Mar 26, 2014

4 Years ago today, I became your Mama

4 years ago today, my life changed.  At the time, I had no clue just how profound the change. 

Kaley and I drove over to Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Hospital.  We waited in the lobby nervously, anxious to start the next chapter of our lives.  Megan (from the adoption agency) met us and we all went upstairs together. 

I remember walking into that room like it was yesterday.  I still remember the smell. 

Within moments, they were taking out his IV, dressing him into clothes his birthmother had left him, putting all his stuff in a wagon to load into our car. 

And Manny?  He was staring at Kaley.  He couldn’t move anything but his eyes but he never took his eyes off her. 

Less than an hour after we arrived, we were leaving the hospital with Manny.  We also were leaving with hundreds of “unknowns”.  Most of which I hadn’t even begun to realize yet.  I had no birth history, no immunization record, no history of his first 8 months with his birthmother.  No record of the month stay in the hospital of what was done and why.  NOTHING.  We knew NOTHING. 

Halfway home from the hospital, we stopped at a McDonalds for a bite and to use the restroom.  It was the first time I was able to hold him really, change a diaper, etc.  And in that moment, in that bathroom stall, he became mine.  I know it sounds strange.  But in caring for him, it became official.
The moment I knew I was his Mama. 

I had Kaley take a few pictures.  At the time, his adoption wasn’t final so we couldn’t show his face yet.  So this picture would have to do. 

No one knew we were going to adopt him.  It all happened so quickly.  And we weren’t positive he would be a permanent addition to our family.  (Long story.)




I find this one interesting to re-read.  Who knew what I was saying back then.  PROFOUND actually. 


Because I’ve been in the hospital 11 days already with no end in sight yet, I’ve had tons of time to reflect.  And here’s my conclusion …

4 years later

  • I have more wrinkles, pounds and gray hairs … most are due to him
  • I have muscles from lifting a growing child and heavy equipment
  • I have medical knowledge … pharmacy, doctor, nurse, respiratory therapist, etc on the job type of degrees all in one crash course.
  • I have a deeper faith.  A better relationship with God.
  • I have developed spiritual muscles I never knew existed. 
  • I’ve cried more tears than I’d like to admit
  • I’ve prayed “Lord, Don’t take him” more times than I’d like to remember.
  • I lost my way with my husband in ways and we found our way back to each other.
  • I’ve loved unconditionally
  • I’ve given pieces of myself away, some wisely and some not
  • I’ve had so many moments of sheer terror that I cannot begin to describe and most I don’t want to recollect
  • I’ve watched my child be discriminated against
  • I’ve watched people give up on him
  • I’ve fought for his right to medicines and treatments
  • I’ve fought for his right to live
  • I’ve discovered countless medical mistakes
  • I’ve slept every night on “high alert”
  • I’ve repositioned him every night for 4 years
  • I’ve given up more than I’d like to admit

    4 years later …
  • I’ve also laughed deeper than I thought possible
  • I’ve played endless hours of silly games
  • I’ve experienced life through the eyes of a unique child
  • I’ve learned compassion
  • I’ve helped my other children learn compassion
  • I’ve discovered what life is all about
  • I’ve discovered my role in the Kingdom of God
  • I’ve learned why I am on Earth
  • I’ve learned how to make a real difference
  • I’ve gained perspective on the human condition and sanctity of life
  • I’ve faced death so I know how to live

4 years later …

  • My son is still alive.  Not many people thought that was even a possibility.
  • I’d do it all over again.
  • He is worth it. 

Dear Manny,

Every day I’m so proud to be your Mama.  I’m thrilled you were born.  I’m thankful Rosa chose for you to be adopted.  I’m grateful for Megan at Life for Kids for choosing us to parent you. 

I’m so sorry for all the pain you experience in life.  Physical pain.  Emotional pain.  Mental pain.  When you are sad or broken hearted, so am I.  And I’d gladly sit in a wheelchair and never eat a bite again, I’d take every “pinch”, do every medical procedure, endure every surgery if it meant you could escape them. 

When you’re angry at me because I “let” all this happen to you, I understand.  And I forgive you for acting out towards me.  You’re sad, mad, angry, frustrated and don’t know any other way to express it.  But it does break my heart to know I can’t protect you from germs or procedures or pain.  Life is full of all of them. 

And when you express you’re noticing you’re not like the other kids, it breaks my heart. I offer you kind words and a shoulder to cry on but I know it’s not enough.  I’m thankful you can express these hurts to me. 

I mostly like the days where we are just hanging out.  You’re watching a video on your ipad or swinging in your backyard swing.  You have the most amazing laugh.  You laugh so hard that you lose your breath. And that takes my breath away. 

Your bright mind makes me marvel at you.  Reading.  Understanding.  Growing.  It’s crazy to see how much you know and understand. 

I love your kind heart.  Just today, you asked numerous people, “Are you having a nice day?” and here you are in the hospital quite sick.  You think of others. 

I love the way you like to make other people laugh.  You get a kick out of saying something clever and watching the reaction.  Asking, “Is that funny?”  Which makes it all the funnier. 

Some days, I just watch you sleep.  You’re one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met.  You take my breath away.  Your bright, inquisitive dancing eyes.  Your luscious curly hair.  Your perfectly formed face.  Your beautiful lips.  The sweet breath you have.  It’s all perfection.

I love holding you.  Even though it’s getting harder to hold you because you’ve gotten so big, I still take every chance I can to do that.  And I melt when you pat me on the back.  It feels like you’re taking care of me.  Or maybe you’re saying, “Good job, Mama”, either way, I’ll take it. 

And I love that you’ve stuck around.  There were many, many nights I wondered if it would be easier for you to just go be with Jesus.  There you could run and jump and eat and move. You could breathe deeply.  You could play.  You would be pain free.  You’d have so much freedom.  So I don’t take it lightly that you stay with us.  I try not to take that lightly or for granted. 

I look at the past 4 years and can’t begin to tell you how incredibly HARD they have been.  There has been a price.  A HUGE price. 

And yet, as I type this, you sit in your hospital bed right across from me giggling at a Mickey Mouse video.  You look up and me and say, “Hi Mama, come sit with me.”  You’re here.  You’re alive.  And I’m in awe. 

4 years ago I wrote a blank check.  To love you for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.  And I meant it. 

It has been the hardest 4 years of my life.  And yet YOU make it worth it. 

If I knew all the pain and heartache and stress and price this would be … I’d still drive to Orlando and pick you up. 

I want you to always know … you are worth it.  And I’d happily do it all over again not to miss. 

All my love,

Our 4 year anniversary of being Mother and Son



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