My Family

If you are new to this blog and want to read the entire story chronologically - please start in January with "Our Story, Part 1"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Satan is working on the moms…

Time to write about something that has been on my mind for a while….

I had one of my close friends call me last night and tell me that her marriage of 18 years is about over. I listened to her reasons and I wasn’t surprised to hear her saying the same things I was saying just a few months before. As I mentioned a little bit in my last post, I haven’t been writing on my blog because I was going through my own “selfish” phase (although at the time I didn’t see it that way, it took stepping back and finding out what was really important to realize that is what it was, me being selfish).

This post is going to be very self-revealing but every one of us has our own trials and weaknesses, so I hope you will stick with me and that someone will benefit from what I have learned (and hopefully not make the same mistake).

Here is my story – a few months ago I got a Facebook note from one of my guy “friends” - It was a guy I haven’t seen since I was 14 (22 years ago). I have a cardinal rule not to chat or e-mail members of the opposite sex (especially if I have ever had a crush on them). I debated writing him back. He had only sent a small note saying that he thought I looked nice in one of my pictures (of course it made me feel good, everyone likes a compliment right?) Well I debated about writing him back for several days, (I knew deep down inside that I shouldn’t) but there was something I had wanted to ask him since the last time I saw him (in 8th grade) so I gave in to temptation, thus breaking my own rule.

We wrote a couple more times (quite innocently at first) and then of course a little more flirtatious. I wasn’t keeping it secret from my husband, I had told him about the first time he wrote me and I even discussed what I wrote to my “friend” but I was still being private. I knew nothing could physically happen between the two of us (he lives in another country) but it felt nice to get showered with attention, especially at a time when my self-esteem was lacking.
Pretty soon I started to notice little things that “bugged” me about my husband, and how “bad” he treated me. I started to question my happiness and everything around me “was I happy just being a mom and wife, was there more for me out there, was I missing out on something, did I need time just for ME?” etc.” I was in the “me” mode, I was only concerned with me (although at the time I didn’t see it that way, I was blaming everyone else for my “unhappiness.”)

I knew I needed to stop writing this guy, but it was almost like an addiction (I needed his attention it seemed). Finally, my husband said to me “you are acting like you did when you left me.” (For those of you who don’t know, my husband and I were separated and ultimately divorced and remarried during the fourth year of our marriage). I was surprised he was so perceptive to how I was feeling; I thought I was acting normal, probably trying to act more “normal” than usual, but he picked up on it.

I finally wrote this guy and told him I couldn’t write him anymore (it was hard to let go, even though I hadn’t even seen him in person and what did he mean to me anyway? NOTHING!)

I am writing about this and exposing my own faults because I have witnessed so many of my peers (women in their thirties, married with children) start feeling like they needed something MORE, needed something else, needed what the world deems as happiness. It may first start with innocent chatting with someone of the opposite sex and pretty soon you “realize” how “unhappy” you are.

“A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence.” Julie B. Beck

So what is the end result of us (women and men) being selfish? Ultimately our children are the ones who suffer. During an especially trying day my son said to me “mom, are you going to run away?” I knew I could never leave my children; I could never hurt them by giving up just because of some selfish reason of me wanting “more.”

After I ended my “relationship” with my friend, I had to find new ways to start loving my husband again, finding even small things that I remembered I used to adore about him. I started focusing my time and energy on him and my children and getting away from the computer. I ultimately quit my job that required me to be on the computer for several hours a day (thus helping suppress my need to go online). The confidence in knowing I have been entrusted with these five beautiful children was enough to help me realize that I didn’t need MORE. I needed to be a MOM.

“It is unfortunately, all too easy to illustrate the confusion and distortion of womanhood in contemporary society. Immodest, immoral, intemperate women jam the airwaves, monopolize magazines and slink across movie screens – all while being celebrated by the world…. I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors.” M. Russell Ballard

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I feel so blessed to have witnessed so many miracles in my lifetime, and today was no exception. I haven’t been writing my blog for the past few months because I have been going through my own personal crisis (basically selfishness if I am being honest with myself). But tonight I was brought back to reality by witnessing a tremendous selfless act.

I just arrived home after being at the hospital for the past nine hours with one of my dearest and closet friends. She gave birth today to a beautiful baby girl (five weeks early) ~ but she won’t be taking her home, another amazing couple will be taking this tiny infant girl home. My friend is not giving up this baby girl for adoption; she has been a surrogate mother for the past nine months.

I have watched my friend endure morning sickness, extreme headaches, sickness from the extra hormones, untold changes and disruptions in her family life and normal routine and ultimately almost losing her own life so she could help this couple become parents.

I have been able to meet this couple several times over the past year so I was thrilled to be in my friend’s room when they arrived to see their little girl for the first time. The look on their faces, the feeling in the room, and the glow on my best friend’s cheeks and face were indescribable.

I could never thank my children’s birth mother enough for the amazing sacrifices she has made for me. I am so grateful to the many remarkable women in my life and the miracles I witness each day. Life is wonderful!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Family Matters – the resemblance is uncanny!

I have read many articles and books that suggest that adopted children often wonder who they look like and where they got certain characteristics. I have often wondered myself who my children resemble; their mother or their father’s side and where they got their nice noses, eyes and face shape, etc. I know my children look similar to my husband and I, many if not all people I meet would have no idea that my children are adopted, but I also believe it is important for my children to find out where they got their inherited characteristics.

Ruth and Aubrey sharing a moment looking at pictures

(Aubrey put the beautiful flowers in Ruth's hair)

My son Cole has been writing his biological mother (Ruth) for the past several months and apparently he facilitated meeting Ruth’s brothers and sister (my children’s biological aunt and uncles). I was excited to see them again because it has been over six years since we last met and obviously the children have all changed, Ava was only one and Aubrey wasn't even born at the time of our last meeting. We even met one of their cousins and he was absolutely adorable with Aubrey!

Ava, Ruth and Aubrey

On July 5th we were able to facilitate a meeting - it was an amazing visit! Our time together couldn’t have gone any better. We all met for lunch and then went to meet my children’s (birth) mother Ruth. We sat on the front porch of a house for about three hours and visited, took pictures, laughed and got to know each other better; it was all so comfortable, just like being with family should be.

And you can definitely see where my children get their good looks; they absolutely look like their uncles! I can’t wait for the next visit!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Finding and Meeting (Birth, Real, First) Parents

Wow, I can’t believe it has been three weeks since I have written anything!

Tonight as I was driving my son to practice he mentioned that one of his friends is also adopted. He said “when he turns 16 he is going to drive around and look for his mom.” I asked my son if he is glad he knows who his birth mother is. He said he couldn’t really say one way or another because he has always known.

This made me think about the people I have met who have placed children and may not know where they are now. Maybe they were promised an “open” adoption and then once the child’s adoption was finalized they were left with nothing (how manipulative and sad!) I thought of my son’s friend who is wondering about his mother…where she is, who she is.

My daughter’s birth father contacted me today and asked if she could call him on the phone. My daughter is seven, but she knows about her birth mother. I don’t know if she understands as much about her birth father because he is the only birth father that I actually have contact with. (She has seen pictures of him and we talk about him, although her other siblings don’t really talk about their birth fathers). Her birth father’s birthday is this weekend, so I will most likely allow her to call him then. I imagine the conversation will be brief, but he (her birth father) said “ I just want to hear her voice.” Such a small request but one that my husband and I will of course allow. He hasn’t seen her since she was an infant although he has talked to her on the phone before. She even sang him a song (You are so Beautiful to Me).

My beautiful Ava girl a few days ago (don't mind the date on the picture, it is wrong!)

So I am wondering if any parents who have placed (is there a better word?) children would be willing to give me some advice on how they would envision meeting their children. I am still trying to locate my sons’ birth father; I know they will want to meet him at some point, although I am unsure how he will react or if he even wonders about them. What do you do in cases where the birth parents don’t want to be contacted? How do you know if they want to be contacted by their children?

