I’m sure by now everyone has seen the social media posts and all the stories about how amazing people are with that extra copy of their 21st chromosome. I am so thankful to live in a world where we celebrate and value people of all strengths. I haven’t been home for very long to go crazy on 3/21 this year…. but I felt like I wanted to share something. When I think of AJ I don’t think of Down syndrome. I don’t look at him and think he is different. He is simply a little boy and he is himself. In a way over the past couple of months, I have come to love Down syndrome so much more because I just don’t see it. And to me that’s a beautiful thing. I have literally become almost immune to the fact that my child is any different ( I know in my heart he is but we don’t live any differently). I don’t know how to say it perfectly…. but I think when the world is able to take Down syndrome, and look at people with and without … and see no difference in them … that’s progress. I wouldn’t introduce myself to someone and say hi I am caitlin with lupus. The same way I don’t introduce my son and say hi this is AJ and he has Down syndrome. No, he is just AJ. Of course if someone wanted to talk and learn and enjoy his beauty with meI would shout it from the roof tops proudly….but it’s not what defines him. And while every little feature that comes with Down syndrome has made me love him that much more ( his precious little almond eyes, those chubby short fingers, his gymnast moves)….. he is simply my AJ. I was mostly supporter when people found out we were adopting him. More supported than I could have ever dreamed of. But unfortunately people still frowned or got uncomfortable when they found out the details. “That’s too much to take on” , or ” you don’t know what your getting yourself into with that” Or the all to common “wow that’s going to be really hard you have your hands full I hope you have support” ( little did I know I would also be pregnant what would they say now HAHAH)….Let me clear the air. This adoption put me through emotional hell. It’s just the person I am. I get attached and I love hard. I wanted my baby. And for 13 months without him I struggled more than I ever had in my life. But let it be known for the world to hear…. and those haters…. the fact that my child has Down syndrome was probably the easiest part of my entire adoption. There is nothing about AJs needs that made this process or parenting him more difficult. Was the road to colombia hard ? Heck yes. Was colombia itself tough ? Um yeah. The wait ? Hardest thing I’ve been through in my life. AJ having Down syndrome ? What did that change. Nothing. It made me love him harder. I realize there will be trials as with any child. And we will work so hard to help him succeed. But I will do that with all my kids. In no way has it had a negative impact on our lives. While everyone is celebrating the beauty and acceptance of Down syndrome tomorrow ….. remember that while it’s something a person may have been born with…. in no way does it define them. If AJ and I could ask you one thing for tomorrow it would be this…. Please practice acceptance and inclusion always. and don’t just wait for 3/21 to celebrate those around you that are incredible. I promise it will change the world. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for those of you still reading these silly things (probably all 5 of you hahah) , your awesome
Colombia was wild. It was the experience of a lifetime. I don’t think I will ever be the same and I don’t think I will ever live my life the same. I think I experienced every emotion while I was in country and I’m still trying to digest everything that we went through!! The first and most important thing to state is that I have so much deep imbedded love, respect and admiration for my sons birth country. We were treated with love, kindness, compassion and everything in between. There is something to be said about the hospitality Colombian people bring to the table. It’s something I think we could all learn from. I met some lifelong friends that will forever be a part of my heart❤️ a big emotion I had was anger. Not anger at the people or the country but anger at how naive I have been in my own world. I always liked to think I was well rounded and somewhat accepting and cultured. But I will tell you, the sadness I feel towards the times I acted privilege or selfish or vain while living the life I live makes me sick. I don’t mean to offend anyone but I was angry at white privilege. The babies and the children and the families giving their last living breathe just to try and save their children….. these are images I will never forget. The people who didn’t even have a cup of water for the day and I had the nerve to order a bottled Evian at the airport that morning…. I felt ashamed at myself for complaining I had a commute to work when I watched others walk across the border with no shoes, no anything. Just to get medicine to survive. This is messy and I’m not editing anything, because all these feelings are everywhere. My heart is still trying to comprehend it all. Now this wasn’t everywhere. We were in the Venezuelan boarder at a very tragic time. Bogota is a beautiful big city in colombia that might remind some of NYC or a really big buffalo for those in this area. It was like a different world. We stayed in a total of three parts of Colombia. Cucuta where we first got AJ, we