My New Family Member

by Tina Cameron         

20190928_110613 On September 19th, 2019 I went into our local pet store to buy some things for my new turtle tank. I happened to notice that they sell Red-Eared Sliders which is the type of turtle I have. Incubus is fourteen and a half years old. I saw the cute, little babies and one that was a little bigger. I just thought, no one wanted to buy him. Fast forward a week, and he was still there when I went back.

I spoke with the manager about him, and he had been surrendered by the “owner.” I use that term loosely, as the lady that brought him in told the manager that if they wouldn’t take him, she was going to “put him down.” I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My heart broke, and I knew I had to have him. Unfortunately, I had somewhere to be and told them I would be back to get him.

On Saturday, September 28th I stayed up after working all night waiting on the store to open and prayed that he was still there. The employees knew that I was coming and seemed happy that someone was saving this poor little guy. See, he was neglected and apparently mistreated. He was not properly cared for because his shell is bubbled in places and misshapen. He is very nervous and appears to not trust humans. He tends to hiss if you go to touch him. It is so very sad that this poor innocent turtle was mistreated. So, once I signed the adoption papers, he was placed in a transport box. I about cried in the store because I was just so relieved to know that he was going to a loving home. The salesperson said the vet thinks he is about eighteen months old and was told the “owner” never named him. He did check out healthy except for his shell. His first outing was to The Dollar Tree and then to Wal-Mart.

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Introducing him to Incubus was interesting. Incubus couldn’t him figure out—he does seem a little bit jealous and well, the new baby is still adjusting. I was told it would take him a few days. Incubus let him know that he was boss (he stepped on our new addition while swimming by). They are now swimming in the tank in sync with each other, and he is warming up to me. He now swims to me when I stand at the tank, and he has not hissed again. After deliberating for days, I have decided that his name will be Crimson Tide and will call him Crimson for short. He is a Red-Eared Slider, so that is why I chose Crimson. After all, I love turtles, and everyone knows I love the Crimson Tide.

 

Adoption Can Be Funny

By: Jordan Tate

Jordan Tate

We all know that adoption is a joyous occasion, and also a heavy one with many challenges. It’s a true rollercoaster with peaks and valleys and slow turns and fast hills, but I think we can all agree that, for the most part, Hollywood has shaped many an opinion about adoption for those who don’t have a real connection to it. And it can be stinking funny. So today I thought I’d invite you over to have a silly little chat about some funny things we’ve experienced in the world of adoption in hopes that you’ll laugh a little. If nothing else, you’ll quickly learn what not to say to your friends who have adopted or will adopt in the future.

That said, I’m curious, how many of these have happened to you?

We get asked frequently if we’re going to tell Shepherd he’s adopted. You guys…we get asked frequently. To be fair, it always seems to come out rapidly and clumsily and without much forethought, which is very good news. Usually I’m like, “No, we planned on turning his life into an actual Lifetime movie where the ‘big reveal’ happens on his wedding day or something.” Or wait until the day someone else, who is not us, tells him that his parents are white and he is not. How fun does that sound!? Not fun at all. Not fun at all.

One of my favorite things ever is when people ask me, when out and about, if I’m his “real” mom. I respond by telling them I’m actually a robot, so no, I am not real, and if they do not back away slowly, the laser beams will commence and then I’ll be forced to self-destruct. Okay, I know, I know, it’s just semantics. We try really hard over here to encourage others to use terms like “Biological mother” and “Adoptive Mom,” but I’ll be the first to tell you that if I’m feeling especially feisty I’ll just stick with the robot scenario. That, or scream loudly as I stomp away,  “What would it even mean to be a fake mom?!”

Oh, man! I said the previous situation was one of my favorites, but now I’m remembering another favorite, and that’s when everyone and their brother asks me if I’m the babysitter. I mean, okay, fair. I look insanely young and fresh and like my life has been nothing but rainbows and butterflies and look at me, I’m just babysitting to kill the time before my next semester of college begins, why thank you. While I daydream about actually traveling to Europe, I blubber something like, “Do you see the bags under my eyes!? Two of my children died and this is my son who I adopted just 4 months after burying my second daughter. So no, I am not the babysitter unless you want to offer me extra money because you feel bad for me.”

Ha…haha…sigh.

On a lighter note, how about when strangers ask very, very personal questions about the nature of his adoption? I’m over here like, “Umm, how about we start by you telling me your entire life history, including the moments you’d only share with family and close friends?” It’s weird, though. I usually don’t get a response when I say that…

Trust me, I could go on. But let’s end on this one:

“So, is it hard to choose which baby you want?”

And then it starts.

“First…adoptive parents don’t choose their babies.”

“What!? How does it work then!?”

“Well, after a family is licensed to adopt, they make some sort of profile that highlights various traits about their story and their family. Ultimately, the biological parents choose, from a group of licensed families, who will raise their child.”

“So then the families all go and meet her and she chooses one of them?”

“No, that would be so weird and so not okay. The birth parents usually look through profiles. Like books. About the families.”

