Monday, December 16, 2013

All Is Right This Christmas


As I sit here getting Kinley's presents wrapped and put in a box to send off to Utah, I can't help being excited. Kinley is almost 18 months old and Christmas is so much more exciting for her this year than last year! She can eat Christmas cookies, say "ho ho ho," and even recognize who Santa is! Last year she was interested in eating the wrapping paper!

I've heard many birth moms- especially ones who are experiencing the holidays as birth moms for the first time- express their sadness and loneliness this time of year. Maybe I'm a little different, but I am honestly ok with it all! I'm so happy Kinley and her family get to spend Christmas together! They spend Christmas with their extended family, which adds lots more excitement! I'm happy Kinley gets to experience Christmas in a home that has the gospel so rich in their lives. She gets to grow up learning about Christ's birth and learn all the Christmas primary songs at church! She wouldn't get to experience all of this fully if she wasn't placed with her family. Yes she would learn about Jesus and have family, but it would be so much different and all mixed up and separated. I'm so glad she has her family and doesn't have to deal with a broken family! 

Christmas growing up was always a time when my parents, brothers and sisters, and I would spend time serving others and spending time together doing holiday things. Like baking, counting our blessings, and making memories. This year I get to start these traditions with my husband and I couldn't be happier! I truly feel I'm in the perfect spot in life. And a lot of that feeling is knowing Kinley is in the right spot as well! Being a birth mom always has it's ups and downs- but I feel I am at the part of my journey when it is mostly ups! I don't feel sad Kinley isn't a part of my holiday, I am genuinely happy she is part of her family's! It brings me happiness, instead of sadness, when I see her with her family!

I love Christmas time for the fact that we can remember our Savior's birth! I hope Kinley will enjoy the season as much as I do when she grows up! There is so much to be thankful for and so many blessed things I have in my life! And the comfort of knowing Kinley is in the right place with the right people is the greatest gift I could ever have! I don't ever have to worry about her well-being because I know with out a shadow of a doubt, she is just fine!

Merry Christmas everyone and have a safe and happy new year!

Monday, December 2, 2013

My Hero, C

So from the day I came home from the hospital from placing Kinley, I told myself that I wanted to help other birth moms. That was one of the reasons I even started this blog!

I have been able to network with other birth moms through social media and lend help where I can. But last month I was able to do something truly special. 

I'll start from the beginning. There is a couple in my ward who have been trying for kids for a few years but unfortunately were not successful. Having children the "natural" way was just not possible for them. They decided to pursue the adoption rout. They went through the agency I went through (LDS Family Services) and were matched with a birth mom about a year later. On Mother's Day I heard about them being matched and I was so excited for them! I told her if she had any questions about the birth mom side of things I would be totally open to answering any questions. I went to lunch with her and another birth mom friend of mine, Mindy, and we talked all about adoption. It was so fun to share my story, here her journey as a hopeful adoptive mom, and of course Mindy's story. 

Amanda (Adoptive Mamma) told me that their birth mom, C, would be moving here for the remainder of her pregnancy and she would also be delivering her sweet boy in Grand Junction and then moving back to her home in Denver. I was so excited that C was moving here! I was excited to meet her, become friends with her, and my imagination started going of all the fun things we could do together! I was especially excited to share my story with her and lend her a helping hand through her pregnancy! And of course I was excited to see her little baby boy (I love babies)!

When she moved here, we got together for lunch and we became instant friends! C is so funny and sarcastic and just a fun girl! We were best friends immediately. She reminded me a lot of myself. She was so positive and gung-ho about adoption and she stood firm in her difficult decision. We talked about our fears, our goals, how much adoption was amazing! We seriously had a 5 hour lunch! It was wonderful! There were no awkward pauses in the conversations or anything. It was like we were long lost friends. 

This experience has been a bit different. I am such great friends with C, but I am also friends with Amanda. So I am a part of both sides of the adoption relationship. I share grief and empathy with C but I also see how happy Amanda and Steven are with their new son. At times it can be hard, but mostly it is amazing to be able to see both sides! 

So back to the story. 

Like I said before, C reminded me a lot like myself. Our stories are similar, we come from similar upbringings, she went to the same ward I did when I was pregnant, same bishop, same OBGYN even! We were able to get together multiple times while she was pregnant. The closer to her due date, the more worries she had. Which is how I also felt during my pregnancy. The closer to birth, the more reality sets in. I remember we went swimming and we went around the "lazy river" probably 500 times just talking about what it is like post-placement. I had never really talked about those feelings or events since I blogged about them last year, so it was a bit difficult remembering those memories. It was hard, but it was healing. It gave me the chance to reflect on my own journey and also give C some hope and guidance. 

