Friday, September 30, 2011

....After my gift

Last weekend I attended a birth mom retreat; it was the first ever, hosted by the group "After the Gift", through the Catholic Diocese of Wichita (Kansas). For those of you who are trying to process this last statement, allow me to clarify in layman's terms: it was a retreat for women who chose adoption for their children. It was the first retreat of its kind, for the Wichita Diocese. I grew up near Wichita (Halstead, to be exact), therefor the Wichita Diocese has a special place in my heart. It's a fabulous diocese; one that has something like 55 seminarians (young men in the seminary pursing vocations in the priesthood) and a beautiful Spiritual Life Center. To put this in perspective to other dioceses that I've lived in: Salina Diocese (Kansas) has maybe 4 (?) seminarians, while Pueblo has possibly 6 (?). Wichita is blessed. Incredibly.

For those who are still trying to jump over that hump in their mind (So, you're saying you've had a kid?), I'll clarify again. Yes, I have had a child. Yes, I chose adoption for this child. No, it's not like foster care. Yes, I chose the family. No, I do not text his parents daily for updates. No, I'll never get over "it". No, I haven't regreted one day since April 29, 2009. No, I do not think I'm selfish. No, I do not think I'll be a "bad parent", because I chose adoption for my son. Yes, I am in communication with his parents (Aaron met them in August 2010). So, that answers the next question "Does Aaron know?!" Of course, he knows. His family knows. My family knows. Now, you do as well. Aren't we all special?

For me, adoption was a no brainer. I was at a point in my life where there recently was no male in the home. Yes, I was financially able to support a child. However, again, there was no male in the home. Shocking to many, my mother suggested adoption quickly after it was apparent that I and another person were not going to work our relationship and issues out. At first, I was offended that she'd suggest me, a woman with pursing a Masters degree, me, a women who had a good full time position with benefits, would consider adoption. I had always dreamed that the girl who chose adoption was 16, addicted to drugs, from a broken home, and a high school drop out. I was NOT one of "those" type of people. Heavens no. I went to mass every Sunday; I was active with St. Thomas More parish, reading at mass. I was a pretty person with a beautiful future. I was NOT one of those girls. Ew. I had a COACH bag collection (real Coach bags). I had a perfect life.

Yet, I did not. I did not have the perfect life for the child that I had no previous plans for. My life was just starting to pick up speed, after a painful relationship, for both me and him. I was starting clean. Fresh slate. So many boys, so little time. Yet, my life was put on hold for the most precious boy, my son. The deciding question as to whether to choose adoption or parenting for my child was from my mom "Were there ever any times in your life that you were happy that your Dad was there, in the house?" I could have been sarcastic and responded that I'd prefer he wasn't there as much as he was (I was an envelope pusher and Daddy was the disciplinarian in the house). But, in all seriousness, that question made the decision. He would be given a better life if I made this decision.

Now, for those of you who were raised in single parent homes, I am not throwing ash and dust and blame on your situation. I am not raising myself to an elitist snob position and claiming that in ALL situations, a child is better off with TWO parents in the home. In MY situation, a child would not be given the best opportunity at a healthy emotional life. Again, the relationships in my life (at that time) were not healthy. The child would have no stability and would grow up in homes where his parents resented and blamed the other. Holidays would be split; harsh biter words would be said.

This retreat was a beautiful blessing for my grieving process; to be around women who all chose adoption for their children, was priceless. These women ranged from age 65 to 17. Each women's adoption was different; some have extremely open adoptions, while others have closed and do not know where their child is. However, we all made the unique decision for our children to be given a better chance at life. I was informed by some that I was selfish for choosing adoption; that I was running from the challenge of parenting. Something that we all learn, is that everyone has an opinion for the decisions we made. God bless.

I suppose the purpose of this post, is to 1) inform you of this amazing organization (After the Gift) and hope that someone will know someone who may benefit from the experience of attending a retreat hosted by this group. I plan to become more involved with the women and this group, in hopes that I am able to reach out a hand to a women who needs support, as I did. 2) continuing to share my story, constantly helps with my grieving process. Again, I'll never be over it. Everyday, I grieve. I feel that those of you who have lost a child or family member would agree. Everyday, the grieving process continues and it never does "stop".

I feel that I should again encourage you, that if you know someone who is considering the three options that are available to pregnant women and you feel that they may benefit from communicating with me, let me know. I'm always willing and wanting to help other girls who need someone to talk with who has "been there". Because, I've been there........

Survived that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the MIL and spotted cow

Holy long road trip.

Last Thursday, the mother in law and I headed west to Wisconsin for her best friends sons wedding; doesn't that remind you of a romantic comedy title? The FIL (father in law) was suppose to go, but rather sitting in a car for 4 days round trip, opted to stick at home. So, the next best option for MIL was the UDIL (unemployed daughter in law). Aaron was a touch nervous in regards to my sanity sitting in the car for that long, as I have a habit of becoming restless and start poking at him; asking random questions, etc. I'll admit, the drive through Kansas is the worst and that's because I've made that drive many times. Many times. And, I am not so much in love with the scenery as I used to be. We stayed with the SIL in Kansas City Thursday night and headed from KC to Green Bay on Friday. I'll admit, I was hesitant on spending this much time with the MIL; Aaron wouldn't be there to bother and annoy. It would just be me. And her. Those who know our relationship, however, will admit that we spend a lot of time together. And I am comfortable with that. That astounds many who have horrible dreadful prodding intrusive mother in laws (I'm looking at you L-Wood). But that's not how my MIL is. At all.

When I first met people in the Holly area, the first thing they'd tell me is that "You're marrying into a wonderful family. That MIL is the best kind to have." And at first, I thought they were simply saying this, because it's proper to encourage someone who is moving to the middle of God nowhere, that's it's going to be ok (even if you know for a fact that girl will be screeching and screaming to "GET ME THE H$%^ OUT OF HERE!" after the first snake sighting). As time would go on , I would catch myself thinking "I really am marrying into an awesome family......." Our first week back in Holly, the MIL would call before she came over. She would not just assume she can barge into my house (even if she did bring me a bottle of wine); she'd knock then open the door and yell "Knock knock!". Those who have made any sort of move, can testify that you need S P A C E to figure out where to put things and where that box is with your blow dryer, amonsgst all the other pallets of boxes.

This may come as no suprise, but my MIL is a former interior decorator. She has done everything from window treatments to redecorating homes in and around the Holly-area. She studied in Paris. And just for fun, she also modeled. Top it off, she's a Texan, through and through, and has an adorable southern drawl. People come to her for decorating, color coordinaton, room renovation, and furniture relocation advice. Perhaps, her knack for home decorations has led me to have a pretty decently decorated home. I KNOW her knack for shopping has affected me and my closet.

When I started typing today, I had not planned to rave about how beautiful of a relationship my MIL and I have. I had planned to drool over the beautiful scenery and amazing people I met in Wisconson and the great cheese I bought and the amazing Spotted Cow beer I purchased (in cases).

I am so blessed to say that after spending six days solid with my MIL and driving over 2,000 miles, covering six states, and eating Daylight Donuts (nearly daily...helllo Pilates), I still had no problem catching lunch with her today. The unthinkable does happen. It is possible to have a MIL that is also your close friend.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

babies and (future) boyfriends

I don't think that this next statement may come as a surprise: I love kids and I know that Aaron and I will be the best parents ever. Why is this? Because, duh, we don't have kids. So, obviously, we will be the best parents. Ever. And our kids behaviors and futures? Why do you ask, because the answer is will be an easy one, because again, we don't have kids. And the best parents are the ones who don't have kids. Everyone knows that. That lady in Wal Mart who raises an eyebrow when the bratty 2 year old is screeching at the top of her lungs because Mom won't buy gummy bears? Oh yeah, she knows it. She is the best parent, because that blow horn isn't her child.

So the motivation behind this Saturday posting? This morning, the mother-in-law and me went to a baby shower, hosted for a young mama in the area who was in Aaron's class in high school. The baby was beautiful with a full head of brown hair and the mother, radiant. Now, when we celebrate baby births, birthdays, communions, bar mitzvah (just kidding, we don't have any Jewish people here), it takes on a whole new meaning for me. Instead of not really caring or noticing young children, I take note. Why?

