a long-awaited conversation…

I’ve been slowly writing, reading, and rewriting this post since last fall. It’s a long one. But it’s something that I’ve been wanting to say for a long time.

 

We adopted our children through the foster care system.

 

Bet you weren’t expecting me to just blurt that one out there were you? There’s no real way to lead up to it… so I’ll start there and work backwards.

Cory and I were bit by the “want to be parents” bug a few years after we were married. Me more so than him. It is such a weird thing. For us, before we got married we discussed our life goals,  and the plan to be parents was among them. And then for me – one day it was just – now. I want kids now. I saw babies and pregnant people EVERYWHERE! I started picking out names (yes, I stress about and plan for things long before I should). The want turned into a slow nagging in my stomach. Like a tiny hole in my heart that was slowly, month by month, getting larger.

We decided to try to have a baby. 6 months later nothing. Were we doing things right? Maye I’m not ovulating – get an ovulation kit, take my temp daily, etc etc etc. Then a year later, still nothing. Each month there was the anticipation/excitement and then the let down that no, we were not pregnant yet again. Unless you’ve been there it’s impossible to understand that kind of disappointment. The fact that something that our bodies are designed to do was just out of our reach. Every month when I would get my period I felt like a failure. It was a constant repetitive reminder that we were broken. (Truth be told, there are occasional months now that I feel that way. We are not trying to have a baby. I know that’s not an option – but I’ll be 4 days late and start to wonder, to hope, to think of how it would change our life at this moment. I suppose that never goes away.)

There were very very few people who knew we were trying. Our dearest friends at the time knew, a couple who had 4 children of their own, including a set of twins. They were huge supporters and she would cry with me when it was a ‘no’ once again. The longer it was taking, the longer we waited, I wanted a child of my own more and more and then I started to resent them. I didn’t want to hang out at their house and be around their beautiful children, or them – with their perfectly fertile bodies.  I’ve read that it’s a normal reaction to infertility – the hating of all things baby while the yearning for your own makes you a miserable person. I began to withdraw from them. To isolate myself. At the time I didn’t realize just how depressed I was, but looking back at my weight gain, inability to function, lack of motivation  – it was pretty bad. I hate that my reaction was to push her away… one of the people who was so supportive….

Well meaning friends/family that knew what we were going through told us to ‘relax, it will just happen’ or ‘don’t worry – you have plenty of time’ or ‘you can always adopt’ and even ‘I had a friend/brother/cousin/uncle/father with your circumstances and they had kids when they were in their 30′s – maybe that will happen for you’ and the often repeated ‘well think of how much you’re saving on birth control’. I know – you feel empathy and need to console us somehow. You  try to say something that will help lighten the mood. I KNOW that these things were said our of a good place in your heart – but it just caused more depression – like we were letting our families down. Like they were counting on us to procreate and we were failing them too. There is nothing you can say if you are fertile can heal the pain of being infertile. Only someone else who has been there could possibly understand and relate. And even then – there are no words that will make you feel better. There are no words that take the pain away.

We sought professional help, I saw a therapist who put me on an anti-depressant (which helped me get out of bed every day). We talked to our family doctor, who referred us to another local doctor who ran some tests which were all inconclusive and sent us to Chicago to see a fertility specialist. That may have been the scariest time. The doctors office there was so hopeful. Photos of kids/babies on the wall. Other couples in the waiting room. We all had the same pained look in our eyes. The look of someone who’s been dealing with something heart-wrenching.  I had been researching the options and was ready to get started – yet none of those options were an option to us. Our circumstances didn’t allow for any of the common fertility treatments. We would have to start further back and there the chances for conception were so slim… it looked hopeless. And expensive. Shelling out tons of cash for a “slim chance” that conception would work didn’t seem logical. No matter how much we wanted our own kids.

My memory of the time is fuzzy. As my memory in general is these days… I remember watching Disney’s Tarzan over and over again, lying on my couch bawling by myself while Cory was at work. I remember putting on a happy face for everyone when we went out – since very few people we aware of what we were going through. I remember collapsing and sleeping for hours after having to do that. Trying to pretend you’re fine when you are the last thing from fine is exhausting.