I got a text from Amanda a few weeks later that C had baby Carson! I felt so honored that C wanted me to come visit her in the hospital! I made a CD of songs that have helped me through my journey and wrote her a letter and I made my way to the hospital.

I couldn't believe how nervous I was. I don't know if it was because I was excited to see the baby or because I knew exactly how C was feeling. I was so scared to go into that hospital. The same hospital I gave birth and placed Kinley in a little over a year ago. Other than when my niece was born, I hadn't stepped foot in that building since. To be honest, I was debating on turning around and going back home because the anxiety was so much! But I knew I was being a support and I was doing it for C! She didn't have 50+ visitors like I did, because she was 5 hours away from her home. 



I got up to the room, took a deep breath, and went in. I can't even describe the feeling when I walked in. I was over come by the heaviest feeling of The Spirit. It was so peaceful in the room and I did all I could to choke back the tears. These were happy tears this time. C looked so beautiful. Like you wouldn't have guessed she had just given birth the day before. I gave her her presents and gave her the biggest hug. She was so strong! I held baby, but made sure she had lots of holding time. We visited, laughed about our giving-birth stories, and oohed and awed over how cute Carson was and how much he looked like C! It was also awesome to meet her amazing parents. I sat on her bed with her and told her how much I loved her and how amazing she was. I will always remember her looking at me straight in the eye whispering "Make sure he is ok." I told her "I will. I will tell him stories of his birth mamma and how amazing you are and how I was blessed to know you." I gave her a big hug and I left so that she could rest and get her alone time in with her boy. 


Told you she looked beautiful! And how about the little stud between us?


When I left that room I just started sobbing. Sobbing for C and how amazingly strong she is and sobbing with happiness that my friends will finally get to be parents. C placed the next day and I couldn't help but think about her the whole day. Was she OK? How was she feeling? Did she go through with it? Was she holding up alright? I just wanted to hug her. I was saying little prayers throughout the day to send her comfort and peace.

Being able to be a tiny part of C's journey has helped ME heal more. I'm sure I helped C, but she helped me! I was able to re-visit some emotions that have been locked away for a long time. Seeing her journey from the outside gave me some more peace and reassurance in my own journey that I made the best decision for Kinley. My heart ached for C knowing what she was about to experience, but it gave me a whole new perspective. 

C is one of my heroes. I don't have very many heroes either. She is one of the strongest women I know. She was able to take a not so great situation, and turn it into the most beautiful thing imaginable.  She was able to set her own feelings aside and do what was best for her son. Her strength to overcome trials, with a smile, I might add is inspiring. I don't think I could do that at 17 years old. She is wise beyond her years and she has such a great start to her future. It was a blessing for the both of us that we met and became friends. I am excited to see where her life goes and I'm excited to see Carson grow up in his new family. I hope to be able to have C guest-post for me one day!

C came into town last week for a doctor's appointment so we met up and had some hot chocolate together



Thanks for reading! Until next time. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy National Adoption Day!

So there is about 3 minutes left in the day and I just wanted to tell everybody HAPPY NATIONAL ADOPTION DAY! I'm working on an awesome post so stay tuned :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adoption Interview: Kerry- An Adoptive Mom


I was able to participate in an adoption interview project. I was matched with another open adoption blogger and we read through each other's blog and created questions to interview them with- kind of like an exchange! It was so cool to read from an adoptive mom's view.

So with out further or due- Here is my interview with Kerry, from The M House, a mother through adoption and an advocate for infant loss and infertility!

Interview


1.     What events led you to choosing adoption as your path to parenthood?

I always wanted to adopt, so I knew at some point we would go down that path. However, after losing our daughter at 6.5 months to severe preeclampsia, we realized adoption would be our only option. The odds of having a successful pregnancy were slim to none and my health was also an issue.

2.     Will you try to have kids again?

No.  There have been significant gains in preeclampsia research and right before we were matched we decided to talk with my perinatologist. He gave us some promising numbers and we decided to give it a shot. We tried to conceive for six months before we stopped. During that time, my sister got pregnant. She began having blood pressure issues and my anxiety level went through the roof. I knew then I didn’t want to chance another complicated pregnancy that may or may not turn out well.

