Category Archives: Second Parent Adoption

No, I DON’T Love All of My Children the Same!

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I remember, fourteen years or so ago, when I was pregnant with Noah. No matter what I said or how excited I was, there was no convincing Nicholas (who was eight-and-a-half when Noah was born) that it was going to be great, him having a baby brother. Nope. He didn’t want any part of it. And what did I tell him more than anything else? I told him that he was not being replaced, and that I would love him no less once the new baby arrived – that I would love both boys exactly the same. Even all of these years later, when Harrison came into our lives, I found myself saying the same thing – that I would love all three kids the same. Well, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s a crock of shit! There is no way that I could even remotely love these three wonderful and unique individuals the same! No, that doesn’t mean that I have a favorite, or that one is just not good enough to be loved the same – it just means that I love them differently, and especially just the way that I need to love them as an individual.
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To my oldest and firstborn son, Nicholas:

The love I have for you is a love that I cannot give to your siblings, or even to your daughter (my grandbaby). This love is special, because you showed me how to love as a parent for the first time. You showed me that it didn’t matter that I was young, inexperienced,

Circa 2009ish - Best NoH8 pic EVER
Circa 2009ish – Best NoH8 pic EVER

uneducated, and broke – as long as you knew that your mommy was there no matter what. Because I was young, as you grew, so did I. For a long time it was just you and me, and despite how hard it was at times (which I hope you don’t remember),

Circa 2008ish - Creeper...snuck up on me
Circa 2008ish – Creeper…snuck up on me

there was always the assurance that you gave me the strength and drive to keep plugging away and take care of you. We joke now and you give me a hard time, telling me that we love Noah more than you, and that we love Harrison more than both of you – and we all know that even the thought is ridiculous. Yes, it was really hard for us when you were little; single mom, no money, moving from tiny apartment to living with relatives, struggling at times to pay bills or buy groceries. But somehow we did it, and before my very eyes you grew from a baby

September 2014...still my baby boy
September 2014…still my baby boy

to a boy to a teenager to a young man to a husband and now a father yourself. With every day, week, and year, and even when you got into trouble, my love for you would grow. And even at our lowest point, when my heart was breaking over a decision made, I knew that my devastation was out of fear that our bond was somehow over. For nine months you were out of my house, and for nine months I continued to love you, worry about you, miss you, and want you home. I missed our closeness, and even after all of the pain, I just wanted you to know and remember my love. You opened up my whole world as my first child, showing me what it is like to have a piece of my heart walking around outside of my body. For that, I thank you and love you to the moon and back.

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Spring 2014
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Spring/Summer 2013…forced selfie with his mama

To my middle child and second-born son, Noah:

The love that I have for you is born from hope and thankfulness for the child that I never thought that I would have. After having Nicholas, when the desire was there to have another child, I went through many attempts at pregnancy, including drugs, shots, and fertility treatments. I was finally told that I had secondary infertility, and that it was unlikely that it would ever happen. When I unexpectedly found out, many months down the road, I cannot ever explain to you the joy and love that filled me for you – even then, and from the moment I knew that you were there. You were a miracle, and I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect you. As a little, tiny fellow you made me see the world through your bright blue eyes, full of curiosity and into everything. And as you grew, and your energy was so very hard to contain, so did my fierce, protective mama-bear love; because outside the walls of our home were those who didn’t understand how loving and amazing you are. You desperately wanted to have a greater connection with your big brother, and I often tried to fill that void within you with the overflow that I already had. I so wanted for my love to shield you from any and all hurt and pain, and I imagine that I will always want that. You showed me how to love at full speed, no brakes, every day – because that is how you operate. I may not have always done it very well, in fact, I know that I have failed you on many occasions. But I have learned over the years that the love I have for you is so different and so familiar all at the same time, because I am very much like you. When you became a big brother, you showed me how a guy can, and should, love

August 2014 - Summer camp pickup
August 2014 – Summer camp pickup
Big Brother, Little Sister
Big Brother, Little Sister

a younger sibling, and my love for you only deepens when I see how much you have and that you give it freely. You will never know how much of a connection we really do have, and you will likely never know just how much I love you…and it will never change no matter what you may do. Thank you for always pushing me towards that unconditional love, whether you realize you are doing it or not.