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Weekend at IKEA!

Last Saturday we were headed to Salt Lake so I decided to ask Ruth if she could meet us for lunch. (She just moved closer to us!) She was available so we made plans to get together at Ikea to shop and have lunch. We arrived first and we were all standing in the lobby looking out the glass windows waiting for her… Ava saw Ruth first and started running to her “Ruth, Ruth!!!” She then proceeded to give her a huge hug! It was a beautiful site. The boys were a little less dramatic, but I think they were happy to see her as well. (Bryan had to work so he wasn’t with us).

I was hoping that Cole would have the chance to talk to Ruth as we walked around the huge store. Ruth pushed Aubrey in the cart and Aubrey was talking her ear off for the first 20 minutes or so, but when she saw me again she wanted me to hold her (I felt bad taking her away from Ruth). We all just wandered around looking at different items, giving each child a chance to talk to Ruth privately if they wished. Ruth and I talked and she told me she didn’t want to have any of the children feel bad or singled out, so she was trying to talk to each of the individually. She did a great job.

Cole was unusually clingy to me most of the time we were together (which really surprised me). After buying a few kitchen items we headed back upstairs to have lunch. Cole sat across the table from Ruth and Ava and Aubrey sat near her as well. Cole finally opened up and started talking to her (nothing too serious, but at least having a conversation). He told me later that it is easier to talk via letters.

After lunch Mykel, Preston, Ava and Aubrey sat on the display couches and watched a movie while Ruth, Cole and I walked around the top floor looking at furniture for another hour or so (which was nice).

Cole and Preston bought Ruth a cinnamon roll to take home with her and Ava and Cole walked Ruth to her car to say goodbye. The kids were all in good spirits as we headed home.

I am so grateful that my children know who Ruth is and that she is willing to meet with them, talk to them, hug them and spend time with them. I think “knowing” her helps my children. On several occasions Ruth has told me that “knowing where her children are and that they are happy” helps her deal with her pain and loss as well. I do have to say that I know all open adoptions aren’t like this. Ruth has been very wonderful about allowing me space to be my children’s mother. Our relationship has evolved over time and changed due to each of our circumstances. I hope that our relationship will continue to grow so that each child can get to know Ruth personally and know what an amazing person she is and the huge sacrifice she made so that we could be a family.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What is NORMAL?

First of all I would like to thank those of you who have written me e-mails and made positive comments on my blog. I have found so many negative blogs (about adoption) and have been reading so much negative material I was beginning to doubt my abilities as a mother, but my strength is now renewed! Thank you for turning my eyes and heart back to the positive!

As I have been reading the book “The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child” there are several things that I agree with, and then there are several things that make me question whether the actions of my children are the direct result of being adopted or just normal actions of children growing up and finding out who they are. I tend to side with the latter. I took the book (The Primal Wound) back to the library yesterday, I couldn’t read anymore right now – the following is the last quote I typed from the book:

“Adoption, considered by many as merely a concept, is, in fact, a traumatic experience for the adoptee. It begins with the separation from his biological mother and ends with his living with strangers. Most of his life he may have denied or repressed his feelings about his experience, having had no sense that they would be acknowledged or validated. He may, instead, have been made to feel as if he should be grateful for this monumental manipulation of his destiny. Somewhere within him however, he does have feelings about this traumatic experience, and having these feelings does not mean that he is abnormal, sick, or crazy. It means that he is wounded as a result of having suffered a devastating loss and that his feelings about this are legitimate and need to be acknowledged, rather than ignore or challenged.”

Bryan is my oldest son. He was originally placed with our family when he was 2 ½ years old, a few months later his birth mother wanted to parent him so he went back to be with his mother and grandmother and then returned to our family 14 months later when he was almost four.

I don’t know everything about Bryan during his first four years of life but I know that his mother and grandmother took very good care of him. He is the oldest grandchild so I know he was given a lot of attention and love.

Bryan has always been exceptional… exceptionally smart, exceptionally obedient, and an all around exceptionally successful person. Bryan has a phenomenal memory and amazing recall of past events. He is always willing to help me, usually without being asked. (Is this because he is so depressed and deprived from being adopted, as the author of the Primal Wound would have me believe?) I don't think so!

Bryan receiving his Eagle Scout Award last year.

I often wonder, is Bryan's behavior “normal” or is he an exceptional over achiever due to some "unseen wound" that lies within him due to being adopted? Bryan knows he is adopted; we talk about it openly whenever he has a question. He can e-mail his birth mother at any time, call her on the phone, or talk to her on Facebook, if he chooses to do so. A few years ago when Ruth moved he even came with me and helped Ruth move into her new apartment.

When I asked Bryan what he thought about me keeping my blog “open” he responded that he wanted to keep it open. He said talking about adoption with his friends gives him an opportunity to meet new people and share his beliefs. He was very adamant about keeping my blog available for anyone to read.

(Thus it is still open right now).

I just got back from an awards assembly at his junior high school. Bryan was given the “Soaring Eagle” award (his school mascot is the Eagle) – and he had to be nominated by a teacher, I would like to share what his teacher wrote on his nomination form (the words in CAPS were like that on the nomination) – Bryan gave me his permission to share on my blog:

Camille (me) with Bryan holding his awards

“Bryan is an amazing student. It is not easy to skip a grade, but he did. He was too advanced in 7th grade so he became a 9th grader this year when he should have been in 8th grade normally. I LOVE having him in my computer tech class because he desires to learn all he can from me. I ALWAYS have his full attention when I teach – his eyes are always on me and he listens intently, soaking in all the information.

I LOVE the fact that he wants to learn all he can. He chose to sit front and center in the classroom. Whenever I am teaching and his classmates start talking, he is the first one to speak up and tell them to be quiet. Like I said, he wants to learn all he can, not to be held back by his classmates.

Bryan is a top notch student. The sky is the limit with him, nothing holds him back from achieving. He plows through to be a high achiever… can we clone him???

He is kind, helpful, and friendly with his new 9th grade friends, he fits right in with his fellow high value/high achieving students. He does choose his friends wisely. I am so impressed with Bryan.”

My children are as “normal” as any other teenagers I know with similar questions and concerns with regards to growing up. I decided to just keep focusing on the positive – it far outweighs the negative in my life, especially with regards to my children and our family. I believe my children know they are loved; inevitably they will still have questions with regards to their placement with our family, but we will continue to be open and honest as the questions arise.

We have been blessed beyond measure and I acknowledge my Father in Heaven for blessing me so abundantly!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

“If she could do that, what about you?”

I haven’t written for the past week because I have been trying to sort out my own feelings with regards to open adoption (debating on even continuing this blog) and also dealing with issues with my children as they explore their own feelings and try to make sense of being “adopted.”

“Even if the child recognizes that the adoptive mother is not the abandoning
mother, she certainly could become one. After all, if it happened once, it could
happen again. Frederick Stone points out that the question, whether spoken or
unspoken, “Why did my own mother not keep me?” is always followed by the
unexpressed but equally anxious thought, ‘If she could do that, what about
you.’” (The Primal Wound)
A few years ago my son Cole and I were out on a walk and he asked me a very interesting question, he said “can someone else adopt me?” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant but then he said “can you give me to someone else?” We talked about this for quite some time and I tried to make him understand that there was nothing that would make me give him up. But he asked “if I was given up once by my own mother (Ruth), couldn’t that happen again?”

Then a couple of days ago my boys and I were all in the kitchen together, my two younger sons were arguing and I said “you guys have got to stop arguing and try to get along with each other.” Then my oldest son said “maybe you should just adopt them to someone else.” I was so surprised/stunned by his comment; I didn’t even have an answer. I had to leave the room and try and compose myself before I told him "that wasn’t an option" ~ but sometimes the reality of adoption is hard.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

“Substitute Mother”

Tonight was Preston’s night. I bought myself a new cookbook (Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld) for Mother’s Day so Preston and I were off to buy all sorts of new ingredients for the recipes…. After two hours of talking, shopping and running errands we finally made it back home. When we pulled into the garage Cole came out to help us unload the groceries. Preston made the comment, “you are the best mom ever!” to which Cole replied “what do you mean, she is our only mom… well except for our birth mom.” Then Preston said to me “well yeah, Ruth is my birth mom, but you are my mother.”

Cole and Preston dressing up for their Valentine's Dance February 2010

I have been reading a book called book “The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Verrier (as suggested by Gloria). Surprisingly there are several points and theories that I agree with, but there are other ideas that I don’t agree with based on my own experiences as an adoptive mother. The following is a quote from the chapter titled “The Connection with the Birth Mother.”

“I don’t believe it is possible to sever the tie with the biological
mother and replace her with another primary caregiver, no matter how warm,
caring, and motivated she may be, without psychological consequences for the
child (and the mother). An infant or child can certainly attach to another
caregiver, but the quality of that attachment may be different from that
with the first mother, and bonding may be difficult, or as many adoptees
have told me, impossible.”
And another quote from the chapter titled “Adoption as an Experience”

“Even if the adoptive mother has established a relationship with the birth
mother and aided in the birth of the baby, the baby will recognize her as an
imposter, a substitute for the mother with whom he spent the first nine months
of his life.”

I am not na├»ve enough to believe that my children will never have questions about their birth mother or long to be with her and spend time with her, we have dealt with those issues from day one. But I also don’t believe that my children can’t love me as their mother. I don’t believe they see me as a “substitute” mother any more than I see my children as “substitute" children.

I thought of it this way ~ as a mother if you have more than one child you know that you can love all of them. My children are all different with their own personalities, quirks, dreams and ideas, but it doesn’t mean that I love one of them less. It is the same with family members. I have four brothers and five sisters and I love all of them, each one has special meaning to me and my life. It is the same with my friends. I have more than one “best” friend, some friends I can share personal and intimate details of my life with, others I see on a more casual basis, but I love each of them for what they mean to me.

I think it can be the same for my children loving more than one mother. I am not trying to “sever the tie with the biological mother and replace her” – I know that is an impossibility, but I don’t believe that my children see me as a “substitute” – they only see me as their mother.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy "Mother's" Day!

"If a mother and father can love more than one child, then certainly a child can love more than one mother or father." Author: Unknown

My friend Tracey has the above quote on her blog and I love it because it is what I believe. I think a real fear of adoptive mothers is that their children will someday grow up and want to go back to their “real” mothers (and then where does that leave us?)
Ava, Bryan, Ruth, Preston and Cole

When my husband and I were first approached with adoption he was in favor a “closed” adoption because his fear was that when our children turned 18 they would find their “real” parents and we would be left in the dust.

When my oldest son Bryan came back to live with us he told his brothers that I was not his “real” mother and that Ruth was their “real” mother. At the time I was very hurt by this, although I knew that he was right. It has taken me time to realize (and be okay with) the fact that I will never by my children’s “real” mother in the sense that I was not the one who carried them in my womb and gave birth to them. I am finally confident enough in myself and who I represent to my children to not feel jealous when my children want to see their “real” mother.
I could never deny them the opportunity to see Ruth, nor deny Ruth the opportunity to see them. Time and life experiences have a way of helping you see things differently, for which I am grateful. I could never imagine the loss that Ruth feels as I am the “mother” who gets to spend every day with my children.

Today was no exception; it was one of those wonderful days as a mother….

* Holding Aubrey as she slept ~ my favorite!
* Boating with my children (sunshine, abundant smiles and laughter)
* Cooking and Eating s’mores with our friends and Ava saying “this was a perfect day.”
* Going to the store with my son and having him share his thoughts and ask for my advice.
* Cole hugging me and telling me he loves me.
*Watching my kids laugh.

Another wonderful evening in our backyard... Mykel and Preston

This afternoon I realized something: my joy comes from being with my children and seeing them happy. These moments I have with my children are so precious, I have to remember to savor them and relish the opportunity I have as their mother, no matter if I am the "real" one or not! :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

What a difference a day makes!

First of all, WELCOME BACK! Thanks for joining me; I sure hope I didn’t miss sending an invite to anyone!!!

Usually when I have a bad day or am talking to someone who is having a bad say, I say “tomorrow is another day” or “what a difference a day makes” – my own advice has definitely rang true the past few days!

Like I mentioned previously, last week was one of those weeks, I was getting hammered by negativity with regards to my blog; I was reading an array of pessimistic posts and books that made adoptive parents out to be the slated as some of the worst people on the planet and then it happened…

I knew the day would come, I wasn’t ready for it. I thought I was but I wasn’t.

…the day one of my children would ask Ruth “why” – why she had “given them up” and if she still loved them?”

My son Cole wrote a letter to Ruth last week…My first concern was that his words would be hurtful to Ruth… and then I just prayed she would write him back so he wouldn’t be hurt. Today he received two letters in the mail, both from Ruth. I gave them to him as soon as he got home from school. He ran to his room and shut the door for some privacy. I gave him about 20 minutes and then I decided to knock on his door to make sure he was okay.

He opened the door and I could tell that he was smiling. I smiled back and gave him a hug. He held onto me and cried on my shoulder for a minute and then continued to hug me. He said with a grin, “she answered all of my questions.”

I asked him if sometime in the future I would be allowed to read what she wrote, he said “you can read them right now.” He then said “I think I hurt her.”

I read Ruth’s beautiful words describing to Cole why he was with us and that she still loved him but she didn’t know if he wanted to hear that from her. I am not going to quote what she wrote because it was a personal message to Cole, but suffice it to say that she wrote exactly what he needed to hear. After I read the letters I reassured him that I didn’t think Ruth was hurt.

I am so grateful she took the time to write him back, that she answered his questions, and that she was not offended by his words. Thank you Ruth, you have blessed my life in so many ways!

(Ruth has not asked to be invited to view my blog, I think it is too painful for her right now…)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Open Invitation - Poll

As many of you know, I have decided to go “private” with my blog. I am leaving it open for a few days so any of you who would like an invite, please e-mail me at and I will be happy to add you to the list!

My other option(s) would be:

Change some of the personal information about my children so they wouldn’t be as accessible for the entire world to see (and leave my blog open).

Not worry about what other people think. Hah!

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Privatized ~ Friends make the world go round!

A few days ago after my “Everyone’s a Critic” Part 2, I received yet another nasty comment from “Gloria…” Oh Gloria. I guess there has to be opposition in all things right? But this time, something she said actually rang true (I told her I would welcome constructive criticism!) She mentioned that I have a lot of private information about my children regarding their relinquishment stories (which I do) – I hadn’t thought about how their story might affect them if some of their peers read it. Their story is “their story” and I really don’t have the right to share it with the entire world - thus my decision to make my blog private. So if you are one of the few people I invited to continue reading this ~Welcome, I am glad you decided to stay!

It has been one of those weeks. I have felt worthless, like I am not a good mom – (I am sure most moms feel like this many times...)

I realized I have been reading too many negative blogs and books (The Primal Wound, as suggested by the negative blogs) about adoption lately. I have been feeling like this horrible person for “taking” these children away from their natural mother and the affect it will have on them and their future. This morning was a low point for me.

Then, my friend Celestia called and said she was bringing me lunch today. She had no idea I was feeling low as I hadn’t discussed how I was feeling with her at all, but somehow she knew to come (THANK YOU!) My sister even called me to see how things were going (she saw on my Facebook page that I was having a bad day) I was happy just hearing her soothing voice (she has one of those amazing radio voices); she has always been such a wonderful example to me!

After we had a delicious lunch (Holy Kolache! and Cinnamon Rolls!) My friend’s husband Tim (who is a Physician’s Assistant) stopped by my house to check on Aubrey because she has been really sick. Tim was adopted at birth so I started talking to him about these books and blogs I had been reading and asked how he felt as an adoptee and if he agreed with what I had read. He said he felt completely opposite (this made my heart soar! There was hope for me as a mother!)

