Friday, March 30, 2007

Sing Hallelujah

Comments on the comments. Again. I know, how obnoxious am I?

**Joy was sung by Staxx of Joy.

**Liz, the hotel reservations I was making in Seattle are for our summer vacation plans, although Blaine will be up there next week by himself.

**To all those who have been kind enough to ask about Blaine, I’ve not been avoiding the subject, I just haven’t known what to say so I haven’t said anything. Ok …. Soooooo, technically, that’s called avoiding. Whatever. We know nothing. Well, that’s not true. We know his next oral surgery is taking place the end of April. We know the mass in his shoulder is bigger and the pain is starting to radiate. We know it took a very long time to get all his appointments in Seattle (that he missed when his insurance authorization expired) rescheduled, but they have been. For April 9th. And the plan is for them to do a CT of the lungs, in addition to the CT and MRI’s they are doing of his head. So hopefully we will know more then. Although don’t count on it, because you know how it always goes for us. I have no doubt the CT machine will be broken that day, or the tech will be out with delirious malaria, or there will be a power outage on the entire western seaboard, or their will be a hijacking and his plane will get grounded in Dallas, or a herd of wild rats will invade his hotel and occupy his room, eating his shoes, rendering him unable to leave the hotel due to the hospital’s “No shoes, No shirt, No service” policy, and he’ll simply fly home sadly, barefoot, without knowing any more than we know now. Which is bupkis. (I threw that word in there for you, Jadine.)

**Sally, yes, the birthday letters are letters I write to my children every year on (or near, and I fudge the date on the actual letter) where I tell them how proud I am of them, what they’ve accomplished, what some of their favorite things are, etc. Sort of a year-in-review. They don’t know I write them, and I keep them in a scrapbook to give to them someday when they are old enough to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into them, as opposed to using them to make paper airplanes or paper footballs, which is what I’m pretty sure Kellen would do to them now.

**Natalie, get out! You’re called Bobo, also? Bobo is the name my dear friend Renee’s boys call her mom, and in fact, what all of us call her. Their family has a whole weird nick-name fetish, though. Her sister Wendy is called Dee-Dee; her sister-in-law Kristy is called Tee-Tee; friends of the family call her Nee-Nee, and her youngest son calls his brother Zo-Zo. She scrapbooks, in fact, and I should definitely recommend she do a layout about this habit they have of re-naming everyone. (Renee, are you reading this? You need to document all of this!) Bobo is pretty much a saint, though, and we all adore her. In fact, she is the credit behind the quote I have in my e-mail signature: “If money can fix it, it’s not a real problem”. A quote that became much clearer to me after Kendrie was diagnosed with cancer. So, Bobo’s of the world, you rock!

**I had no idea so many people loved the Mitford Series. I don’t even remember who told me about them, I just found the note to buy them on my list. (See? See why you should never doubt the Importance of The List? If you write it, they will come. Or something like that.)

**Angela, no, my children write their own thank you letters, although you just reminded me that they are behind, as well. So thank you!

**Elena, ha! About putting a note on your list about checking into a notebook support group!!!

So, why am I singing Hallelujah???

The entire time I was pregnant with Kellen, the entire time we lived in Los Angeles, the entire time I walked the Del Amo Mall with Brayden in her stroller, stuffing my big fat face with garlic and Parmesan pretzels, I tried to remember how blessed I was, and to be thankful for the gifts I’d been given. A beautiful baby girl to take care of and love, and a beautiful baby boy on the way. And although I probably looked happy from the outside, and inside I *was* truly happy, I often felt as though I was playing a part on a stage. I did all the “new mom” things I was supposed to do, and certainly took care of Brayden’s physical and emotional needs, but looking back, there was definitely a tinge of desperation to my care-giving. I wasn’t the relaxed, happy mom that Brayden deserved. I tried to be -- I pretended to be -- but I wasn’t. I often wonder if the newborn Brayden, and the toddler Brayden, could sense my concern and fear about the court case back in Oklahoma, and the worry about how things might be going. I alternated between anxiety, flat-out terror, and bliss over being a mom to her. They say babies are pretty perceptive, but I’m going to hope she never picked up on my wide range of emotions, otherwise she’ll be in therapy for years to come.