traveled back to bogota by plane, drove four hours to La Mesa and then back to Bogota. We were there for a total of one month exactly. Parts went by extremely fast and some parts were slow and I did get homesick towards the end. I really missed being able to communicate so easily as I am not fluent in Spanish. It’s tough having to rely on someone 24-7 for everything. Even asking for a spoon was difficult at first hahaha. The day I was handed my son, was the day my life really began. In fact I have two categories now. My world before AJ and my world after. I don’t remember the moment in detail. A worker walked him through the door, and I couldn’t feel my body anymore. It was the moment I replayed in my head for 13 months but nothing went like I imagined. I literally couldn’t move. I closed my eyes and out my head in his hair and I just kept saying it’s ok baby, I’m here and I just sobbed. Not a tearful cute cry but a full ugly almost like something tragic happened sob. And I just kept my eyes closed and held him with so many people watching. But in the moment, my world was black. Everything just became complete and my heart was healed instantaneously. I felt like I had been his mommy for two years. People have wondered the comparison and bond vs childbirth. Let me tell you, the roller coaster I was on the past year created a bond with this boy stronger than anything in the world. When I snapped out of it I was able to hand him to my amazing husband Alex. I feel bad looking back that I didn’t immediately go to Alex and hold AJ with him. When I tell you I froze I really did. I was worried about how I would look towards all of the adoption workers, and I wanted to be composed and impressive. And I can’t even tell you what happened now because it was that intense. It was one of those moments I will never be able to explain, but I can still feel it in my soul. My beautiful baby boy is the most beautiful, happy, sun shining soul I have ever met. Now I would have said this regardless because after all he is my son….. but he is a special kind of happy. I know god created him for me and sent him my way. I don’t think I could possibly love him more. I feel like I’m a way he saved me from everything bad in life. He changed my heart forever, and I am so blessed and thankful that I have the privilege to be his mommy. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Its been awhile for a few reasons; first for my own well being. We hit about every bump in the road and had some big delays!!!! I was hoping for best case scenario borderline miracle in terms of time, and I got hit with a hard reality when we started going through all the things I was warned could happen but chose not to believe. I think God puts you in a state of mind so you can handle these experiences at every stage, and for awhile, being overly optimistic and naive was working for me. Luckily now, as long as things go well in the next couple weeks (which they will) we are going to be on the quick track to Colombia and the adoption of our little love. I am not going to expect a perfectly smooth ride with no minor detours, but I am still optimistic. Secondly, it does get a little hard to talk about. I said it before, so I wont carry on but I just want to answer someone and say “we are leaving next week”! instead of “soon”. But for now, I will say soon 😊 If you know the adoption lingo, we had some addendums and additional information requests that we were not initially expecting. Those delays were probably equivalent to a month of extra waiting, plus a delay from the summer. None of these things are because Colombia is trying to stop us or doesn’t want us to adopt. They are sincerely trying to be the best they can for these babies getting adopted. They want to make sure they do their due diligence for the children in foster and orphanages before they go to their new families. It’s a BIG deal. Its huge. I cant even imagine having the responsibility of saying ok this family on paper gets to adopt this baby. A lot of people have assumed its just useless time wasted, but I have worlds of respect for the country and I will defend them forever in saying they are trying to do the right thing. It’s such a large legal situation as well. Throw in some immigration and international laws and you get one of the most intense processes ever.
We also have some really good news. We are fully funded for our entire adoption. Considering we started with 1,000 towards this and had nothing, raising almost 40,000 is nothing short of a miracle. Our fundraiser was the biggest blessing we could have ever asked for. We got some amazing grants to start out with, and were in a pretty good place. A couple weeks ago, while submitting additional information, I began to get nervous again. I was worried about $$ and getting anxious. Last week, we received two more grants we applied for, that will cover the rest of our costs. They came out of nowhere, but at the absolute perfect time. I still have no words to describe how that feels. It’s a huge relief, and I feel like we can focus on our family and our little guy more now. I know this wasn’t super long, but I still appreciate everyone so much and love everyone who has been by my side since the beginning. I will have some positive exciting updates soon!!!!!! xoxoxoxox
A little update, because I know so many of you have become emotionally involved… and for that I am forever thankful!
