Monday, September 23, 2013

42


A simple number, it can mean different things to different people.  It's often associated with one of the greatest baseball players and greatest human beings to ever walk the earth - Jackie Robinson.  But for me, it's much simpler than that.  It is my age.  I turned 42 years old yesterday.15,330 days I've been on this earth.   I have to confess that part of me was dreading it.  For the past year, I started to feel my age.  I think this is honestly the first time in my life where I could say "oh, it's just a number!" and not believe it to be true.  But these last few days reminded me how truly blessed I am and it once again became a number I could truly embrace. 

Friday morning I went to work and discovered upon entering that my cubicle had been decorated with 'Happy Birthday' signs and banners.  What a great way to start the day.  There were also gift bags and envelopes with birthday cards in them.  My coworkers and I ordered lunch and ate together in my honor.  I am blessed to work with the people that I work with on a daily basis.  

Saturday morning started bright and early at 5am as I did my 20 mile training run for the Chicago Marathon.  Up to that point, I'd been having nothing but trouble with running and my knees had been giving me fits.  But Saturday my knees were pain-free and I experienced only the type of pain that I was so used to from a long run - the good pain if there is such a thing.  I finished it and felt like I could have kept on going if I needed to push it to that point.  So I feel like I'm ready.  October 13th is the marathon and for the first time in the training process for this one I feel like I'm on top of it.  I'm excited about it.  

As soon as I got home and got cleaned up, we it was off to the  Discovering the Dinosaurs at the Fairgrounds.  Will loved it.  He got to see replicas of dinosaurs, push buttons to make them move, play mini golf, bounce in a bounce house and go down a slide, bounce in another bounce house, and learn some things about dinosaurs.  It was a pretty cool experience and he had a blast.  It was pricey, but worth it to see the smile on his face.  

Sunday Leigh took me to a movie and out to lunch for my birthday.  It capped off the weekend perfectly.  Leigh and I do not go on dates often enough and it was nice to have some time to just talk about anything and focus on just each other.  

Was the weekend perfect?  No.  Was it without its battles with the toddler way of thinking :)?  Absolutely not.  But am I blessed beyond belief to be around so many wonderful people in my life?  Absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes!  

I have come to realize that the number of years I've lived are more full of good memories and good times than anything else, and that the road ahead cannot be taken for granted.  I may be considered a pretty sappy guy.  But life is short.  It can be gone in the blink of an eye.  Tell those around you that you love them and care about them.  Tell them every chance you get.  More importantly, SHOW them.  Also, don't allow stubborn pride to prevent you from admitting when you've made a mistake, or from offering an apology or asking for forgiveness.  Do not wait.  Do it now.  Do it today.    

If I am guilty of one thing with my son it is that I probably tell him I love him too often.  They are never just words, though.  They are packed full of more meaning than he may ever know each time they pass through my lips.  

To anyone reading this, whether I know you or not, I appreciate you and care about you.  I would love to hear from you and talk to  you and get to know you.  Many of you are Facebook friends of mine - to all of you, I really do care about you.  All of you have touched my lives in some way at some point, and though I may not have seen you or talked to you in a long time, I do care about each of you.  Heck yes I'm sappy.  Too often I think we go through life not being real, not telling people how we really feel about them, not telling them we're hurting or feeling alone or having a bad day or having a bad week or a bad month or a bad year.  We try to convince everyone we are fine when the truth is we are all hurting or struggling or trying to find our way.  We all need each other.  

My life is so blessed.  Thank you for being a part of it.  


