Friday, October 17, 2014

Adoption & My View of Humanity




This blog is part of the Adoption Love link up. The topic:

How, if at all, has adoption changed your view of humanity (for good or bad)?

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WELL. Big sigh...

Adoption has stretched me, to say the least. It's made me re-evaluate both myself and others and what our intentions are when it comes to making decisions for the children in our care, who are relying on us to make good decisions for them. I've definitely witnessed good and bad by choosing to walk this path.

My wide-eyed naivety when we first started looking into adoption had me thinking that people were generally good, kept their word, and that things would go smoothly because we were making the choice that felt SO RIGHT. But along the way, as we talked about our adoption plans and the whole process of bringing Kal home and then the failed adoptions leading up to this point, I realized it wasn't as smooth sailing as I thought it would be. And not everyone puts the child first.

First, the bad:
  • Adoption is extraordinarily expensive in most cases. Why? Because of greed. Because it has been turned into a huge business. The greed of agencies, lawyers, and expectant mothers who think they ought to be reimbursed thousands of dollars for the exchange of parental rights of a child. It's baby selling and there's no way to not say that. It is. It's morally corrupt and I hate it. And just because of the principle of the thing, I refuse to pay for a domestic adoption when it feels like everyone just wants to dip into the adoptive parents' pockets. It's not fair, it's not right, and it makes adoption look bad. Kal's adoption, including two trips to Georgia, cost just under $9,000. For everything. Matching us with an expectant mom, counseling for both sides, legitimate birth parent expenses, legal fees, travel, finalization in court. That's it. (That's cheaper than having a baby.) That was best case scenario. I don't expect for that to happen again, but I'm hoping that we can somehow find another situation that feels right and doesn't break the bank because of the greed of people who just want to get what they can out of hopeful adoptive parents who are vulnerable and just want to add to their family.
  • Some very vulnerable women are being coerced to place their child for adoption. It's not always a decision made out of love. Sometimes it's a choice unnecessarily being made because she is being manipulated by people. People like her parents, the baby's father, adoption professionals, hopeful adoptive families. Whoever is convincing her to make a choice she wouldn't have made on her own. That's wrong. Adoption can solve problems, but it can also create more - like lifelong grief over a decision she didn't want to make and didn't need to. It's already hard enough to place a child when it's the 100% right decision for mom to make and she knows it. Especially when she's young and adults are telling her that she can't be a mother. That's wrong. We need to support women in being able to make choices for themselves. And provide them with resources to make those choices confidently. In a lot of cases, that's not happening. On the flip side, some women are being coerced to parent their children. Family members threaten to disown them if they "give that baby away." It's just... sigh... craziness.
  • Adoption scammers. People who have no intention of actually placing a baby prey on hopeful adoptive couples for money, gifts, time, and emotional connection. It's sick. I had no idea there were people out there like that, but there are. And they'll hop from agency to agency and get whatever they can out of them and then say they "changed their mind" in the end. Or, they were never really pregnant. Just selfish, trying to get what they can out of other people.
  • Dishonesty. This encompasses a lot of things. But I can't believe how dishonest people can be. Like, an adoption professional making promises to an expectant mother about how she can choose how open she wants the adoption to be, when in reality she can't. After parental rights are relinquished, adoptive parents can do whatever they want. She will not have any legal parental rights at all. Or adoptive parents promising an open adoption or saying whatever the expectant mom wants to hear just so she won't change her mind, no matter what their intentions are afterwords. Adoptive parents, keep your promises! Or expectant parents saying they are 100% sure about an adoption decision when they're not. Don't lie. Just say you're not 100% sure and work through your issues with a counselor. Or women trying to hide a pregnancy from a father - even flying to another state to have the baby and place the baby without contacting him at all. Fathers have every right to parent their child if they choose to and are capable of doing so. Just because you don't like the guy anymore, doesn't mean you can make his choice for him and omit telling him he has a child.
  • Then there are fathers who are not stepping up and taking responsibility for the children they helped create - leaving women struggling to make these decisions alone. It's not fair. And so many women don't know their own worth and are accepting abuse in place of a real relationship.
  • People being insensitive ("How much did he cost?" "Was his real mom a drug addict?"), generalizing a whole group of people ("You know how these birthfathers are all just deadbeat dads and are contesting the adoption to be difficult." "She says she's changing her mind, but give her a few days and when she realizes she can't go out with her friends with a new baby, she'll change her mind back."), things like that... makes me cringe. There's a lot of emotion and social problems rolled into adoption stories and it makes for a perfect storm of people's insecurities, misconceptions, and prejudices to come to the forefront. It's been eye-opening.
  • We're barely into the waters of trying to get foster care licensed and the stories only get worse when you go from domestic infant adoption to fostering. The negative side to foster care adoption... well, let's just say it's an explosion of negative. I'll have to write more about that when we have more experience, but man - some people's lives are a hot mess... the abuse and neglect of children in America is horrifying. The cycle of abuse that perpetuates generation after generation. It's not the children's fault they're in foster care, but they get judged and labeled and scarred for things their parents did or didn't do. It's all just so, so sad.
  • We researched international adoption for awhile. Even decided on a country (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Then that country ended up suspending all adoptions for who knows how long. And we're not financially ready for that really. So that idea got tossed to the side for now. But researching it was heartbreaking. To really open your heart to children half a world away... people just don't do it. I think in America in general, people just don't want to hear about orphans. Some people just want to pretend like everything's hunky dory and that the orphan crisis has nothing to do with them. It has to do with all of us! We do not come together as a human race enough over things that really matter and it's disheartening that so many people just don't care and will spend their whole life not caring about anyone outside their immediate circle.

