Saturday, August 30, 2008

Called to the bedside

It might be time to let my grandma go.

My grandma IS my sense of family. She has been there for my sister and I for years when our mother chose not to be.

She is who my idea of family revolves around.

She is the foundation of my world. Of my childhood. Of my kids' world.

We have been through HELL as she has aged with family drama that is so not worth the effort to explain other than to say that those "family" members tried to cost us time with her for their own selfish needs.

She has pneumonia. I am flying out to where she is any minute.


3 hour drive. A flight BACK to Vancouver, a flight North to Edmonton.

I just need to be there. In a way that I can't explain.

Please pray I have time. Please. That's all I want is time enough to get there. I need the prayers of many.

PLEASE God, please.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Adoption Diary: The Introduction

"Why adopt?"
The question that has been asked of us over and over.

We were young.

23 when we started the home study process, 25 when the boys came home.

We were fertile.

Tanner, our biological son, was 4 months old when we attended our first adoption information class. My pregnancy wasn't easy, but it wasn't reason enough to choose not to have more biological children.

We made cute babies.

OK seriously, as if THAT would be a reason people would chose to adopt. But people said it too us. Yes Tanner was SO cute. Yes we still chose to adopt. Seriously people.

But the decision to adopt, or at least try to adopt, had been made long before.

Long before we were married. Long before we got pregnant. Long before we had a son. Adoption was our first choice. A biological child came first, but adoption was never, ever a second choice.

Did I understand fully what being an adoptive parent meant? Of course not.

Did I understand fully what being a transracial parent meant? Of course not.

Did I understand fully what I would need to know, learn and develop in order to be a good parent to my future children? Of course not.

But I did know. Know with a soul searing, life altering knowledge, that I would adopt.

Our adoption story started long before. As a sixteen year old, I was found by my sister. A sister I didn't know existed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: A Change in Plans

Ok. So this is embarassing.

Really, really embarassing.

Yesterday morning I wrote that long winded post about missing my boys already, even before school starts.

Watching them walk out the door. Leaving for school. How much it hurts to even think about.

Then I got up. Got dressed. Ate breakfast.

Grabbed my 3 youngest (Grouchy Greg was still sleeping) and headed to the school Eric and Caden will be attending for a meeting with Eric's new teacher to discuss his classroom needs.

While I was there, they offerred me a job. As a Teacher's Assistant.

In Eric's class.

I start Tuesday, September 2, 2o08.

You're not getting rid of me yet kiddo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: When Letting Go is Hard to Do

I am a mom. I love being a mom. I love mothering. I have always been a mom who has wanted to stay home with her kids. Although aching at times for adult conversation, I have never, ever ached to leave my kids with other caregivers. To escape into the work force. To miss out on the days with my boys.

When my boys attended school, I was the mom that drove every field trip. I walked them into class every morning, and picked them up after school every day. They acted disdainful, but I heard about it if I dared miss a day. Ever.

And then, in 2004, we began to homeschool. Together all day, every day. Lots of good, some difficulties. But overall, mostly, it was fun. We are closer in many ways because of it.

And that's all about to end.

Tuesday. September 2, 2008

The day my boys will walk out our front door and enter the halls of various schools. Entrusted to various teachers. Leaving my kitchen table. Leaving ME. 6 hours a day. Every day.

For four years we have been together. Schooling together. Learning together. Being together.

It's time. But its hard. Harder on me than on the boys.

I would like to say that the separation, the letting go, starts next Tuesday, but in reality this entire summer has been a long process of loosening my grip. Letting my boys experience life without me by their side.

There was "family camp". Family camp that really means the boys are off with their friends from dawn until long after dark and if we were lucky we saw them for meals. I actually missed them despite the fact we were in theory all camping together.

There was the Missouri trip. Letting Greg see I trusted him enough to make the sorts of decisions that are involved in meeting his other family. Reality was, for me, there was tearing and sharing involved in that process and it wasn't always easy.

Plus, to go to Missouri, I had to leave my other 3 boys at home. 12 days. The longest separation ever. I had to trust others to parent them. Trust that they would be ok. They were.

Shelby's accident. Kids left behind. Scattered. Shared. Not planned but necessary none the less.

Greg left for hockey camp. He was scouted. He is now noticed by people to whom it counts. Invited to play in front of college scouts in Vegas in the spring, Burnaby next May. Words like "drafted" and "junior hockey" discussed. He is 13.

Imagine if letting my 13 year old walk to school alone causes me to lie awake at night in dread what hearing those words does to me?

"You must be so proud, Greg could be playing in the Big City soon"

"How awesome for you, finally some free time"

No! No! No! I don't want my boys gone. I don't want school to start and daily separation to begin. I don't want to think about my future 15 year old choosing to move out to play a SPORT away from his family for 10 months of the year. I want my family here. I want to be a mom.

And I wonder ... is this because I am simply a mother? Or is this because I am an adoptive mother?

Greg and Eric weren't "mine" until they were 3 and 4. Its been 9 years this coming week since I first held my sons in my arms. I am not ready to let them go. I AM, slowly, and because its the right thing to do, but I do not FEEL ready.

Parenting the older adopted child is some days like parenting in fast forward. Life skips ahead at an alarming rate. Today you meet your child, tomorrow they are grown up. Independent.

You work on attachment with a pre-schooler and then have to let them go to kindergarten. They play their first soccer game and then want to reunite with their first family.

It feels like days, in reality its years. But not enough years for me.

I think there is a process to mothering. A slow, methodical process that allows moms (or at least moms like me!) to let go as their kids grow up. My heart, my mother heart of my boys, is 9 years old. But I am parenting a 12 and 13 year old.

