Photos and the Adoption Profile

This fall we had a Funbooth session with Lindsay Ross.

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These sessions are low-stress, all black and white (no matching clothes required–if you’re into that), and super speedy. Translation: These sessions are perfect for families with small children.

The photos were candid, real, and hilariously our family. I love them all.

Funbooth photos with Lindsay Ross, Utah Family Photography

After she sent me the images, I just felt this urge to pull my favorites into a post about my family. As I was writing it, I decided (kind of spur of the moment) to actually make it the About section of my blog. And then it morphed into a “Hoping to Adopt” profile hosted just here on my own site.

It was this “profile” and these photos (and my Facebook) that Norah’s birth mom, Sage, saw and then decided she wanted to reach out to our family.

I recently had a candid conversation with Sage about this “profile” of ours and what it was that she was looking for in a family for her daughter. I feel like these are questions that Norah will ask both of us one day. Sage encouraged me to share her thoughts so here we go!

 

SAGE WISDOM <<< See what I did there? #nerdery

On looking at our profile/blog/Facebook:

This (photo below) sold me. As soon as I saw it I said, “Yes! Call her. I need to know who this wonderful person is.”

Star Wars Family Nerds FTW

The whole thing. The boys. The family. I was like I HAVE to know them! I love Star Wars and I love how well you did.

Then I watched the slam dunk contest off Josh’s page and I cried the most cleansing cry. I loved you guys immediately. Your blog–it was so real and raw. There was a post with Gavin’s birth mom and it was so cute how you guys weren’t like, “Oh she’s my birth mom but I’m the mom.” It was like, “We are best friends. She had our baby.” There wasn’t any his, mine, or hers; it was all ours if that makes sense.

I love you in the deepest sense of the word. You’ve completed my heart, and Norah is just icing on the cake.

 

On advice she has for families putting together a hoping to adopt profile:

QUIT POSING!!! I can’t tell you how much I don’t want to see you smiling while you put the milk in the fridge or whatever. I want to see you in sweats chilling with the Netflix loading screen on. Why? Because I relate to that. There’s no way I smile when I put the milk away nor do I care that you have the cap back on your carton. Show me something creative and funny, something relatable. Do you dress up and run in marathons? Show that. Show me your true self because this is not just a sales pitch you are trying to make. You are making a life decision to have a baby in your family. As a birth mom, I want to know you are who you say you are not this polished off wonderful Brady Bunch. I want to know that she eats in bed and the husband hates it. I want to know your favorite sport, teams, colors, movies, places, and food.

I just felt like every profile is cookie cutter. It’s all “smile and look like you love each other.” I get that you need to show that but be you, have pictures of you two cooking with frosting on your faces and flour handprints on your butt.

 

On looking at our Lindsay Ross black and white photos:

I love them. They are gold. In every sense and your Halloween pics sold me.

 

I love Sage. xo

 

Since that About pages doesn’t exist as it did when Sage read it, I thought I would include the hoping to adopt profile-ish part of the about page that Sage made her comments about above. I hope it will encourage you to be you, like REALLY be you. After all, real lasting connections are only made when we are real with each other.

Along with all the fun and games and shiny stuff that is family life, what you will see below are links to real videos of our family (Unpolished! Dance parties!), references to messes (my house is always messy), talk of meltdowns (they happen on the daily), ways my children try to manipulate me (also a daily occurrence), and general realness. I don’t believe in perfectionism. :)

It’s a vulnerable place to be, right?

Vulnerability Quote

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About The R House | Hoping to Adopt 

 

Hi there.

My name is Lindsey Redfern or Mrs. R. Welcome to my house, The R House. (I have no idea why I started calling myself Mrs. R other than it was 2006 and I was new to blogging. Please forgive me. I eye roll about it now.)

The R House Hoping to Adopt

I invite you to read below and get to know our little family. And just in case you were wondering …we have a current, active homestudy which means we are approved to adopt. WOOT! WOOT! If you or someone you know is considering adoption, shoot us an email. We’d love to chat and help where we can. therhouse@gmail.com

 

Who is Mrs. R?

I grew up in the DC Metro area to incredible parents that probably walk on water when no one is watching. I have three brilliant, hilarious, and good looking younger brothers who are equally as fabulous and leave me one very proud big older sister. I consider myself a Virginian that has lived in Utah since 1997.

I am a Mormon. I even served a full-time 18 month mission for my church on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. I went to Brigham Young University and am a huge Cougar fan. Rah, rah, rah-rah-rah!

