My family and I are heading south to Dallas this Thanksgiving weekend. I can't remember the last time we weren't the ones entertaining family for Thanksgiving and I'm feeling a little torn about the fact that I'm not preparing for our out-of-town guest arrival. Typically I would be standing in my kitchen baking pies and desserts about now and enjoying all the smells that come with the Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, I'm cleaning, packing and getting ready for 12-14 hour drive that awaits us. Still, we'll be with family and celebrating Naomi's first Thanksgiving. That is the most important thing, especially this year with the loss of Ben still being such a strong force in our lives.
To those of you traveling this holiday weekend, I wish you safe travels and to everyone I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
As you can see, I included available links to YouTube videos in case any of you are unfamiliar with these songs. Sorry Old McDonald by Mommy is not on YouTube and I was having a difficult time choosing the available Dora songs. However, I'm quite sure everyone is familiar with Wheels on the Bus and Old McDonald :-)
We have tried to introduce them to a variety of music and having them get excited when one of their favorite songs comes on the radio or daddy starts playing it on his Zune (no iPods in this house) makes me 'smile.'
For example, daddy starts playing The Clapping Song in the van and Naomi perks up, she begins kicking her feet, clapping her hands and moving her head side-to-side. Or Lili will hear Party in the USA come on the radio and passionately announce, "This is my faborite song." (Faborite is not a typo - that's how she pronounced favorite.) If we play these songs at home we now have two little girls standing in the family room dancing and Lili begins singing along.
We very much wanted our girls to have a love of music and they have taken their love of music to a level we only imagined possible. I just need to do a better job of pulling out the video camera and capturing these moments. When I do, I'll be sure to share it with all of you, but in the meantime I have a written record of the kind of music they were listening to at the ripe old ages of 1 and 3.
Exactly 8 months ago yesterday that we walked into Le Toukoul orphanage and held our precious Naomi for the very first time. Exactly 8 months ago today we walked into Le Toukoul orphanage for a second time, but this time we left with Naomi in our arms forever. In some ways it doesn't seem possible that 8 months has passed already and yet it also doesn't seem possible that she hasn't always been with us.
If 8 months together wasn't enough, I picked up the mail and there was her Illinois Certificate of Foreign Birth. We now have everything we need to apply for her Certificate of Citizenship!!!!
World of Weeks was created intially as a means of keeping friends and family up-to-date on our adoption journeys. It evolved into a blog about our family and has taken the place of baby books for the girls.
Even though we are no longer traveling the road of adoption, those who know me and have been loyal readers of my blog know that I continue to follow adoption closely. I have a big heart for the orphans in this world and still have a strong desire to be the difference in another child's life. Since that difference is apparently not in becoming mommy to another child (hubby tells me on a regular basis that we will NOT be adopting a third time), what else can I do? I can donate time and/or money. I can also share some of the knowledge I've gained over the last 4 years in hopes that someone else is willing and able to step up and begin the walk down the road of adoption. Since blogging has been a good avenue for me to share information, I decided to start another blog that is specifically in place to share information.
If you are reading this now, I'm asking you to do a couple things for me.
One year ago yesterday, I received an email with these pictures attached.
It's hard to believe that a year has passed since our agency sent that email asking if we wanted to adopt that precious little baby. Our little baby is now walking, running, beginning to talk (a lot) and has added so much to our lives.
We love you Naomi and can't begin to imagine our life without you!
The second week of each month has been emotionally difficult for me. It was the 2nd week of May, the 10th day to be exact, that Ben died. Yesterday marked six months since his death and there is not a day that goes by I don't miss him and wish he was still with us. As the holidays approach, his death becomes a little bit harder to deal with and while mentally I know getting through the first year will likely be the most difficult, it doesn't ease the sting and it doesn't stop the tears from flowing.
People talk about looking at life differently after losing someone they love. I had already lost both sets of grandparents and some other relatives, but it certainly doesn't compare to losing a child. The balance of life has been completely disrupted and being a parent grieving the loss of her child has caused me to look at many things in my life differently.