These children, bless their country hearts, will determine the success of future Leiker children. How you may ask? Let me paint the picture: fast forward 15 years down the road. It's a typical day at Holly High, let's go with Friday. It's a home football game and Leiker child (girl) is excited for a typical small town friday night. Let's say it's Homecoming v. Walsh High; she has her eye on Boy One and lucky her, he asked her to the homecoming dance. I don't have to spell out for you the evils and temptations that float around kids nowadays; so God, only knows, how crazy and tempting life will be 15 years from now. I don't even want to consider what things life will face my kids. It's scary. It's amazingly scary.

So, that cute drooling infant at the high school volleyball game? It takes a whole new meaning now, doesn't it? Yes, I have an active imagination. This is nothing new to me. And in a small town, like Holly, there are not a plethera of people (SHOCKER). Pickings are limited. So, in the interest of the future generation of the Leikers, I only can pray that these little babies mind their manners (and not just in the Wal Mart).

But, I guess that's how it is with parenting: you just pray and let the pieces fall where they may or may not fall. You do the best you can: you make mistakes and move on.

This doesn't mean that I'll not be watching for those screaming kids in the candy aisle. Move along, boys. Move along (in 15 years).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

the call

Everyone has a set of numbers that when they pop up on your caller ID, you freeze. You glance at the clock. You look back on the phone and, with hesitation, answer, while preparing yourself for the worst case scenario.

In high school, that set of numbers was anyone connected with my ruling committee (Mom and Daddy). When any number from this committee would show up,especially after ten pm, I'd freeze. Immediately, I'd go through the latest possible-fib I told either Mom or Daddy; where did I say I would be? When did I say I'd be home? Who did I say I'd be with? I'd calmly answer the phone, making sure there was no outside noises that would lean my Daddy to assume that his eldest daughter would even think of stretching the truth as to where she was. I wonder how kids before my time of big clunky cell phones (without DATA!! Holy heck) kept their adrenaline going while out with friends, past curfew. There were several occasions when I was caught, thanks to gabby parents. Perhaps that's a good thing of living in small town USA, everyone gabs. Everyone. Even if they don't' realize the grounding repercussions their side comment "Why, no, Monica left well before 10 pm. She said she had to make it home to curfew. She's such a great kid. Lucky parents!". Yeah, thanks Mrs. B. Good bye chunky cell phone.

Funny how with time, that set of numbers that causes your heart to stop and the hairs on your head prickle, does not change. It still consists of three sets: Mom's cell phone, Daddy's cell phone, and our home phone ("The Ponderosa" on my phone). Now, though, thank the heavens that the reasons why my heart stops when these numbers show on the ID, do not revolve around being out past curfew. It's not about me being in trouble, anymore, with the parents. I'll leave that guilt trip for the hubby.

No, now the reasons why my world stops and I glance at the clock, is because the worst case scenario of my ruling committee calling, is telling me that someone dear passed away. Last week, it was Mom calling just to let me know that Grandpa Bergkamp had a possible reaction with sore throat medication and was in the hospital. The world stops. For a brief 10 seconds, I'm not a 27 year old farm wife, hashing her way through Pioneer Women cookbooks. I'm not a young wife who stills enjoys doing the laundry of her husband. I'm 5 years old, on their dairy farm and it's Sunday evening supper. All my aunts and uncles and cousins are there, too. We're just getting ready to sit down for supper and we're all waiting for Grandpa to start the "In the name of the father...." for the prayer before meals. I'm the lucky cousin who got to sit on the left hand side of Grandpa, next to the window. Even though I am far from my cousins, sitting at the card table (this was before we had 40 cousins to sit. At this point, there are only 10), I'm next to Grandpa. The guy who looks like a Bergkamp, with his white forehead, white arms, and wide face. He is a legend. He's not the sappy Grandpa who tells me he loves me all the time. However, he doesn't need to. I know he does, because he is my Grandpa. We have the same last name. We have the same wide forehead.

That call. I hate those calls. Although, everything turns out fine and he's released several days later, I still awkwardly look at the caller id. One of these times, the call will be "the" call. The call that automatically time travels me back to those days, when being punished meant staying the car when we got to Grandma and Grandpa's house, while watching my sisters and cousins play outside on the dairy. Those Sunday's that turned an empty yard to a yard full of minivans, suburbans, station wagons, and trikes.

No, we do not live forever. And I know that "the call" will happen. Until then, and after then, my heart will always stop short and I'll always look at the clock, whenever those few numbers show on the id.