Yolie's World

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The next generation

Joe, Tameshia & Alyssa
Alyssa and Mama waiting on CJ to be born
My niece Alyssa is such a piece of work. She is beautiful, bossy, funny, adorable, opinionated, grouchy and delightful all at the same time. I love all of my nieces and nephews beyond belief, and Alyssa is right there with them. Being Joe's daughter, though, puts her in a little different place in my heart. I am one of the few people who can say that they have known Joe all his life (certainly the only one around now who can say it). Because of that, and because of the heartbreaking place from which Joe has risen, Alyssa represents such hope and redemption for my brother. I have never seen such a change in a person, as I did when Joe became a father. His entire demeanor changed. He took on his responsibility with such determination, never allowing himself to look back once she was here. He has told me countless times that Alyssa will never know grief and loss like we did. In this aspect, he is truly my hero. Although he is my younger brother, and I never thought he'd have kids before I did (Alyssa is nine months, one day older than CJ), I look up to him as a parent. He loves Alyssa so much. She is to him, as well as to me, a symbol of how far we've come. We will raise our children surrounded by love, never doubting it. In many ways, all the children born within our family hold a promise of our futures being brighter. I mentioned to mom the other day how babies seem to have a calming effect on all her kids. Even the toughest kid (Fabian) melts when a baby is brought into the room. He immediately becomes a giggly kid, loving and cooing with the rest of them. My brother Joey, who spent a couple of years in residential treatment (and who's also a teenager...double whammy) is delightful when I bring CJ over. He hovers over me just waiting for me to ask him to rock CJ to sleep or just walk him around (and if I take to long to ask him, he asks me). He carries all my stuff to my car and always comments on how much he adores CJ. It has been this way for every baby in the family. I think that through them, wounded children are able to see hope and purity. Purity is important, because as wounded kids, we often believe that it was our fault. Seeing babies, so helpless and vulnerable, helps us to understand that it was not at all our faults. After all, do CJ or Alyssa deserve to be hurt? Of course not, which means that neither did we. Therapists tried to tell me that for years, but it wasn't until I actually was around babies (namely Baby Yolie and CW as they were the first), did I realize that adults are responsible, not children. These babies were innocent, and thank God, I was able to watch them grow up with love and guidance. They are now amazing kids and I believe that as this new generation grows up, they will do more to heal us than any counseling session, for how could such treasures come from us, if we were not treasures ourselves?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sleepy and Hungry

Didn't sleep too good last night. CJ had one of his grunting nights, where he just doesn't seem to be happy. He's asleep, but he's wiggling and grunting alot, which means I get very little sleep. Of course, he's sleeping soundly in his swing this morning, while I'm dragging my pitiful self around. Oh, the joys of new parenthood. CJ did turn eight weeks old yesterday, and since my mother and I had the discussion about whether I would say he's a month old or eight weeks, I am confused myself. I don't think he's technically a month old until the same day of the month, but I'm working on no sleep, so who cares what I think.

On to other topics...this one's making me sleepy. Actually, I just realized I should be getting some breakfast while CJ's sleeping, so I'm off, because now I'm hungry...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pissed Off...