This sounds like a rant. Ha ha. But it's not all bad. I'm not bitter. There's plenty of good:
  •  Everyone important to us was supportive of our adoption plans. No one had one negative thing to say to us. We've had all the support we needed. Friends and family gathered around us to make sure we had everything we needed. I loved my baby shower. Kal was welcomed and was loved by so many people the moment he showed up. It was amazing. My mom said she wondered how it would be for us to adopt, simply because no one in our family has adopted before. But when she saw Kal for the first time, she honestly saw a glow around him and her heart just melted and she said she recognized him... like he was a choice spirit sent to our family for a great purpose. We were all meant to be connected in this life. I love that he fit right into our extended family and he'll never have to question his place with us. He is loved beyond measure. That's one reason I am SO ready to move back to Georgia to be closer to the grandparents. But until then, visits and packages in the mail will have to do. :)
  • Kal's birth family. Meeting K has changed my life. Not just because she gave us Kal, although that is HUGE. Just getting to know her and her family over the years has redefined what I've thought of as family before. It was exactly what I hoped for when we were first researching open adoption. And although my heart breaks for the circumstances that led to Kal's adoption, I am so grateful that our paths crossed the way they did and we are able to share the love for the same little boy in such a unique way. It's amazing how God can bring people together and have us lean on each other in such pivotal moments in our lives. It changes you. Her strength and love is admirable. Not just anyone can have a child and part ways with him and bear that grief with dignity and gratitude. She is amazing.
  • I have a much bigger family now that we've adopted Kal, because with him came a whole family tree. I feel like I've found a kindred spirit in Kal's birthmom's aunt. She is amazing and I hope she's reading this and she knows how much she means to our family. Once we move closer, getting to know more of Kal's birth family is gonna be a priority.
  • Opening my heart to adoption meant redefining family completely. Biology honestly means hardly anything to me. The only reason I would love to get pregnant is that I want that experience (just once) if I can get it and it would allow me to have a little bit of control! Adoption means you have no control over anything as you wait for someone to choose you. That's terrifying and painfully slow. Having a child with no biological connection to me doesn't make me bat an eye. It's actually exciting. Like, a genetic jack-in-the-box. I'm fascinated with genetics and am actually going to get one of those 23andMe DNA tests done for Christmas this year. Ha ha. Yep, that's what I wanted for Christmas. I'm gonna make Zay and Kal do it too, cuz that would be so friggin awesome to see where we "come from," genetically speaking. When I think of family, I could imagine our family growing in a lot of different ways and I think any child from any race would fit right in. From any country, really. Researching international adoption has made us realize love has no biological or racial or nationality boundaries. Family is about love and acceptance. I like this quote: 
    "Adoption has the dimension of connection - not only to your own tribe, but beyond, widening the scope of what constitutes love, ties and family. It is a larger embrace. By adopting, we stretch past our immediate circles and, by reaching out, find an unexpected sense of belonging with others." -- Isabella Rossellini
  • Becoming a mother has been amazing... soul-altering, if that's a word. There's no denying what that has done to me and for me. I can't imagine my life without my son. I am a fierce mama bear now... something I didn't know was in me until the first time I saw Kal's face. My view of humanity has changed simply because being a mother changes the way you look at everything. My compassion deepened. My sense of responsibility changed. My purpose in life shifted. I feel connected to other moms when I thought I'd never be able to relate to them. There's my before-kid(s)-life and my after-kid(s)-life, and there's no comparing the two. I was lonely without Kal, longing for something you can't get just from a spouse. I want a big family and I love seeing all the big Mormon families around here now. I'm not jealous anymore. Just excited and happy for everyone. :)
  • And in general, for every negative thing I've witnessed... I've also seen the opposite. Genuine people. Honest people. Supportive people. People who keep their word. Birth fathers who support the birth mom 100% in her decision-making. Compassionate people. People who have a love that runs deep and far-reaching. People who care about the wrongs in the world and actually do something about it. Amazing birth moms. Amazing moms who chose to parent and are rocking it. Amazing adoptive families. Love, redemption, family, goodness. God's hand in all of the above.
I think my "view of humanity" isn't better or worse... it's just more complex and interesting. Has stretched me and made me search deep in my heart to see what kind of person I really am (and who I want to be) in my thoughts and words and actions.




Monday, October 6, 2014

Thankful For My Trials


It takes a lot of time and perspective to get to the point where I'm grateful for my trials. But I always, always, always see the point of them much later. I firmly believe that there is always a lesson to be learned, always a point to what's happening, always growth to be had if I respond to my trials appropriately.

I don't always respond appropriately and it takes so much longer to come out of the thick darkness of a trial when I get angry and lash out and want others to hurt as much as I am hurting.

But when I allow myself to be humbled and I search deeply for answers and guidance within the Gospel - with the knowledge that there are lessons to be learned in this - I can always look back and see how much the trial was specifically made for me. To test my specific weaknesses. And I can see how I handled it well or didn't. If I stood strong in my beliefs or if I wavered. And why. And what I can do differently in the future.

For that, I'm thankful. That's the only way I can learn and grow as a person. If I can learn to face tough challenges with grace, not always get what I want when I want it, but still see the beauty and opportunities to serve in the hardest of circumstances, and come out on the other side with a better perspective and an awesome battle scar, then that's exactly what needs to happen. I'm reminded that we have a wise Father in Heaven who knows us all individually and knows what we need to face, what trials we need to overcome, to become what He knows we can be. Trusting that He knows what He's doing makes being able to be grateful for our trials possible.

I talked to an old friend who I hadn't seen for a year and a half. We didn't know anything about each other's lives in the meantime (no Facebooking). And it was so interesting to catch up and to be able to tell her all that had transpired in that time and to be able to say this-this-and-this happened, "But it's okay. I feel great!" And to list all the reasons why. All is well. Seriously. She wanted to know about the new baby (that never came... failure) and how the business I started with my friend was going (HA HA... another failure). It was so refreshing to catch up with her and see the whole past year and a half laid out like that. And to know that I survived and I know better about things that I didn't have a clue about then. I feel like the last several years especially have been a battleground of learning for me.

But now I am stronger. I am more grounded in my faith. I am wiser. More confident. I care less about what people think about me. I know that I have a voice and I don't have to sit down and shut up. I know that I can do hard things. I know that I can be brave. That I can be me without apologies. That I deserve good things. That God works on a timeline that has nothing to do with mine, but that He loves me and is ever-constant in being mindful of me and giving me what I need, not always what I want. I know more about trust and who I should give it to and who I shouldn't. I am better because of my trials. I can look back and feel satisfaction in knowing that all that has happened in my life has happened for very good reasons and has led to today. And today is beautiful.