3.     I understand that you have an open adoption, how open is it?

Currently, it’s more of a semi-open adoption. We regularly send pictures and the first few months we spoke with Z’s birthmom on the phone.  The last couple of months have been quiet. We haven’t wanted to push for contact because we wanted to respect her wishes. Because we hadn’t heard from her in a while, we wrote her a letter and asked if she wanted to meet. A few weeks later, she called and I’m happy to say that we are getting together in a couple of weeks!

4.     You seem to be active in the pregnancy/infant loss community, what are some contributions you have made?

The pregnancy/infant loss community has been and continues to be a huge support system for me. The one thing I strive to do is be vocal. Pregnancy and infant loss, along with infertility, seems to be a secret topic among women. It’s not discussed. I don’t want to hide behind my loss. It happened. I gave birth to my daughter who had ten fingers and ten toes, just like everyone else. She isn’t a figure of my imagination. My grief was (is) real. No mother should have to pretend she isn’t hurting. You have to grieve to heal. I want others to know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to have good days and bad days, even if it’s years later. The goal, at least for me, isn’t to forget and move on, but to accept, heal, and grow.




5.     What has been the biggest blessing that has come with your adoption journey?

My biggest blessing is my daughter. I am humbled that her birthmom chose us to raise her baby girl. No matter what happens in the future, Z’s birthmom will always have a special place in our lives and in our hearts.  She didn’t have to choose this path for herself or for her daughter, yet she did.

6.     What has been the biggest obstacle with your adoption journey?

There has been a couple here and there. The first being testicular cancer. My husband was diagnosed two months before we were supposed to begin our home study classes. His radiation treatments coincided with those classes and he was obviously too sick to participate. At that point, we only wanted to focus on him getting better.

We also had a few family members who weren’t on our side. They weren’t “not” supportive, but they weren’t supportive either. We would hear from others that they would talk about our decision behind our backs. It was definitely hurtful. However, we took it with a grain of salt because they had never been around adoption. We knew they would love our child once he or she was here. And that’s exactly what happened. J

7.     Have your friends and family been supportive in your adoption journey?

Besides a few, everyone has been supportive. They were just as happy and excited as we were.  Still are!

8.     How long did you wait before you were matched with your birth mom?

We began the official adoption process in the spring of 2011.  We got the call saying we were matched Sept 5, 2012.  It ended up being around 15 months.

So there you have it! I hope to participate in this again next year! It has been fun celebrating adoption month and spreading the word about adoption!

To read other interviews follow this link

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Birth Mom Meet Up


A few months ago I had the amazing opportunity to attend a birth mom meet up; it was put on by Adoption: Share The Love. A handful of the ladies I had already "met" through the internet, but most I had never seen before. I have been wanting to be apart of a birth mother's retreat ever since I gave birth to Kinley, so I was so very excited to go and share my story with others and listen to others' experiences. If there are any birth mothers out there reading this, I HIGHLY  recommend trying to find a birth mom meet up. Even if it isn't an "official" one, just finding birth moms near you and going to lunch or hanging out and sharing your stories. Being able to hear birth mothers' stories who have been on this journey for many many years was so inspirational. I was able to get advice and also realize that there really is life after placement and we are all worth it. There were lots of tears and laughter and all for a great cause. It's amazing how all of us women are from various parts of the country, backgrounds, situations, yet we all have somewhat, the same emotions. I could just hug and cry with a random lady and we both just got it.

Look at all these amazing women!


The meet up was at a park and the second I pulled up and walked under the gazebo, I felt the most powerful force. The spirit was so strong there. I immediately had to talk myself down from just spewing tears everywhere! I hadn't even talked to anyone yet and my heart was full of love for every single woman there! We wrote our names on name tags and it was so great to see all the people I have talked with over Facebook and other social media sites. It was so surreal that I was actually PHYSICALLY talking to them. It was the first time I had ever met them, but they were and are some of my best friends.  I felt right at home with all of them. We walked around and introduced ourselves and I seemed to say "So, what's your story?" to every one. No story was the same. We were told to bring a picture of our birth children, so I of course brought a picture of Kinley. We also wrote 3 words that described what adoption meant to us. I chose MIRACLES, LOVE, and OPPORTUNITIES. They had us hold up our pictures and words for an awesome photographer to take our picture. I felt all fancy getting my pictures taken.

