Monday, June 15, 2020

About Our Dogs - Puga and Mel

This is Puga. He is the first dog I ever had! Brian and I got him in 2006, right after we moved into our house. I had always wanted a dog when I was growing up, but it had never worked out. Brian was a little skeptical at first (despite him growing up with dogs his whole life!) but it turned out to be a really good decision!

We named him "Puga" because "pulga" means "flea" in Portuguese, and Brian had always thought it would be a fun name for a dog - I agreed and felt like this dog was definitely our "flea". Puga was our buddy and our "fur baby" for 8 years before Daniel came along. He was so smart and knew all kinds of tricks, including how to close the back door and how to only eat half of a treat. He was good at snuggling and he kept us entertained. He was comforting. When I would have tough days, he would come over and lick me gently. I tell people that he kept my heart open during all those long years of waiting and praying for a baby. He really did. We would give each other gifts from him, even on Mother's and Father's Days. We filled stockings for him at Christmas and gave him treats in a basket at Easter. He kept us company when we worked and played with us when we were done. We even celebrated his birthday!

Puga gave us hope and a lot of love and happiness while we waited to become parents. He has a special place in our hearts and no dog will ever be his equal.

I will never forget that first morning after we brought Daniel home. Puga came leaping into the nursery and sat on the ottoman with the biggest smile!! Dogs really do smile, and Puga just grinned.

He became Daniel's protector right away.

And no one and nothing else could make Daniel laugh like Puga could!

As Daniel got older, he liked to have Puga chase him so he would tie a treat to a rope and tuck the other end into his back pocket and run around while Puga tried to get the treat. Puga started sleeping in Daniel's bed with him. Daniel said that Puga made him feel brave. ♥

Puga turned 13 and had to have a tumor removed. That bought us an extra 7 months with him, which we are so grateful for. We started to see him decline again, though, and realized that he wasn't going to be with us for very much longer. That's when we found Mel.

This is Mel. His name is Portuguese for "honey", because "he's sweet like honey," as Daniel likes to say. We found Mel just two weeks before Puga passed away. Puga showed him the ropes - like how to go potty outside and which pillows were best for snuggling in. It was so good for us to see them together.

We knew Puga's time was coming soon, so we had Daniel say goodbye to him before he left for school.

We planted tulip bulbs over Puga's burial site and ate at his favorite restaurant for dinner (Chick-fil-A because he had always loved cows) and watched videos and looked at pictures and told stories. It was a sweet and sad week for sure. But the tulips came up this spring, and they sure do make our hearts happy.

That first week after we buried Puga, Mel was so calm and chill. He would just sit in my lap and snuggle me for hours. It was exactly what my heart needed. He's taken his job as comforter very seriously. He's also stepped right in to Puga's place as Daniel's buddy.

When Mel was tiny, Daniel liked to hold him on his shoulders and "play him like a tuba." Daniel and Mel like to play hide and seek together. They also play chase a lot in the backyard. 

Mel doesn't sleep with Daniel...yet. But I'm sure that day will come! They do a lot of snuggling at bedtime, though. Mel's a sweet dog and so good. He can't close the door or eat half a treat, but he comes when we call him and he loves being around us. We had to put his kennel in our room at night because he didn't like to be away from us! He's a pack animal and we're his pack. ♥ 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Daniel's Adoption Story - Written by Both of His Moms

I asked Daniel's birth mother, Mimi, to share her experience with Daniel's adoption story, too. So here are both of our stories.


Daniel's adoption story has a very happy ending! But I figured we should start at the beginning, and for us, the beginning was infertility.

Brian and I were told in 2009 that we would not be able to conceive children on our own. That was heartbreaking news for us. We took some time to think about what we wanted our future to look like. We realized we wanted to be parents and grandparents and the only way we were going to be able to make that happen was through adoption.

We didn't know much about the adoption process at that point. But we did know that we wanted to be in a good place, financially, before we pursued it. We sold our company in 2011 and that gave us the capital to feel like we could start!