After months of the unknown, of not knowing which direction to go we started looking into adopting. I was mad initially. I wanted the experience of being pregnant. I wanted to know what it’s like for my body to work the way it’s supposed to. To experience another life growing inside me. God created woman with the ability to literally grow another human – it seems so basic and simple – yet not for us.

Then as the time went on I realized that as much as I wanted to be pregnant I also wanted to be a mom. And I was started to acknowledge that I didn’t have to get pregnant to be a mother.

Adopting – I didn’t want to get on a years long wait list in the United States for a baby. I didn’t want the rejection of being in a stack of prospective parents that some birth mom somewhere was flipping through – and never being called. I didn’t want to be one of those couples who takes an ad out in the newspaper. I was desperate but didn’t want to seem like it. We researched international adoption laws. China (at the time) wouldn’t allow anyone younger than 30 to adopt. While that was only 4 years away that felt like an eternity. I didn’t think it would be possible to wait that long. Romanian infants were more like toddlers and we – of course – wanted as young a child as possible. We looked at Guatemala and a few other countries. Each country had different legalities. We talked to a couple agencies to see how to get started. I got information packets and questionnaires in the mail.

I don’t remember who first mentioned foster care, Cory or myself. I don’t remember how that conversation even started. I do remember wondering if I could handle that emotionally. The thought of sending a child back to a home he/she had been taken from due to abuse was scary. The more we thought about it the more we decided the positives outweighed the negative. We signed up, attended their training classes, had a home inspection, and were certified in a very short time. We were hopeful we’d get an infant. Of course. But we had signed up for children up to age 5.

Most new parents have at least 9 months to plan. They go to the cute baby stores and create a baby registry. They pick out a nursery theme and paint the walls a brilliant color. They register for necessities and fun items and things they aren’t sure they’ll use but things they are sure they will NEED. Their families and friends throw them a shower and they purchase all these things for them before the baby arrives.

For us it didn’t happen this way. The prep for this was a bit odd – gather as much as we can for kids in all those age ranges we had agreed to foster. An outfit or two per gender for each size. Because many times a kid will arrive with nothing but the clothes on their back (that half the time don’t fit) in the middle of the night. Be prepared for anything until you can make a run to Walmart. I hit yard sales hard. And had a large stockpile of adorable outfits in all sizes. We bought a crib and a playpen at a yard sale. We waited on a car seat until we knew what size we’d need. Our families were supportive. Our close friends were super helpful. One of the girls I worked with at the time came over with huge bags full of toys and clothes and more toys. The support from these people is what got us through.

Then there were the other people who didn’t really get it. Total disclaimer here – these were my impressions. I never called anyone out of their lack of support. I just blew them off and figured they weren’t real friends anyways. But it bothered me. It bothered me when we finally did get kids in our home – we threw a huge “welcome” party for them and so many people I expected to be there didn’t come. It’s not about the gifts we didn’t get – it’s the fact that we were doing something unconventional and they couldn’t support it. The fact that they told me I was crazy. They told me they couldn’t love a child who wasn’t their own. At the time I was livid. How dare you say something like that! And how do you have the right to have children?! Now, I feel sadness for them. Granted, after years of seeing some of these people, some of them congratulated and commended us. I saw one person who had a complete change of attitude regarding foster care in general, and specifically with us. But at the time, the negativity was awkward to deal with.

Let me say here – foster care is not for everyone. I know of amazing foster parents who say they feel God’s calling and they’ve never turned a child away. I know of amazing foster parents who have never tried to conceive – maybe they will some day, maybe they won’t – but they saw a need and opened their homes and hearts. I know other foster parents who have adopted foster children and had biological children. I also know of great people who have adopted but wouldn’t do foster care. And I know lots of parents who have never ever considered foster care. Foster care is a huge sacrifice. It’s a huge gift. It’s an amazing blessing and privilege. If you can do it. If you can step aside and provide meals, education, play time, and love. Mostly love. These kids don’t need the newest toys or designer clothes. (granted if that’s where you are in life then go for it) These kids need held. They need read to and taken to the park. They need someone to reassure them that they are wanted, needed, loved. And that does more for the good of their (and your) soul than you can possibly imagine.

