Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Musings on Mommyhood

I haven't posted since October?! Yes, pathetic. There are some pretty amazing moms out there who are somehow able to blog monthly, weekly or even daily. And here I sit with months between posts. Sorry y'all.

I don't have anything earth shattering to share, but I just felt the urge to write, so thought I'd try and reintroduce myself to this blog. Nice to see you again, blog. You've been great to me in the past and I've missed you.

Since I last posted, we've hit some fun milestones. We had Lianne's first Christmas, which was really amazing and somewhat surreal. At that point, she was just shy of 7 months, so Christmas was more about ripping paper than the presents themselves. My mom, brilliant woman that she is, stuffed napkins in her stocking, knowing that they would be the most entertaining of gifts. We had a really lovely trip to Massachusetts and got to introduce Lia to lots of friends. We had a great time up there. And after so many childless Christmases, it was an amazing and at times unreal holiday.

Lia is now going on 8 months. She is sitting up and rolling around and laughing a lot and babbling in what sounds like an ancient eastern European language. In the last two days, she learned to clap her hands, which is totally adorable. She is doing a pretty good job (on alternating days) of eating -- she is building her repertoire of foods. This week, we're trying avocado and she seems to really love it! (Even for breakfast, with oatmeal - sounds awful, doesn't it?!) I love her like crazy and she is truly the most easygoing, happy peanut imaginable. She is rarely fussy and when she is, it's about 90% either hunger or sleepiness. So it makes deciphering her needs pretty simple. Yeah, I know that I'll pay for her being so awesome and easy when she's 11 and throws a full-on tantrum because I won't get her tickets to Justin Bieber's 25th birthday concert. (Is he still, like 10?!) But I'll take this happy lovie girl for now!

And how is Mommy? I'm up and down, honestly. I'm tired. I hate to complain about it because every parent is tired and I am probably getting more sleep than most. But life is intense with the juggle of parenting and work and trying to maintain a little social life. Bill and I rarely have time together and sometimes the wear and tear shows. I don't think it's anything catastrophic, but we do need to figure out some together time. (But why would I want to be away from Lia?!) And forget "me" time. I might need to book a spa trip now for when Lia gets to high school. That seems really hard to find. Again, though, this is nothing new for parents and I am lucky to have a spouse who splits the responsibilities 50/50. But I do think that in the long journey to parenthood I got pretty darn used to sleeping as late as I wanted, going out to eat most nights, buying anything I pleased, etc.

I did have an epiphany of sorts last night. Nothing that will sound terribly profound, but it was helpful to me. In my on head, I was going through the litany -- I'm tired, worn down, overworked, struggling, yadda yadda yadda. And then I really thought about the decision to be a parent. I didn't choose to be a parent because it's easy. I chose it for many reasons, some that I knew and some that I didn't. It's that having her makes me evaluate the importance of everything else in a way that is really helpful to me. It's that seeing her change almost daily brings me incredible amounts of joy. It's knowing that for parents, raising children is how we change the world. That we can support her, love her, teach her and help her become a woman who will be compassionate and kind and will do for others and as such might help bring more peace and stability to this world.

So yeah, I'll give up some sleep for that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Of birds and bees...

Things continue to go well in mommyland -- Lianne is becoming more and more fun every moment and I am doing better than I thought I would at juggling baby/daycare/work/life stuff. I'm pretty good at getting a tasty meal on the table and am getting a decent amount of sleep. The house is a disaster, and I wish it wasn't, but clean house is lower on the hierarchy of needs than sleeping and eating! I miss Bill, as we are constantly trading off duties in order to make life easier, but which means we rarely have moments of quiet together. And sometimes I get hit with pangs of nostalgia for little traditions (like Ping delivery on Friday nights) that are out of our lives for the forseeable future. But honestly, the challenges pale in comparison to the incredible love and radiance and joy of being a mom to this awesome girl.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the baby shower of a friend of mine whose baby is due later this month. It was a totally joyous occasion, with fantastic noshes and respectable activities (no "baby food tasting contests" or "who can make a diaper out of toilet paper the fastest" or other such hell) and a great group of women. Adding to the warmth of the event was knowing that this friend was a sister of mine in her journey to parenthood, having weathered struggles and bleak days. So the celebration felt extra special given how hard she and her spouse worked to get here.