Yesterday I heard a terrible story about a group of six (almost seven) kids in a neighboring county who are going through hell. They are pretty much all split up, except for two of the younger ones, and birth mom is pregnant with the seventh. ALL six of her kids have been born crack positive. Her seventh will be too, as her caseworker has been taking her in for drug screens and she has been testing positive. I cannot tell you how badly this pisses me off. Only one of her kids is adopted, because her rights have only been terminated on one child...and that was done in another state. All the other kids are scattered to the winds, all across the country, with various relatives (different dads equals different relatives). Now, DFCS is determined to place with relatives (it's policy), although it doesn't occur to the DFCS policymakers that the MOST important relatives are the siblings!! They should be kept together...duh! Now that the damage has been done, though, the question was put before me regarding the placement of the newborn. A wonderful family has the two younger kids I spoke about earlier. They want to adopt them IF termination EVER occurs, but they are not willing to take on a newborn baby. But, the prospective adoptive mother's very best friend has already contacted DFCS and stated that she would love to adopt the newborn, if termination EVER occurs. The question, does the worker go with this arrangement, or should she move all three into a home where all three will be adopted together? Now, as an avid advocate of keeping siblings together, you may be surprised at my answer. I believe that two wrongs don't make a right. Like I said, the damage has already been done...the sibs have already been separated. Now, these two children are very bonded to this family, and they are probably feeling secure for the first time in their lives. Sadly, one of the kids told his worker that he loved it there because there was always food. Yep, that one made me cry. Anyway, I don't think that those kids should suffer one more move. Yes, they will have another sibling from whom they are separated, but thank God that the person who wants to adopt the baby is best friends with their hopefully adoptive family. yes, you could take the kids from this placement and find a home who would take all three, but who is to say that that one last break in attachment wouldn't be the straw that broke the camels back? These kids are opening up and trusting one more time, and it may be their last attempt. If they are taken away and put with another family, for the sake of keeping them with a sibling they've never even met, they may act out terribly and disrupt that placement, which could result in three totally different placements. Maybe if separating siblings were the exception, not the rule, we would not find ourselves in such predicament.

Now, back to this birth mother. SIX kids born addicted to crack cocaine! She is still being driven around by DFCS workers to get drug screens and I'm sure to appointments to get through her caseplan. She's being given chance after chance...what about the children's chances? They are not getting younger. Minute by minute they are becoming what many people deem "unadoptable" and yet this mother (and I use the word loosely) is being allowed to ruin more and more lives. She shows no remorse, as she currently is pumping her unborn child full of poison. When is enough enough? Where are the children's rights? Everyone is so worried about the parent's rights...her right to finish her caseplan, her right to visit the kids, her right to keep bearing children. You know what I say? She should be sterilized and all her parental rights should be terminated. Just because she knows how to make babies doesn't mean she should be allowed. Yes, I may sound angry and bitter. Guess what, I was that child, waiting on SOMEBODY to do SOMETHING about my situation. My birth mother had CPS history (for sever abuse) dating back to before I was born. My oldest sister was black and blue, at least five years before I was even around, and yet it took until I was ten years old for anyone to step up to the plate and help. We cannot afford to keep doing this to our kids. It's just not fair.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Some of my favorite people

Joe and CJ
CJ and Chibi (Yorkshire Terrier)
Joe and CJ
CJ and Alyssa

Audrey and CJ

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


bad hair day
CJ with Daddy
"What you looking at?"
Sleepy Baby
CJ didn't like his convict outfit
CJ with Mama
Alyssa throwing a hissy fit
Alyssa trying to figure CJ out