Back to our story…

A couple months after being certified we got our first call, and a beautiful 6 year old girl lived with us for about 3 weeks. I think about her from time to time and hope/pray she is doing well in her home.

Then a month later or so we got a call that a super sweet adorable 3 year old boy, Cody, had recently come up for adoption. His biological parental rights had been terminated and he needed ‘a forever family’ since his current foster family wasn’t in the position to adopt him. We set up a time for me to come meet him. I went up to see him – more nervous than I’ve ever felt – could this little boy be my son? Finally? For real? His foster mom had told all the kids that a new mommy was coming to see the kids. From the get go I was “mommy” and it was such a warm long-awaited feeling. It was overwhelming and I was prone to break down in tears for no reason at all. Years of frustration were finally ending.

He came and hung out with us one weekend shortly after that initial visit. I was supposed to take him back and then pick him up for good a few days later. We called instead and asked if we could just keep him. They agreed as long as we brought him by so they could say goodbye. His foster mom had all of his things packed up. Toys, books, clothes, an awesome red Radio Flyer tricycle – the old metal kind. With Cody, they had him for a year, they worked with him from being a scared 2 year old with no vocabulary to a talking happy 3 year old.

Having Cody who was 3 years and 4 months old was different than I imagined. I had no idea what a three year old needed or wanted. I started looking at books and online, trying to figure out what he needed -socially, academically, emotionally. Trying to balance his rough start in life.

Three weeks after he came to live with us we got a call that a newborn was in the NICU and would need a foster home when he was finally released from the hospital. If we wanted him he was ours and we should go visit him right away. So we did. We started visiting the NICU as worse-than-nervous “parents” of a sickly newborn. I love those nurses we came to know. They showed us how to feed him, bathe him, burp him, change him. He was diagnosed with failure to thrive – among other things. Our goal was to get him to drink 2 oz at each feeding. Do you have any idea how small of an amount is? He had a few other small medical issues but worked past them all and was able to come home with us when he was 19 days old.

I look back at this time period with a slight smile. We were so ill-prepared. We had a 3 year old and a newborn. There are no books that can prepare you for this. We had no time to figure out what stage Cody was in and what stage he needed to work towards before we got Gavin. Poor Cody went through a lot that year. From switching homes and adjusting to new parents to having a baby brother and his parents being sleep deprived and crabby. (Well, I was crabby. Sleep deprivation was ugly on me.) I’m happy to say we made it through. I think most parents can look back and think of things they wish they could change. I do. I see areas where I’d do things different.

That first year with Gavin was difficult. It was all things true to foster care. I drove him up to the DHS building once a week for his hour long supervised visit with his biological parents. His parents met the court assigned goals and were given another 3 months for the next goal. That happened for a year and then it was determined by a judge that they just weren’t physically/mentally equipped to provide care for him and their parental rights were terminated.

We filled out paperwork to adopt him. Six months later it was final. And we’ve been a happy family ever since. I think those non-supportive people in the beginning came to see and understand that it was different. Maybe they had never known any foster parents or kids who had been in foster care. Some of them commended us and told us what a wonderful thing we were doing. Some of them cried and said how proud of us they were. I didn’t feel like a hero. I didn’t do anything extraordinary. I wanted to be a mom. These kids needed a mom. End story. But I understand.

This past December we told the kids that they were adopted. This was a tough decision to make – when is the right time to tell them. I read articles written by “experts” and we got advice from other professionals.

Gavin was a bit oblivious. I think he’s still too young to understand fully.

Cody understood. He seemed to not mind at all and was excited that some of his memories from his first foster family fit into what he knows of life now. He was excited and happy and acted like it was nothing to think or worry about.

Then a couple weeks later he broke down bawling at night, sobbing – wondering about his birth mom. Nothing will rip your heart out quite like holding your child as he cries for his “real mom”.

I knew it was coming. I expect it to get worse before it gets better. I have no clue the things he’s going through right now. I just know that if I’m honest with him with what I can be, and continue to love him no matter what we will survive this. If that means finding a counselor for him to talk to I will do that. I’ll help him work through these emotions and any others that may come. When he’s 18, if he wants to find his birth mom, I’ll help him do it. Because no matter how many times he calls her his “real mom” I know what he means. I know who I am to him (and Gavin) and I know I’m doing my best to be the mom that their birth mom couldn’t be.

