Tag Archives: teenage adoption

Be Not Weary

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This momma is feeling weary.

Like so many of you, I feel as though I am sprinting through quick sand. It has been a challenging few months at Patchwork Farm. Those that know us well have probably read between the lines of our summertime posts and have picked up on the strain and struggles we aren’t voicing.

Under normal circumstances the events that have unfolded in our life over the last 18 months would be enough to rock anyone’s world. Looking over the posts from Braden’s adoption day until today (adoptions, graduations, cross country college drop-offs, weddings, residential placements, lost jobs, new jobs, baby announcements, missionary farewells, etc., etc., etc…) , you can see that we have lived a dozen lives in the past 18 months. Each and every one of these major life moments is enough to rock one’s world, but pile them together, top it with a worldwide pandemic, and we find ourselves running on empty. These changes have challenged the family unit as a whole, but has been especially trying for those family members with a more disrupted past. Each change is a trigger and each challenging change leads to challenging behaviors…the compilation of which have left me feeling beat down and weary.

As I talk to friends who find themselves struggling with the unique challenges of living in a Covid world, regardless of what their personal challenges are…

– What school choice is best for my kids?

– When will I safely be able to visit my mother again?

– Is my best friend going to recover from Covid-19?

– Will my husband be able to safely get back to work?

– How am I going to manage working at home while schooling my children?

– Will the activities that feed my soul and bring me joy ever return?

…The feelings are the same.

It is the uncertainty about tomorrow, and the fear of things never getting better, that bring those feelings of weariness.

Whether we are talking about Covid-19 related challenges, or simply life challenges, it is the uncertainty of when the load will lift, or when the challenges will ease, that are the most wearing.

The burdens we find ourselves bearing (health challenges, relationship challenges, parenting challenges, financial challenges, etc.) can be likened to a boulder we are asked to push indefinitely,

Leaving us feeling much like Sisyphus.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra. He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.

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Sometimes the trials of our life feel just that way…

Like an eternal punishment that we are forced to bear.

A heavy rock that we push upward, only to have it roll back over us when we make it to the top,

Forcing us to begin again.

But maybe instead of looking at the trials we bear as a punishment that we are sentenced to, we should look at at trials as opportunities for growth, as illustrated in the story below.

“Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. He decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard.

Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.

Yet you haven’t moved the rock.

But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom.

This you have done.

I, my child, will now move the rock.”

When weariness overtakes me, and feelings of despair and discouragement leave me feeling like a failure, I must remember that I was not called to push this boulder to the top of the mountain. I was simply called to faithfully arise each day, and continue pushing forward, trusting that when God has finished the work He is doing through me and within me, He will lift that boulder from my path.

There is a purpose in the struggle.

It is through the challenging seasons of mortality that we have the opportunity to grow, improve, and strengthen muscles we would never ordinarily use…

And in the process become more Christlike.

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Let us not grow weary.

This too shall pass, and we will be all the better for it.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”    – Galatians 6:9

 

It takes a real man to be a Dad!

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Today is the day we celebrate fathers.

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It is the day we honor the men in our life who love unconditionally, who provide selflessly, and who step up and give all for the children they love.

I have been blessed with exceptional men in my life who have shown me what a real man is and how a real man acts. From my grandfathers, to my father-in-law, to the man who raised me, I have been blessed with the best.

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I have learned from their examples, been bolstered by their encouragement, and watched as their values were manifested in the way they lived their lives.

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Each of them showed what they value most by the daily choices they made, making clear that God and family come first.

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I was raised by a great man which is why I sought a great man to be my eternal companion and the father to my children. I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t carry the burden of breaking an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship cycle. Because of how my father loved my mother, I knew what I was suppose to expect from a relationship. I don’t take this for granted. I know this was a great blessing that so many are denied.

But I have also witnessed in my life the great power of a good man to be a “cycle breaker.” I see it in my own home. I see the power for change that can come when a good man loves a child to the degree that a child begins seeing themselves as loveable.

