Daughter, This is Who You Are

A story about the honest, imperfect, messy love in adoption.

Hugs for Momma on Adoption Day. Photo cred to Adam Gilbert

Daughter,

It is the middle of the night. Your newborn brother is sleeping soundly next to me. I should be taking advantage of that by trying to sleep myself, but I can’t. There are things you need to know. Things you might wonder about when you are 12, or 15, or 20. Things I need to say before time turns the answers to your questions about memories and conversations and reasons why into foggy hues of grey.

November 24th, 2014 was your adoption hearing. You would no longer be “Little A,” a number in the state’s foster care system, or a child in limbo.

November 24th was the day we would be recognized for the family we had become.

November 24th was one of the best days of your daddy and I’s life.

November 24th was the day you would get a new name.

I had visions of the perfect celebration for your adoption day. I should have known. Instead, your adoption day turned out a lot like how adoptions really are.  It turned out a lot like how life really is. It was messy. And honest. And imperfect.

And it was beautiful.

Adoption Day!

“You wish to change your daughter’s name to Solana Alejandra Gilbert?” the judge inquired from the front of the courtroom.

You had skipped your nap that day and you were loaded up on a party weekend’s worth of sugar. There was a substantial audience of state workers present to witness our new beginning. We had tried to explain to you in advance what was going on, but it had to be more than a bit confusing. Any of these things may have thrown you off that day. Or maybe it was just the fact that you were two. At any rate, it was a court proceeding to write home about (or maybe one to keep a secret!).

That day your dad and I sat at the same desk your bio mom had occupied throughout her involvement with the court. The judge hammered us with questions about ourselves and our intentions and our family. During this time you made it your mission to distract us and everyone else from the business at hand. You fidgeted and squirmed, whined and loudly demanded your way, and splashed drinking water all over the expensive wooden desk. The floor beneath you was littered with your deconstructed paper cup. You paid zero attention to the judge’s questions or to my pleas for you to behave.

And then the judge came to the name change question.

“Adam and Kara, you wish to change your daughter’s name to Solana Alejandra Gilbert?”

Your over-stimulated little head shot up from your busy work. “I noooooottt Solana Gilbert,” you proclaimed to the world loudly. You said it with conviction. You looked the judge in the black robe straight in the eye.

Well… Crap.

I flinched.

The judge raised an eyebrow.

Your daddy kept his composure. “Yes. We do.”

Only a few months have passed since that day and you have already embraced your new name. We know this because when Santa Claus called out “Solana Gilbert” at your preschool, you bolted out of your seat and ran to his lap to retrieve your gifts. Your dad smirked. I know what he was thinking. “Who’s Solana Gilbert now?”

Your reaction in court on adoption day probably sums up adoption pretty well. It’s not lost on your dad or I that one of the best days of our lives may carry with it some heaviness for you. While your adoption day is a day to celebrate the making of our family, it is also forever a day that will represent the loss of your bio family. Your dad and I get that. We want you to know that however you feel about it throughout the years, it’s okay. And your feelings do not have to be a secret. You already made them clear when you were two. :o)

A messy beautiful adoption day in all its realness.

I am not sure if it was “Solana” or “Gilbert” that you were reacting to in court that day. I don’t think you were sure either. I do want you to know that changing your first name was a tough decision and one that your dad and I struggled through making. We spent months talking it over. Ultimately, here is why we did what we did…

Let me start by saying it really makes no difference what your name was yesterday, is today, or will be tomorrow. We love the person you are, the heart you have, and the fact that we get to call you daughter. Your name does not change YOU.

But…. we did reason that perhaps your name would impact the way you saw yourself. We wanted to give you a name that we felt fit who you were. We wanted to give you a name that would tell you what you meant to us.

There is a story in the Bible where God gives the gift of a name to a dude named Simon. Jesus says to Simon, “now I am going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock.”

I’ve always been a little jealous of this situation.

Some people… many people… spend their whole lives trying to figure out who they “really are.” Simon was lucky enough to have it stated for him by the freakin’ God of the universe. God said, “you are a rock,” (the rock on which I will build my church) and Simon left the conversation with a new name and a sense of purpose.

We chose the name Solana for you because it means sunshine. That is “who you are, really are.” (Unless that is not who you want to be and then when you are old enough we will talk.)

You are our sunshine

We also felt a new name would befit your new future.

Throughout our interactions with your bio parents one thing struck us. We could not help but notice how consistently alone they were.

In one particular meeting I watched as your lawyer delivered unpleasant scenario after unpleasant scenario to your bio mother. Your mom sat by herself on the lonely side of the room in a cold metal chair. She was told that she had made progress towards getting you back but that it probably was not good enough. She wiped a tear away. Nobody was there to hold her hand, pat her knee, or pass her a tissue.