One area of my life that I think about on a daily basis are my relationships. I think about the relationships that are truly important to me and consider how I want to improve those relationships? I think about past relationships and reflect on how to avoid making the same mistakes with my current relationships. I have had very specific feelings regarding the relationships in my life and those feelings have become even stronger over the last six month. With that said, I'm going to share some things that I've never discussed on my blog before. I've considered posting about this for a very long time, but I really am a very private person and haven't wanted to put my dirty laundry out for everyone to read. Yet I know that what I've gone through and what I'm still going through is not that unusual. There are others out there going through very similar situations. There are others out there that are having relationship difficulties and simply keeping quiet and not expressing their feelings. I did that for a very long time and it wasn't healthy on many levels. So, feel free to read on if interested. This is likely going to be a long post and possibly not my last post on the subject.
For many years, I had a strained relationship with my mother. Funny thing is, I found out several years ago that she didn't know we had a strained relationship. Apparently, I did a very good hiding my feeling from her and that is where the unhealthy part comes in. It seemed like a good idea to just keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, after all, this was my mother and I just needed to show her love and respect regardless, right? This was just who she is and if she was saying or doing things I didn't agree with I should just stay quiet and keep the peace, right? While on the surface it made sense to stay quiet, respect my mother and just keep the peace, a time came when I knew I had to speak up. Even mothers and fathers do and say things that require some tough love, especially when things said or done have such a negative effect on you and those you love.
Now, I could go into a long dissertation of all the things that caused my relationship with my mother to become strained, but this post would truly become too long and I doubt anyone wants to read a blog novel. However, my relationship with her went from strained to non-existent a few years ago when she made some inappropriate comments to Ben and later to Dave. Again, I could go into all the details of the comments made, but for the sake of time and some level of privacy, I feel it would be better at this point to simply state that they were completely inappropriate and extremely hurtful. Hurtful to the point that Ben told me, "You don't know how it feels to know that your own grandmother hates you." Hurtful and inappropriate to the point that my husband called me one day very upset over a phone call he received from my mother. I knew the time had come to step in and do one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do - I had to confront my mother and try to bring some peace to the family. She had hurt my son and my husband deeply, so to do nothing was not acceptable any longer. While I would like to say that this was unusual behavior for her, in all honesty, it wasn't. For as along as I could remember, I heard her say hurtful things to and about other people. It made me feel very uncomfortable. How could someone be teaching their children to behave one way, when their words and actions were contradictory to those teachings? I knew what we were being taught was right and what she was doing was wrong, but again, this was my mother and I was not to talk back to my mother, right?
I was a mother hen protecting her baby chicks. I was a wife who wasn't going to allow anyone to say bad things to or about her husband and it didn't matter who it was. Just so happens that in this case it was my mother. She hurt the ones I loved most in this world and I was putting a stop to it one way or another. So, I confronted her. I felt like the mother telling her child how hurtful her words were; how it was completely inappropriate and would no longer tolerated. I explained the need to surround ourselves by people who could show us love and support and how we had no place in our lives for those who only wanted to judge and condemn us. I expressed myself clearly when I told her, "If you are unable or unwilling show us love and support and are going to continue being judgemental and condemning, then I need to ask you to stay away."
This is the extremely short version of the conversation I had with her these many years ago (approximately 7 years ago) and the end of the story is that she has not spoken to us since that day. And for those who may be wondering, Ben's death didn't change things. She still hasn't spoken to us in about 7 years.
When Ben died, he still felt like his grandmother hated him. While he had spoken to her since the day I confronted her, she clearly had not changed her ways. She continued to say hurtful and inappropriate things to and about Ben, the difference was that Ben grew and matured and unlike me, he confronted her immediately when things were said and let her know how he felt. Still, he died not feeling the love he so desired to feel from his grandmother.
My feelings haven't changed in the fact that I still very much believe that it is vital for us to surround ourselves by people who love and support us. They don't have to agree with our choices or the decisions we make in our life, but we expect them to support us and respect our decisions and choices. After all, it's our life and we are the ones who live with the consequences of our choices whether those consequences are good, bad or indifferent. In the same way, we want our friends and family to expect the same level of love and support from us.
I wish I would have spoken up and confronted my mother a very long time ago. I don't know that the outcome would have been any different, but I certainly would have spent less time stressing over having such a strained relationship with her. Our relationship is non-existent by her choice and while sad, there is less stress and negativity in our daily lives.
Sadly, I see others going through similar situations - someone has hurt them and/or is making them unhappy, but instead of opening honest conversation, expressing their hurt, and how they feel, they avoid the other person or keep them at arms length. They don't take the steps necessary to repair the relationship and it continues down a destructive path that will most certainly end the relationship.