On Tuesday, I will let them go with a smile and a hug.

"You will do great"
"This is so exciting for you"
"I am so proud of you"

Inside? Inside I will be aching for the days missed. For those baby cuddles I never had. For those toddler years shared with another mother. For the memory of a newborn smell I will never know and can't recapture. Coping with how the shock of their teenage independent selves wreaks havoc on my emotions.

My big, beautiful, amazing, mature boys will walk out the door. They will never know, never understand, how much it hurts to let them go.

I want a pause button on life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Learn Something New Everyday

Seriously, who knew?

You can imagine the groin/groyne jokes by the boys (big and small!) after seeing this sign while camping last week.

And just for your enjoyment - Scenery photos from our camping adventure. Consider this your "Tourism BC" information photo blog for the day. Vancouver is a GORGEOUS city, no doubt. Victoria is stunning year around. But the interiour of the province? We rock too. Come visit.

Ashcroft, BC

Looks pretty, but it's really a mine tailings pond. Look, don't touch!

Ranch lands near our home.

Okanagan Lake. Kids swear they see the Ogopogo every year.
And because my sister will point out to me that my American readers will think we live in the middle of nowhere, AND despite the fact that these photos make it look completely rural - we have PEOPLE and CITIES too. And notice - NO SNOW. Not a single igloo or dog sled in sight.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: The "Bad" Adoptee

We arrived at Greg's hockey tournament Wednesday night. Thrilled to see my giant, independent son!

He was beautiful but oh the stench! I am pretty sure he had been wearing the same clothes for a week. He SMELLED like he had been wearing the same clothes for a year!

We were introduced to Greg's friend, "Nate". We met Nate's dad. Happy, friendly introductions were made all around. Exchange of stories. Exchange of information about mutual friends.

We parents have much in common. The adoption world is not that big. We share friends. We share social workers.

Our boys also have much in common.

American Born.
Excellent Hockey Players.

An hour after we met him, Nate was kicked out of the hockey program.

He was arrested.
He was charged.

Drugs. Weapons.

Nate was gone. No warning, no goodbyes. The police came and searched the boys' room. The kids were all sat down and told what had happened.

Drug paraphernalia found in his bag. It fell out on the ground in front of the counsellor when he reached into his backpack to grab his cell phone. A search found 3 knives and more drugs.

Kicked Out.

Shocking and traumatic, as you can imagine, for ALL the boys. Horrifying for the parents.

And then the added burden for Greg. The added burden that unless you have walked in our shoes you don't even think about. Because in Nate, he sees reflection of self. And WORSE, others see a reflection of self.

American Born.
Excellent Hockey Player.

Greg is the OTHER adopted child on the team. The OTHER black player on the team. The OTHER. The child who sticks out. The child the other parents would associate with Nate.

I sat in the stands of the arena and heard the parents discuss the situation.

"Well you know he was adopted, right?"

"He's probably trouble from way back."

"Why do they let kids with problems COME anyways?"

I understood their frustration. I didn't send my 13 year old child away to an elite level athletic program and expect them to be exposed to drugs or weapons either.

But I also ached for my child. For every adopted child and adult.

Every time a negative adoption news story comes out. Every time an adopted teenager makes a mistake or screws up royally. Every time someone looks at my child and see how he excels. How he succeeds. How he stumbles. How he chooses to live his life. Adopted is the label. Adopted is in the mirror of his reflection of self.

"Well he was adopted you know"

"That's Jen, she adopted those boys from the states"

I have no answers. No quick fix. I can only tell my son that I understand its complicated. That its more complicated than it should be. That I understand when Nate got taken away in a police car, that for GREG it was a big deal. A big deal because no matter what, there is no escape from the adoptee reality.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A little more to know about me

'A gossip is one who talks to you about others, a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.'

My first meme ...

Its supposed to be 6 quirky things about me, but seriously I am not that quirky. So how about 6 things about me you didn't know? In no particular order ...

1) I love to text. Love getting texts. Am a quick texter. Seriously, why talk when you can text?

2) The rocking chair in my living room is my favorite possession. It was my great grandmother's. My mother's water broke while she was sitting in it when she was pregnant with me. Its old. Its ugly. Its creaky. And its MINE. It's so closely tied to my kids idea of being mothered that when Caden was little and sad he's cry "rock me louder mommy" - Knowing we'd end up in the chair together rocking our hearts out.

3) I have 5 friends from high school (hi girls!) and we are in contact almost daily. We have our own website. We do girls' trips once a year. We are as different as can be (right wing, left wing, SAHM, lawyer, counsellor, American, Canadian). But we are sister-friends. The strange thing? In high school, we weren't that close. Actually, a couple of us hated each other. Sometimes life is strange.

4) I have several hundred cousins. My maternal grandmother is one of 17 kids. My other grandparents each had at least 5 siblings. If you have a relative from Maillardville, we are related. Of course, its bonus points if you know where Maillardville is because it isn't really found on any map. I never, ever escape relatives. I registered Greg for high school this year, his school counsellor grew up with my dad. In Mallairdville.

5) I lived in the Philippine jungle for 4 months when I was 18. I got typhoid. Strangely, despite having travelled all over Asia, the Caribbean, the USA and Mexico I have never been east of Saskatchewan in Canada.

6) Between kindergarten and grade 8 I attended 11 schools. I never went back to the same school twice, and twice switched schools half way through the year. This also takes into account the fact I skipped a grade. We moved a lot. My mom was very picky? Really I don't understand the logic. Half way through grade 8 I moved to the school I graduated from. My first day of grade 9 was the first time in my entire life I wasn't the "new girl" on the first day of school. I will never forget that feeling.

