By: Chris Coyne
The days are flying by lately. A couple of months ago it seemed like time was not moving at all. This week our little boy CJ turned two years old. It is a magic time with our little man. He has begun speaking in micro sentences. He tells us he is happy and gives us more kisses these days. Before he would give us a kiss if we begged for it but now they come unprompted. It’s wonderful.
We were 33 weeks pregnant Friday. Some of our anxiety has let up about some issues associated with the adoption and some of those fears are getting stronger. I am trying to stay positive and be upbeat but I cannot control my inner thoughts from coming out of me these days. Blogging about most of this is impossible. Some of the stuff I do not want to share. Some of it is so personal. Most of it is just a huge pain in the ass. Adoption is hard. I am all wrapped up in someone else’s life that I really do not know that well. I can say we have been through so much in the last couple months but that is between her and me.
I have been going through all the clothes we have for our little girl. Our amazing sister-in-law gave me lots of pink frilly things to use. Most of it is confusing. Little tiny bloomers, bonnets, and tights that make my head spin. Boy clothes are easier than girl clothes. I cannot figure out where to put what and I wonder how much of it I will need. I picked out baby girl’s crib online. It is sitting in my digital shopping cart until our birthmother has signed everything and we know she will be ours. We made the mistake once of putting together cribs and car seats before we knew it was all done. It was too hard to return them so we just donated them to Out of the Closet. We survived the failed adoption and we learned from it! We will be ready but not stupid. I have the car seat, a bassinet, and some clothes. The rest is provided by the doctor. We know we can grab everything else in a few moments.
We purchased everyone’s plane tickets to Los Angeles. We rented a small apartment close to where we used to live. I am so excited to be in our old neighborhood. We wonder if returning to Los Angeles will make us home sick for Maryland or if we will want to stay in California.
I have been surprised by how comfortable we are in Maryland. We get an occasional glance here and there but in many ways we feel more at home as a family here. Los Angeles is a great place to live but the parks and schools are so much better here than LA. We see so many children one has to admit it is much more family-friendly than LA. Every weekend we take one day to explore DC. We take the train to the National Mall and walk around until we find a museum that CJ can run around in and explore. I know he will enjoy living here. On top of all that, we live in the best neighborhood. People love having a gay couple raising kids as their neighbors. I like to think they are raising their kids to accept diversity and to learn from people that might be a little different from themselves. That way they can look themselves in the mirror.
Today I started getting some of the things I think I will need for our little girl. I actually forgot to get CJ a blanket of all things. Today I got a new mattress for a little girl’s bassinet. We decided to just do a bassinet for her for the first few months. I know we will end up getting a baby swing and a few other things that make life easier but not until she is born and ours.
Somedays I feel like a crazy man. I seem to live in this bipolar world. Things seem to be going very well until I get a call or text that sends me off the deep end. Adoption is an emotional mind jab. In some ways it is a lot like parenting. I worry about the outcome. I stress about the details. I wonder if I can handle one more hurdle. I know we can because the big picture looks great. I know we will get a sweet little baby out of it. We will remain the hard working parents we are. Our love has grown leaps. Our little boy has taught us so much about unconditional love. We understand what we signed up for but nothing can prepare you for this. We have read all the books, we were fortunate to talk to so many people that have survived adoption. We know the end is what it’s all about. Our lives are about to spin out of control and my mind started the spin long ago.
I love to sleep. I was so excited when CJ started sleeping through the night. I recall waking up in a panic for the first few days but that passed as I slept more and more. The last few days I have been waking up every few hours. I keep hearing things that wake me up. The heater clicks on and I open my eyes. Jon rolls over and I get up because I have to pee. CJ talks in his sleep and I am at his door listening to what he has to say. Once I am awake my mind starts to wonder. I start thinking about what I need to accomplish the next day or what I did not do the day before. I keep a running list on my phone of what I need to do. I love scratching stuff off the list but so much has not even made it to the list. We are about six weeks from D-day. I hope my sleepless nights are getting me ready for our newborn. Pregnancy prepares a mother for the arrival of a baby. Adoption only brings stress.
By: Chris Coyne
Most people do not know the true definition of open adoption. I had preconceived ideas of what open adoption was, but after having read a few books, experienced a failed adoption, gone through three adoption home studies, and achieved a successful birth and placement, the meaning is set in my mind.
