Tag Archives: journey

April 4? No, April 12.

April 4.  That is the date that is written everywhere and that I’ve written dozens of times.  He will too.  That’s not the date I remember though. April 12. That’s the date etched in my heart.

April 4, 2010.   I remember a clear blue sky and a day of photos, smiles and family.  Photos of our 3-year-old daughter hunting Easter eggs in my brother-in-law’s front yard.  Some high.  Some low.  Each with a treat inside.  Photos of me with bunny ears perched on my head awaiting our turn to visit the furry white rabbit in the garden gazebo.   Photos of the Easter feast soon to fill our round bellies.  That is what I remember.

April 4, 2010.  Elsewhere, another round belly was the focus of the day.  The round belly of a young mother about to give birth.  She was young, excited and scared.  Her plans were made.   She knew what she needed to do, difficult though it may be.  This child would arrive. Today.  The two parents she’d chosen for him were there.  Waiting.  Parents she’s chosen three months before.  She loved him. More than breath.  She could not provide for him though.  Such a difficult day.  Afternoon came and brought this gift to the sunlight for his first breaths.   He was perfect.  Ten little fingers.  Ten little toes.

As the afternoon turned to evening, plans shifted, jilted and crumbled.  The young mother drew a deep breathe and did again what she knew was right.  She sent the couple home.  They were not the right parents for this special child.  She felt lost, confused, afraid.  A new plan was created to bring him home and find a new family.  Somehow.  One day.  Two views.  Two views that were about to become one.  We had no idea.

April 10.  The phone call.  It was Saturday and I was happily chatting about play and its power with parents of special needs children at my Discovery Toys booth in Fort Wayne.  A vibration in my pocket alerted me to the call.  As the screen turned to view and I saw “Adoption Agency” on the screen, my heart stopped.  It had been a wait of 13 months for our second child.  I surely had not expected the phone to ring that day.  But it did.  It did!!  Oh.  Oh? Oh!  I sought a corner of quiet and the social worker explained the situation.  Yes.  Yes.  Okay.  Uh huh.

The next few hours were a blur of phone calls, hand me down clothes gifted by a team member who happened to have them in her car, excited hugs from a nearby vendor now a forever friend bonded in this special shared moment.    A boy though?  I had been so sure we’d have two girls.  Lily and I had talked for months about her sister, Jasmine, and what life would be like when she arrived.  A boy?  I thought surely this match was not the right one.  What if it was?

April 12.  Two long days later, we made the two hour drive to her home.  A million thoughts go through your mind.  What do we say?  What do we do?  What will she think?  What will we think?  A boy?  Really?  We didn’t have a name.  There are no boy plant names.  Cedar?  Oak?  Maple?  Family names?  Nicholas.  Yes.  IF this was a match, he would be named Nicholas after his great-great-grandfather.

We arrived at the small house.  Later we would learn it was home to this special young mother, her grandmother and her four brothers.   The house and it’s tenants were clearly carefully cared for.   A knock on the front door was quickly answered by our social worker.  She was there with her huge, beautiful, sad brown eyes.   Eyes that he got from her.  Her grandmother lovingly by her side.  He was there, snuggled in a small bassinet dozing in the patch of sunlight from the front window.

For three hours, conversation somehow flowed smoothly.  I wish I remembered more of what was said.  So many emotions tangled up inside.  Disbelief that we might really become parents again after such a long wait.  Excitement.  Sadness for the reality of the situation.  Tenderness.  Respect.  Patience.  Impatience.  Indescribable.  “I’ll go check his laundry,” she said and excused herself to the basement.

Thirty minutes went by.  “Should someone go check on her?” I asked.  Her grandmother went and soon returned with her.

A few minutes more of unremembered words and then the words I’ll always remember.   “I want you to be his parents,” she said.  I know I can never fully understand the courage of a birthmother to decide such things.  The weight on her heart must be enormous and yet perhaps some relief as well.  There in her living room, we hugged her and cried together.   The attorney was called and we left. We perched at an Arby’s table.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Then the call asking us to return.

This is no rule book written for how to feel and what to do in adoption.  There isn’t.  Arriving back at her home to pick up her son who was now ours as well was so difficult.  Our prayer was to be respectful and loving as we knew not what else to do.   She was sitting at the kitchen table holding him.  She was rocking gently back and forth, whispering to him, telling him how much she loved him, telling him how much she hoped that one day he would understand.  Tears from those brown eyes splashed and disappeared one by one into his fuzzy blue blanket.

As much as the memories of that day are fuzzy in parts, others are crystal clear.  What happened next is one of them.  This young mother who had been through so much.  Whose heart was breaking.  This young mother stopped rocking.  Took a deep, slow breath in.  She whispered, “ok,” stood up and turned to me.  Those big brown eyes looked at mine and said, “He’s your son now.”  Wow. I will forever admire her and love her with a depth that is hard to explain.  The love and courage of a birthmother is incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  We are so thankful to have her in our lives and so thankful for our son!  She trusted us to keep our promise of an open adoption and we have loved watching her grow as he has as well.  We’ve learned that open adoption does not take away the painful side of adoption but we pray that it has helped lessen it.

