Sunday, July 10, 2011

How I met my biological family...

A lot of people probably wonder what on earth I’m talking about when I mention my “biological family”.  I figured now, crammed on an airplane and on my way back from my “biological family vacation”, I’d take the time to tell my story.

I’ve known my entire life that I was adopted.  I was a newborn, so the parents that adopted me and the family that I grew up with are just as much my family as you and your blood-related family are.  For 19 years of my life, I hardly ever questioned why I was put up for adoption, what my biological parents were like, and I never had the thought that I might have siblings out there.  It wasn’t until my mom mentioned that I had full siblings that I started to take interest.  It's not often that an adopted kid does have full siblings out there.  And even though I took interest, it didn’t mean I was going to act on it.  What were the chances that any of them were looking for me?  Yes, I was intrigued, but I still didn’t look.  Not long after that, while I was attending boarding school in Costa Rica, something else happened that encouraged my curiosity.  One of my friends had made contact with her biological mom and sister.  So... it was possible.  Yet I still didn’t look.  I didn't know where to start.

It wasn’t until I returned home to Virginia from Costa Rica that I decided to get on the internet and do some investigating of my own.  But, again, what were the chances of me actually finding any of them?  I didn’t have a lot of information other than where I was born, where my biological family had lived previously, the name of the adoption agency, and that I had two or three siblings.

A website called was the first one I looked at.  It seemed easy enough.  I joined the forum and started looking through the thousands of posts for information that looked familiar.  I was able to search for posts that included “Florida” and “Chosen Children Adoption Agency” and ended up stumbling upon one within minutes.  A young woman had posted a couple years previously in search of her little sister.  The place of birth and adoption agency matched up.  The dates she had posted of around when her sibling would have been born matched.  She also mentioned that her sibling would probably have dirty blond hair, brown or hazel eyes, be between 5’2” and 5’5” (or something close), and a blood type that I matched... but can’t currently remember.  It was uncanny that all of her information matched mine.

I had to be skeptical, though.  There was no way that I had just found my sibling after 19 years within a few minutes after looking for the first time in my life.  I decided to e-mail her... but I was nervous the e-mail listed wasn’t valid anymore.  Her post wasn’t recent.  As fate would have it, she replied quickly.  We e-mailed back and forth with all of the information that we had.  We traded pictures and tried to find any physical features that we had in common.  We thought we looked alike... but maybe we were reading too far into it?  Then I remembered that my dad had my adoption documents locked away at the bank... with the names of my biological parents.  Why I hadn’t just used that to find them in the first place, I don’t know.  I guess it’s because I wasn’t totally serious about the search when I started looking.  I just got lucky.  I believe in fate now... because there’s no way that would have happened if it wasn’t meant to be.  Thank goodness my sister was looking for me, too.  My dad, who has the memory of an elephant, didn’t even need to see the papers to remember the names of my biological parents.  We had found each other!

My sisters flew in shortly after to come see me.  We met in the airport and remained embraced for a few minutes before stepping back to really look at each other.  It was so strange to be standing in front of my own flesh and blood.  We spent a few wonderful days with each other getting to know each other for the first time in our lives.  I always believed that a person becomes who they are from how they are raised, and while I think that has a lot to do with it, there is still so much ingrained in your blood.  There were so many small details about us that were exactly alike.  I thought you had to grow up with people to have that much in common... but I guess not.  It was sad seeing them go back home, but I promised to visit as soon as I could.

I made it out to Kentucky the following December to see everyone.  I was also meeting my brother and my biological mom for the first time.  I think it was awkward for everyone at first... but it didn’t take us all long to feel comfortable.  I’ve always been a shy person... so it was a little harder for me, I think, but it didn’t take long.  I also got to meet all of my nieces and nephews... a part of my family that I’ve never had before.  I was an aunt!  Once again, departing from Kentucky was hard.  I didn’t want to leave.  But I had to.

Jamie, my sister, and her husband and kids made it out to Virginia for the 4th of July.  Another successful and wonderful time spent with them!  Another sad goodbye.  The more time spent with them, the harder the goodbyes.

I took a hiatus from visitation with them for a few years while I was swamped working and never had time off.  It was far too long spent without seeing all of them.  So last year, I joined in on the Panama City Beach, FL family vacation.  Along with all of my siblings, nieces, and nephews being there, I also had the joy of meeting my new brother-in-law and step-nephew!  More family!  It was a great vacation, as usual, and parting ways was even more difficult.

We just completed our Panama City Beach, FL 2011 vacation... and I’d say that it was harder to leave them this time than any time.  I got to spend quality time with everyone, my biological mom included.  You’d think that it would be a little awkward... but it’s really not.  They are family... and that’s just what it feels like.  I cried halfway back to the airport... and cried even harder at the airport.  I want to cry as I type this... but I’ll spare the other passengers on the plane.  I wish that we weren’t so far apart.  I wish that we had more time together, really.  But... for now... I’ll have to settle seeing them once or twice (if I’m lucky) a year and be happy with that.  I love them more than I can put it words... so I’ll leave it at that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The things we do for our dogs...

