(Collection of posts from my Instagram so some of the formatting and emojis may look a little funny)

November is National Adoption Awareness Month! 🎉 So this month I will be sharing a little bit about our adoption journey but I would encourage everyone to also listen for stories from birthparents and adoptees this month! I will try to share some of the wonderful people I have found here on Instagram as well!....

So, A is for....

ADOPTION! 😊 Obviously without adoption, we would not be a family👧👦👶🏿; we would still be a couple with yearning hearts and empty arms. I am so grateful to be this little guys' mommy and I cannot imagine our life without him. Our days are full and he brings so much joy into our life. However, adoption is a very tough thing. Xander will grow up in a family that does not look like him or share his lineage and there is so much pain in that and it cannot be ignored. We don't like that lightly.

B: [beautiful, brave, birthmother] & [baby bonding]


🙊
Nothing that I 《frantically pre-meeting》 read prepared me to meet Mama M a few weeks before her due date. I was a ball of nerves and felt like I might do or say the wrong thing at every turn (is there a wrong thing in this strange situation?). She was as timid as I was but together we bravely created a 'It's a Boy!' Bear at Build-a-Bear. Mama M had to accept awkward well wishes and congrats from people with grace and charm while trying to learn her way through adoption. She is beautiful and strong and brave. I hope that Xander gets to see that someday for himself because I don't know if I can express it well enough to him without her. To you, Mama M, you are beautiful. brave. And also a birthmom. 💓

💞
Trevor was only a tiny bit nervous about bonding with our new baby. It can be kind of nerveracking to spend hours in a labor and delivery room with a woman and spend the first moments with a baby and then know you may have to walk away if that is what is in the best interest of the baby and mother. We knew we would support Mama M no matter what but it can mess with your heart. We spent hour after hour in her room before birth then even more after birth. I asked over and over if she wanted space|time. She kept saying no, please stay. So we did. That first day, I cried countless silent tears while I did skin to skin with this tiny beautiful baby boy while Mama M napped next to me in her hospital bed. He was everything, all, perfection. By the time we went to 《attempt》 to sleep on first night after Xan was born we just looked at each other in awe and pain. Our hearts hurt with the amount of love we felt. There was no holding back. The phrase born from my heart doesn't cover how true it felt. We were all in. I have never felt such heart bursting joy in my life. It may be how every woman who gives birth feels but I can tell you it exists in adoption. •
😍
Don't worry. Trevor was head over heels crazy in love from the first baby snuggle minutes after delivery. Just like I knew he would be.

C: { C O U R T }


In just a short amount of time we will stand up in front of a judge, as a family of three, and be declared as the family we have already been 《in our hearts》 in the eyes of the court system in Texas. It is a bit exciting and exhausting and saddening that this has to happen to be family. It doesn't change who we are as a family but it is a big moment regardless. I am grateful to walk this journey with Trevor and Xander. 👣👣👣

D: different


Adoption is a triad. Three separate but important voices that each have their own 《different》 story to tell. I have, in the last year or so, spent so many hours reading and listening to the individual experiences of each in the triad. Generally they all involve some level of grief and loss but more importantly, they usually involve huge amounts of love. •
Here are some wonderful {adoption related} Instagram accounts I have found that help me to understand those separate but equally important voices in adoption.

FAMILY2017-53

E: |e v e r y d a y|

📅
Everyday I marvel at the way my life has changed since we started our adoption journey. About one year ago, we sat down and seriously re-evaluated what our future was going to look like as a couple and, more importantly, as a family. I started looking through all these #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth posts in November 2016. 📅
It was a very long road to here, but I wouldn't change it for anything and I thank my lucky stars EVERYDAY that we are here together. 💫

F: [fear]

infertility really forced me to face one of my biggest fears in life. the constant nagging feeling that i may never be a mother. i feared every unknown, I feared the months and months that passed. then that turned into me fearing the years and years that passed. i feared holidays and parties and gatherings of any type really because i honestly felt as though i could not function anymore in those environments. how could i celebrate christmas when my heart feels like a black hole? i feared admitting to myself that it was ok to move forward in my journey and let go of pregnancy and breastfeeding and all these images of the life i thought we would have that were holding me up. adoption has always been on my heart. we discussed this while dating, in college, years before. and yet.....

go away fear. you have no place here. •
then adoption had its own set of fears. how will we find the right agency? how do you create a profile book? how do we start a homestudy? will we pass our homestudy? will a birth mother ever choose us? will we wait forever?

again. go away fear. you have no place here.

i am not afraid anymore. no more fear. just love, everyday, forever. but i will always remember what it is like to stand in those moments and unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they will be a part of my heart forevermore.