Being a Mom

Last night, after trying countless times to lay CJ right next to me once he was asleep, and him waking up every single time, I gave up and let him sleep right on my chest/stomach. HE was so peaceful and slept wonderfully. He woke up to eat every two hours, but not with the usual fussiness. Usually, he realizes I am two inches away (literally) and he starts crying to eat and to be picked up. So, last night, after every feeding, he simply dozed off to the rhythm of my heartbeat...and he was allowed to stay there. Now, I can already hear the countless groans of "she's spoiling him," "he'll never learn to sleep on his own," and "what's she thinking." I say, how can you spoil a baby with too much love and attention. How can teaching him have absolute trust in you as his parent be wrong? I truly believe that in trying to be "good, independent Americans" we are missing out on so much of the important bonding time with our babies. Everyone is so worried about "sleeping through the night" that they forget their babies will only want to sleep with them for a short time, until they decide mom and dad are no longer cool and they want to be "big boys." We cry on their first day of school, yet we send them to the other side of the house to sleep when they are still newborns, all for the sake of "teaching them independence." Why would I want to teach my two month old to take care of himself? As a person who comes from a difficult past, I believe my feeling on this issue may be a little more passionate than most. Although I cannot remember being two months old, I know that I was not cuddled, held, sung to and "spoiled." I witness every day through all my siblings who have the same type background, the consequences of not nurturing your children. Last night, just when I thought CJ was sound asleep, he only barely opened his eyes, saw that he was still right there with me, smiled and went off to dreamland. He was checking on me, making sure he was secure. I think about all the nights I probably woke up and no one was there to make me feel secure. How sad. But even sadder, I think about the night my tiny little brain decided not to even check...what's the point, nobody would be there. As I look at CJ, I vow never to have him wonder if mommy will be there. It's just not a feeling I want him to experience. I view my ultimate duty to God as protecting my son from the same hurt I experienced. I know he will have hurts in his life...his first tumble off a bike, the first time his friends are mean to him, his first heartbreak, but he will never have his first day when mom is so hung over she can't feed him, or his first time wondering if mom will ever come home. He doesn't deserve any of that, and neither did I. I will say, though, that since I became his Mama, I have decided that I would go through it all over again, the pain, the horror and the grief of my childhood, to end up with this child, with this husband, in this home, with these grandparents and extended families. I look into CJ's eyes and I see all of God's promises come true. It's as if God is saying to me through him, "I knew this all along, you just had to go through some stuff before you could get here." Maybe I would not be the mother CJ needs had I not experienced bad mothering. Whatever the reasoning, I know one thing...I will follow my heart when it comes to being CJ's mom. I will not be dictated by the professionals telling me not to spoil him, not to hold him too much or feed him on demand. I will hold my baby close, knowing that he is God's gift to me, maybe even God's way of saying "You've been through enough, here's your heart's desire." I am so proud that God trusted me enough to give me such a precious gift.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Trip Down Memory Lane

Sarah and Jackson

Yolie and Jackson

Yolie and Jackson

Me (three years ago)

Marcela and Yolie



The Biggers!!!

Chuck and Jackson

Birth Siblings

(My oldest birth sister & me)

I've been thinking alot about my oldest birth sister this past week. We reunited after nearly thirteen years some time back and although it was very difficult to reconnect, we made a go of it. We visited each other a couple of times and talked on the phone for about a year. Unfortunately, I don't feel we every truly reconnected. The "whys" are a bit overwhelming, but I will try to make sense of it. First, let me say that I love her. I spent those thirteen years wondering about her, and praying that she still cared about us. She was really the only one in my birth family who loved my brothers and I without all the craziness attached. When we reunited, I immediately felt like something just wasn't right. My fantasy of a happy reunion was totally clouded by the fact that she hd continued to have to live among my birth mother and her craziness, while my brothers and I were blessed with a loving, dedicated and (dare I say) normal mother. While I had spent the last thirteen years of my life overcoming my past and healing, she had still been stuck in it, getting more and more hurt by the only mother she knows. I very quickly realized that she had many issues that I had not seen as a child. Of course, who can blame her for having issues, who wouldn't? Our shared birth mother injects much poison upon anyone near her, and for some reason my sister seemed to recieve the brunt of it. She was even blamed for us beign "taken away" since she testified in court against our birth mother regarding the horrendous abuse and neglect she inflicted on my brothers and I. While most people (myslef included) wonder why in the world she would still have anything to do with our birth mother, she simply put it to me this way, "Yolie, she's the only mom I've got." The enormity of that statement makes me very sad. She never was able to get out. Because of her courage to stand up to our birth mother and testify in order to save us three, we were able to "get another mom" and a better life. But, what a sad story, becasue this same courage put us worlds apart. I found that while I love her and have so much gratitude for what she did, we have very little in common. She has ups and downs with our birth mom, and I simply am not willing to go there. I've come to far to be sucked into birth mother drama (and can she spew it!). At the same time, I struggle with guilt over not making more of an effort to build a relationship with my birth sister. I feel that I have tried hard, but what is hard enough? Becasue of her conitinued contact with our birth mom, she still is bound by her lies and deceit. And because she doesn't know what a functional family is like (not her fault, by the way), I feel like she doesn't know how to even have a relationship with me that doesn't include drama, ups and downs, and screaming fights. After all, this is what she beleives a family does. She ahs even told me, after visiting with my family, how "businesslike" we all act around each other. Now, we are one of the funnest, loving and nurturing families around, but I realized that she did not know what to make of a family where people aren't cussing each other out, visiting husbands in jail, or lying to one another. Again, it is so sad. I am eternally grateful to her for loving us enough to let us go. But I am also sad that she didn't have the same opportunity to have a loving, stable family. Who knows were the years will lead us. Maybe we will be able to find some common ground, or maybe we will just e-mail every once in a while. One thing is for sure, she will always hold a special place in my heart.