My eyes were looking at your mother in that chair, Ana, but my heart was seeing you. Like a scene from A Christmas Carol, what could have been your future played out before us. Your papa and I left there that day determined. The lonely side of the room was for the girl you were and could have been. The lonely side of the room was not intended for the girl you were going to be.

Your father and I know we cannot control the decisions you will make as you grow up. You are your own person. But here is the deal. If as you get older you find yourself in a mess… a mess that involves a cold metal chair… my darling you better pull up two more. The girl named Solana will not be sitting by herself. Your papa will be holding your left hand, your momma will be holding your right, and daughter, I dare someone to tell you that you aren’t good enough.

This is who you are. Really are. You are Solana. You are our sunshine.

We love you,

Your Parents

 

gilberts adoption day

 

 

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God’s Nipple, Part 2: Life’s a Gas

I couldn’t let the God’s Nipple post die without a sequel. I am going to milk the metaphor for all it’s worth.

Since my last post boldly went where no post has gone before – under my shirt – this post might as well stay there a minute. Humor me while I run the nursing imagery to the ground.

Baby Ziggy has a problem with sucking in too much air while he is feeding. I made that clear. What I did not talk about in my last post were the consequences that are associated with so much nothingness gulping. For Ziggy the result is body scrunching, leg flailing, hand clenching, stomach hardening, seemingly life-altering gas pain. The poor little dear. His face turns red, his eyes squint closed, and he fusses and squirms and wails and flails until the most ungodly of sounds resonate from his adorable diaper-clad backside. He makes noises and expressions only a mother could love, and even I am on the fence when all of that flatulence is going down.

I hate to see our child so tormented, so there are some things I do to try to ease his pain. I give him gas drops. I put thick white cream on his raw red tush. These things won’t fix him, I know. They are just band-aids to his underlying problem. Until the tiny dude learns to face the right way and pony up to the breast bar he will continue to be afflicted by the air bubbles he is sucking in.

Not the best photo, but the t-shirt was perfect.

Not the best photo, but the t-shirt was perfect.

Our little Ziggy is learning his first spiritual lesson the hard way. There are consequences for your actions, precious one. Welcome to the world… where life doesn’t have to suck if you just suck on the right stuff.

Okay, I think I’ve drained this topic dry.

Xo,

Kara

P.S. – Rest assured that Zig’s episodes don’t last very long or I wouldn’t be making such light of his situation. For the most part he is a happy and comfortable boy. 🙂

God’s Nipple

Teenagers come up with the most outrageous of stuff (which is partially why I love them so wildly). On a youth trip to Moab a few years back, while snuggled into our tent on a dark and starry night, one feisty high-schooler shouted out the most random of phrases as her contribution to the word association game we were playing. “God’s nipple,” she exclaimed!

Beyond that week I never actually thought I would have a productive place to use those words together again. Yet, as I typed up the below I could not think of a title more fitting. Thank you, Gigi Coghlan, for your hilariously irrelevant (and potentially irreverent) comment, which could not be more relevant (and dare I say reverent) in this context…

—-

Three weeks ago I gave birth to the most amazing little boy! Parenting a newborn has ushered me into this crazy new world of making food with my boobs. It is so weird! I cannot get over how incredible the human body is. I also cannot get over how much time I spend in a 24 hour period sitting in one place with my shirt half off so a tiny human can suck on my nipple. Again, it is so weird!

Ziggy does something while he is eating or when he is wanting to eat that cracks me up. I will hold him close to my chest, he will be pressed up again my body, and instead of turning his head to line up with his spine and face my boob, he will swing his unstable neck 180 degrees so his face is looking away from my body. He will then grasp at the air with an open mouth looking for something to fill him up.

I’m like, dude, what’s up with that? Were you born yesterday?

Ziggy at one week old

Ziggy at one week old – Photo cred to Adam Gilbert

I am right there, holding him close, my body warm, my voice beckoning, my hands offering guidance, my nipple on his cheek, and still he fights against me. He resists. Instead of going where I direct him he turns his head away from me and towards the nothingness for sustenance. Sometimes, even after he has been eating for a while he will unlatch, pull back, and swing his little neck around in the wrong direction to suckle wide-mouthed into space.

As I sit here, bored and getting my chest milked, his comical little routine got me thinking about how his actions are so very much like our own interactions with God. The creator wants us tucked up against him, warm and cozy, and is offering food so we will never hunger and water so we will never thirst, and yet like infants we turn our precious faces towards the nothingness looking for nourishment.

Thankfully we have a God who cups our head in his hand and gently guides us back to the source of life if we will let him.

Here’s encouraging you today to stop sucking in empty air and to turn your face towards the one who made you. He will fill you up. I promise.

With love,

Kara

P.S. Do you think God has like, a bazillion nipples in order to feed us all? I wonder how many nipples God has…

 

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst…’”