Grandma MaryAnn

mary-1-5My grandmother passed a little over a week ago now. It’s been a long battle of illness for her and a long month for my family. It’s funny so much happened in the month of November, I am unsure how I could feel so many emotions… From the start let’s be honest, I had an after-halloween-glow or a sugar high (thanks kids for all the candy), to going all GOLD-delicious for my best friend’s 30th birthday, to celebrating my love and shining armor aka Danny’s birthday… to the dazed-fog of the post election madness… to my sweet Grandma MaryAnn, fighting for her life and passing in her daughter’s arms.

When faced with grief, I never know what to actual do. I am prone to over-think it and need reminding that I have freedom. Grief is a process and I think for me, the past week and a half has been slow and steady. My days have been pretty routine – two little kids, some diapers, potty songs and naps. But so much more was going on in my heart. My grandma was one of the strongest ladies around… hence I know God knew I needed to be her Granddaughter.

Grandma Mary had a really hard childhood, she was bounced around numerous foster-care homes and was almost adopted but last minute her Mother got it together and took her back. She had a short yet hard childhood then gave birth to my mom at age 18. She raised her and did exceptional job, my mom is amazing. One of the vivid memories I have of my Grandma, was her sharing with me her love of Princess Diana. I remember learning a wealth of facts about her and the royal family and I remember her telling me, ‘Brandi you are my princess, and I am the queen’. Grandma never got to live like royalty but when I think of all the trials and grief she faced, I know she is wearing a crown now with a lot of diamonds in it.

My grandma’s life shines in this dark world. Grandma grew up not knowing her birth-father but searched for him and left behind a book of all the details as to how she found him. Grandma Mary Ann was lead to Christ by her first husband’s second wife… yes this is redemption and beauty. She and my step-grandmother are remarkable, loving each other and were good friends. They shared their grandchildren so beautifully, their relationship gives me so much hope that the unconventional parts of our tribe will strengthen my children. This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful to get to go home and be with family to celebrate this beautiful grandma. I am thankful that adoption and love are in the deep roots of my family’s soil and I am most thankful that Grandma MaryAnn finally has her crown, that she is no longer in pain and that my children can keep living the legacy of such a strong lady! mary-1-2mary-1-4mary-1-3img_0145img_0146

Everyday is Mother’s Day.

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So, life happens. But really, every day should be Mother’s day right? Lol – well for the brave Birth-mom of this tribe it should…  Mama T came to visit back in May. After Mama T left, her 16 year old brother had a stroke and passed away. The gravity of her current grief is unfathomable. She is still going to college and working but prayer is so needed. If you want to leave her an encouraging word I will be sure to pass it along. Thank you. However, before tragedy struck she’d been working on this blog post. Here are Mama T’s reflections on her visit.

“Coming to visit is always a double edged sword. I can’t wait to come but I know I am going to have to leave. But when I am with our sweet girl it’s my happy place, all my personal problems fade to the background. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to see Vera-lou but when I see her it’s crazy to see someone that is apart of me, she was in me but is walking, talking and loving the people around her. I am extremely proud of who she is but saddened by all I miss.

I love being able to meet people who know Vera-lou and hearing them say, ‘we have the same personality’ or they know where Lou-lou get’s her ‘good looks’. But at the same time it’s hard to see her have strong relationships with so many people, when I want to be the person that she loves most. It makes me proud to see Vera-lou be such an amazing older sister to her new baby brother. It helps being adopted myself and knowing the bond I have with all my siblings. It was nice to have Lenox around and be so young because I missed Vera-lou at that age and sometimes I even looked at him and thought, oh you look just like Vera-lou’, I know, I am crazy. But the love Brandi and Danny have for their kids is more than I’ve seen before. So sometimes I forget she’s not their blood but then ten seconds later I see her hair and remember she’s has my DNA, so that’s what makes her, ours.

Playing with Vera-lou is the word, ‘amazing’ on repeat. She makes me do the same thing maybe 30 times but each time it is still just as cute. I enjoyed seeing Vera-lou show her true toddler ways and had never seen parents give a kid such clear boundaries. There were lots of times, I wanted to go against what Brandi or Danny had asked of Vera-lou to do but when I saw them say, ‘no’ and I saw her trust them, I admired my own 2 year old daughter. And was reminded of why we’re all meant to be together.

The love I have for this tribe is real and the only times I don’t feel apart of things is when I let my own pain and grief get in the way. Can y’all please keep me in your prayers, I want the strength to keep being apart of Vera-lou’s life because sometimes I feel so weak that I want to exit myself out of it. But I know that only makes things harder.” 

