This is how I will remember Prince…his last performance was spectacular 

Paying tribute to the one and only, read my personal experience attending his final concert here: https://spanishmossseries.com/2016/04/29/prince-last-concert-my-personal-experience/

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My Adoption Story: Finale

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If you’ve been following along with my personal story of being an adoptee let me begin by saying THANKS! It’s a major part of who I am and the road I’ve traveled and I really appreciate all the love, support and feedback you all have given me! If you missed the first three parts you can catch up here: Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 otherwise away we go with the final chapter.

I began to spend weekends with my birthmother, brother and step-father. Even my maternal grandparents ended up staying with my birthmother so I was able to get to know them as well. Learned my grandmothers Sicilian sauce and meatballs recipe and how to make her famous lasagna. Watched the Mets with my grandfather when they were on a hot streak (actually won the WS that year 86′) and helped him “walk the property” which was his code for grab a smoke outside. It was wonderful to really get to know my family, create that lifelong bond and be accepted as part of their lives, them as part of my life and grow our heritage.

I even met my birthfather’s mother, stepfather and sister who didn’t live to far away from my birthmother’s house in New Jersey. I never met my birthfather, he and our mother were married shortly after I was given up for adoption. My brother’s childhood included our father but only for a few years then came divorce and soon after he lost touch. He remarried and had other children but wasn’t keeping touch with his mother and wasn’t really connected to either family any longer. I never really had a desire to meet him, funny really, most adoptees tell me they tend to be drawn to find their birthmothers but not the fathers.

After I moved back to North Carolina and eventually moved to attend college in Georgia, we still visited and kept in touch. There was my brother’s graduation, my step-sister’s wedding, holidays, and summers spent in New Jersey. They all even attended my first wedding which included my four family trees: my adopted father’s family, my adopted mother’s family, my birthmother, brother, and stepfather, and would you believe my birthfather’s mother and stepfather even attended. It was quite a mix of family and lots of BIG family love!

The years have flown by, its been over 30 years and my birthmother and I speak every week. She now lives in California and either I fly west to see her or she fly east to see me. My brother and I are very close we text each other over football games or if the Mets are hot and try to get our families together for a visit when we can. We’ve all built a wonderful relationship and I’m grateful that when my girls were born they were born with two complete families on my side. Its normal to them to have two sets  of maternal grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and lots of cousins. Both my mothers took turns staying with me when each of my children were born, it was really a blessing to have such loving family support during all those important life events.

So I call my mothers “mom” and my fathers “dad” there isn’t a differential in my world. The way I tend to explain it is that my adopted mother who raised me is the parental mother and my birth mother is my best friend. My birthmother didn’t have to discipline me but yet we have so much in common its really crazy, we’re so relatable to each other. However I still respect her as my mother because that’s truly who she is. But my mother raised me and loved me from the start so she of course has my respect and she is my mother. Same with my father and step-father, so two mothers, two fathers, makes sense?

I sometimes confuse people who are just getting to know me and I say things like “my mom lives in North Carolina” and then say “my mom lives in California”. I get that half cocked head, eyebrow raised puppy dog look which then I quickly just say “Oh I was adopted and I know both my families.” This then raises more questions, and I provide more of the story, which then of course gets more questions and then leads to why I wrote this blog. So many have said how inspirational our story is and I really hope that someone either a mother, father, adoptee or step-parent can find inspiration in my story to lead them to a happy and well balanced mixed up big “modern family”.

My mother, my adopted mother passed away in 2008 and it was the hardest loss I’ve ever had to deal with. She was my confidant, my adviser, my friend and my love of my life. I respected her opinion on everything, shared everything with her and spoke to her every week. When we loss her my brothers and I each loss a trusted board member and cheerleader. It seemed too soon to loose her as I was only 38 but I’m always thankful for the years I was given and blessed by the life she gave me.

God had a plan and had put it into action when my birthmother found me, he was watching over me and knew what I would need when my mother passed. He knew that I would need another mother, another adviser, another best friend. That’s exactly what I received in my birthmother. Our relationship is different but I find it hard to explain that what I needed was there and has always been there and our bond has forever grown and become stronger and stronger over all these years. Even yesterday when we spoke we laughed and the connection is natural, we can actually finish each other sentences.