When it comes to good men, I have been blessed with the best. Today we celebrate our 23rd anniversary and Father’s Day. On the day we married I thought I couldn’t love him more than I did in that moment, but that love was nothing compared to how I feel today.

That love was sweet but untested. It lacked the depth that comes when you move beyond a feeling to a choice. Love grows deeper with each trial and test. Conviction, connection, and commitment come from those hard seasons of life when you choose to stay rather than run. Deep abiding love comes when you see your spouse making the right choice, even when it is a hard choice. It grows as you watch him say “yes” when others would say “no.” Each selfless sacrifice for the good of another added another layer of depth to the love I already felt.

And then he became a father, and my love grew 100 fold as I watched him love, care and provide for our children. I watched as he set aside his own dreams for the sake of his little family.I watched him man-up, go against the agenda of the world, and choose to do right.

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I watched as he loved our children with all he had and watched as he gave them the world.

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And then he gave even more when he opened his heart and home to our sons whose own biological fathers failed them. He took on a responsibility that wasn’t his because of who he is…

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It isn’t easy being a “cycle breaker.” It requires a level of selfless love and unwavering commitment, but he not only took in children abandoned by the world, he made them his in every way. He provides, he forgives, he accepts, he gives, and gives some more so that his boys might know their worth. He loves them as they should have been loved since birth, even when the love, respect, and care he gives isn’t reciprocated. He knows that being a father isn’t about what you get back. Fatherly love isn’t a feeling…it is a choice, and he keeps showing up and loving his kids…

Which is one of the many reasons I love him!

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I am so grateful for the gift of good men in my life. Their walking, talking, daily examples of a father’s love has helped me better understand my Heavenly Father’s love, as illustrated in the poignant video below:

Happy Father’s day, to all the good men in the world.

May we raise them.

May we respect them…

That they may they know their worth.

Another McCleery on the Road!

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 This week I have begun working on our Christmas cards, and as I have been looking back on 2019 photos to use in our family Christmas card I am astounded at the amount of change our family has experienced over the course of 12 months. It kind of takes my breath away. It also validates the emotional exhaustion I find myself recovering from.

This year has been a big one for our family, both as an entire unit but also for individual members.

One of my kiddos who has experienced big life changes from this time last year is Braden. Over the course of 12 months he has experienced reunification with siblings, a new home/family, an adoption, his baptism, a name change, getting his first job, turning 18 years old, cyber schooling, and most recently joining a local basketball team and getting his driver’s license…

Yes, you read that right.

Braden is now navigating the roads independently at 70 mph.

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Watch out world!!

But in all seriousness we are excited for our son who really is a natural behind the wheel. (I only wish he didn’t realize how much of a natural he was!)

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He is excited by this new found freedom, and Toby and I are thrilled to have a second driver back in the home. He and Rusty are both in that sweet season of eagerness that’s seen in new drivers when the thrill of being on the road independently means that we always have someone who is eager to run to the store for milk or the post office for stamps.

I know this season doesn’t last forever so we will take full advantage of the novelty of new licenses while we can!

Braden was scheduled to take his road test on Wednesday at 9:00am. We arrived early so as to allow him 30 minutes of last minute practice at parallel parking before his test. Parallel parking has proven to be the Achilles heel for many of our family’s new drivers so the extra practice, right before testing, gave Braden the boost of confidence needed to pass with flying colors.

I watched from a window as he headed out with the testing instructor, first to the back lot for parallel parking, then onto the road for his road test. The minutes dragged by, which is always a good sign. (A quick return usually means a failure.)

When he did make it back he approached the building with a wide smile and a skip in his step. A thumbs up answered the question in my eye…He had passed!!

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Needless to say, he was excited to the point of giddiness. He now was the proud recipient of a driver’s license…

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Every young man’s ticket to freedom.

Well done, Braden!

We can’t wait to see where the road ahead takes you!

 

So Glad we “Gotcha!”