Having Mama T, here for Mother’s Day was really full circle for me. I am so thankful to all the mothers in my life but always think of my own birth-mom on the big day. It was really healing to see Vera-lou with Mama T. I am so thankful, Lou had the chance to celebrate her birth-mom and make memories. She talks about her a lot now, which is so special. She loves to say “I in tasha’s belly”– in response to seeing pregnant ladies. I also loved how Mama T, brought Vera-lou pictures of herself at her age to look at or how much they really do look and act alike. It was so special, how she loved Lenox and considers him, her own. It was so humbling, how our community and family chose to take part in the visit— They host her, took ventures with us and thanked Mama T for sharing our girl. We love that these special visits give Mama T, a chance to see how loved Vera-lou is and what her life really looks like. We are both her Mom, and that is worth celebrating everyday.  

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Happy Half-birthday // Airplane day

Today is my airplane day! The day, I first met my parents and became a Wilkins. You know every adoptee has a different spin on this event. I have to hand it to my parents, they do an amazing job celebrating me! Now my tribe gets to join the celebration. I think adoptee have enough loss so, we should get the chance to gain an extra celebration! Today, we celebrate my baby-self’s great voyage, around the world to meet my parents.( Pictured below: me at 6 months)imageimageimage

In party fashion… we had a family day. It was part normal with child-rearing comes its usual duties but I got to do some of my favorite things like swim, cook, run and read and was able to host. Loved snuggling my little people, getting flowers and an adorable FaceTime from my parents. I kept thinking about the many other voyages I’ve now taken around the sun, most adventures here in the states, with the exception of my short stay in Africa. Anyway, all this said, it’s a circle and today I realized as I traveled around one of my favorite running routes, God keeps teaching us the same stuff.  We keep working on the same things but each time, we circle around, we get a bit better, and closer to him. One example is patience, I used to be impatient with my life and how I wanted to know, if my passions would align with all my other desires. Still impatient, but my patience can only spread so thin and it’s usually used up while my 2 year old goes potty and takes her sweet time. See we grow 😉 But really, I feel like I could name at least a hundred things, I probably will circle around the sun learning for life and I really feel thankful I get to do so, with my village of people. So thanks dear airplane, for bringing me to my parents and big thanks to my favorite around the sun, daddy-God, whose plans are beyond us!

In other praise of the good Lords plans, I have to thank him for my big ‘little’ guy, Lenox. He’s killing it with his off the chart weight and height. ‘The sumo son,’ as I like to call him is as a half a pound bigger than his one-year-old cousin. He’s smiley and his laugh is seriously contagious. I can’t believe, he’s half a year. I still can’t believe he’s half my DNA! You see, I have a grey page for the first 6 months of my life– born, moved to Seoul, flown to JFK to meet parents.  So when my kids have 6 months of life, I am constantly trying to imagine the people that held and cared for me and the places I lived.  I cannot have more gratitude to foster moms and sometimes cry  when I see them love kids in the ‘in between’. They are demonstrating a similar love of which some people shared for ME! Thank you foster parents, you are truly heroes!

So we celebrate 6 months or half birthdays hard in this tribe. Cause for 6 month–mommy lived in Korea and gets an airplane day and you my offspring get to watch me eat half cakes! See ya in 6 months for a bite baby (insert tears, it goes too fast) here are pictures from our half birthday celebration a few weeks ago. imageProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetimageProcessed with VSCO with a5 preset

 

Before the Mother’s Day Marathon // Cinco De Babies.

I used to pray, ‘May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in…’ Thanks Mother Teresa for making my young passionate brain, pray crazy things and truly want them. Now, more aware of myself, I can see that I am an empath. I feel all the feelings.  I am learning to box them in, but like the spring here in New England this year, I am a puddle of rain feeling everything deep. It’s been one of those weeks. Surface image – easy going mother of two, doing my best to keep my hands clean in between diaper changes. Real self, the world is big, overwhelming at times, and scary.

America, bless you but you scare me. All your hateful words toward each other, all your money, all your politics. Jesus help us. Without puking my own political views, I got babies… and I got worries.

People around us… This has been a heavy one for a bunch of us. From trying to find support for a homeless single mom and then headed off to attending a foster-mom support group… My heart is dragging.

Our family.  Vera-lou’s birthmom is visiting tomorrow. We are thrilled and excited for her to come. We know it’s going to be a full weekend of creating memories. I want Mama T to come to celebrate Mother’s Day with our girl. I want Mama T to be able to be proud of being a birth mother for a weekend and I also want to love on the person that gave me the honor of being our daughter’s mama. The pictures make our tribe look perfect. We’re pretty cute at this point example A. tonight our cinco de BABY party… with some of my college best pal’s babies and mine.

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but we’re messy.  WE FEEL IT ALL… We feel the weight of Mama T as she decided to come a bit last minute. I cannot imagine what it feels like to have to come to visit someone who is apart of you and re-meet this person that you love so intensely. How Mama T’s heart waivers as she doesn’t know if she can handle seeing Lou-Lou be so grown up and knowing she’s missing so much. My heart is heavy for the after visit. Our lives will continue with all it’s joy and Mama T, will go back to being a hard-working college student, who doesn’t have any birthmother support at home. But these moments are our redemption… That Vera-lou’s birthmom, an adoptee herself coming from a hard foster-to-adopt story, has the bravery and strength to come and be with us. That Vera-lou’s adoptive mother, gets to love a real live birth-mom this weekend and gets to give her little girl’s adoption story more than she has. And one special little girl gets to see her birthmom on Mother’s day, she can’t wait to see her come-in on the airplane from TEXAS and I am sure she will be LOVED.

