What Jean ValJean taught my husband about being an adoptive father.

A couple of months ago, I took my husband to see Les Miserables at a theater in-the-round.

I’ve seen it on Broadway and was even been in a production while in college, but this was a whole different ballgame. There’s something incredible about an in-the-round experience. It’s so personal.

My husband despises musicals with the very core of his soul, but in a grand gesture of his love for me he agreed to go …and he even went with a happy(ish) attitude. This story runs through my veins and is deeply personal for me. I know he knows that and that’s why I think he makes the effort.

Les Miserables and Adoption

As the music began and the lights started to dim, the Beatles Mania that had been brewing all evening just about boiled over into tween-like screaming and selfie taking. This story is a spiritual experience for me every single time. My husband (who had never seen a live production of it), was in for a treat.

By the ending scene, he was wiping his eyes and I knew the magic had touched him too. Mission accomplished! The next day, an unsolicited email with the following post popped up in my inbox along with a little note that said, “I sent a similar message to the boys’ birth moms too.” That man is so full of heart. I am a lucky lady.

 

What Jean ValJean reminded me about being an adoptive father.

So, Lindsey “gave me the opportunity” to go to Les Miserables at a local theater last night. I’m actually pretty bad at going to things that I know I won’t like (never seen a Nicholas Sparks movie–but I did get close once) but when it comes to Les Mis, I try to suck it up for a night every once in a while. I’m pretty sure I only made like 3 negative comments about it all night.

Musicals just aren’t my style. I find the stories rushed and I think you should only sing when it’s a REALLY good song and not just because you feel like a song is needed. Luckily Les Mis doesn’t have any dancing. Seeing cowboys doing pirouettes in Annie Get Your Gun a few years ago crossed a line with me that I can never cross back over.

Anyway, there was a scene in Les Mis that got my eyes a little wet. It was a moment that reminded me of my own position as a father of children that were not mine initially.

As ValJean is dying, he hands Cosette his confession and says (well…sings), “It’s the story of those who always loved you. Your mother gave her life for you, then gave you to my keeping.”

Now, our kids’ birth mothers are very much alive but they DID give a part of their life for their boys and they gave them to me to be their father. In that moment in that theater, I recalled the joy and the weight of that fact. I try to remember it every day–that 3 incredible women decided that I should be the one to protect and provide for their boys, to be the one that made sure they knew safety, happiness, and love. It’s an awesome responsibility. One that I don’t know I would have understood as well had I had children biologically, one that I don’t take lightly. I’m not a perfect father but I know that I’m just a little bit better because I understand what sacrifices where made to get my children in my care and that I will answer to God and their birth parents for how I guarded that gift.

The R House, Open Adoption

With Jackson’s birth mother and birth family at one of Josh’s football games.

 

So, I gained 2 things last night:

  1. Brownie points with Lindsey (lots of them)
  2. A reminder of how great my life is and how great my responsibilities are.

Now, if we can just find ways to do that without having to sing EVERYTHING.

 

 

DNA, Leaning into Joy, Reasons for Placement, and Identical Magic | Adoption.com Round-up

 

As Editor-in-chief of Adoption.com, I have the privilege of reading almost all of the content that we publish. It’s so refreshing to read about different perspectives and experiences than my own all while being uplifted, inspired, and educated.

 

Adoption.com Editor's PicksEvery week, I am especially touched by a handful of articles that I find myself thinking about even when I’m not at ‘at work.’ Articles like these are why I love my job so much.

AdopteeDNA-25

This piece was written by Tom, one of our Staff Writers who is also an adoptee and advocate for adoptee rights. I was especially interested in his experiences connecting with his biological family with the aid of DNA. We recently did that for our oldest son using 23andMe. I’m pretty much a sponge when it comes to reading about the experiences of individuals who were adopted in hopes that it will make me a better mom to my boys.

For me, it was validating to find out what I was sure I already knew. Somehow, it just helped me to tie everything together.

For adoptees who don’t have any information about their roots to begin with, I can only imagine how powerful and significant receiving their results would be.

OpenYourHeart-15Oh this piece hit really close to home for me. (Maybe even a little too close.) I was enthralled in Megan’s description of bringing home a newborn baby placed with her in a foster care arrangement. I often find myself in awe of and learning from families involved in foster care. I am sure being foster parents is in our future somewhere. Her words about not missing an opportunity to celebrate a child’s life were totally validating as we tend to wear our heart on our sleeve over here.

From the start of our family-building journey, people have acted like I am not careful enough. I know they mean well. I know they are trying to protect me. Some told me I shouldn’t get my hopes up. Some have said I should be more careful or I will be too attached if our foster child has to leave. However, I have always thought that being too careful would take away some of the joy of celebrating life, whether in the case of foster care or adoption. Over and over, I have felt the truth confirmed as I have allowed myself to, as Dr. Brené Brown (researcher and author) says, lean into joy. Downplaying the chance for happiness in the name of practicality or in hopes of preventing disappointment is robbing yourself and your family of possible joy!

TrueLoveAdoption-17

You can practically feel Tiffany’s strength jumping off the screen in this piece. Reading the reasons why birth parents chose adoption for their child will never get old for me and I believe it makes me a more empathetic adoptive mother with a stronger conviction to keep open adoption promises.