My grandfather’s passing was hard for all of us, he had been loosing ground for several years and putting in a good Sicilian fight. There was time to prepare. However my grandmother was a beaming example at 90 years old of what we’d all like to be in those years. Alive, mobile, laughing, on-the-go, she was in fact at the top of her game at 90 years old. Yep it truly was hard to believe. I spoke to her every-other-week and sometimes weekly since she was such an inspiration! My girls and I travel to California for her 90th birthday party and she was on the dance floor looking less than 60 years old. It was such a wonderful time being with family and celebrating her life.

Six months later I made my weekly call and she had been to the doctor with bronchitis. It spiraled into pneumonia and within a week of us speaking she was gone. Shock and grief overcame us all. My birthmother had never gone through these levels of loss but in fact her daughter had already experienced such pain. I was there to console her. God’s plan again in motion. We were there to support each other at a time when we both needed a best friend the most.

My family is still together even today and nothing will ever come between us, not even death. Here’s a poem I wrote for my grandfather and grandmother and read after my grandmothers funeral mass. I hope my story inspires you or someone you know, you love, or you want to cherish to open those arms so all things that God has in store for you can be redeemed.

Amazing Our Path of Life
Separated from beginning
years and cheers missed.
The hopes and all desires
never spoken, always spinning.

Warm embraces, our sun kissed faces
guilt – regret, immediately forgiven.
A special bond, indescribable
nourished and flourished.
Hours, days, weeks, then years
regained, and cherished.

Separation could not break
what was born inside.
Our love, to carry on
beaming, guiding, shinning,
never to be forgotten.
Unconditional our love, lives on
in your next generation.

Also enjoy a short video of a few pictures of my family.
Cheers,
la mia famiglia

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My Adoption Story: Part 3

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Yes its been quite a story and now we’re at part 3 of my adoption story. You can get caught up by reading Part 1 or Part 2 here….otherwise here we go:

I was settled in with my new high school, making lots of friends in NYC (you know who you are, love you ladies) and had figured out the subway system for the most part. My birthmother and I had set a date to meet in the city for dinner, I don’t actually remember the date, she might, but I do recall it seems like it was October. I had asked my family to join us in NY for the dinner and our first meeting so my adopted father, and two older brothers came up from NC to join me and be supportive.

My mother didn’t join us, she probably said she had to work or would stay back to give me some space but I understood her position, who wouldn’t? She was supportive but it was most likely very hard for her to watch the two of us meet, chat, hug etc. So I’ve never put her in a position that would make her uncomfortable and recommend other adoptees do the same. Be respectful, think about how it would feel for the other parent, the parent who raised you, gave you a home, a family, and lots of love. Too much for most people to swallow so I respected her decision and never questioned it.

After only a few months in the city I already decided that the East Village was the coolest part of Manhattan, so I picked a pizzeria for us to meet for our first gathering. My father, brothers and I arrived on-time and she was already there. I knew in an instant it was her, we look just alike, then I noticed a very tall guy who also looked just like me, the boy from the picture (my brother) and my step-father with the biggest smile on his face, grinning ear to ear! We walked over to say hello and just as I got close, she threw her arms around me and held me tight. I did the same and of course no words were need at that moment, we just stood there hugging and letting the tears flow.

Behind us the guys all gave us our space and made introductions to each other, however after a few moments we finally drew a breath and came back into the group. We all sat, ordered pizza, ate and talked. It wasn’t a deep group conversation just standard dinner chatting, getting to know each other kinda stuff. There was some talk of how they located me, reaching out to my adopted father, validation etc. Then my birthmother mentioned that they actually came down to NC and visited my old schools. Even went in to chat with administration to see if they had any old yearbooks. What???

Yep my birthmother and step-father came down to NC, visited my elementary and junior high schools and politely asked if they had any old yearbooks lying around. Yep someone was kind enough to hand over a few for there review, Southern hospitality and all. Just so you know, I was one of those kids who hated yearbook pictures during my teen years, so I may have found other interests when picture day came up or retake day for that matter. I seem to recall a retake day when my earth science teacher sent me out of his class (shout out to Mr. Mac) to head over to the gym for retakes. Can’t remember where I ended up but it wasn’t in the gym. So my birthmother and step-father had to go quite a ways back to locate a school picture of me. The moment they saw the picture they knew the information that they were given was correct, I was indeed in NC growing up a southerner. Crazy creepers!

So after dinner the guys decided to do some sight-seeing and left out for the Empire State building. Now my adopted father is from NYC, Bronx to be exact, so he knows his way around, but they really wanted to give my birthmother and I a chance to catch up alone. We sat there for hours talking, laughing, asking questions oh and taking up space at the restaurant – but who cares? She explained that she was dating my birthfather and became pregnant at age twenty-one. In 1969 abortions were illegal and she was Catholic, unmarried and had to keep things private. People judged unwed young girls for getting pregnant; so both her parents, my grandparents and my birthfather suggested, rather insisted, that she give me up for adoption.