G: 《grief》& 《growth》

I think it would be unusual to find very many adoption triad stories that didn't involve some level of grief. 💗
Birth mothers, from the birthmothers I have spoken with to learn about their emotions during adoption, experience grief before placement and certainly after placement and they deserve so much support and love. I know there are birth mother support groups all over the U.S.
@lifetimehealingllc is a very good place to start. I pray Mama M is receiving the love and support she needs and deserves. 💗
Adoptees can also experience grief over a number of issues related to adoption. I hope that we raise Xander to feel safe enough in our home to express his grief if (or more likely, when) he feels the need to. I hope we find healthy ways to express and cope with the grief he will likely carry with him all from a situation he had zero control over.
💗
I hope we continue to grow in our understanding for the space needed to properly grieve the 《sometimes traumatic》 events surrounding adoption. I want to grow together. As individuals and as a family together into a better understanding about how Xander experiences all of this.

H: [h o m e]

🏡
Bringing Xander home. Oh man. We had to drive 5 hours back to San Antonio to the 《not fully done》 nursery that had been dreamed about for years and years but never realized. Trevor and I were giddy but nervous. We stopped a bunch of times because Xander had to drink formula every 1.5 to 2 hours. So we stopped at Chili's and got the weirdest looks... Yes, we have a brand spanking newborn at Chili's. 😲 Please stop staring. 😂
We also made a stop at my cousin @kristinballobin house so she could take our very first family photo! 👪 There was waaay too much construction and it rained and I told Trevor to slow down an obnoxious number of times because I was paranoid he would hit something. I just wanted him home safe and sound. It was one loooong car ride 🚗 but we made it.... in like 9 hours. 😂
I'm so grateful we were able to go straight home. There are so many adoptive families that spend weeks in a hotel waiting for paperwork. So much snuggle time in our home sweet home!

I: |imagine|

💭
Imagine this new crazy path we are on. One that is totally different than anything I dreamed or planned but infinitely better because it involves this new crazy perfectly unique family that we have. I imagine we may be #bridgebuilders and better empathizers and maybe we can stand in the gap together. We can learn to see sides of this life we never saw before because we walk together. I want to learn how to make you strong in this troubled world we live in and in my mind I imagine you will be a sight to see my love. I can only imagine the wonderful man you will be, my son.

Screenshot_20171129-131318

J: 《 j o u r n e y 》


This journey to motherhood looked exactly like I thought it would.... 😒 jk. It looked exactly nothing like I thought it would. 😎 I knew we may have trouble getting pregnant [which is why we had discussed adoption early on in our relationship and agreed that was definitely a path for us at the right time] but Trevor and I got married right out of college and we had only ever had a long distance relationship. So I felt like we should be allowed to be a couple and do couple things for a while. Right?!

Time passed, more and more of our friends got married and Trevor started discussing deployments. Guess what I want! A baby!.......................... Where's my baby?! Turns out that's not so easy. 🤔

So when Trevor deployed for a year I decided to get checked to see if our infertility was me since we had waited the required year to get checked. Turned out it wasn't me! •
Brilliant! When Trevor gets back, he can get checked! Maybe it's him! HA! It wasn't him either..... Apparently medicine has lots of answers to lots of questions but not how to make babies. So we find unexplained infertility. So cool. In our early 20s. 🙄