In the traditional closed adoption system, adoptive parents are kept anonymous. All involved parties’ names and addresses are kept confidential. Very little information is given about birth parents and no information is passed about the adoptive parents. Children are raised not knowing much about their birth parents. They are raised in the dark. What they do not know their overactive imaginations fill in.
Most people think open adoption is about contact post-placement or after the adoption takes place. With an open adoption, adoptive parents know the birth parents’ identity. In CJ’s case we had the amazing opportunity to talk with his birthmother for a few months before his birth. When she moved to California we hung out and toured around Hollywood and went to the beach. We played an active role in CJ’s birth. I was his birthmother’s coach and Jon was holding her legs up when CJ came into this world. It was amazing.
We did not maintain much contact after CJ’s birthmother went back home and returned to her life. A huge bond was created in the time before his birth and at his birth; after, she expressed breast milk and hung out a few times before she headed home and we never spoke to her again. We set up a MySpace to post pics and share CJ’s progress but she does not post much and who knows if she looks at it.
We are moving closer and closer to the birth of our second child. Last weekend we flew out to Ohio together as a family to meet the mother of our little girl. We picked her up at her apartment after an hour and a half flight preceded by a two-hour wait at the airport and two hours in the car. We were pretty nervous about little CJ. He had been strapped into a car seat or an airplane seat all day, but he did really well. We were nervous wrecks, but he was awesome!
We made an appointment at a 3D-4D ultrasound place 30 mins from our birthmother’s place. Poor CJ. By the time we reached the ultrasound spa we thought he would be bouncing out of his skin but he was fine. He watched the large television screen and repeated “baby” but we know he did not get it. We all watched the screen and the image confirmed we are expecting a girl. We saw her little face and her arms and fingers and at one point it looked like she was giving us the finger.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and again CJ shocked us when he put on his perfect angel face. He smiled and talked to all of us like this was the best day he ever had. We knew we would be tempting fate if we did not go to a place where he could run and play and be CJ. We ended up in the craziest place in the world…A Super Walmart! It was packed and he loved it.
After a bit we were back in the car. We dropped our birthmother off at her place and I carried up her groceries and she showed off her small apartment. We all hugged and it was over ver before we knew it. We had been in this exact situation three times. The first time did not end well. The second ended with Cj birth and who knows what will happen with the third time? Nothing is settled until it is all done. We know what we have been through and where we are with this situation. This is a different girl, from a different town but we can not help comparing this to our past.
After a failed adoption, adoptive parents ask themselves repeatedly “what would I do differently?” I have never been able to answer that question. I know every request has to be answered. Our attorney should take care of most of this but Jon and I live on the east coast. Our birthmother is in the same time zone and it’s hard to have an attorney in pacific time zone. Sometimes it feels crazy that he starts his day when we are having lunch and getting ready for our afternoon naps! That is when the calls start from our birthmother that she needs this or that or she needs help navigating this or that or she needs someone to talk to about this or that. Sometimes the requests will not be taken care of unless I make a phone call.
Today we are nearing the end of our 29th week. We have around eleven short weeks to prepare for our new arrival. The big questions are still hanging over our heads. We know that everything we are going through will be worth the effort. We know that we have each other to love and support. We have our amazing family and extended family to help us along the way. What if she decides to parent? What if something goes wrong? What if? Eleven more weeks and we will know!
By: Chris Coyne
Modern family, Mommy, babies,
When you hear the term “modern family” I am sure it evokes so many images. First of all I think of The Next Family website. However, most people will think of the ABC show The Modern Family. We love it. It is so funny it hurts. My face aches when it is over. My sister-in-law texts me when it’s on so we can laugh together over funny parts that sometimes mirror our lives. According to Aristotle, art imitates life. This is so true in this case.
The ongoing conversation in our extended family revolves around the gay couple. One is a gay man vying for his macho father’s acceptance and one channels his mother’s persona, mimicking the quintessential flamboyant gay man. Some story lines parallel our lives to the point of a bit creepy. It’s like they have a spy recording moments of our life.
There was an episode last year where Lily, the adopted Vietnamese baby repeatedly says “momma”. At this point we were in conversations on how to deal with this if it happened. I joked saying he could just call me momma because I was the stay-at-home dad and let’s face it: I do all the day-to-day mom duties in CJ’s life. I was not prepaired for the reality.
