Camping

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Y’all, I am pretty sure I still have a Thanksgiving hangover! Not because I ate too much food but because I had too much fun and didn’t get any blogging done. But I am getting after it this week. As a side note, in case I didn’t tell you all I am also writing some articles for an adoption website. I will make sure to share those with you all when they become public, but that means these little fingers are just a typing all the time!!  But I couldn’t wait any longer to share with you this post.

I don’t remember how it got brought up, if Heather asked or if her mom asked, but shortly after Jamie’s baby shower, we got invited to go camping with Heather and her family. Eeek!! I was so excited. I love camping.  I grew up camping. JJ and I camped together with my family as teenagers and we still do!!  We took Jackson camping last year to New York. We usually camp at least once a year with my parents. Now, I do have to admit I use to be able to tent camp. But this old body of mine cannot handle sleeping on an air mattress anymore (I somehow always ended up sleeping on the ground because the air mattress would have gotten a hole in it!)  I see a chiropractor once a week already, I don’t need any more ways to help him pay for his Tesla! With that being said though, we said YES, we would love to go camping with Heather. And the best part, they had cabins we could rent!

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I didn’t know what to expect or exactly how this would all look but I was looking forward to the kids spending time together and selfishly I was looking forward to spending time with Heather.  We decided we would go up after work on Friday and leave Sunday morning. That means three days with Heather and the kids! And not just Heather and the kids, but her mom, and her sister and her sister’s family. And we were lucky enough that her dad and grandparents stopped out on Saturday too!

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For some reason I am having a hard time coming up with just the right words to describe just how magical it was to be there with them all weekend long. This is when Heather first told me about how hard her year had been. We were able to sit by the pool while the kids swam (Jackson slept on my lap pretty much the whole time!) but we were just able to talk. Which was the first time in a very long time we were able to do that. This was also when I told Heather about the blog idea. I didn’t want to just start the blog and broadcast our life adventures together without her blessing. And thank goodness she thought it was a good idea. It has become a game changer for the both of us and I am so incredibly glad she has been willing to share with you all too as we navigate this open adoption together.

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The kids played their little hearts out. They swam in the pool and in the lake. They fished. They played mini golf. They jumped on the bounce houses. They held hands. They played on the playground equipment. They rode the rides. They fed the goats. They woke up to the rooster crowing. It was your typical camping trip, other than we were anything from typical. Can you just picture it. Adoptive family and birth family all sitting around the table together. It may not be typical for the rest of the world and not your typical family setting but to us it’s typically perfect!

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One thing did happen that I just wasn’t quite prepared for.  Jackson kept asking where his friends went, if the kids (Heather’s older kids) weren’t around. And at one point Marvel said to Jackson “I am not your friend, I am your half-brother.”  Oh Lord, I wasn’t prepared for that. We have talked to Jackson about being adopted but he is three, he has no idea what that even means.  He will argue with you that he isn’t adopted one minute and say that he is adopted the next. He just doesn’t understand what that means, even though we talk about it often. But Heather’s kids are older, they have been talked to about it and they understand more.  But at the same time, they are his friends and I want them to be his friends just as I want Heather to be my friend. Boy will we have some teaching to do in the future, but until then, we loved spending time with our friends!!!

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2 thoughts on “Camping

  1. My mom completely arranged every single detail of our camping trip, and I am so grateful she did. I couldn’t believe she thought of the idea to invite you, and that you accepted! Not because I didn’t want to go camping with all of us together, I just couldn’t believe we all were going to be hanging out, camping for three days!! (Like – wow, this is really happening?!?!)
    I didn’t know what to expect, either. I was excited, and I was a little nervous, because during this time, I was emotionally at my worst, and I didn’t want it to show.

    Seeing all of the kids together, enjoying themselves, and seeing everyone together made me so happy! A happiness I hadn’t felt in so long, and I was definitely enjoying myself!
    It was also nice to get the opportunity to sit down with you and tell you what I have been going through. I was so scared to tell you the truth about my life, but I am so glad I did. You in return started to open up about what was going on in your life – the struggles and also the blessings. When you brought up the idea of starting a blog, I thought it was a beautiful idea, and appreciated you asking me how I felt about it first.