My husband, Josh Redfern, and I recognized each other at BYU from our childhood. We “dated” for 5 years before getting married but there were two missions thrown in there and a “Dear John” Letter. (It’s a long story.) Mr. R is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in therapy and adoption. He is also an awesome chef and seriously hilarious. He spoils me …even though I “Dear John-ed” him on his mission. He’s forgiving like that.

Family Hoping to Adopt

Josh is the most interesting person I know. I never tire of hanging out with him. We still date each other once a week and love taking adventures together. He is patient, laid back, a BYU sports junkie, and an incredible father. I’ve known him/of him since junior high school and I think I’ve only heard him raise his voice 5 or 6 times. He CREATES adventures for our families and always has some spontaneous plan of awesomeness cooked up for the fam. We love to hang out just about every night and watch an extensive TV line-up. I’m not gonna lie, it’s one of my favorite things and I look forward to it every night.

My Josh genuinely loves people, knows everyone, and remembers their story. Also: He is an amazingly hysterical dancer. HERE is video evidence. I die.

Josh Redfern, Dad of Awesomeness

Josh takes his role as father very seriously. He has a very tender place in his heart for our kids’ birth mothers who placed in him their trust and confidence. If you ever want to see this 6’4″ beast of a hairy man cry, get him talking about our kids’ birth families. In fact, READ THIS. <<< The only post he’s ever written on my blog.

He is the kind of dad that gets on the floor and plays with the kiddos–wrestling, throwing the football, legos, video games, camp outs, hiking, trampoline super bounces, he does it all.

Together, Josh and I are sterile and that’s okay. Sometimes infertility slaps us in the face, but mostly we just go on with life. It is what it is, but we have seen many mighty miracles along the journey.

We are hoping to adopt!

^^^ Never has a baby been more adored! For real.

We have three beautiful children through the miracle of adoption. And yes, I do believe that adoption is a miracle especially when there are other options out there. Our big boys are 16 months apart and each have their own incredible story as does our baby. However, there are some common threads in each of their stories: Each of their birth mothers were wildly in love with them and still are.

Check out THIS VIDEO of our boys being adorable together and breaking into song (???) in the car. They crack me up!

Redfern Boys with their Birth Moms

Each of their birth mothers chose adoption for them so that their child would grow up with a mom and dad that loved each other and were committed to each other. Each of their adoptions were very hard–there were a lot of tears on all sides. Each of their adoptions are very open to this day. Our families adopted each other.

We believe in open adoption. Like, with our whole hearts. It has been incredible to Facebook, text, Skype, FaceTime, email, and Instagram with our kiddos’ birth families. Not to mention the just about monthly update packages (Letters! Pictures! Artwork! And–randomly–holiday socks!) I love to send them and visits whenever we can swing it (they all live states away from us.) Having birth families involved in our family and part of our family enriches all our lives and fills each of us incredible amounts of love. We all need more people to love and to love on us.

Hoping to Adopt Family

TYSON | Smart. Athletic. Musical.

Tyson is our oldest and the leader of this pack of boys. Tyson is intense and good at just about everything he does–skateboarding, soccer, basketball, football, whatever. He is just a natural athlete and we have delighted in finding unique athletic opportunities for him to excel in. He is competitive, tender-hearted, a baby lover, and too smart for his own good. He is the neighborhood social butterfly which means we always have a house full of kids. He is especially talented at finding the kids that need a friend and is a great example to me of loving people no matter what.

Tyson  Who is The R House

Although Tyson says he wants to be a doctor when he grows up like his birth grandpa, I am pretty sure he will be an attorney. He is always negotiating and setting up deals with me about screen time, how many pictures I’m allowed to take of him, and how long friends can stay over. He is a handful and a crack up! Tyson has set a high educational bar for his siblings–he is a voracious reader and leads by example to his little brothers.

Tyson also has a musical gift. He can hear a song on the radio or television and find the tune on the piano. Check out THIS video of him performing Carol of Bells …which he taught himself to play by ear. He is always impressing us and his piano teacher!

Tyson at Utah's Ultimate Athlete

Tyson’s beautiful birth mother chose us after seeing our adoption profile online. We fell in love with each other instantly. Although we live on opposite sides of the country, we keep in touch via Skype, packages, social media, planned and surprise visits, and texting. Tyson’s ability to love without judgement comes from his birth mother. They both have the biggest hearts. We are SO lucky to have her in our life. We also keep in touch with his birth father on Facebook and although we have yet to meet him, we hope to soon! Tyson’s heritage is as rich as it is beautiful. His birth mother’s family boasts Ukranian heritage and his birth father is African American.