Yeah, I just heard a knock on the door and it was my friend Nicole bringing me some yummy cookies! I am now eating some delicious peanut butter cookies and a cold glass of milk – and I am feeling better already! There is so much good in this world, I have to stop focusing on the bad!

Wow, another knock at my door and Celestia’s girls brought our family dinner! I do have to say that I have some of the best friends, neighbors and family in the world! Thanks for making me smile again!
Then a few minutes later I checked my e-mail to find another wonderful note from my friend Kari.... Heavenly Father is definitely watching over me today!

Thanks to my husband as well… he took the girls on a daddy/daughter date to give me some time to unwind/cry/blog/vent… Thanks honey!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

“Everyone’s A Critic” Part 2

When I meet someone or see someone for the first time I automatically start making assumptions or judgements about that person… I judge them by their appearance, how they look, walk, talk, and interact… I try to discern if they are happy, sad, angry, frustrated or depressed… This is me making a snap judgement about someone within about the first 10 seconds of meeting them or seeing them. I have come to realize over the years that 99% of the time my assumptions are completely wrong. I realize that every person has their story and I have no idea about their past joys, successes or failures and trials, as they have no idea about mine and are probably making their own assumptions and judgements about me at the very same time.

Two years ago I had no idea what a blog even was. I started a family blog because my friend told me it was a good way to “journal” family events. Then I decided to start writing about adoption and the story of my children. After my first week of writing I decided to “Google” about adoption and read other blogs about adoption. WOW! I was amazed at the enormous amount of negativity surrounding adoption. I had no idea so many people are AGAINST adoption! I have read several blogs written by birth mothers and adoptees making adoptive parents out to be these villainous people who snatch babies away from their mothers. I couldn’t understand why they would be so angry that a child was placed with a loving family…. So I read and read some more.

I came to agree with a lot of what they wrote because I tried to see things from their viewpoint, but I don’t agree with everything they write (as I am sure they don’t agree with me). Does that make them wrong and me right? No, it makes us different and like the Arby’s commercial used to say “Different is good.” Their situation is different from mine; I cannot judge or dismiss their feelings just because they are not the same as my own. I can’t go back and change how my children were placed with our family. Looking back, with the knowledge I have now, of course I would change how I acted and reacted in singular situations, but hindsight is like that.

I have received several very negative and biting comments and e-mails from people who have read my blog and don’t agree with me (yes it hurts) but that is okay. For those who have left their name or a way to contact them I have read their blogs and their stories to try and find out where they are coming from. I used to get angry when people would try to tell me how to raise my children because it seemed they were always comparing me to themselves “I never worked when I had small children…” or “my children never did THAT.” It was always “advice” that made me feel like I was not doing a good job as a mother or parent.

I don’t mind criticism, as long as it is constructive criticism. If someone has an idea that would make my life better or a suggestion on how I could improve, I am all for it. I loved when a friend of mine told me about having “nights” with my kids, it has been one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.

People aren’t always going to agree with the decisions I made in my life and with regards to adoption, but if you have some advice on how I could do something better, I am open to hear it, just don’t criticize the past, I can’t change that now.

I am learning along with everyone else ~ and like my son said “Everyone’s a critic” even me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

“Everyone’s a Critic” Part 1

My son Preston loves to quote one-liners from movies or TV shows. Granted we haven’t had TV per se for about five years, but we do watch a lot of movies from the library and we own the entire collection of seasons 1-9 of "Full House" (I think that is where he got the above quote).

Earlier this week I was in the kitchen as Preston walked through the front door from school. He sat down in a chair with a huge sigh and said “Everyone’s a critic.” I wasn’t sure what he meant so I said “What do you mean by that?”

Preston at "Toads Fun Center" celebrating his birthday earlier this month

He said, “Girls are mainly critics” – so I said “Okay Preston, you be the critic, what could I do better for you as a mother to make you happy?” Preston thought about it for 10 seconds and said with a little smirk on his face “feed me more.” Then he said, “Actually, I am pretty happy.” So ended that, but I kept thinking about criticism we receive (and give) everyday.

I get the local daily newspaper and in the Saturday Religion Section I found an article titled:

“Most of us come with strengths and weaknesses”

by Chris Karcher. Here is a small excerpt:

Who is bugging you these days? Anybody?
Disregard extremists and radicals such as terrorists, pedophiles and hooligans. Instead, consider your relationships with family, friends and acquaintances.

What bothers you about them? Are they greedy? Disagreeable? Arrogant? Argumentative? Rude? Critical? Controlling? Self-centered? Mean? Insensitive? Impatient? Ah, the list of possibilities is long.

Psychologists say other people’s traits that bug us are likely traits within ourselves we deny or suppress. This is called projection. We project onto other people that which we deny in ourselves.

It’s not always projection particularly if we don’t feel an emotional twinge when observing an attribute in another. But people who get under our skin may be reflecting some of our own personality traits back to us…..

Jesus wanted us to see ourselves for who we are. He taught before we judge others, we should look within ourselves.

It is freeing to acknowledge the truth: we are not perfect, but God loves us anyway.

Bringing the reality of our shortcomings to light makes us more understanding and increases our sense of compassion for others.

More to come...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Les Mis and Love Notes

A few weeks ago Mykel and I took Cole and Ava to see a high school production of Les Miserables. (Mykel and I saw it on Broadway in New York 13 years ago and LOVED it!) I wasn’t sure how Ava would fare because she was already tired, but she was enthralled from the beginning. Every now and then I will hear her humming songs from the play…so last night we downloaded the Les Miserables album from iTunes and put it on my iPod (Ava loves to wear headphones and listen to music).

Ava was in heaven! She couldn’t stop singing the beginning overture and of course her favorite “Master of the House.” We watched a few clips from YouTube but she was a little disappointed because the guy who sang “Master of the House” wasn’t the same guy as the play she watched… and the guy from the high school play was simply amazing!

So this morning when I woke up to do my daily transcription work I found the following note sitting next to the computer:

(I also attached a few notes she has written in the past few weeks).

I can’t wait to hear her singing this morning! I love my little Ava girl!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thank you Ruth!

"In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness.
But the number of prayers we answer may be of greater importance."
Dieter F. UchtdorfThank you Ruth for answering my prayers!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A little break... or a long one.

I get up at 4:30 a.m. and go to the gym/running with my friend for 45 minutes, then I have a few hours of medical transcription work to get done. I wake up my oldest son at 6:20 a.m. to get ready for school, and then my other children get up around 7 a.m. (or sooner).

I baby-sit several children five days of the week and they usually arrive between 7:30-8:00 a.m. and stay until 3:30-4:00 p.m., I don’t like to be on the computer when I have little children to care for.

My children get home from school around 3:45 p.m., and then they need help with homework, getting dinner ready, chores, grocery shopping, appointments, time with family, etc….

I know my children HATE to see me working on the computer because then I can’t give my full attention to them. If I am on the computer while my daughter Aubrey is awake, she is NOT happy.

There are only a few things that I can eliminate from my schedule to allow more time with my children, my computer use is one of those (Aubrey is already awake and wanting my attention as I type this!)

So, I am at a crossroads of whether or not to continue with my blog…. Give me a week and I will see how I feel then. I need to spend some time with my family.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Story, Part 50 - "Nights"

Last Fall my friend Mariel asked me to write a “guest post” on her popular blog “Or So She Says.” I wrote about “nights” with my children, so some of this post is taken from that. After I wrote that post, I started thinking about changing my personal family blog to a blog that dealt with something I deal with every day, being an adoptive parent…. So began my blog “The Adoptive Mother.”

Today is my 50th post with regards to “Our Story.” This will be my last post for that segment and I will start writing about more current issues with regards to open adoption.