April 12.  That day?  That’s the one I remember as the first day we first met Nicholas.

 

 

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Flashlight in the Darkness

Dear My Toy Garden Friends,

Friday was the day the tears began and fell through the weekend. May 9th was a date I’d had in mind for weeks and weeks. On May 9th I’d know I’d told myself. On May 9th, I’d know what the next steps for My Toy Garden would be.

For months I’ve felt like I’m surrounded by pitch black darkness. The kind of darkness you can taste…that presses against your eyes in an invisible blindfold. In my hands is a small flashlight that shows me a tiny bit. Enough light to show me just one more step to take. I’ve been blindly following this path wondering where it will lead and trying hard not to worry. Trying hard to trust that His plan is always the best one. The post it on my desk says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And a light onto my path.” I’ve uttered it many times a day for the last few months.

My steps are quickening right now as I even more tightly focus on today and today alone. Friday, May 9th, came and went leaving me with the feeling that perhaps His plan is for the store to close. My Toy Garden was created in a whirl of magic that sparkled on it’s walls for the last 3 years. Maybe, just maybe, the purpose for which it was created has been fulfilled. Tears flowed for four days as I struggled with wanting my plans to be THE plans in my constant battle for control. Perhaps you have those battles too?

Then at 4 pm yesterday a man came into the store. A man who had been here a month ago in the early stages of the clearance sale. A man who told me he had been planning to open a toy store in Fishers. “You know,” he said. “I’ve been thinking. Rather than create a store from scratch, it might make lots more sense for me to look at buying this one.” Um…yup! I totally agree!

So the conversations begin and my flashlight continues it’s search one step at a time. In a blink that light can land on a pair of shoes that might, just might, allow the store to continue to on. There is still time for other pairs of shoes to step onto the path but not much. I plan to begin to sell the fixtures very soon. (If you have had your eye on any bookcases, tables or other pieces, they might be yours next week.) Now is the time to think who do you know that has had a dream to own a toy store? Invite them to contact me and we can chat. Today, today…where will my path lead to today… Thank you so much for being part of this journey! I will so miss the many conversations I’ve had with you!

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The Journey

The tale of My Toy Garden continues to weave…

It started off innocently enough….a postcard in a gift shop with a picture of an emerald green lake surrounded by a lush forest. Green…hmmmm… curious..interesting color for a lake. The picture invited me to step closer, bend and peer, intrigued. Where did that say this lake was? At the top of a dormant volcano? One that was accessible by foot? The entrance to the trail started behind the gift shop? It was more than my gypsy spirit could resist so hiking shoes donned; off we went in search of the elusive green lake.

The beginning of the journey filled our eyes with plants that must have come from Dr Seuss’s imagination….shapes and sizes not found in Indiana. Bark in camouflage stripes of light green, bright green and creamy almond. An giant army of leaf cutter ants steadfastly carrying their hard earned payloads over the riverbank to their home in an endless line we watched for several breathless minutes. With a start like that, my gypsy soul longed to see what lay ahead.

The terrain began to turn upward gently and the tree trunks grew a bit thicker. The thickening branches thinned the sunlight streaming down. Ferns covered the ground with their curling fingers beckoning us forward. The roots of the trees twisted and peeked through the soil in rivulets. 30 minutes later, the roots grew thicker and more challenging to step over. The canopy became a floating carpet of green allowing peeks of sunshine to filter through. Another 45 minutes later and the climb became quite steep with steps being methodically taken. Place one boot thigh high up on a root and….deep breath…uuuuuuuppppp. Whew. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I became a human fountain of sweat. Another 45 minutes of sheer upward focus refusing to quit now but determined to see the journey through. And there….there is was….the green lake!! Amazing!!!

As I’ve reflected on the past three years of the My Toy Garden journey, I’ve been reminded of this day in Costa Rica years ago. Creating and running My Toy Garden has been a ton of work. Many, many late nights. Many, many decisions to be made and parts to juggle. Days, weeks taken one slow but giant step at a time….uuuuuppppp! And along the way…wondrous things to behold making it totally worthwhile! So many special people I’ve met and had the pleasure to help on so many different levels. The busy swarms of children who have spent many a happy day coming to play and learn and enjoy. The meaningful conversations sparked by something found in a newsletter. It’s the journey I was meant to take. Now that I’m at the top of the mountain…looking at that miracle of a green lake.. having accomplished so much, it’s time to begin the journey down. The next few weeks will be challenging but a long rest is just ahead. I do hope that we meet on the pathways ahead for us both. It’s been an honor to serve you!

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