I think a couple years ago I thought that we wouldn't face failed adoptions... because life has been hard enough and I deserved something to work out in my favor. I was wrong. That's not how life works. Now I know better. Now I know that if it's something I need to face and learn from, it's going to happen. And I'm never going to be fully in control of my life. Letting go and letting God lead is the biggest lesson to be learned for me. I know that my circumstances have been unique to me and my life has been crafted to show me just what I'm capable of and who I can be and what I can overcome.

Now that the knife-to-the-heart feeling has faded, I know everything's gonna be all right. Because I'm still here. And still smiling. Life is good. Not just despite of the bad things that have happened, but because of them. Life is not over because bad things have happened - there is so much more to my story to go!

We Are Not Made for Endings

In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.


Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.


The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions—temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.


How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings.                    
                                                             -- Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Grateful in Any Circumstances)




Sunday, October 5, 2014

Things To Do Before Baby #2

I'm going through all my draft posts that have accumulated and trying to make something of them, no matter what they were about. :)
 
This post (Things To Do Before Baby #2) was gonna be a completely different post at first. I wanted to put down all the things I thought we needed to get done before Baby #2 got here July 2013... and then again before Baby #2 got here March 2014. We all know now that neither of those situations actually brought us a baby. But I planned for them as if they were going to work out, because I thought they were. I did the same thing when I made a Baby Bucket List before Kal came along.

My boys.

Making lists of things-to-do kept me focused and got me through the waiting. On this list, I had things that I wanted to prep and get ready in the house and things I wanted to do with just Kal before he wasn't an only child anymore, etc. I got some of my list done, like setting up a college fund for Kal, having zero debt, setting up a retirement account for Zay, getting a second car. Things like that. So, it was good. But Baby #2 never came.

"Things to do before baby #2" means something different to me now. Like, I can't imagine having a baby right now... Cuz I've got thangs to do!!! Ha ha ha. Having a baby would be so hard. Getting up in the middle of the night would be so hard. I don't know how these girls considering adoption end up keeping and raising their babies when they're in such crazy hard circumstance. I've got a normal, safe life & environment to raise a baby in... with resources to do so... and I still think it would be crazy hard. Doable and definitely enjoyable, but dang hard!

One child's hard enough, right? :)

So, yeah. I got thangs to do! Life is busy as is. I can't even wrap my head around the idea of Baby #2 all of a sudden. So, it's interesting how acceptance and time took all the irrational baby hungriness out of me. I'm totally cool with the here and now. It feels good to sink into that and be thoroughly comfortable.

Even though I will never ever give up on growing my family, I simply cannot plan my life around future hypothetical babies anymore. I can't. We have to make decisions as a family... important things about jobs and school and where we want to live, etc. We can't make decisions and move forward with our lives if we keep thinking, "Well... we'll probably have a baby by then, so we should/shouldn't do such-and-such." Ya know?

For example, we've been trying to figure out if Zay should go to school full-time so that he can be done already (I feel like he's on the 20-year path to graduation, lol). And we were trying to figure out if I should go back to work or not. Or if moving to Georgia is really the right thing to do and the right timing. Etc. Etc. Etc. We have to make those kinds of decisions without thinking that we're gonna have a Baby #2. Or we'll just be stuck and can't move forward with our lives and can't get anything done... because there's that possibility that a baby could be thrown into the mix and change our plans.

So, yeah. Baby #2 sounds like crazy talk right now. I got thangs to do!!! Ha ha.

Maybe this is all just reverse psychology... and the moment we've got our lives all lined up and not thinking about it, bam - that's when it'll happen. Ya never know. Life likes to do things like that sometimes. ha.

Babysittin' a friend's baby. Don't even know what to do with a baby anymore, LOL. ... P.S. - I absolutely love taking terrible pictures of myself. What does that say about me?? I just don't care, ha ha.




Saturday, October 4, 2014

Cake Wrecks

I follow some interesting blogs. Cake Wrecks is one of my favorites. It gets dirty sometimes, but I am just mesmerized by the things bakers create that look SO dang horrible. It's possible that I'm just happy I'm not the only one who butchers a baking project. :)

My favorite "Cake Wrecks" are misspellings or complete miscommunications about what people wanted on their cakes when they ordered them vs. what they end up getting when they pick the cake up. But when I saw THIS one, I laughed for a good 30 minutes:



A water birth cake. That is so awesome. I want one. Lol.

I've always loved the idea of giving birth at home and in water. So, this just tickled me.

I love being creative with cake-makin' (even when I don't really know what I'm doing)... but that cake looks so easy to make. Ha ha. I think I could pull that one off.

Dangit! I need a reason to make this cake!!!




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Kal's Best Moments

I started making this list of cute/funny things Kal likes to do. And then I forgot about it. Ha ha. I think this is when he was 1 years old, before he could walk or talk. This list just makes my heart tickle!!! I need to make a new one now that he's a huge talker. There's so many small things I want to remember...

* Dunking his toys in the cat's water, flipping the cat's food bowl over, and swishing his hands around to spread the cat food everywhere
* Putting the cat's entire head in his mouth
* Swishing his hand around in the toilet
* Giggling, naked, crawling away super-speed in the middle of a diaper change
* Propping one foot up on his high chair tray, leaning his elbow over one side, like "Ahhhhhhh... I'm so full!"
* Nodding up and down and then shaking his head 'no' over and over with a big grin on his face
* Laughing in his room by himself and I find him and the cat fighting, Kal with fistfuls of fur
* Cracking up at us when we're exercising
* Putting his orange basketball sunglasses on and then pulling them off really fast and grinning
* Trying to play peek-a-boo with us, but he does it so fast... there's no surprise element... he just wants to get to the good part
* Instead of reading a book, he flips it over (breaking the binding) and pushes it all over the room
* Diving headfirst into the cat's bed, and then just staying like that with his butt up in the air
* Filling up a container in the bath with water and then trying to drink it
* Filling up a container with blocks and then trying to drink the blocks out of it
* Crawling up to the cat and then turning around, sticking his butt out, and plopping down right on top of him
* Stuffing as much food as possible in his mouth and then using his little fist to shove it all in
* Carrying things in his mouth around the house
* His serious face when he throws a basketball
* Singing to himself in his crib in the mornings before we get him up
* Yelling nonsense when he wants attention
* Feeding us Cheerios
* Trying to kiss the cats with his famous wide mouth, slobbery kisses
* Flirting with unsuspecting ladies in public with huge grins and nods of approval
* Bobbing his head to any kind of music, even boring church hymns
* Crawling and getting tangled up in the legs of a chair or his high chair and then getting really frustrated
* Doing one-armed squats while hanging onto the side of the couch
* Pushing things violently out of his way when he's got his eyes on and headed towards something across the room
* Pulling his socks off and chewing on them
* Loudly yelling his disapproval and flailing his arms around when he gets left out of football or frisbee-throwing outside
* Slamming his sippy cup down when he's done with it, with NO warning
* Getting super excited to see one of us when we've been gone all day and grinning and kicking his legs like crazy
* Using his kung-fu grip with fingernails to grip us when we're holding him, but sometimes missing our clothing and grabbing a chunk of skin instead
* Screaming and getting scared when I laugh too loud too suddenly, super afraid of my laugh
* Yelling/grunting like a caveman when he wants our food, no matter what it is... he's eaten straight jalapenos, Japanese red bean paste buns, and entire asparagus stalks... he just loves food
* Crawling all over us when we're sitting on the couch and trying to crawl up to the highest point and sit on our heads
* How his little feet touch when he's eating breakfast and watching Pocoyo in the mornings