While my birthmother was heartbroken she did what she was told, moved out of my grandparents home, found a room to rent away from her neighborhood, barely had enough money to eat and kept away from most everyone in the family, including my birthfather, while I grew to full term. Adoptions were private and by private I mean that even the hospitals didn’t get involved like they do today. As a mother giving your baby up for adoption you had to do so all on your own. So in 1970 my birthmother delivered me at Jamaica Hospital in Queens NY all on her own, with no family present.

After three days stay at Jamaica Hospital, my birthmother was released with her baby girl, walked out into the hospital parking lot and handed me over to someone most likely either legal or a adoption liaison representative. Yep right there in the parking lot, like a drug deal going down, if you have any knowledge of Jamaica Hospital you might understand this reference. She didn’t know who was going to raise me, where I was going to be raised, or what kind of love and support I was going to receive. Can you even imagine? Today birthmothers have every right to meet the adoption parents, even approve of them, some even get to keep in touch through social media, blogs, email etc. Things are quite different today.

So here was my birthmother at twenty-two already a mother but never to know anything about me, records sealed forever. My birthfather came back around and was happy to build back their relationship now that the “issue” was resolved. And my birthmother accepted him back and they eventually married. Yep my two birthparents ended up getting married after all and even more shocking got pregnant shortly there after. So as my birthmother and I are sitting after dinner talking and I’m hearing her side of the story, I realize that the boy in the picture the tall young man that I know is my brother, I now figure out that he is my blood brother. Completely 100% siblings!

Well it stands to reason that he’s my full brother as like I said we could be twins. But it just didn’t occur to me as her story unfolded that we would have the same father. Its not the typical story, young couple gets pregnant, gives the baby up for adoption, then marries and gets pregnant again and keeps that baby. Kinda a shocker, right?

She continues to tell me that my birthfather and her did eventually divorce, she was still in touch with his family but no so much with him, she remarried (my step-father) and lived a sort-of happily ever after. The only thing missing from her life; was me. The hurt she felt was devastating and the heartache turned into physical sickness. She needed to search me out, break all the rules and find me.

So here we were; a girl in the Big City, a birthmother, step-father, full blooded brother, two other brothers, a father and a mother, just your basic modern family, right?

How was this going to work? Were we all invested, really invested to becoming one family???

Stay tuned for the Finale

Catch up through the series links here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Finale

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My Adoption Story: Part 2

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And so continuing my personal story of being an adopted, if you missed Part 1 you can read it here, otherwise we left off with my adopted parents telling me that my birthmother reached out and wanted to have some sort of dialogue with me if I was interested.

My adopted father was and still is at 86 very thorough kinda man and he explained that they had vetted my birthmother at least to validate that she was in fact who she claimed to be and how her current family felt about me coming into their lives. My father had collected all the letters, copies of original birth certificates and other documentation into a black three ring binder. As I reached for the binder to read through, a picture of a teen boy dropped out of the binder. I picked up the picture and instantly noticed that this kid looked just like me but with short hair. He could be my twin!

I don’t know why but tears began to flow just looking at this picture of a boy whom I had never met but deep down I knew he was my brother. Now if you remember, and some of you know them well, I grew up with two brothers. These guys are the heart and soul of my childhood, instigators of tumbling games, chasing, fighting, laughing and as I got older my protectors and advisors. My brothers were and still are my best friends but this one picture of a boy that I never met, melted my heart.

I began down a journey of reading letter after letter, handwritten by either my adopted father or my birthmother. I then found a letter from my step-father, the man who married my birthmother, and he described being very supportive of my birthmother’s request to locate me and build a relationship. He wanted to give her the world and since I meant the world to her he opened his heart and life to help the search efforts. Then a handwritten letter from the boy, who said he always wanted a sibling to grow up with, fight with, laugh with and protect. He was only fourteen years old and knew that family was important to him and thus was blessed to have the sister he always wanted.

After reading and absorbing all the material I was handed and had cried all the happy tears that I could for the day, I went to my parents and said “Ok tell her to write me.” And so it began. That summer my birthmother wrote me letters to get to know me and I wrote her back. We both asked questions and answered several. I explained that I was moving to NYC in the fall to attend high school there and she explained that they were living in NJ not to far from the city and maybe we could meet once I was all settled in my new place and ready.