    It’s awesome how we overcome the stereotypical thoughts about adoption. If you think about it, we’ve been doing it since the beginning. Since before the moment you held up my leg while I delivered your child. None of us knew what open adoption was going to ultimately be like, and all the necessary teachings that come along with it. Especially because there’s more than one child affected in our openness. I always want to do the right things, say the right things, and handle everything “correctly” for Jackson and for my children.

    My oldest son, Marvell, took on this understanding of what adoption is, since Jackson was inside me. He was persistent in wanting to understand – he really used to ask me question after question after question. I think it is beautiful that he has this understanding, and how much he cares about Jackson and views him as his brother. I remember one night, Marvell was holding his baby brother, Michael, reading to him.. & I was telling Marvell that I could NEVER have asked for better sons, and how much I loved everything about the both of them. His first response – don’t forget about Jackson, Mom!! Of course, I could never forget about Jackson. Then I felt I had to carefully explain how yes, Jackson is my biological son meaning he came from my tummy, but he wasn’t given to me by God to be his parent and raise him up in this world. It wasn’t until months after this camping trip that I heard Marvell say the words to Jackson, “I’m your brother”… It definitely caught me off guard, I remember looking at JJ with wide eyes, just thinking, “what do we do or say?”.. Like, I literally at times have no idea what I am doing in this open adoption! I want to allow Marvell to express his love and happiness to Jackson that they biologically came from the same place, but at the same time, I wanted to protect Jackson from that precious knowledge that Marvell has, since he doesn’t yet understand it. Also, I don’t feel like it is my right to have conversations with Jackson about adoption, unless it is completely led by his parents. There are definitely boundaries when you are a birth parent (I believe), and I would never cross those boundaries. & that’s not a hard thing for me to do, because I respect and love Jackson and his parents way too much to ever cross that line.
    Well, of course, Marvell doesn’t understand all of that. I had another talk with Marvell since then, letting him know that he is the ONLY one who has the understanding of what adoption really is. So, it’s best not to come out and say those types of things to Jackson because we don’t want to confuse him. I told him that there will be an opportunity later on in life to talk about those things once Jackson is ready, and his parents have prepared him. & I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten Marvell to understand.

    I remember while camping, just sitting back so many times and feeling so thankful. For Life in general, for MY life, for my family and friends surrounding me. For the trees, water, fresh air. For the smiles on everyone’s faces. During our camping trip, I remember a moment so vividly, that completely blew me away. My kids ran over to the children’s area to play on different things. I was going to walk around the pond to go supervise the kids, and see how they were doing. Jackson said he wanted to go over there, too. JJ asked Jackson if he wanted to go with me, and he said yes and ran over to me, ready to hold my hand. As he took my hand, I realized that was the first time it was just me and him since I held him on my chest in the hospital as a newborn. I can’t even explain to you the joy, love, thankfulness, and amazement I was feeling for having the chance to even be in that moment. It’s not even about me, but WOW!!!! I never imagined myself walking with Jackson in the grass holding his hand. As we were walking, I asked him if he was having fun. He strongly said, “Oh, yeah!” with a huge smile on his face.. He reminded me of his mom so much! I could just picture her saying that and using the same facial expressions as he did.. I told him I’m so glad he was having fun. Then he started talking about the grass and how it looked like different things. He mentioned a turtle and a mushroom and different things, then would crack up at his own jokes. I was just listening to him, laughing at his silliness, admiring him. Then he stopped talking, looked up at me, and said, “I love you!”….. OH. MY. GOODNESS… I was totally not ready for that! Did that just happen? Jackson just told me he loved me? My heart was just melting as I said, “I love you too Jackson!” as it took everything inside me to hold back tears, because I didn’t want him to think I was an absolute weirdo!!

    I am so happy to have had the opportunity to know what open adoption feels like. If you’re reading this – I just want to say THANK YOU MOM! For organizing and planning out this camping trip. It was a wonderful experience. I feel like I came out a different woman – that’s how awesome it was for me! I look forward to things like this in the future – be able to continue to hang out and see how God continues to mold the bond we share in this open adoption!

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  2. Pingback: Camping–From Heather. | Three Is My Happy Place

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