One Year Older and Wiser too

Well guys- I survived my first year of being a birth mom. I'm here with all limbs and sanity still accounted for. I lost a few friends along the way, but I survived! It's so bitter sweet to think this time last year I was getting back on my feet after placing Kinley. It was the beginning of this journey and I didn't know what I was headed for. Like I said in my last blog- I'm sure glad I was chosen to be the one to take this journey because of all the lessons I've learned! I've come so far in this short year and when I compare myself to last year, I can't help but cry happy tears at how far I've come and all that I have over come.

Grant and I were able to travel down to see Kinley! It was such a great weekend! We never really get to spend a lot of time together, just us, because of work and other things life needs us for, so it was fun to spend 5 days interrupted together. We got to Utah a few days before our visit, so we got to do some hiking, swimming, and just relaxing. On the 4th, I ran a 5k race I have been training for, and it was so much fun! It felt good to accomplish this goal I set!

Kinley's party was the day before her actual birthday. It was at her grandparent's home. I am so grateful, they opened up their home to us to celebrate with them. Im not really sure if I have mentioned this before, but my favorite animal is an elephant. I usually make it a point to send Kinley any and all elephant things I find! I have an eye for elephants and I can spot elephants at almost any store. Anyways- Nicole knows this and she was so thoughtful to incorporate elephants as the theme of her party. The invitations had a big elephant on them, Kinley's cake was an elephant, there were elephant cookies, etc. I was in heaven! It also made me feel so good that Nicole thought of me when doing it all.

When we got to their house, Kinley was still sleeping so Nicole went up to wake her. I was soooo excited to see her! I woke up at like 6:30 am because I couldn't sleep!! When she brought her down- My heart melted! I hadn't seen her in so long- except in pictures- and she had grown so much! I almost didn't recognize her. I gave her the biggest hug and kiss. At first, she wasn't sure about me. It was like she knew I was a good person, but she wasn't sure why she liked me. after about 10 or so minutes, she warmed up and was fine. Grant says she knew who I was. I bought her an outfit and Nicole let it be her party dress. I know it's a small gesture, but it meant so much to me. She was kind of confused that I dressed her and was like "wait- why is this girl dressing me? I thought only mommy and daddy dressed me".

everyone got there, we ate and Nicole let me feed Kinley. It was so fun and she thought it was hilarious when I made airplane noises as I spooned her bananas.

She opened presents and Nicole invited me to sit up with them and help her open them. Again- something so small, but it meant a lot to me. It was fun to see her amazed at all the tissue paper and bows. And she got so excited over the toys and fun things she got.

Then she ate her cake. When we sang to her, she was a little confused why everyone was looking at her and singing, but when we sang "happy birthday, dear Kinley" she got a big smile on her face and giggled because we said her name. It was so cute. Nicole put her big cake in front of her and she didn't hesitate to dig right in. It was so funny that she was just going to town on it. She didn't want to eat it, she just wanted to throw it round and make a big mess! It got all in her hair and her bow and she even managed to fling it on some people who were standing close.

We went swimming after and I got to play with Kinley in the pool and watch her play and have fun. It was so fun to watch her interact with her cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. She is such a loved little girl and her family is so wonderful.

The best part of her party was when I sat her up on my lap and I said "Kinley, say La La" she looked at my mouth and studied it really hard and then said "La La" it was so cool!! She giggled like "yep- I'm awesome" My heart was so full and happy. I'm sure she had no idea she made my day- but she did.

It was so fun to see Kinley's personality. She is such a happy baby. She never really cried unless she was tired or she got hurt! The last time I saw her, she was just barely army crawling, and now she is walking EVERYWHERE! she is also saying words! She says mommy, daddy, Taylee, Papa, uh oh, baby (which is her favorite word), and now La La. Everything is a baby. She points at animals and says "baby", she points to her doll and says "baby", and she points to pictures of her and says "baby" it's so cute! She kept taking my phone and pointing to the picture of her and saying "baby". It's so crazy how big and smart my pretty girl has gotten!

The next day- the 7th- was her actual birthday. We went to church with them and then went over to their house again and just hung out and visited. My mom, sister Charnae, her daughter Camille, and my other sister, Audrey drove down that morning and met up with us to see Kinley. I was so excited because Charnae hand't seen Kinley since she was born- and Camille was still in her tummy when Kinley was born- so they got to meet (and of course Kinley was calling Camille baby).
At her party, I gave Kinley fun little presents like toys and clothes, but on her actual birthday, I gave her some more sentimental gifts. I put together a photo album of pictures of me from the time I was born, until the time I gave birth (I looked through it with her, and- you guessed it- she said "baby" at every picture), I had my friends, who came and visited us in the hospital, write little letters to Kinley about what they remember about her, I got her the matching bracelet to my necklace- it says "forever in my heart" and has a charm that says "Laura", and then I got her a recordable book called "Wherever you are my love will follow", I also got her a blanket and my mom embroidered her name on it- I got her one when she was born also- so now she has a new one.

she's checkin out her bracelet
The rest of the time we just visited and played! My sister has a little squeaky giraffe toy for Camille and Kinley thought it was so funny! She played with it almost the whole time and just walked around laughing and had the biggest grin!

I love her smile!
my mom and Kinley 

Audrey feeding her her water

playing with her

playing with her car with one finger

Well I'm done with the picture over load! When we left, my mom taught Kinley how to blow a kiss. I have a video of it- but it wont upload- so maybe later I will figure it out. She gave me a kiss goodbye and waved! I had such an awesome visit with her! I am so blessed to have such a great open adoption. I couldn't have asked for better parents for my baby girl. They love her as their own- and I can tell they are raising her to be the best little girl. It was so fun to see her personality and to interact with her. She is such a sweet girl and I think deep down- she knows what all is going on and feels the love from both her adoptive family and her birth family. I don't want to sound arrogant when I say this, but I truly feel that Kinley feels the bond that we have. Even though she is still so young- I feel like she knows who I am and she can feel my love. It's so heart-warming to see that all I have done to make sure she knows I lover her show! She is so loved and she has the life I always imagined my children to have- maybe not the same circumstances- but she has all the love and all the things she needs.

I was worried I would feel sad on her birthday- because it also marks when I kissed her goodbye- but instead I was overwhelmed with love and amazement at the person I created! I did, however, have a hard time on the 9th. That was her placement day. All the emotions were so real. I felt like I was back in the hospital with a broken heart. I had so much support from my family and friends though. I was able to bounce back and my day was better. It's amazing how fast I am able to bounce back after having my "moments". I have finally gotten the hang of knowing what to do to cope.

I wrote this on my Facebook page and I wanted to share it on here:

"Today marks strength and weakness. Today marks true love. 
Today marks heart break and healing. Today marks new beginnings and fresh starts. 
Today marks trust and hope. Today marks the day I gave my pretty girl a whole family, the best life, and the resources to grow. 
Today marks the hardest day of my life- and the hardest journey that has shaped who I am entirely. 
I wouldn't wish this upon anyone- but I am truly thankful Heavenly Father chose me. 
Today is hard- but we can do hard things."

So here is to another year of being a birth mom! I have gone through all my "firsts" so I'm ready to see what is in store for the 2nd year! until next time! 

What My Adoption Journey Has Taught Me: The First Year

Although, I have only been at this whole adoption journey for a year, there has been so much I have learned! I, first of all, can't believe it will be a year on Sunday that I gave birth to the most amazing little girl! Time has flown, but it also has stood still! I wanted to write this blog because I often find myself reflecting on the changed person I have become in this eventful year and I wanted to write them all down in one place!

Although, I would never want to do this whole adoption over again or wish it upon someone, I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father I was the chosen one to do the job. My life has changed in almost every aspect because of this, and I truly feel, it has saved my life. So I guess I'll start listing all of the things I've learned this past year:

1. How to trust

From the very beginning of my pregnancy, I had to learn to trust in The Lord. I was in the darkest part of my life, and I had nowhere else to turn than to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I have learned to trust in Him that if I do what I'm supposed to, I will be blessed and things will work out. So many times I didn't know if I was doing the right thing (choosing adoption) because I was so scared and I wasn't sure how I was going to go through with it. But had to trust The Lord that he would help me along the way. I still to this day, underestimate this sometimes, but I've never been let down.

Another aspect of trust I've learned, is the people in my earthly life I have learned to trust. My family is one. I have grown so close to my parents and siblings through this journey. I've learned no matter what mistakes I've made, they are going to be there to support me every step of the way. I've also discovered which friends I have that I can count on. People i least expected to be by my side through this year have shown me what real friends are. Along with learning who to trust, I've also, unfortunately, have had to learn who not to trust. When hard times come, people's true colors show, and I have sadly had to witness people fade out of my life.

2. How to love

The moment I found out I was pregnant, I had a sense of what "A Mother's Love" is. As my pregnancy went on, I created the most amazing bond with Kinley that is like no other. And when she was born, the most powerful sense of love flooded my heart and body! I had never loved something so much as that 6 pound baby. Nothing can compare to what that little girl does to my heart. I always wondered what true love was, and Kinley proved it to me int he first second she was born. When I was dating Grant, I knew I had fallen in love with him, because a lot of the same feelings I had when Kinley was born, I had with Grant. Grant and I share a different love than Kinley and I, but Kinley taught me what true love feels like, and in turn, I was able to know when I was truly in love with Grant.

