Our Adoption Journey: 3 Years Later.
While our journey to adoption ended on Spear’s finalization day, our family’s journey of adoption will continue forever.
Yes, he’s OUR son but he is still very much Mama E’s son too and each year brings about new ways that adoption impacts all of our lives. Adoption doesn’t define Spear, to us or to anyone else. It also isn’t just his origin story. Adoption isn’t just “the beginning.” It’s always part of who he is and who he will grow to be.
My prayer as his mother is that I raise him to see the beauty in that story. The ways he can bless others through the brokenness that started his life. The way God has had His hand in every moment of Spear’s life since before he was even born. I pray he sees his story as a blessing, not a burden and that we’re able to raise him to always respect, honor and cherish this journey and his birth family for allowing him the opportunity to walk this path.
I decided to write a yearly adoption journey update around the time of Spear’s birthday each year.
I think it’s important for ME to sit down and write out my reflections on our adoption journey over the last 365 days. A chance to reflect. A chance to answer questions people may have and give an update on anything that may be going on in Spear’s life that is related to adoption in some way.
It’s also a chance for me to show appreciation and gratitude to Mama E and Spear’s birth family. A chance to be reminded of the blessings I have in being Spear’s mom.
Last year was my first of these yearly updates and you can read it here.
You can also read about our entire adoption journey from start to finish here!
Bonding with Adopted Child
A commonly asked question to adoptive parents is “do you feel differently about your adopted child than you do your biological children?”
Yes, in the early days I did. I struggled to fully bond with Spear and feel like he was MY child because I was so invested in my relationship with his birth mother. I felt disloyal to her on some level by bonding with him as MY son.
It took time. Time together with him. Time to allow some distance between her and I. Time to feel secure that after alllll the waiting and praying that this was REAL and that he would forever be my child in my arms.
But it happened. Somewhere along the way he just became my baby. I don’t look at him and think “he’s the adopted one.” I don’t look at him and only see Mama E in him. 90% of the time he’s just my child.
At this point I do not feel any differently towards Spear than I do my three biological children. Zach will tell you that he NEVER felt differently about any of them. From the moment Spear was born, he was his.
I do think a lot of that instant bonding for Zach happened because Zach never gave birth to a baby from his womb like I did the biological children, his birth experience was pretty much the same for all four kids. I also think it was easier for him bond because there wasn’t a birth father directly in the picture with Spear’s birth so he didn’t feel that same concern of “overstepping” in some way like I did in relating to Mama E.
I also think though that it was just a natural bond between father and son and they DO share something super special. Spear ADORES his daddy on a level that NONE of the other kids ever did and he’s had that special connection with him truly from birth. It’s been so awesome to see their bond only continue to grow stronger as Spear gets older.
It’s also CRAZY how alike he is with Zach. They think in similar ways and have this natural ability to “fix things” without any sort of instruction. They just KNOW what to do! Spear wants to always be helping Daddy and I can see the joy and pride that gives Zach too. It’s awesome how God works in that Spear was truly a missing piece in our family puzzle – Zach needed a little buddy 😉
The sibling too all view Spear just as they would a biological sibling. I have NEVER seen evidence of ANY sort of different treatment or different feelings or Spear being set apart due to not being biologically their sibling. EVER.
And I truly don’t think we ever will. Maybe that’s naive of me and maybe it’s a road we’ll cross at some point but when those moments DO come up when we talk about the path that lead Spear to enter our family ALL the kids EVER say is how thankful they are and how he was just MEANT to be their brother. None of us could ever possibly imagine a different caboose to our family train!
It’s also so neat to see the ways that Spear IS so alike with us all. If someone were to meet our family for the first time they would have NO clue that Spear isn’t a biological child. He looks so much like the rest of us and acts so much like us too.
We are constantly saying ways that all the kids are alike or pointing out traits that they inherited from us and Spear is compared just as frequently as the others and his similarities are even more special because they are ALL GOD in those details!
Wanting more details about bonding with adopted baby? Here’s my post on the topic!
Talking About Adoption
This year was the first time I’ve started to talk more openly with Spear about his adoption story.
As his speech has improved I felt like it was time to tell him about his birth family, show him their photos, and teach him their names.
It was a quite emotional experience for me sitting with him in my lap and looking through our adoption journal together. I got a lot more emotional than I’d expected and had a tough time in showing him the photos of his pregnant birth mother and saying “you were in her belly!”
I’m thankful I started this discussion at such a young age as I do believe by bringing it up from time to time and having him always KNOW about his birth family and journey into our family that it will make it less of an emotional discussion for us ALL.
Not only does talking about it frequently help the emotions but it also helps in always showing that love and appreciation to his birth family. It also helps in always reminding him how incredible his story is too.
We do not talk about adoption as a family very frequently as a whole. It comes up naturally from time to time but we don’t tend to bring it up on its own.