Here's the funny thing, though. Somewhere in my travels from "desperate to be pregnant" to "desperate to stay pregnant" to "terrified to be pregnant" to "adoption is the best option" to "happy mommy," I completely disassociated pregnancy from babies. I realized at the shower that the concept of pregnancy seems completely foreign to me now. Honestly, it's pretty strange that babies grow in there like that. I mean, I flew to Lubbock and -- TA DA! -- there was my darling girl!

Don't get me wrong -- it is great to feel no remorse about having not been able to carry a baby to term. I carried that scar with me for a long time, battling the internal voices that told me that I was less of a woman for not being able to gestate successfully. In fact (TMI ALERT!) when I was recently seeing my gyn, we talked about birth control and when walking me through the options (am I 18 again?!), she asked me how I would feel if we had an accidental pregnancy. My answer was "no way, Jose." It's beyond feeling OK about not being able to stay pregnant -- I honestly don't want it to ever happen now.

But it's strange to look at other pregnant women -- including friends -- and feel like it is just the strangest thing in the world. Yeah, it is legitimately pretty odd. But we are all on this earth -- including my daughter -- because people get (and stay) pregnant. How strange is that, though?!

When thinking about this turn my brain has taken, I started to think about Lia. First, I realized that at a certain point, we will have to tell her about the birds and the bees. Second, given that I'm a girl and she's a girl, this is likely to fall to me, not Bill. But finally, and most importantly, I need to figure out how to share this with her in a way that respects her story and those of all children who were adopted. I would guess that most biological parents sit their kids down and start off with the classic, "when mommies and daddies love each other very much..." line. While I know in my heart that Lia's birth parents love her in the most giving and unselfish way, I know that the story is more complicated. And that this mommy and daddy did and do love each other very much, but that "magic" didn't create a baby -- other magic did. As Lia's forever mama, it's my job to figure out the best way to convey both the biological and the emotional in a way that supports her own story.

Good thing I have some time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


This post is inspired by a blog called 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son ( and when I Googled to get the website, come to find out there is also a 1001 Rules for my Unborn Daughter site ( Who knew? Anyway, this post is inspired by this idea and, of course, by my daughter. It is the first of what I hope to be a series of posts that she can read when she is old enough (and not yet embarrassed by everything I do and say).

I've got a few ideas for these posts but I will start with the one that I think is the most important. A smile is your most important tool in life - not just for getting ahead in the world but, more importantly, for making the world a better place if even for just a moment.

I was reminded of this on the way to work a couple of weeks ago. As you will notice, here in DC (and probably many other places) the morning commute is populated by some of the most dour faces you'll ever see. I won't deny that sometimes I am one of those dour faces. But more often than not, I am one of the few people that offers a smile. As much as I enjoy my work, my smile is not the result of unbridled joy of heading into the office (I'd much rather stay home to play with you). Rather, it is me trying to brighten the mood of people around me. I was on my way to work, sitting on the Metro reading my paper and I noticed someone looking at me or at least in my direction with the typical commuter face. Instead of simply reciprocating the look or going back to my paper, I smiled at this person. The transformation was amazing! This person's whole face lit up with a smile back. Smiling made me feel better and I hope (and think) that I made the world just a little bit better at that moment.

So Lia, give it a try sometime. Just offer a smile and make the world a better place.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Forever Mommy

It's official -- the adoption of our beloved Lianne Elizabeth Murray was finalized by Judge Drue Farmer in Lubbock County Court on Friday, August 26 around 8:45 AM! She is now forever our daughter and we are forever her parents. Wow.

So what was the finalization hearing like? I need to write it down before I forget -- and as the record is sealed and takes a major act to open it, I'd better get it down fast! Bill, Lia and I arrived to the courthouse around 8:15 AM, joining four other families who had worked with our agency who were finalizing that morning. Judge Farmer took her seat behind the bench and she swore in Merinda, the amazing founder and head of our agency, Adoption Covenant, and her colleague, John, who is the Director of Placement for the agency.