We’ve told him that he’s loved. And that he was always loved and wanted, but that his birth mom was sick and couldn’t take care of him. I know very little about her and I wish I had something more to tell him. It felt awkward at the time but I likened the situation to a dog we had once. The dog was 75 lbs of awesome and we loved him- but he was waaaaay too rough and would pounce on Gavin and Cody in the backyard and injure them. To the point that neither of them wanted to play in their own yard. At that point we found the dog a new home because we knew we couldn’t care for it the way it needed cared for. It didn’t mean we didn’t love the dog anymore. Cody seemed to totally understand what I was trying to say. That his birth mom loved him, but just couldn’t take care of him anymore.

He still sometimes cries when he thinks of her. He broke down in school one day. We had told the teacher they were adopted – and that we told them – so she would be prepared if he wanted to talk about it at all. She pulled him aside and comforted him and he also had a couple of his classmates try and cheer him up. At recess he was back to playing and running around.

Cody is the sweetest, kindest, most lovable child. He’s sensitive and smart and creative. We have different challenges than most families. But we’re talking and open and are tackling each new feeling and emotion as it comes along. I love my family and I’m fiercely protective.

I’m still extremely emotional about our journey. With all it’s disappointments and triumphs.

I cry like a baby at the movie Meet the Robinsons. Still. I’ve seen it dozens of times. Same thing with the beginning of the movie Up. Basically if a movie or tv show or book touches on adoption, foster care, or infertility I relate in a deep way, it moves me and I cry.

I am a huge fan of the tv series Parenthood. If you’ve never seen it start from the beginning. This last season has been extremely emotional for me. I won’t say much here for fear of ruining anything for new fans – but the brilliance in the scenes, both in words spoken and unspoken and in the facial expressions (those facial expressions!). The show is brilliant. It is brilliant in a way I hadn’t realized. Last season has reached me on a level I thought I had dealt with and handled but it appears not to be resolved. Watch the show. It may not effect you the same way – but it is brilliant.

What lies ahead for us? I’m not really sure. For now we are a happy family of four. That’s most likely where we will remain. But only time will tell.

As painful and difficult as it was – I wouldn’t change our experiences at all. Had we been able to conceive we would never have done foster care. Without our path taking us where it did I wouldn’t have Cody and Gavin. They are amazing, brilliant, funny, irritating, smart, inquisitive. Everything they should be.

If you’ve read this far – thank you. I know I wrote this more for me – but if it gives any of you peace I’m happy. I know everyone is at different stages in life and being able to stand up and share what we went through and hope that it touches someone is encouraging. I welcome your comments and thoughts. And I thank you.

 

About Danielle Nielsen

I am a photographer who loves to bring out the best in you and your life. Capturing those little moments that make you special are my favorite. I am an "on location" photographer and available for travel anywhere you'd like photos taken.
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38 Responses to a long-awaited conversation…

  1. beth barter says:

    Danielle I knew someday you would write your story but what a gift you’ve given all of us by sharing it.I have been in awe since day one.I will never forget meeting your boys (babies) for the first time but I really loved your willingness to share them with all of us.You are such a great mom!!!! When your boys read their story I hope they see what a special person their mom is. I am crying happy tears for you. HI TO MY TWO SPECIAL FRIENDS love u lots beth barter

  2. Rochelle Argue says:

    Thank you for posting your awesome family experience. I do miss all of you but so happy for you! Please give hugs to the boys and husband (then have Cory hug you from me). You and Cory are doing a beautiful job in raising those precious kids in a wonderful family!
    Love ya,
    Ro

  3. Stephanie says:

    Dani,
    I remember you getting the call at the convention that you had a little girl waiting for you. Seeing how utterly excited and even a bit in shock you and Cory were was heartwarming. Then when you got the boys, the struggles you had (that you’ve now shared). You both remained so strong and positive. Being younger then and not fully aware of the difficulties you were facing, not just externally but internally (emotionally), I still felt empathy and joy for you. I felt then, just as I feel now that you and Cory are the best thing that has come into their lives as of the moment their birth parents were unable to care for them. You are amazing parents. You were able to adapt so quickly and just blossomed into your roles as parents! Your experience was definitely an eye opener for me! Thank you for sharing this!
    Steph

  4. Patti says:

    Tami…I just read your post! We are on the same wave thoughts! I went thru exactly what you did. I guess when it comes to our grandsons it will be just that way. Love you too! Patti~

  5. Patti says:

    My Dear Danielle,
    I read this right after you posted. I wrote and then I re-wrote, I corrected and then I re-corrected, I deleted, then I re-wrote again and deleted again my comment because I felt it just wasn’t good enough to tell you how much I love You and Cory. But then I thought…if I don’t tell you, you will never know. Oh Honey… I LOVE you sooooooooooo…your read is nothing less than BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for sharing your inner most preciousness with all of us! I love you! Mom~

  6. Erica Harper says:

    Danielle, I knew some of your story, but it is nice to read it all. I know how people react when they learn your kids are not biological. I even had someone who told me that God didn’t want me to have kids if he didn’t give me bio kids! It was awful and painful! God says to take care of the orphans and I am just doing my part! Foster care is not easy. I know we have legal guardianship rather than foster of our oldest 2, but like foster care, we will likely be sending Wesley back to his bio dad here soon after he has been with us almost 2 years. We have had our struggles, but I will always think of him as one of our kids. My kids may not be of my body, but I love them just the same and I know you love yours just as you would a biological child. I do not know if Cody remembers Josiah, but tell him that cousin’s Josiah and Clara are adopted too. He might like knowing that he has cousins who are adopted like him too!

    • Erica,
      That is an awful comment. I think it goes back to people not really knowing what to say. You and Ryan are doing a great thing, not just with Josiah and Clara, but opening your home to teenagers – foster care or legal guardianship – you’ve made an impact in their lives. Even if/when Wesley goes back to his dad’s you and Ryan will always be a part of his life and story. :) I will let Cody know. He remembers riding four-wheelers at Uncle Billy’s – I’ll see if he remembers Josiah being there too! :) Love you guys.

  7. priscilla says:

    well im glad u were able to help out these kids…. this is a touchy subject for me because i have a close friend who lost her oldest thru the system and no it wasnt because of abuse or neglet.. she is a darn good mom who doesnt deserve what happened to her, she worked 16 hrs raising 3 kids byherself for 8 years + the girl wants nothing to do with my friend , i hope she snaps out of it. she thinks her” new’ family is the best thing ever.. im glad you plan to help them find thier bio parents if they want to at 18 yrs . i think its important because regardless of why these 2 kids you have they should be able to know/have a relateshonship with the birth parents.. thats just my opinion.

  8. priscilla says:

    oh well i missunderstood anyways im glad you were able to help the youngins….. and im glad you will help them find thier bio parents if they want to when they are 18 ..i think that is important, this subject is touchy for me because i have a dear friend who lost her oldest due to the overzealous system. My friends child is 17 and the whole system turned her daughter against her, showering her with expensive clothes, iphones, etc.. my friend is a damn good mom , she took care of all her kids for 8 1/2 yrs by herself. working 16 hr shifts and 2 jobs…The system basically screwed my friend over royaly. she didnt deserve what they did to her…Her 17 yr old wont have nothing to do with her…..i hope she changes once she gets 18, her girl thinks her ‘new” family is the best thing ever… sorry but the whole situation makes me angry esp how the system got involved, and no my friend dint have her kids taken because of neglet and abuse….