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dear Kal: You Were Adopted...


Dear Kal,

As you know, you were adopted. This ain't news. It's a part of who you are. It's a unique aspect of the story of your life. You keep a picture of your birthmama in your room. You have a book she recorded herself reading that you love to flip through and hear her voice read the pages. You're pretty amazed that you grew inside her tummy... or anybody's tummy, for that matter. Birth isn't really a concept you understand yet. But you will. And you'll have more questions as time goes on.

I've been working on a baby book for you and it includes the short and sweet version of your adoption story and how we all came to be family. I tell you that same story sometimes at bedtime or when you're upset and just need me to hold you and you like to hear me talk. I automatically start pulling that story out, because I want you to know it through and through. I want you to hear it so often that you can be confident in who you are and who loves you. And so that you know without a doubt that you are where you are supposed to be and that the reasons you couldn't be with your first mother didn't have a thing to do with whether or not she loved you.

That's why we want you to grow up knowing who she is, personally. Telling you your adoption story is nice, but being able to say, "I don't know the answer to that question, sweetie - why don't you call your birthmom?" is a whole lot better. And when you get older and your questions get more complex, that's exactly what you're probably gonna have to do. Because even if we know the answers, it might mean more coming from her.

Even with a happy ending, adoption isn't a fairy tale. Adoption is messy. But you need to know the truth. Did you know that for a long time it was normal for adoptive parents not to tell their children that they were adopted? Or to discuss anything about their genetics? Doesn't that sound pretty ridiculous? I promise we will not have to have an awkward family meeting when you're in elementary school in which we announce to you that you were adopted when you didn't have a clue. Or that you'll "discover" something as a teenager or an adult and find out you were adopted. That's a completely unnecessary surprise. You will always know.

I promise you we will always welcome your questions, always build a relationship between you and your birth family while you're still young, and always value that you came into our family the way that you did. We will never be dishonest or secretive about it with you. Because we are not ashamed. We are not insecure. You are our son and we love every little single thing about you, including every little genetic part of you. You didn't come to us as a blank slate. You came with an entire family tree attached. How awesome is that?

Being adopted doesn't make you any "different" than any other little boy. You still eat, cry, poop, sleep, and play. Ha ha. But it's your story and you don't have to share personal information with anybody you don't want to. You don't have to introduce yourself as, "I'm Kal, I was adopted." Any more than I would introduce myself as, "I'm Alice Anne, I was birthed and parented by the same woman." It's not a banner you have to wear and it's not a secret you have to be ashamed of. It just is what it is.

You're young now, but one day you'll know more and see the big picture. And you'll understand that genetics most definitely matter... but they also kinda don't. Family is family, and that doesn't always mean sharing the same DNA. We ALL love you - my family, your dad's family, and your birth family - and we are all pretty amazed at how lucky we've all been to have you come into our lives. Thank God for that.

Love,
Mama




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Attempting to Achieve Hormonal Balance

Photo: www.natural-fertility-info.com

Previous fertility post: Starting From Scratch

This may be really repetitive/redundant and long and boring. Ha ha. But I don't care. My brain is recapping right now and I need to get it all out. :)... (I learned it's really hard to keep track of what I've written here and what I haven't, because I'm constantly writing in my journal.)

When it comes down to it, hormonal imbalance is what's keeping me from getting pregnant. And if I had ever been lucky enough to get pregnant, I would have had a higher risk for miscarriage. So, looking forward... if I want to get pregnant, and if I want to prevent miscarriage as much as possible, I need to achieve some hormonal balance. I need to figure out how to be my healthiest self now to have a healthy pregnancy later. And not just a general "eat right and exercise" kind of healthy. That's a part of it and that may work for 90% of the population who wants to be healthy/fertile. But not for me. So instead of whining and complaining about how life's not fair in that regard, I just need to suck it up and do what it's going to take. I've got my motivation back. Let's do this thing.

A year ago, I knew something was up with my health. Even more so than usual. I wrote out all my symptoms that I could think of at the time and my list looked like this:
  • general anxiety, over-worrying
  • social anxiety
  • moody, exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed
  • infertility: irregular periods, don't ovulate, haven't gotten pregnant in 9 years of marriage (now 10)
  • anxiety level increased dramatically after failed adoption last July, stayed high
  • can't relax, overly focusing on negative things or things out of my control, kind of paralyzes me
  • feeling super tense and like I'm hyperventilating
  • sweat all the time because I'm nervous/anxious all the time
  • trouble sleeping, jolting awake in the middle of the night or early and can't get back to sleep
  • difficulty focusing on more than one thing at a time, because too much is going on in my head, foggy brain

This was not normal. Normally, social anxiety and infertility was all I was dealing with. I was fighting through all these new problems, trying to be strong, thinking they would go away after I "got over it," and trying to look on the bright side of things. But I started to recognize that something was really wrong and I wasn't handling the grief of the first adoption falling through very well. The second adoption situation being iffy wasn't helping either. My brother told me I needed to get my thyroid checked and up until that point I honestly had no idea what my thyroid did, but he was insistent because he had just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (which can be hereditary). Turns out he had been suffering from debilitating anxiety because of an undiagnosed thyroid condition. I found an endocrinologist, talked about my symptoms, got my blood tested, and sure enough I had a problem. So I started treating my thyroid and that opened up a whole world of education on my hormones and how they are supposed to interact and how mine weren't.