What we thought would be a ten-day wait before we could adopt her, and then thought would be a few months, and then a few more months, had dragged on for over a year. Finally, two days after Kellen was born, we received word. The decision of the trial court was upheld, the appeal was over, and the case was closed. We were free and clear to finalize Brayden’s adoption. If that’s not a reason to Sing Hallelujah, I can’t imagine what is.

I wish I could properly convey to you the relief I felt at that point. Weak in the knees, adrenaline-rush, shaking all over kind of relief. Basically, I’d been holding my breath for thirteen months, and could finally let it out. If the happiness I felt yesterday over finding my lost notebook was a droplet of water, then the joy I felt knowing Brayden could officially, really, finally, truly, legally, formally, publicly be made my daughter, instead of my foster daughter, was the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, all rolled into one. I would have gladly strapped both babies to my back in a jumbo-Bjorn and walked the twelve hundred miles home, straight to the courthouse, if that had been a reasonable option. But it wasn’t. I had a two-day old baby, and was recovering from major surgery. As much as it KILLED ME not to rush back to Oklahoma and make everything legal YESTERDAY, we knew the logical thing to do was wait just a little while, until traveling was more feasible. We had waited thirteen months, what was a few more weeks?

So, my doctor said six weeks of recovery …. And week seven, we flew our happy butts right back home.

The day of the finalization, our attorney told us it would be a quiet, private affair, taking place in the judge’s chambers. But we had so many family members attend with us, to celebrate, they had to move the finalization into a regular courtroom, just so they could fit everyone in. The attorney who had handled the initial court case, and the appeal for us, who had patiently and gently led us through the process, and gone to bat for us so Brayden and I could leave the state, stood with us before the judge to begin the proceedings. There was a witness on the other side of him, Blaine was holding Brayden, and I was next to Blaine.

Our attorney started the actions by saying, “We are here today to make a matter of legal record what is already a matter of heart” and I burst into tears and blubbered my way through the entire thing. In fact, I tear up to this day when I remember, and think about how special that moment was, and how long we had waited for it.

Brayden? Not so impressed.

She squirmed out of Blaine’s arms and ran straight to the back of the courtroom, where her Grandma and Grandpa were waiting.

Then she got sidetracked by the swinging doors and played with those, entertaining herself the entire time.

I didn’t scrapbook back then, so the pictures I got that day were less than stellar. What the anal, amateur photographer inside me today wouldn't give for a do-over.

Especially, what you can’t see in the photos, is the two hundred pound weight that had been lifted off our shoulders. You wouldn’t think worry and fear would be so heavy, but they are. So is the guilt you feel, when you are forced to acknowledge that your worry is affecting your day to day life in a negative way. And possibly even affecting the one little person you love most in the world. So it was beyond good when the worry and fear was finally gone. And the great big hole they left behind was filled up with even more thankfulness for M, and the amazing gift she had given our family.

At long last, fifteen months later, we were able to appreciate it the way it should be appreciated, with clear eyes, a clear heart, and clear spirit.

And we’ve never stopped.

Sing hallelujah, indeed.

Why yes, I bought her that “My Mom Rocks” t-shirt. You have a problem with that?

I realize an impromptu game of flag football isn’t that extra-ordinary for most families, but this was the first time in close to a year that Blaine had felt good enough to play outside with the kids, even for a few minutes. Their laughter and happiness at having him back, even if only for a short while, was infectious and I ran inside to get my camera. And kept telling them to pose, which apparently ruined the impromptu-ness and flow of the game, or so they kept telling me. Whatever. I have it on record -- they’re happy -- look at their faces. My job is done.


Kathy in Alaska said...

Hallelujah indeed!
What a great story with even greater pics. Gotta love em.

Kristie, thank you for sharing another chapter of your life with us.

California Friend said...

I second the Hallelujah!!! Ditto on the thanks for sharing too Kristie, because I'm sure there were times in recounting it that it stirred up feelings that had long ago been put to rest. (At least as best as they could have been.... even with a new (& beautiful) family, waiting and appeals and traveling and fear that something would go wrong as well as being pregnant would drive a normal person nuts!! Guess that's how you kept you kept your sanity though.... you were already nuts!!