  9. Tennille says:

    I just want you to know that people like you and Cory are the reason I go to work every day. Put simply, your journey and others like it are what make my job “doable” and worth it. The path you chose to take not only gave you two wonderful,”brilliant, funny, irritating, smart, inquisitive” little boys, but also gave each of you the family you deserved. I know how much you are aware of what they’ve brought into your life and what being their mom has done for you, but also know that you and Cory have given Cody and Gavin the most amazing gift of all – a safe, creative, loving, nurturing, awesome life with parents who love them unconditionally and unselfishly. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I know Gavin and Cody were meant to end up with you as parents…just like I know you and Cory were meant to end up with them as your sons. I cannot even begin to imagine the emotional rollercoaster ride you’ve been through over the years, but I can tell you how extraordinary you are as people and parents. It was nothing short of an honor to work with you guys for the brief time that I did and I’m so happy that I get to watch Cody and Gavin grow up through your pictures and stories. In a world where unbelievably terrible things happen every day, it’s so comforting and reassuring to know there are happy endings! =)

  10. Kelli Reppart says:

    Thank you Dani! I am weeping right now. As you know we came into foster care with a different experience/perspective but I remember sobbing as I rocked Kye to sleep wondering if her bio father did (truly) get a job would they get her back… would my baby be gone? I know as a foster parent that is not the “right way” to think about things but we decided early on that she deserved to be loved and treated like she was completely ours, even if that meant we would lose our “first born”… so we did. We will face these same trials of “real mom” and I have pit in my stomach just thinking about it. Your boys are amazing and you are all blessed to have each other. I some times get uncomfortable when people say my children are “lucky” to have us. Cliff often says, “no, we are the lucky ones.”

    We are aren’t we? :)

    I miss you and your beautiful family!

    • Kelli,
      You and Cliff were in my thoughts as I wrote this … “I know of amazing foster parents who have never tried to conceive – maybe they will some day, maybe they won’t – but they saw a need and opened their homes and hearts.” You guys ARE amazing. And such an inspiration too. You’re get through the ‘real mom’ trials the same as we will. And Cliff is right – we are the lucky ones. As much as we’re changing these kids lives – they’ve changed ours more than we bargained for. :) I miss you too. Please let me know the next time you get to Seattle. I’ll let you know when we come back to MI. *hugs*

  11. gale miko says:

    Danielle what a lovely written story. Anyone can see you were meant to be a mom with all the love you have to share. So sorry for the long hard path to get where you are today but sounds like God graced you with beautiful children. They are also blessed to have you. Best wishes. thank you for sharing your life with us. As a few others put it…. now we want to see the pictures :)

    • Gale,
      Thank you so much. :) We’ve had the boys for 6 years now. So their photos are all over everything. lol. But we just decided to share the story this year. I’m sure I’ll continue to share photos of them as we go. :)

  12. priscilla says:

    thats cool you adopted kids from foster care but just so you know every kid in foster care is not in there because of abuse……

    • Priscilla,
      Thanks for your comments. I am very well aware that not every child is in foster care because of abuse. Some are there because of neglect. Or their parents are unable to take care of them, maybe they have a drug problem, maybe they have a mental disability, maybe they just can’t hold down a job and provide for them. There are lots of reasons children end up in foster care. My comments related to my impressions before we started foster care – my impressions were that most children are in the system due to abuse – be that neglect or actual abuse, it’s all abuse as far as I was concerned. Every child in foster care needs stability and care. The goal of foster care is to provide a safe haven for children until they can be returned to their biological parents. In the cases where the biological parents can’t step up and correct their issues then adoption is allowed to provide stability and a loving family for children who wouldn’t otherwise have it.

  13. Tami Griffis says:

    I think to really comment properly i too might need some writing and rewriting time. As it is I read this late last night and rather than commenting then I went to bed and tossed and turned with thoughts, worries and memories. I love that you’ve put your story out there. Although reading it was painful. Yet so encouraging. Your strength is amazing and I’m proud to be your Mom. I love those boys and feel that adopted is just a circumstance that helps to explain some things like physical features, or in Cody’s case feelings and memories. But it doesn’t mean that they’re not my boys. They’re GG’s boys! I thank you and Cory for bringing them into my life. But sorry for the struggle and pain you went through.

  14. Becka says:

    Danielle – Thank you so much for sharing this. This obviously wasn’t easy for you to do but I respect and admire your courage to openly talk about what you and Cory have been through. To be honest, up until a month or so ago, I had no idea that your boys were adopted. To me, that speaks volumes about the relationship and the love that you and Cory have with Cody and Gavin. And when I did find out, it made me love and respect you (not that I didn’t already :) ) on a whole new level. You are both amazing and generous people and I am so happy that I’ve gotten the chance to know you and you’re family. Hope to see you soon! xoxoxoxo

  15. Kathleen Luciano says:

    Danielle, I am so very happy for you and your family. I myself suffer from infertility and understand the pain and failure it makes one feel. We hear so many terrible, sad and tragic stories every day. It is a privilege and a gift that you chose to share your story. Thank you.

