Holiday giving

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The Professor & I at our recent family photo session

I was raised in a family with big Christmases. I mean really big. My mother loves to give gifts, it’s her primary love language and so she’d save up and spoil us rotten on Christmas morning. It wasn’t all expensive stuff, just thoughtful and a lot. It was wonderful, I’m not gonna lie. But the other thing my mom did was she always gave to families who didn’t have as much as we did, and she included us in this so that we were aware of not only how blessed we were, but also that there were other kids out there who had next to nothing.

Flash forward to my own adulthood and I’ve done the same. Whether it’s an angel from a tree at a local store, Operation Christmas Child or just from word of mouth, I always try to give something to a family or at least a child who doesn’t have anything. I’m trying to instill this in my girls as well so they are aware that there are others around them that won’t wake up on Christmas morning with a house full of new toys and clothes.

I can’t help but think of my own girls and how their lives could have been so very different had we not at the opportunity to adopt them. My girls could have been angels on a tree in the grocery store, or on a list that someone at your church handed out to ensure they’d receive presents. It’s hard not to think about that sort of thing. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that instead they’re here in our house, in our family and I can spoil them rotten. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are families out there who have nothing and this time of year that nothing has got to seem even bigger.

So how about y’all? Do you try to do a little extra this time of year to help those in need? 

The love I wasn’t expecting

10447061_469921366444635_6776470002636467206_nLong before I became a mother, before I got married, before we started trying and then doing fertility treatments, before the failed adoption and then ultimately he successful one…I know that I would have no problem loving kiddos. No matter how they fell into my life, I knew that I had a heart for kids. I’ve always been that girl, you probably went to school with someone like me, or maybe you were the one like me, the one who loved children and who mothered all her friends.

Then the girls came, dropped into our lives like tiny explosions, and I loved them immediately. Or perhaps I merely felt protective of them. Even when it was so hard and The Professor and I would cry and wonder what we had done to our lives, I knew no matter how hard it was, we would be their constant. They’d already had so much, too much, in their little lives. We would be the ones who never left, no matter what. Just as we had made a commitment to each other on our wedding day, the day we accepted those girls into our house, we made a commitment to them.

And just as any family, we’ve had highs and lows, challenges and successes (yeah, Babybee is finally potty trained!!!). And I love them. Oh, how I love them with a fierceness that takes my breath away. It doesn’t surprise me, that love, even the depth of it. Sometimes I think I always loved them, the love was there just waiting for them to absorb it. But there is something that surprises me and that is the fierceness at how they love me.

Perhaps that’s silly, or perhaps you too have been surprised by the love of your own children. Sometimes Babybee will hug me so tightly, squeezing my neck with her little arms and she’ll whisper in my ear, “Mommy, I love you so much.” Then Busybee with give me one of her brilliant smiles and giggle and tell me we’re having so much fun & she loves me to the moon. I can say without a shred of arrogance that I am the center of their universe (The Professor too, but this is my blog…) As unconditionally as I love them, they love me in return and for whatever reason, I never once considered this when I thought about becoming a mother. And frankly it thrills me and terrifies me (it’s a lot of pressure to live up to the way they see me) and it takes my breath away.

The problem with being an introverted mom

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You’ve probably heard of the Myers-Brigg personality assessment. If you’re a writer, I know you have. In any case there are 16 types and you can take a test, there are a slew of online ones and they tell you about your personality type. It’s just components, certainly not all inclusive. Now I say as a writer I know you’ve heard about it because us writers are pros when it comes to personality tests and we’re on a first-name basis with all our baggage. For example, I know I’m a total control-freak (also very common among writers, well and moms), I’m reluctant to try new things because I’m not sure I’ll be able to do them right (AKA perfectionist), I have serious body-image issues, and I’m bossy as hell (is that the same thing as being a control freak?) One of the other things I know about myself, and to bring us back to the subject matter and the Myers-Brigg assessment is that I am an introvert. Now I don’t know if there are levels of introverts, but if there are, I’d think I was a Class 4 (on a scale from 1-5), nearly as introverted as one can get. This doesn’t mean I can’t function socially, but I do need my space. Which brings us to the problem with being an introverted mom.