So Mother Teresa, your quote is coming true. God is breaking my heart and my wedge of the world is falling in… I am so thankful that I know who breaks my heart and from him I find the grace to be able to feel it all and trust my worries are taken care of. 

 

 

 

Open Adoption: So many Mamas!

Amidst my marathon diaper changing, I have had the honor of making a new mom friend. Now you may find this confusing. Thinking, ‘B, you are a mom of course, you have new mom friends?’. But this is different, I have become friends with a woman, who has bravely decided to be a Birth-mother. 

Krystal is a strong and courageous lady, whom shares my hometown. This summer a mutual friends set us up, we talked for 3 hours straight with some food interruptions thanks pregnancy. I couldn’t be more thankful for this date. No, I am not adopting her beautiful baby, but I still have the honor of being this amazing lady’s friend. And she is not getting rid of me anytime soon. I cannot tell you how encouraging Krystal has been to me as an adoptee and adoptive mama. Listening to Krystal process these past few months has given more insight into our open adoption with Vera-lou’s birthparents. While bearing witness to her conflicting feelings reminds me of the deep love, I have for my birthmother. But this Mama know’s what’s best for her baby and I could not be more proud of her. I know, so many mamas! But being friends with a birth-mama like Krystal is another angle of the beautifully complicated thing, that is so much of my identity.

So if your life has all been touched by adoption please take a few minutes and pray for Krystal. She is a week late and trying to stay strong in a HIGHLY emotional time. Also take a few minutes and read her blog, http://birthmotherblog.tumblr.com/ .  Feel free to leave her an encouraging word for the long road ahead of her. Reading her blog unmasks apart of adoption, I believe everyone needs to read and see. This birth-mama even had a sweet gender reveal party for her little LADY. This life has been so celebrated…

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Also if you are interested in adoption PLEASE listen to this podcast Open Adoption:Not So Simple Math. It’s a BEAUTIFUL essay giving another birth-mother’s experience.

 

Happy Birthday to our girl.

We officially have a TWO year old… It’s hard to believe but now having her little brother,  I can see so clearly that she is no longer a little baby. My girl loves to sing, talk, run, dance, climb, play ‘mama’ to her babies and so much more. One of the parts of having her grow is getting to see so much of her personality. It’s big and beautiful. She is gentle and sweet, but she is strong. She has strong feelings like… she loves deeply, like her fierce love for her cousins or her new, “baby swoller”. And when she wants to do something herself… the passion in her, “I do it”, is not always persuaded. But you know today as I watched her run and play with her grandparents, I saw her birth-mother so clearly and I have never been more proud.

Two years ago today Mama T, allowed her body to do the most amazing thing, to give life to our daughter. However many days, she doesn’t feel strong like she did two years ago. Many days are full of hard moments and uneasy feelings. But she never stops loving our girl, even when it’s not easy. 
So tonight, before I lay my head to bed… I thank the good Lord, for our daughter’s sweet life. It’s so full and so fun. I celebrate the love she has from all of her family, all over the country. I celebrate having the privilege of being her mom. And I celebrate two years of open-adoption. I cannot be more thankful to Mama T and Padre J for continuing to be apart of our crazy tribe. They have grown so much and we are so proud. 

So Vera-lou, if you are reading this one day know this, the love people have for you is real and raw. It comes with great sacrifice but so much beauty.

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All photos by Daddy at Ebersole Photography

 

Celebrating Babies!

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We are incredibly blessed with amazing friends all over the place, but today some extra special ones came to visit us. To give you a little back story on Danny and I, pre-tribe days– We fell in love during college. We were apart of this little family of friends– who would dream, pray and have loads of fun together. Looking back on how our love stories all started, sometimes stopped –  only to continue again.  And how we all supported each other though all the drama was really quite epic. All the while trying our best to love Jesus…

   One love story, we both feel equally apart of and equally fond of is the story of Rod and Stef. It was really amazing how God gave Danny, Rod as a pal and Stef to me. Through the past nine years of friendship we have celebrated graduations, engagements, weddings and today we celebrate BABIES! Stef and Rod welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Selah nine days before our Lenox. Not to mention Vera-lou LOVED having a baby girl to hold. We all could not stop saying, “we can’t believe we’re parents” or “how did we get here” or “Don’t we belong in a library somewhere flirting studying together”. But this is what Jesus does with friends, he keeps you together as you grow together. If I would have told us all them years ago we’d be here today, I think we’d all laugh but as the cheesy 90’s christian singer Michael W. Smith puts it,

                 “And friends are friends forever, If the Lord’s the Lord of them”…

                                                    Hahaha #blesshim.

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p.s- over 5 different races and two mixes represented in this clan– this is the kingdom of God