    I expect to see a lot of fantastic photos!!

    Congratulations on the blessing that was graced upon you. May you cherish a lifetime of beautiful memories as a mother!

  16. Tiffany says:

    Danielle, you are an amazing person, an amazing photographer, and an amazing Mom!

  17. connie says:

    Its strange reading something you know “a little about” but nothing about. I understand infertility , the pain , people saying hurtful things they dont realize are hurtful. . I have never been so brave as to share my story as you have Danielle , except with a few friends. People can be very insensitive, if they have never gone through adoption , or infertility . I always find it a little funny when someone says they could never love a child that didnt come from there own body, because really, why do they have to have their blood in their childs veins to love them? vanity, its simple, they are vain , they need to see themselves. There are women who have raised babies that were accidently switched in the hospital, and never knew a thing until they had to get blood tests. The potential to mother a child is a strong drive , it wont go away until your about 35 or 40 . This is what I learned raising Ryan, its not the blood in their veins that makes them important to you, its their need of you. We need to be needed. that will never go away, even when they grow up and get married. You are a great mom, Danielle, you like making things special for them. Cody & Gavin will have many special memories when they grow up , things they will pass on to their kids . Its not where they come from, that matters, its that they are yours now. Much love!!!
    Aunt Connie

    • Thanks Aunt Connie. I appreciate it. :) love you!

    • Patti says:

      Connie,
      I remember your journey almost like yesterday. I say almost because as I get older my memory fades a little now and then…well maybe a lot! But anyway…as I read your comment I found myself thinking, she is not even coming close to the pain and agony she went thru years ago. And this is how I know what Danielle and Cory and Ryan and my cousin Rick has gone thru. I went thru it with you!

      I remember when sweet little Ryan came into our lives and we were so ecstatic you had him. He needed you so much! He wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for your love for him! He was a joy to our whole family. We all loved him so as if you had given birth to him yourself. You know I had actually never thought of him as anything else but yours until he brought it up at Mom’s funeral. He talked about how he never felt like he wasn’t part of our family…I cried because I had forgotten, but I was glad for that, because I never thought anything different of him as I do my own precious grandson’s now. HE AND THEY WILL ALWAYS BE MINE!

      But…something else I remember is the pain and agony you went thru during those years of trying to get pregnant and then loosing your babies. You had Ryan yes…but you were the one in the family who wanted billions of kids! When I had Cory you loved him as if you had given birth to him yourself. You were an awesome aunt! Connie I’m sorry I don’t remember exactly how many miscarriages you had, maybe I don’t want to remember because of the pain I saw you endure and the guilt I felt because I could conceive and carry to full term so easy. It was so hard for me to tell you I was expecting again and again when you were trying so hard and grieving for your own. Then you had Matt! Shewwww… I could actually face you as your sister again. I can’t tell you the guilt I went thru. Sounds silly I know, but it was real. And even though you have two wonder kids now it doesn’t take away from the precious ones you lost.

      I love you Sis!

      Danielle, thank you for this blog so we can share with you!

      Patti~

  18. Alicia says:

    Thanks Danielle for sharing your story. I loved hearing how you dealt with each challenge. and I greatly appreciate how you openly shared your sorrow , your frustration, your fears,and your JOY, others with similar circumstances will be lifted up and they will be able to draw strength from your shared feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

  19. Mai says:

    What an incredible journey you’ve been through. I can’t express how much I admire the amount of strength and love you and your husband must have maintained to get through that painful time through to bringing up your lovely boys. Both Cody and Gavin are so sweet, smart, and fun, and they are both so lucky to have you. I can’t imagine how challenging that first moment with a 3 year old and a newborn must have been! I’m grateful to have had the chance to get to know you and your family, and I really think you’ve done something amazing. It’s been very touching to read your story, and get some insight into what u went through…thanks for sharing it. Hugs. 

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