Okay so there’s probably not just one problem, but there is a significant one. There are days when I wake up and though I might not recognize it immediately, it is a day when I need to be alone. Not simply because I need to recharge, but because if I’m around other people I tend to get snippy. I’m not in the mood to talk. At all. I just want to be inside my head and have quiet. These are the days when I’m the worst sort of mom. Most of the time I won’t even notice it until mid-afternoon and I realize I’ve been grumpy with my girls all day. I’ll try to stop and reassess the situation, think of ways I can either (a) be more patient or (b) occupy them without having to engage too much. It’s not that I want to ignore them, but as an introvert, I crave, I need, alone, quiet time in order to function properly. And sleeping doesn’t count. I need awake time to be quiet and alone.

It’s not so much that I don’t like people (though there are days…) it really just has to do with my energy level. The stuff I need to be the best me, that stuff only gets refilled during those alone moments. They’re few and far between these days. And this week, which marks the third year we’ve had our girls, I’m so thankful for my children and the family we’ve become. But I also believing knowing this about myself and taking action to make sure they aren’t the butt of my grumps, makes me a better mom.

So how about you? Do you know where you are on the spectrum? Do you think your personality brings challenges to your parenting?

 

Odd (wo)man out

MjAxMi1kNjhhMjI4MjZlYzc5YWNjInevitably it happens. You’re out in a social setting with other women and someone brings up pregnancy or birthing stories. Four years ago this was particularly difficult to me as I was sans children. But even now, after being a mom for nearly three years, it happens, and no matter how wonderful the company and how kind and generous they are, when the discussion turns in this direction, I feel left out. A bit like the weirdo. Yes, adoption is super popular these days and I can speak, which authority, on many aspects of adoption or parenting a child of a different race or dealing with CPS visits, etc. But when it comes to pregnancy and birthing, well, I never got past 12 weeks so I’ve got nothing to share.

I try really hard not to feel strange, but I feel like suddenly there is a giant blinking arrow above my head. ATTENTION: Here sits a woman who has failed at the fundamental purpose of womandome. Okay, that’s a bit exaggerated (not to mention a made up word), but you get my drift. It’s nothing that anyone says or does. I know that no one is trying to leave me out. But it happens.

For me, there was no labor pain, instead I had years of failed fertility treatments, failed adoptions and then bureaucratic hoops to jump through for my girls. For me, I didn’t fail at breast feeding because I never got the chance to try, instead I had a colicky 8-month old who drank the most expensive formula they sell and still didn’t sleep through the night. Instead of sweet-smelling baby soap and the little plastic bathtub, we had a toddler who was terrified of baths so we got a baby pool, put it in the backyard and we’d strip her down, squirt some Johnson’s in and let her swim around.

My experiences at motherhood were different from most women’s, and yeah, I feel it sometimes, but I know that it doesn’t make me less of a mother. It just makes me a different mother. And that’s okay. Despite that longing for the whole pregnancy/birthing experience (that I suspect will never go away), I wouldn’t have built my family in any other way.

So how about you? Ever had one of those things that always makes you feel left out? How have you handled it?

81OJEsNbx5L._SL1500_-2On a much lighter note: I have a new book release that I want to share with y’all. It’s the first in a new Regency-set series, No Ordinary Mistress. It’s only $0.99 so I hope you’ll check it out.


I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. The Professor and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is five and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a three and is too smart for her own good.  www.robyndehart.com

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month and the 23rd of November is known as Adoption Day. Many families adopting from the foster-care system choose to adopt on this day and lots of courts do special things to celebrate this amazing day. I read this article yesterday that this year more than 4500 children from the system were adoption on Adoption Day.

Y’all know this is cause near and dear to my heart so I like to periodically shine a spotlight, if you will, on it in the hopes that I can reach maybe one family and talk them into considering this as an option for growing their family. So I’d like to share a few statistics with you:

* there are more than 100,000 children in the foster care system that are waiting for forever families

* nearly 25,000 children age out of the system every year – stop and think about this one a moment. That means that every year a quarter of the kids available for adoption become “too old” for state care and they literally become individuals without families. Meaning they have nowhere to go for the holidays, no one to call if they get married or get a great job and if they make it to college (which most don’t because of the lack of familial support), they have no one to invite to parent’s weekend. I’m sorry, but that just sucks!

* One statistic stated that of the children waiting for adoption, 40% are Caucasian, 28% are AFrican American and 22% are Hispanic.

Now I’d like to share some general info I’ve learned since being in the “system” (so to speak).

* special needs is a term that states use for a variety of scenarios, yes, it can mean that a child has learning disabilities or medical problems, but it also can mean that it’s a sibling group – like my girls were considered special needs, or that the child is a minority.