Bill, Lia and I were the first family called in front of the judge. Lia was fussy, so I was feeding her at the time, so I came to the bench holding her and had a bottle on hand just in case. Bill stood to my left, John to his left, and Merinda facing us. We raised our right hands and were sworn in by the Judget. Merinda, acting as both the agency head and as an adoption attorney representing the case, asked us a series of questions. She asked me my name and asked me for the name of the baby I was holding. I lost it right away, introducing Lia as my darling daughter, Lianne Elizabeth Murray. She asked when Lia was born and on what date Lia was placed with us. She asked how Lia was doing since she came to be placed with us. I shared that she was thriving physically and developmentally and that she was a very healthy girl and that her doctor was happy with her development. She asked Bill his name. She might have asked Bill another question, but I honestly don't remember. She asked her colleague John for his name, role and credentials. She asked him if he had reviewed our home study and post-placement documentation. He said he had. She asked him if we had met the requirements for a Texas home study and he said that we had. She asked if given our documentation he believed that it was in Lianne's best interest to be placed with us permanently and he said yes.

Merinda then asked if we understood that Lia's biological parents rights were terminated and we said yes. She then asked if we understood that by becoming Lia's adoptive parents that we would assume all the responsibilities for her as we would for any biological child and we responded yes. She then asked each of us if we believe it is in Lia's best interest to be placed with us. We each responded yes and I said that I thought it was in her best interest and in mine.

Judge Farmer then stated that in hearing our testimony and reviewing the documentation presented to her, she would sign into record the adoption of Lianne by me and Bill. We all hugged one another and Lia and had our photos taken with the Judge. The whole thing lasted about 7-10 minutes at most.

We then went with Merinda's mom (and colleague) Betty, down to the courthouse office to file the record. And we got to pick out a stuffed animal for Lia. There were shelves and shelves of stuffed bears and a few dogs. And one ostrich. Guess what we chose. :-)

We spent some time with our fabulous new friend and photographer, Tiffany Padilla, and got photos taken in front of the courthouse and at some Lubbock landmarks. We had lunch with our friends at Adoption Covenant, soaking up as much time with them as possible. Honestly, it was one of the best days of my life.

And now this darling girl is my daughter. Now and forever. I was talking with my dad the night of the hearing and, through tears, shared something that feels incredibly profound to me. That five years of pain, heartache and longing has all dissipated with the arrival of Lia into our lives. I thought I would carry around those feelings of disappointment and hurt and broken-ness forever, but somehow they are all gone. I think it's like childbirth, which I understand to be one of the most painful experiences, but one in which the pain is quickly forgotten.

So now that it's all official, I have taken the step of changing my blog name -- no longer "Future Mommy," I am now "Forever Mommy."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There's a special place in hell...

Remember back in May when I wrote about my strange experience with the adoption and surrogacy attorney who had a "situation" for us with a surrogate whose intended parents had changed their minds? (You can refresh your memory here.)

Yeah, well that woman just pled guilty to being part of a baby-selling ring. Three women conspired to have gestational carriers impregnated abroad (because they would need proof of a surrogacy if they did it here in the US) and then told prospective parents that these women had "situations," exactly like the one told to me, in which the intended parents had decided against surrogacy, leaving this "poor pregnant woman" to figure out what to do. Turns out they were charging the adoptive parents (which is what they were since the connection between the carrier and the parents were made after both parties knew there was a baby) upwards of $100,000 and paying the carriers $30,000 and pocketing the rest. You can read about the case here.

The whole thing turns my stomach. According to Resolve, the national organization that supports those who are contending with infertility, 7.3 million people in the US are affected by infertility. While some percentage of those go on to have biological children, a significant number of people are faced with very hard decisions about how (or if) to build their families. I know as well as anyone that there are moments of pain and desperation on this journey. I think that it could be pretty easy to jump if a situation like this came your way -- a surrogate seemingly in the unthinkable position of being pregnant with no intended parents for the baby. For those who are naive, it might feel like a dream come true. For those who are not so naive, it might be tempting to turn the other cheek or rationalize your way around the situation.