Two weeks ago CJ learned the word “mommy” at the park. He saw a little girl walk up to her mommy and put her arms up, repeating “mommy”. The mother picked her up and hugged her. Of course CJ started yelling mommy right away and jestered to have me pick him up. So mommy means “up”. It also means, I have learned since, “no let me do it.” Our amazing nanny says it means “doma” which means “give me” but I think she might be trying to protect our feelings. My mom friend always chuckles when he belts out mommy. Now when I am at the park and he screams mommy I look all around with a confused look, to signal that I am looking for for CJ’s lost mommy. Most moms at the park look at me a bit confused. I have even seen them asking each other if CJ had a mom because I sure look the part.
A couple of episodes back the awesome gay couple announced they were starting another adoption. As you have read we are in the middle of adopting an unborn baby girl. So we will all have one boy and one girl.
The heavier of the two, who is also more flamboyant, is so freaking funny. The family game previously mentioned makes me Cam –afterall, I am the arty stay-at-home dad who listens to show tunes. Jon is more like the uptight successful professional who uses big words that most of us have to look up.
I am so glad our children are growing up in a world where more positive gay role models are the feature of shows like The Modern Family. I do not know if these characters help the greater cause. I hope one day one’s sexuality will not just be used as the butt of a great joke. I know the humor helps ease the stress of everyday living as a gay man. It forces us to be a bit less concerned with what our outer persona emulates. I am proud of who I am and I hope my children will not be bullied because they have two loving dads.
By: Chris Coyne
Firetrucks, elephants and baseball games are Cj’s favorite things. I have jumped head first into this whole parenting thing and I love it. I had four younger brothers and sisters and a million nieces and nephews (not really, I lost count) so I totally thought I knew all there was to know about raising children. It is not with its hard moments. A happy moment sitting at home can be turned into a moment of terror with a trip to the ER. A quick walk to the park can result in my losing patience with my toddler that has found interest in a dangerous sharp stick. A nature hike can be more of a nature downpour of blood wrenching shrieks coming from our very active almost two-year-old toddler.
Last week Jon and I went out for a nice dinner with some of his coworkers who came to DC just for our night out. In the cab on the way to the very posh restaurant I spotted something flashing in the corner of my eye. Once I knew what it was I shouted “fire truck!” This is my favorite game with Cj. He loves the huge noisy trucks and let’s face it; I love firemen! Jon looked at me and said he loved me. He knows that I look at the world differently now that we have Cj. He sees the love I have for this little loving person we are lucky to call our son. It is amazing seeing the world through Cj’s big brown eyes but I have to admit, I needed a night out. A very long four-course dinner and a few great bottles of wine later we were back in the car and headed home again. Cj is the only subject I could discuss.
I feel really bad for Cj sometimes. Every aspect of toddler life is filled with some battle with his inability to communicate with his sometimes confused fathers. I was under the impression every kicking and screaming fit could be easily appeased by a loving hug and a better choice of words. The truth is the only way to end a fit is to ignore it. The problem is when I am laying out the choices I do not recognize the signs in time and Cj gets frustrated and I end up having to haul him back home kicking and screaming to end his tantrum while dragging his bike home by the handles and it ends up being quite the work out. So it is a win-win.
In four months we will be welcoming a new member into our family. She will be tiny. She will be amazing. She will change us all. I worry about CJ adjusting to sharing his time with a new helpless newborn baby girl. I wonder if he will accept her right away or if he will help out with his new sister. I had so many siblings but I recall when the younger came I was no longer my mom’s baby and that just sucked. Cj will always be our first born and he will always have the endless love we have for him. He is amazing. He will shine as a big brother. His light is bright.
Jon is the best dad. He gets home from work and wrestles with Cj, reads to him, colors with him and helps feed him his dinner. We get lots of hugs and kisses in payment now that he knows we need it as much as he does. Cj sings his songs of snowmen, firetrucks, and ice crean every night and it always impresses me. A few months ago we had to re-sleep train him. We found ourselves regressing to rocking him until he fell into a deep sleep only to wake as we put him into his crib. After a few very hard long nights when Jon was away on a work trip he was again sleep trained. Jon and I do not disagree on many things until now. He did not see the reasoning behind sleep training until one night he came to bed at eleven pm because Cj kept on waking up. I told him I was going to sleep train Cj while he was gone.