I believe true love is when you forget yourself entirely and completely and offer everything you have to someone else. I think that title encompasses all moms, but especially those mothers who make the ultimate sacrifice and gain the title of birth mom.

That true love is the real reason I placed my son for adoption. That love gave me courage to make the decision to place myself in a situation full of pain, grief, and heartbreak so that my son would be in a situation full of happiness, love, and joy.

3rdChildBio-28

This one is pure magic. Confession: After hearing Kira tell parts of this story, I knew I needed her to be one of our Staff Writers at Adoption.com. Tears pouring down my cheeks, you guys. The following quote just sums up all the warm fuzzies I have about open adoption.

The big day came to deliver my baby. I was in the hospital nervous and having contractions. One of the sweetest parts of labor was the texts I kept receiving from my children’s birth mothers. They had experience with labor and delivery and were able to give me loving advice. Texts telling me how to breathe, encouraging me that I could do it, and telling me good luck. We were also able to joke about some of the unflattering parts of childbirth, and it lightened my mood while going through the pain.

I can’t wait to see what I’m going to learn next week! 

Working at Adoption.com

Confession time: Feeling vulnerable is not the only reason why I have been out of touch here.

In October, I took a job with a re-vamped Adoption.com as their Editor-in-chief.

The R House and Adoption.com.jpg

The new CEO called me last summer and asked if I would be interested in working for Adoption.com and if I was, what job I would want to do.

I told him I am not good at math.

Or talking on the phone.

I told him that I am disorganized and not a Grammar Snob. (Obvs.)

This is probably not the best way to respond when someone offers you a job, just FYI.

I DID tell him what I love. And that is you.

I told him that I am a storyteller and I love the adoption triad. I told him I would want to work with the writers. And so here I am.

I helped with a MASSIVE re-branding, re-design, and re-routing of our website that released mid-April. Have you seen Adoption.com recently? Learn more about the NEW Adoption.com. 

My job at Adoption.com is to amplify the voices of our community to Adoption.com’s 4 million monthly pageviews. The absurdity of that number and the burden that I feel on my shoulders because of it is enormous. I want to share powerful voices with you that will educate, inspire, and even uplift you.

Each member of our Content Team has been carefully selected. It has been an honor to get to know them through their writing. So many of my work days (during nap time, or the middle of the night) is spent with me in tears over the passion and power that is being shared from my staff writers. I love their words and I love their heart.

I mean, look at these gems:

 

It's Not About the Baby

Myra, a birth mother, explains her reasons for placing. I’ve heard her present many times before and her fire always inspires me. And man, she is funny.

This was never about a baby. My pregnancy and my adoption were about a person. A lot of images flood the mind when a pregnancy is announced, including lots of adorable little clothes and toys. But for me I was thinking about his life to come. I was thinking about his calculus homework, his first date, and the day he becomes a father. The weight of this entire person with his entire amazing life was resting on my shoulders and my bladder. It was now up to me to get that boy to calculus and to his wedding day, and I was sorely unprepared. I had never even taken calculus.

 

What Not to Say to a Birth Mother

Sierra, a birth mother and an adoptee, shares What Not to Say to a Birth Mother.

When speaking to an adoptee or birth mom, it is okay to ask questions. I am an open book! However, be sensitive.

 

Adolescence Can Be Rough

Kenna, an adoptive mother and an adoptee, shares her experience of being adopted by her step-mom.

Adoption is not something to sweep under the rug, to shut away in a safe and throw away the combination. My parents never spoke of my adoption, so I assumed that they were ashamed of me and how I was added to the family.

 

Foster Parenting

Megan, an adoptive mother and foster mama, shares how foster parenting first took root in her heart. 

I could love a child who needed me, if only for a little while. 

 

Supporting Birth Mothers

Marilee, an adoptee through the foster care system and a birth mother, shares her Top 5 Ways to Break a Birth Mother’s heart. In my opinion, it’s a must-read for all adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents.

Your child cannot have too many people to love him or her. This includes lots of possibilities, but talk to your birth mom! Follow her lead and trust her judgment. 

 

THIS is one of the happiest posts I have ever read!

And then there’s THIS, THIS, and THIS one. Oh and THIS one! Like woah, right?

I honestly have the coolest job in the world for me. I had no idea it would be like this!

I’ve learned things that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know–about adoption, adoption misconceptions, writers, rebranding, coding, and so on. It’s humbling and usually overwhelming, but always a blessing.

I want you to know that I take this opportunity very seriously. In the end, Adoption.com answers to YOU, the adoption community. If you can’t use what we are creating, then it doesn’t matter how pretty our site is. And it is very pretty! 

I hope you’ll join me on this new adventure. The R House isn’t going anywhere, I will still do most of my writing here (in fact, I’ve only written one story for Adoption.com so far!), but I get to share the stories of so many others who inspire me TO NO END.

Every Friday I will share my Editor’s Picks from Adoption.com right here. These are stories that my incredible Content Manager, Rachel, and I have been touched by. I want you to get to know these incredible voices that I get to work with everyday!

Let’s do some good, people.

xo