Clean Sheets

After a week of CJ spitting up, peeing and pooping on my side of the bed (after all, changing a diaper in the middle of the night without much light can get messy!), I finally had a chance to wash the sheets. So, this morning, after having slept on a fresh, clean sheet, I decided I needed to change CJ's diaper. Of course, he squirted everywhere. Will I ever again sleep on clean sheets, or should I throw that illusion out the window?

(This is by far my favorite picture of CJ so far!)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Good-Byes are hard

Yesterday my brother Jesse left after visiting with his wife for a week. We will not see him again for six months, as he is leaving for the Persian Gulf (Navy) in September. As we all said our good-byes I was reminded of how tough good-byes are for children with loss issues (me included). We used to laugh at our grandpa (before he and grandma lived here) because every year when our summer beach trip was over, he woud cry as we all hugged good-bye. Now, if it's difficult for a "normal" (I use the word loosely!) to deal with good-bye, just imagine a child to whom good-bye literally means "I'll never see you again." I have so many memories of good-byes that broke my heart. A child should never have to say good-bye to thier entire lives, and yet, children are put into situations where they must bid farewell to everything, sometimes multiple times in one year. I was very fortunate (again, I use the term loosely) that my brothers and I did not suffer through multiple foster homes. I think of some of my siblings who, when they finally reached our family, had had six or seven different moms...all of which they had to say good-bye to. No wonder when mom goes to pick up the girls from volleyball p ractice I hear over and over again the fear in my sibling's voice as they ask me "where's mom?" She could be gone fifteen minutes, and while I'm babysitting I am bound to hear at least one "is she coming back" or "why is she always gone?" (Mom is hardly ever gone and when she is it's to pick someone up or some such thing). Nevertheless, good-bye, I'll be back, and see you soon all raise a ton of loss issues in adopted children. I remember one year as we were trying to leave for t he beach, one of my brothers refused to get into the van. Instead, he rode around it on his bike while we all tried to coax him in. Just imaging, his bags are packed and if he gets in he'll see his house slowly disappear behind him, with no gaurantee he'll ever see it again. As adopted children, we've played out that scene one too many times...and that is why good-byes are hard for us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Where did decency go?

