Jan 312012
 

Dearest New Monkees,

The original Monkees would explain that you can’t really understand the Meltons without reading our adoption stories. Our journey’s not over yet – or maybe it is, who on Earth knows.

Here you go. Love you. Really, really mean it.

*******

2007 was a tough year for the Meltons. Chase and Tish were 4 and 1, and Craig and I spent our days and evenings on the phone, interweb, and each others’ nerves trying to realize our adoption dream. We were trying to adopt internationally and each time we got close, the dreaded background check would come, and agency after agency would reject us because…well, by now you know I choose to describe my past as festive.

Side note- in the past decade- I have been diagnosed with addictive personality, incompetent cervix, and suspicious blood. My self started to get its feelings hurt. I think words are important, so I have made some minor semantics adjustments. I now describe myself to doctors as having an “excited” personality, “laid-back cervix” and “creative” blood. This feels better.

Anyway, I laugh now, but I wasn’t laughing back in 2007. I cried myself to sleep lots of nights, while Craig squeezed me tight and prayed that God would either open an adoption door or take away the desperation in my heart. Then I’d wake up early and start the whole obsessive process over. During one interview, as the social worker asked us questions about the past and we answered them honestly, we could actually hear her voice becoming more distant and cold. When we got off the phone I said “I don’t think she’s going to give us a baby, do you?” Craig responded by admitting that he wanted to stop doing interviews altogether because he was afraid they’d decide to take away the two kids we already had. As Krystal’s family would say, it really, really sipped.

In August of 2007, we found some hope at an agency that facilitated adoptions from Guatemala. The social worker told us that they would find a way to bring a baby home to us, from their orphanage where toddlers and babies were abandoned because their parents couldn’t feed them. They sent us packets and pictures of the orphanage and the orphans and I fell in love. Hard.

While our paperwork was being processed, I spent my days mentally planning and preparing and daydreaming. I knew our baby would be a little girl, and I knew her name would be Maria. I have no idea where this information originated, so I assumed it was from God. I never told anyone that I knew she would be Maria, because people can only be expected to take so much. But I knew it. There was a country song out at the time called “My Maria” and I would drive around, belting out the lyrics and fantasizing about how Craig, Chase, Tish, Maria, and I would dance to “My Maria” in front of our family and friends at Maria’s coming home party. I am quite sure I planned my outfit. These daydreams are probably why I get lost almost every single time I get in my car. I never really had an explanation for that frustrating phenomenon until this moment.

At the end of September, we got a phone call from the agency. Craig took the call and then he told me gently that the agency had decided we were too much of a risk. The door to Guatemala was officially closed. I sat on the couch and cried and cried, because how can you feel something so certainly and then turn around and accept that it wasn’t meant to be? I remember hearing Chase walk in while I was crying and asking Craig “Why?” and Craig said, “She’s just sad, honey. Mommy’s just sad.”

Two months passed and I pulled myself together reasonably enough. You can read about what happened during those two months here. It was a magical and painful time.

Christmas morning came, and after the flurry of excitement and gifts everybody got tired, as people do on Christmas morning. We all rested into the day. Bubba fell asleep on the couch, and Sister and Tisha slid into the kitchen to start breakfast for the kids. I sat on the couch and congratulated myself for pulling off another Christmas. Craig snuggled next to me on the couch and handed me one last gift that he had hidden away. I smiled and opened it, and when all of the paper was removed: this is what I saw in my lap.

After we found out we wouldn’t be allowed to bring a baby home from Guatemala, Craig called the agency and asked if he could “sponsor” a child there, in honor of me and of our dream. The woman at the orphanage said they had just the little girl for us. Her name was Maria, she said. She sent Craig pictures of Maria and her orphanage home, and Craig put them together in a scrapbook for me. So on Christmas morning, I’d have something to hold.