The things I had been trying to do to get pregnant (taking a synthetic progesterone and then Clomid over and over to induce ovulation) weren't really addressing the underlying problems. I was so ready to get pregnant and not deal with all the underlying issues that I found a reproductive endocrinologist and started making a plan to do a few IUI cycles (insemination) and then IVF if I had to. I dreamed of twin girls. :) Wouldn't it be so nice to just do a procedure and get pregnant? (Or just have sex and get pregnant? ha ha)

But something kept telling me to wait and try to heal first. I could waste a lot of time and money and emotional energy to go through these treatments just to get pregnant and it may not work because my body is just not in the healthiest condition hormonally speaking to carry a pregnancy. To seek treatment where the only goal is to get me pregnant just didn't feel right. I was grieving. Losing two babies we thought we were going to adopt was hard. I needed to get through that first. I can't just "rebound" into fertility treatment because I'm grieving. I need to rest, relax, take care of myself. Treat the underlying problems and get myself healthy. The grief triggered a lot of things and forced me to look into what was wrong. I know so much more about my body now. Looking back, I can see the timeline of how everything worked out and how everything pushed me to find a doctor who would check the right things and guide me in a better direction.

I am worth it. My health is worth it no matter if I ever get to a point where I can have children. Not treating this hormonal imbalance puts me at risk for a lot of serious health problems in the future (for example: diabetes, ovarian or uterine cancer, heart disease, etc.)... Yeah. Ignoring the problem just because it's easy and feels like my "normal" is NOT healthy for me in the long run and I deserve better than that.

On top of that, I will never, ever, ever give up fighting for my children, including my hypothetical future children. I will NOT give up on that. Ever. I will open every possible door for us to grow our family, including keeping myself healthy enough so that if I do miraculously get pregnant one day I can increase my chances of staying pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. I can only accept "whatever happens" (whatever God's will is) if I know I did everything I could and didn't give up. I do not subscribe to the thinking that God made me this way and I should accept my health and infertility as is. Because it's a sign or whatever. That's bull. If you want something, you do what it takes to get it. If you're sick, you do things to get better. God made intelligent beings who can solve problems. Not victims to just moan and whine about our plot in life. Maybe in Old Testament times, accepting such a condition as a curse made sense... and relying on Him to miraculously fix it was wise because we didn't have the knowledge we have now. I am going to have faith in God that He has guided me to the knowledge I have now and that He expects me to do something about it.

I have wanted to give up so many times. Give up on trying to get pregnant. Give up on trying to adopt. Give up on taking these foster care classes that are soooo long... and emotionally draining. But I can't do it. Not now. I'm not ready to give up this fight. I feel like I'm just beginning.

I felt renewed when I found a good doctor. Finding a good doctor is not an easy thing to do! I met his wife first. My FB status that day was:
Met someone today - the mother of the girl whose hair I was braiding, a new client. I was describing my struggles with my thyroid and polycystic ovarian syndrome, all the symptoms and how finicky treating my thyroid has been and the resulting infertility that is devastating in and of itself. I've been coming to the conclusion that I just have to accept that my body/health is this way. Finding peace with that. There's too many things wrong, too many things I could try that "might" help. I feel stuck. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "NO. You do not have to live this way." And she gave me the number to a place I'd heard about before, but I was going to so many doctors at the time that I didn't check him out. Something about the way she said it and the good things I've heard about this doctor made me want to burst into tears... Someone cares. Maybe I'll get some answers. All the doctors I've seen have all been varying degrees of helpful all the way down to useless, and I'm only now starting to understand things about my health that I wish had been told to me 10-15 years ago. I'm ready to see a doctor who knows what they're talking about and doesn't just throw a bunch of medicine or synthetic hormones at me. Living with something that other people tell me to "get over" or "just do this" or "just do that" to solve the problem has always made me feel like an idiot for saying there's something wrong with me and wanting the answer to WHY. Today, I feel understood. And that felt pretty dang good.

Going to this new doctor has been good because I trust him. That's not always easy to do with doctors. And my research and his research coincides, so that's good. Sometimes I'll bring things up to a doctor and they won't know what I'm talking about. That's a red flag. I can't know more than my doctor, come on now. Lol.

So, this is what I've learned and this is what I'm doing to "achieve hormonal balance":

Step one was to relax and rest and manage my stress. Learn to live in the present and enjoy the way things are right this second. I spent the whole summer with Kal and laying around and reading books and catching up on shows and just really paying attention to my own thoughts and my own needs. I stopped saying "yes" to everything everyone requires of me. I did what I wanted to do and I had fun. I got rid of the things that were unhealthily stressing me the most, including people. I wrote in my journal and daydreamed and treated myself better than I have in a long time. Made sure I was right with God. I just enjoyed each day... living in our new cute little duplex next to a peach orchard. It's so "home-y" feeling. I love it. I watched a whole lot of The Walking Dead (omg, I love it). I enjoyed not having a calling at Church. I learned to unplug and sit outside and enjoy the trees and the clouds and have cute little 3-year-old conversations with Kal. I ate good food and there was lots of husband & wife time to go around. I got comfortable in my life again, counted my many many blessings, worked through the grief, and came out a better, more confident, happy, optimistic version of Alice Anne. Step one, done.

Then we've got the basics - eating right and exercising and getting to a healthy weight.

I figured out my problem with food:
  1. I crave carbs and sugar all the time. Taking probiotics is supposed to help with this.
  2. I overeat when there's food available. This stems from my childhood.