Last night my brother Joe and his adorable daughter came over (as they do almost every night). As we were watchign tv, we came across the American Music Awards. Now, I am only 25 years old, but the raunchy stuff I saw shocked me. No wonder we have so many problems with teenage pregnancy, drugs, etc. I actually watched a group of five or six girls singing a song with lyrics like "don't you wish your girlfriend was a hottie like me, don't you wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?" I watched as actress after actress paraded on stage wearing little to no clothing, while little girls in the audience screamed their heads off. Now, apparently, these awards are given according to online votes. So, kids went online and voted for best kissing sequence, biggest hottie, etc. Little girls screamed like crazy when Paris Hilton came onstage...she is thier idol. She also has multiple homemade adult movies out. What are our kids being taught? These are the people they look up to and want to be like. It's a tragedy. I haven't heard a kid say that Michael Jordan is thier hero in a long time. Instead, they want to be like Kobi Bryant, who while he escaped the rape charge, admittedly cheated on his wife. I am shocked by the lack of decency portrayed today. I am equally if not more shocked at the oblivious attitude that parents take regarding this issue. I see little girls (ten year olds!) walking around the mall wearing t-shirts saying "Bad Girl" and "Just ask me...I'll say yes." I've actually seen these shirts. Now, ten year olds don't have the money to buy these themselves. Parents buy them. But, why? I just don't get it. Joe actually said that when Alyssa grows up he is only allowing her to wear blue jeans and turtle necks! All joking aside, I understand his concerns. My husband said just the other day that he is not looking forward to CJ being a teenager, because of the way girls throw themselves at young men. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am so glad that my mom was tough on us. She always demanded that we present ourselves with class. Yes, we bucked her and secretly rolled up our shorts and such, but in the end we all had her voice imprinted into our heads, telling us to make her proud. Chuck, my hubby, has told me a million times over the past eight years how proud he is to be with a lady. On days that I feel fat or unattractive, he has told me that beauty doesn't come in short shorts, bare stomachs or exploding cleavage, but in classiness. I'm so glad my mom demanded this of her girls.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I woke up this morning with a big grin on my face. My son, now almost seven weeks old, slept from 10pm to 2 am, and then from 2:30am to 6:30am! I felt like I'd won the lottery or something! I haven't had that much sleep in, well, nearly seven weeks. So, of course, I call my mom to brag about what a wonderful morning I was having. Unfortunately, she was having a tough morning. She went on to tell me about a blog she had read earlier that morning, and when I had a chance I read that blog along with my mom's. As an adoption caseworker (I still claim it even though I'm now a stay-at-home mom), I totally get what both adoptive parents are screaming about. No, it's not fair that the very people who dedicate their lives to hurt children are the ones who must endure the consequences of birth parents' choices. If I may, though, allow me to speak as one of those hurt children. I often hear adoptive parents say to adopted kids that they are special because they were chosen. While the statement is meant to impart a sense of love and acceptance from parent to child, to a child who has been hurt it can hold two very different meanings. In order for mom to have chosen me to be her kid, I had to have been "chosen" by someone or something (when I was young I blamed God) to be hurt, abused, neglected, tossed aside. Yes, birth kids may look at their parents and see a team to work together with (although let me point out that the majority of people in jail, juvenile detention centers, etc. are not adopted children...so we may be getting a bad rep), but who can blame us for seeing nothing but another person to manipulate, hurt, and disappoint us? Now, I speak from experience when I say that the hellish rebellion we put our adoptive parents through hurts us more than it hurts them. Oftentimes, the adoptive parent is feeling rejected, unloved, unappreciated, hurt, anger and a variety of other emotions when the adopted child is unleashing their pain on them. Welcome to our lives, every day since birth these emotions have been our constant companions. While oftentimes the adoptive parents are remembering an easier time, wondering why in the world they took this burden on, we have no easier time to remember, which is why we are acting the way we are. Now, my mom knows that I get it when she is dealing with the extremely difficult behaviors she deals with. I too find myself wondering why my sibs won't just act right and appreciate her, until I remember my own journey and then I realize that it will take time. Lots of time.

One more thing. I read the blog about nature vs. nurture. I would like to tell adoptive parents not to undersell yourselves. While your adopted child may end serving five years in prison for who knows what, it may have been your influence that caused them not to be on death row. One of my previous adoptive mothers (through work) often says that she is glad when her kids punch a hole in the wall, because they didn't punch a hole in someone's face. Just look at me. I was born to a manipulative, abusive, psychotic drug addict. If I were bound by genetics it would be a tragedy.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sibling Bonds