Although Tyson wants to be a big kid, this little dude is still a mama’s boy. He let’s me run my fingers through his deliciously curly hair and snuggles up with me during family movie night. His random hugs during the day are seriously the best.

Utah Family Hoping to Adopt

GAVIN | Builder. Creator. Sensitive.

Gavin is our middle baby. He is a passionate creative soul with the longest and most luxurious eye lashes you have ever seen. He plays along with Tyson’s athletic adventures, but his true talent lies in creating. His room (and floor!) are full of his latest Lego builds, Lincoln Logs, Mega Blocks, train tracks …and anything else he can find! My jaw literally hit the floor the first time he built a huge Batmobile out of Legos complete with moving parts and a very detailed back story …and he built it all by himself. Say whaaaa?

Gavin Collage  Who are The Redferns

Gavin’s tender heart makes him the apple of everyone’s eye. We call him the baby whisperer. He can get his baby cousins to laugh like no one else can and is the first to volunteer to sit by the baby (any baby!) at outings and meals. He’s a charmer …something about that dimple and his contagious laugh. Gavin loves hard and is extremely passionate–for better or worse! LOL When he gets burned out on being the sweetest little dude in the world, he can transform into, what we refer to as, The PterodactoBeetle wherein he screams at the top of his lungs and rolls over on his back with his arms and legs in the air like a beetle. I think he’s actually quite proud of this nickname. ;) Regardless, he is a great example of living life “ALL IN.”

Gavin the Soccer Star

Gavin’s stunning birth mother is Josh’s little brother’s best friend. We’ve known her and her family since she was in elementary school! She has flawless style and is always on a new adventure. She is also an example of living like ALL IN and I admire her for that. Although she lived with us for the last month or so of her pregnancy, she now lives far away but we keep in touch via Skype, packages, social media, visits, and LOTS of texting. She is one of the funniest people I know! I just love her. Check out THIS VIDEO SERIES we did on open adoption and questions we get asked all the time. You’ll see just how awesome she is! Gavin’s heritage is a gorgeous mix of Caucasian, Mexican, Greek, and African American.

Gav-o is a snuggler and a helper. He is the first person to show gratitude and every night at dinner he finds out who made the meal so he can say a personalized thank you. Gosh, I am so lucky to be his mama.

Hoping to Adopt

JACKSON | Hilarious. Lover. Beast.

Jack Jack is our third little lover …although there isn’t anything little about him. He is very large for his age and has the personality to match!

Jackson is seriously the funniest kid on the planet. He is a happy little tornado as evidenced by flushing loaves of bread down the toilet or ripping the head off of his stuffed Pluto and throwing the stuffing all over his room …like snow! He is impossible to get upset with because he is always so happy and smiling. Plus, THOSE CHEEKS!

Jackson  The R House

Jackson loves to go for bike rides in my bike trailer thingy, cruise around in the wagon, jump on the trampoline with all the neighborhood kids, and basically do anything and everything outdoors. Swings, big trucks, Elmo, sand, water, dirt, trains (“choo-choos”), Mickey Mouse, airplanes–all these things speak to our Jack Attack. He is an active dude who also loves babies. In fact, my mom delivered my 1980’s Cabbage Patch kids to my house and Jackson has been carrying one around ever since. In the morning, he can be found in his crib singing to “his bebe” and patting his bebe’s back. Such a luscious lover!

Jackson’s gorgeous birth mother found us through one of my mission companions/college roommates. His birth mom is my college roommate’s sister-in-law. She lived close to us during her pregnancy and we had the unique opportunity to hang out several times a week during her pregnancy. She is so sweet, so selfless, and so beautiful on the inside and outside.

Hoping to Adopt

I’ll never forget her sitting at our kitchen table and asking us to be her baby’s mommy and daddy. Josh and I both cried tears of joy. It’s one of the most sacred moments of my life. She lives in another state so we don’t get to see her weekly any more (although we would love that!), but we do get to do a lot of texting and package sending. We love her and her family so much. We’ve also had the incredible opportunity to get to know Jackson’s birth father through Skype and social media. He was adopted as well. We love him and we love his family! Jackson’s heritage is Caucasian and Colombian.

Nothing compares to Jackson snuggling up on your shoulder which he likes to do after he gets up from a nap. In fact, I will race (and body check!) anyone to Jackson’s room to be the one that gets to get him out of his crib. He is pure sugar.

…and then the rest was really just general blog bio stuff that you can still read on the current About page. 