I sat on the couch and cried till I couldn’t see. Bubba woke up and became alarmed. Everyone stared. I didn’t care. I have never in my life felt the presence of God more strongly than I did at that moment, sitting on the couch, with that scrapbook in my lap and my husband beside me. I actually felt God saying, “I was watching, and I was speaking. You were right, there is a Maria for you. Here she is.”

Since I couldn’t speak, I left my family and walked into my bedroom, found my journal and brought it back to the family room. I opened it to page after page where I’d doodled “Maria Melton” like a lovesick teenager. Craig was shocked, and he cried with me.

We fell more deeply in love with Maria during the next year. We sent her gifts and letters that Tisha translated into Spanish for us. We told her that God loved her very much and so did we and we explained that we prayed for her and for her friends every night. We asked Chase’s birthday party guests to donate money instead of gifts and we sent the money to Maria so that she could throw a birthday party for herself that year. The orphanage told us that the money went so far that Maria was able to invite another orphanage to her party too, and that they all played with piñatas and balloons for the first time in their lives. All I have to do to make myself cry, to this day, is to say to myself, “I hope she felt special that day.”

We got a letter last year announcing that Maria had finally been adopted by a family in the states. The odds had been against her. The previous year we had been told that the likelihood that Maria would find a forever home were slim to none.

But we know that with God, nothing is impossible.

Mar 292012
 

 

A few months ago, I went into Tish’s kindergarten classroom for my first conference with her precious teacher. She told me lots of wonderful things about Tish’s obedience, positivity, helpful attitude  . . . so many of these things, in fact, that I asked in all seriousness if she was sure she was referring to the correct paperwork. She was. At this point I felt kind of silly that I had brought our lawyer along.

A few minutes into the conference Tish’s teacher showed me a writing sample from the start of the school year. She explained that they’d been working on the sight words“I,” “like”  and “to” that week, so to assess the kids, she’d asked them to complete the sentence:  “I like to….”

Then she pulled this paper out of her folder and placed it in front of me.

 

Ah. I said. Interesting. Hm. Wow.

Tish’s teacher smiled and said yes, you can see she really knows her sight words.

Yes, I said. That’s just what I was thinking. About how proud I am of her sight word ability. Yes. Good.Proud.

 

I called Husband as soon as I walked out the school doors:

Husband: Hey! How’d the conference go?

Me: I’ll tell you how it went: TISH LIKES TO SIN.

Husband: What? So she’s being bad? Bad report?

Me: No. Good report, but she wrote about how she likes to sin. To her teacher. She wrote: “I LIKE TO SIN” in her official kindergarten assessment. The one they keep on record. So when she gets suspended in high school they’ll look back through her file and say, Ahhhh…yes. Well, the child did always like to sin. She told us from the beginning.

 

Craig: Okay. I’m totally confused. Are we in trouble? I mean, she likes to sin? Who doesn’t? At least she’s in public school. They don’t care that much about sinning, do they? Let’s just be grateful we didn’t send her to that catholic school.

Me: I just think it’s weeeeird. I’m nervous. What five year old writes that? Isn’t she supposed to write about liking puppies and jump roping and eating cookies or something? I think it’s weird.

Husband: Ohhhh. So you think it’s weird to write down your truthful response to a question even if it’s different and makes people uncomfortable?

Me: Shut up. Good bye.

 

I promised myself I would NOT bring it up to Tish. This was her writing, her private thoughts. It’s not like she put it on a BLOG. I decided that she deserved her privacy.

So I waited two whole hours, then caught her after dinner and said, “Honey, come here for a second.”

Craig glared.

I showed Tish a copy of her assesment.

“Sweetie. Your teacher showed me your writing. This is awesome.”

“Thanks, mom.”

“So, talk to me about this. Tell me more.”

Tell me more is what I say when I don’t know what the heck else to say. It’s actually ridiculously effective. With girls.Not with boys. NOT.

“I don’t know,” Tish said, “I just like to sing. It makes me feel good.”

 

Ahhhhhhh.

 

Me: Craig! She doesn’t like to SIN she likes to SING! She’s not evil, she just can’t spell!!!!

That’s great honey. I like to sin, though.