Last night was great. No, CJ did not sleep longer than two hours at a time. I did, though, find myself eating dinner and watching half a movie (before I fell asleep) with Joe, Tameshia, Alyssa, Daniel, Chuck and CJ. It was a bio. sib reunion at my house. I cannot tell you how satisfied I felt to have Joe and Daniel here at my house. Although I absolutely love ALL my siblings, it is very obvious to me that sibling groups have an undeniable bond between them. I have always maintained that it is because only Joe, Daniel and myself can validate that fact that we exicsted prior to being adopted. All the scars (physical and emotional) have a story, and only the sibs who were there with you can understand them. So many adoptive parents (not my mom, of course) make the terrible mistake of wanting thier adopted children to "get over the past" and "start fresh". While I have no doubt that these parents are totally well-intentioned, only wanting to heal thier children's past, it is very important never to discount the tremendous impact the years before the adoption had. Which is also why it is a tragedy when siblings are separated. Just a couple of days ago, my mom commented to me that Sabrina (one of my newest sisters) told her that Fernando (my new brother) had had his tonsild taken out. Now, Sabrina is only eleven years old, yet she is able to provide a wealth of information to Mom about Mom's kids. Same was/is true about me. Being the oldest of my sib group, I made it my responsibility to burn into my mind Joe and Daniel's lives, so that they could have memories through me. Even now Joe will ask me, "Yolie, do you remember..." or "Yolie, tell Tameshia this really happened when we were little." Again, we validate each other's existence before anyone here ever knew us. Not many people can say that they knew their sibs before they knew thier mother. As an adopted sib group, we can. And then, when you put so many sib groups together and weave them into one hige sib group, it is amazing. So many histories, so many personalities, so many lives, leaning on each other and loving one another....it's beautiful (and always interesting!). Now, after saying all this, I should also point out that while the sib groups within our family have amazing bonds, outsiders never know which kids belong to which sib groups. After fourteen years of knowing a certain pastor at our church, we were talking and he asked "now who did you come with?" I think this is a compliment to our family. Usually, the answer is "I don't remember anymore!" As for last night, I pray for many more nights like that. Daniel and Chuck talking golf, Joe rocking Alyssa to sleep and me sitting there in hog heaven.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Baby Swap!!!

Guess who's who??? Two of these are CJ and two are his cousin Alyssa...

Just some thoughts

I can't even begin to count the ways that my life has changed since I became a mom. For one, I no longer type with both hands! I am obsessed with the color, consistency and frequency of my son's poop and I have been moved to tears over his little face straining to get gas out. People used to laugh at me, because even in college when everyone stays out late, my body shut down at around nine pm and it was my bedtime. Now, days and nights hold no difference to me, as CJ has no concept of time. My husband and I spent nearly eight years just being a couple. Now, we are having to learn how to be parents and still be a couple. As solid as I believe we both are, in our relationship and as individuals, I am shocked at how much work it takes to do both. Sleep deprivation doesn't help. I must say, though, that I am so grateful to have my husband. Knowing how much he helps me (especially when I NEED a shower and CJ NEEDS to be held), I am amazed at how so many women do it by themselves. In today's society, it happens all the time. For so many reasons, women are left to raise their children by themselves. For those women who choose to take the responsibility seriously, and who do all they can for their kids, I have the utmost respect. Parenting is so hard, but so worthwhile. I cannot imagine raising CJ without his daddy. Sadly, our home situation is fast becoming the exception, not the rule. Children are such helpless, vulnerable, tiny beings, and it takes more than giving birth to be a parent to them (something adopted kids learn the hard way).

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ending the Cycle

Last night, my brother Joe and I were discussing how glad we are that our mom raised us with such high standards. Sure, there were times when we thought that the month long restrictions were a bit much. But now that we both have kids, we can't imagine raising them without the values and morals that our mom taught us. Joe was saying that he was grateful to mom...becasue of her our children would never have to know heartache and pain like we did. We talked about how it is our absolute duty to God and to our children to break the cycle that is so entrenched in our birth family.Looking at Alyssa (Joe's beautiful baby girl) and CJ (my adorable son), I can't help but get a little emotional, knowing that they will have the roots that we never had as tiny, helpless kids. They will never long for love and attention because they will never lack it. And that's how it should be. Joe and I made a conscious decision to end the generations of pain and dysfunction with us. That will not be our legacy and it sure won't be our children's. And for that, we are both grateful to our mother.