“Whoa, no way! So you aren’t choosing the child at all.”

*silence*

“No. I don’t walk up to a precious birth parent during one of the hardest moments of their lives and decide that I like their baby best and that I believe that I would raise them in a way that would make the birth parent most comforted, and then take them without input from the person/people who made/birthed them. Make sense?”

How about we end there? I suppose if you don’t learn to laugh you just end up crying, amiright?

All in all, I think these comments and questions truly are an amazing way to education more effectively on the process of adoption. But having a good laugh at the end of the day doesn’t hurt, either. 😉

Adoption

By: Jordan Tate

jordan tate

The day we picked you up felt like a dream. I wondered if what everyone else said would be true. I already loved you but I wondered what it would feel like to see your face. The day we picked you up I stared at all of the pictures your caregiver had sent me throughout the week. I was so jealous of her. I was so jealous that she was caring for my son, and that week–it felt like a year. All of the pictures of you looked different, so the day we picked you up I wasn’t exactly sure what you would look like.

But, oh, my son. You were even more perfect than I could have imaged.

The day we picked you up we passed the time during the 4 hour car ride by revealing one letter of your name at a time to my parents and brother, who were riding in the car alongside us on the interstate. I was messaging back and forth with them and with my friends, who were jumping out of their seats with excitement for this day. These friends- you know them now. They are the friends that wept with us when we laid to rest your sisters. They are the friends that pleaded each day for a fast and smooth adoption. They were among the first to know when we matched with you. They had a blast guessing your name.

The day we picked you up my heart beat faster than it ever has before. I had a hard time catching my breath as we walked into the tiny little agency in Alabama where your caregiver was holding you.

jordan tate

They were right. They all were right. Meeting you was just like what everyone said. It was like I had known you forever. I cried and cried and cried and I only fought back the tears when they started to block my view from your perfect face. I cried as I held you. I cried as I remembered your sisters and how holding you felt just the same as holding them except this time it was better. This time there was no pain. It wasn’t hello and goodbye, it was just hello. Hello and I love you.

It was so worth the wait. We didn’t wait long. But if we had it still would have been worth it. I would have waited decades just to meet you and know you and call you my son. You were so worth every part of this crazy journey.

We put you in your car seat and I was shocked at how normal it felt. I was shocked by the normalcy! You see, we met our other children and they didn’t come home with us. Those times were the times I was shocked by how abnormal it was to leave the hospital empty handed. It felt eerie and wrong and terrible. Leaving with you was the best part. Leaving with you was the start of our life together as a family. I sat in the backseat with you and stared at your face. You looked tiny in that carseat. And then it was mother’s day and I was stuck in a foreign state and we barely had any baby gear but it didn’t matter because you didn’t leave my chest except for when your daddy stole you to lay on his.

I don’t understand why it all felt so normal. I can’t express why it all felt so right. But everyone should know this. Everyone should know because there are many ways to grow a family and growing ours this way was a dream I wish everyone could live. There was no hospital. No labor and no delivery. There was just the deep and miraculous understanding that babies grow in hearts, not just in bellies.

Introducing Our New Every Woman Bloggers: Meet Jordan Tate

Jordan Tate

Hi, there! I am so thrilled to join forces with the incredible women of the Every Woman Blog and I wanted to kick start my involvement with a little introduction! My name is Jordan Tate and I live in the Midlands with my husband and my adopted son, Shepherd.

My husband and I met as next door neighbors in an on-campus apartment at Clemson. We were friends that entire year, started dating the following year, and it was 9 months later that he proposed, and 8 months after that that we got married. Chris is a nurse at Lexington Medical Center and he is so perfect for the job. He’s compassion and caring and he chose this career for the highest amount of hands-on patient care.

We never could have imagined that our vows of “in sickness and in health” would be tested so quickly into our marriage as we walked through two full term, traumatic pregnancies, resulting in the death of our two sweet daughters shortly after birth. We have a family blog in which we chronicled the details of both pregnancies and I am passionate about speaking out about infant loss, grief, and healing, in hopes that other women who have experienced it themselves or know someone who has can be encouraged and empowered through extremely difficult circumstances.

We never expected our journey to domestic adoption to happen the way it did after the loss of our first two children, although it was always a desire of ours to adopt children. We could never have imagined that our first adopted child would enter our family just four months after the loss of our second daughter, but his story is one of redemption and hope and he is absolutely perfect. I can’t wait to share more with you about all three of our children and our experiences through infant loss, grief, transracial adoption and private adoption in general! I look forward to sharing with you and hope that you will leave here encouraged, challenged, and inspired.

Handpicked

By: Katie Austin

Today is the day. They knew when they woke up that morning that life would be forever changed. It’s like Christmas morning, except you know the gift you are about to unwrap and the responsibilities that come with it. All of the planning and preparation comes down to this one moment.

I wonder what they were thinking when they traveled to their appointment, knowing that their family would grow by one when they left? Happiness. Joy. I could only imagine the excitement was building as they left their house, everything coming together for the next chapter in their life.

