Our NICU babies have blossomed into big and thriving children. September is National NICU Awareness Month. I’m celebrating our own story today.
You will heal. I will help.
I have been wondering lately, does motherhood guilt ever disappear?
We will celebrate the ‘Gotcha Day’ anniversary three times each year, and each time we do, I’ll have something to share – child specific or on adoption in general. Today I’m sharing about the four words I hear (or see written) often, “Adoption isn’t for us.”
Three years ago today, our little Samarah officially became Samarah Josephina Hoffman.
I didn’t know the angle I wanted to take for Samarah’s Gotcha Day, until Samarah made it so clear last night.
Sometimes she and I like to play the whispering game. I tell her a secret, and then she tells me a secret. Last night I started the session by whispering to her, “Samarah, tomorrow is your Gotcha Day anniversary. Tell mama what that means.”
I got nothing from her. She whispered a few random things to me, and then she was done. Until she wasn’t. She walked back to me, and told me she had one more thing.
Maybe you can be Black like me.
My mom asked me, “So what did you say?”
You guys want the truth? I just couldn’t stop laughing. Nothing gets by little Sam; nothing. And then she finished her thought,
Maybe we could just paint your skin, Mama.
Besides the fact that I just love that little girl with my whole heart, it helped reel me in for her 3-year Gotcha Day anniversary post.
Click HERE to save this post for later.
Samarah and I are so different, and she was born to a woman I can’t relate to in the slightest.
But there is something about our connection and how much I adore her every move that’s almost biological.
I think about this so much, and I have thought about this so much, during this past year.
In case you aren’t aware, infertility is on the rise, and I meet, talk to, and even know many of the “infertile” women who have walked in my shoes.
I’m not the person to push for any decision. To each is own. If you are unable to conceive a child on your own, then the path to getting a child is miraculous in and of its own.
But sometimes when I hear – or see it written – “adoption isn’t for us; it’s just not” – I can’t help but wonder, “Why?”
There are challenges that come with it. I have stated it before, and will talk about it, openly, forever. But have you ever met a mama (or family in general) that didn’t have challenges?
Some women tell me it’s their husband. “He just doesn’t think we would love the child like our own.”
I can never be Black like Samarah (and no, we aren’t painting my face, sweet darling!) But here’s what I know:
I always wanted to adopt, just not in the way it happened. I’ll even make it very clear that, during IVF, I’d gather I told myself over-and-over, “….because adoption isn’t for us.”
And in the end, after everything – adoption has been the very best thing Ryan and I have ever known. In 2015 I said, “adoption has changed our lives.” I believe that more than ever today, and while I maintain to never push anyone to adoption / foster-adoption, I won’t ever stop talking about how it might be the greatest blessing someone may have ever known.
And to you, Samarah Josephina Hoffman, today:
Mama can never be Black like you. There will never be another oh-so-beautiful Samarah Josephina like you, in all the world. Mama tells you it constantly, “Jesus made you that way.” And I’ll tell you every single day that same skin color or not; same blood or not, you are my little angel forever. You were the birth for an eruption deep in my soul that said “Yes, ah yes. Now I get it. Everything is totally, and magically, beautiful in its time.”
p.s. Wanna know a little secret? I’ve been feeling this strong desire to write and work on that pivotal, life-changing mantra that helped guide (and continues to guide) my life. The title: Ecclesiastes 3:11.
I have the Tummy Mommy sequel to share with you today, and if you’ve followed my blog for at least a year, you’ll remember the original post, “Tummy Mommy.”
It’s completely ironic and totally unplanned that this conversation happened yesterday because the original conversation happened almost exactly a year ago, on May 21, 2017.
The conversation happened on the way to school first thing yesterday morning.
Here and there throughout the past year, Samarah would refer to that Tummy Mommy conversation from almost a year ago, but never in the way like what transpired yesterday.
It all started when Samarah put up 4 fingers in the backseat of the truck and stated, “Mommy, Juni is 4 like me.” Juni is Juniper and it’s one of my best friend’s daughters that she likes to play with whenever we can. She and Juniper are only a couple months apart in age, and I think she enjoys both their similarities and differences.
So I said, “Yes. Yes, you’re right.”
I then started telling Samarah how she was born in the hospital and then just a couple months later Juni was born.
Samarah replied, “Was she in her mommy’s tummy at the doctor?”
“She sure was, Samarah. Meg. You know Meg, mommy’s friend. Remember, that’s Juni’s mommy?”
Samarah sat there for probably 30 seconds. I could see the wheels spinning in her little mind. She was trying to process it all.
And then she said, “…..so was I in your tummy or not?”
I explained the whole Tummy Mommy thing again to her, reminding her that no, no she was never in my belly, but that as soon as she came out of the Tummy Mommy’s belly, I was right there to get her.
“And Samarah, then you got your own mommy just like Juni has Meg; do you know who it is?”
She smiled in the most precious way, pointed her pointer finger at me and said, “You. You are my mommy.”
Conversation done. Or maybe not.
Samarah sat there for a few more seconds and said, “But did Amiya and Isaiah get to be in your tummy?”
“No. Amiya and Isaiah have their own Tummy Mommy, and you have a Tummy Mommy, but no one was in my tummy.”
And she asked, “What is my Tummy Mommy’s name?”
I told her. She paused.
“What is Isaiah and Amiya’s Tummy Mommy’s name?”