This is the slide show they created with all the photos! you may need a tissue!

I met Sarah a long time ago via Instagram and it was so awesome to meet her for real!

On the left is Rachel and I met her when I went to Utah for Kinley's birthday and it was so great to see her again! On the right is Jessi and she is pregnant with her sweet baby girl who she will be placing- I met her for the first time and we clicked and I'm happy to consider her a life-long friend!

These two are amazing! Christin(right) is the birth mom to Nicole(left) and they were reunited earlier this year. And Nicole is also a birth mamma to a little boy! I hope Kinley and I can have an amazing bond like these two!

Oh Janice- I met her over Facebook a few weeks previous to the retreat and she is the sweetest most funniest lady ever! Her birth son is about my age I think! 

These are 3 amazing ladies! Ashley Mitchell, Alysia Foote, and Haley Kirkpatrick! These are the ladies who made it all happen!

I am so grateful I was able to go to this birth mom meet up. I made new friendships and I was also able to carry some wisdom home with me. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I'm Choosing to be Happy


So I've been a huge brat lately and I'll be the first to admit it! As a birth mother, still in the grieving/ healing process, it is really easy to play the "victim card" and kind of think the world is against you. And sadly, I was caught in that for a short time. I found myself over thinking things (yet again) with Nicole and Toby and just thinking people were being insensitive towards me. I mean COME ON I'm a birth mom - all should obsess over my sacrifice and I deserve a pat on the back every chance I get right? WRONG!!!

I read an amazing blog post written by another birth mom who is a big adoption advocate. I was able to meet her in person last month and I just adore her! You have probably heard of her also and adore her just as much- if not- you should! Anyways, her name is Ashley Mitchell and in her blog post titled, Victim of Adoption?, she does an amazing job at explaining her opinion of how birth moms should handle these kinds of situations. My post today is going to expand what I took from the second section she wrote about being the victim of the adoptive parents.

When I first read this part, to be honest it kind of hit me a weird way, probably because it totally opened my mind up to another aspect I never even thought of. As my birth mom journey progresses on, I have always known that visits with Kinley would become farther apart. Especially since Grant and I are married, we are our own family, just like Nicole, Toby, Taylee, and Kinley are all their own family. I know I have said multiple time that we are like a family, but that's just it- we are LIKE a family. Anyways- I always knew that there would come a time when there was a natural separation that would happen as time went on and the C family and I took our "separate ways." I don't mean this in a way that we never talk to each other again and we walk away from each  other, I mean it as we each have lives to live and there comes a time when we move on from the "new-placement" stage and live our lives and be productive and contribute back to life. Although adoption will forever be a part our lives, we don't have to dwell on it all the time. Anyways- after all the excitement wore off of Kinley's first birthday, we talked about her 2nd year. We decided visits would be a few more months in between. Me, being a brat, took it as a sign they wanted distance from me- which is true- but not in the way I was over thinking. Of course there needs to be distance- to have a healthy relationship with ANYONE you need some distance. But I made the mistake and pulled the "victim card."

Sometimes I think that I am entitled to things when it comes to Kinley and get upset if things don't go the way I imagined. But I love how Ashley says the adoptive parents don't owe us (birth moms) anything. It's so true- yeah I gave them a child- but that doesn't mean they are forever indebted to me. All I should expect is respect, but not because I'm a birth mom- because I am a person. the same respect I give the cashier at the grocery store or the guy walking down the street. And I want to make it clear that I 100% get this respect from them- I don't want to make it sound like I don't.

Like I said before, there is a natural separation that occurs every once in a while. This happened a few days before Kinley was born- I knew in my heart that I wasn't going to parent her, and I set up emotional-barriers to protect myself from unhealthy bonding. I love her no doubt, but I was preparing to love her in a different way than the typical expectant-mother. I also had this natural separation a few moments before I placed Kinley in her new mommy and daddy's arms. There was a part of me that just knew and felt it was time to place her. This natural separation occurred when Kinley was about 3 months old. It was the first time reality actually set in that I was not and never would be Kinley's parent. This natural separation happened again when Kinley turned 10 months old and I again detached part of my heart and realized I indeed would not be celebrating Mother's Day as a "normal" mom. And here we are at Kinley's almost 15 month mile stone and the natural separation is happening again. I am realizing that our lives are going on and time can't stand still. I don't want these separations to sound so sad and horrible, but they are hard realizations; but key to healing. When you are stubborn and hard-headed like me, you don't take these changes very well, and you try to find ways to blame others. In my case, there is no one to blame, no one.

