Archive for the ‘Our story’ Category

Open adoption can be interesting

December 3, 2016

Our annual open adoption Christmas party was on Sunday afternoon. 

We picked up Reid’s birth mother, her husband, and her oldest daughter. Following logic, also his half sister. We last saw her over five years ago. She’s about four months older than Tate, but a school year ahead. We immediately noticed that his birth mother’s hair was dyed blue. 

It’s hosted by our local Children’s Aid to allow adoptive and birth families to connect at a neutral site. Everyone is invited to bring appetizers to share. 

It went pretty well. A fun time was had by all. 

As we were driving to drop them off, Reid asked, “Why is your hair blue?”  I just about busted a gut trying not to laugh.  We told him because It was dyed that colour. That’s good for now.  

On Monday night we were driving home a different way, which was by their apartment. Reid asked.”Who we pick up?”  I told him their names, as that’s who he knows them as. 

We’re not really sure how much of a concept he has about adoption, so we haven’t really told him. We’re not sure exactly what to say, but we will have to be prepared. 


If we’re honest……

July 29, 2016

Secrets can hold a great deal of power, if we let them.

There are good secrets, like presents and surprises.  These secrets are usually kept for a short period of time, and because they are for a good purpose.

The secrets that have power tend to be darker, the things that we don’t want known from our past. People go to great lengths to keep things quiet and out of sight.

There are some things that shouldn’t necessarily be widely known.

We often go to great lengths to put up a front that everything is going well, even though things may becoming completely unglued.

The power of secrets is broken by being honest, with people that are safe.  These are usually close friends, with a relationship developed and tested over time.

Francesca Battistelli is a Christian artist. She released an album in 2014 titled “If We’re Honest”.   The title track is very powerful. Here’s a link to the YouTube videoIf We’re Honest.

When we admit to each other that we are a mess, we gain freedom. We don’t have to waste energy hiding our crap.  We can just be real with each other

It can be a long road to get to this point.

Not everyone is safe to be brutally honest with.

Still, it is important to be honest.

It takes too much energy to keep the walls from falling in.

To be honest, it is life draining.

The cumulative effect of things takes a toll over time.  In the last 18 months, we have received a significant diagnosis for each of our kids.  My parents have both had challenges.  Our extended family has been dealing with a number of challenges.  To be honest, I am worn down by all of these things.  But is necessary to keep moving forward, and finding a place where energy can be restored.  It can be a huge challenge, especially when it seems everyone wants one more piece.

In spite of this, life is still good.  God provides.

And energy is better spent on living, rather than keeping up the walls.


Your child doesn’t look like they have FASD ….

May 24, 2016

So far, we haven’t run into any major problems with people in the school system having an issue getting FASD and the accommodations needed that are spelled out in the IEP. Until recently. But that’s another story …..

Here’s a link to a post on by Mike Berry,  Your child doesn’t look like they have FASD. This post summarizes many things we have experienced, or will likely experience in the future.

The issue of invisible disabilities goes far beyond FASD, or the autism spectrum, or many other acronyms.


Eight years

April 27, 2014

A lot can happen in a month.

April 27 is the anniversary of the end of such a month, which ended in Tate coming into our family.

We celebrate his birthday, and the anniversary of his homecoming.

This year, we decided to check out a new attraction in Toronto, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.  It opened in the fall of 2013, but we had mostly good reviews.

We made a day of it.  We took the boys down to Toronto.  We took the subway downtown, and checked out the aquarium.

After we were done, we took another ride on the subway and returned.

All in all, it was an interesting day.

We have lots of fun

The Aquarium was definitely an interesting attraction.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Happy eighth birthday, Tate!!

February 20, 2014

It is hard to believe that pur journey to parenthood started eight years ago when Tate was born.

He was quite excited.

At this point in time in 2006, we were in Burkina Faso on a missions trip. We did not bwcome aware that he would be available for adoptioom for another few weeks.

This marked the beginning of our adoptom journey.

Really busy days

October 5, 2013

There are times when it rains, it pours.

Today was a busy day for us.

Tate had another round of hockey today at 11:00.

Reid had his first trial on the ice in the Ice Pirates program at 12:15.

I took him into change room about half an hour early.  I got all his gear on fairly quickly.

After his skates were on, he took a few steps around.  They were pretty hesitant, but he did pretty well his second time on skates.  We tried once last year, and it did not go really well.

The time on the ice went well.  He spent a bit of time trying to walk and skate.  Much of the time, he was being pushed around on a device early skaters use to hold them up.

When it came time for him to come off the ice, he was not happy.  We weren’t sure if he liked it or not.  He was helping to take the stuff off, which was unusual.