Again, I told her. She paused. (Side note: Amiya and Isaiah’s birth mom’s name kind of sort of sounds like Tiana, so when I told her it she got far too excited and said, “What?! Tiana?!” <— c’mon guys, get in the Princess know; that’s Princess Tiana she thought was their Tummy Mommy.)
Samarah asked why they couldn’t be in my tummy, and it was my turn to pause for minute because I wasn’t sure what to say; the words she would understand and just in general.
I responded, “That’s a really great question, Samarah, but I don’t have the answer. Mommy could not have a baby, so God gave me the best gift – a Tummy Mommy to give me you.”
It was both a happy and sad moment and response for me on so many levels, but it soon washed away when Samarah blurted out, “I think it’s because your tummy is too small, Mommy.” I laughed.
And then the grand finale to our conversation happened, just as I was unbuckling her carseat.
Samarah looked me in the eyes and said, “Mommy, can I see my Tummy Mommy someday?”
I responded immediately, “Yes, Samarah, of course you can. I will help you see her when you’re bigger, okay?”
She replied, “Okay, but only if you come with me. I don’t want you to leave, Mommy.”
“Never, Samarah. I’ll be your mama forever, and you’ll always be my little angel…..remember?”
And off to preschool she went.
All the emotions, thoughts, and reflections in such a short car ride.
I had mixed feelings about her wanting to meet her birth mom (especially now that she’s able to verbalize it), but know deep down that my commitment to always being open and honest with our children will never change.
I also realized how much a year changes things, and how much she’s grown and understands even just a short year later.
Sometimes I try to prepare myself for all the questions and moments like our Tummy Mommy conversations, but it’s impossible, and that’s the one area of control that I don’t feel pressure for.
When Samarah wants to talk and has questions, I am fully present to just answer them as they come to me.
My goal is to always have them know about the Tummy Mommy without it ever taking away their securities that Mommy (me) is no different than any other child’s mommy.
Not for a single day has Samarah ever felt like anything but my own.
Today you are two, Amiya.
I’ll start your birthday letter out the same way I did last year (and probably how I will every single year), by reminding everyone of the age gap between the three of you. Today we now have a 2, 3, and 4-year old in the house. There is something so frightening, yet so cool, about that.
You have drastically changed this past year. On your first birthday, I let everyone know,
Your first several months here, you rarely made a peep. You have found your voice now, but only when you are hungry, tired, or teething (have I told you yet how much I hate teething?!) do you scream like crazy.
You are now polar opposite of this.
The personality that emerged during this past year is larger than life. Much. Larger. It both drives mama insane, but also gives me all the joy.
The entire world knows your name now. You made it very clear on Sunday night, right before your second birthday.
In case you’ve ever wondered what her name is. ???????? It’s the last night having a little 1-year-old princess in the house. Tomorrow she is 2, but she hit the terrible 2’s like 10 months ago. (And yes, I realize these are boy jammies. Grab ‘n go. Constantly.) . . . . . . . . . #amiya #maya #momof3 #momofthree #momof3under4 #twoyearsold #lakelife #lake #mnblogger #minnesotablogger #exploremn #minnesotalife #momsofinstagram #toddlersofig
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There is nothing you do that isn’t with 100% force.
You are loud, dynamic, and strong. When you talk, your voice carries for days. When you want something now, you wanted it seventeen minutes ago. And when you get an idea in your head (say, putting on socks and “boots”), you’ll stop at nothing to get it done.
Your little mind is still as sharp as we thought it was last year. You’re already through with the ABC’s, can count past ten (made it to eleven last night with Grandma Nancy), and you pick up on everything. Aunt Kelly works with small children daily and she confirmed that you are a smart cookie.
Like your brother and sister, you love music; you love singing and dancing. You would sing anything from Sing all day long or “a dream is a wish your makes.” Your voice is deep, and so oftentimes when you sing, I laugh out loud because I’m not sure if you’re 2 or 62.
The sass in your attitude has quadrupled this past year, and most days we aren’t sure what to do with it. You say, “No,” hit, and throw tantrums whenever and however you feel like it.
But oh little Maya, your hugs are the best in the whole world. When you hug, you snuggle in so tight and you never let go. Your feet wrap around my entire body, and oftentimes you’ll say, “Awwwwww.”
Your energy is insane, and you are still the child that could eat an entire cake, 5 sausage links, and 17 bananas and still have ripped arms and baby abs. I pray you’ll always be the girl who couldn’t care less about eating all the things and having all the gains.
It was never going to be easy once we welcomed you into our home – having three children, virtually all within a year of each other. But thank God for you, for your life, for your Tummy Mommy, and that we said, “Yes, yes we’ll take her.” The days with you are often super challenging currently, and I feel perfectly okay in saying that because I know deep down just how worth it they have been.
You are the child your daddy and I will, without-a-doubt, hear, “Um….Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, Maya is in the principles office. Again.” 🙂 Kidding. Maybe.
But you are also going to be the child who will stop for nothing to get anything and everything you want out of life. You’ll be the one to defend the underdog, and the one who will light up an entire room with your smile.
Your smile is contagious. So contagious.
I thank God for the day you were born, and for the day you officially became ours during this past year.
Happy birthday, my sweet Amiya.
One last thing. I shared the video of you watching your girl on Facebook last year in your birthday post. On Monday night, I confirmed that you still love her and dancing with her. “Again!”