When Ruth was pregnant with Ava my boys saw her quite frequently. They accompanied Ruth and I when we went to her doctor appointments, they visited her apartment, made cards and notes for her and saw her on a regular basis. After Ava was born and Ruth decided to parent her we didn't see her for a while. Naturally the boys had a lot of questions about what would happen to their sister and to Ruth. Each night when I would tuck my boys in they would ask me questions about anything and everything. My oldest son Bryan was 7-years-old at the time and he had the most questions. I didn’t know how to answer some of the questions in front of all of the boys because of the differences in age and knowledge about the situation, so a friend of mine suggested that I set aside some time each night with them individually. Thus began a family tradition we call “nights.”

The basic premise of having “nights” means that each child is assigned a night, (Aubrey has Sunday, Ava Monday, Preston Tuesday, Cole Wednesday and Bryan Thursday). After we say family prayers and everyone gets tucked into bed, I spend an extra 15-45 minutes with my child on his/her “night.” At first most of our talks were about Ruth, Bryan wanted to know what was going to happen with Ava, he asked a lot of questions about his first family and what they were doing and how they were doing. Most of this time was spent comforting him and calming his anxiety and fears about separation and adoption in general, but basically just answering the questions he had about what was going to happen in the future, even if that meant saying "I don't know" because honestly I had no idea what was going to happen.

The main idea is just to take time ALONE with each child to talk, listen or both. With my youngest (age 3) we usually just read a few books and it only takes 10-15 minutes, but with my older children, they have a LOT to talk about! I thought maybe as my children got older they wouldn’t be as interested as when they were young, but I was wrong! They already start planning on what we are going to do on their “night” before they even leave for school or a few days before. I have found out things about my children that I never thought they would share…

Here are some ideas of what we do with our time together:

Sit together on the couch and just talk (we do this 90% of the time)
Read together, we usually take turns reading (if your child is old enough to read)
We take funny pictures of each other pulling faces
Sometimes we go to the store if I have errands to run (and get a small treat)
Go to the gas station and get a hot chocolate or drink (I have had some of my best talks with my teenage son while we drive)
Look up fun things on the internet, such as new books or toys they are interested in
Help with homework (if it didn’t get finished earlier)
Play a board game such as chess/checkers
Play a card game
In the summer we like to go outside and lie on the lawn and look at the stars and talk
Create a yummy snack to share (my kids love to cook!)
Around Christmas they help me shop and wrap presents for their siblings
Snuggle on the couch and read the comics

Being committed to doing this night after night and week after week is not easy (but it is definitely worth it!) Sometimes I have no idea what to say, sometimes I just want to get in bed, or go to bed at the same time as my spouse… but I have also designated Friday and Saturday nights as nights with my hubby (so he doesn’t miss out either on alone time either!)

A few weeks ago I was really sick on Thursday (Bryan’s night) so I was in bed hours before everyone else. The next day he mentioned that we missed his night and asked if we could have it the next day. I am so grateful for the time I am able to spend with my children. We don’t always talk about something profound, sometimes we talk about nothing at all, but I want my children to know I am there for them no matter what, especially as they start questioning who they are and ask more profound and probing questions about their past.

When my kids grow up and leave the house… I plan on making their “night” of the week the day when I call them to catch up…and hopefully they will still want to talk!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another perspective…

My friend Leslie sent me the following e-mail yesterday. She and her sister Rachel were the two people who took Ava to meet with Tony (see post 36 -"The Meeting"). I am so thankful for the wonderful friends in my life! Thank you Leslie! Like I’ve said before, I knew I was supposed to move to my little house on Jefferson Ave. I met some of the amazing people there who will be lifelong friends… Heavenly Father is definitely watching over us!

"I suppose that if you have stumbled across this blog, and don't personally know Mykel and Camille, this must seem like the most unique adoption story you have ever heard of. In truth, it probably is. However, if you have met them, you know this is who they are. Whether it is Sunday dinner or a movie night, they bring you into their lives and offer true friendship. You are better for having known them. So adoption and welcoming all of these precious little people into their lives, without reservation, is also who they are.

I remember my sister telling me about Ruth being pregnant with a fourth child. Instantly, my heart hoped that Ruth would place the baby with Mykel and Camille and that the baby would be a girl. After 3 active boys, Camille deserved a little nail polish and sun dresses, am I right? Ava becoming part of the family seemed like a painfully slow process but I remember the day she came home. Camille called me and we went over to see the baby. Sweet little Ava looked into all of our faces and I could not help but wonder what she was thinking. Camille let me hold her and change her diaper. This struck me as incredibly generous because she had been waiting for her for so long. Longer then before she knew Ava existed. Ava was so quiet and easy going. I giggled for days thinking of what her life would be like filled with the sounds of a house with brothers. Actual. Biological. Brothers. Even now, recalling that evening fills me with an overwhelming sense of how truly special this family is.

I went with my sister to McDonald's to meet Tony and his mother. Nervous is a huge understatement. I felt terrified. I remember seeing Tony meet Ava and feeling a great deal of empathy for him and his mother. Being a parent, I understand what it feels like to love your child. Knowing Mykel and Camille and the family that awaited Ava, if Tony chose it, filled me with hope and happiness for Ava's future. For Tony to trust that they could take care of her and let her go, to be a part of another family would take a great deal of courage and faith. But it is our very nature as human beings to be selfish, to think of our own wants and needs. That day I remember thinking the greatest gift one can give, is giving someone their child. Could he do it?

After reading Tony's post today I realize the error in my thinking. The greatest gift that one can give isn't giving someone a child. The greatest gift one can give, is giving a child a family."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letter from a Birth Father

When I decided to write this blog I wrote Tony (Ava's Birth Father) an e-mail explaining what I wanted to do. I told him if he ever wanted to contribute anything or post anything on my blog I would be happy to share "his side of the story" or how he felt. I received the following e-mail last week ~ used by permission from the author.

(Here are a few pictures of Ava with her birth father Tony. I showed Ava a picture of Tony on my computer and asked her "who is that" and she said "me!" They do look a lot alike!)

I am the biological father of Ava Skye. My name is Tony Padia, I am a Native American from the Northern Ute Tribe. Ava is my only child. I had visited with her a few weeks after her birth.

I also had the opportunity to visit with her and bring my mother Lorna Bear and my little brother Justin with me on this visit. I was very nervous on how things would turn out with the people that had brought Ava to visit me and my family. It turned out that they were very friendly and open to expressing how loving Camille and her husband were to Ava. I was glad to hear they welcomed her into the family with love and kindness. Camille’s friends expressed that Camille wanted to adopt Ava; I was sad for a moment, then my mother explained to me that Ava would understand my love that I have for her to be brought into a home with two loving parents and brothers (biological) that would love her. I was very open to the fact that they would take her as their own child.

About my visit with Ava - I had the opportunity to hold Ava and I realized that I held a responsibility toward baby Ava who I had brought into this world. I remember seeing how beautiful she looked; so small, she had loving eyes, and my nose, with a great complexion.

I love her with all my heart. What stands out the most is how much I love her. I want the best for Ava; I couldn’t offer that for her and knew that she would be well take care of by Camille and her family.

I see Ava now in photos. I am so glad that I was brave in my choice to see her raised in a loving family; I could not take that away from her now or ever. I know that this is the family our Creator has chosen her to be with.

Tony Padia

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Our Story, Part 49 - Worth the Wait

This morning Aubrey woke up early and said “come lay by me.” We snuggled on the couch for a minute and then I carried her into my bedroom and we snuggled in my covers (she is still in there sleeping). She was lying right next to me and smiling, and then she took her little hand and started caressing my face. I just smiled at her and she said “I love you mommy.”

I thought to myself, “You were definitely worth the wait!”

I LOVE being a mom!

Aubrey’s adoption was finalized on April 1, 2008, almost exactly 10 months from the day I picked her up. She was “sealed” to our family a few weeks later in the Ogden Temple. I wanted to share a few pictures of that day, it was one of the very best memories I have with my children and family.

"I have a family here on earth.

They are so good to me.

I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever

Through Heavenly Father's plan.