But it's immoral, unethical, illegal and just plain wrong to buy and sell people, which is exactly what these three women were doing. And more than that, they were actually in the business of creating people for the purposes of selling them. Just sick.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Letter

I have been meaning to sit down and put some thoughts together for weeks now, but this new life is busy and exhausting, though in the most fantastic ways. I have started a few musings, but get pulled away either by Lianne's needs or my own (or the dishes or laundry that seem to pile up every time my back is turned). We had a fantastic visit this week from my sister-in-law, Heather, which was just fabulous.

The first big update is that we have a court date! We travel to Texas at the end of the month and will finalize Lia's adoption on August 26 at 8:30 AM. After that, I can finally change my blog post name from "Future Mommy" to just "Mommy!"

What a miracle this has all been. Sometimes in those quiet moments, as she falls asleep in my arms, I am overcome with gratitude and love and awe. Just when I thought we'd never be parents, we were swept away on a plane to Lubbock to unite with this amazing child, who makes us a family. There are still moments when I find it all hard to believe -- that she is here and I'm finally a parent.

And, yet, I am also often thinking in quiet moments about another mama out there who made this incredibly hard decision for this girl, who is out there wondering how she is and where she is and whether we are doing right by her.

I've been meaning for a month to sit down and write our first letter to Lia's birth mama and I just don't know where to start. I'm getting hung up in the details, feeling that I need to find just the right stationary on which to write this letter. A typed letter would be faster, but impersonal, and a letter on legal paper wouldn't feel important enough. Then I get stuck on how to start the letter -- Dear Lia's Mom? To our daughter's first mother? And then I have a hard time figuring out what to say and how. There is so much to share:
  • How we chose her name, including her middle name, which was that also chosen by her birth mom.
  • How much Lia has grown -- she was 9 lbs, 12.6 oz and 23 inches long as of Monday's two-month appointment!
  • How she is developing so quickly and in the most amazing ways, smiling, "talking" interacting with her toys and with us.
But, most of all, how do I tell this woman how profoundly grateful I am for the opportunity to raise this amazing girl? How her decision on behalf of her daughter has changed my life in incredible ways and gave me the the gift of motherhood that I longed for for so long? How Bill and I love her as deeply as we have ever loved anyone in our lives? How we will do everything we can to raise her in a way that she would be proud? It's all a lot to say and hard and emotional. But it's something I need to do for me, and for her, and for our daughter.

So if you know where I can get lovely writing paper, please let me know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


We got the news today. There was no match for Lianne's biological father on the Texas registry. If you feel a warm breeze blowing by you, that's me, finally exhaling. Now we just await our court date (likely in August) to finalize the adoption and it will all become official -- we will be parents and Lia will be our daughter, forever and ever, amen.

The last month has been hard with this wait. While I have doted on Lia in every possible way -- giving her endless love and affection, reading her books, singing to her and dancing with her, holding her tight -- I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a curtain (albeit sheer) up while we awaited this news. After everything we've been through, it's impossible not to feel like we are cursed and that this path to parenthood might also be thwarted. So I know that I've operated on more reserve than I would ever want to, just to keep my heart from breaking if her biological father decided he wanted to be her parent.

And while I, of course, didn't want that to happen, I felt selfish even thinking it. Because while Lia's birth dad staying out of the picture is easier for us, it isn't necessarily easier for her. She loses a link to her biological story, and her origin story, and her family history. Sure, I know that we'll provide her with as wonderful a life as we can -- full of as many rich opportunities as we can make possible and as much love as two people (plus an enormous extended family of relatives and friends) could ever give to a person. But how do I know that her biological father couldn't have given her all that and more?

So while I'm relieved beyond words that we have gotten past this "hurdle," I simultaneously grieve for what my daughter won't have in knowing her birth father. And I pledge to always do my best to support her in finding out what she can about both of her first parents. A day doesn't go by that I am not grateful to them for making this profound decision for Lia and giving us the opportunity to be a mom and a dad.

I love you forever, Lia.