Posts Tagged 'multiples'

Adoption: Giving the gift of forever families

Family adopting twins with their judge on the case

Our family on Adoption Day, June 29, 2012. I was very grateful to have gotten through the whole legal proceedings (we were the last case called, of course) without spit-up on my suit. It was a miracle.

 

It took only three weeks to go from “waiting to be chosen” to “Holy crap, I’m a mom!”

Our birthmom was decisive. She saw our profile, asked to meet us, and made the most agonizingly wonderful decision of her life. And mine.

The kids were due in mid-January. We met birthmom at a local mall for our first interview with her. About a week later, we got word through our agency that she chose us and would like to meet with us more. So we went to her house, which was about 3 miles from ours.

A week after that meeting, on Dec. 13, my cell rang. It was birthmom and it was baby time.

Just like that — with one phone call — I became the mom to two tiny babies.

My husband and I were in the delivery room for the birth, so we were there for their first breath. We were the emergency contact for the kids should something happen in the middle of the night. We were at the hospital from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day for a week just holding, changing and feeding those two.

We also spent time with birthmom. Just me and her. She told me about her family and her life. She shared motherly advice with me, which I absorbed. She never said it outright, but she wanted us to know every possible thing about her, so we could answer as many questions as we could when the twins started asking. I was very grateful.

There are no words that describe what it’s like to be an adoptive parent. If you’re lucky like we were, you try and please the birthmom to no end, while staying within the rules. You walk on eggshells because you don’t want her to take those babies from you, but you know full well that in giving them to you she’s giving her heart to strangers. The thought of that is more than anyone should have to bear.

You’re terrified of letting this wonderful birthmom down. She chose you for a reason, several in fact, so you better not drop the ball.

You’re excited that you not only got one baby to love, but you also got another. A bonus baby. More love, less sleep. Totally worth it.

It’s all those things and so many more that I can’t put into words.

One of the hardest, most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed was watching our birthmom drive away. Three days after the kids were born, she was discharged. We walked her down to her caseworker’s car. She was so confident in us. She kept telling us how great we were going to be and how proud of us she was.

Can you imagine that? She was proud of us.

We stayed in touch with our birthmom for the first year or so. We had her over a few times and even had a barbecue with our caseworker. That’s typical. Many birthmoms follow the family closely for the first year, then when they’re comfortable in their decision, they begin to let go. But they never forget.

Neither will I.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

How we became adoptive parents

Words of love in "LOVE"Some people call it a “journey” but I call it a “process” because when you’re adopting you never feel like you’re going anywhere.

November is National Adoption Month. In recognition, I’ll share with you our adoption story in a series of blogs from the humble beginnings to the triumphant ending and beyond.

Yes, there is a “beyond.”

The whole adoption idea hatched about four years into our marriage. My husband and I were sitting on the couch with tears in our eyes, enraged at what we were watching on TV. I don’t remember all the details, but it was a 60 Minutes-style story on boy soldiers in Africa. I remember how we talked about it after. How horrible we felt for those kids and if they only had parents to protect them. Then and there the seed was planted.

After that, whenever the subject of starting a family came up — rarely — it was pretty much in the context of adoption. But life happened, we got the travel bug and spent the next several years working for our vacations to Europe and my husband focused on completing his Ph.D.

In 2010, we started getting serious about adoption and began researching agencies — after all, we weren’t getting any younger and if we decided to go international, age plays a role.

Many adoption agencies have open houses so families looking to adopt can hear about the programs offered and talk firsthand to adoptive parents. It was always an emotional experience for me. We’d walk in to a room full of mostly empty chairs. Inevitably, there would be a video with dramatic/uplifting music playing on a loop with photos of kids who need a home. The kids always had huge, sad eyes and runny noses. I wanted to help them all.

We sat through several “big production” open houses like this, but the agencies didn’t feel right for us. One was so big, we felt like we’d just be a case number. Another told us that since we don’t belong to a church, they wouldn’t take us as clients. Eventually, we found our agency. It was small, homey and understaffed. They got to know their birthmoms and adoptive families closely. In fact, our case worker is an adoptee and the case worker for our birthmom is an adoptive mother.

And that’s when the paperwork began.

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health and adoptive parent of multiples.

There are Puddles in My House and It’s Not Even Raining

Little girl potty training her teddy bear

Cropped image. Manish Bansal, Flickr. CC License.

I’m very grateful for our hardwood floors. It’s much easier to mop up pee than to clean it out of a rug.

We started potty training our boy/girl twins in November. It’s now January and we can’t claim victory. I’m not going to lie. It’s disheartening.

When we started out on this adventure, I would’ve told you that one kid was ready and one wasn’t. That same kid was going to be a breeze to potty train. Good thing I’m not a betting person because I would’ve lost. Big time.

We read up on potty training toddlers. We took the kids to the store to pick out their own undies. We got a jar of M&Ms for rewarding going on the potty. We have a little stool and potty seat to make everything as little-tushy friendly as possible. We thought we were set.