She inquired about the high school I was going to attend, which I explained that my adopted father had been researching specialized high schools around the nation and came across a magnet school in NYC that focused on fashion design. Since he knew I was taking illustration classes and sewing my own designs he thought it was a match. My birthmother’s next letter ask for the full name of the high school and location. I thought it was a little odd to inquire for such specific information but I was glad to provide the information since it showed just how interested she was in my life.

Her response letter provided some shocking news, she was currently working in the fashion industry and then mentioned my grandmother. I hadn’t really thought about birth grandparents, still getting use to the concept of knowing my birthmother and now I had blood related grandparents? Of course I do but how cool that they were still alive and that I would have a chance to meet them! Then her letter explained that my grandmother attended a fashion design high school in NYC, actually was the first graduation class from her high school…actually it was the exact high school I was about to attend in month! What? What do you mean? My birth grandmother attended the very high school that I was about to attend? I was raised in North Carolina and was moving to NYC for high school and by coincidence was going to attend the same high school that my birth grandmother attended? Crazy!

I was floored, excited and just amazed that there were so many coincidences and similarities. This woman, my birthmother, my birth grandmother and I were apart for sixteen years, I was raised by different parents, in a completely different part of the country and yet we were very much a like. I truly believe that fifty percent of who we are is hereditary and the other half is based on our living environment, community, friends and experiences through the years.

So here I was writing my birthmother and moving closer to her and making plans to meet her, my step-father and my brother. I knew deep down my adopted mother was apprehensive about me moving to NY but then add this kinda twist and I’m sure the emotions were running very high. Of course my mother never expressed any hesitancy or lack of support. She was the most supportive person and loving mother a girl could ask for; but I knew without her saying a word that she was sad and yet happy for me all at the same time.

So the packing began…

Catch up through the series links here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Finale

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My Adoption Story: Part 1

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So I’ve been asked my adoption story countless times and after years of questions, suggestions from friends and family that the story should be told, a little time of the holidays, and just plain desire to pass along some inspiration to others who might need it, I thought it was time to write it down.

I was adopted at birth, well actually at 3 days old.  I always knew I was adopted and what that meant. It’s important to my story that you know there was never foster care or orphanage time spent, I would suspect that would have a very different effect on my childhood, as I’ve heard from other adopted children. I don’t remember a specific time where my parents sat me down to “tell” me but they said in fact they did just that. I must have been very young three or four years of age since it was always known and not a secret.

I grew up with two older brothers who were six months apart in age. My oldest brother was adopted as well and the younger brother is the biological son of my parents. Its well known that when a couple struggles for a child of their own and decides to adopt, they then become pregnant. Yep that’s what happened with my brothers. As soon as the paperwork was signed and the adoption set in motion, our parents miraculously became pregnant. Can you imagine? Two boy babies six months apart, two wild and crazy tumbling toddlers going in different directions, two teens with completely different interests, in the same grade but with two different genetics? Well it happened and that’s another story all on its own.

As a young girl I always wondered who my birthmother was, what she looked like, what kind of mom would she be, and of course why she gave me up for adoption. Let me be clear my adopted parents gave me everything needed, a wonderful childhood and my mother was the most loving woman ever. So my desire to know about my birthmother didn’t stem from the lack of a warm loving family or slack mothering or missing needs it was just curiosity and desire to know where I came from. I think that its a natural instinct, even my older brother had the desire to find his birthmother later in his adult life.

As a teenager I knew that there were laws that protected birthmothers and adoption families from record release and that at age eighteen I could legally request my records to be released. I had planned to do just that however my birthmother found me first. Yep to my surprise the woman who gave me up for adoption did some digging and reached out to my adopted parents to see if we (my adopted parents and I) were all receptive to have some sort of contact.

It was the summer of my sixteenth birthday when my parents sat me down to tell me my birthmother had reached out and wanted contact with me if I was interested. To set the tone it was late July and I was preparing to move to New York to attend high school for my sophomore year at a fashion design magnet program in the city. I was born in Queens, NY and my adopted father was from the Bronx however I was raised in North Carolina as my adopted mother was from NC.  So I kinda had a lot going on that summer and was about to embark on a new, exciting and a little scary high school future in the big city all by myself.

