Friday, June 7, 2013

You grew in my heart not under it

“Because now I know what I have been waiting for. I know exactly why the other processes didn't work. I know I was supposed to wait for this little girl.” 
Nia Vardalos
, Instant Mom

Adoption was something that I had always wanted to do - I always wanted a HUGE family with both biological and adopted children.  I could see it now, huge Christmas' and holiday dinners around the table telling stories about growing up in this amazingly mixed family.  There are many people in my family added through adoption so it is a natural part of my life.  Then I married into a family with adoption... perfection in my heart.  Krystina was the most natural decision ever made. 

As a parent you hate to see your children hurt in any way, yet my darling daughter has been struggling lately and we haven’t been entirely sure why until last night.  She came to me before bed and asked to talk about something ‘serious’.  I had thought it would be a boy question or what to wear on the last day of school however I couldn't have been more incorrect.  Her big brown eyes looking at me, searching for something and asking how many children we interviewed before her.  I couldn't hide my expression or my desire to cry when I realized she thought, most likely based on something she saw, that we interview children prior to ‘choosing’ her for adoption.  Aww my sweet angel; there has only been you.  We sat on our stairs discussing her adoption, how we became her mommy and daddy and how much we loved her from the very first moment we saw her.  I’m not sure if she thought we picked her up from an orphanage or where her little mind was at but I’m glad that she was confident enough to talk to us about it.
We have always been very open with her about her adoption, each year celebrating both her ‘gotcha day’ and her adoption date.  We have, however, left the information and discussions up to her, when she was ready we knew she would ask.  This always seemed better than giving her a bunch of information that she may not be able to process leaving her with even more questions or worse, uncertainty or confusion.  Each adoptive family handles this different and it's important to respect individual family decisions, this simply works better for us.  The two years of home-study preparation, foster care, court hearings, and visitation (both with her and for her biological family) leading up to her adoption was the most stressful, emotional yet rewarding time in our life and we know that God blessed us the child perfect for us. 
“Are you her Aunt or the Nanny?”  The most common question I get from people that don’t know our family.  In the beginning this bothered me immensely as I couldn't believe that people could be so bold and nosy.  It hurt that people would question my daughter, not realizing that they weren't questioning my love for my daughter simply our features.  When she was 3 she came up to me, matter of fact and said, “Mommy, my skin is brown, yours is white and daddy is Japanese so I look like him.”  I smiled and agreed with her however she is half El Salvadorian not Asian.

No my daughter doesn't look a bit like me; she has beautiful brown hair with brown eyes and olive skin while I’m Irish with fair skin, blonde hair and green eyes.  My daughter is naturally gifted at sports while I have always had 2 left feet for much outside of marching.  I have no stretch marks or birthing stories but none of this changes one simple fact – my daughter is MY daughter.  She does have my stubborn tendencies, my drive and my heart as I have hers; she grew in my heart not under it. 
Just like any mommy, I remember the day I became a mother like it was yesterday – Tuesday December 5, 2006 at 11:30am after almost two years of waiting and praying.  This was last time I slept a full night with no worries, or hearing every single noise in the house.  This was the day that I picked up my darling daughter from a foster home in Los Angeles County, the day that our life took a turn towards amazing.  She was this sweet little 2 ½ year old that couldn't wait to go ‘home’ with her toys and start playing with the ‘new family’.  This was the day that Grant, Krystina and I became a family and started a whole new journey.   

Our wedding Day 2007

Our oldest and youngest adoptee's!  My Grandmother and Krystina on her adoption day 3/14/2008; Krystina was 3 and my grandmother was 78

Every day since then we have tried to make every effort to make sure that her life is exactly how it should be; happy, healthy, full of love and appreciation.  I love that I get to volunteer in her class, be her Girl Scout troop leader and her team parent for soccer because it means I share in more memories of my little girl growing up.  I love that I can do all of this with a full time job which is important for me to show her that you can be a great mom and work because life is about love and priorities.  It’s important to teach her to give back; she loves volunteering at the beach clean ups and at dog shelters is so she can take care of the earth.  It’s important for her to learn about patriotism and supporting our country and our military; she proudly stands and sings our National Anthem, wears her Army ACU shirts whenever she can and will tell anyone that will listen that her daddy is a Soldier.    

Daddy's first hug at his homecoming from 15 months in Iraq

Telling the news about her daddy

Yep - another lost tooth

Lately she ask is asking about goals and her future in soccer, because she wants to be an Olympic soccer star; She smiled at me and said that she knows how to work hard for what she wants because we are great parents that haven’t given up on our dreams.  It made me look at our past and how giving up has never been an option in our lives.  We never gave up on becoming parents, we haven't given up on college as we are both working towards our degrees, we haven’t given up on being the best family we can, we have supported each other through deployments, we are supportive in each other’s dreams… being a family and a mommy has been the greatest blessing that I could ever ask for.  
Our favorite past time - Anaheim Ducks Hockey!

Helping Mommy at a Got Your Back Heroes event

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