Add in a bunch of military moves and training and then it's been over 4 years of trying and treatments and broken hearts and grief. Too much. Too long. •
Adoption was never second best. I believe we had to walk a certain painful path to get here for a reason. We grew as a couple. We became stronger and more truthful about our true selves. We learned how to lean on each other when it's not pretty. •
Because of that path full of bumps and bruises, I think we walked into adoption REALLY READY TO BE PARENTS. Ready to love like crazy. Ready to be fully here. Ready to face every crazy thing a baby brings. •
We will make mistakes on this journey. We aren't perfect. But we are here because this is exactly where our journey was supposed to go. It's exactly how it's meant to be. Of that, I am certain. 💞

K: { k e e p }

I will keep you always.
I will keep reminding you are loved.
I will keep reminding you are wanted.
I will keep reminding you are special.
I will keep reminding you are exactly as you should be.
I will keep reminding you that your birth mother loves you.
I will keep reminding you that your skin is beautiful.
I will keep finding ways to see life as you see it.
I will keep working to make this world safe for you.
I will keep listening.
I will keep learning.
I will keep being your mom everyday forever.

L: [ l a n g u a g e ]


Adoption comes with it's own language. I have tried to educate myself 《and others when possible|able》 about how to have positive adoption language. It matters to me that Xander will know that his birth mother made an adoption plan for him, he was never given up. He was 《and still is》 loved. Very much. Xander has a birth mother 《first mother, tummy mummy》 and a birth family. We will be his forever family. We were chosen. Mama M is brave. She is strong. Not weak. ▪
I want Xander to know he is wanted, chosen, loved. Adoption is part of his story but not all of it.

Not all adoptions are the same. Every adoptee comes from a different situation. But negative language or implying negative beginnings is not needed 《and not accurate》. ▪

M: | m o m |

If there is one thing I have wanted to be in life, it's a mom. Xander is only my son because his birth mother loved him so much and placed him in my arms. There are no words for that. It is so beautiful and profound and utterly heartwrenching. I feel so blessed to be able to raise this baby boy. He made her a mom. He made me a mom. My dream. But it isn't really about me. It's about him.

If you would like to go to @thearchibaldproject to watch a video {on their YouTube channel} about a beautiful&brave birth mother (@dominiquebwhite) and the prospective adoptive parents (@ryanwall823) for her son in the hours between birth and placement, it is AMAZING. And accurate. And made me sob. 😭 Watching it was honestly so crazy because it feels (and looks) eerily similar to our own adoption placement story which also took place here in Texas. #allthefeels please go watch.

The bear in the picture is the gift we picked out of a toy box in court after standing in front of a judge and becoming a legal family this week.

N: [ N O ]


I am going to direct you to a couple other people participating in this event because their [ NO ] writings captured my heart....
@bigtoughgirl
@kenzireddick
@meganjchisholm. ■

O: ○ o p e n ○

¤
Each adoption situation is different depending on the requests of the birth mother as well as the safety and well-being of the child. Closed adoptions are really not the norm anymore for domestic adoptions (I cannot really speak to international but I believe there is a trend to increase openness there as well). It is more common to have semi open or fully open adoptions which have allowed adoptees to 《hopefully》 experience at least some connection with their biological family. I think that the practice of the past of lying 《or omitting it completely》to same race adoptees about their adoptions set up a dysfunctional relationship in our society regarding adoption. My hope is that adoption evolves. It should not be what is easy for me or comfortable for me 《as an adoptive parent》. To me, placing Xander's needs above mine will be what I strive for because I do believe he deserves to be informed and understand that he is part of more than just our family. I am grateful that adoption culture continues to change to place the adoptee in the center and continues to work for what is best for them. Which means less secrets, more love.

20171029_133113-2

P: ( p r e g n a n t ) or | p a r e n t | &

Q: { q u i e t }

||
In our journey to parentdom we were both confident that we wanted to be parents. Really WANTED to be parents. But I really WANTED to get pregnant. And in the back of my head I grappled with the idea that getting pregnant equaled becoming a parent. How does one prepare to become a parent when you cannot plan? When you have no set due date? When you have no idea how or when or from where a child may come. Or even what age child. You don't pick up what to expect when you are expecting. That's for sure.... Unless you bought it years and years ago waiting for that special day that never comes. ||
How do you quietly plan the biggest moment of your life thus far and admit you have zero control but so much hope and love? How do you keep quiet about the heartache while traveling these horrible roads between wishing and wanting and finally having a child? How do you experience so much in such a silent way? •••
You just decide to parent. Quietly. And walk the path straight to the baby boy who was meant to be a part of this family. I saw him in Mama M's belly. He was perfect right where he was made. Even if it wasn't for my body. He is not flesh of my flesh but he is born of my heart and I am a mama because of that sweet face.

