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?”

___________________________

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.

 

From love to love.

Just shy of three weeks ago, Josh and I were invited to be in the delivery room for the birth of our daughter.

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Today I felt this undeniable prompting to share the miracle of my experience. In fact, I was doing the dishes and the feeling came to my heart to “put the scrub brush down and go write while the littles are napping.” It was music to my ears. Sage, our daughter’s birth mother, and I have been talking about this post for weeks but it just wasn’t coming together until now.

But how do you share the experience of someone else’s labor and delivery? I can only share how I felt and what Kim Orlandini photographed by Sage’s invitation. All of this was shared with Sage’s blessing and urging. So here we go …raw emotions and all.

First of all, I was nervous. In my experience, adoptive parents don’t really fit in at the hospital.

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I felt helpless watching Sage suffer.

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I felt guilty.

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I felt worthless.

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And yet, here is this beautiful vibrant woman who is literally entrusting a piece of her heart to me. I would do anything for her and not just because of her sacrifice but because I loved her deeply and recognized her soul. She trusted me. And I trusted her. This experience wasn’t about me. It was about her and her daughter. It was about what we would share together in this sacred space. I had no idea what I was about to experience.

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I would laugh with her.

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I would dance with her. (Badly.)

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I would walk with her.

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I would rub her feet until I passed out.

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I would worry over her.

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I would listen to her. Both what was said and what didn’t need to be spoken.

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I would weep with her.

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I would pray with her.

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We would feel the veil between heaven and earth tear away as this perfect spirit took her first breath.

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We would feel the humbling presence of angels.

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I would cherish the honor of being chosen to be her mother. Sacred.

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I would write these precious moments on my heart so I could whisper her story to her again and again. “My sweet Norah Hope. This is a story of how you went from love to love…”

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Bring Closure to your community, watch on Hulu.

This summer my husband and I hosted a screening of Closure for our local adoption community.

(Don’t know what I’m talk ing about? Learn about Closure.)

SLC Tugg Flier Presented by The R House

I did not pre-screen it, but I knew when I saw the preview that it was something that I wanted to bring to my beloved city. As a movie theater (and movie theater popcorn) enthusiast, it was important to me to see it on the big screen surrounded by folks that were going to be touched by Angela’s story as told by her filmmaker husband, Bryan Tucker. I wanted to experience it together. I wanted us to feed off each other’s energy.

The whole experience did not disappoint. It was a huge success!

After welcoming everyone to the event, I settled in between my parents-in-law and my husband in the front of the theater where I could listen to erupting laughter (there are some really funny parts!) and sniffles.

The film is raw and fair to all members of the adoption constellation. No one looks like “the bad guy” and your heart is just filled with love for this growing family as they keep making connections with one another.

Closure Documentary Screening SLC

I was especially touched by the relationship Angela has with her adoptive mom and how her mom supported her and cheered for her along the journey. I didn’t see jealousy and I didn’t see a mom who felt threatened by Angela finding her roots and embracing them. During a scene where Angela is talking to her mom before calling her birth family for the first time, I snuck to the back of the theater to take a picture (above). I shot it out on Instagram with the following caption,

My dream came true! Watching @ClosureFilm with my local adoption community. My heart is SO full. Tears are flowing! @angelatucker‘s mom is inspiring. I hope every adoptive mom in this theater is learning from her example. Love learning from her. Totally falling in love with this whole family! Thank you for sharing your story, @angieadoptee! So powerful. This is a MUST-SEE. BRING IT TO YOUR CITY. @beetucks #adoption

It really is a must see for everyone involved in adoption. My favorite part? There’s a scene in the film that I wasn’t expecting. It rang so true to me and touched on some pretty sensitive emotions after our failed adoptions and reversed adoption. It’s the scene where Angela finds her “foster family” and the foster mama talks about what it was like to let her go. Such a powerful scene! Thank you for including that, Bryan.

Panel after Closure Screening

After the film, we had a brief panel led by my husband who is a social worker. The panel included a birth mother and adoptive mother who had been reunited but the son (a teenager) wasn’t quite ready to move to face-to-face yet. Then there was a woman who was adopted (several times actually due to disrupted adoptions) through foster care and her story of reunion. And lastly, we had an adoptive couple that I look up to as wonderful examples of doing openness right. They have 7 children, 6 of which were adopted through foster care. Each child enjoys a level of openness with their biological families. Each panelist shared their story and their reaction to the film. (Spoiler alert: They all thought it was fantastic.)

I was especially touched by the woman who was adopted. She said that she turned to her friend in the theater so many times during the film and said, “This is so right on. This is exactly how I felt too.” There couldn’t be a better testimonial to the night!

I also have to tell you about the tears that my husband shed as he spoke of Angela’s birth mother. He was deeply moved by her pain which appeared to be caused, in part, by the closed adoption. He asked the theater to really think about who closed adoption truly benefits. Great food for thought. If you’re not sure about open adoption vs closed adoption, I invite you to watch this film with that question in mind.

Debriefing after Closure

After the panel we migrated to the foyer where we must have stayed for a good hour–making connections, talking about the film, sharing about our families, building a stronger community. It made my heart happy. This is why we need YOU to be involved in the adoption community. This is why, friends. 

Now I am sure you are dying to see the film. There are many ways to make that happen.

Bring it to your community. <<< This is my recommendation. I could have purchased the documentary and watched it in my jammies at home. But I knew I wanted to see it with my local adoption community! There is power when all sides of adoption are gathered together to learn and be fed. As I emailed with Bryan and Angela about this post, I love what Bryan said about bringing this film to your city.

One thing we hear over and over is that this film is meant to be watched in community, and I truly believe that as well.  As you already know, doing a Tugg screening is not easy, as it does require some commitment to promotion, etc., but I do want people to know it’s possible to succeed!

Closure Documentary on Hulu

Watch on Hulu. YES! Hulu! Stream it for free. (Image from Closure’s Facebook page.)

Closure on Aspire

Look for it on Aspire. The first airing will be 11/5 at 8pm ET. (Image from Closure’s Facebook page.)

Connect with Bryan and Angela and their journey on Facebook and Twitter.

 

One last thing… after you watch this film you will wonder, “How can I get my hands on that soundtrack?” Question answered HERE.