I always want to be with my own family,

And the Lord has shown me how I can.

The Lord has shown me how I can."

LDS Children's Songbook, Page 188

All pictures were taken by Nicole Anderson Photography.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Our Story, Part 48 - The Drive

Even though Aubrey had been with us since June, Ruth or “D” could still legally take her back because they hadn’t relinquished their parental rights. Another court date was set for January 30, 2008, and I hoped that Ruth and “D” would make it. I had been e-mailing Ruth back and forth and asking if she needed any help with her apartment or if she needed a ride. She finally wrote me back (two days before) and asked me if I could give her a ride to the court hearing. We made arrangements via e-mail on what time I would pick her up and where she would be. I knew she had the apartment downtown but she wasn’t staying there at night because she didn’t have a bed, so she said to pick her up at her mother-in-laws house (she and “D” were living there at the time).

The day before the court hearing I got another e-mail asking if I could also pick up “D.” This was so odd to me that I would be the person picking up my children’s birth mother and my daughter’s birth father and driving them to court to relinquish their parental rights.

The court hearing was set for 9 a.m. in Ogden and they lived in Salt Lake (about a 45 minute drive from my house on a good day), so I had to leave early in order to pick them up and get back to Ogden in time for the hearing. I took the girls over to my friend’s house at about 6:45 a.m. so I could get on the road (thank you Nicole for watching them!). There was already a huge snowstorm so I knew I would need extra time. I was late picking Ruth and “D” up because of the snow and all the accidents on the road. When they got in my car, Ruth sat in the front with me and “D” sat in the back (I could tell they were upset that I was late). They didn’t talk to each other during the entire drive (over an hour). I tried to make small talk but then just decided to concentrate on driving, I was too nervous to say much anyway.

I knew we were going to be late (I hate being late to anything!) so I called my attorney (he was at the court house), and he was luckily able to schedule our hearing for an hour later. When we finally arrived I asked them if they wanted me to just wait in the car or go in, they said to come in. Ironically the judge ended up being the same judge that presided over Ava’s adoption two years previous.

Ruth and “D” went in the court room with my attorney and I waited on a bench outside the door. A few minutes later my attorney came out and asked me if I was going to come in. I told him I didn’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. He said "'D' specifically requested that I come inside." I did not expect that!

The court room was basically empty except for our group, the bailiff and the judge. “D” had a back injury so he requested to be able to stand instead of sit. He was standing at the back of the court room and wanted to talk to me. He told me about a few things that he was upset with me about (I just listened and apologized) and then he asked me if I would please send him pictures of Aubrey every few weeks. I told him I would be happy to send him pictures and asked if he had any other requests. He didn’t.

I then watched both he and Ruth go in front of the judge. They had to answer several questions and then they each signed the paperwork that would give their consent allowing us to adopt Aubrey. I was really expecting “D” to speak up and say something when the judge was asking him questions, but he didn’t. It was so quiet in the court room, not even Ruth or “D” spoke to each other.

It had been eight months since Aubrey came to live with us, eight months of wondering if she would be able to stay another day, week or month. I cannot explain the feeling of elation I felt when the paperwork was signed ~ but the emotion was very somber as we left.

Camille (me) with Aubrey yesterday (April 2, 2010).

We had planned on getting something to eat before we left to go to Salt Lake, but “D” said his back was hurting so we just headed back. The entire hearing lasted less than 20 minutes. Again the drive was almost completely silent. When we got closer to Salt Lake, Ruth said she wanted to be dropped off at work, so we went downtown and I dropped her off. It was so odd when she got out of the car, I mean, what do I say?

After Ruth got out of the car “D” got in the front seat. As soon as the door closed and he and I were alone together he started talking my ear off (we still had about a 25 minute drive to his house). He talked the entire way and I learned even more about him, things that I will share with Aubrey when she wants to know more about her birth father.

When I dropped him off at his house, I again was at a loss of what to say other than “goodbye”and “I promise to send pictures.” That sounded so shallow, but I honestly didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t come off sounding wrong, there wasn’t a RIGHT thing to say. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if the tables were turned.

I drove away in the snowstorm and called Mykel to let him know how everything turned out (I couldn't believe all that had transpired in the last three hours, my emotions were at a bursting point, I wanted to cry, scream and shout with joy all at the same time!)

I rushed back to Ogden to pick up Aubrey and Ava, I couldn't wait to see them and hold them... and I couldn’t wait to tell the boys that Aubrey could stay with us forever!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Our Story, Part 47 - Christmas Eve Dinner with Ruth

The next time I spoke with Aubrey’s birth father (“D”) was in January. Our attorney had been trying to contact he and Ruth for months to set up a time to go to court, but was unsuccessful. I hadn’t received any feedback from the letter I sent him in September, nor had he tried to contact me or ask for Aubrey to come back and live with them again.

A court date was set for December 18th, 2007, and my attorney tried unsuccessfully to contact Ruth or “D” to offer them a ride to court but neither Ruth nor “D” showed. I had no idea what I would do if they changed their minds again about wanting Aubrey back, I couldn’t let her go. I was still in contact with Ruth and I reminded her of the court date but to no avail, she told me that “she didn’t have a chance to get back with our attorney before the hearing.” I tried not to let the worry seep in, but I was restless about our future with Aubrey nonetheless.

I also knew that Ruth was still looking for her own place to live and on December 23, she told me she had found a place close to her work, yet she hadn’t completely moved in.

The children all wanted to see Ruth so we asked if she would like to meet us for dinner the next day on Christmas Eve. There was a raging snowstorm on our way to Salt Lake but we were determined to meet with Ruth that night. She was working in down town and we planned to meet after she finished work, her choice was to meet at Olive Garden. The restaurant was almost completely empty. As we walked in the front doors another group of people came in directly behind us. There were two pilots and a stewardess from back east staying in Salt Lake for a layover. They asked us “are these ALL you children?” I told them “yes” and we exchanged small-talk for a bit. I really wanted to say “we are meeting our children’s birth mother here tonight” but they were already shocked by the number of children we had so I didn’t want to put them over the edge with that revelation!

Ruth was a little late so we were all seated when she arrived. Dinner was fun and the kids had Ruth laughing quite a bit, she has braces so she would try not to smile with her teeth but then she almost couldn’t help it. I loved to see them all interact with each other, Aubrey was a little shy at first but then she warmed right up at the end and let Ruth hold her and feed her, it was an amazing evening to be a part of. The boys also brought a small Christmas tree for her and decorated it with mini-ornaments; they were so excited to give it to her!

After dinner the boys walked with Ruth and I back to her car while Mykel took the girls to get our vehicle. The snow was really thick and had already covered her windshield and all of her windows. The boys went to work cleaning off her car and loading up the presents and little tree they had brought for her (careful not to lose any of the tiny ornaments). Cole was so concerned about Ruth’s wellbeing so he asked her “are you lonely?” Each of the boys gave her a hug before they got in our van to leave. It was such a touching moment watching them talk, smile and hug each other. I was hoping I could be invisible at that moment so they could just act natural and not worry about me being there.

Ruth had parked a few blocks from the restaurant, so by the time Mykel pulled up behind her car to pick us up we were just finishing our goodbyes. When I got in the car I told Mykel what had just transpired and then I said “how different it is that we get to drive away with her five beautiful children and she is left alone…” my heart just ached for her, here I was sitting in a warm car with my husband, surrounded by my children, going home on Christmas Eve to a nice home filled with food and presents waiting for “Santa to arrive” yet Ruth didn’t even have a bed to sleep in. I wanted to just call her back and take her home with us, but that wasn’t the solution either. I wanted to make everyone happy in this scenario, but that was out of my control.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our Story, Part 46 - He Wants Her Back

Mykel loved every second he got to spend with Aubrey. He was able to take her to the ocean and put her toes in the water for the first time during our trip to Mexico. He loved playing with her in the pool and taking her for walks in the stroller. She was so easy to love and get attached to! Even though the initial adjustment was harder for me, after the first few weeks I couldn’t imagine our family without her!

