One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to share in the hard times, the good times, the fun times, and simply just the joys of raising Jackson, who we just happen to be raising in an open adoption. But there would not be the three of us, without the two of us. So I would like to take a little time to brag about my husband. Also, if this post sounds different than my previous posts or has any spelling and/or grammatical errors, it is because my editor (my husband) did not read or correct this one for me. I did it behind his back!!!
In fact, 17 years ago today I said I would exclusively date JJ. What the heck did I know about dating at the young age of 15? Who knows. If you were to ask my mom she would tell you the moment she met JJ she knew I was going to marry him. And if I am honest with all of you I didn’t know I was going to marry him even after I said yes when he proposed. Marriage doesn’t exactly have a good reputation or long standing in my family. In fact, I was frightened to get married. That once I got married it would fall apart and I would lose JJ forever. But I couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
In fact, I was talking to my intern the other day (who is done for the summer, ugh, bummer!) about my college and career path. As I was telling her that I went to University of Wisconsin-Baraboo, because JJ did. I worked at the bank, because JJ did, etc. I realized I have followed in his footsteps ever since I was a teenager. And I am ok with that. Not because I think my career, my passions or dreams are any less greater than JJ’s but simply because I would follow him anywhere he led me. Jesus talks about how a man should love his wife as Christ loves the church. I have never in my life felt any less love from JJ, in fact, I have probably felt more love from him with each passing year. And that is why I would follow him, because he first loved me. I would follow him until the ends of the earth if I had to, simply just to be with him.
We took an uphill/downhill course to get where we are today. In those 17 years we have graduated high school, went to college (one of us three times!), got married, struggled with infertility, bought our first house, sold our first house, moved away from home, lost our first dog, lost a dear friend, switched careers (one of us three times!), got baptized together, found a new church home, left that same church, found another church, bought and sold another house, had our first baby, grew closer together, grew closer to God, grew as a family and through it all we held on to each other.
I simply cannot imagine raising our son or being married to anyone else. As clique as it sounds, I love him because he completes me. We are so incredibly different, it is sort of funny. He is usually the sound reasoner behind all of my crazy ideas. He is patient, very patient, with me and Jackson. He is quiet to most- but not to me which makes me feel special. He makes me laugh. Because he is so quiet most think he is not very funny. But to me he is incredibly funny, like make me laugh so hard I cry funny. He has an incredible work ethic, which has been proven to come in the way of his family time here and again but he corrects it when it gets out of hand. He has a love for the Lord, which I admire most about him. He strives every day to be like his father, a legacy to a lot of people. He fights for what he believes in. He is passionate about our finances, which of course I love (he is also starting a blog about this!!!). He cares about his students but not only his students but students all over the state/country. He is smart, really smart. In fact I have told him last year, and didn’t mean it offensively, I didn’t know you were that smart!! He provides for Jackson in every aspect of life, financially, emotionally, etc. I simply love him.
I have struggled with many things in my life but loving JJ has never been one of them.
If you haven’t seen Heather’s comment about how she felt the day her rights to Jackson were terminated, I have posted it below. And let me tell you, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard to sit through either.
This is very personal to share, but it’s raw truth.
Terminating my parental rights was extremely emotional. If you’ve been reading through these blogs & comments, you know that I knew Jackson was Jessica & JJ’s all along. PERIOD…. So, “legally” signing over my parental rights over to them wasn’t going to be a huge problem for me, because they were always his parents (in my eyes).
I DIDN’T IMAGINE IT BEING THAT HARD, THOUGH…
I am the type of person who was trained (by life) to always prepare for the worst, no matter what. Because the worst DOES happen, and it hits you like FIRE when you are not prepared! & that FIRE can do immense amount of damage.
I HAD TO PREPARE FOR THE WORST in this situation.
I had to sit down, and prepare myself for the emotions that came with “what if”…
“what if” JJ & Jessica haven’t been genuine this whole entire time?
“what if” they were faking their love just to make sure I signed my rights over?
“what if” once I sign over my rights, they just disappear.
“what if” I never see Jackson again?
“what if” his parents feel it’s best Jackson doesn’t know who I am at all?
That was THE WORST..
Even though, on this day, little baby Jackson showed up to the courtroom with a onesie which read “I my birth mom”….Even though, deep down, I knew that the “what ifs” were nothing to truly worry about because I just knew the worst wouldn’t happen.. No, not this time!
But, I prepared myself for the worst, anyways.. I had to make myself be comfortable with the thought of Jackson and his parents disappearing and just having faith that one day he might find me if he wanted to.
My only hope was that he knew how much I loved him, no matter where he was. That his birth mom, Heather, loved him. SO MUCH, and always will..