It was easier than I thought. I did not cut out all the rocking. I just shortened it. He gets his bath, dressed for bed, drinks his milk, reads two books, rocks for ten minutes. After the rocking I give him a kiss, lay him in his bed, and zip up his crib tent. He cried like hell the first night. The next night it was a bit less. The third night he was easy to lay down. By the time Jon returned from a four-day trip Cj was sleep trained….or was he? The test would be to see if he wanted Jon to rock him to sleep. The night he returned home Jon went through his same ritual. When he went to rock Cj to sleep Cj kissed Jon on the forhead and told him “crib”. Normally I would go through this whole I told you so thing. When Jon came to bed he thanked me for being a great daddy. I just smiled at him and told him thanks for noticing.
By: Chris Coyne
October 19 2011, afternoon
Last night I received a call from our amazing attorney in California. “Chris, this is your stork calling.” I knew his voice and I knew why he was calling. A birthmother had chosen us. I know very few details at this point but I am super excited. It took us years to have a successful adoption. It looks like it will only take a few months to have another.
Our profile stood out again. We look extremely happy and CJ looks like he is insanely happy. There are questions looming and out minds are running on overdrive. We hope and pray we are what she is looking for as adoptive parents. We hope the future she dreams for her unborn child includes us.
I am normally a planner. We do not know the sex of the child as of yet. All we know is the physical details of this thoughtful stranger. She chose us and in a few long hours we have a phone call with her. We are going into the call hopeful, happy, and excited to get to know her.
October 19, evening
It’s official. We are matched. The call went very well. It was an easy conversation. It flowed naturally and normally. After the call with a birthmother the attorney would call the adoptive parents and tell them the birthmother wished to move forward. In our case the birthmother made it very clear we were her only choise and she was excited after the call. We are going to be dads!! The due date is March 16, 2012. We are so excited. So much to take in at once.
October 29, 2012
The days following a match are busy. I had to send off some paperwork, touch base with our attorny, speak to our adoption case worker in Maryland, and call every person we know to tell them our great news. We have our birthmother’s contact information and we are now in close contact with her. In the ten days that have passed we have gone through every emotion possible. Today we are back at the beginning; we are excited. Our birthmother had a doctor’s appointment this week and she had an ultrasound. The baby did not cooperate during the procedure and insisted in keeping his/her legs crossed to not reveal the sex. Of course we were a little disappointed but not as much as our birthmother. She needed to find out the sex. She was on a mission to find out the sex. So she made an appointment at her local 3d ultrasound salon and we are very pleased to announce we are expecting a baby girl! I am seeing pink.
So with that new news we called everyone we could call. We texted those who did not answer and we posted all over our facebooks! We are going to have a little girl.
October 31, 2011
I called our birthmother today because I wanted to say Happy Halloween. CJ has two Halloween parties he has to go to, one of them at the local kids’ gym class and one we are hosting at our house. I am super excited to tell all the moms at my “moms” group about the match and our expecting a little girl. I know they will all be super supportive. I am trying to get some of my thoughts down but it is impossible to explain everything we are going through at once. Some of it is obvious and some of it is dark. We have been through so much in the few years we have been together. Some of the most amazing things that have ever happened to me were in that time. Also some of the hardest things. The hardest thing ever was the failed adoption of identical twin girls two and a half years ago. We know we would not have had the opportunity of matching with CJ’s birthmom if that failure never happened. We see the blessing now but we still hold on to the memories of those poor little girls. Like I said some of our thoughts are happy and some are sad. We know this little girl will change our lives forever. We are excited for CJ to be a big brother.
I am sorry for the ramble. My thoughts will continue to jump here and there until it all sets in. Our friends and family have been very supportive and our birthmother is awesome. She is dedicated to her decision for us to parent her unborn baby girl. She will grow to know us over the next five months and we are looking forward to that. We will continue to be positive and wear our perma-grins. After all, we are the same people that went into this. We knew what we signed up for and look forward to those first breaths of our baby girl. Let the games begin! Now we have to name her. Get out the spreadsheets, let the endless conversations about names and their meanings begin. Let the shopping begin! Pink! It is the new black!