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August 2014

To my youngest child and only daughter, Harrison:

I was not sure how I would be able to love you as much as the boys that I carried in my body, nurtured, and fed. When Mommy was pregnant with you, I often worried that you wouldn’t feel like “mine” because we don’t have a biological bond. But the moment that you arrived, in the middle of an operating room full of people, I was flooded with love at first sight.

Oct 24, 2011 - Best yawn EVER
Oct 24, 2011 – Best yawn EVER

A few minutes after you were cleaned up and wrapped up, you were placed in my arms and we were ushered into a room together to wait for the doctors to close up your Mommy and bring her in for recovery. We were alone for a short time, and I looked down at you, instantly falling in love with this baby girl that I never in a million years anticipated. And that love? That love is what filled every fiber of my being and told me that you are mine. Months later, after going through legal hoops, fingerprinting, and home visits from a social worker, we were finally standing in a courtroom in front of a judge, and that same first love came flooding back as you were legally declared what you had been since before birth: my daughter!

August 2012 - Adoption granted!
August 2012 – Adoption granted!

You have that same fireball spirit as Noah did (and still does), so the love that I developed for his non-stop energized personality has re-surfaced and brought some patience with it – for both of you. Your smile, your laugh, your singing, and your fascination for every thing around you can frustrate me, wear me the hell out, and love you to the point that it feels as if my heart might explode. When my baby girl says, “Mama? Pweeeeese?” it pretty much melts my heart and you end up getting whatever you want. Your arrival showed me that the special and amazing love between an adoptive parent and this amazing creature that was picked just for them by the universe is an awesome and wonderful gift. Thank you baby girl for letting me love you in this unique way…I will love you forever and always.
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Oct 2011 - First photo of all 3 siblings
Oct 2011 – First photo of all 3 siblings

So, see? While yes, I most certainly love all of my children deeply and passionately with all of my heart, it is impossible to love them all the same. Each child, in any family, brings their own

Mother's Day 2013...I could not ask for more
Mother’s Day 2013…I could not ask for more

unique attributes that require their own unique love. Accept it. Embrace it. Spread it! What you will find out, like I did, is that there is more than enough to go around!

 

Life is Good!

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (9/12/2012):

So what has been going on around Dodd-Hise Paradise since the adoption excitement three weeks ago?  Life as usual – never stopping and moving at breakneck speeds.  It is rare that we are just sitting around, without anything to do or anywhere to go.  Some days it drives me crazy to be so busy all of the time; other days I am totally comfortable in the ADHD world in which I live.

The end of August came and went, and Noah started back to school, beginning the 7th grade.  Last year was a struggle for most of the year, both socially AND academically for him.  We had all spent many a breath over the summer talking to him about chalking up 6th grade as a learning experience, but now it is time to get it together and take care of business.  His mornings now consist of tennis practice before school, advanced classes throughout the day, sectionals and/or band practice each day after school.  It is my deepest hope that all of these activities will be enough to fill his time and keep trouble at bay.  He still is adjusting to having to get up quite a bit earlier than before, and our mornings have been a bit rocky, to say the least.  He still doesn’t have the door back on his bedroom (from having it removed over the summer), and has very limited video game privileges.  Our main goal in life with Noah right now is to help him succeed in all that he is doing right now:  academics, tennis, and band.  For some families, we understand that these things come easy and there is rarely an issue with making sure that they’re done.  For other families with extraordinary children, it takes more creativity, structure, and observation.  Many outsiders look at us interact with Noah and say that we are too hard on him, or that we should cut him some slack, give him a break.  But they haven’t had to help get him out the door on time before school.  So I am currently reading some books to help us with re-direction, as well as working WITH him in those areas in which he struggles.  I am hoping that we can quickly implement some new strategies that will take some of the stress off of him, as well as us, and give us all some relaxed mornings.

1st Day of School – 7th Grade 2012

Harrison is now 10 ½ months old, if you can believe THAT!  Since the adoption, absolutely nothing has changed in her little world.  She still has her two mommies that love her beyond anything else that she has ever known, and the addition of the adoption papers meant nothing whatsoever to her.  For me, it means the world (obviously), and while nothing has changed in my heart or mind, it has taken the legal weight of the world OFF of my shoulders and given me the security that I needed to finally relax for my family.