R: REAL

He is my real son.
We are a real family.
We are his real parents.
He also has real birth parents.
We aren't imaginary so please don't call us anything but real.
Also to be really real, children that are siblings in adoptive families are real siblings.
An adoptee may also have real siblings from outside the adoptive family.
And we don't all look alike. It's real.
Biology isn't the only thing that makes it "real" 👍👌

S: ✓ Steen

Steen family!
Made possible by... Adoption!
Much love, Briana Trevor & Xander

T: | t r a n s r a c i a l |

If it's not obvious by now, our family will never be assumed to be biologically related. I think that is a good thing. If I am being honest, I think there will be days when I wish I could go back to the ignorance that was Briana pre-transracial adoption. But I would never go back. Not for all the money in the world. I needed my eyes opened. I am learning everyday about the impacts of transracial adoption to adult adoptees that grew up in my generation and the ones before it. I am learning everyday how to grapple with what it looks like to have a family that is not the norm. I am learning everyday to listen. Listen to the voices that speak about what life might be like for my little love bug if I do not understand that our skin color is not the same but that I stand with him. That he is black. And loved. I want to raise him to be proud that he is black. And to know that he is beautiful. And I hope he knows that I will fight to listen and learn about all my blind spots for him. I won't be able to say to him I know what it feels like to be black. I just want to be able to walk next to him. We will face what it means to be black in America today together and hopefully we can make it a little brighter by being hand in hand.

U: [ u n t i l ]

I used to tell myself I would keep going, keep trying, keep fighting... until.... [insert thing I thought I needed in my life]. I'll keep going though this horrible medical journey until [ I am mentally broken ] pregnant. I'll keep fighting until [ I become a mother ] we bring a child home.
It wasn't up to me when those things happened. Or didn't happen. My until never happened. And life is exactly as it was meant to be.

V: || voice ||

Over and over again I have read the words of adoptees. Again and again they say that adoptive parents need to allow their adoptive children to have a voice. To speak up about their own story. Their own grief. Their own struggle. Their own triumphs. Adoptive parents are not the voice for adoptees. Adoptive parents are the voice of adoptive parents.

I want to remember every year during this month that, while our story as adoptive parents is great and everything, it is only MY story. Xander has a different story. I cannot speak for him. I can only listen. He will have a voice.

W: { W O N D E R }

it is with a sense of wonder that i examine the steps we took to get from last year to this year | the number of people that helped in our journey from wanting to adopt to standing here in my bedroom at my parents house rocking you back to sleep | you hold my hand and want to snuggle instead of sleep | a photographer, a profile book designer, an adoption consultant, a social worker, an adoption agency, a beautiful birth mother, more social workers, a lawyer, a judge | i am in awe that you are in my arms | it is a wonder

X: \ X R S /

Xander,
I am so grateful I get to be your mom. There has never been a better choice in life for us than to say yes to "the call." You are my greatest love and I cannot imagine what adventures we will see in the future. I know life can be crazy but I want you to always be certain that I love you with all my heart, always.

Y: [ why? ]

Why not have your "own" children?
Why don't you try again?
Why don't you adopt a child of the same race?
Why don't you listen to the NABSW on their thoughts about transracial adoption?
Why are you so sensitive?
Why do you read all those other opinions?
Why do you spend so much time reading?

Why don't you adopt?

Z: || za beginning or za end || •


That's a wrap on #nationaladoptionawarenessmonth 2017•

I'm not sure if it's the beginning or the end. Probably it's both.


I'm going to get back to snuggling my little guy. He is the best. And he is my hero.

20171020_090124-1