We won’t really know for certain until we take him back next week and start to put the gear on.

After Reid had a much needed nap, we went on to our next activity.

We had been trying to get together with Reid’s birth mother since the summer.  We had made a couple of appointments, which hadn’t worked out.

We agreed to get together this afternoon at Chuck E Cheese.  It was OK, but it seemed like a really long time.  It is a really busy place on Saturday afternoon, and there are tons and tons of kids.  Quite loud.  By the time we left, we were definitely ready to go.

At the end of it all, it was a good day.

First day on the ice.

Another meeting with Reid’s birth mother.

And it all went well.

Loaded words – retard

January 10, 2013

I follow the blog Love That Max.  Ellen Seidman is the mother of a child with special needs, and she writes about issues she has experienced.

The post that popped up in my inbox today was New York City Council plans to ban use of “mentally retarded,” people freak out.

It talks about the reaction people have to the use of the word retarded, and the reaction to those who are offended by it.

I am growing into the skin of a parent who has a child with special needs.  It is a challenge getting used to how long it takes for things to happen – developmentally, with supports, with people’s attitudes, and so on.

The delays we are dealing with are obvious to us, and those who interact with us on a regular basis.  However, as Reid gets older it will become more obvious and challenging.  While he is currently two, almost three, and can go into the nursery at church, it’s not so bad.  He expresses himself with a lot of squeals and sounds that sound distressing.  However, the trick is to know that he is not distressed.  The laughs are much better than the screams when he is angry.

When he is five, looks like six or more, and acts like a three year, it will become more of a problem.  We will have to adapt, and fight for his acceptance and the supports he needs.

It is a challenge to think about loaded words, and to find less hurtful, more inclusive alternatives.  So many things have become different than they were years ago.

In the past, those with special needs were often “warehoused” in facilities.  Most of these facilities have been shut down in favour of group homes.

Be careful of the words you use to comment.  Even if they don’t seem hurtful, they can be.

Remember, each person with special needs is someone’s daughter or son, brother or sister, cousin, niece or nephew.

Parenting a child with special needs can be a tough ride, and adds weight to whatever else is going on in life.

If you see someone accompanying someone with special needs, respect both.  Say a kind word to both.

It’s a small world after all

May 1, 2012

We went up to the local mall to pick up Reid’s pictures from a couple of weeks ago.

We split up at the food court to get our meals.  Sandra and Tate went to get food.  Reid and I went to take advantage of $1 drinks at McDonald’s.  Not a bad deal.  All you can drink for a dollar.

While I was absently standing in line, I heard someone calling my name.  Reid’s birth mother and her boyfriend were having supper.  I talked to them for a couple of minutes, and said that I had to go and join Sandra and Tate for supper.

They found us in the food court, and we talked for quite a while we were eating our supper.

They were impressed by how much he has grown and started doing different things since we saw them last at Christmas.

It seems somewhat surprising that we bumped into them at the mall.  They live fairly close to the mall, on a main bus route.  We actually live quite close, as well.  We just don’t head up there that often.

We had a good visit with them.  Just under unusual circumstances.

It is fortunate that we have a good relationship, or meetings like this would be really awkward.

Our story — part 3

April 24, 2012

At the end of the last post, we had just returned home from our nine week trip to Burkina Faso.

We returned home on the last Sunday in March.  We were due to return to work on Wednesday of that week.

Early that week, we received an e-mail from the adoption worker about two babies to consider, one about a month old, and the other due at something like the end of May.  We replied, and said that we were open to both.  She got back to us and said they would be doing interviews early in April.  Later on, we found out the interview would be on the Monday before Good Friday and Easter, which was in mid-April that year.

The interview went well, and they told us they would let us know by Thursday how things went.  We felt relaxed about the interview.  We went through Tuesday, not really thinking much of it.  On Wednesday, I had a work thing in London to go to.  My cell phone rang, and it was one of Sandra’s cousin looking for a guarantor for a passport.  I turned it off and went back into the conference.  At the break, I went out and saw that there was a message.  I called and checked, and the worker had called and left a message.  While she was waiting for me to call, she had called Sandra and let her know that we had been picked.  When I called back, she told me to call Sandra.  We talked and were shocked, stunned, etc.  I went back into the meeting and sat down.  Needless to say, I was sitting there, head spinning, thinking about what was going on.  I figured the best thing was to tell my boss that I was going to head back early, and why.  She was quite glad for me as well, and said to go ahead.

I spent the next hour and half driving back home on autopilot.  I was driving safely, but not really thinking about what was happening.

When I got to Sandra’s work, we talked briefly.  Everyone was quite excited for us, as they were aware of the journey we had been through.