Pat in CA

*Jennifer C* said...

When will you guys be in Seattle?? My sister lives in the Seattle area, and I'm only 4ish hours away - it would be SOOOO cool to actually meet your family after all this time! :) My boyfriend and I are looking for a good excuse to go to Seattle this summer...could the Escoe's be that excuse? :) Just drop me an e-mail ( or something - I read your blog as religiously as I read Kendrie's CB site, I just haven't had a chance to comment/leave a message cuz I'm a loser like that! :)

Warm hugs...

LIBSMOM said...

Job well done!! You brought tears to my eyes with the beginning, middle and end!
I hope you'll consider writing about Kendrie's birth and your surrogacy journey.

kim said...

"...what is already a matter of heart." SOB! Oh my...What a beautiful family you were and are. Of course, I'm right in there with the rest of your adoring public, wanting to know now about surrogacy and Kendrie. So could you please jut keep going? Since you have SO LITTLE on your plate right now :). I loved the pictures of Blaine and the kids...awwwww! And I'll be sending extra prayers up for Blaine who, I swear, HAS to have the patience of a saint since he has yet to open a can of whoop ass on those responsible for the delays.

And, of course, I agree with Brayden's shirt...her Mom DOES ROCK!

cakeburnette said...

wow...what a terrific entry! I love your answers to comments, by the way. And we're praying for good news--no GREAT news--for Blaine's scan on the 9th.

I just had to leave a comment...that picture of you all standing in front of the judge? YOU SO DO NOT LOOK LIKE YOU HAD A BABY 7 WEEKS AGO! I think I still looked pregnant 7 weeks after I had Austin.

Renee said...

So glad that Blaine is feeling well enought to play football. We can't wait to see you guys!!!!

Love hearing Brayden's story. She is blessed to have you and Blaine for parents.

Bobo does rock!!

Denise Tidwell said...

My son Cam's nickname is BoBo. When Haley was born, I told everyone NOT to have her call him Bubba...I don't know why I dislike Bubba, but it just didn't sit well with me. Of course as soon as I said that, everyone tried to get her to call him that. Well, it never came out as Bubba, but BoBo. It has stuck! He's 15 now, and it's not the coolest name to him-picture eyes rolling at this point- but it definitely fits him! It's good to see your smiling faces in the pics! You all deserve it!

Tammy said...

What a wonderful ending to a wonderful story, I love the most recent pictures of Blaine and the kids, they indeed are having fun! Thanks for sharing your family Kristie, you are just the best!

JoAnn said...

Okay. As soon as I read what the judge said I could feel the tears welling up. What a beautiful story and the pictures to compliment the already stellar writing.....beautiful! I hope you all get some more definitive information about Blaine. You continue to be in our prayers and we will pray for an appointment with answers:)

liz in sumner said...

So, does this mean that you'll be in Seattle this summer??!! Oh, how great - do you need a tour guide?? Fifth generation native, born and raised, at your service ( -or-!!! I'm working part time in Auburn on Sea Launch and part of my time in Kent on AWACS, and both Boeing plants aren't far from Seatac....I can show up with one of those signs {BLAINE in big red letters!!} and save you cab fare to the UW hospital, if you like. I'll have a latte ready (with straws!), I drive a 2004 Honda CRV and know every shortcut and neighborhood between Sumner and the city, not to mention where all of the malls are (I have a star-rating system for them - BelleSquare in Bellevue is the only 5 star!!). Hope you're coming late July or anytime in August - that's our best weather (still rains in June). Unless - is Blaine flying military? Because I know McChord Air Base too. No matter - I'm here if you need and/or want me - just shout!

Pam Doughty said...

I do think you've got a book in process with that incredible story, especially since there's so much more to follow. And, I am absolutely amazed at how much Brayden and Kellen look like each other; I was floored to find out Brayden is adopted. Your whole family rocks!
btw.. it's "y'all", not "ya'll". Personal pet peeve of my southern self; y'all is a contraction of "you all".

Anonymous said...

HALLEJAH! On so many levels!

Thanks for sharing the pictures of Blaine, Brayden, Kellen, and Kendries game of football. How wonderful to see that they were able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors but more importantly each other!