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In addition to celebrating the births of each of our children, we also celebrate the “birth” of our adopted children into our family. This annual celebration marks the anniversary of their day in court when they legally became a McCleery. This anniversary is known in the world of adoption as “Gotcha Day.” In our family we celebrate our boys’ “Gotcha Days” by allowing that child to pick a fun activity for us to enjoy as a family.

For our family, the “Gotcha Days” of our three adoptees fall on July 23rd, November 22nd, and March 26th…nicely spread out through the year for seasonal adoption celebrations.

Because the adoptee gets to choose the family activity, the way we celebrate “Gotcha Days” are as varied as the boys we have adopted. In the past we have gone for ice cream, visited car lots, gone to the courts to play tennis, etc. There is no rhyme or reason to these special days other than they are family-connected and driven by the wish of the adoptee we are celebrating.

This week we celebrated the “Gotcha Day” of our youngest child and our first adoption. This “Gotcha Day” holds a special place in my heart as his adoption opened the door to a world our family would have never known without him. Tyler came into our life as a newly turned 6-year-old and his entrance in our life was nothing short of divine intervention.

You see, when we were in the process of opening our adoption file, we were given the opportunity to select details about our potential child. The survey was specific with the adoptive parents given the opportunity to choose what behaviors, background and disabilities they felt capable of handling. Some questions were ridiculous like, “Will you accept a child who wears glasses?” Other questions were far more significant like, “Will you accept a child who has been sexually abused?” The questionnaire was hundreds of questions long and in the end, with much prayer and consideration, felt called to let God decided which child we were to adopt. With a desire to truly submit to His will and let Him pick our child, we answered yes to every race, sex, age, disability, trauma, and behavior with the exception of three hypotheticals that we felt were beyond our capacity as parents.

Because of the 3 non-negotiables we marked on our application Tyler never should have come into our life. Good thing our God is bigger than our insecurities because had He not circumvented our barriers, we would never have been blessed with Tyler.

How our file ended up on the desk of an Allegheny County social worker is still a mystery to us. Our agency claims it wasn’t sent by them, knowing that this child wasn’t a fit with our specifications. All we know is one day, in the middle of August 2011, we received a call informing us that we were one of two families being considered for a little boy named Tyler. It soon became clear to the social worker that I had no idea what he was talking about so he quickly emailed us Tyler’s child profile and made plans to visit our home the next afternoon to discuss the matter further.

That night, after the other children had been put to bed, Toby and I sat in bed and began reading through Tyler’s child profile. Before we finished reading the first page we were already certain that this child…his trauma, behaviors and needs were far beyond our scope of expertise as parents, and those three non-negotiables that terrified us were all present in this poor boy’s past. Our hearts broke for him but we felt certain that we were unequipped to be the parents for this hurting child.

With our decision firmly made we went to sleep brokenhearted but certain that we were making the right decision. The next day I called the social worker first thing in the morning to cancel our appointment scheduled for that evening. I spent the day attempting to make contact with no luck. No one could track him down and none of our messages made it through, so despite our attempts to cancel, that social worker arrived at our home that evening.

We sat down, ready to let him know that we didn’t feel like we were the right match, when he opened the file and a picture of Tyler fell out on the table. In that moment I knew I was looking at the face of my child, long before determined and destined to be part of our family. I knew he was mine and despite my fears and insecurities, I knew Heavenly Father was delivering Tyler into our arms for a great and important purpose…a purpose that has slowly been revealed through time as we have grown as a family in size, purpose, patience, compassion and eternal vision.

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Knowing he was destined to be our son didn’t erase the realities in his file that worried us and made us feel overwhelmingly inadequate, but knowing God was calling us to this journey lifted us above the “what ifs” onto the plane of submissive trust in God’s plan.

How grateful I am that God did not let us get in His way of His plan. I can look back now and see that His hand was in the creation of our family from the start. His hand was in  every “no” he whispered to us as we grieved the disappointment of our own plan falling through, and in every push He gave us toward a “yes” when we were too afraid to take the first faithful step. He knows what our final family unit will look like and He has been the architect of each phase as we grow into that family.

