Friday, July 17, 2009


Guatemala, two years ago today, we met our long awaited baby girl for the first time. She was 11 months old when her foster mother lovingly, happily and sadly handed her to us.

We had received pictures and updates for the prior 11 months leading up to this day. A mommy is all I ever wanted to be. I thought adoption and motherhood fit me like a glove. The day unfolded differently than I ever could have imagined! I thought I would grab her, eat her up and would not be able to get enough of her! Not so...I was a little scared to hold her at first. I did not want to scare the poor little one. The first time I held her was when the foster family left (in tears.)

I realized at that exact moment that I did not know this little girl at all. It kind of scared me. I knew her pictures, I knew of all of her updates, I knew who I thought she was, but the fact was clear...I did not know this little beauty.

We had a good few days in Guatemala. She was fine as long as we were not in the hotel room, the second we walked through the door she was in absolute tears. So, we took her everywhere we could think of, Antigua, the mall, restaurants, even the downstairs bar at one point. All three of us found solace within the walls of the bar!

We walked the hotel grounds like crazy. We knew every single nook and cranny (wow, I have never typed that word in my life) of our hotel. We knew every crack in the sidewalk, every different kind of Guatemala dwelling bird, every catch my drift, right?

She became attached to us very quickly. By the time we were leaving Guatemala, she treated us as though we were her new family. She was laughing, smiling, giggling and doing everything in the cutest way I had ever seen. We arrived home and almost immediately it was apparent that I was not attached to her and this continued to be a looming problem.

I wondered on a daily basis what the hell was wrong with me. How can everyone else love her to pieces? How can she be so incredibly precious and I can't connect? Hadn't I had been waiting my entire life for this? What to do....well as I had been told, "Fake it, til you make it." I tried, I tried HARD to do this. I had always wanted to stay home with my little one and fortunately was able to.

So many times, I felt like it was agony being home. I have that personality type though to conquer whatever I set my mind to. If conquering is not possible, I definitely will go down kicking, screaming and clawing. I woke every morning and took care of Aviana until the time Dave got home from work. We would keep busy...going to the gym, running errands, we would come home and go over all of her books and toys, etc. I tried insanely hard to connect, to feel the bond I always envisioned.

I decided to continue researching this phenomenon. Researching, researching, researching is all I did. I joined a Post Adoption Depression group. I quickly realized that was not the place for me. I did not feel anywhere near the extreme feelings people on the list were feeling. In a short time of being a member, I realized this group was doing more harm than good, so I removed myself and pushed on.

I also reached out to many close friends and family, I called my adoption agency back, I even sought out counseling. The counselor told me, "I was being to hard on myself, lower my expectations and PUT THE BAT DOWN (she said I was beating myself up badly.)" I understood what she was saying, but never went back for another appointment. I knew deep down in my heart of hearts something was missing. I began to realize I was trying WAY too hard. I think for a long time I was, well I won't be able to say it as eloquently as Van Halen (Hagar-BIG difference) so here you have it, "We can push with all our might, but nothin's gonna come." These words repeated over and over in my head!

I kind of just loosened my grip of the entire situation and changes started occurring. Ever so slightly at first and then faster and faster. Yes, I had my set backs at times, but overall everything was improving at a more rapid rate. Minutes became days, days became weeks and weeks became months. I was so incredibly proud of how far I had come. I think I have mentioned in the past, we had hit our stride in the past months, things were looking bright.

Then the knife fell. My first natural thought was "Oh my gosh, why now, why when Aviana and I were doing so incredibly well?" My second, and almost immediate thought was how thankful and blessed I feel to have had the past months. If this happened last year, I wouldn't have had all of these wonderful moments under my belt. I wouldn't have been able to look back with total happiness.

I believe once again, everything happens for a reason! When I began to think of taking care of a special needs child, I questioned whether I had enough of a foundation with Aviana to get through. I thought, a house without a foundation has, but no other choice than to crumble. I have now realized that THIS is the foundation I have been so desperately searching for.

I could not begin to understand how much I loved this little munchkin all along. I had no concept of the depth of our connection. From the moment she woke up, our daily routines were completely intertwined. All the way until her little head rested comfortably on her pillow at night. She was just as much part of my everyday existence as I was of hers. She was taking care of me, just as much as I was taking care of her. I didn't realize this until I woke up without her.

I have been rocked to my core and all of the true, honest feelings are flowing out daily. I love this pint size cutie with all of my heart and will continue to follow her lead. She will let me know what is good for her in the beginning stages of her recovery and I will be right there for her. I often think, maybe we would NEVER have gotten to where we are now without this accident.

Everything happens for a reason, I will say it again. No matter what happens, I will find the good in this!! Trust me, I am usually not this optimistic of a person, the pessimism usually arises out of the little meaningless stuff. When faced with the big issues though, something else takes over.

Our two year anniversary with Aviana was to be completely different....or was it :-) When I talk to Aviana, well I say all kinds of things, but what I say every single time is, "Aviana please come back to me, things are going to be different around here, please, just give me the opportunity to show you!!"

Doesn't she look like she loves her new family??!! This was her WONDERFUL foster family. Hard to miss the two giants on the side :o) Poor little baby, this is what she looked like the entire time in the hotel room. I happen to think she is so cute when she cries that sick?!!


  1. aww Jen, lovely story, appreciate your honesty. You know, this happened for me with my second, and he's a birth baby---it just took me awhile to get him---not so much as an infant, but more from say 6 months old until 9 months to a year old. I knew it was my struggle, and I knew that I just had to learn him---to not take his personality personally and to find his language and way of connecting---it was a challenge, but it is one I signed up for---I also always wanted to be a mom, :)

    You are lovely, your love for your Aviana is evident, and you have the tenacity (I'm a researcher too :) to navigate these waters.