So, anything else you want to know about me?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer's Last Dance

Summer where I live is beautiful.

It's usually warm, dry, with no humidity. Not too hot, nice cool nights.

It's when neighbours take walks to the park, the kids sleep out on the trampoline, the dog naps in the shade.

It's also BRIEF.

So while its here, we appreciate it. Use it. Enjoy it. And there are only 2 weeks left.

Tomorrow my boys and I head out on the last road trip of the season.

We were supposed to be camping all this week but because of the Knee Cap Incident of 2008 the trip was tentatively cancelled.

Now with the Miracle Recovery of 2008, its been rescheduled, at least for the kids and I. The decision being made that 4 nights is better than none. And we have to go pick up Greg anyways.

As Shel heads off to visit the surgeon tomorrow in a city 3 hours away, I will head off with the trailer and the boys to meet a friend, my sister, her husband and boys and spend these last few days of summer camping.

In the rain. You did hear me mention the BRIEF part of our summer, right? Tonight, its supposed to be a high of 5 C (that's 40 F). And rain. And more rain.

And, of course, I will be spending several hours in the rink watching Greg play hockey.

So between the rain and the rink, it will feel like October. But that's summer in the North for you.

Fleece blankets packed. Sweat shirts packed. Hot Chocolate packed.

Along with shorts, swim suits, sunscreen, and hats. Because its liable to be 40 C (110 F) during the day.

Wish me luck. By Sunday we will be all back together. FINALLY.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Mother Load of Issues

Mom. Mommy. Mama. Mother.

For some of us those are fairly loaded words.

This is not a post about adoption or the differences between various type of mothers. Its not about comparing or contrasting or dissecting the types of relationships.

Its simply about acknowledging the complicated relationship between mother and daughters.

Maybe your mother gave birth to you, maybe she adopted you, maybe she simply assumed that role for you later in life. Maybe she is gone. Maybe you have more than one. But however she came to you, and you to her, you know she is your mother.

If you have an easy relationship with your mother, be happy. Be content. And probably quit reading.

If you have a complicated, layered, or painful relationship with your mother then you are in a large group of daughters. Sisters.

So today, I honor my sisters who have struggled with their mothers. Who have fought, cried, obsessed, argued, left, returned, grieved and spent hours in therapy trying to understand the dysfunction. I want you to know I hear you and its ok. We will survive. A bit worn from the process, but ok.

Today my friend lays her mother to rest.

Her relationship with her mother was complicated. It never came easy. It never filled the Hallmark Movie expectations we imagine others have with their mothers. It seemed, at times, to be completely marred with tears, hurts and frustrations.

But at the heart of the story, of every mother daughter story, was a little girl who loved her mommy, and a mother, who despite all her faults and failings, did the very best she could for the little girl she loved.

It's a story of a lifetime of memories, many good, some bad. Its a story of forgiveness and acceptance. Its a story of love and fear and sickness and eventually, of a daughter parenting her mother during the last days of her life.

To some it appears to be a story with a tragic ending. A terminal diagnosis. 6 weeks to live. But it was an ending that gave them a priceless gift of the time. Time to say I love you. Time to say I forgive you. Time to say goodbye.

Tamara, my heart breaks with your loss. The loss of the relationship you wanted, the loss of the relationship you had. I wish I could hold your hand today as you say goodbye to your mom.

And mom, I love you too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

For Sale: One Slightly Worn Husband

Shel has improved drastically in the last two days.

To the point that he is bored and felt up to going out and around town today.

I know what you're thinking - this is GREAT. He is going to want to do something positive with his time, right?

Out for coffee with me, his exhausted, sick, long suffering wife?
In to the office to check calls and emails?
To the park to watch his kids play?


No. Shel demanded to be taken to the DIRT BIKING STORE. To look at DIRT BIKING stuff.

DIRT BIKING STUFF. Yes, you read that right. DIRT BIKING STUFF.

You know, my husband that was nearly killed last week by his dirt bike? The husband that has put us all through more stress than he can imagine because of his DIRT BIKING ACCIDENT?

Yes THAT HUSBAND went to go look at DIRT BIKING STUFF.

He, his crutches and broken dirt bike can be picked up at the nearest Bus Depot.

Adoption Thoughts: Its not always so Black and White

Newsflash: Being black in Canada is a different experience than being black in the USA

Some statistics from Wikipedia

  • Nearly 30% of Black Canadians have Jamaican heritage.[4]
    • An additional 32% have heritage elsewhere in the Caribbean or Bermuda.[5]
  • 60% of Black Canadians are under the age of 35.[5]
  • 60% of Black Canadians live in the province of Ontario.[1]
  • There are 20,000 more black women than black men in Canada.[5]
  • Compared:
    • Black Canadians – 783,795 (2.5% of Canadian population)

Yes, that's right. only 2.5% of the total population with most black Canadians living in major centers, and most in Ontario.

In case you didn't know, we live 6 hours from a "major" center and around 3000 Kilometers, at least, from Ontario. In other words, where we live, being black is rare.

Canada is an extremely diverse country with a wide range of nationalities represented in most communities, but the majority of the visible minorities are of Asian or South Asian heritage. Our home community is diverse, but not diverse in a "Black-White-Hispanic" stereotypical American way.

30% First Nations, 10% South Asian, 3% Asian and less than .5% black. In a community of 12,000 that's not very many people.

But its not no-one. We are very, very blessed to have close and intimate relationships with our black community members. Today's post isn't about how we have adjusted and coped with the reality of being a minority family, when that minority is in fact minuscule, but rather how I, as a mom, watch my son's identity as a black man develop outside the realm of being the son of white parents.