A lot of people have a bad relationship with food for one reason or another. Mine is because I subconsciously think there's not going to be enough food to go around, or after today I won't have any food, so I eat everything in sight. Big grocery shopping trips are bad for me because I will want to eat all the new food in the house that day. Smaller grocery shopping trips help me spread the food out, but who's got time for that? So, changing my diet has been a challenge, because it's so engrained in me to hoard free/cheap food (not necessarily healthy food at all) when I come across it and eat a whole package of something because it's there right now and if I don't eat it, someone else will and it'll be gone. I'm still working this one out in my mind. Limiting myself or temporary diets are no good and I don't feel safe and then I break down and eat, eat, eat. I don't want to call it an eating disorder, but maybe it is? This is something I'm working through and trying to figure out. In the meantime, I have been doing Bountiful Baskets... where I pay and go pick up a basket of fresh fruit and veggies once a week. It's like a volunteer co-op thing. That way I always have fresh fruit and veggies in the house and if I'm going to snack on something, I'll grab something from that instead of something sweet & processed. That has been helping because I hate shopping for produce. I feel like I'm lost and don't know what to get and Bountiful Baskets just provides what's in season and I don't have to choose. It's cool because I get stuff I've never had before - like cactus pears. :)

I began exercising again. I went to the gym for awhile, but that turned out to be Zay's thing and not mine. I like exercising at home. Right now I've gotten into a habit of getting up 45 minutes earlier than I need to and getting in 30 minutes of exercising (mostly stretching and some yoga) before I start my day. It makes the whole day go better and at the end of the day I can just relax instead of feeling anxious/guilty because I still haven't exercised that day. I get it done first and make it a priority. Even an easy light stretching for 30 minutes feels amazing and boosts my energy/happiness for the rest of the day. This is a habit I want to stick for good.

My goal for this year was to lose 26 lbs... and then next year I want to lose another 11 lbs. I've lost 19 so far. Very slow and steady, ha ha... But seeing the progress has been awesome. My doctor was happy with me. And I've still got a few months to knock off those last 7 to reach my goal before the end of the year. Easy peasy. :)

Managing stress, eating right, exercising, getting to a healthy weight. Then it's important to take the right vitamins/supplements. That's major. I had low Vitamin D. Not having enough Vitamin D can contribute to all kinds of hormonal problems. Many people have low levels and it can be tested and it's easy to pop a Vitamin D pill. I am officially no longer deficient. Woot woot! A lot of people with hormonal imbalances are also deficient in B vitamins or iron or all kinds of other things, so it's nice to get bloodwork done and see where you're deficient. I also researched a butt load of other supplements that are good for an underactive thyroid and PCOS. I found out my cortisol levels do weird things throughout the day (my doctor called it adrenal fatigue) and I found a supplement for that as well. I have been super persistent in taking my handful of vitamins every single day. No excuses. A lot of times supplements can take months before they really start to make a difference, so I have been taking them religiously. I absolutely hated taking pills before and even now they make me gag sometimes, but I knew I needed to get the heck over it. And I have. It's just part of the routine now. Easy peasy. I also let my doctor know exactly what I'm taking. I even made a spreadsheet for him with all the ingredients/amounts in all my supplements. Ha ha. He was impressed with my regimen.

What I'm taking right now:


Other things I want to try:
  • True Cinnamon
  • Plexus Probio5 & cleanse 
  • CoQ10 (I was taking this but I ran out)
  • D-Chiro-Inositol (I was taking this but I ran out... it's hard to keep up sometimes, ha ha)
Along with my supplements, I'm treating my low progesterone, underactive thyroid, and insulin resistance with medication. I'm taking a bio-identical progesterone pill 14 days a month rather than birth control pills (which is what a lot of people do to fix irregular cycles). I think taking birth control pills in general is silly if I want to get pregnant. HERE is a good article on cyclic progesterone therapy. I'm taking what works best for my thyroid - a combo of Synthroid and Cytomel. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for my thyroid and as of this week my labs looked perfect! Woot woot! It's about time! I'm taking Metformin for insulin resistance. I'm in such a good routine taking pills and taking them at the right times, that it doesn't bother me anymore to take medication. I used to be pretty anti-medication. I feel so much better now that I'm taking what my body has needed all this time and my labs look GREAT for the first time ever. The cyclic progesterone therapy and Metformin combo got my high testosterone levels all the way down in the normal range. I am amazed. It was so high. That is great news!

As of right now, my doctor says that I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and my health should continue to improve. I went in last week. It looks like I've found the right combination of changes and it shows on my lab results and in the way I feel.

Important things to note: I have a "regular" cycle now, but I still haven't ovulated on my own (that's okay, I don't expect to be "fixed" that quickly), and the length of my cycles have been fluctuating all of a sudden. It's almost like my body is trying to figure out how to really settle into a 28-day cycle for the long-term. It's being quirky. But that's okay. I'm trying to teach my body a rhythm that it never learned when I hit puberty... so it's gonna take some time. I just keep documenting it, taking my basal body temperature every morning, and taking ovulation predictor tests around the time that I could possibly ovulate. I'm not so sad anymore when I don't ovulate. I just record it on my Fertility Friend app and think of it all as data to analyze. Ha ha. I'm figuring my body out! It's kinda cool. Like a science experiment.

I am SO not used to having a cycle every month. I don't know how the average woman does it. I feel like I'm bleeding to death. Ha ha. But it's good. It's healthy. It's normal. And having a period is a huge step in the right direction to better health and better fertility.

Other thoughts: The weirdest thing happened when I first started taking Progesterone. It puts you to sleep pretty quickly, so you have to take it at night. I slept so deeply the first night that I woke up the next morning with a CRAZY crick in my neck and had to take it easy and stretch it and massage it ALL DAY for like 5 days before it went away completely. What the heck. That really sucked. But now it helps me get to bed earlier and sleep deeper and not jolt awake at random times. Getting enough sleep is important for my overall health too, so I'm glad I've got an aid with that.

This is going to be a gradual process. Impatient me is just going to have to shut up and get over it. A friend told me I was a goddess of patience. Ha ha. Life circumstances has just made me that way. This is going to take time. I have to accept that. And I have to be okay with not having my life planned out. That is HARD. I like to know what's coming next. I like having a goal and being prepared. Nothing about all this allows me to make definite plans and have an idea about the future. AhhhHH! As of right now, the plan is to just keep going with what I'm doing. No definite timeline about that. Just keep going. I can do that.