One of the hardest parts for me (and my husband) with the adoption of our children was not having paperwork signed (parental relinquishment) from day one, Aubrey was no exception. On the day I was asked if I wanted to take Aubrey home nothing was put in writing, again my husband and I were basically baby-sitting because her parents could legally take her back at any time. I was always hesitant to answer any phone calls or e-mails from Ruth or her husband, almost expecting them to come get her. I tried to just enjoy every minute I got to spend with her because I never knew if she would be with us the next day~ it was very nerve racking and stressful to say the least!

That is was happened on September 17, 2007 - (three and a half months after Aubrey came to live with us). The following is a copy of the e-mail I received from Ruth and my response to her and her husband – (Aubrey’s name was previously Katelynne, and I deleted Aubrey’s birth father’s name for privacy reasons)

September 17, 2007 - From Ruth to me ~

_____ has been making noises in the past about wanting Katelynne back, today he actually told me that he wants her back.
I just wanted to make you aware, I still want to place her. She is so happy with you.
She is doing good under your care.
Thank you. I better go

To our Attorney on September 17, 2007, I sent him a copy of the above e-mail and this was his response:

I've been thinking about Ruth and have been a little worried, because of some comments that _____ made when we last spoke. My best advice on this isn't legal advice. They hold the trump card. I think that you are in the best position to assess your relationship with Ruth. I recommend that you think about that, pray mightily, and decide whether you should call her. If you do, some honest points to consider:
--You and Mykel have been constants in the other 4 kids' lives and you have sacrificed to give the kids the best possible life.
--You've been up front and open with Ruth for many years, she should be confident that you'll continue to treat her with dignity and respect.
--Ruth has also sacrificed, because she has governed her decisions on the selfless test of what it best for the kids.
--Right now, Katelynne has 4 devoted siblings. It would be devastating to her sister and brothers, and to her, to tear her away.

Be careful to criticize ______ or question his motives. Ruth is probably doing that on her own.

Call me anytime if you have a question or I can help. For now, I don't know what to do but ride this out.

Mykel and I sent the following e-mail to Ruth the same day:


Thanks for updating us on what is going on. We don't want to fight _____ on this, as Katelynne is his daughter. She is doing wonderful here and I know it would be devastating to Bryan, Cole, Preston and Ava, if she had to go back. We are all so attached to her and she is a big part of our family. She is so happy and she loves all the attention she gets from her brothers and sister.

Mykel and I are both in tears thinking that she will have to leave. We all love her so much and want her to be a part of our family. She is very attached to Mykel and I know it will be extremely difficult for him to see her go (as it will for all of us). Please let us know what your final decision is and what you would like us to do. We don't want to say anything to the children unless we know for sure what you want to do.

We love her very much, but we respect both of your decisions on this, as you are her parents. We know there are no easy answers. Please let us know.

Love, Mykel and Camille Henrie

I also sent the following e-mail to Aubrey’s (Katelynne's) birth father a few days later:

Dear _____,

I wanted to write and express my feelings about Katelynne. I know when we spoke a few months ago out in the storage shed, you mentioned several reasons for wanting to place Katelynne. One of those reasons was financial. Mykel has just accepted a position in Ogden with one of his previous employers that will allow us the finances needed for Katelynne and all of our children to be well taken care of. We also put an offer on a house in Farr West (just North of Ogden) and our offer was accepted today. We will be moving there in about four to five weeks.

Now that we will be closer to Salt Lake, I would be happy to bring Katelynne down to visit when you wish to see her.

Katelynne is so attached to her siblings and they to her, she is very happy here. She laughs, giggles and just wants to be held and loved. She is a good eater and loves to be in the water taking baths making funny faces. It would be devastating to us and our children if their sister was taken away. She is thriving with all the attention from her brothers and sisters and I would love to have her stay and grow up with all of them.

Also when we spoke a few months ago, you mentioned that if you and Ruth got divorced that you would allow us to adopt Katelynne. If you and Ruth don't end up together, it will be much easier to get a divorce if there isn't a child involved. You also won't have a lifelong connection to Ruth if Katelynne is placed.

In short, I wish I could convince you to change your mind about wanting Katelynne back. I will be happy to send you pictures any time you request them and allow you to talk to her or see her. I am not trying to take her away from you, I only want to give her what you yourself told me you wanted her to have; a stable family who loves her and will take care of her.

If you want to talk to me or have any concerns, please feel free to e-mail me or call me. My home phone number is ** and my e-mail is **.

Please let me know what direction you want to go. I don't want to fight with you on this, I know you love her as we do and all of us just want what will be best for Katelynne in the long run.


Camille Henrie

He never wrote me back or asked for Aubrey (Katelynne) to come back. The next time I spoke with him was when I picked him up to go to court to relinquish his parental rights (four months later).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our Story, Part 45 - The Faith of a Child

I had only been gone about five minutes from Ruth's house when I called Mykel (my husband) to tell him that I wasn't traveling home alone! It would be an understatement to say that he was thrilled! We decided not to tell any of the kids and just surprise them in the morning...

Mykel and Aubrey

I had to go to the airport and pick up my sister so I headed up the freeway… I had only been gone about 10 minutes when Aubrey started to cry. I couldn’t reach her from where I was sitting so I had to pull over and get her a bottle and try to find her pacifier. I didn’t know it then but she hates to be in a car seat! I finally made it to pick up my sister and then she drove so I could sit next to Aubrey. It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we got on the road to head home. I realized that I didn’t have any other clothes for Aubrey, I had given away all of the baby girl items that were too small for Ava, so I didn’t even have pajamas for Aubrey to sleep in.

We pulled over at 13th East in Salt Lake and went into a ShopKo store to buy some clothes for her. Aubrey’s onesie was soaking wet and completely filthy and her diaper was dirty again, so it was definitely time for a break. My sister Yvonne and I had a great time shopping for little dresses, shoes, shirts, pants, PJ’s and diapers. Aubrey was content to either sit in the cart or have me hold her. I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with Aubrey beforehand so she was somewhat familiar with me and who I was since I had spent time in her home and with her mom and dad during the past couple of days.

By the time we got on the road to get home it was really late and luckily for me after Aubrey was fed she fell asleep for most of the drive. When I finally arrived at my house after midnight Mykel was waiting up for me. Aubrey was awake after I took her out of her car seat and Mykel wanted to hold her. He told me later that he “immediately felt a bond with her” and that he was “completely attached at first site" (she has been a daddy's girl ever since!) For me it took a little longer to feel the connection, I was so absorbed with worry that she would be taken away from us at any time that I couldn’t let me heart fully open. I was still somewhat guarded with my emotions because of past experiences with my other children being placed with us and then taken away.

We didn’t have a crib for her so we tried to lay her down between us on our bed to sleep. I was exhausted after traveling for over seven hours in the car, standing out in the heat and just the emotional aspect of the entire day. Needless to say I wanted at least a catnap, but Aubrey had other plans, she had already been asleep and now she was fully awake! I don’t blame her for being anxious, she wasn’t in her own bed, she was unfamiliar with our home, with us and everything around her. She would finally sleep for a few minutes and then wake up, sleep, wake up, all night long. It was a lengthy night for me, but Mykel enjoyed all of it, he wanted to just hold her all night anyway.

Aubrey already had him wrapped around her little finger!

The next morning is one of my favorite memories. I could hear some of the kids getting up to get ready for church. I walked in the living room holding Aubrey and my son Preston was sitting on a chair fixing his tie. Now I have to back up a little bit here and give some details on the situation with Preston…. We had been talking to the kids about the possibility that Aubrey could become a member of our family for several months, so each week Preston wanted to “fast and pray that Aubrey could come live with us.” Preston was only nine years old at the time, but he had been fasting every Sunday for the past month. I brought Aubrey in and when Preston saw her he was so excited! I told him that his fasting and prayers had worked and that his little sister was coming to live with us. Then he said “does she get to stay forever?” I told him I wasn’t sure yet because no paperwork had been signed, then he said “then I am going to fast again today.” I tell Preston it was because of his strong faith that Aubrey became part of our family, which I completely believe to be true. He has amazing faith.