I wasn't sure which blog to post this in... so I decided to post it in both.  I'm compiling a list of "the things we do for our dogs"... so be prepared for additions... because something always comes up!

1. I prop my door to the backyard open so the dogs can go in and out as they please... even if it means me freezing my butt off.

1.5. I sweat my butt off at night surrounded by dogs just so I don't disturb their rest.  It gets hot when you're surrounded by a bunch of heaters (dogs).

2. I avoid going out of town just so I don't have to leave them.  I still haven't brought myself to trust a petsitter or a boarding facility.

3. I go to the pet store to buy dog food with what money I have left rather than going to the grocery store to by myself food.  The dogs certainly come before I do!

4. I up my power bill by leaving the television on Animal Planet for my dogs when I'm gone.

5. I come home to chewed up paper towels, toilet paper, plastic containers, mail, blankets, etc. because I feel like crating a dog for 5+ hours just isn't "right".  Logically, I know it's not a bad idea, but I'd rather clean up shredded toilet paper than keep my dog cooped up for 5+ hours in a crate during the day.  Side Note: I always worry that something will happen... and I won't be able to get home for a long time.  I'd rather them piss and shit in the house and have access to water than go without!   (I don't disagree with crate training.  I'm just a softy.  I KNOW my pup and 2-year-old would benefit from it... but I still can't bring myself to crate them.)

6. I treat my foster dogs to a "going away meal" of Burger King hamburgers!

More to be added as things I do for my dogs comes up.

Peace, Love, & Paw Prints

Friday, March 18, 2011

Babysitting Etiquette (From the babysitter's point of view!)

Morning, folks...

Today, I'd like to touch down on babysitting etiquette. As the word spreads that I babysit on occasion, I have more and more people asking me to do so. Today's blog entry is inspired by my 7:00AM babysitting job from this morning.

See #2 of 10 Things Your Babysitter Won't Tell You before continuing.

Okay, now that you've read that, I'll explain...

Parent X is a very nice person and actually in the childhood education area of work. Child Y is 5-years-old, and Child Z is 2-years-old. Today, I had to get there at 7:00AM, but it's usually 6:30AM. My morning starts somewhere between 5:00-5:30AM. Keep in mind that I have 4 dogs to take care of once I roll my sleepy self out of bed. I get ready, let the dogs out, make coffee, feed the dogs, then let the dogs out and in once more. By then, I've managed to get into the car and make my way to her house. With morning traffic and red lights, it takes about 20 minutes to get there. My duties typically include getting both Child Y and Child Z dressed, fed, hair and teeth brushed, to the bus stop with Child Y and then to daycare (roughly 7 minutes down the road) with Child Z. I then return to her house, take out the car seat, and make a last sweep of the house to make sure everything is tidy and where it's supposed to be. After all of that, I get paid $15. That's not even $8 an hour!

Your point, you ask? It's just not worth my time. I hate to sound smug. Money is money. But it's really not worth it. By the time I get out of bed and get back home, I've already wasted almost 3 1/2 hours of my day. I can put - what- 4 or 5 gallons of gas in my vehicle with that money? Some of which I already used driving there and back!

So, mamas and papas, it's probably best to pay your sitter more than $7.50 an hour! The lives of your children are in that person's hands. You should probably pay them at least the typical going rate.

A not-so-peaceful entry... but nonetheless...

Peace, Love, & Paw Prints

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Emily vs. The Grocery Store

As weird as it might be, I have an irrational fear of the grocery store. I know I'm not the only one. You other grocery-store-phobic people know that feeling all too well! I believe it's technically a form of agoraphobia. It's just strangely petrifying the way the florescent lights give you nowhere to hide. How about the mass amount of items that you have to look through? Am I forgetting something? Should I buy this? Can I afford all of this? What if my credit card declines? All of these questions race through my head as I push my cart up and down every single aisle in the store with the hope that I won't forget something. That list I made? Forget it. I either left it at home or don't dare to pull it from my pocket to see what's written on it. Surely I'll remember everything, right? Not so much. I organize everything obsessively in my cart and head towards the checkout line. Usually I remember what I've forgotten once I get there, but there's no way I would leave my spot in line and return to the aisle of the forgotten. Then I'd have to suffer the anxiety of standing in line again. By the time I make it out of the grocery store, my face is red and I'm mentally exhausted. The mere mental exhaustion makes me never want to return again.

Alas, I haven't been to the grocery store for months, and I've been eating fast food, junk food, and pretty much everything that isn't good for you food. I feel this poor diet taking a toll on my body and surely my bank account. It's time to conquer the dreaded grocery store and make some healthier food choices. Wish me luck...

Peace, Love, & Paw Prints