Like I've said, this whole fertility thing isn't just my problem. So I finally got Zay to go to my doctor. And he got some bloodwork done, which he'd never done before. And of course, the results were low Vitamin D and low testosterone. I could've told him that. I have been telling him that, ha ha. I didn't need a blood test to know that's what the problem was. But he did. He needed that in writing. He's been on a high dose of Zinc for a few months now, but now he's gonna add Vitamin D and Clomid (ironically, Clomid helps male fertility too) and I've gotta get him as serious about taking his pills daily like I've done. I'm picking up his Clomid prescription today. Woot woot! Maybe since I've got my whole "achieving hormonal balance" thing down, I can work on him. :)

Progress! 

Next fertility post: Keep On Keepin' On




Monday, September 1, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

#ALSicebucketchallenge

"Like" the ALS Association on Facebook HERE. Donate on their website HERE.

I got challenged to do this and it took me like a week to do it. Busy, busy! But I wanted to do it because I think it's for a great cause and the more awareness there is and the more donations are given... the more work can be done to fight this disease.

I "tested it out" on Kal first, ha ha ha...

He was a good sport. :)

Video:

He didn't like it, but he laughed about it afterwards. He hates water like a cat, lol.

...and then he joined me when I finally got around to do it. And he didn't like it AT ALL. I felt bad, tee hee. Just a little bit.

Video:


But he forgave me and wants to watch the videos over and over now. :)


Go donate! Even if it's just a dollar! :)




Saturday, August 30, 2014

Too Much Online Sharing?


I'm an open book in my personal life. That spilled over onto the Internet, of course. Ever since a college friend back in 2006 told me I just HAD to get on this new site called Facebook. Lol. I've had online journals since then and thought our journey to adopt deserved a blog. A way to get our message out there and possibly network. And it kind of morphed into... whatever it is now.

I share tons of pictures of Kal and myself. Every once in awhile of Zay. His new motto is, "Don't social media me!" Ha ha. So I've had to limit myself. I wonder how much Kal is really gonna appreciate that (not) when he gets older and there's tons of baby pics of him online, complete with his name attached... easily searchable by his classmates. Whoops.

Sharing our "adoption story" is harder than I thought it would be because I'm not anonymous here. I want to promote open adoption, but I don't think I should share details about Kal's birth family or how our open adoption works, really. And every time we interact with someone considering adoption or get matched with someone, all the details aren't really mine to share. So... I feel stuck. Like, I want to tell a story but I probably shouldn't to protect people's privacy. (I read THIS POST that kinda got me thinking about what I share and what I don't and when I think I should get permission to share something, etc...) So I ride this line of speaking vaguely, generally about adoption topics... and I want to say more. But I don't know how or what to say. Also, when we are matched... I obviously get all excited and share how we're gonna have a baby... and then the last two have fallen through and that sucks and is embarrassing. Soooo.... there's that.

Sharing our "infertility story" is harder than I thought it would be too... because it's not just about me. Ya know? Talking about sperm analyses and things of that nature aren't really things my hubby wants me to share with the world, no matter the results. Lol. So I talk about myself, because I don't care if the world knows about my cycle (or lack thereof)... doesn't bother me in the least. Infertility is hard in real life for me because it's NOT just my problem. I'm a take control type of person and I'd go to a million doctors' appointments and be poked and prodded if that would solve the problem, but it takes two to make a baby... even with a sterile lab environment, ha. I have to think about another person before I blurt things out.

So I'm trying to decide what I'm doing and I haven't been writing here as much. But I don't want to quit blogging, so I'll figure it out.

Important updates (that I don't mind sharing - ha ha):
- I'm ending my reign as stay-at-home/ work-at-home mom: Kal started full day pre-school (that he absolutely loves and was totally right for him) and I got a job! I'm excited/nervous/super grateful for the opportunity. It's going to give me some great experience related to my education and that makes me so, so happy! I'll still be volunteering at the animal shelter on Saturdays, but will take on fewer hair appointments during the week... which I think is the direction I should go.
- The semester started up for Zay and he's still working full-time and cutting hair too, so he's busy busy. Keeping busy keeps his mind off things he wants that he doesn't have control over. To him, the best thing in the world that could happen right now is if we adopt a baby. He would quit his job so fast, lol.
- We're changing adoption agencies, from LDSFS to PACT. I think that will give us our best shot at adopting because they focus on black & interracial families, and their cost structure is similar to LDSFS. I get an "ethical" impression from them. If an adoption works out, it's back to stay-at-home daddying for Zay, which he would love... he fills that role so well. But in the meantime, we're just gonna keep going as if Kal will be our only child. That's the only way to stay sane with all the "what if's"...
- Foster care classes start next week for us. We decided to go ahead and get licensed here and see how it goes. We've had a few powerful spiritual confirmations that this is what we should do and we've got to stop the procrastinating and get started already. I have no idea if we'll even get any placements, but I want to go through the classes and get a feel for the process.
- I'm feeling healthier than I have in years. Not just physically speaking, but emotionally/ mentally/ hormonally. Focusing on taking care of myself this year has been amazing. I've pinpointed so many sources of stress and found ways to completely eliminate them from my life or go about them differently. I feel healthy and confident and optimistic again. That feels awesome! I need to include self-care on a regular basis rather than letting it all build up. Things are really good. :)




Sunday, August 10, 2014

157 Draft Posts

Sooooo.... sometimes I start a post and never finish it. I'm reminded of this when I glance over in blogger and see that I literally have 157 draft posts. I guess I just never fully know what the heck I'm doing with my blog.


I never wanted to be a "mommy blogger" but I kinda do that sometimes to keep my family and Zay's family and Kal's birth family updated on things easily. I used to be an "adoption blogger," but my excitement for that has been waning as I've learned more about adoption as a business rather than a humanitarian effort. Ugh. Plus it's hard to talk about details when I want to protect other people's privacy. I'm also an "infertility blogger," but I'm not actively pursing any treatments that are fun to talk about, like IUI or IVF. I'm just making slow hormonal changes over time in the hopes that I can get my body to ovulate regularly and on its own (well, without ovulation-inducing drugs, I guess). That may or may not work.