By: Chris Coyne
CJ is going to be two years old very soon. In four short months I will no longer be counting his age by short months. He has changed so much in the last several weeks. He chatters all day about balls, firetrucks, and airplanes. He loves to knock down the Lego block towers I build for him. He tells me when he poops and when he pees by yelling “ew!” CJ smiles when we enter his room in the morning and cries when we put him to bed. He has a crush on Dora even though we thought we would never let him watch television. He loves his rain boots and insists on putting at least one of them on all day long.
My days are busy. I wake up running and fall into bed exhausted. The laundry piles up, the dishes stay dirty until nap time, and I rarely speak to my family and friends. I need CJ’s nap as much as he does so I stay away from the phone during my two-hour break.
Our weekends are wonderful. Friday or Saturday we have our date night. A taste of our lives before the baby came. We usually want to do dinner and a movie but end up doing either/or. Saturday and Sunday we wake up to a happy toddler who has big plans. He knows if we are both home he gets to go on a bike ride. We ride to a bagel shop that is a couple of blocks down the capitol crescent trail. Then we head off to one of the many great parks nearby. Every park is another adventure. One has a fire truck and a rock wall, one has every sport field imaginable, and another has all the equipment we had when we were kids but was removed everywhere else because it is a little dangerous. DC is a truly a wonderful place to raise a child.
Now that CJ’s second birthday is so close we are considering the start of his education. Some people start “play school” at two. This baffles me. I do want the best education for our little man but I’m not quite ready to send him off. I know we need all the help we can get when it comes to potty training and socializing CJ, but I wonder if playschool is nessary. One of the major benefits of having one stay-at-home parent is not having to go to playschool. I am here to potty-train. CJ has more playmates than I can keep up with and we do at least on play class per week. He is already learning his colors, shapes, letters, numbers, all about nature and food. We paint, color, and sing songs all day long. What would be the point of sending him to playschool?
The trees are starting to change. Another great thing about living on the east coast is that CJ gets to experience the four seasons. This past weekend we picked pumpkins with Jon’s parents. Soon we will be enjoying a Thanksgiving turkey, and unwrapping Christmas gifts. There will be snow on the ground. My family is mostly on the west coast and I miss them really bad. The thought of making a cross-country flight alone with CJ scares the crap out of me. Our last flight was a five-hour wrestling match and CJ won.
Being away from home is hard. CJ gets over-stimulated, falls off his schedule (meaning no naps), and I spend the entire time stressed from trying to keep him from crawling up the walls. Seeing family is great but I know I am miserable to be around. I wish I could be a bit more easy going and roll with the flow but a cross-country vacation is more of a cross-country pain in my ass. This year I plan on staying home for the holidays. No oversold airplanes or long lines.
I am looking to the future and it feels wonderful.
By: Chris Coyne
The call with the potential birthmother went really well. It took me a few weeks to recover from not being picked. Until we get chosen by a birthmother our lives will be filled with a certain amount of uncertainty. She chose the other couple even though we had a great conversation with her. It is hard to not make it an us-versus-them-thing. After some time we have dealt with it. One of the signs of my acceptance was my shock when the phone rang again a couple of days ago. We are a bit more guarded this time. I refuse to think of this as any more than it is: a slight possiblity.
Anything is possible with adoption. We should feel like adoption pros at this point. We have experienced a failed adoption and a successful adoption. We have been through the worst and the best adoption has to offer. Although we feel very vulnerable. A complete stranger is making a choice about us. I want her to know above everything else that we are meant to be the parents of her
I recall before being matched –and way before we ever became parents –daydreaming about holding our baby, rocking him or her to bed. Fantasizing about sleeping in on Saturdays and watching cartoons in bed as a family. These things have all come true since, but so much more has come to pass. The reality of parenthood is so much better than I had imagined and so much harder at the same time. I am enjoying the day-to-day challenges of keeping up with a very active toddler. Cj is amazing. At night when I am putting him to bed I rock him a little more and a little longer than I used to. I stop and reflect on the moment so much more than before. I am going to try to start living in the NOW more. Soon Cj will be a big brother. His life is going to change when the new baby comes. We remain hopefully optimistic while enjoying each other before we change, again, forever…