I am happy to report that I completed my second yoga class this past Saturday--and I didn't feel the incredible urge to compete! It was so relaxing. Unfortunately, that didn't affect my level of next-day(s) soreness, and I'm still recovering from my failed attempt at a perfectly-executed forearm stand. My hands were so sweaty that my long-haired, foreign accented yoga instructor-man had to personally deliver his sweaty towel for me to place on my mat so I would stop slipping during downward-facing dog. I'm finally willing to admit that I may not be a natural after all.
I love how Don and De have maintained such great relationships with not just Robbie and I, but with both of our families as well. I am constantly amazed at how our families have really come together during these past few years and have learned to work together in our open adoption. It wasn't always this easy, though.
We met the Dollars through Robbie's parents, who had met them through a family-friend/work relationship. When Robbie's parents first met Don and De at a party in Raleigh (the Leonards had just moved to Raleigh in 2004 for Mr. Leonard's job), the conversation somehow turned to Robbie's dad, Rob, asking Don and De why they didn't have any kids yet. They told him their story and they mentioned how they had been looking towards adoption. Robbie's mom, Mary Beth, offered to help them, and she mentioned that her sister-in-law was an Ob/Gyn who has placed many newborn babies. Mary Beth, Rob, Don, and De quickly became friends, and they often found themselves running into each other at parties, work gatherings, etc. Then, a few months later, we came to find that I actually had a bun in my own oven! And I'm not referring to Pillsbury.
Robbie's family very much supported adoption because they knew the Dollars well, and they had many conversations discussing with them how our families would all be able to maintain close relationships with the little babe after the (pending) adoption. My family, who was still living in Pittsburgh, had no idea who the Dollars were. Actually, they didn't even know that I was considering adoption. My family had already begun making plans for me to raise the baby with their help. We had already decided that I could still go to college during the week, and I would have to come home on the weekends to take care of the baby. Robbie would quit school to get a job, and we would most likely get married to make it all official. I faced a huge internal conflict once I had actually met the Dollars and started to actually consider open adoption. My family was probably confused and hurt that I had changed my mind. The reality of the situation was that I was torn in so many directions because everyone had a different an idea of what was "best." Before I left school to be home-bound tutored, several teachers even approached me and told me what they thought was best for me. Best for ME, not best for baby. I even had one woman at school who suggested I consider having an abortion so that I could continue on with my life. Thanks, but no thanks.
The weeks leading up to the adoption were so draining. Words cannot describe what I went through emotionally. I was still not 100% certain that I could go through with the adoption until I physically signed the papers. After I signed them, my family came to support my decision. When they finally agreed to meet the Dollars, they immediately knew why I had chosen these people to raise my daughter. A lot of people had a completely different view of adoption until they actually met Don and De and started experiencing our open adoption firsthand. There were doubts, fears, and concerns about how we would be able to maintain such an open relationship with each other. Today, I can't imagine it being any different. Our families keep in close contact today through emails, phones calls and visits. The Dollars even take a trip once a year to visit my family in Pittsburgh during the summer, and they usually stay at our house. There's never a dull moment during those trips!
De and Don have really done a great job of keeping our families updated on Deanna by sharing silly stories, posting pictures, and keeping my parents involved by asking questions about how I was when I was Deanna's age. I think it's amazing to hear just how much Deanna is like me when I was young. When I was little, I used to be extremely shy in school. I hardly ever sang out loud, and the teachers often told my mom they were worried about my social growth. I laugh at that story now. Recently, Deanna's teacher told De that Deanna was being rather quiet in school and she was concerned. Because our adoption is so open, De was able to ask my mom about my behavior and mannerisms as a child. As she came to find out, "Amy Hutton" did that too! And for the most part, I think I turned out (somewhat) normal...right? Maybe not.
Last month, my parents mailed a Christmas present to Deanna, and De took it upon herself to make an entire facebook album dedicated to Deanna showing off my parents' gift. The album is titled, "Thank You Mimi & Papa Keith!" Wasn't that sweet?
Deanna has more aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, neighbors and friends than even I can keep track of, but she is so great at remembering everyone. I attribute her excellent memory to the pounds of watermelon that I ravenously consumed during gestation. De likes to constantly remind Deanna of the people that she doesn't get to see very often. A few weeks ago, De asked Deanna, Do you remember who Mimi (my mom) is? She said, "Yes Ma'am." Then De asked Deanna, "Who is Mimi?" Deanna responded nonchalantly, "That girl who lives with Papa Keith." Haha, Papa Keith is my dad. Witty little thing.
Adoption Angles premiers online tonight at 9:00 P.M. Adoption Angles is an online web-cast on MomTV, and it's about people from all sides of the adoption equation who have been touched one way or another by adoption. I'm going to be sharing my story and answering your questions tonight with the help of my wonderful host, Melissa from Full Circle. We certainly hope you'll consider joining us "Guinea-pigs" as we jump into this new experience together!