Nicholas and Krystal Fay, as some of you may remember, are expecting a baby at the beginning of January.  She is about 23 weeks along, I believe, and it has taken me most of that time (since they told us at around five weeks) to get used to the idea of even being a grandmother.  For a while there, I couldn’t even bring myself to SAY the word – mainly because I felt way too young, not because I didn’t think I would love the little tot!  And besides, Erikka is going to be 37 when their baby is born – even younger!  But it is what it is, and I am okay with the fact that they love each other and seem to have a strong and secure marriage.  Yes, they are young.  But I told Nicholas that I was young when he was born, and that he just needs to get used to us older folks making comments about the fact that they are young – it’s true!  We found out in the last couple of weeks that the baby is a girl, and can’t wait to welcome Zoe Nora-Jayne into our family.  I hope that Harrison and Zoe become the best of friends from the beginning, and I know that Noah will be a fantastic uncle.  After talking to a new friend the other night at dinner, and discovering what HER grandkids call her, I decided to totally steal it and use it for Zoe.  I will be…YaYa!  Doesn’t sound grandmotherly, just like I wanted!  The process has already started in going through Harrison’s things and loading them up for the kids to take home for Zoe.

The Dodd-Hise Family all together for Nicholas’s 21st Birthday

Erikka and I are just cruising along, doing our thing like we do, and already anticipating Harrison’s first birthday at the end of October. It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed almost, but yet, it has.  We look at her and think of how much she has changed in ten short months – the time went too quickly!  Erikka is working all the time:  full-time as an attorney, and part-time teaching business law classes online.  I have several photo shoots scheduled at Noah’s school for various groups, as well as some family holiday shoots on the books already.  We are so blessed to have the opportunity for me to stay home with Harrison, and to work when I can.  And we are so thankful for all of these blessings that we share in this crazy life with our amazing kids (and soon-to-be grandkid).  Life is good!

I Adopted My Own Daughter

As seen on August 22, 2012 on TheNextFamily.com:

Three Weeks Ago:

I get the phone call that I had been waiting for, from my best friend and attorney, Kim.  She had finally gotten ahold of the ad litem attorney in San Antonio, and they were trying to pin down a date for court.  I had wanted to go on my birthday, August 6th, but it wasn’t feasible as they were still waiting for one last document from Austin.  So what about the 10th of August?  Kim thought it would be okay, but then upon examination of my dear wife’s work schedule, she said there was no way that she would be able to go on the 10th.  Since we were aiming at a Friday, in order for all of the attorneys involved (Kim and Erikka primarily) to only miss one day in the office, I then asked for the next Friday – August 17th.  It seemed to work for everyone, and all she had to do was get it confirmed with our ad litem attorney.  I awaited confirmation (impatiently, as usual) so that I could book rooms, reserve a rental vehicle, etc.  A few days later I got the text:  August 17, 2012 @ 11:15 A.M. in front of Judge Peter Sakai, 4th floor Bexar County Courthouse.  Hot damn we have a court date!  Finally – it’s REALLY going to happen!  I am finally going to adopt our baby girl – for real!

One Week Ago:

We had originally planned to travel to San Antonio the Thursday evening before court, and stay through the weekend as a mini-vacation for our family.  Turns out, however, that I would have a wedding to photograph on the 18th of August. (It had been a little up-in-the-air for a few weeks there and we thought that it might be postponed.)  So it was decided that we would go to San Antonio on Wednesday, take the kids to Sea World on Thursday, Erikka’s parents and Kim would all arrive Thursday afternoon/evening, court on Friday morning with lunch after to celebrate, and then travel home Friday afternoon so that I could be at the wedding Saturday evening.  Dear Lord if I had only known THEN how exhausting all of that was really going to be!

Wednesday, August 15th:

Our morning was, as most starts to trips can be, a bit chaotic.  Did you pack this?  Did we remember to put that in the car?  Do we have the baby’s bath seat?  We took the dog to my mom’s last night, right?  Extra food and water for the cats – check.  OK.  Let’s load up.  Noah, do you have your headphones, iPod, Kindle, and my laptop for watching movies?