Me: Me too. I like to sin, too.

 

My take away: One little g can make a big difference.

 

 

Love,

g

Apr 062012
 

 

Friends. I miss you.

Here is what is going on over here:

I’m writing to you from a new office this morning – Craig’s office, which used to be the “baby’s room.” Since no baby ever came, this room became Craig’s work-from-home-office, and I did all of my writing at a desk in our bedroom.

It soon became clear that we were going to need to trade offices. Because the thing is that when your desk is right next to your bed, your bed attacks you. Sort of like the Botox situation. So every time Craig came in to see “how my writing was going,” Theo and I were sound asleep in my bed. Soooooo coooozy. So this morning Craig moved all of my things into his office and made me sit in here. It’s nice and bright and I like it. New perspectives are always good. I’m still tired, though, and I’m not afraid to snuggle up on the floor. We’ll see.

So: Yesterday a Monkee asked me when and how to talk to kiddos about sex.

Oh, my goodness. I don’t know.  We haven’t really gone there yet. We’re easing into the tough stuff.

A few months ago, Chase starting mentioning “bad words” a lot. My guess is that some kiddos in the neighborhood or at school were talking about it and he was getting curious. Maybe obsessed would be a better word. What are the bad words, mom? Why are they bad? How can words be bad?  And my favorite- Mom, are bad words just misspelled words?

Craig and I decided to sit down one night and tell Chase every bad word we knew. It became important to us that Chase understood that there was no information “out there” that he couldn’t get straight from us. So we listed all the bad words we knew and we sat together in his bunk bed and we said them each aloud to him. Except for the F word.  Neither of us could bring ourselves to say the F word to our little man’s sweet face. So we told him there was another one that started with F, but we couldn’t say it. And unfortunately Chase said, “Ooooh. I think I know that one. Is it the one you say when you can’t get the front door open, mom?” And I avoided eye contact with Craig and said. Yeah. That one.

We explained to Chase that there was nothing inherently wrong with any of these words, because they were just letters strung together – and because “bad words” are different in every culture and time. We said that they do have power, though, because in our particular culture, these words, along with many, many others, can cause strong feelings in other people. Maybe not all people, but some. You never, ever know who will be affected by them and who won’t. Sometimes people will even act like certain words don’t hurt them, but they really do. And since we love people and want to be very, very careful with their feelings, we try not to use words that can hurt people.

We also told him that if he shared any of these words with his buddies he was dead meat.

He seemed satisfied.

But sex. IYIYIIIII. Not so simple, to me.

The sex talk scares me, for one simple reason. I don’t have sex figured out yet. I really don’t.

I know it’s not cool or maybe even reasonable to say, but I really do believe that it’s best to save sex for marriage. Because I have ALL KINDS of issues with sex, and I think some of them stem from the way that both Craig and I used sex with other people before we were married. Irresponsibly, lightly, recreationally, desperately. Not good. And there is residual damage for both of us.

But then again….how would I tell that to Chase? Sex before marriage is a mistake, Chase. I mean, sex before marriage also resulted in the most precious gift I’ve ever been given- Chase, himself.

Tricky.

And I know they say, stick with basics, right? Just talk about vaginas and penises and fertilization. But- that’s so not it. That’s like trying to teach a child about God by describing a church. Or explaining marriage by describing a wedding ceremony. It’s just not it, at all.

So anyway, I don’t know, is my answer. I have no idea how to talk to kiddos about sex. I don’t think I’m the right one to ask.  It’s like how scared I am to talk to my girls about body image and food and the like- because- ummm…I’ve never been an expert at walking that line.

So I was hoping you brilliant Monkees might have some sex talk ideas. Do you?  If so, help us please.

Maybe we can start here. I think this is a brilliant place to start.

 

And let us remember, there’s probably no “right way.” Probably just lots of good enough ways. We don’t want to be perfect, ladies.  If we are, our kids will have NO MATERIAL. That would suck.

 

 

Love you,

G

 

 

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