Who knew that is setting our family file mysteriously on the desk of an unsuspecting social worker He was opening the door to two children, pre-destined and divinely selected, to be a part of our forever family.

First came Tyler’s adoption in 2012:

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Then Tyler’s adoption brought Braden to our family seven years later when he became a McCleery on March 26th, 2019.

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I can’t imagine how much love, learning, personal growth and blessings we would have missed had we said no to that little six-year-old boy.

This week was our seventh year celebrating Tyler’s “Gotcha Day.” On Tuesday we found ourselves home with just Tyler and Braden. Everyone else had school or work. Tyler’s request for this year’s “Gotcha Day” was to go to the movies, so on Tuesday night Toby, Braden, Tyler and I went to see the new Spiderman movie. The movie was great, but the company was even better.

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How grateful I am for the blessing of adoption in our life.

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I can’t help but reflect on all the beautiful moments we might have missed out on if we had allowed ourselves to be guided by fear instead of faith.

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Running the Race

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It is funny how we tend to hyper-focus on the finish lines of life.

Every met goal is perceived as an ending, when in reality each ending is merely a check-point on the marathon we call life.

This is especially true when we are running a particularly hard leg of the race, like the one we have been running these last few months.

The road leading up to adoption day was full of potholes, pitfalls and roadblocks…far more than we shared with anyone who was cheering us on from the sidelines. It was a wearisome run and by the last mile we were crawling toward the finish line.

You see, in my hopelessly naïve head I thought we just had to make it to adoption day. (You’d think we’d know better!)  Knowing most of the struggles with my three youngest were rooted in fears and anxiety about the adoption failing before it was finalized, I (coming from an untraumatized mindset) thought that the finalization of the adoption would bring feelings of security and felt safety. Exhausted and digging deep for that final push of energy needed to make it to (and through) adoption day, I thought that once we made it to Tuesday I could rest my weary self and enjoy the reward of a race well run.

What I discovered, however, was that as we finalized the adoption, and we prepared to break through the finish line ribbon to the cheers of celebration, the finish line wasn’t where I expected it to be. And I could have cried. Much like a runner who had paced themselves so as to ration out their energy down to the last mile, only to discover they had miscalculated and the finish line was actually five miles further down the road, we arrived home on Tuesday night to find that someone had up and moved the finish line ribbon and we had to keep running.

And we were all tapped dry.

There was nothing left in Toby and I.

I was weary to the point of tears when everything and everyone combusted in an explosion of hard emotions.

It was at that moment that I realized that despite the raw sores on my feet, the lack of tread left on my shoes, and the bone-deep weariness that consumed me, my race was not done. In fact, despite thinking I had reached the finish line, I had actually just begun the real race.

It is those moments in life that test our mettle.

Are we going to quit or will we choose to tap deep and keep running?

The days following our adoption hearing brought emotional “fall-out” as everyone dealt with the crash that follows highly emotional experiences. Tears came more quickly, anger was harder to manage, anxiety left family members doing whatever it took to survive the week, while others who couldn’t manage the heightened anxiety simply ran away.

They ran to prevent others from running first.

They packed their bags and walked out the door before they could be hurt by the actions of others…after all, that is what happened in the past.

I thought adoption day would bring feelings of security, but for a child whose joy following  his first adoption was stolen from him shortly thereafter by the destructive nature of cancer, nothing in this world feels safe or secure.

And if the threat of losing what you want most weighs heavy enough on your soul, you run. And that is what Braden did, and Tyler did, and Ozzie did…multiple times that week.

So, I did the only thing I could do…I followed.

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It took nine miles and 2 1/2 hours of walking before he believed I wasn’t going to leave him or give up on him.

 I followed to show that we NEVER give up on family,

And to show them that if they chose to run, I would follow them…Always.

Much of my week was spent following runaways in my car as I drove at a snail’s pace behind them, with my hazard lights blinking to warn other drivers of their presence.

I followed for hours and hours and hours…

Testifying to them through my actions that we will never give up on them.

And by following them, I proved my love through my unwillingness to let them flee when family love gets uncomfortable or scary,

Because it will.