I guess the whole point of this post is to let the world know, I AM CHOOSING TO BE HAPPY. I am choosing to embrace these changes and separations and I'm choosing to deal with them in a healthier way than playing "victim." I refuse to get hung up over stupid things and I refuse to neglect my own family and worry about Kinley's. She is taken care of- I know that- but I always still worry- can you blame me? I love her. Ashley talks about taking the "Guest star roll." I like how she puts that. When I was pregnant yes- maybe I was the "star roll"- but that was because Kinley (the actual star roll) was inside me. Choosing to place and be a birth mom means that I put Kinley first and I step aside. Which is harder said than done.  I feel like I never officially stepped down; until now and I have accepted that.

Instead of expecting the world and then some from Nicole and Toby, which is what I often find myself doing, I have decided to step back and let things happen on their own in their own timing. If you force things, chances are they aren't going to work out the way you wanted them to and usually you get your feelings hurt. Which is what happens when I force things with my adoption. Again- I'm not blaming the C family for being mean or anything- they don't know what I want. I'm just choosing to step back and be thankful for what I am given. Instead of being grumpy that an email was a few days or weeks late, I'm going to be grateful I got one- not all birth moms even get one email in a whole year. Instead of complaining I only get to see Kinley 3 times a year- I'm going to be so thankful her parents allow me to be in their lives allow me to see them! In the grand scheme of things- I am a very fortunate birth mom. I get to be involved in Kinley's life, I have some input on things, and I am aware of events in her life. I recently ordered prints of every single picture I own of Kinley and I put them in a photo album. One of the reasons was on case my computer or phone memory crashed, I would have hard-copies of them, but also to have an easy way to flip though pictures of my girl! Anyways- as I was going through all of these pictures I couldn't help but cry! Not because I miss her, but because I am so incredibly blessed to have more than 500 pictures of Kinley. In all stages of her life! It was at that moment that I wanted to slap myself and wash my mouth out with soap because how could I take all of that for granted? Sure, I don't get an email at exactly every week or month, but who cares? At least I get one!

So in conclusion, I'm going to put my "victim card" away- toss it in the fire actually- and put my big-girl panties on and start acting like a responsible woman. I am in charge of my feelings and only me. Starting today- I am stepping back from what I can't, and most importantly CHOSE not to be apart of, and I'm going to start focusing on my life I am in right now. I have waisted so much precious time when I could have maybe given my husband some un-divided attention or maybe helped out another person in need. My pretty girl is taken care if- her needs are being met- and I can't be more happy for that! Is it hard taking the "guest star" roll? oh yes- but is it necessary? Absolutely.

Until next time.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adoption and My Family


The more I have dove into the "adoption world" and I have made new friends through social media, I have realized that not everyone knows about my family and how adoption has touched my family long before I ever became pregnant with Kinley. I guess I can start out my introducing my family, blog style and give everyone a little family history about the Gladdens.

My parents, Charles and Nancy Gladden were married in 1983.




I couldn't find any serious pictures of them anywhere- so this is all I have to show of my crazy parents


They had my oldest sister Jaala, a year later. She is now 29 and married to her wonderful husband Harrison.



Then, my brother charlie was born, and he is 28. He is married to his sweet wife Shawna.



They then had my older brother, Curtis, who is 26. He is married to his wife, Holly. Together they have  a cutie of a daughter, Noellee, who is 2.



My sister, Charnae, is next, she is 24. She is married to her husband, Dayle, and they have a precious daughter named Camille, who is 9 months old.



Then there is me, 20 years old and now married to Grant.






My little brother, Brok, who is 14.


And then my brother, Westley, who is 10.

3 years ago, we welcomed 3 more kids into our home via adoption.


Harve (6)


Christian (8)

and Audrey (4)

You may be asking why we adopted 3 more kids when my mom already had 7! My parent's adoption story is a bit unique. Harve, Christian, and Audrey were my cousins before adoption. Their birth parents were into drugs and the kids were not in a safe environment to be parented by them. They all have 2 other older siblings who were adopted by my other uncle. The kids were taken from their birth parents by the state, and my uncle (who adopted the other siblings) had custody of all the kids except Audrey. He took care of them while my parents got certified to foster/adopt. During the certification period, we would drive down to New Mexico and visit Harve and Christian and spend time with them for a few days. We were so excited to have new brothers. one of the trips down, my parents went to a meeting and they announced that there was a little girl also (Audrey). We didn't know about her at all. My dad was a little overwhelmed because they were not prepared to adopt a baby also. My mom cheerfully told the case workers that she would be happy to welcome a beautiful baby girl into our home. I am so glad she did!