3. How to look at the big picture

When I became pregnant, was the start of this. I was now taking care of another person, so I had to think before I did anything. Choosing adoption, in itself, was looking at the big picture. I had to set all my emotions to the side, and think about what was best for my little peanut.
every time I had melt downs, I would always remember why I was doing adoption. Even in the hospital, when I didm't want to say goodbye, I had to tell myself "This is for her, not me.". If it were all for me, I would have parented her, but Kinley was more important than me, at the time.

Even still now I have to look at the big picture. Whenever my mind starts wondering off and thinking what if- I have to bring myself back to home- plate and remember I did everything for Kinley. All of my decisions are based off of if Kinley would be proud of me. She is always that little voice on my shoulder.

4. How to express myself

Before this whole journey, I was very good at hiding my feelings and keeping them bottled inside for no one to know. And when I would share them, I didn't really know how to express them the way I wanted. When I was pregnant, I started going to counseling. I was able to learn how to express my feelings and not be afraid of admitting them. It had helped me so much because I don't feel like I get trampled on as easy and I am able to resolve things. I have even started this blog, which I never would have imagined a few years ago! It's such a new thing for me to spill my heart out to my computer, but I find it so therapeutic.

Even with Nicole and Toby, I have had to learn to express my feelings to them, and for them the same i'm sure with me.

5. How to be a friend

I've never really had a tragic thing happen to me where I've needed my friends or support until now. I've really learned how to be a friend from my friends' examples. They have shown me that you don't need to have all the answers to give good advice, you just need an open ear and their best interest at heart. My friends have stepped up to the plate and have taught me how to be a friend.

6. How to be open minded

Being a teen mom, pregnant out of wed-lock, AND choosing adoption are all things against "the norm". Being the one in the situation really opened my mind that ANY one can fall into this. I wouldn't say I was mean to the girls in my high school who were pregnant, but I didn't really lend out a hand either. I always thought they chose to be pregnant and they wanted to be teen mothers. Falling a "victim" of this, I totally dropped all stereotypes I ever had concerning pregnancy and adoption. I am proud to say I don't judge people as harshly as I used to. I try to imagine their life situations before making any judgments, and I feel like I have been a lot more open to learning about others' situations.

Even in the adoption world, there are different kinds of scenarios. With getting my hands wet in the birth mom support area, I have learned to even have an open mind with other birth mothers. We all come from different back grounds and situations, and we all made our decisions based on different things, but with all the same best interest in mind; our babies.

7. How to be patient

I would not consider myself patient by any means. I'm the type of person who wants things now and I don't want to wait. I learned I had to be patient in waiting for my due date. I had to be patient in finding Kinley's adoptive family. I also had to be patient in The Lord's timing. I still have the tendency to want to rush things, but I think I've come a long way. Heavenly Father has a tie frame for things and I've had to learn to let go and let God. And again-  I have never been let down by waiting for things.

8. How to be a mother

This last one is so dear to me. I get told all the time that I'm not a mother. But- I AM a mother! I am and will always be Kinley's first mother. I may not be her parent, but I am her mother. Even though I may not parent Kinley or see her everyday, doesn't mean those "motherly instincts" turned off. I still always have her best interest on mind. I think so much differently and I credit Kinley for that (all in good ways of course). I don't consider myself a typical 20 year old. I don't find partying appealing. I don't really care if I'm watching the right shows or going to the coolest concerts. My whole mind-set has totally altered. I think about what kind of mother I want to be when it's my turn. I think of all the things I can do for Miss Kinley. From this experience, I have been taught a lot of the things I find are important to be a "real" mother some day. It makes me more and more excited to be a parent.

This is all I could think of. There are probably so many more things I could list, but these are the ones I find the most prominent. This year has changed my life; for the better of course. I have grown into a strong woman (brag time;)) and I couldn't have done it without my friends, family, and of course, Heavenly Father. I know that I am so new to this process, but I feel I have mastered a small portion of being a birth mom. Knowing I have my whole life left of this, both scares me but also excites me. It's scary to know I will be carrying this grief with me, but it excites me to be able to learn more things to add to my list. This has been a roller coaster year: I placed Kinley, moved to Vegas, got engaged, moved back to Colorado, got married, we've added a dog and a cat to our little family, and all the other things life throws at us. It's been crazy, but I wouldn't change one thing!

Thank you all- friends and strangers- for reading my blog. I have gotten so many inspiring comments and it makes me more and more excited to blog! Stay tuned for an update for Kinley's birthday! Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July- and for those of you in other countries- have a fun and safe weekend!