Being part of a family is the most blessed gift Heavenly Father has given us on earth, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy, or fun, or comfortable.

Being part of a family means that you choose to keep showing up, keep supporting, keep communicating, keep loving, and keep running the hard race…even when ever fiber of your being wants to quit.

Love is a choice. If it were a feeling it would be as intangible as a giggle or as untouchable as a rainbow, but true love…love built through dirty hands and broken nails and sheer grit…

Well, that is the type of love you can trust.

That is the type of love you build a life on.

That is the type of love our Father in Heaven shows us.

Life is not a sprint, and adoption is REALLY not a sprint. It is a long race, made up of lots of short stretches. Some are scenic, some are hard, and some will do everything short of breaking you,

But the choice to keep running is one we will all have to make time and time again in our lives.

When I find myself getting weary or wanting to quit, or discouraged by the finish line that never seems to manifest over the next horizon, I think of this story and draw strength from its message:

“During the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari placed last in the marathon, yet major sports magazines named him as one of two “top international Olympians” that year. While losing the race, Mr. Akhwari won the admiration of untold thousands because he embodied the spirit of a true Olympian as he finished despite setbacks.

Track and field athletes that year faced a common challenge when they arrived in Mexico City: its altitude. At 7,350 feet, it was the highest elevation at which any Summer Olympics had been held. From Mbulu, Tanzania, where the altitude is -3.85 feet, Mr. Akhwari suffered leg cramps early in the race. Yet he continued to run.

He collided with another runner and fell, dislocating and badly cutting a knee and injuring a shoulder. He got up and he continued to run.

By sunset, most of his 56 fellow competitors had finished the race. Wounded and in pain, he continued to run. Most spectators had left the arena where the marathon’s finish line was located.

Those who remained noticed lights flashing on a vehicle escorting a lone runner and cheered as the Tanzanian hobbled along the track in his own victory lap to cross the finish line more than an hour after the winner.

It’s doubted that anyone present realized they were witnessing a great moment in the history of the Olympics. Many journalists and people posting on various media have told the story of Mr. Akhwari’s personal victory. In a New York Times article upon the death of Bud Greenspan in 2010 is this account:

“Mr. Greenspan, an eight-time Emmy Award winner, often distilled his view of the Olympics into an incident from the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. He was shooting the marathon, which was won by an Ethiopian, Mamo Wolde.

“But what mesmerized him was John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. … When Mr. Greenspan asked him why he continued to the end, Mr. Akhwari was incredulous at such a question. ‘My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race,’ Mr. Greenspan often recalled him saying. ‘My country sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race’”

Robert D. Hales spoke of John Akhwari’s determination to finish his race: “He knew who he was—an athlete representing the country of Tanzania. He knew his purpose—to finish the race. He knew that he had to endure to the finish, so that he could honorably return home to Tanzania. Our mission in life is much the same. We were not sent by Father in Heaven just to be born. We were sent to endure and return to Him with honor.

I will choose to continue running the race God has put before me. Not because it is easy, and certainly not because it is always fun,

But because I was not sent here to start the race. My Father sent me here to finish the race.

I will run and run and run this race for love…

Love of my child, love for my family, and because of the infinite love shown to me by my Father in Heaven, who has promised that while this journey may not be easy, it is eternally worth ever step.

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PS- This week’s stretch of road has proven to be smoother.

God is good…Always good!

 

 

What’s in a Name?

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Well, friends, we just received the exciting news of Brandon’s adoption date.

On March 26th at 9:00 am we will go before the judge who will legally confirm the bond that has already occurred in our hearts, naming Brandon as our son in the eyes of the law.

It is with great excitement that we count down the minutes to our big day.

With the impending adoption comes some big decisions, as Brandon decides what he wants to do about his name. Having been through the adoption process twice before, we are well familiar with the logistics of the legal process. At the adoption ceremony the adopted child can choose to change their last name (or not,) as well as make additional changes to their given name.