I am SO glad we decided to set aside Spear’s Finalization Day as a day TO focus on his adoption story. To relive the memories and moments. To share the photos and details. I think it’s a wonderful way to make sure we ARE always open to those talks and that we do always place that focus on the beautiful gift his birth mama so selflessly gave to him and to us.
You can read about when and how to tell your child they are adopted, as well as how we told Spear here.
You can also read about this year’s Finalization Day celebration here.
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Worries or Concerns Over Adoption Path
I am really surprised at just how little Spear’s adoption story impacts his daily life or medical life in any way.
It really just doesn’t come up as often as you’d think it would. If we see a new doctor I mention it and explain the parts of his family medical history as well as his in utero history that I have details about.
This year Spear has continued with his speech therapy and has come a LONG way. I’m praying he will continue to qualify for services beyond age three as I do think he’s still a bit delayed in his speech.
He also started having some skin issues this year and we underwent extensive allergy testing with him and learned he has eczema. He responded very well to the medicine and it’s just part of our daily routine and he’s doing great with no further issues.
As an adoptive mother the health and developmental hurdles we may sometimes face cause me a bit more stress and alarm than those situations do with my biological children. I worry about Spear more.
Zach has multiple sclerosis. His mom has rheumatoid arthritis and myasthenia graves. His sister has lupus. I KNOW my bio kids have a STRONG possibility of dealing with autoimmune disorders on some level so I’m always hyper-aware of any possible symptoms alerting me that we need to see a specialist.
The unknowns about Spear’s family history make it harder for me to know the things to “watch for.” Could his skin issues be a sign of some larger concern that I’m unaware of because I just don’t know to be looking for it?
I do not think though that either of the things we’ve been working through with Spear this year are related to his adoption journey in anyway. TONS of kids have a speech delay. TONS of people deal with eczema.
It’s easy as an adoptive parent to jump to that as the FIRST thing. But I’ve really tried to flip that narrative around. If Spear does face any sort of hurdle that IS due to his beginnings then that is a blessing that we catch it and are able to help him work through it.
Be it a medical concern or developmental concern or emotional or physiological concern, we will face it head-on and be there to advocate for Spear and support him through it. God placed Spear in our family for many reasons and that could just be one of those reasons!
Here’s a post I wrote specifically about medical concerns when adopting.
Open Adoption Update: Relationship with Birth Mother
It has been over a year now since we have had any sort of communication with Spear’s birth mother.
After she discharged from the hospital (the same day we left with Spear too) we have only seen her once.
I am so thankful we all got together during her pregnancy as well as the one meet up we had when Spear was about six months old. I love that we have a picture of Spear with ALL (except one half-sibling) of his siblings together as well as photos of his birth mama holding him and loving on him from that day.
You can read about the day Spear spent with some of his birth family here.
As part of our adoption agreement we will send a letter and photos every year around Spear’s birthday to the lawyer’s office. They then reach out to the last known contact information for Mama E to let her know they have the letter.
It is all up to her whether or not she picks up the letter and if she keeps the lawyers office updated with any change in contact information to allow them to get in touch with her. She knows the agreements that have been made as well as the location and information of the law office.
If she does not come to get the package or if they are unable to reach her, they store the letter and photos in a storage unit. Forever. They told me that they have had birth mothers come in the office YEARS later to collect the letters.
I love this set up as it is a no-pressure situation for Mama E. She doesn’t HAVE to get the updates if she doesn’t feel in a good emotional space to do so. I can only imagine how tough it would be if we sent the letter directly and she were to just randomly get mail with photos of her son that she’s not raising. That’s hard.
And we don’t know her current life status. Maybe she is in a place where she needs emotional distance from the adoption. Maybe part of her healing journey means it’s best not to be updated.
We also don’t know if she’s picking up the packages or not. Along with the letter and photos I have also been making a photo ornament each year. With his birthday in December I thought it made for a nice gift and it’s easy to mail and is something she could pack up and only take out if she wanted to each year too.
Mama E is aware of this blog, she has read it and sent the sweetest most supportive text messages about my posts when she did read it. At least for some time I know she followed me on Instagram and would sometimes “like” photos of Spear on my feed and has also communicated to me a few times via Facebook (although we are not “friends” on FB, I did follow her back on Insta when she started following me).
In our adoption walk with her, we only traded phone numbers so she did find all of those social media connections on her own. I worried a lot about that element – just like I think it could be triggering to have a letter arrive on your doorstep with photos of your child in it I can only imagine how painful it would be to be scrolling Instagram and see his face on your feed.
No matter how much time passes or how long it’s been since we have talked, I still (and always will) feel a deep connection to Mama E. I still very much want what is best FOR HER.
My personal opinion? I don’t think her reading the blog or seeing things on social media is best for her. It has been a very long time since I’ve noticed any interaction with her on Instagram and other than the initial conversation when she first read the blog I also haven’t ever heard anything else from her regarding that either.
Beyond being Spear’s birth mother I truly love Mama E like she’s my family. I wonder how she’s doing. I worry about her. I wonder about Spear’s birth siblings. I worry about them. I pray for them all and I do believe we WILL be in touch again at some point.
I do not think the lack of communication is in anyway a door being closed. In every letter I send and every time we did communicate I ALWAYS let her know that she was in the lead and that we were and are ALWAYS in her corner, on her side, and here for HER.
She knows how to reach us, and she will whenever she’s ready in whatever way is best for her. I do think that the space has been healthy for us and I hope it’s been a healthy thing in her life as well. When Spear was first born she and I were texting constantly and that did cause me to struggle in my bonding with him so the slowing down of that communication was a healthy thing in allowing me to fully bond.
We do have an open adoption arrangement but the only requirement from our end is to mail the letter updates. When we were originally matched with Mama E she was pretty firm on not wanting an open adoption relationship and didn’t want a lot of structure or plans for the future of our connecting with her.
I totally and completely respect whatever path is best for her in all of this and we simply love her and will continue to love her from a distance and will be here if the opportunity to communicate or even go for another visit comes again!
I’m often asked if Mama E were to become pregnant again if we’d be open to adopting siblings and the answer to that is that Mama E had her tubes tied when Spear was born 😉 He was baby #5 so I don’t foresee that sort of call coming. However, I do hope that if any sort of call were to be made regarding any of his siblings that we’d be on the list to call.
I do not know what the future holds in our relationship with Mama E or any other members of Spear’s birth family. Through my own experiences with some of my family I have learned that sometimes we have to love from a distance and that’s what we’ll continue to do with his birth family too.
We love them and are here for them and are forever thankful to them!
As I’ve said before, Mama E didn’t choose us to raise Spear in order for her to have us in her life – she chose us to be his parents and raise him. We take that honor very seriously and know the best thing we can do for her is to also continue to pour into him.
Sharing Adoption with Others
All of our family, friends, and children know we are an open book when it comes to Spear’s story and our journey to adding him into our family.
If questions pop up – they ask! It doesn’t have to be a big conversation or some sort of secret. I believe that making his adoption as casual as possible helps to make it less of a HUGE THING. We all have an origin story, his is just a little extra special.
It’s interesting to me this far along in the process how often people don’t know we’ve adopted. I feel like I need to bring it up from time to time. It’s delicate because I NEVER want Spear to feel singled out but I also never want to shy away from sharing.
Other people inspired US to adopt through sharing their personal stories and we never know how God may be using Spear’s story in other people’s lives too!
Recently I had someone reach out locally to meet up and talk about adoption as they were in the early stages of the process and that meant SO MUCH to me!
I WANT to be a resource for others. I want Spear’s story and Mama E’s decision to be an inspiration for other families. To lead others to choose adoption and to help support others through their adoption experiences.
Adoption is hard and complicated and is filled with moments of heartbreak but God takes that brokenness and creates something so beautiful. My prayer is to raise Spear in a way that he always sees his journey through this perspective and that it is able to be a light to others.
How Adoption Impacts Me Now
2020 has been an insane year for everyone.
I realize that while I may not think about Spear’s adoption on a daily basis, it DOES have a daily impact on my life. Now more than ever before.
Our journey to Spear was a walk of PURE FAITH. More than anytime in my entire life I just trusted God. Trusted His plan. Submitted to His Will. Was unwavering in my faith.
As we see trials it’s easy to stumble. To become overcome with worry and let go of that trust.
Spear is a constant reminder to HAVE FAITH.
I’m blessed to have a walking, breathing, talking reminder every single day to TRUST GOD. A reminder of just HOW GOOD GOD IS and how much HE LOVES US.
I tell Spear all the time that he is my gift from the Lord. My special gift.
He is also a gift from the Lord beyond being our Spear. He’s a gift in that physical reminder of God’s presence. God’s plan. How God is truly in the details of life.
My silly wild almost three year old toddler is a light from the Lord in my life and helps me stay the course when the path seems dark.
What a blessing to have our Spear. To have the opportunity to be his mama. To be able to walk that delicate road with his birth mom.
More than anything in my life I feel the most secure in my purpose as Spear’s mom. I truly believe God placed me exactly where I needed to be. He lead me towards adoption by placing it on my heart and he lead me to Mama E through all of those other “no’s”. He lead me to Spear and to the ability to have my heart so full with the completion of our family.
And He will continue to lead our family as we travel through all of the journeys to come. We trust Him and will do our best to obey His will in our lives.
If you’re considering adoption or know someone who is in the adoption journey and needs someone to talk through things with please don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me! Via Instagram or email (journeyofphood @ gmail.com).
You can also read all of the details of our entire adoption story so far here.
It always melts my heart when you talk about your adoption journey. Love seeing God’s hand in all things and thankful for people that listen to His call. xoxo
Thank you so much Kerrie!