One kid did really well. In fact, within about a week, we were accident free. Hooray! Granted, this kid still expects an M&M sometimes after a bathroom trip, but it’s a small price to pay.

However, the other kid just isn’t having it. There are good days (really good days), but then there are days where we’re changing wet pants minutes—sometimes seconds—after reading books for 10 minutes in the bathroom. We’ve learned that the kid must wear pants with the undies every day. Just undies alone won’t work. The pants absorb more and we have to clean up less. Gross, right?

So frustrating. But when I think about it, if I’m frustrated, the kid must be insanely frustrated. I know this is about control, but I just don’t know what to do about it. Any ideas?

I’m just holding out the hope that by the time the kids are in junior high, we’ll be able to put this in the “success” category.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

Breaking the Paci Habit

Close up of young girl sucking on pacifier

Unaltered Image. Raúl A., CC License.

I understand that as my kids get older, particularly teenagers, they’ll like me less and less. How they could like their parents less than the day they took their beloved pacifiers away, I can’t even imagine.

I know; we were late to the ballgame on this one. Our twins are 2½ years old. We should’ve broken the paci habit a year ago. Maybe even more. But we were all sleeping so well. I like sleep.

But the time had come.

At first we tried the casual approach: “How about we sleep with no paci tonight?”

“No. I want paci.”

“OK.”

Then we gave ourselves a deadline. The night of the deadline, my husband and looked at each other and knew the feeling was mutual. We chickened out.

One day I found some clearance toys and bought two for each kid. Our son tried it for one night, so we gave him a bucket of plastic animals. Our daughter took one look at the menagerie, had a moment of jealousy, and got over it.

That night, our son took his paci back. Fail.

The pacifiers now looked like they went through the garbage disposal and I wasn’t buying more. That’s when I pulled out the big guns: a Doc McStuffins doctor kit and a garbage truck with flashing lights.

Our daughter was the first one to take the bait. I showed her the kit and told her if she sleeps all night with no paci, she could have the toy in the morning.

I’ve never seen her move so fast. She ran to her room, pointed to the box with her pacis, marched it into the kitchen and set it on the table. It was quite a to-do. My husband and I cheered her on the entire way.

That night, she jumped in bed (unheard of) and didn’t make a peep until the morning. I went in to get her out of bed and the first words out of her mouth were, “Doctor Stuffins?”

“Yes!”

That night, however, we realized we failed to help her understand that this was permanent. A tantrum ensued.

Her brother wanted no part of that. He stuck to his paci.

Each day after that got easier. After a week, she started asking why Brother still had a paci. It was time to pull the trigger again. Her brother didn’t go for the wait-and-earn-it approach. He’s more of an instant gratification guy. So, we took a risk and said that he can sleep with the garbage truck, but not his paci.

Worked like a charm.

Today, we are a pacifier-free house. It was a little rough going for about a month until everyone’s sleep patterns settled down again, but we’re back to getting some good sleep.

Now for the next challenge: transition to big-kid beds.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

Ahhh … My First Trip Away From the Twins

Interior photo of Montreal's Notre Dame Cathedral

I put my photography hobby to good use inside the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. The photo is unedited, so those are the true colors.

It finally happened. After 2.5 years, I left my kids to go on a short trip with my husband. It was divine! Glorious! Relaxing!

And I felt guilty.

Up until May, I had never spent even one night away from my twins. Not one. But the time had come for mom and dad to get away and recharge our batteries. We aren’t spring chickens anymore, you know.

In April, my husband told me about a work trip he was scheduling in Montreal. It would be from Monday night until Thursday night. Three whole nights of uninterrupted sleep. Two whole days of grown-up meals and restaurant visits that didn’t end in one of us cleaning the floor. I was excited.

And I felt guilty.

I planned my alone time (wah-hoo!) carefully. I wanted to do some window shopping and practice my photography hobby that has been sorely neglected. I wanted to take long, hot showers just because I could. And most of all, I wanted to just kick back without a schedule, without structure and just be.

Without feeling guilty.

When the day came for us to leave, I spent the last hour snuggled on the couch uncharacteristically letting the kids watch back-to-back episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, just so I could hold them. At T-minus 30 minutes to departure, I was starting to blink back tears. What were they going to learn while I was gone? What if they missed me too much? My daughter is very attached to me. What if she doesn’t do well?

And then I felt really guilty.

When the time came to leave the kids in the hands of our wonderful nanny, I kissed and hugged them until they got annoyed with me and I cried all the way to the car. They, however, were in their own little world, which was great. No tears from them. I decided I had to get it together. I didn’t want the TSA thinking my husband was putting me on a plane against my will. So I put on some music that didn’t involve wheels on the bus or weasels popping, sat back, and enjoyed the ride.

And tried not to feel guilty.

Once we were there, I remembered how much I love traveling and enjoyed myself thoroughly. We had a fantastic dinner at a posh restaurant, saw the sights at night and during the day and, you guys, I even took a nap and relaxed in a hot tub! I was like a kid in a candy store.