My adopted parents sat me down and said that my birthmother reach out to them and wanted to have some sort of contact with me. They explained how they validated who she was, and asked her and her current family to write letters expressing how everyone felt about including me in their life. After careful consideration they felt it was time to let me decide how best to proceed or not. My adopted father handed me a black binder which he stated had all the letters of communication that they wrote to her and the letters they received in return. Yes I was floored, I was excited but shock didn’t happen until I picked up the binder.

I reached out as my father was handing me the black binder that held all the answers I had for so many years and just then a photo dropped out. I bent down to pick up the photo and saw a picture of a young boy, early teens, who looked….just like me.

To be continued in Part 2, Part 3, Finale….

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Rules for a Football Widow

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As the summer comes to a close and cooler weather creeps in, football season begins. Now I’m a fan, a big fan of fall weather, changing leaves, apple cider, and of course a fan of football. However being married to a man who played college football and who likes to attend several games every season, thus leaving me alone for a few weekends, I’ve become a true #FootballWidow.

My husband and I spend a lot of time together but we also believe in time with our girlfriends or guys. It’s healthy to be apart some and good to enjoy your friendships. We attend football games together even went to the UGAvsUNC game to kick off the season but there are weekends where it’s a guy thing and I’m ok with that.

Over the years I’ve found ways to fill in the free time and even though I miss my man, these widow weekends have become quite enjoyable. This weekend was the kick-off of #FootballWidow for me, hubby’s pilgrimage to Indiana to attend the Michigan State vs Notre Dame game occurs every year when it’s on the schedule. So as it’s fresh on my mind, here’s my top rules to follow for coping with the loss of your man or partner during football season:

Rule#1 – Always drink something wonderful!
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So he leaves you on a Friday afternoon and your evening is free…sip something bold, beautiful and just enjoy a little quiet time. If you’re any bit like me, you rarely take time for yourself to just center, refresh and refocus. Take the moment and reflect with a nice spirt of your choice. This Friday I choose something new out of our wine refrigerator, it was light, sweet with notes of berries and just down out perfect to end a long hot week in Georgia. Cheers!

Rule#2 – Retail Therapy
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Well for me shopping is obviously on the schedule. Fall is on the way and new styles are in the stores ready for me to bring them home. After a few nice cups of coffee I headed in to see my favorite Personal Stylist (who I haven’t seen in awhile) and she was ready to pull a few trendy items for me to try. I mean who doesn’t love to shop? Go on, take a quick inventory of your fall closet and head to your favorite store. If you want to give Christy a call, let me know, I highly recommend a Personal Stylist and she’s the bomb! #Overthekneeboots

Rule#3 – Festival Feast
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Yes it’s football season which is awesome but it’s also festival season. Check your local area for a fun art, music or food festivals and get outside. I used the time to double down with a little one-on-one time with my daughter and pup. Both of them love food, fresh air, people and fun activities (win/win). It’s a great way to spend the day, try new food, chill to some music, find fun original art and just enjoy the cooler weather temps. #JerkChicken

Rule#4 – Watch the Game
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I hear a few of you non-football fans grumbling. Yeah, yeah for those of you who don’t like football, I suggest you stick to this rule and here’s why. When your hubby arrives back Sunday afternoon tired, wanting to sleep in his own bed, maybe nursing a slight hang-over, all he is thinking is that he just wants to be home with his loving wife. The same loving wife who went shopping will be glad to see him but will have watched the game and be able to talk to him about the big plays or misses. If you watched the #MSUvsND game then you know which ones I mean. Hubby will be impressed with your knowledge of the game and eager to talk with you about what it was like to be at the game. #LoveHim

Rule #5 – Lobby your Hobby
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Spend a little time on one of your hobbies; I have several from hiking, blogging, trail walking with pup, sewing, redecorating, reading, cooking etc. I think you get the idea. We all get so busy with our day-to-day lives and schedules that sometimes our hobbies get kicked to the curb. Reinvest in one of your favorite hobbies and when your hubby asks you what did you do this weekend, you’ll be full of excitement and ready to share all the fun things you did. Maybe even take up a new hobby or take a class on photography or other topics that interest you. I once took one of those corporate personality tests where it highlights your strengths and weaknesses, found that I am organized, highly motivated, and of course type A personality. The only weakness highlighted was my “fun” level. Work, work, work makes us all a little dull, get out those old knitting needles, softballs, or paintbrushes out dusted off and reinvest in FUN! #FunIsFabulous

So those are my top 5 Rules for us Football Widows…what are yours? If you have other suggestions let us know!

GoDawgs & RiseUpFalcons!

 

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Quote for the Day

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

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