One of the times we went to visit the kids, we got to visit Audrey. She was in a foster home at the time so the foster mother let Audrey stay at our hotel for the weekend we were there. We were so overjoyed to get to know her.

After months of paper work, and lots of interviews and all of that, my parents were finally able to become certified foster parents and we were able to welcome the "triplets" into our home. We call them the triplets because it was kind of like having triplets, even thought they all different ages.

I always forget that adoption is part of my family, because the triplets fit right in. They are like all of us, and "outsiders" would't even know the difference, other than they have different physical features than us. My parents' adoption story is unique because of all the circumstances that are different than Kinley's adoption and other infant, domestic and private adoptions.

We are so glad Harve, Christian, and Audrey are part of our family. I'm so blessed to have such a large family and I love all 9 of my siblings! They came to their forever home on May 1st, 2010.
This is my grandpa, Harve, and my dad at the final adoption hearing- look at my dad's face:)

And they were sealed to our parents on my parents' wedding anniversary in the Jordan River Temple (which is where they were married also) on July 5th 2011.
All of my siblings, except my oldest brother, Charlie, were able to be there

ADOPTION IS BEAUTIFUL!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Year Older and Wiser too

Well guys- I survived my first year of being a birth mom. I'm here with all limbs and sanity still accounted for. I lost a few friends along the way, but I survived! It's so bitter sweet to think this time last year I was getting back on my feet after placing Kinley. It was the beginning of this journey and I didn't know what I was headed for. Like I said in my last blog- I'm sure glad I was chosen to be the one to take this journey because of all the lessons I've learned! I've come so far in this short year and when I compare myself to last year, I can't help but cry happy tears at how far I've come and all that I have over come.

Grant and I were able to travel down to see Kinley! It was such a great weekend! We never really get to spend a lot of time together, just us, because of work and other things life needs us for, so it was fun to spend 5 days interrupted together. We got to Utah a few days before our visit, so we got to do some hiking, swimming, and just relaxing. On the 4th, I ran a 5k race I have been training for, and it was so much fun! It felt good to accomplish this goal I set!


Kinley's party was the day before her actual birthday. It was at her grandparent's home. I am so grateful, they opened up their home to us to celebrate with them. Im not really sure if I have mentioned this before, but my favorite animal is an elephant. I usually make it a point to send Kinley any and all elephant things I find! I have an eye for elephants and I can spot elephants at almost any store. Anyways- Nicole knows this and she was so thoughtful to incorporate elephants as the theme of her party. The invitations had a big elephant on them, Kinley's cake was an elephant, there were elephant cookies, etc. I was in heaven! It also made me feel so good that Nicole thought of me when doing it all.




When we got to their house, Kinley was still sleeping so Nicole went up to wake her. I was soooo excited to see her! I woke up at like 6:30 am because I couldn't sleep!! When she brought her down- My heart melted! I hadn't seen her in so long- except in pictures- and she had grown so much! I almost didn't recognize her. I gave her the biggest hug and kiss. At first, she wasn't sure about me. It was like she knew I was a good person, but she wasn't sure why she liked me. after about 10 or so minutes, she warmed up and was fine. Grant says she knew who I was. I bought her an outfit and Nicole let it be her party dress. I know it's a small gesture, but it meant so much to me. She was kind of confused that I dressed her and was like "wait- why is this girl dressing me? I thought only mommy and daddy dressed me".






everyone got there, we ate and Nicole let me feed Kinley. It was so fun and she thought it was hilarious when I made airplane noises as I spooned her bananas.




She opened presents and Nicole invited me to sit up with them and help her open them. Again- something so small, but it meant a lot to me. It was fun to see her amazed at all the tissue paper and bows. And she got so excited over the toys and fun things she got.




Then she ate her cake. When we sang to her, she was a little confused why everyone was looking at her and singing, but when we sang "happy birthday, dear Kinley" she got a big smile on her face and giggled because we said her name. It was so cute. Nicole put her big cake in front of her and she didn't hesitate to dig right in. It was so funny that she was just going to town on it. She didn't want to eat it, she just wanted to throw it round and make a big mess! It got all in her hair and her bow and she even managed to fling it on some people who were standing close.







































We went swimming after and I got to play with Kinley in the pool and watch her play and have fun. It was so fun to watch her interact with her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. She is such a loved little girl and her family is so wonderful.