Greg is away in another city at a hockey academy program. I didn't drop him off. No one there knows that Greg was adopted. No one there knows that Greg has white parents. He is simply a kid who plays hockey well who happens to be black.

This is his first experience of any long term significance of being just GREG. Not Greg, Shel and Jen's son.

It was reported back to me that of the 15 boys Greg shares a room with, there is another African Canadian child. They chose each other as bunk mates.

I was thrilled.

  • That Greg had a same race peer and wouldn't, once again, be the "only" child of color .
  • That Greg had been comfortable enough in realizing the support offered by a same race peer and initiated a relationship with the other child HIMSELF understanding their similarities, without my help.
  • That Greg, as a young black man had the chance to make a friend with another young black man without the "but he has white parents" label.
  • That Greg had self identified and internally acknowledged his blackness and sought out others like him as a positive experience. At 13, this is a big deal.

These are all thoughts that most white parents of most white kids never have. They never have to wonder or worry if their child feels "white" enough. If their child feels like they can have positive relationships with same race peers. If their child will be the only identifiable minority, a novelty, again.

I secretly gloried in the maturity of my son. What a good job I have done. What a fine young man, what a fine, young, strong BLACK man he is becoming.

And then Greg called me. I asked about his friend.

Adopted. White Parents. Born in Houston, Texas, immigrated to small town Canada.

Almost the same story as my boys. And I laughed.

This child was not dropped off at camp by his parents. Neither boy knew when they met, and yet they shared their story and found a sameness.

Its not the story I imagined, but its the story that happened. I am glad they have each other. And I wonder if there is another mother out there also happy that her son found my son and for these two weeks they have each other.

White Mothers. Black Sons. Good Friends.

I think he is going to be ok.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: A Week In Review

With how much Adoption/Being Adopted/Adoptive Parenting/First Parenting has been on my mind over the last couple months as we prepared for and recovered from our journey to Missouri, this past week has been a drastic dose of reality.

Simply spoken, we are a family. I didn't think an adoptive thought even once.

As I am sure most every other adoptive family who reads this would say, in 99% of our daily lives adoption doesn't play a part. We are a mom and a dad with four active boys. And in this family of ours, one member got hurt, and we rallied around, as families do, and just functioned.

Adoption had NOTHING to do with it.

Sometimes on forums it appears that we constantly are talking adoption, or thinking adoption or feeling adoption. And yes, during certain life experiences, like reunion, we ARE.

But you know what? Adoptive mothers do laundry, make breakfast, clean toilets, drive kids to sports practices, brush hair, scream, yell, hug, kiss, tuck in, wake up, break up fights, teach lessons and clean up toys. Adoptive kids eat breakfast, fight with siblings, play with cousins, walk their dogs, need hugs, get grossed out at mommy kisses, pee on the toilet seat and jump on the trampoline.

Shocking I know. We are quite normal.

And yes, our reactions to the horrific experiences that we went through this past week were touched and tainted by our sensitivity to our kids life experiences and personalities, but
that was for ALL our kids.

Caden was very needy. Wanting extra cuddles. Needing to check in frequently on his dad. Wanting to know that things will be "ok" sooner rather than later. I responded to him to support him because that's what he needed from me.

Tanner needs to understand the whys and hows of his Dad's surgery. What the risks were, what it would look like after. We supported his needs through this even though they were very different than that of his other brothers.

Eric reacted quite strongly to the trauma his dad went through and needed specialized parenting because of it. And yes, some of that can be attributed to his life experiences before being adopted, and possibly adoption itself, but my response to him is not that of an "adoptive parent" it's that of a mom.

You support your kids because they need your support. Caden didn't get extra cuddles because he's my c-section baby and Tanner didn't get factual information because he had a vaginal birth and Eric didn't get support because he was adopted. They are my sons, all, and needed support.

Our boys were parented based on their individual needs. Because we are a family and that's what parents do.

Coming tomorrow: Thoughts on race and adoption. When it follows your kids without you around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Kneecap Recap

I realize that many people have heard half the story, or parts of the story but most don't know the whole saga.

So for the faint of stomach, skip to the end and know that Shel is going to be ok. If you are into the nitty gritty, read on.

Last Sunday (10 days ago), Shel and Eric went for a dirt bike ride. This was a confidence building ride because Eric is a nervous dirt biker and Shel wanted to spend some easy time with him so that Eric could continue to enjoy his outings with his dad.

They stuck to easy trails - flat, wide and fun. Apparently they had a BLAST together. The most fun ever. Finally, after a couple hours they turned towards home. Descended the mountain together and were riding on a flat, wide, gravel, public access road heading towards home.

Shel saw a herd of cows on his left side and as he passed them, a yearling bull jumped from the ditch on the right side and began to run parallel to him on his right. Shel realized that he needed to get in front of the cow.


This is when the cow decided to jump in front of him to rejoin the herd on the left.

Shel bailed on his bike and tumbled. At this point, Eric thought the rolling black figure was a bear, when in fact it wasn't. It was his father.

The following is speculation but the truth as best we can tell. And Graphic. Be warned.

Shel was impaled by the foot peg of his bike. There was only a one inch round whole in his jeans and no other visible marks on his jeans.

The skin was torn in an arc across the knee cap and down the side of his leg approximately 13 inches.

The foot peg entered his leg 3 inches above his knee cap and "deboned" tissue from there, through 9 inches BELOW the knee cap. MIRACULOUSLY not destroying his knee cap or breaking any bones.