Monday, September 16, 2013

Navigation

Navigation involves using whatever devices you have at your disposal to find your way.  Whether you are trying to navigate to a particular location or through a certain stage of your life, it isn't always easy.  More often than not, there are choices to be made along the way.  Proverbial forks in the road, if you will.  When we reach one of those points (pun intended), it is up to us to decide which path to choose.  Sometimes we follow a guide, or a GPS, or a book or website that tells us how to handle certain situations. Or we listen to our friends' advice.   In some cases we blindly follow someone else's directions and end up somewhere we didn't really want to be.  There are so many news stories out there where people have followed a GPS navigation device and ended up stranded or lost - like this one -  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/travel/news/2008-08-05-gps-navigation_N.htm. The point is that no matter what the situation, navigation can be quite difficult.  

Almost three and a half years ago to this day, Leigh and I adopted Will.  His birthday is exactly six months from mine.  Before he was born, we had prayed about it and talked with his birth families about it, and decided that we would agree to an open adoption.  We did not know what that would look like, but after much discussion and prayer, we decided that it was in Will's best interest to commit to it.   The way we see it, the birth parents gave us an incredible, courageous and selfless gift when they chose us to be Will's parents.  To have him know them and have relationships with them on some level just seems to make sense.  Besides - how could having more people who love him be a bad thing?  

Do we have some insecurities about it?  Sure we do.  Is it all smooth sailing?  Of course not. But we are committed to it and as long as the birth parents want to continue to have the visits, we will continue to do so.  

Will's birth parents were 17 and 19 years old when Will was born.  They haven't been a couple since prior to Will's birth (we're not sure exactly why or when, but that much is clear).  So what we've been doing is meeting with them separately 4-5 times per year.  We also show Will pictures of them periodically and talk to him in very basic terms about the fact that he is adopted and they are his birth parents.  It is hard to know for sure how much of it Will grasps or at this point,  but we just feel it's best to be honest with him about it from the get-go.  We celebrate his adoption day each year as well.  

Recently we learned that Will's birth father and his fiance gave birth to a little girl.  They wanted to know if fiance and baby could meet Will at our next visit.  We were, needless to say, caught off guard.  There was no mention that she was pregnant throughout her pregnancy.  We received word of this via email from the birth father's mom.  This is one of those times when it would be nice if there was a book or a guide to tell us what to do, but unfortunately, that's not realistic.  Leigh and I discussed it and prayed about it quite a bit, and decided that just the two of us would meet with the birth father and his fiance and their one month old baby girl to talk to them about this and try to get a feel for what direction to go with their request.  For now, we are not open to the idea of Will meeting them.  Our fear is it may just confuse him further.  He is already trying to grasp what having a birth father and birth mother means.  Adding another person into the mix, not to mention a half-sibling, just seems like it could confuse him even more.  He has a half sister now, and it's important that he be given the chance to know her and have a relationship with her if he wants to, once he is old enough.  But right now, at the age of three and a half, it's just too soon.  We are going to gradually show him some pictures of the three of them together and tell him who they are.  Beyond that, we aren't 100% sure what the next steps will be.  We aren't sure how to NAVIGATE this path.  But it is our prayer that we do what is best for Will.  He is such a tremendous blessing in our lives and truly a gift from God, and we can't forget how it became possible for him to be in our lives.  But at the same time, we know that there will be questions and confusion as he gets older.  All we can do is be honest with him and answer those questions as we go.  

It may not always be easy.  There may be some pain involved along the way for Will in trying to learn about his birth parents and reconciling all of that in his heart.  But our hope is that he ends up with a deeper understanding of the absolute courage his birth parents had in allowing us to adopt him, and the love they had for him in doing that.  Giving them a glimpse into our lives feels like the least we can do to say thank you to them for such a precious gift.  Not because we feel we owe it to them.  But because we want to.   I cannot put myself in the shoes of the birth parents, and what it must be like for them.  To know that you brought a little boy into this world and that you can't see him other than when someone else tells you that it's okay is probably very difficult at times, even though it's exactly what they agreed to.  Birth parents are not to be forgotten, and their feelings should be considered and remembered.  So often they get lost in the shuffle of the adoption picture.    

As we do our best to navigate this journey with many, many forks in the road, we ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers.