  Mawzi seemed to understand.  I’ll make sure he gets some extra fish in the morning for being so gentle.

A “contact visit” with birthmom

“The inmates sit in the pink chairs, we sit in the blue….oh, and at the end, we’ll stand here again while they turn all the chairs and tables over to make sure no one left anything for one of the women.”

I stood in a group of about twenty people waiting for the inmates to change into red “Contact Visit” labeled uniforms.  The room held 16 evenly-spaced small tables each with a pink chair and 1-3 blue chairs.  Pillars broke into the open space, a podium at the front displayed the American flag on the wrong side (according to the ex-military man I stood talking to), and a scattering of broken toys and books in a plastic bin sat in the corner.

The women filed in and took a seat.  Family members gathered around them, sisters, mothers, children brought to the visit by CYF caseworker or grandparents.  There were many happy smiles.  I stood with Seth in my arms looking for a woman with an empty blue chair. There wasn’t any and I asked of the guard where “H” was.  They called her down from the cell block.  (We almost didn’t have a visit since for the second time, because the birthmother’s name wasn’t on the list for visits.  We were only let through because a sergeant reluctantly cleared it, and yet the case supervisor had called me on Tuesday to make sure I knew that this visit must take place.)

Seth’s birthmother entered, and the guard pointed her out to me.  We sat awkwardly.  She asked how old Seth is and how he’s doing.  She asked how the older two were (using their original names, which I did not correct as I don’t want her to know their new identities).  She asked “what kind of mix is he?” pointing to Seth.  I said, “well, they believe he’s biracial.”  She nodded, paused and said “I was in drugs then….I don’t remember much.”  “I did want to get my tubes tied.”  Awkward moments interrupted by a guard who told me I needed to sit “across the table” from her, not with the chair at the adjacent side.  Seth eventually became restless of playing at the table and I got up to get him a “kitchen toy” with a small blue plastic pot.  He’s one and a half – the joy of tossing that little pot off the table was just a bit too irresistible.  Unfortunately, at the second drop, the sergeant patrolling the room didn’t appreciate his need to explore gravitational pull and took away the toy (“none of that throwing”).  I let the birthmother know that he was just being a normal kid.

Eventually playing with a broken toy at a table became less than enthralling and Seth yearned to roam the floors.  We wandered over to the book bin and he pushed a small plastic chair around.  The birthmother chatted with some of her fellow inmates and I thought about how foreign this world was to me.  They talked about their release dates, about who else they had seen “back in,” and about how cute each other’s kids were.

I felt so guarded.  I didn’t know what to talk about or how much to share with her.  In such a crowded space and on a first meeting, I didn’t want to pry, despite my intense desire to learn more about her.  I felt so torn about what to talk about, knowing that she had just “contested” the termination of parental rights thereby delaying the adoption process.  When she mentioned that she was about to be released in 20 days for “maxing out,” I wondered what her intentions were in regards to Seth.  Was she going to start fighting to get him back?  Was she going to ask for more visits?  She did say she was going to move back in with her father (oh, who has a new child himself.  His girlfriend just had a baby who is two months old and just out of the hospital because of methadone too.  My brain was reeling).  It wasn’t until about 10 minutes before the end of the visiting time when she told several other inmates that Seth was being adopted….and that she was “okay with that” …since it’s best for him, that I sighed inwardly.  And yet, I was still so tense.

Despite how intensely I thought the whole visitation of a child to a stranger was awful, I know it was the best thing for him that I was there.  To Seth, this was just some odd morning when we went to visit a new place and play with new toys among a big group of new people (with a mother who was oddly stiff and kept calling him “buddy” instead of “Seth” and some lady occasionally touched him and called him another name). To me it was one of the most tense, uncomfortable, out of my comfort zone experiences I’ve had for a long time.  We walked out into the crisp air – a welcome relief after the warmth of the basement of the jail – yet I could not relax.  I turned on my cell phone and listened to messages of my mother desperately trying to figure out where Micah’s basketball game was and called her briefly to learn that he had had an explosive fit, had run down the block chasing my sister’s car when she left and was currently in her car and refusing to get out.

I pushed toward the parking lot with feet lifting concrete boots and my body straining under such a mental weight.  I thought of so many things I wished I would have asked the birthmother.  I tried to remind myself that I’m not the perfect mother and didn’t remember to leave directions for basketball, but that Micah would recover from his horrible morning.  I drove in numbness despite the gnawing pain in my head.  I snapped at my kids.  I grumped about rushing off to soccer.  It took hours to start to feel normal again.  I can’t imagine this reality for so many families with loved ones in prison.

Random other snippets:

– walking downstairs toward the visitation room, I overheard a preteen girl tell her grandmother that she was always nervous about contact visits.  When asked why, she replied “it’s hard to actually see the one you love.”

– “She thought it would never happen to her,” lamented the 56-year-old grandmother whose daughter had succumbed to heroin and all the illegal activities associated with it and now she was taking care of the 15- month-old baby.  She’s the one who talked me through some of the process.

– “Whew, whose smell is that?”  Well, it could be any number of these toddlers and babies as there’s no diaper changing in the visitation area – everything had to be locked into a locker and one inmate was amazed that I had brought a sippy cup through.  Hey, someone else walked past the wanding body searching security guard with a bottle, so I figured why not bring along the sippy cup.

– “Does he have Hepatitis C….because I do.”  Um, don’t know – guess I’ll have to have him checked.  “Anything else you want to add?” I wondered.

Despite how incredibly difficult this morning was for me (it really was the first time I’ve ever met the birthmother of my three sons), I kind of wish that the visit had worked out last month.  That way, the “first” time awkwardness would be gone and maybe today I might have had my thoughts about me to ask intelligent questions that might help for the future of the boys.  I might have been more willing to share more about them.  The strange thing is, I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again though I did offer to send her a picture at Christmas (“maybe” of all three boys – though why didn’t I just give her a little peace and say “definitely” of the three?).

It’s going to take me a long time to think through the visit this morning on so many different levels.  But the best thing was hearing her confirm that Seth would be mine, and feeling Seth’s confirmation of that in his tight hugs around my neck.