Where the muscle wasn't torn away from the bone, the skin and fat was lifted off the tissue, but not torn off. Think skinning a chicken - that was Shel's leg.

He was taken by ambulance on Sunday night to our local, small town hospital where they stapled him together and gave him oral anti-biotics. And SENT HIM HOME.

Tuesday his drain was removed.

Wednesday the infection started up. Thus began several days of hours and hours in the ER getting anti-biotics through IV. They removed 21mls of fluid from behind the kneecap on Wednesday but it showed no infection in the joint. This was a good thing, we thought.

On Saturday the infection was worse. Shel was noticeably sicker, weaker and in more pain. Again they tapped the kneecap and removed 21mls of fluid again. This time it showed vast amounts of infection.

The decision was made to send Shel by ambulance to a larger city with specialists and surgeons available. I followed along with two of the boys, arrangements were made for the 3rd to stay in our town, and the 4th had left that morning for hockey school.

While in the ER of the city hospital, Shel behind the doors of the locked down unit, I in the waiting room, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a horrible tragedy of a young man dying from a canoe accident. And his daughter being told in front of me that her daddy had died, all while I stood in the hall way. Please, if you are reading this, WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET.

Shel was taken for surgery at 9 pm that night. I waited for him and was able to spend some time with him at 1 am.

The report from the surgeon was that the injury was more severe than we had realized (see above the whole 9 inch deboning etc) and he thought it was "very cool". Thanks Mr. Doctor!! Anyways, he was able to remove all the dried blood, abscesses, etc and put Shel back together. He also did NOT drill the kneecap because in his estimation the infection was NOT in the joint.

We don't know why or what happened to the infection that the local doctor found. But we are giving God the glory on that one. FINDING the infection got Shel into surgery (which he needed) at a better hospital with a specialist. The specialist NOT finding the infection in the joint meant the surgery was far less invasive than it could have been.

Shel was giving "Nuclear" (in strength) antibiotics and was released from hospital on Tuesday. He needs to be seen by the surgeon again next Wednesday where a determination will be made as to whether or not he will need a second surgery to put things back together some more.

He has huge, massive, deep bruises on his hips, a couple cracked ribs and lots of healing road rash. He is drugged. Happy and trying to work from the couch.

And best of all, he is alive.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Well sort of ....

At my sister's house ( The Amazing Aunty Jess, Blog Guest Writer Extraordinaire!).

Shel is high as a kite and loving every minute of it. Firmly situated on Jess' couch with a SOFT blanket, wearing REAL clothes and enjoying the relative peace and quiet of a house with 5 boys in it.

I, on the other hand, have come down with a nasty case of the flu and want to curl up in a corner and die. I am off to find a bed, some good drugs and hopefully re-emerge in a week. Ok tomorrow, but still, I am EXHAUSTED beyond belief at the moment.

For an update on our hockey star, Greg scored two goals last night for his team bringing them from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game!! According to Papa (my dad) he is one of the top players on his team and rocking the house. He too has my nasty cold, so imagine how he will be playing when he feels better.

I will be pretty much out of the loop for the next little while as I spend copious amounts of time with my sister-friend Tamara. Love her, grieve with her, laugh with her and probably drink a bit with her.

Some noteworthy Thank You's are in order ...

To Aunty Jess - what can I say, my kids, my blog, my family, my dog. We owe you a month's worth of babysitting.

To Uncle Jay - the most amazing friend, god-father and rescuer ever. THANK YOU. Again. and Again.

To Max/Jess/Clarice - without the calls of support and prayers I may have simply sat in a corner and cried.

To our friends that put me up for free in the city. Thank you. I am so grateful for that time of peace between hospital visits.

To my blog commentors and friends. THANK YOU. As I stared at the comments through bleary eyes at the black berry, I so, so appreciated that you took the time to read and care.

For everyone who prayed or sent good wishes our way (Friends and church family from CCC, from Adoption Threads, from Harambee, PFDC, TDKOL, Beat Cats) THANK YOU.

And to Dr. McLeod originally from Kingston, ON THANK YOU for putting my husband back together. I am grateful beyond words.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joy and Sorrow

Jen met with Shelby's doctor today and the news is all good. Shelby's infection is in the knee joint, however the antibiotics are eradicating it nicely. He will be finished the IV antibiotics in 24hrs. No surgery tomorrow, in fact he should be released tomorrow afternoon. Jen's friend is meeting her half way from home and bringing Eric to her. He is having a rough go of things and just needs mom. Eric strongly values routine and consistency and being with his mom will help him. She will scoot back to the hospital to discharge Shelby and bring him here to my home.

I must admit it kind of feels like I have assumed her life. I have her kids, her blog and soon her husband. I told her I was okay with it all, as long as she sticks around and doesn't decide to go on vacation or anything. =) (did I mention I have a husband and 2 boys of my own?)

Shelby feels strongly that Jen needs to be near T for a few days, to support T. This will allow her to attend the service for her mother as well.

Gotta go put another leaf in the table,


Our Deepest Condolences

Jen and I have had very wonderful friends, since our childhood, sisters T and N. You know how some friends are for life, well they are our "life long friends". We share in their grief today. Their mother passed away peacefully yesterday with her daughters by her side. She was taken quickly after a brief battle with leukemia.