We signed up with LDSFS (LDS Family Services) in August of 2011. We flew through the paperwork as fast as we could and we were approved in October of that same year. Then, the waiting began. We had a profile online with LDSFS, we had a profile on at Parent Profiles, we got listed with another agency, too, and we had a blog that we used to share information about our family. We even made little pass along cards with our picture and information about our family. And we had many, many neighbors, friends and family sharing our information and rooting for us. 

Even with all of that, we were only contacted by birth mothers twice. The first time, the birth mother had a miscarriage. The second time, we became a family of three! But we waited a long time for that ending. I remember wondering on every New Year's Eve, as the clock struck midnight and we entered a new year if THIS would be the year we brought home a baby. 

As we waited, we slowly prepared for the day we hoped and had faith would come. We bought a baby item, usually an item for the nursery, each month. The crib, the rocker, the bedding, the changing table, etc. We kept it in storage, but we bought it and that was exciting! It felt like we were showing faith and being productive.

In October of 2013, long after the first birth mother had her miscarriage, Brian and I both felt like our baby was coming soon. At the end of that month, we took all those things we had bought and set up our nursery!! We wanted everything to be gender neutral so we went with a Winnie the Pooh theme, and called our nursery "The Hundred Acre Woods". We both felt like our first baby would be a boy, but we wanted to be prepared in case we were wrong.

In November, while we were on a road trip out to the Midwest to see both of our families for Thanksgiving, we got a phone call from our caseworker at LDSFS. She said she had a birth mom that needed a place to stay and she was asking if we could be that place. She said that the birth mother would not place with us, at that point, because it wouldn't be appropriate. But they needed a place for her quickly. We told her we'd chat about it and call her back. And we did. We felt like that was another something proactive that we could do on our adoption journey. So we called her back and told her we'd be happy to house this birth mom. She told us then that she appreciated our willingness, but it would no longer be appropriate for us to house her because she was considering placing with us.  !!!!!  We were thrilled!! We'd been waiting for this moment for so long. Mimi, Daniel's birth mom, emailed us and introduced herself and the baby (a boy, due in six weeks) and asked us some questions. We emailed her back right away and our correspondence continued that way for about three weeks. After that, we got to meet her and the birth father (they asked us to call him Solice) in person. We continued to meet at least once or twice a week until Mimi gave birth. We ate a lot of  food, usually McDonalds or Zupas or Chick-Fil-A. When they made their choice official, Solice (who is an artist) drew us this amazing piece of work. ♥ 

As the time got closer for Daniel to be born, Mimi invited us to go with her to a doctor appointment so we could hear the baby's heartbeat. And she asked us to be in the hospital room with her when the baby was born. We couldn't believe that she would give us so much of what our hearts wanted! We were so thankful and so excited!

Being in the room when Daniel was born will always be a treasured experience for me. Brian was there, too, and for everyone's comfort, he was behind a curtain when Daniel was born. But I was able to see his face the first time it hit the air. And in that moment, something inside me changed. And I knew I would never be the same again. It was like I was tied to this baby - I knew he was mine and we were meant to be a family. I recognized his little scrunched up, purple face and fell head over heels instantly.

Daniel struggled to breathe at first so all of Mimi's plans (Rebekah holds the baby first, birth father cuts the cord) went up in smoke. Mimi had given Brian a hospital bracelet so when Daniel was whisked off, Brian was the one that went with him. I remember pacing around the hospital room in a daze, wondering if we'd really just become parents! After making sure Mimi was settled and everything was in place for her, the doctor made arrangements for me to be able to be with Daniel in the NICU. Brian left, at that point, to go get breakfast for Mimi and Solice. I stayed with Daniel and held on to whatever I could. He had an IV and he was hooked up to a cpap machine. So I held his hand and touched his head. I wanted him to know that I was there, that he wasn't alone. When he was finally able to breathe a little better, the nurses let me hold him. They brought me a rocking chair and I got to snuggle him and sing to him. It was precious and special. ♥ Then a nurse came back and asked if I was the grandma. LOL Well, even that couldn't break the spell I was under!