* there is a huge misconception that there are no young children in the foster-care system that are available for adoption. This is so wrong. Yes, in some cases (like ours) we had to foster for 6 months before we could adopt) but there are many ways in which you can adopt from the system and there are lots of littles available. That being said, don’t be fooled into thinking that if you go young that means you skip all the scary behavioral problems. We were presented with one group of kiddos where the three year old had been diagnosed with RAD (reactive-attachment disorder). Adoption is really not much different that having your own children, you really can’t ever know what you’re going to get with your kids.

* one of the cool things for our girls – frankly the only benefit they get from having been in in the foster-care system – is that they get benefits from the state. They have their medical insurance paid, they will have their college tuition paid (at a state university) and we get a monthly stipend to help pay for their schooling and extras. Furthermore, we didn’t have to pay for any of the adoption court costs. So the myth about adoption being too expensive – not relevant  to foster-care adoption. That being said, every state is different.

Check here for information about foster-care adoption.

Things I’ve learned since becoming a mom

DSCN1388It’s been approximately 31 months since I became an overnight mother to my two girls, even less since that mother has been official (at least legally speaking.) I think becoming a parent is harder than anyone expects it to be. Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way.

1. I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought I’d be. I was always the mother hen to all my friends. The one who everyone always said would be a great mom. It’s not that I thought I’d be a perfect mom, but before my own kiddos I had lots of experience with other kids. I’ve worked at daycares, been a nanny, the favorite aunt to my 3 nieces and nephew and the aunt-by-proxy to many of my friend’s kids. But y’all know, it’s different with your own kids, they never leave. 🙂

2. When people say marriage is hard, I think they actually mean marriage becomes hard when you add kids to the mix. It’s not that The Professor and I didn’t argue before kids, but things were so much easier when it was just the two of us. But parenting brings out the worst in your (and often the best) and you see things in your partner that you’ve never seen before and visa versa. It adds a whole nothing level of complicated to your marriage.

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3. My kids are prettier and smarter and funnier and sweeter than everyone else’s kids. This really needs no explanation and I wish I could show you pictures to prove my point. Ask Shana and Emily, they’ve met my girls and they’re ridiculously pretty and smart and funny and sweet.

4. It’s harder than I thought, but in ways I wasn’t expecting. I knew the day-to-day stuff would be challenging, exhausting even, but I didn’t expect to question myself so much (yes, I know, I was naive), I didn’t expect to be one of those women who loses herself, I didn’t expect to have post-partum (since I didn’t actually birth my children), and I didn’t expect it to be so freaking terrifying.

5. The love is bigger and greater and stronger and more permeating than I could ever have imagined. Those two little people have consumed my life, my thoughts, my conversation, my house and my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In what ways has parenthood surprised you?

A walk down memory lane

IMG_1538Last night The Professor and I went to the non-profit agency we used for our foster-care adoption. We were asked to come and speak on the last night of the current PRIDE class (the class required if you want to become licensed for foster care and/or foster-care adoption). We’ve spoken at two of those meetings since we’ve adopted our girls and what a great experienced to be able to give back, to look out into that classroom and see those faces – I remember being there. 

I vividly remember sitting in that room the night that families came to talk to us. I hung on their every word, listening intently to the trials and triumphs of those families and hoping that’d we be in their shoes quickly. We’d already waited a long time to start a family and I was admittedly impatient. 

Sitting there brought back all of those emotions. The excitement, the fear, the anxiety, all of it. What would the home study be like? What about the fire and health inspections of our house? And, of course, the biggest fear when you jump into foster care – what if they take the kids away from me? It was a fear that plagued us until the adoption was finalized. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog. 

As we listened to the other families there, I was struck by the thought that we walked through fire to build our family, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Our girls are so perfect for us. They’re so like us too, we often forget that there are not genetics involved. Busybee is chipper and talkative like The Professor. Babybee is an introvert and so precise that it’s sometimes like looking in a mirror. 

We also talked on the way home about whether or not we’re done. It’s so tempting to renew our license, to get back in the “game” and get at least one more kiddo. It seems wrong not too, but of course we have to take our girls into consideration. But there are so many kids out there and when I’m back in that world, back at the agency, they’re so hard to ignore. 

All adoptions come with misconceptions, but I know that foster-care adoption carries the weight of the stigmas. All you have to do is watch an episode of Criminal Minds or Law & Order and nearly every “perp” has a history of being in and out of foster care. The media paints the picture that the foster care system is full of nothing by juvenile delinquents. So I ask you, what misconceptions have you heard about adoption or foster-care?