Noah happily enjoying all of his travel amenities :)

Sheesh.  Do you remember how WE had to travel when we were kids?  A piece of duct tape down the middle of the back seat so that my brother couldn’t get on my side, no books for me because I got car sick, and we were stuck listening to whatever Mom and/or Dad was listening to on the radio.  Oh but there was always the alphabet game with billboards or license plates!  But most of our travel time was actually spent fighting, pushing, or trying to go to sleep to get through the boredom that my younger A.D.H.D. brain was raging against.  But I digress.  We get all loaded up and make our way through Dallas.  We get to Hillsboro, Texas (just North of Waco) when I have to stop and pee already.  Just before I stop I gasp as I realize that, HOLY CRAP, I forgot to pack the diapers.  ANY diapers.  Not a one.  Great.

Harrison giving me her scruntchy face when I said I had forgotten to pack diapers

Here I am, off on the trip of my life – to adopt my baby girl – and I forget to pack her diapers.  But at least I remembered to buckle in her carseat before I put her in it!  A quick stop in Waco at the Wal Mart, and we were back in business, with a full package of diapers in the back.  We made pitstops in Austin for lunch, and New Braunfels to visit the new Bucee’s roadside stop (like a couple of fanatical loons, I might add), until finally we were in San Antonio and checking in at our bed & breakfast.  After getting our stuff to our room and cleaning up a bit, we headed out for a wonderful dinner with our awesome friends, Jay and Christopher.  It was a great ending to our travel day, and we soon were back at the B&B and falling into bed with a very cranky baby girl.

Thursday, August 16th:



After a long night with very little sleep, thanks to our beautiful baby girl, we got up, had breakfast, and got ready for a day at Sea World.  We loaded up and took off, spending the day with both of our children having fun just being a family.  Harrison loved all of the Sesame Street characters that were out and about, and smiled and giggled every time she got near one.  We took her on her first carousel ride, and even Noah willingly rode, too.  I love that he will do things like that for and with his baby sister, and simply because he loves her so much.  She was so much fun to watch because she seemed absolutely amazed about everything – it was awesome!  By about 5 PM we were all pretty much worn out and ready to go, so we headed back to the B&B to meet Erikka’s parents, who had arrived earlier in the afternoon.  We all went to dinner before coming back and passing out again, eagerly anticipating court in the morning.

Friday, August 17th:

I was awake before the alarm went off – which almost NEVER happens.  It was finally here!  This was the day that I had waited almost ten months for – the day that our baby girl would legally be mine.  I was finally going to be recognized, under the law, as her mother…just like Erikka.  Soon, everyone was up, including Kim and Erikka’s parents.  We had breakfast and began getting ready for pictures, as I had hired a photographer to come and take some family photos, as well as to take photos during the proceedings at court.  Photos were taken outside of the B&B, and soon we were on our way to the courthouse, which was about two blocks away.

I was nervous, although I’m not sure why – I guess because I had never anticipated that the judge might say “no.”  While we waited for our court appointment, we all sat outside of the courtroom on old, wooden benches, where Kim prepped me for how things would go, and we finally all got to meet Harrison’s attorney (the ad litem).  I had, in my mind, of how the courtroom would look and that it would be filled with other people awaiting their turn (like when Noah’s dad adopted Nicholas), so I was shocked when we were ushered inside to a small courtroom that was completely empty.  It was just going to be our family, our attorneys, and the judge.  Wow!  Harrison had fallen asleep while waiting in the hallway, so I was starting to get her out of the stroller when the judge came in.  It was weird because I’m not sure how many of us noticed him come in, until I said, “Oh hey there’s the judge!”  We were all invited to come up to the front of the courtroom, in front of the judge – Us, Noah, Erikka’s parents – we were all invited to join in!  The photographer moved about however she wanted, which was awesome!  The judge wanted to know who everyone was, and we all went around and gave our names.  Kim then introduced me as the adoptive parent, and established for the judge my relationship with Harrison; then she did the same with Erikka.  She had laid out a plan of questions for me, Erikka, and even Noah, but before she was able to carry them out, the judge kind of took over.  He asked me if I knew that it was irreversible, with “no exchanges, returns, or refunds,” and asked us both to promise to raise her in a loving home, educate her, and help her grow into an honest and upstanding citizen.  We promised that we would, and before any of us knew it, he had granted the adoption and it was over!  Just like that!  I think the whole process took five minutes!

