Adoption Roundup

Valley family

Two of my children are adopted, and I’ve shared parts of that story here on my blog. It’s a huge part of the Valley narrative, so I have compiled this “adoption roundup” of those posts here.

A Rose by Any Other Name — August 2013 — about changing Maya’s last name.

What’s Her Name? — September 2013 — when Maya asked me about her birth mom’s name.

Modern Family — September 2013 — when we told Maya that she has half siblings living across town.

Birthdays Remembered — January 2014 — photo memories of Maya’s first four birthday parties.

Answering the Call — April 2014 — Anthony and I starting the foster parent process.

Listen to Your Mother — May 2014 — shared my story of motherhood with 14 others at The Rep in Little Rock.

Longing Fulfilled: My Listen To Your Mother Piece — July 2014 — video of my LTYM performance.

Help for a New Old Momma — July 2014 — preparing to bring a newborn home at age 46.

Preparing for Motherhood Again — August 2014 — feeling ill equipped to bring a new baby home.

To Those Who Weep on Mother’s Day — May 2015 — Mother’s Day can be a hard day for so many women.

Waiting — June 2015 — when Quinn’s adoption got postponed.

Termination — June 2015 — remembering the day birth mom’s parental rights were terminated.

Quinn’s Adoption Day! — August 2015 — when we finally got to adopt Quinn!

One Year Ago My World Crumbled — September 2015 — remembering when DHS placed Quinn with another family.

Savvy Magazine story — December 2015 — Savvy Magazine did a cover article on our adoption story.

My Adopted Daughter’s Ancestry — February 2016 — I used 23andMe to discover Maya’s ancestry.

Walk for the Waiting — April 2016 — Raising money to help foster kids in Arkansas.

Adoption is a beautiful thing. It’s not for “incredible” people. There isn’t anything special about me or Anthony. We just saw and need and filled it. You can do that too.

 

Diapers & Menopause

I understand why you should have kids in your 20s. My first daughter was born when I was 40 and my second when I was 46. Both girls are adopted and are incredible additions to my life. But let’s be honest here. I will be 65 years old when Quinn graduates high school and leaves the nest. SIXTY FIVE. I am an old momma. And my body reminds me of that constantly. See, discount I’m in the throws of menopause. Hot flashes. Insomnia. Sudden outbursts of fire-spewing mania. It’s not pretty. I just hope my pleasant moments out-shadow the alien moments in my girls’ memory when they are grown and retelling their stories to their therapists. Because diapers and menopause do not go together. 2015-09-29 15.58.57-1

 

 

 

Adoption Day!

After waiting for what seemed forever, nurse Anthony and I adopted Baby Girl last week! It was a glorious day surrounded by friends and family. Our older girls, Kennedy, Madison and Maya were all smiles too. adoption2Judge Warren is the same judge that did Maya’s adoption back in 2010, so it was really special that she was our judge this time too.

So without further ado, World, meet Quinn Aria Valley… IMG_1058Special thanks go to my mom and dad, Gran Gran, Kristen and Carol for coming to be a part of our big day. adoption1adoption4It’s hard to explain how I feel now that the adoption is final. Relief mainly — no chance that Quinn will be taken away from us. She has been a part of our family since her beginning. Even before she was born, we loved her. I was in the delivery room when she entered the world — I even got to cut the cord! helloShe has been smiling and laughing and bringing us joy since her days in the NICU. I mean really — look at those lips!

I can’t wait to watch her grow up and to see her personality blossom and her talents emerge. She is already trying to stand up unassisted, so I think walking is in the near future. She loves music and is very curious and busy. She’s a sensitive soul and can get her feelings hurt easily, but she easy going and happy most of the time. Honestly, she is just perfect, and I’m so proud to be her mom. Quinn8.2.15

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To You Who Weep on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for so many women. I remember one Mother’s Day Sunday about 15 years ago when they passed out roses to all the moms, mind I left in tears empty-handed. I was single and in my thirties, artificial and I wanted to me a mom so bad.

Moms come in all different forms.
Biological moms.
Adoptive moms.
Foster moms.
Step moms.
Those who haven’t been able to get pregnant.
Those who have lost a child.
Those who chose to have an abortion.
Those who gave their children up for adoption.
Those whose children were taken into state custody.
Teachers and other women who guide children daily.