And I tried not to feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

The kids did great while we were gone. Our fabulous nanny stayed with them and they did art projects, went to the park, and even met nanny’s dog. Our son really didn’t care where we were. As long as he had food, his bed and his trucks, all was well. Our daughter had a little rougher go of it. The first night, she had a tough time going to sleep, but after that she was fine. She asked about us a lot, but was satisfied with knowing that we would come back. All in all, it was good for us as adults to have some time together. We are better parents for it.

And I finally don’t feel guilty.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

What You Should and Should Not Say to the Parents of Multiples

stroller kids

It’s inevitable. Multiples attract a lot of attention and that’s okay. People are naturally curious about twins, triplets, quads, etc. But there are just some things that you need to Google, things that should never be said to a parent of multiples. And, yes, someone has said all of these to me at some point.

  1. Are they natural?
    What do you mean? They aren’t cyborgs. Of course they’re natural. Whether or not they came into our lives the good-old-fashioned way, through fertility treatments, IVF or adoption is very personal and often sensitive. They’re my kids and they’re gorgeous.
  2. Which one is the evil twin?
    My children have not shown any abnormal predisposition to evilness. They are toddlers, yes, but that doesn’t make them evil. Just unpredictable. And don’t try and choose which one either. That’s just rude.
  3. How do you do it? Or You sure have your hands full.
    There’s nothing horrible or offensive about asking this, I just don’t know how to answer you. My husband and I take care of our kids. Period. We work, keep up the house and have family commitments just like anyone else. Granted, some things get done better than others, and sometimes things just fall through the cracks. All of these are normal casualties of parenting. We’ve never known what it’s like to parent a singleton, so we have no way of comparing.
  4. Are they identical?
    Also, not offensive. But I have a boy and a girl. We just went over that in the question you just asked me. (Yes, they ask if one is a boy and the other is a girl all the time). By virtue of the meaning of the word, “identical” they cannot be. If you don’t understand—I’ve given a quick Grey’s Anatomy lesson in the middle of the mall—you need to call someone and have them give you the birds and bees conversation again.
  5. Better you than me.
    Obviously.
  6. Are you going to have any more?
    Do I know you? I believe we just met in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean we bonded over the Cheerios. MYOB.

All that said, there are always welcome comments. Of course, compliments are fantastic. After all, who doesn’t like a complete stranger to tell them how beautiful their babies are? Here are a few more:

  1. I have multiples, too. Don’t worry, you’ll survive.
    Unless you’ve lived through multiples, you have no idea how much comfort this statement can bring. Especially after tough days and sleepless nights. This does come with a caveat: Please don’t say, “Mine were two years apart, so they pretty much were twins, so I know how you feel.”
  2. You had twins? You look fabulous!
    For me, it was a huge undertaking to go to the store by myself with the twins. If I actually managed to find an “outfit,” meaning not yoga pants and a sweatshirt, earrings and lip gloss, I was high fashion. Moms of multiples often feel run down and ragged, especially in the first few weeks. Letting them know they don’t look like death warmed over them is a wonderful thing.
  3. I just don’t know how you do it.
    I know, sounds a lot like #3 above. But this is a statement, not a question. You’re not asking me to think in the abstract. You’re complimenting me on my abilities and acknowledging how difficult it would be for you. Thank you.
  4. You are so blessed.
    Yes. Yes, I am.

—Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

Heads Up: An Odd-Shaped Head at Birth is Nothing To Be Alarmed About

RebeccasTwins

Hi. My name is Rebecca. My birth story isn’t typical, but it’s not all that unusual, either.

You see, I was “expecting” for about 18 months. We began the adoption process in June 2010 (holy paperwork, Batman!) and became the very proud parents of twins in December 2011. We had three weeks’ notice to prepare for two babies.

We met our birthmom and her case worker at a local mall play area. She had a notebook full of questions, which we were happy to answer. Her decision to make an adoption plan was confident, thoughtful and considerate, which made our adoption process move along like a dream.

A week after we met her, she invited us to her home just three miles away from ours to get to know each other better. We met her son, our kids’ half-brother, and learned her history. She was completely wonderful.

It was just a little more than a week after that when we received a call from her. This wasn’t like her, since she always preferred communicating through our adoption agency. She said that all day she wasn’t feeling well and decided to go to the emergency room, just to make sure everything was alright. Good thing she did because those babies wanted out!

In a panicked hustle we sped to the hospital and 97 minutes later we were parents to a 4-pound, 10 ounce girl and a 5-pound, 1-ounce boy. They were six weeks premature.

Our daughter was the first baby born. She was head down, so her brother was sitting on her head for 34 weeks. When the doctor showed her to us for the first time, we had no idea what to think except maybe “Igor” would be a more fitting name than the one we had chosen.

Then out came our boy. I was a little worried at first, but his head was perfect. I’m happy to say that my daughter now has a normal shaped head and big, blue eyes—a real heart-breaker.

Was your child born with a funny-shaped head? Did you see your baby for the first time and think, “Hmmm”?

Being the adoptive parent of multiples is a challenging experience, but it also brings unimaginable joy. I’m happy to share that with you all.

—Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples


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