So when the judge kept repeatedly bringing up my worst fear over and over and over again, it was like being stabbed a little tiny bit in the heart but I was ready for it. I prepared myself for the “WHAT IFS”….
It’s hard when you put yourself in a position where you are forced under the spotlight. Privacy completely goes out the window, & in order to succeed, you must stay strong.
The feeling of being judged was the worst part of that experience…
Sitting up on that stand, being asked question after question after question after question!
Trying my hardest to hold back my emotions.
Sharing very personal details about a time in my life I was not very proud of.
That lifestyle kept flashing through my mind as I was sitting there on that stand, with all eyes on me.
Every night, drinking until I couldn’t think or feel anymore.
Drinking, drinking, drinking the pain away.
Drinking, because it was fun.
Drinking until all morality went out the window.
Having casual sex with someone I didn’t even know…
Drowning in depression… Just SO lost in this world…
It all led me to that place, to that moment, on that stand…
& all of that was just swarming my brain all at once.
I’ve been judged all my life.
By people who don’t even know me at all. & they didn’t care to, but they always had an opinion.
By family who obviously know who I am but don’t have the slightest idea of anything beneath the surface.
By “friends” who aren’t really my friends, yet people who just like to talk about me..
Mostly, I’ve been judged by people who NEVER took an opportunity to TRY to understand me or get to know me, for who I AM.
All they saw were my shortcomings. Constantly.
On that stand, in that courtroom, I was shaking at the thought of people judging me (again), and when I went home it made me so angry that I allowed the judgment of others to affect me THAT MUCH.
It was an eye opener! A blessing in disguise.
I used to take judgments so personally, but after that day on that stand, I no longer let the judgments of others get to me like how I used to.
Now, the only judgments I allow to truly “get to me” are my OWN or from people who I know truly LOVE me unconditionally.
I do want to say that I am extremely happy that Jessica and JJ were there when I terminated my parental rights. For 1, I got to see them again with baby Jackson. 2, I definitely felt less alone with them being there. 3, the vision of them right in front of me during the proceedings gave me a constant reminder of WHY I was doing what I was doing..
& 4 – Being there altogether meant a lot to me. Ultimately, it’s all about Jackson & it’s all about him having the best life possible.
Sticking together for him through all the hard times, the good times, the sad times, the fun times. It’s all about him, and building that relationship together for Jackson is just amazing because he needs that.
Just as a side note, the “what ifs” Heather mentions above, never, ever crossed our minds. We may not know what this open adoption will look like forever, but what we do know is that we will do our very best to do what is best for Jackson and right now, we believe having an open adoption with Heather and her family is what is best for Jackson.
For those who don’t know a lot about open adoption or adoption in general. I urge you to do your research. Look into adoption agencies. Talk to people. Ask questions. Ask me if you want to, but part of the process is terminating the parental rights of the biological parents of the child. From an adoptive parent perspective this was probably one of the hardest things I sat through during this adoption process. Read More
Before I continue sharing about the days, weeks, months and even years after Jackson was born. I want to share a little bit about how we chose open adoption. For those of you who don’t know, I work for a family law attorney. I have worked in this field of law for almost 10 years. There is nothing glamorous about people getting a divorce, fighting over their children, or even fighting over the bushes in the front lawn (true story). But both of the lawyers I have worked for when asked why they chose family law have said, I didn’t chose it, it chose me. I feel the very same way about open adoption. In fact, when we were told that our adoption agency, the same one everyone in our family had used, only did open adoptions, I sort of had a panic moment. I didn’t want that. I wanted a baby, period the end of it. I didn’t want the drama of dealing with another person in my life or I had heard many stories at this point in time, about the birth moms being too involved or too particular about what they wanted, and I wanted no part of it. Then I was nicely reminded that it wasn’t about me, it would be about what is best for our child and the best thing for our child is to know that he/she was loved by his adoptive parents and his biological parents. And then Heather chose us. Read More
I love that picture just as much as Heather does. In fact, we had it printed in a 10 x 13 and framed in Jackson’s room. Those 3 days are some what unexplainable. I have done my best to try to put it into words but there are some things you just cannot find the right words for. I don’t think any of us expected it to be this way. I also don’t think it all quite sank in until months and months later, just how beautiful those moments with Heather were. But getting ready to go home was an emotional roller coaster on many levels. I was overly excited to be a mom and even more excited to be Jackson’s mom. But there was and probably always will be a part of me that is wondering how Heather is feeling about it all. Read More
We are returning to the days we spent in the hospital after Jackson was born. We were at the hospital for 2 nights and 3 days. Heather’s comments are in italics. Most of these were sent to us in a letter from Heather 12 days after Jackson was born. Heather has given me permission to use them and has also been adding her comments and thoughts along the way. Make sure to check them out! Read More