When Daniel got moved to the regular nursery, we were back in a situation where Brian was able to be with him, but I was not. So I stood outside the nursery windows and watched everything. Again, our doctor spoke with Mimi and the hospital staff and explained the situation so I was able to be with Brian and Daniel and be part of his first bath and his first bottle.

The next day, Mimi and Solice signed the relinquishment papers. They never even hesitated. We spent some more time with them before we took Daniel home. They had dressed Daniel up like batman and given him a little plush Pinky Pie My Little Pony horse. I remember Mimi singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to him over and over while rocking him. ♥

 It was a hard goodbye for all of us, but I don't think it was hard in the typical way you would expect it to be. We had arranged with Mimi and Solice to have an open adoption, so we knew we would see them soon and would be exchanging texts and pictures often. But we also knew that our relationship would change, because we all wanted what was best for Daniel and felt that too much interaction would be confusing.

I am so grateful that we have an open adoption! I'm thankful when I have questions about Daniel's medical history. I'm thankful that if Daniel has questions, he will be able to ask Mimi anything. I'm thankful that Daniel has another mom so that when I get all sappy and weepy over something like his first lost tooth, I can text Mimi because she cares like I do!!

We try to see Mimi a few times each year. We like to see her for Daniel's birthday, for Birth Mother's Day, and usually one other random time. But we text more often than that. Because I want her in our life, always. Without her, we would still be a family of two. She made us a family of three!!


Picture it Sicily 2013…..Okay It wasn’t really Sicily or anywhere close it was Utah and it’s where it all began.

Hi my name is Mimi or Miriam or Miri or any number of names I’ve been called over the years and this is my story of going through to put my son up for adoption.

I was a 19 Year old girl in her first year of college and scared to death about being an adult and trying to do everything on my own. My life felt like it was spiraling out of control trying to help my boyfriend cope with his abusive family as well as hold up and handle my whole new adult life. Suddenly I also find out on top of everything I’m pregnant and I’m horribly terrified. I was afraid to try to have a child when I knew my family wouldn’t want to help and didn’t want to risk putting my son in danger having him anywhere near his father’s abusive family.

After some talking to friends and a few family members I started looking into adoption but I was scared. I was afraid of what kind of people they might be, what questions might he have? Will he know that I love him even if I gave him up? What if something happens and they need medical information but don’t have it? I was terrified and being adopted myself made me think of the issues I’d had with the closed adoption where we didn’t have any medical information and made me think of all the questions I’ve had throughout my life. That’s when I heard about Open adoptions, an adoption where I could still meet the parents and know them and if they ever had any questions they could ask me. If it ever got too hard or became too much we could cut contact but at least there was a chance there to answer the questions and give them any information they may need. At this point I started looking through families and stumbled upon Brian and Rebekah.

I was told to try sending them an email and spent a few hours pouring over it looking at it thinking “What do I say and will they like me”. Finally I worked up the courage and sent the first email, and a few hours later I got a reply and so began what very quickly became the start of something amazing. In the first week we exchanged more than 100 emails just going back and forth all the time talking about our likes and dislikes, talking about silly family stories and our favorite foods just about everything. It was so easy to talk to them and for the first time in months I started to get the feeling that things might turn out okay.

As time went on we talked constantly and eventually I met them in person and we ate homemade delicious (not even kidding right now like it was to die for) Cinnamon Rolls that Rebekah had made for the event. After that we got to go around more and have more “dates” where we hung out and I got to know them. The more we talked and the more time I spent with them the more safe I felt the more relaxed I got. Initially it was supposed to be just my ex and I in the hospital room but I wanted to ask Rebekah to be there cause I was scared my mom wouldn’t be there no one else would be there and I was terrified. Rebekah smiled and laughed when we talked about it and I admitted I really didn’t know how to say it besides “Do you wanna be in the room with me while I scream my head off having this kid cause I’m terrified and don’t wanna be alone?” She agreed and I felt this wave of relief again while I realized that I could be okay with her there.