Relationships are difficult. One person alone cannot make a relationship work. It requires time effort and hard-work on the part of all those involved. However, when people work together putting in the time, making the effort, and doing the work that is necessary, the benefit is a fulfilling, loving, respectful and supportive relationship. We all need to have as many successful relationships in our lives as possible and I hope that each of you will take the time to reflect on the truly important people in your lives. Are those relationships where you want them to be? Are you shown love and support in your relationships? Do you give love and support in return? If the answer to any of these questions is no than please don't allow pride or fear stop you from making them better. Don't keep waiting and hoping that things will change tomorrow because things only change when one person is willing to take the first step in trying to make things better.
My story does not have a happy ending, but I think it's a great example of what happens when problems aren't dealt with head-on. I'm not pleased with the outcome of my efforts, but I wanted a better relationship with my mother and at least I was willing to take the first step by stating my feelings and desires to her. Maybe someday she'll want things to be different, but until then I will try hard to not make the same mistakes with the relationships I cherish most in my life.
Giving a child a strong foundation -- a home, a family to love, and a safe place to grow -- is one of life's greatest and most generous gifts. Through adoption, both domestic and international, Americans from across our country have provided secure environments for children who need them, and these families have benefited from the joy an adopted child can bring. Thanks to their nurturing and care, more young people have been able to realize their potential and lead full, happy lives. This year, we celebrate National Adoption Month to recognize adoption as a positive and powerful force in countless American lives, and to encourage the adoption of children from foster care.
Currently, thousands of children await adoption or are in foster care, looking forward to permanent homes. These children can thrive, reach their full potential, and spread their wings when given the loving and firm foundation of family. Adoptive families come in many forms, and choose to adopt for different reasons: a desire to grow their family when conceiving a child is not possible, an expression of compassion for a child who would otherwise not have a permanent family, or simply because adoption has personally touched their lives. For many Americans, adoption has brought boundless purpose and joy to their lives. We must do all we can to break down barriers to ensure that all qualified caregivers have the ability to serve as adoptive families.
This year, on November 20, families, adoption advocates, policymakers, judges, and volunteers will celebrate the 11th annual National Adoption Day in communities large and small. National Adoption Day is a day of hope and happiness when courthouses finalize the adoptions of children out of foster care. Last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was honored to preside over a ceremony celebrating two foster care adoptions as part of my Administration's support for this important day.
Adoptive families are shining examples of the care and concern that define our great Nation. To support adoption in our communities, my Administration is working with States to support families eager to provide for children in need of a place to call home. The landmark Affordable Care Act increases and improves the Adoption Tax Credit, enabling adoption to be more affordable and accessible. As part of the Adoption
Incentives program, States can also receive awards for increasing adoptions and the number of children adopted from foster care. AdoptUsKids, a project of the Department of Health and Human Services, offers technical support to States, territories, and tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families; provides information and assistance to families considering adoption; and supports parents already on that journey. I encourage all Americans to visit AdoptUsKids.org or ChildWelfare.gov/Adoption for information and resources on adoption, including adoption from foster care.
As we observe National Adoption Month, we honor the loving embrace of adoptive families and the affirming role of adoption in the lives of American families and our country. Let us all commit to supporting our children in any way that we are able -- whether opening our hearts and homes through adoption, becoming foster parents to provide quality temporary care to children in crisis, supporting foster and adoptive families in our communities and places of worship, mentoring young people in need of guidance, or donating time to helping children in need. Working together, we can shape a future of hope and promise for all of our Nation's children.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2010 as National Adoption Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by answering the call to find homes for every child in America in need of a permanent and caring family, as well as to support the families who care for them.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
As promised, I'm finally posting about the parade at Disneyland.
We really didn't plan on seeing the parade, but as we entered Main Street and saw hundreds upon hundreds of people lining the street, we decided it just might be worth watching. We found a spot that could accommodate two adults, a stroller with a sleeping child and Lili sitting on daddy's shoulders. Of course to get a decent spot pretty requires that you find your spot early and stay put and I think we ended up waiting close to 30 minutes in our spot before the parade finally started.
Disney changes the theme of their parades on a regular basis, so the parade we saw was called, "Celebrate! A Street Party." We really didn't know what to expected, but boy am I glad we lined up to watch. Quite honestly, I think I may have been more thrilled with the parade than Lili and was certainly more thrilled than Dave. Naomi was in the stroller sleeping and missed the entire parade, which is a bit disappointing since I'm sure she would have loved it, but sleep was truly more important at that point.