The best part of her party was when I sat her up on my lap and I said "Kinley, say La La" she looked at my mouth and studied it really hard and then said "La La" it was so cool!! She giggled like "yep- I'm awesome" My heart was so full and happy. I'm sure she had no idea she made my day- but she did.
















It was so fun to see Kinley's personality. She is such a happy baby. She never really cried unless she was tired or she got hurt! The last time I saw her, she was just barely army crawling, and now she is walking EVERYWHERE! she is also saying words! She says mommy, daddy, Taylee, Papa, uh oh, baby (which is her favorite word), and now La La. Everything is a baby. She points at animals and says "baby", she points to her doll and says "baby", and she points to pictures of her and says "baby" it's so cute! She kept taking my phone and pointing to the picture of her and saying "baby". It's so crazy how big and smart my pretty girl has gotten!

The next day- the 7th- was her actual birthday. We went to church with them and then went over to their house again and just hung out and visited. My mom, sister Charnae, her daughter Camille, and my other sister, Audrey drove down that morning and met up with us to see Kinley. I was so excited because Charnae hand't seen Kinley since she was born- and Camille was still in her tummy when Kinley was born- so they got to meet (and of course Kinley was calling Camille baby).
At her party, I gave Kinley fun little presents like toys and clothes, but on her actual birthday, I gave her some more sentimental gifts. I put together a photo album of pictures of me from the time I was born, until the time I gave birth (I looked through it with her, and- you guessed it- she said "baby" at every picture), I had my friends, who came and visited us in the hospital, write little letters to Kinley about what they remember about her, I got her the matching bracelet to my necklace- it says "forever in my heart" and has a charm that says "Laura", and then I got her a recordable book called "Wherever you are my love will follow", I also got her a blanket and my mom embroidered her name on it- I got her one when she was born also- so now she has a new one.

she's checkin out her bracelet
The rest of the time we just visited and played! My sister has a little squeaky giraffe toy for Camille and Kinley thought it was so funny! She played with it almost the whole time and just walked around laughing and had the biggest grin!


snuggles
I love her smile!
my mom and Kinley 




Audrey feeding her her water


playing with her


playing with her car with one finger

















Well I'm done with the picture over load! When we left, my mom taught Kinley how to blow a kiss. I have a video of it- but it wont upload- so maybe later I will figure it out. She gave me a kiss goodbye and waved! I had such an awesome visit with her! I am so blessed to have such a great open adoption. I couldn't have asked for better parents for my baby girl. They love her as their own- and I can tell they are raising her to be the best little girl. It was so fun to see her personality and to interact with her. She is such a sweet girl and I think deep down- she knows what all is going on and feels the love from both her adoptive family and her birth family. I don't want to sound arrogant when I say this, but I truly feel that Kinley feels the bond that we have. Even though she is still so young- I feel like she knows who I am and she can feel my love. It's so heart-warming to see that all I have done to make sure she knows I lover her show! She is so loved and she has the life I always imagined my children to have- maybe not the same circumstances- but she has all the love and all the things she needs.

I was worried I would feel sad on her birthday- because it also marks when I kissed her goodbye- but instead I was overwhelmed with love and amazement at the person I created! I did, however, have a hard time on the 9th. That was her placement day. All the emotions were so real. I felt like I was back in the hospital with a broken heart. I had so much support from my family and friends though. I was able to bounce back and my day was better. It's amazing how fast I am able to bounce back after having my "moments". I have finally gotten the hang of knowing what to do to cope.

I wrote this on my Facebook page and I wanted to share it on here:

"Today marks strength and weakness. Today marks true love. 
Today marks heart break and healing. Today marks new beginnings and fresh starts. 
Today marks trust and hope. Today marks the day I gave my pretty girl a whole family, the best life, and the resources to grow. 
Today marks the hardest day of my life- and the hardest journey that has shaped who I am entirely. 
I wouldn't wish this upon anyone- but I am truly thankful Heavenly Father chose me. 
Today is hard- but we can do hard things."

So here is to another year of being a birth mom! I have gone through all my "firsts" so I'm ready to see what is in store for the 2nd year! until next time!