Pretty much right away, we started making arrangements for parental leave.  Fortunately, adoptive parents are allowed to take up to 37 weeks of parental leave, between the parents.   I ended up taking five weeks, and Sandra took the rest.  That allowed me to take July and part of August off.

We had to wait through the long weekend to meet Tate.  We went to meet him on a Wednesday morning, and we had him a few times, before he came for an overnight visit the next week.  He came home on Thursday.  Within a month, we went from coming home from Africa to having a child in our home.  Talk about perfect timing.  If we had done what we did, when we did, things probably would have worked out differently.  God definitely had his hands working in our plans in all that we went through.

Before we became parents, and were in the process of becoming adoptive parents, we had the opportunity to go to Burkina Faso four times, once for nine weeks.  I had the opportunity to go to California for a week, and bring Sandra out for a week before we made our extended trip.

When we started pursuing adoption, we were thinking of a totally closed adoption, with no further contact with the family of origin.  As we went through our journey, we became more comfortable with the concept of an open adoption.  By the time we were presented with the opportunity for Tate, it was presented as foster to adopt, with a strong likelihood that it would be low risk of him returning to his birth mother, based upon the circumstances.

By the time Reid joined our family, we were completely comfortable with foster to adopt.  Reid was apprehended into care in the hospital, and came to our home when he was a day old. For a time, a social worker took him to access visits.  Over time, we would drop him off for visits.  As time went by, the visits switched to a supervised centre.  We did the pick up and drop off, and met with his birth mother.  By the time she waived her parental rights, we met with her and agreed to meetings twice a year, and to exchange pictures and letters on a more frequent basis.  So far, this has worked well.  In fact, after the visit this fall, we dropped his birth mother and boyfriend off at the main transit terminal in our city.

Both of our children have extremely different stories.  So far, I have written mostly about our experience with Reid’s adoption becoming finalized.  In the future, I will write more about Tate’s experience.

There is a limit to what I can tell.  Ultimately, these are their stories to tell.  I am writing about the experience as an adoptive parent.

Our story — part 2

April 23, 2012

Here’s a link back to part 1 of our story.

After telling some of the story of our trips to Burkina Faso, there is a bit of a jump back in time to pick up the adoption story.

Early in 2004, some friends from church suggested that we consider pursuing adoption through our local Children’s Aid Society (CAS), or Family & Children’s Services (F&CS).  Both names are used in Ontario, and have different names across Canada and the US.

After we were in contact with them, we found out that we were able to take the home study we had prepared for the private agency, and have F&CS update it for their needs.  As part of the process, we took classes that explained the foster system, and how it worked.  They also had separate classes for families interested in pursuing adoption, or foster to adopt.  The classes are over about 9 weeks, and are required for anyone wanting to foster or adopt.

It took us about a year to get through the classes, as they are held starting in January, April, and September, around the trips to Africa.

By the end of 2004, we were approved for adoption by the local F&CS.

We met with the worker specializing in infant and toddler adoptions.  We completed a lengthy profile of the risks we would be willing to consider in a child we would adopt.

We were asked to consider a couple of different situations.

In about May of 2005, we had been asked to consider an opportunity for an older child.  I was more open to that possibility than Sandra was.  It took a couple of weeks to find out that we had not been picked.  After not hearing anything, it was a tough time for a while.

In the meantime, we decided that we would like to go to Burkina Faso for a longer period to get more of a sense of how things are and to make more of an impact.  In the meantime, the organization our church partnered with had some leadership changes.  It was a bit of a process, but we were approved by the beginning of November, 2005.

In the meantime, things had been quiet on the adoption front.  We had some contact with the adoption worker, but not much.  We told her that we were planning on going to Burkina Faso, and asked about keeping in touch while we were away.  We were able to access e-mail at internet cafes about once a week.

Around Christmas 2005 and January 2006, we were preparing to get ready to go for a 9 week trip to volunteer at an orphanage in Burkina Faso, in western Africa.

Before we left, I said to the worker, more jokingly than anything, that it would be nice if they had a baby waiting for us when we got back.  She kind of laughed, and I’m sure she wasn’t really what to say.

We went on our trip, and had a good time.

Who would have imagined that we would meet a black redneck from Arkansas in Africa?  Who would have imagined someone who lives in the small obscure place near where my father was born would be Africa?

By the time it was time to come home, it was time.  There was one young lady who was very adept at making sure her own wants were taken care of.  She almost got sent home in February, and would have come home at the same time as us if there was room on the flight out.

We returned home on the last Sunday in March.  We were due to return to work on Wednesday of that week.

Things are about to change.  Stay tuned for the next installment.

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