This was a special experience with both Tyler and Ozzie, who chose to not only take on our last name as their own, but also change their middle names.

When we approached each of them with the decision to alter their names, we talked about what is expected of us when we, as Christians, take on the name of Christ and what His name brings to mind. We then talked about taking on our father’s name and how a last name is a legacy that our fathers and grandfathers pass down to us and what responsibility comes with that surname.

We spoke of how taking on the name McCleery grafts them into our family tree in a way that is indistinguishable from those connected through blood, giving them all the same rights and responsibilities of being a member of the McCleery family.

As we discussed the changing of Ozzie’s and Tyler’s middle names, we approached it with the same joyful anticipation that we approached the naming of each new baby in the family. With great excitement and delight we pulled out the baby name books and looked up the meaning behind our favorite names. Then everyone wrote down their 3 favorite names anonymously, along with the meaning behind those names, and we pulled them from a bowl reading them out loud.

Then each of our sons had an opportunity unique to them because of the means that they were joining our family, and got to personally choose their new middle names.

It was a special experience for our family and one of those cherished memories I will forever associate with the beauty of the adoption journey.

Tyler chose to change his middle name from Jordan to Jacob, and Ozzie chose to change his middle name from Emlyn to William. His unique middle name had strong ties to family and he was eager to shed that connection with his abusers.

When we were approached to begin the paperwork for Brandon’s adoption hearing, we had to fill in what he would be known by from that day forward. That simple question led to a deep discussion. When we approached Brandon, we were uncertain if he would choose to change his last name. His situation is very different from Tyler and Ozzie’s in that this is his second adoption, not his first, and he is 17-years-old. There is a deep connection to his adoptive mother who died of cancer and his adoptive father who is fighting his own cancer battle, and we weren’t sure what he would want to do.

He has decided to take on McCleery for his new last name and honor his adoptive parents by hyphenating their two last names (they weren’t married) and make that his middle name.

When he told us that was what he’d like to do, we were touched and moved by his choice. What a beautiful way to honor all the parents that have loved him.

Then he asked if changing his first name was an option as well. This question took me by surprise. It wasn’t something we had ever considered for the other two, just for the sake of continuity and preservation of who they were despite the huge life change they were experiencing. I wasn’t sure how to respond. It didn’t matter to Toby and I personally, but I wasn’t sure from a therapeutic point of view whether it was an emotionally heathy choice or one that would cause issues or regret later. Rather than answer him, I suggested we bring it up to his trauma therapist at our next appointment.

I gave Miss Tina a heads-up so that she could give the question some thought before meeting with us and at our next session Brandon explained what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it

He told her very thoughtfully that “Brandon” had lived a life full of unspeakable horrors, neglect, sadness and loss. He explained that after a lifetime of bad he was ready to have some happiness and a fresh start and didn’t feel he could really start fresh while continuing to hold onto a name that had experienced such bad things.

“For this reason,” he explained, “I want to change my name from Brandon to Braden. I’m ready for a fresh start to my new life.”

She listened thoughtfully to his thoughtful explanation, and exclaimed to me that she thought that his desire to change his given name was not only healthy but showed great maturity and thoughtful consideration, and then concluded by expressing that there is no one she works with whose experiences justify the need for a “clean start” more than Brandon’s.

So, in 19 days Brandon Chesney will become Braden McCleery.

The transition from Brandon to Braden has required thoughtful effort on our part, and we recognize it will be a transition for all of you as well. We have begun that transition at home and from here on out we will be referring to our son as Braden.

He, too, is experiencing the struggle that comes with transition, as he has come to us, expressing the desire to begin calling us Mom and Dad, rather than Toby and Kate. We are all working through the adjustment of catching ourselves when we slip up and get used to the feeling of unfamiliar names rolling off our tongues, but it is with great joy in all of our hearts that we are getting used to these changes.

As a mother who has walked both roads of growing a family through birth and adoption, I can honestly say that as thrilling as it is to hear your baby boy call you “mama” for the first time, it doesn’t hold a candle to the first time your grown, adoptive son calls you “mom.”

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