    We are here, supporting you, praying for you, sharing this journey with you to Aviana's healing---one day at a time.

    hugs and support !!

  2. Jenn & Dave,

    Our faith and beliefs are tested in mysterious ways as we journey through life. It is our persistence and trust in God that gets us through these very trying times. I ultimately believe that we learn something from these (horrible) experiences... though we may not know or understand what we are supposed to learn until long after the struggles.

    You remain in my thoughts and prayers and I check the blog everyday. I continue to hold yourselves, your precious Baby Girl, and her medical care team in my prayers. May Aviana find strength and healing as you take this very difficult journey.

    Tina B.

  3. Happy Adoption Day! (as we call it in our household) It is such a sepcial day to reflect on those first moments and days as a new family! You wrote what many new moms feel. It just takes time and then BAM! You are a mama bear and you never let go! You have many more special times ahead with Aviana, new memories to make and they too will be a celebration!! One day at a time...We continue to pray and have Aviana in our thoughts! God Bless!

  4. Happy Anniversary! Your honesty and love are beautiful. We are continuing to hold you in our thoughts and prayers.

  5. That was a beautiful and honest post...especially since you've never met me! I think you don't need to read should write one yourself!!!

  6. Jen, I just heard about your story through the S4O group. I want you to know I have been praying for you and your family. My brother had a brain injury that they said was a mortal one. They gave no hope. He is great now. No permanent damage. I have faith that you will have the same outcome. I can tell just through your writing that you are a great mom. As moms sometimes we are all too hard on yourself. Aviana is lucky to have you. Maureen

  7. Oh Jen, I had a terrible time bonding with Valentina. And just like Aviana, she bonded to me almost immediately. I felt so guilty, so horrible, so unmotherly, and it was made all the worse because I had a 3 year old nephew who is like my own and who I bonded with IMMEDIATELY, when I saw him being born, so I felt even worse, like "how can I bond with my nephew and not with my own child?" I was very open and blogged about it for months. It was a very slow process and looking back now (she came home 11/25/07) I realize that it didn't take the 2-3 months like I thought, it was more like a good 6+ months. There are times now when I get frustrated as a mom and wonder "have I not bonded with her fully yet? Is there still bonding left to do?" I think of you and Aviana so many times throughout the day, as does my mom. Please know that we are all thinking and praying for you, Aviana and the rest of your family. Oh, and I've never come up with a "gotcha day" phrase either!!! In all honesty I forget about it and only think of the day that we came home because it happened to be on my mom's birthday/my grandparents anniversary. No need to come up with anything, you know you're a family and when you became one.

  8. Jen & Dave -

    Congrats on the special day. Avi is so lucky to have been born into your hearts. It is funny how depression can hit you when you bring a little one home, often without you realizing it. Things don't go as you imagined, as you planned. Adam wanted to help deliver the baby with the doctor, we planned on withholding the eye drops and vitamin k shot until I nursed, and planned on going home soon.

    Instead I had a horrible time with hyperemesis, my fibromyalgia flared up and I couldn't take pain medicine, and I ended up with a c-section, and Emma was rushed to the NICU since she wasn't breathing well because she was so large. Whether they admit it or not, most parents go through this. When you go through the homestudy and classes they warn you about post adoption depression, but I don't think that could ever prepare you for the reality of it.

    You both have done an excellent job with Avi. She is the sweetest little thing, and bright. Even though she didn't talk much around us, she communicated well, got along great with her preschool buddies, and managed to steal the hearts of everyone near her. She is so strong, and so are her Mommy and Daddy. I continue to pray that with each passing day things get a little easier, and Avi gets a little healthier and a little closer to coming home. God bless.


  9. Oh what a lovely post. Your honesty is very important to be aware of. Your little girl is so blessed as are you both. Wishing you lots of great things to come your way.

  10. Just like with Cameo and Valentina I think you are the parents God meant for Aviana to have and you sound like a wonderful mother to me. Keeping you all in our prayers. V's Grama

  11. Jen..I also feel like, having had to go thru a lot of hard times in my life too, and now with my own health problems, that there are reasons to it all. And it has made us all look at life a lot different, and to respect it, not just take advantage of even the every day things life brings, as in any day, it can be changed forever. I am so happy that you are taking the good from this and growing as a person and also as a mother. It will deepen your love for her, I'm sure, and make it a much stronger relationship, than you ever could have imagined. So with that, Happy BIRTHday for her into your family and lives, and now another chance to really feel the wonders and miracles children are to us all. I cherish my sons with every bone in my body, every breath I take, that I have had 2 healthy sons that have grown now, and especially now the one son that helped to save little Avianas life, which now has added her and her little family as part of our lives too. Bless you!! (((Gentle Hugs)))

  12. I can't get over how freaking cute she looked in that little sailor's dress. :)

  13. Jen,
    Thank you for your honesty, I too felt that way with our second son that we adopted. My first son was instant bond, but with our second he didn't want anything to do with me only my husband. It took us many many months, maybe even a year to bond and we are still working on it. Our personalities clash so much and all I can say is I love him so much and always will, I just can't wait for us to grow more and more. I am happy you could share your story, I know I felt so ashamed to feel the way I did for my son, and I am glad to see there are many others who went through the same situation. We are praying for Avi and I know that God will heal here and you will share a lifetime of memories!