Bubbles said...

Kristie it is wonderful to see Blaine feeling well enough to play with the kids outside. You can see how much the kids love it by the expression on their faces (until you had them pose ;)) I can not believe how much Brayden and Kellen look alike. I originally found your sight through Julianna Bananna several years ago and have followed Kendrie through her fight. I have laughed, cried, laughed, giggled, laughed, admired, laughed, cried and most of all been in awe of what you and your family have graciously gone through. I pray that your cancer fight will soon be over (Lord knows your whole family deserves a break). I like everyone else that comes to this sight think that you should seriously consider publishing a book about your life. I say publishing because you are already writing it for your admiring public (with no life of their own) (((me included)))!!
Even if you never publish a book what a gift you are giving your children by putting down your lives down for them to read.

Marcia said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! It brought tears to my eyes, and made me remember our very similar adoption days. The first time we went to court, I was HUGELY pregnant and holding a toddler. The second time I had 3 preschoolers. Such wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing yours with all of us!

The pics of your family playing are priceless. I'm glad Blaine is feeling well enough for some family fun!

Lisa said...

Well, thats me blubbing - you know this journal is going to be soooo special to the children when they get older. So, so special.

Thanks for the update on Blaine - always in my prayers - what ever is around the corner you will face it square on because you always do. Praying for actual, definite, real results from the next round of scans so you all know what is around the corner. Love and prayers for you all as always.

Staci said...

I agree.. The finalization of an adoption is beautiful. Ive seen it with my own eyes... It is such a simple procedure but one that makes a family.

Anyway, I hope that Blaine gets all the answers soon and that he can continue to have great days with his children.. I hope he continues to feel well.

Staci in NJ

Dianne said...

Kristie, where exactly did you live in LA? Were you in El Segundo? I grew up in Torrance and my first job was at Miller's Outpost at Del Amo Mall (but this was ahem24years ago). South Torrance/Redondo Beach was a terrific place to grow up, with the perfect weather and beautiful beaches, but your circumstances were very different than my childhood. I'm sorry your time there was tainted by the adoption worries, the run-down base housing and the drugs and gunshots. My husband and I have lived in South Orange County for 14 years, and I can't imagine not living in Southern California.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kristie,
Wow, how emotional that must have been after waiting so long, I know I would have been just the same, bursting into tears. But what a wonderful day! Bet you were exhausted afterwards, I find that a lot of emotion like that seems to be exhausting don't you? You all looked great in the photo's, beautiful! I love the pictures of the children playing outside with Blaine, it was good to see them all having fun together.
Wishing and praying for good luck for Blaine, good results for the tests.
Take care,
Love Angela

Lauren said...

Hey, Kristie, we're doing a Seattle summer vacation again this year as well. We're hoping to house sit again, so our timing is at the mercy of the people who let us do that, but it will probably be some time in early July. You'll have to let us know when you guys are going!

Lauren, Fergus' mom

liz in sumner said...

Holey moley - all these people coming to Seattle for summer vacations, and my trying my darnedest to get out of here every year!! Having lived here so long and having seen everything here ad nauseum, it's hard for me to imagine what all y'all are coming to see! If I lived in Southern California, I'd be at Disneyland every day! But then, I guess everyone thinks that the grass is greener everywhere else than where they are. My retirement dreams all center around state income tax, much less rain, and Disney within driving distance - sounds like pretty close to heaven to me (except for the bugs!).....

Briana said...

I got all teary eyed reading about the finalization of Brayden's adoption. And then to see the fun you have as a family today - just makes me smile!

Tracey said...

You're most beautiful entry since Kendrie threw her pills into the lake...thank you so much for sharing that. And the photos, they are all just perfect. Blaine remains in our thoughts and prayers, hang in there Blaine.

Tracey said...

Ok, YOU ARE most beautiful...but I did mean's late, I'm tired, oops :-)) (sheepish grin)

Jolene said...

Im just a lurker...I check out your blog about once a month. I just wanted to let you know how BEAUTIFUL this picture is of your husband and your children. Look at their faces...look at his eyes...they are all sooo happy. You can tell how much love is in this picture. Good Luck and Glad everything is going good!