How do you pick when there are so many to choose from?

There are so many things to consider. You want to look them over and find one that isn’t too playful yet not to bashful. One that you instantly connect with, that captures your heart when you look into their eyes. That special connection that happens in an instant. You know then that you can’t wait to take them home to become part of your family.

Katie's parentsI wonder if that is how they felt? How I would feel adopting a new member into my family?

You see, this isn’t a pet we are talking about. It was me that my parents brought home that day.

I was adopted before celebrating my first birthday. My biological parents were in college at the time and I would venture to say that I wasn’t part of their degree planning. I was born January 28, 1968 and put up for adoption. I could only imagine how hard it was for her. To birth me and then let me go. I am so thankful that she decided to have me, to give me the opportunity at life. What a gift I was left with. To let me go not knowing how my life would turn out or who would raise me.

My adopted parents were trying to have a child of their own but it wasn’t working out. What they didn’t realize at the time was that God had plans for them to have a son later. My parents went through the the adoption process and in the end, it was me that they took home. I know the process works differently than adopting a pet, as you get to look the group of them over to pick out the one you want to take home. I often kid with my parents that they should have taken more time to pick out the less active one as it might have been easier raising me, especially during my teenage years 😃

But, I truly feel that they didn’t pick me out but that God picked them out for me. I am so incredibly blessed with the parents and brother that I have! They have always been there for me even when I didn’t know it or was too busy in life to appreciate it. My teen years are an example of that but in college, I had an epiphany. I realized that no matter what happened, my parents were there to listen, give advice and to extend a hand to help me get back up. They had always been there and would continue to be there.

During my cancer fight in 2010, my parents were with me at every doctor visit, scan, chemo/radiation treatment, surgeries, and everything in between. We were called the ‘A Team’ because between my parents, husband and myself, we were prepared to fight my cancer head on. Through the highs and lows, my parents were there. No matter what I was faced with, they were standing there with me. When I was at my lowest, it was my mom who told me “Kate, it’s a walk in faith. You just have to keep believing and take this one step at a time.” That was the turning point for me. I knew then that I had to keep fighting. They never stopped believing that I would one day be in remission. They kept me laughing, gave me a shoulder to cry on, and were with me every step of the way. They stopped everything they were doing in their own lives to help save mine.

I am often asked when people find out that I am adopted if I would like to find my parents. I smile and tell them “Why would I need to look for them when they are already here.” I have been blessed with the most amazing, wonderful, caring, loving parents and I thank God every day for bringing me into their lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. This world is a better place because they are in it. I love you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for picking me. 💖

Wishing each of you a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year!

 

My Priority Quilt

By: Katie Austin

When I think of my mom, I think of the many wonderful ways she has touched my life.  Moms are always there for their kids to patch them up when they get hurt, help them through the difficult childhood journey to adulthood, and take care of everything in between.  This poem by Joanna Fuchs sums it up perfectly!

Without You

Mom, without you, there would be no me.
Your love, your attention, your guidance,
have made me who I am.
Without you, I would be lost,
wandering aimlessly,
without direction or purpose.
You showed me the way
to serve, to accomplish, to persevere.
Without you, there would be an empty space
I could never fill, no matter how I tried.
Instead, because of you,
I have joy, contentment, satisfaction and peace.
Thank you, mom.
I have always loved you
and I always will.

Me & my mom at this year's Avon Walk

I can say without hesitation that I wouldn’t have made it through my breast cancer battle without her.   She was biggest supporter and was by my side for every medical appointment, doctor consult, infusion treatment, cancer sickness and my daily struggle to regain my strength.  I always knew my mom was special but it was during my breast cancer battle that I learned just how special she is.

During each infusion treatment she would talk about her latest project and would bring finished copies for me to see.  You see, my mom is a part of the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative where she created mini art quilts the size no larger than a flat rate priority mailer.  These small wonders are auctioned off to raise awareness and fund Alzheimer’s research.  She has created more than 75 so far and the initiative has raised more than $679,000 since 2006. Isn’t that wonderful?!?   I am including a few examples of the priority quilts she created so that you can get an idea of the artwork, detailed personal touches that are included in each project.  Each quilt has a theme and takes her many hours to create.  The pictures are small so if you would like to see a larger picture, you can go to her blog site.

August Flowers

My two absolute favorite quilts are shown below and I think you will love them too.   The detail in each quilt is amazing and I find myself looking over every inch to make sure that I don’t miss anything.   My favorite items are the pumpkins, bag of potatoes and the bird sitting just outside the bird feeder.   What do you see in the quilts that you like?

Farm Stand

Morning in the Garden

In my recent blog post Helping Hand, I said that the easiest way that we can get involved in our community is to lend a hand and my mom is doing just that through her quilt creations.  She is raising money for and awareness of Alzheimer’s one quilt at time.  I am so proud of what she has accomplished and to call her my mom.  What’s even more special is that I am adopted and feel that she picked me out of so many to be her daughter.  We have a special bond as she is more than a mother to me, she is my closest friend and I am so blessed to have her in my life.