I can’t really talk about the specifics of our journey thus far, and what exactly we are waiting for, or doing currently etc. Its just better to be play it safe. What I can say is that recently we made some BIG moves in terms of getting closer ❤ There was a slight holdup, due to matters beyond our control, but I am happy to say things are back on track and headed in the right direction. I promise when I get this particular official “thing” I need before travel, I will be shouting it from the rooftops and probably legit peeing my pants or throwing up from excitement.
WAYYYY better place
…Last time I wrote, I was having some serious sadness….something I don’t usually EVER deal with. So it was hard for me to talk about, and writing on my blog didn’t help much. I holed up at my house, talked to my husband, my mommy, my close friends and PRAYED ridiculous amounts on my knees every night in tears. I prayed every morning, I prayed every night, in the car, when I would wake up at night. I just wanted my son so bad it hurt.
I know this monumental event in life, hit us in the face out of nowhere. We weren’t prepared, and we had to start from 0. We legit started from rock bottom. We were told there was no way we would be as far as we are in this time frame. We were told the money was out of reach. We were faced with harsh realities. You wont find me in a catholic church every Sunday, and you wont find me preaching the bible to others. What I can say is my faith has gotten me through so many obstacles in life. Painful, brutal, sometimes down right miserable obstacles. Faith, and God are what have gotten us this far. Through blessings and miracles, we are where we are now. I am not pushing anything on anyone, I am not telling anyone what to believe or how to behave…Im just saying in my personal journey my faith has meant everything.
I am at peace because I know my baby is so close. Its so close I can feel it. I know God has a plan for him, and for our family. He has guided us thus far, and equipped us with everything we need up until now, and I know he will bring our family together safely. So I decided while I may be anxious at times, I am at peace because I cant worry about the things I have no control over. I have control over how much I love my boy when he gets home. I have control over getting my home ready for him when he gets here. I have control over the photo album that he will get in the mail soon. I decided to turn my anxiousness and stress into excitement and love. I will never be in this position again. There is a reason I am in it now. Im just trying to soak it all in. We are so blessed, my life is so beautiful, and for those of you wondering….I am so close to having mi amor in my arms. I promise its coming ❤ ❤ ❤ !!!!! xoxoxoxox
Updates….I’ve been avoiding all of my feelings lately except for the show I put on. However, I know I have a purpose to spread the truth about this process, to encourage, to inspire whenever possible and to be a supporter for anyone else that may be going through the same…I want to show my son that lifes greatest gifts come in the most difficult packages to unwrap. I have been in an emotional state that is completely not me. I am happy and excited and overly blessed and ecstatic about my life please know that. Bible, I have never been happier. But I am having such a hard time right now. I am sad, I am uneasy, I want to cry, I want to hold my baby. I have been having anxiety that I haven’t had since I was in college, and more sleepless nights in the past month than I have had in the past 28 years. But I am so extremely happy, blessed and excited that I cannot even put it into words. Its crazy and contradicting I know.
The hurt in my heart is for the pain I have because I don’t have my baby in my arms. I am not sure I would have ever known the true feeling of want, or desire if I hadn’t gone down this beautiful path. Please mommies, hug and kiss your babies for me. 😊
I don’t have a date. I don’t even have a month. I get asked about 5 times a day how much longer and what month I will go. I know these people all love and support me. I know people are curious, and I want to share with you. I want to be a resource for anyone interested. I just don’t know. It kills me that I don’t know, and every time I have to say I don’t know it makes my heart ache. Im not uneasy about my trip, im not uneasy about bringing home a little boy I have never met, and I am not uneasy in the least about how I will handle his unique needs. Im uneasy because right now, in the moment I cannot hold him in my arms, and I don’t know when exactly I will. Its hard for me to look in his little bedroom. I look at his crib and I imagine what my heart will feel when I see the top of his little blonde head sitting in it. I look in my rearview mirror and think about what songs I am going to sing with him on our way to target. I look at the cupboard filled with tiny spoons and cups in my kitchen and I desperately want to take of the plastic and fill one with apple juice.