Dear T and N,

We grieve the loss of your mother with you
and offer our support.
We ask for God's comfort for you in your loss
and for him to heal your hearts.
Your mother was a dear woman,
full of energy, strength,
and spice for life.
She will be missed
and know you will be in our prayers,

love Jess and Jen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Post-Op Day 1 -The Official Update, Auntie Jess' Version

I must for-warn those faint of heart and a wee bit squeamish. What I am about to write is not for you! ===========================================================

The surgeon found a fair bit of infection inside Shelby's leg and was able to clean it out. He was also able to insert his arm down Shelby's leg, through the laceration, from above the kneecap, downwards 9". This means that is how far the flesh had been pulled back and separated at the time of the accident. The good news is that he has not severed the ligaments or tendons, as speculated, just nicked them. This also explains the swelling in his foot. There really wasn't much to reconstruct, just mainly they removed the obvious infection and sewed him up properly at the point of the wound.

Shelby will be able to make a full recovery, however not for another 18 months, ouch!

At this point the question is whether or not there is infection in the joint, under his kneecap. The surgeon was hopeful that there is not, but the results from that test will not be in until tomorrow. If there is none, his recovery will be more swift and complete. If there is infection then Shelby will need a second surgery, likely on Tuesday and his prognosis will decline. That surgery is fairly involved, including drilling a hole in his kneecap and delaying his rehab quite a bit.

Shelby is, well, shall we say, enjoying his pain medication. Jen is, well, shall we say, enjoying just being with her husband. She sounded a little better tonight, than she has in a while. Although exhausted physically and emotionally, I think she is relieved, as we all are, that Shelby is getting proper medical care.

Just taking one day at a time,


****Jen is able to view your comments, so she is encourage by them and appreciates the kind words and prayers.

Post-Op Day 1

Just chatted with Jenn.

Shelby had 2.5 hours of surgery last night. He is recovering from that today and resting. Crazy hospital regulations won't allow her to see him for a couple more hours as the visiting hours are pretty restrictive. Jenn saw him briefly during the night in the recovery room. He didn't look too well at that time and was bandaged from just above his ankle to his mid-thigh. Today they have sat him up a little and he has had a cup of milk (oh the irony)!

We will know much more later today, after Jenn can see him and meet with the doctor. I will keep you "posted".


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Auntie Jess' Update on Shelby, Jenn and boys

This is Auntie Jess here, Jenn's sister, you can call me Jess. Although I may not have the writer's touch like my dear sister I am here to simply add an update on Shelby, for those that have been wondering. Bear with me, I am a blog virgin! It's a little out of my "element".

I live 6 hours from Jenn, but this is a tangible way for me to help out. Jenn is unable to blog as she's been living at the hospital and running around gathering and dispersing children, packing, meeting doctors, getting all 6'4" of Shelby to the hospital, and travelling. I will try to do my best for you and her.

Shelby has gone into surgery at 9:30 tonight, Saturday. He and Jenn are 3 hours away from their home, in a major city center. Jenn drove with Caden and Tanner, while Shelby had an ambulance ride. He has a definite infection in his knee joint and the doctors drained another 22mls of fluid from the joint this morning. He is getting reconstructive surgery, possibly the first of a few, as I type. It is supposed to be roughly a 3 hour surgery. There is some concern over swelling in his foot and of course the infection in general. They have changed his antibiotics to the most powerful type.

A family friend has picked-up Tanner and Caden from there and brought them into my city for me. I have just tucked them into bed, it is 11pm and they are little troopers I tell you! They had a 6 hour drive today and it has been a tough week for them too. I met their ride about a half hour away from my house and drove them the rest of the way here. We had an interesting conversation on our short drive, including lots of talk about COWS, blood, stitches, staples, roadkill, infections, risks of surgery, homesickness, getting spoiled, what to do if you are stuck in an elevator and have to go pee. Apparently carrying an empty soda can is encouraged. It's amazing what you can cover in a limited amount of time.


Greg is off to hockey academy in the morning and is already staying with family 4 hours from home. Eric is in his home town with a family friend, also in good hands. Eric is having a tough week, as you can imagine.

Please keep these little (and not so little) guys in your prayers as it is tough for them to see Dad this way and to be uprooted like this. Having the boys taken care of will now allow Jenn to focus her attention on Shelby, which is good. It has been a very difficult week for all! We are all just taking one day at a time. We will try to add a little calmness and fun to their week ahead.

We will try to keep you posted and give an update tomorrow, after the surgery.

p.s.-Grandma Nan is "home" from the hospital.

Thanks for taking the time to read,

Auntie Jess.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Missing: Active and Exciting Blog

Blog murdered by man incapable of self movement.

Exhausted wife, mother and blog writer found curled in a corner humming to herself.

Promises are being made that things will return to normal, writing wise, sometimes next week.

But don't bet your life on it. In this house ANYTHING can happen. I mean SERIOUSLY? Who would have thought a cow, a COW!!!, and a motorbike could take out this much?

Prayers for my Greg tomorrow please as he leaves home for two weeks. Greg is a kid with a ton of potential in many ways, but one of those ways is definitely in hockey. He has the amazing opportunity to play in a Development Tournament for the next two weeks with kids from around the world. He will get NHL level coaching, be scouted and have an awesome experience not many young boys with the dream of going pro get.

Also, he has been a huge help to me as he can help lift his dad out of bed when needed and mostly, I am going to MISS him. This is the longest we have been apart, ever and after this summer, we are both a bit clingy. The other boys and I were supposed to be camping near him for at least the second week so we could watch his games, but that seems like an impossibility now.

Anyone want a pre-paid camp site on Okanagan Lake in exchange for a daily drive to make sure my son is getting fed, dressed and taken care of? Helps if you like hockey and don't mind a cold rink in August.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back to the ER

UPDATE: No surgery needed. The actual joint is floating in blood (they removed 22 mls) but its not infected. No sepsis (blood infection) - Just a really severe wound infection. We were also told his ligaments in his knee are also severed today (dont know why that information escaped us before).