In true Disney fashion, it was spectacular with lots of music, dancing and of course many of the Disney characters providing ample entertainment for the crowd.
And then something exciting happened. The dancers went through the crowd and began pulling kids out into the parade to dance. Guess who was one of the kids chosen?
You guessed it! Our own little dancing machine, Lili, was a dancer in the Disney parade. It was such a proud mommy moment and one that I hope Lili will remember for a long time.
Today, my wonderful hubby and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. While I would love to say it's been nothing but wedded bliss, it just hasn't. Of course I know of no marriage that is all wine and roses, but we've certainly had our fair share of whine, roses, daisies, carnations and dandelions.
I would have to say that the last year of our marriage has been the most difficult and bitter sweet of all. We brought home our beautiful Ethiopian princess, Naomi. Six weeks later we lost our youngest son, Ben. The roller coaster ride of emotions has been the most dramatic we've ever ridden. While we continue to love and appreciate the new life that has been entrusted to us, we also deeply grieve the life that is no longer with us. Yet through it all, we've continued to hold on tight and not let go. To imagine anyone else standing beside me and holding my hand is simply unimaginable.
When we walked down the aisle 25 years ago, I had no idea where this journey would take us. I didn't anticipate many of the twists and turns that have come our way, but we have survived the journey to our silver anniversary and I look forward in hope and anticipation of an even better journey to 50. We'll be faced with challenges and obstacles along the way, but we will face them head on and be even stronger in the end. That's just the way we roll.
To all our friends and family who doubted our relationship in the beginning, looks like we didn't just make it another year, but we've made it 25 years and we're still going strong.
I know I posted this video last year on our anniversary, but it truly says it all for me. I love you David!!!!
Thanks to everyone who helped us out by purchasing coffee through our Just Love Coffee storefront. Since our storefront is closing soon, I'm asking everyone to please help support The Dornerbergers. Please click on the logo above to read their story and purchase some wonderful coffee.
App sent to Tree of Life - 7/22/08
Homestudy app to Lifelink - 10/2/08
Home study interview - 11/25/08
USCIS fingerprints - 12/13/08
DCFS Approval Rec'd - 3/9/09
Home Study to USCIS - 3/11/09
USCIS requesting addt'l info - 4/15/09
Revised homestudy to USCIS - 4/21/09
Rec'd 171H - 5/18/09
Dossier mailed to TOL - 5/18/09
Dossier in DC for Authentication - 5/28/09
Dossier arrives in Ethiopia - 6/4/09
Referral - 11/11/09
Court - 1/8/10
Travel - 3/13/10
Embassy Appointment 3/22/10
Home - 3/26/10
Sent in home study app - 12/15/06 Sent in agency app - 12/15/06 Began homestudy - 1/2/07 Began dossier - 1/22/07 Homestudy to USCIS - 3/29/07 Lili born - 4/30/07 171H Rec'd - 5/17/07 Agency receives dossier- 5/18/07 Referral - 6/8/07 Entered Family Court - End of 7/07 DNA Test - 8/17/07 DNA Results - 8/24/07 Social Worker Interview - 8/30/07 Pre-Approval - 9/29/07 Entered PGN - 10/16/07 Exit PGN - 2/6/08 Final Adoption Decree signed - 2/15/08 New Birth Certificate - Sometime 2/18-22/08 2nd DNA - 2/27/08 Pink - 3/10/08 Placed In Our Arms Forever - 3/20/08 Embassy Appt. - 3/25/08 Home Forever - 3/27/08
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. Anais Nin
"I see international adoption as a path toward awareness of world issues, as a lens into another world -- the world where the children live. Most of us in suburbia have little firsthand knowledge of how poverty and politics undermine the future for a huge number of the world's children. But through adoption, thousands of American parents contribute a legacy for the future. They take actions they would have not thought of before. They learn about child development, attachment, culture, geography, history and identity. They support and guide their children through the challenges intrinsic to adoption."
“My cousin in Tibet is an illiterate subsistence farmer. By accident of birth, I was raised in the West and have a Ph.D. The task of our generation is to cut through the illusion that we inhabit separate worlds. Only then will we find the heart to rise to the daunting but urgent challenges of global disparity.” Losang Rabgey, Ph.D.National Geographic Emerging Explorer and co-founder of Machik, a nonprofit helping communities on the Tibetan plateau.