 

She is finally legally my daughter.  While everyone who knows us knows that Harrison is my little girl, now I finally have the letter of the law declaring that she is such, and no one can ever take her away from me.  We walked out of the courthouse knowing that the security of our family was finally in place, and there is no longer a fear hanging over my head.  It is such a huge burden taken off of my shoulders, and while it was a pain to have to go down this road, I can say that in the end it was totally and completely worth every bit of it to give me the peace of mind that I now have.  It was a day that changed my life forever.

Now We Wait

As seen this week on TheNextFamily.com (6/20/2012):

Fingerprinting was the step that I took to kick off our adoption process.  My next step, which I did the day after my trip to the police station, was to meet with my attorney (aka, BFF Kim).  I had filled out the Adoption Intake Form, which I have blogged about previously, to take to her, along with a copy of our marriage license and a copy of Harrison’s birth certificate.

We went over what else needed to be done, and I wrote the first check to her for the first phase.

Once we were past the initial paperwork and the fingerprinting (which I turned over to her), my next step was to get ahold of the social worker that Kim had for us to use for our home study.  In the very beginning, when we first started talking and planning for the adoption, I had wanted Kim to petition the court to waive the home study, given that I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I had to do it in order to adopt my own child.  Unfortunately, after speaking with some advising attorneys, she didn’t feel that it was worth it to even attempt a waiver of the home study – after all, we DO live in conservative Texas.  With every step I want to stomp my feet and rebel against the system, or go to the state capital building in Austin and scream at Rick Perry while throwing tomatoes at the beautiful, domed rotunda.  However, I won’t, since I would rather be granted this adoption instead of spending time behind bars…haha.

I was soon put into contact with the woman who would either become my new best friend, or who could possibly decide my fate in a less-than-positive way.  My experience (which has been one time) with a social worker was several years ago, when Noah’s father was doing a step-parent adoption of Nicholas.  That home study, with a social worker chosen from a list, was very nerve wracking for me.  Hours of tense questions and answers, delving deep into our pasts – and he was MY kid!  I wasn’t even the one adopting him!  So when I knew that I would have to have a home study for Harrison’s adoption, all I could think about was how stressful the last one was.  I spoke with her on the phone to schedule the visit, and she was very warm and laid back, telling me that she preferred to have two visits in order to cover everything that she needed to for a complete report.  We scheduled it for a Monday, and I spent the days leading up to it tidying the house of clutter and cleaning what I could, without making it look TOO polished and unlived in.  When she arrived, I was instantly put at ease by her capri pants and flip flops, along with her reassuring smile and personality.  She took a quick tour of the house, not very in depth at all (which made me VERY happy), then we sat down in the den for almost three hours and talked, just she and I.  She asked me questions about my marital history (now THAT was fun to explain), my history with Erikka, and about my relationships with both Noah and Harrison.  She didn’t ask very many questions about Nicholas; I’m sure mainly because he is off and married now.  It was very relaxing, and I felt like I was sitting and chatting with a new friend.  When it came time for her to go, I called Erikka and we scheduled the second visit – for the next day.  No time like the present, right?

Our wonderful social worker, Anne, with Harrison & I on her second visit :)

So she returned the next afternoon, where she visited with Erikka for a bit, and then the two of us together.  It was a wonderful experience, with no negatives whatsoever.  Within two days, she emailed me her report and asked me to look over it before she sent it over to Kim for submission to the court.  I couldn’t believe that the process was going this quickly!  This could soon be a reality, one that is signed, sealed, and delivered in court!  Our adoption process for Bud to adopt Nicholas took from August until December the year that we did it; this might very well all be done within a month or six weeks.  I am simply amazed that it has gone this smoothly – and pray that it continues to do so.

Tomorrow I meet with Kim again to hand over a few more documents that we had to sign and have notarized.  She found out at the end of last week that we will have to also hire an ad litem attorney in San Antonio – an attorney who will represent Harrison (also another ridiculous, but required, expense).  I will cut a check to Kim for this attorney’s fees tomorrow, and then I believe that we will be done with all of the steps, aside from traveling to Bexar county to attend a hearing in court.  She will send off my fingerprints to the DPS in Austin, and then all we have to do is wait for my criminal history report to be submitted to the court, as well as back to Kim.  That’s it.  Now we wait.  I’m not very good at waiting…