We are at the hospital twice a day for IV anti-biotics for the next 5 days.

He gave us a bit of a scare by passing out in the waiting room of the hospital this morning for some unknown reason, still but we think its just his body's way of saying its dealt with ENOUGH for now.

We were able to get a LARGER wheelchair from Red Cross and that should make mobility a bit easier. Going to be a long process though.

Thanks for the prayers.


Shel is on IV antibiotics and they will be deciding this morning if he needs to be taken to a city 3 hours away by ambulance for surgery.

I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good Day / Bad Day

Need prayers for Shelby please. It appears his leg is infected. We are heading to the ER.

Baby #1 has arrived, and I am thrilled for A and W and B and their new baby boy!

Baby #2 is in the process of arrival. Prayers for Pammy and C and their new baby boy also arriving later today.

Common Sense Marriage Advice

Word to all my (two) male readers. Read on and learn.

If you actually NEED someone to give you a sponge bath it is NOT a sexy experience.

Let go of the fantasy.



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Reunion Thoughts: A Picture's Worth

Our pictures from the prison visit arrived in the mail today. A friend taught me a few years ago how to recognize them. Tan clothing. Mural background, sometimes a nature scene, sometimes an animal, sometimes the generic Walmart Portrait cloth.
They are the only pictures in existance of my son with his biological father. In 19 months of parenting him and 3 years of foster care, no pictures were taken or saved.

These are priceless. And worth the stress and effort and expense. What they are worth to my son I cannot fathom.

It was not my idea to be in any of the pictures, but Sr. insisted that he wanted me to be. "Family Pictures" he said.
All the pictures we have of him (only 3) were taken in prison over the years. All have the same look. I've come to recognize it. Its the "Incarcerated Mask". No smile. No emotion. You can see an example in the pictures of the three of us.
In person, Sr has the quick and easy smile that I know very well in my boys. His face lights up. His eyes sparkle. In pictures, he simply refuses.
"I look too ghetto when I smile" was his response.
"You just met your son" I replied.
"You're right" he said. And he smiled.
Visit: Day One

Visit:Day Two

Accidental Parenting 101

First, an update on the injured party. Shel has a couple cracked ribs, road rash up one side and down the other.

He took close to 50 staples in his knee/leg and a few stitches in other spots. He is off work for the time being because he still isn't mobile.

He has a drain in the wound that hopefully can be removed today. And he is loving the pain killers in a big way.

He popped a bit of a fever last night but it appears that it's back down. His pain level is fairly high, but manageable as long as he stays immobile.

Its going to be a long, long road to recovery. If you are interested in seeing the pictures, email me. But be warned, they are GROSS.

As far as Eric goes, I think he is doing fine. Actually, BETTER than fine.

Being touted as a "hero" for his efforts to keep his dad calm and safe. We have been saying over and over again how very proud of him we are for his calm and cool head during an emergency.

We are letting him talk about it as much or as little as he wants, but also not letting him escape from the reality that daddy was injured. They spent last night cuddled in our bed watching Jurrasic Park.

All in all, we so appreciate your prayers. Eric is doing great. Shel is going to be great.

Our week is a busy one. Both Tanner and Eric are in hockey school from 11 - 5:30 every day. Greg needs to be transported 4 hours south to my dad's to attend HIS hockey school by the weekend. My cousin is having a baby ANY DAY and I was supposed to be there for that. My Nan is still in the hospital, and all my associated friends are still in various forms of crisis.

And I will survive a 5th gigantic baby, RIGHT?

Monday, August 4, 2008

When the "what ifs" scare you to death

One of the things that my boys love to do together is dirt bike. Shel has bought each of the kids their own bikes, and he usually takes them out one by one to spend time together in the mountains. Other than hockey, this is their fun time activity to do with daddy.

And it terrifies me. But I also know dads and boys need these things together.

Yesterday was a quiet day in our house. I did some scrapbooking, Shel took Tanner out for a ride. We had supper together and then Eric and Shelby were going to go for a ride.

Greg and I went grocery shopping. We got home. We unpacked the groceries. We were uploading a song to his MP3. It was a normal Sunday afternoon.

My cell phone rang.

On the other end was my screaming husband "I've been in an accident, you need to come get me! "l'm hurt, I'm hurt and I am going to pass out".

I was driving before I realized I had forgotten to tell the other kids what had happened.

I called Shel back. Thankfully, he answered but he knew he was about to pass out. He handed the phone to Eric.

Now you have all learned about some of our victories and struggles with Eric. Eric usually can't handle stress well at all. Anything that is unexpected, shocking and certainly scary would have previously made him incapable of thought or movement.

Eric laid Shelby down. Eric knew his dad was in shock, so he took off his own coat and covered his father up with it. He talked to me on the phone until I arrived, and then he ran down the road to wave for the ambulance.

Eric was a trooper. Eric is now Shelby's hero. And we are BOTH so proud of how he handled something which for him would be his ABSOLUTELY WORST NIGHTMARE. His parent, injured badly, and he is alone with no help. And he held it together, at least for last night. And we are proud, so very proud of him.

Shel was transported to the hospital. I will spare you most of the gory details but there was leg bone, and gallons of blood, ligaments, and gravel. 50 staples later, several stitches, 2 sedatives, 2 pain killers, the left side of his body frozen until noon today and a drain sticking out of his leg.

It could have been so much worse.

Because last night my husband was in a motorcycle accident.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More than just a pretty face


And After

Those of us white parents that have adopted African-American/African-Canadian children have had hair care and skin care at least, hopefully, mentioned during the home study process.