I don't know what the heck I am writing about and I can't always finish a thought. I'm just writing. For free. Cuz I can. I like to write, but I can just as easily fill up my journals and abandon the blogging. I think I'm waiting for my happy ending, a way to wrap up our story of trying to add to our family. But I don't think I can keep up telling the story when I have no idea when that ending might be. And while it still feels like someone's missing, I just can't wrap it up and say "happily ever after." .... So I keep droning on and on.


Do I have any lurkers out there who want to ask me a question? Or... what would my readers like to hear about more often? What's going on out there on the Internet??? Anyone blog and wanna link up in the comments? Anyone reading any great blogs you wanna share? Anything exciting happening?

Talk to me, folks. Or else I'll just keep on rambling. :) This infertility/adoption madness sometimes just doesn't feel like it has a point to it.




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Family Photos

Here are the rest of the family photos we took in June. :)
























Friday, August 8, 2014

Love Languages



Zay & I read The 5 Love Languages out loud to each other and took the quizzes in the back to help us figure out what "love language" we're speaking. I remember learning the idea behind the love languages concept years ago, but more recently we were able to read it together and try to really apply the principles. It helped answer some questions about some of our biggest conflicts and really helped me understand what a friend of mine is going through in her marriage. Seriously, as soon as I finished the book I immediately texted her. I could see so many applications to myself and to those closest to me as I read it.

I love this book. It's so simple. It's all kind of "duh" when you read it, but people complicate love and marriage, and get so caught up in what the other person should be doing. When you realize everyone learns to love and feels love differently, your eyes are opened and you're able to consciously love someone the way they would recognize it rather than solely relying on how you think they ought to be loved. Because those two things aren't always the same. It's much simpler when you're speaking their language! If you continue speaking only in the language that makes the most sense to you, it's like banging your head against the wall.

If you're in a tough spot in your marriage and you're ready to give up, the chapter "Loving the Unlovely" spoke to me as truth. So much so that I had to share it with my friend and I really hope she reads it and takes it to heart. But you know how sometimes people don't want to change and avoid advice if it means they have to... Too many marriages are thrown away because conflicts, miscommunications, and unmet expectations in love build up until your spouse is no longer your best friend but your biggest enemy, or so it may seem. And people will quit at that point rather than realizing that that is the time to give it your all and really rely on God and the vow you made before Him.

We've learned a thing or two about what it takes to make it in marriage, but I still feel like we're young and have room to grow. It's not always pretty, but we actively work to protect our marriage and nourish it. Letting your guard down and forgetting to fill your partner's "love tank" destroys so many marriages. Leaves them cold and loveless. If your marriage gets to that point and all you feel is a dull heart and contempt for the person who is supposed to be your companion, it's so easy to walk away and break that vow. It might feel justified at that point, but the key is to prevent it. With small steps every single day. Or to realize that all is not necessarily lost. Loving someone the way they can feel it could change everything.

Marriage is work. It's commitment. It's a choice. Finding and learning to speak our "love languages" to each other helped it make a little more sense and eased some of our most common conflicts/misunderstandings. Just wanted to pass that message along and encourage everyone to grab a copy and find what language you're speaking. It's good information to know! :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mine, in order of most important to least important:

Tied for 1st: Acts of Service & Quality Time
Close 3rd: Words of Affirmation

(huge gap)


4th: Physical Touch
5th: Giving Gifts

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zay's, in order of most important to least important:

Tied for 1st: Acts of Service & Words of Affirmation
Close 3rd: Physical Touch

(huge gap)


4th: Quality Time
5th: Giving Gifts

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Zay and I Got Engaged

We're celebrating 10 years of marriage this year. I wanted some kind of "do-over" for our engagement photos. We didn't get professionally done photos back in the day and wanted something a little nicer.  I wish I could find any of our old engagement pics, but I can't figure out where I put them right now.

We are just too goofy to do "romantic" poses (and Zay looks bored), ha ha. But we tried. This was so fun! Angie Harwood Photography did these for us in Provo. She got family shots too, so I'll post those too a little later.

The "How Zay and I Got Engaged" story goes something like this... We were dating only a couple of months and we already knew we wanted to get married and had talked about it, so it wasn't a surprise. To me, he was the most intelligent and mature man I'd ever met and it blew me away that he wanted to be with me and accepted me for all that I was (and am). Zay wanted to wait till that Christmas to officially ask me, but he couldn't wait that long. He spent his whole paycheck on a ring (like 300 bucks) and I was super pissed at him for spending that kind of money on me. 1) I don't like jewelry and 2) I have a poor man's mentality... $300 seemed like way too much.

I remember 3 different proposals, because I know I made him re-do it a couple more times after we would "break up" and get back together. I would throw the ring at him all dramatically during a fight and then he would re-propose later when everything was good again. Lol. Teenagers!!! So, I honestly can't remember which proposal came first.

One was in my front yard. He told me he loved me and asked me to marry him and he put the ring on my finger... and I fussed about him spending his whole paycheck, but grinned and was so excited that it was "official." For the record, he was the first one to say "I love you" in our relationship. It shocked me and he asked me if I loved him back and I said, "Ummmmm... I have love for you." Lol. Poor guy.

Another time we were out on a date at a bowling alley and he had written this long proposal on a napkin and he let me read it... or maybe he read it to me. The details are fuzzy. He may have gotten me flowers. I can't remember. But I still have that napkin. And the box my ring came in. They are tucked away safe and sound in a box with all my other treasured mementos and love letters (we wrote lots of love letters to each other and he drew me lots of pictures).

A third time, we were driving to my house and it was raining and I was upset about something. I was angrily looking out the passenger window at the water running down the glass and he pulled over on a bridge, got out in the pouring Georgia rain, and came to my side of the car and knelt down in all the rushing water on the street/bridge and proposed to me again, apologizing for whatever he did to tick me off. I freaked out and told him that was dangerous! And told him to get in the car! Ha ha.

Needless to say, eventually the proposal "took." We got married the summer after I graduated high school and have been growing up together ever since. Out here on our own, adjusting to adult life, college life, Utah life, and now being parents. We've been through a whole heck of a lot together. And this man has stubbornly loved me no matter what I or he was going through (I could probably say "loyal" or "dedicated"... but "stubborn" kinda works). :) Ten years into marriage, thirteen years together... hindsight is 20/20. We were definitely meant to be together. He is all I've ever needed, my partner in crime. ;)

















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