That first week with Aubrey was full of fun and excitement for all of us. She is always so energetic and and playful, we call her "the little firecracker!" We had to rearrange rooms, find a crib, buy some more clothes and adjust our schedules to accommodate a new member of the family. We had been planning a vacation to Mexico for about four months and now we had to figure out how we were going to make the trip with a young baby and get permission from her parents and her birth certificate so she could cross the border.

Our Mexico trip was the first hurdle, by the end of summer Ruth wrote me to tell me that her husband “was making a fuss about getting Aubrey back.” I still get sick to my stomach when I read that e-mail.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our Story, Part 44 - "Take Good Care of Her"

On Saturday June 2, 2007, I was out grocery shopping with my kids. As I was walking to my car I got a text from Ruth asking me to stop by her house that afternoon. I lived 3 ½ hours away, so it wasn’t just like I could pick up and leave right then and I had already been to her house twice that week, but I knew something was different this time because my knees immediately started shaking when I read the text.

I told her that luckily my sister had to go to Salt Lake City and take her son to the airport that afternoon and I could ride out with her. I took my kids home, told Mykel the news and got ready to go meet with Ruth and her husband. It seemed like the longest drive to get there that day, and since I wasn’t driving and it wasn’t my car, I just had to follow where everyone else was going. We met one of my other sisters in Salt Lake so the cousins could visit for a while, then I finally dropped my sister and her son off at the Salt Lake Airport. I was a few hours late to meet with Ruth and her husband. By the time I got to their house Ruth had already gone to work. I asked her husband if he wanted me to come back later but he invited me in. I could see Aubrey crawling around on the floor and we went and sat on the couch to talk. A few minutes later he asked me if I could go outside to a little storage shed and talk to him.

This is where my crazy imagination started to run wild, I thought “what if he is going to take me out to the shed and kill me; no one knows where I am at…” I laughed at myself for thinking that, but I thought the request was quite odd and I remember watching Oprah once where she said to "listen to your gut when you feel strange about a situation…." Then he said “I want to talk to you outside so my brother doesn’t hear us.” That was a valid reason because I knew that he and Ruth were being kicked out of his brother’s house, so I assumed that was why he wanted to keep our conversation private. This helped shake my heebie-jeebies so I followed him outside (besides, he was carrying Aubrey, so that made me feel a little safer).

It was a VERY hot June day and the air inside the shed was scorching! As I have mentioned before, I always sweat to death when I am nervous, but now I had an excuse to actually be sweating, it was roasting inside the shed (no breeze whatsoever) and I had on a long sleeve shirt and jeans. We were both standing up to talk and he was holding Aubrey for most of the time (she was only dressed in a diaper and a onesie) and she was squirming in his arms and wanting to get down and crawl around.

We talked for well over an hour. I had so many crazy thoughts running through my head but I was trying to focus on every detail of what he was saying and pay close attention to everything he said so I could give an educated answer to his questions. At one point he mentioned that he and Ruth were thinking about placing Aubrey with us in a few months because of financial reasons and because they had no idea where they were going to live. I tried to help him with some options and offered to help them look for a place to live. We kept talking and at the end of the conversation he asked “do you want to take her home today?” I asked him what Ruth thought and he said that she already knew. I then asked him if Ruth wanted to say goodbye to her and he said that she already had. I finally answered him and said “I would love to take her home with me.”

We then went back inside the house (the air conditioning didn’t work but it was much cooler indoors!) He started packing up Aubrey’s bottles, formula and kitchen items and explaining what her schedule was. I tried to act intelligent and ask questions about her care, but mostly I just listened to what he was saying, I was still in shock. I was amazed at how organized he was about all of Aubrey’s bottles, food and her daily schedule (he had all of her bottles sanitized and gave her distilled water with her formula). He was taking extremely good care of her and I could tell she was happy and healthy.

He had some coupon vouchers for more formula, so we decided to go to the store and pick it up. We all got in the car together, he put Aubrey’s car seat in the van and we headed to the store. We walked around the grocery store; I was carrying Aubrey most of the time and I suppose to most people we just looked like a young family out grocery shopping. It is times like these that I remember not to assume or pre-judge people that I see because obviously no one could imagine the true scenario of our being together at the store that day….

By the time we got back to his house Aubrey needed to be changed. I put a new diaper on her but he didn’t offer me any new clothes, so I just put the onesie back on her. We then loaded up all of her stuff (a few diapers, formula and bottles) and he walked me out to my vehicle. He carefully buckled Aubrey in, kissed her goodbye, laid her favorite blanket on her seat and then looked at me and said “take good care of her” – I could tell his voice was cracking and he was having a hard time saying goodbye to her. My emotions were at the surface as well and I tried to hold back my tears, I promised him that I would take good care of her. He watched me back out of the driveway and leave and it was difficult to compose myself as I drove off and left him standing there alone.

Aubrey 2008

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Story, Part 43 - Not Knowing

After Aubrey’s birth I was in the “not knowing” stage again. Ruth had mentioned several times that she was thinking about placing Aubrey with our family so I never knew from one day to the next if I would get a phone call asking me to come and pick her up, it was so hard to plan for anything!

Over the ensuing months I would occasionally talk to Ruth via e-mail but sometimes I had no idea what to say or the gall to tell Ruth how I really felt. I was not trying to take her daughter away from her, but knowing that I may eventually get to be Aubrey’s mother and raise her, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her! My husband’s insurance at the time would cover adoption expenses if a child was placed within 90 days of birth, so I gave Ruth that information in hopes that she and her husband would make a decision one way or the other.

I want to make it clear that if at any time Ruth had said she was not interested in placing Aubrey or had decided to raise her on her own, I would not have kept the topic open for discussion. I had such high hopes that Ruth would be able to raise Aubrey, I knew this was her last chance at being a mother and I knew she regretted having her tubes tied (she told me she regretted it as soon as she had done it).

It was so difficult for me to try and go on with my life as normal, knowing that at any time I may get a call to go and pick up another child. One week I would get an e-mail from Ruth stating that she was unhappy and wanted a divorce and if she got a divorce then she would place the baby with our family. The next week I would get another e-mail saying that she and her husband needed a place to live. It was so hard to try and remain neutral and supportive!

In April 2007, when Aubrey was six months old, I got an e-mail from Ruth stating how unhappy she was in the marriage and that she really needed to leave the situation. I lived several hours away and there was nothing immediate that I could do. By the end of May 2007 Ruth really needed to move from where she was at. I offered to go help her and her husband find an apartment. Mykel and I were taking the kids out to Lagoon (a family amusement part) for the weekend and I told Ruth I would be in town for a few days if she needed any help. I had come to terms with the fact that Aubrey may never be placed with our family and I could live with that, it was having my emotions toyed with that was making me crazy!

On May 29 I got an e-mail from Ruth asking if I could help them find an apartment. I had been looking online and making calls to help them find a place to live but nothing was panning out. Finally I decided to just go out and help them physically look for a place. I drove the three and a half hours to their house and picked them all up, Ruth, her husband and Aubrey (yes, it was a little awkward). We had a few appointments to look at some apartments and made calls as we drove around (the silence was almost deafening in the car...and the small talk was almost nil). There were several places that would work but when they filled out the rental application they were denied because Ruth’s husband had a felony on his record (so depressing because Ruth could qualify on her own but not together). After driving around all day (we did stop for lunch) I finally took them back home because Ruth had to go to work. I stayed and talked with her husband for a long time about their situation (I also got to hold Aubrey).

After a very LONG, emotionally exhausting day I drove another three and a half hours home by myself, (this was my second trip to the city in less than a week). I had no idea by the end of that same week I would be asked to come back, but this time I didn’t leave by myself… my life was about to change in a big way, again!