So this Mother’s Day, be sensitive to the ladies that cross your path. You don’t know her story, her pain, her past, her secrets, her desires. And if you see her weeping, don’t try to say something encouraging. Be quiet and hug her. Because sometimes there are no words.

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Listen To Your Mother

At this very moment, cystitis the Valley girls are asking Siri how to bake cookies.

What could possibly go wrong?

photo 2(35)Anthony and I are trying to stay out of it and let them figure it out for themselves, but we had to intervene on a few questions we overheard coming from the kitchen:

“What is baking soda?”

“Is butter really necessary?”

“Do you think I could get away with 1/4 of the butter it calls for?”

photo 1(36)“The oven beeped. But I’m not ready!”

I hope my kitchen isn’t totally destroyed when they’re done. Or worse.
Lord, hear our prayer…

photo 1(37)Today a dream of mine was fulfilled. I performed on The Rep stage as part of the nationwide series Listen To Your Mother. I am completely humbled and honored that my story of motherhood was among the 15 stories shared today in Little Rock. There was some serious talent on that stage!

photo 3(25)Longing Fulfilled by Stacey Valley

I think I always wanted to be a mom. Even when I was young and careless, viagra dosage
I thought (foolishly) that I wouldn’t mind if I got pregnant. But I never did. I wasn’t like my friends with a steady boyfriend and marriage plans right after college graduation. So I dove full force into my career and the years flew by.

Fast forward to age 32. There he was sitting across from me at Cock of the Walk. Cute, blonde and gorgeous blue eyes. I was smitten. And a few months later, we were married. I’ll spare you the shitty details since this piece is about motherhood, but it ended two years later – the same month as my unexpected hysterectomy. My fertility slipped away along with my marriage.

But I had my career!

When I turned 40, I couldn’t take it any longer. The urge to be a momma overshadowed everything else. I left my job in DC, and moved back to Arkansas. Within three months, I completed foster parent training, got my home study done, fingerprints, yada, yada, yada… I set up the spare room with a twin bed and a borrowed crib and changing table. I decorated “the baby’s room” in gender-neutral colors. I just knew I would get a baby placed with me. I dreamed of a beautiful, little, dark-skinned, baby girl that would one day call me momma.

Friends and acquaintances, well-meaning of course, would tell me not to get my hopes up. Healthy babies are rarely placed in foster care and if so, the chances I’d get to adopt one, well…don’t hold your breath. I just smiled at them, thanked them for their advice, and moved on.

A month or so passed after I’d been approved by DHS to be a foster parent, and not one single placement. But then one rainy night in February, I got a call around 6 p.m. – Hello? Could I take in a black baby girl about 9 days old? Of course, I said. When? We’re on our way! (Deep breath.) Okay – see you soon.

I called my momma (who lived just a few blocks away) – GET OVER HERE NOW – WE’RE GETTING A BABY! I think I may have hung up on her in my excitement. Mom quickly came over, and we waited with such anticipation. We were like two little kids waiting to open Christmas presents!

Then the two social workers arrived carrying a car seat covered by a blanket to protect the child from the pouring rain. I answered the door and let them in. Paperwork, and more paperwork, and a few instructions, then they handed me the most beautiful little six pound brown bundle of pure joy. I held back the tears. I was in love instantly. I asked her name. The social worker said Hope. Mom and I exchanged a quick knowing glance. (Hope was my ex’s new wife’s name, so that certainly wouldn’t work.) I whispered to mom, we’ll call her Marley.

The next 10 months were a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Nights of interrupted sleep and me still having to work full time. Parental visits with birth mom. Court hearings. Comments from strangers – like the little girl in the Wal-Mart check-out line, “How’d she get a baby that look like that?” (shrug) Conflicting messages: “Looks like you’ll get to adopt her;” “we’re now working toward reunification;” “Wait, birth mom failed her drug test again.” Up and down it went. Besides falling more and more in love with this child, the only other real positive was that I was losing weight. Seriously, I lost about 30 pounds that year from the stress of it all.

But then parental rights were terminated. At court that day, the birth mom hugged my neck and thanked me for taking such good care of her baby girl. She asked for a final photo with the baby. I thanked her for being brave, and I promised her that I would continue to love this child as my own.

Two months later the adoption was finalized. NOW I REALLY was a MOTHER. Forever and always. I held back my tears at the adoption hearing, but totally lost it at the Office of Vital Records when my baby girls’ new birth certificate was handed to me. Next to mother it read Stacey Reid McBryde. That’s me.