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Be you. Be honest. Be genuine.

 

Hungry for more? Read my post for the Mormon Channel on the power of being you. I give the “magic key” for communicating with expectant parents considering an adoption plan for your child. Spoiler alert: There is no magic key. ;)

Looking for tips on how to take better photos? Sign up for Lindsay Ross’ free eBook on how to better tell the story of your family through photos.

 

 

My kids are entitled to know their roots. | Mormon Channel Interview

Recently Josh and I were invited to the Mormon Channel for an interview with Jennifer Stagg.

We didn’t really know where the interview would take us and so we didn’t prepare a ton other than bringing a “tech nerd heart for adoption” to the show and a decade of personal experience. We parked and held hands as we walked into the wrong office. Then were escorted to the right place by the nice people in the translation department. Sorta typical for me. I get lost easily. And often.

Jennifer and her team were so warm. We instantly felt comfortable and I knew it was going to be a great show. Although I still didn’t know what we would really be asked.

During the course of the interview Jennifer talked about how she herself was adopted in a closed adoption arrangement.

Jennifer Stagg of Mormon Channel interviews The R House.

With that dynamic, we were able to talk about something that I feel very passionately about: My kids are entitled to know where they came from, their roots, their biological family tree, who they look like, and so on. I was delighted that the interview took this turn. As you can hear in Jennifer’s voice, adoption has really changed over the last few decades especially within the Mormon culture. At least that seemed to be the underwritten theme of this interview for me.

I hope you’ll give it a listen. I feel pretty strongly about it.

The Redferns on Mormon Channel

Thank you, Mormon Channel for having us and letting us share our story. Jennifer, it was so great to share stories with you and hear about your reunion after the show. All the best to you on your journey! I hope our paths cross again soon. xo

 

And, in case you are hungry for more Mormon Channel goodness …Time Out For Women filmed a piece about our family that was featured on Mormon Channel before Jackson was born. It’s called Seek the Good. Enjoy!

Is someone missing from our family?

One evening this summer–June to be exact–I was sitting on the couch flipping through my Instagram feed.

Scrolling through, a photo stopped me dead in my tracks.

The photo that changed my life.

My friend Carina posted about her adorable daughter’s reluctant entrance into her ballet class. I was overcome by the photo. My heart started racing and broke at the same time. This is not a normal reaction to scrolling through your Instagram feed.

I felt myself tearing up. I felt that crushing longing that I’ve come to recognize over the last decade of wanting to build our family.

Josh walked into the room and looked at me. I burst into tears.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I replied sheepishly, totally embarrassed by my inappropriate reaction to social media.

“Babe. Something is up. What’s going on?”

“I feel stupid. I don’t even want to say it out loud.”

“Huh? Just tell me.”

“What if we never get to experience THIS?” I show him the timid ballerina in pink tights. THOSE PINK TIGHTS!

He gave me a look of empathy, frowned with me, and let me feel sad. At this point in our journey, he knew not to fix it. I would work it out, I just needed a minute of self pity, I guess. I’m grateful for the safe place he gives me to feel all the feels.

I had never once expressed or even really recognized my desire to specifically have a daughter. I loved being a mom of 3 crazy boys. In fact, (confession time!) I have always had a hard time with hopeful adoptive couples that are only open to adopting a specific gender. So, where was this coming from? I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks.

I missed that little girl that I almost got to take to ballet. I let my heart love on her and ache for a bit.

But the night went on. We caught up on our TV stories. I went to bed.

However, with the help of my friend’s adorable little ballerina …something had shifted in my heart. Is someone missing from our family?

Two months later we had another failed adoption. We hoped to adopt a 2-year-old little girl that we had loved for a long time but it didn’t work out and I didn’t really talk about it except with close friends and family out of respect for her parents. It was kind of a sticky situation for us.

As we prepped to welcome this little girl into our home, my husband did a lot of the work. He arranged all the paperwork and flew out for visits while I held down the fort here with the boys.

When things didn’t work out, he was crushed in a way that broke my heart. To this day we don’t talk about those events very often.

Still my heart whispered to me, “Is someone missing from our family?”

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The same time that those pink tights spoke to me, there was a young woman who was pregnant. In June, she began to seriously think about adoption for her baby girl.

Eventually our hearts found each other.

That young woman placed her precious baby girl in our arms 4 months later and they both became part of our forever family.

Open Adoption

Last night I sent a message to Carina telling her this story and thanking her for that timid little ballerina. She (and those pink tights) will always have a very special place in my heart.