With our Super Social Worker, we were required to go beyond that. We took a course, we read books and articles. We talked with other parents.

And it was all filed as aproximately #78 on my list of important facts to know. Ahead of hair and skin care came attachment parenting, transition, grief and loss, toys to buy, appropriate bedding and how to cook for a family of 5.

In other words, I was an idiot. A naive, ignorant idiot.

One night, about 3 days into our transition, Eric was unable to fall asleep.

Why, you ask? Scared? Grief? Nightmares?

Oh no. He couldn't fall asleep because he was ITCHY. His dry, flaky, ashy skin was ITCHY. Because I hadn't been putting cream on him.

Five dollars and a hotel vending machine later, he fell asleep and I suddenly had an epiphany -- BLACK HAIR AND SKIN CARE IS DIFFERENT. And when they said it, they actually MEANT it.

As I said, an idiot.

Things have gotten better. I still can't corn row, but I harrass my boys just as often as any other non-adoptive mama of black kids does. In fact, Cousin made a note to his mom on our visit to Missouri "She made me put LOTION on mom!" Half shocked, half proud.

Greg and his big brother owned the same pick. I am no longer a complete idiot, at least in this area.

I listened with great joy as my sons' mother harrassed and teased their brother about his fro and the need to take care of it or CUT IT OFF. Oh do I understand her frustration.

In my family of origin, neatness IS Godliness. I have never, ever heard my mother refer to a young man in a positive light without the words "So neat and tidy" attached.

I am growing. I am TRYING to be cool. Heck, I can do twists now with the best of them (evidence above). BUT, nothing compares to a cutie with a #2 on the clippers hair cut.
What a neat and tidy young man.

Its the August long weekend ...

And Common Sense dictates we clean out the garage.

Greg is trimming the hedges.

Eric is weed wacking.

Tanner mows the lawn.

Caden thinks his foot is broken and as such MUST watch cartoons.

Shel is working on his new shop.

I'm "supervising"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Reunion Thoughts: The Biology of Reunion

I babble away on my little blog about adoption and reunion, and although our story may be unique and slightly different due to circumstances, already there is much written about the effects of adoption and reunion on adoptees. There is much written about the effects of adoption and reunion on both sets of parents.

However, only extremely rarely have I seen anything written on how adoption and reunion affects the non-adopted siblings in a family.
So now I'd like to introduce you to the silent partners in our adoption reunion process: Tanner and Caden.

Tanner and Caden have an interesting view of the world. Being caucasion members of a multi-racial family, surrounded by other families where transracial adoption is the "norm". Not only do they live in a multiracial family, they consider at least 7 other transracial adoptees their cousins due to the close nature of the relationships we have with those families. Tanner's best friend happens to be a transracial adoptee. In our closest circle of friends, multiracial families(most adoptive) out-number same race families by far.

Race and adoption are not boundaries or obstacles to Tanner and Caden. Its not something they notice with any preconceived negative or positive notions. It simply is. I will delve into the race aspect of that on another day. Today we are talking adoption.

Loss, abuse, grief, death, fear and pain are simply concepts. Words. And in the typical way of children their age, they can't even fathom with any sense of realism what it must be like to experience any of it. The story of their brothers' lives is simply that - A STORY.

And no matter how much they are surrounded by adoption, their own life experience is vastly different than that of their brothers, their cousins and their friends. They are white kids born to white parents in middle class suburbia whose greatest worry in life is whether or not they will get a new bike for Christmas.

Grief has touched them and opened their eyes to what is possible and although loving and losing Baby J was hugely traumatic and life altering to both boys, it was the loss of ONE family member while still being surrounded by everything else familiar and safe. It wasn't the loss of parents, extended family, and country. It was a massive loss, but a loss to endure while supported by loving family and friends. It was a grief that was agknowledged by their community of support.

Simply, it was different. Horrible, painful but one spot of pain in a life that is otherwise untouched.
Both have also expressed a sense of loss and shed tears over NOT being adopted. Being "borned" was perceived as being boring. Their brothers have birth parents who write letters and maybe send presents. Our Family Day celebration, despite its enfolding name, really is an event to honor the day Greg and Eric joined our family.
Really, truly they held no idea of how very blessed they are.

But with age comes maturity. And maturity comes understanding. Tanner has spent this past year coming to terms, processing and coping with what it means to have a brother with special needs, especially when those special needs affect YOU. All day, every day. Grieving his own losses that are the indirect consequences, not only of our decision to adopt but also of the damage abuse did to his brothers.

The idea of another family for their brothers, another brother, another mother, another father and actual, forever sisters? Confusing. Interesting. And completely not a threat. Because in a strange twist I didn't expect, they have claimed them as their own.

In fact, right now, Tanner and Caden are more interested in the pictures of the trip than either Greg or Eric. Caden refers to brother as "Big Eric" because they look so much alike. "Our sisters in Missouri" is a phrase that I have heard them use.
I have no answers. No right or wrong in how to deal with their confusing reality.

Yes they know logically that the family in Missouri is not THEIR biological family, but if Greg and Eric are their brothers, and of course they are, then it certainly makes sense to them, their brother's other family is part of their own family too. Than can fathom no separation.

I have heard a friend talk of her struggles to come up with appropriate terms for these sorts of relationships. For now I am thankful that they are secure enough in our family relationships that reunion didn't scare them in any way.

Obviously this is a deep topic that needs some deeper discussion. I will one day. But on this first day of August, its suffice to say that the boys, my sons, are brothers. Secure in that truth. And I am going to go play with them now.