As it drew closer to my due date we spent a lot of time talking and even had a night where I asked them to come over so I could make them my tasty spaghetti and sauce and to try to distract myself from how big I was getting and how close I was to not having that weight there anymore (because believe me at the end you just want it done with it’s cute when they kick but it’s nice to not just suddenly go I HAVE TO PEE RIGHT NOW!) That night we all sat and talked and laughed and Brian made a little bit of a joke that I’m just gonna be late and that rather than having the baby on the 16th I was gonna have him on the 18th. We all laughed and continued our night of jokes, good food and good company.

Finally The week came that the baby was due I was so excited at this point to get to see this little child I had made and to see that I actually could make a human. I was excited to watch Brian and Rebekah see their son for the first time and excited to know that no matter what happened in my life that this little boy would be safe in a home that loved him with parents who could give him the world. Then the unthinkable happens, the 16th comes an goes and nothing he’s still just kicking inside happy as can be but not trying to leave just yet. You see he heard his soon to be dad and just had to go with the joke so what happens? January 18th I’m woken up by contractions, The 18th the same day Brian made the joke about me having him. I was going to text Rebekah but thought I’d wait to be sure the contractions continued and they did through the day. Mid day I decided to finally text Rebekah and I did it the only proper way in this situation: by making a joke. Me: “What did Brian do?!” Rebekah: “What do you mean what happened, what's wrong??” Me: “Well you see it’s the 18th and this morning I was woken up by contractions. How did he know this is he really magic and not just a magician?” Rebekah is ecstatic and runs to tell Brian who is surprised to hear his joke is actually coming true and that he is truly magic not just a magician (though he will probably still deny it I see through his magical tricks)

That night we all went to the hospital to have who would soon be known as Daniel Fox South, their first child and the baby that I actually made who didn’t actually turn out to be an alien even if I questioned a few times (let’s be honest kicking is cool but also feels a little scary at first especially when you’ve been shown Prometheus for the first time while you are pregnant). In the car on the way my ex pulled out starburst asking if any of us wanted any and we all laughed and ate some. We went through the night and at 4am on January 19th came the little cry the sweet little boy, their first son, they got to laugh and see this tiny little baby. We laughed and we cried but we had a good time. They came everyday till we left the hospital and every day we smiled and laughed and made even more memories.

Putting a child up for adoption can be hard, it can be scary and can be an emotional process but for me it was worth it. My son never had to see me in the abusive relationships he never had to know what it was like or to see the fighting. He’s grown up with amazing parents who have shown him unconditional love every single day. He’s gotten to learn about everything he’s ever wanted to and has been given every opportunity to learn more. He’s grown up knowing his feelings are valid and being treated with so much love and is one of the happiest little boys you’ll ever see. He’s been supported in everything he’s wanted to do. Become a singer? He got a karaoke machine with lots of songs and got to learn about music and singing. Become a cop? He’s gotten to meet cops see the inside of a police car and even given his own little cop car. I may have given them the chance to be parents but Brian and Rebekah gave me the chance to see a happy healthy son who never has had to know just how hard and scary life can be.

Eventually someone will come along and they will give him another huge gift. They will give him the chance to be a brother and know what love it is to have a sibling. This person will give him an amazing gift to learn and grow a close bond with someone that he hasn’t had yet. It truly is a gift to know that he’s happy healthy and has his needs so easily fulfilled and to know that he still knows just how much he is loved every single day. Pregnancy can be hard and thinking of giving up your baby can be even scarier but when it’s a family like this you get to see just how amazing a gift it can be to know this family. They are my everything and I love them more than anything in this world.