My mom and sister gave the sweetest baby shower. I was so anxious, I had such a stomach ache and I was so scared. I never feel that way in a social setting, but I was freaking OUT. In these difficult times, I wasn’t ready to answer the questions…when, how much longer, why does it take so long, don’t you get anxious. I was surrounded by beautiful people, and my closest friends and my family. It ended up lifting my spirits so much, and I felt at peace when I saw all of the people that wanted to love my son. My friends that I have talked to during this process and probably driven nuts, I deeply love you without boundaries. It has meant the world to me.
I also have a sense of calm. I know and I trust that God is protecting our boy. It’s the one fact and the one truth I can hold onto right now. I know he is safe, and I know this is all part of Gods plan. I know things happen when they are supposed to happen. I know Alex, AJ and I are all blessed beyond measure. For that, I am forever thankful.
I have rushed, I have taken sick days to do paperwork, I have gone at warp speed head on since I saw that little picture in January. Please believe me when I say I have never worked harder at anything than getting this boy home. Ideally, the answer would be late summer early fall as to when we can go to Colombia. Unfortunately, I just cannot answer that question right now. But I can tell you its soon. Its sooner than when we had our fundraiser, its sooner than it was in January, and its sooner than it was yesterday. When they tell us to come, we will leave the next possible day.
My hope in this blog, is that someone may read it, randomly on the web and be inspired to do what Alex and I did. To “choose” love for a child that so desperately needs and deserves it. This journey has given me a small (very small) platform, to bring up topics that may have otherwise been uncomfortable for me to openly discuss. Its given me ability to talk on behalf of the beautiful down syndrome communities, and say that AJ wasn’t a diagnosis we received, he was our first choice. With that, I wanted to bring up some heavy issues….not because I owe it to anyone, and not because I want to put all of my dirty laundry out on the web (which is exactly what I am going to end up doing) but I want to bring awareness, I want someone to read this and connect with it. I want to help, my heart and my soul have a deep burning drive to help these babies and children whom were born with a little something extra, and are in countries that do not have all of the resources our country has.
I have been advised to leave this alone and not bring it up. I was told those close to me already know my heart, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. But for some reason its been eating at me. It matters to me. It matters to me that my son knows it matters. So with TMI for starters ,Alex and I did NOT try to get pregnant. To be honest, I have no idea if I will ever struggle, because its not something I have tried! I was sick, but we had not yet tried to conceive a child. As a matter a fact, right before AJ found us, I went off the pill. Ended up going back on two weeks later 😊 There are so many responses to our adoption, so many beautiful remarks and uplifting words of advice. I just cant seem to get past the response “oh you couldn’t have your own children?” It may be completely innocent and out of curiosity. But it takes a true punch to my stomach when I hear it. It may be the comment I hate the most. First off, AJ is my child. So what do you mean I didn’t want to have my own? He is my baby, and he is coming home. Secondly, that statement is suggesting that he was a last resort to us. Its like saying oh you didn’t get what you really wanted so your adopting AJ. I realize this is very common. And I love the beautiful couples and respect them more than anything that struggled with infertility and decided to take the incredibly route of adoption…I cannot tell you how amazing I think that is. For some reason, I just wanted people to know where I am coming from.
I had dreams of being a mother for years. I would pray about it for years. I would literally pray to god that he would bless me with, or lead me to the child I was supposed to mother. I specifically said in my prayers, I would mother with my entire being and love with my entire heart whichever child needed me the most regardless of the baggage they came with. I said I would handle with grace any disability that may come my way. I don’t even know what made me start praying these things. I remember I always said I would adopt. Then I wanted to adopt a child with down syndrome. Eventually I just was conflicted. My husband was down for whatever. So I just started saying these prayers each night. Needless to say, we thought we would start trying, and then comes AJ two months later, like an answer from god. Of course I want to give him siblings and expand our family in the future, but right now do me a favor…if you hear that someone is adopting….uplift them as women and as mothers….be excited with them and jump up and down…cry with them…just hug them….I promise you this is the hardest path I have been on. xoxoxoxo