Monday, March 26, 2012

One Side of a Heart - On Adoption

Some time last week, we celebrated Silas's "Gotcha Day". It's the twenty-something of March and that's all I can tell you for sure. Oh, and we didn't really celebrate it at all, only due in part to the fact that I was lying limp and ragged near death's door.

Gotcha Days are a bit elusive around here. For one thing, Ruby's Gotcha Day is also her birth day, and it seems unfair for the boys to get two days to her one. For another thing, we were in the hospital ushering Ruby into the world during Calvin's first Gotcha Day and then Silas's Gotcha Day falls right around Calvin's birthday. Mostly, we're just too busy celebrating regular life with our regular family to specifically honor that one day that they came.

I can hear all of the adoptive Mamas of the world sucking in a collective gasp of air and indignation over my confessed sacrilege of one of Adoption's holiest days. While they're already fainting in the aisles, I'll go ahead and admit that I do not know Ruby's precise birth weight (even though I was there) and we do not regularly celebrate the Korean New Year. Or Kwanza.

I have struggled, over the years, to cut my groove in this adoption thing and the reason is really simple: I don't see myself as an "adoptive mom". I'm just a mom. I'm a big, bad, don't-dare-mess-with-them-or-you'll-answer-to-me Mom. They are all I've known. They made me a mommy. I'm theirs and they're mine. I tell them eight thousand times a week how much I love being their Mommy and how thankful I am that we are a family. But that might be over-simplifying a few things.
Silas's Gotcha Day was hands-down the most traumatic day of my entire life. If I were a method actress and had to shoot a scene where something terribly emotional was happening, I would conjure up that day in March and shut the set down. I would find myself in a tiny room full of plastic toys that sang songs I couldn't place. I go there, and it's hard for me to recover. I see it all again. I can't forget a thing. I hear it all. I feel once more the fingernail drag of bone-deep pain down the front of my soul. So much happened in that little room. So much that I was not prepared for.

With each adoption, I clung to differing shreds of willful ignorance.

With Calvin, the possibility for trauma and attachment issues hung loose and ghost-like on the horizon. When I got to "those" sections of the book, I closed the cover and went to sleep. I didn't want anyone muddying up my rosy future before I'd even seen his face. It seemed too hard and mostly, it seemed like a big waste of time, because he was just a tiny baby.

With Ruby, I read some of the sections, but only because I knew I wouldn't need them, her being our precious, well-adjusted daughter, born of the most beautiful open adoption.

With Silas, I highlighted a few paragraphs here and there, but we'd be fine because he was in a foster home. He was not institutionalized. He had not experienced trauma. He was strongly attached to his caregiver. Plus, in the grand scheme of life, he was still really quite young.

Of course, half of me knew there was always the chance. I knew that Silas's age would make it trickier. I knew it would be a different kind of ball game.

But I did not know our precious son would spend two entire years (and counting) running toward us and away from us at the exact same time.

I did not know that the moment we took him in our arms and ran, trauma would be inflicted.

I did not know we would seek help from three different specialists in the span of a single year.

I did not know that a child, so wiry and beautiful, would so fully deplete my every emotional and physical resource on a daily basis.

There are other things I didn't know.

I didn't know my 7 year old son would cry because he misses his birth mom.

I didn't know my daughter would be on the receiving end of racism clothed in "they mean no harm".

I see a world opening its heart to the millions of orphans who desperately need a family and I feel immense hope. These kids, no matter where they're from or what their background is, need a new last name, a forever one. They need family traditions and trips to Dairy Queen. They need warriors to fight for them and mommies and daddies to kiss and tickle them.

They also need the freedom to feel the hurts no one else can understand. They need the space to never have to choose between the life they didn't get to live and this one right here. They need a free pass from computing that the two could never be mutually exclusive.

With Silas we have had a front-row seat to the heart-busting-up trauma of being taken from all you know. These are children, and children are smart and intuitive. They understand more than they can verbalize, and what's left unsaid leaks out in tears, rage, and banged-up self-worth. I'm thankful to have seen it with my own eyes two years ago, because I might never have believed it otherwise. I might have looked past the fight to hold on to a history. I might have remained naive enough to hope that the two older kids did not suffer the exact same losses.

So we hold their fragile hearts with the tenderest hands. We try to anticipate the emotions that shift the weight from one side to another without warning, but we often get it wrong. We feel the slip of trust through the cracks so we reach out and grab it by the ankles. It's not always practiced or ideal, but we promise to never let them hit the floor.

And maybe that's what adoptive parenting is like. Maybe it's a bit like a field day water balloon toss.

Maybe it's less about memorizing the right answers and more about looking them square in the face during every question, every doubt, every sadness. Maybe it's leaning in to a kind of pain that we do not know and will never understand just so that they aren't there leaning alone.

Maybe it's less about finding the exact right therapist to tell us what to do to fix the problem and more about promising to never tuck the child with the broken heart in at night without a kiss and a hearty sniff to the head.

The books are valuable. They are there to help, and I don't suggest my path of willful ignorance. But at the end of the day, the bright-spot surprise days and the grim ones where it seems like it will never get better, they are ours and we are theirs.

Maybe our days never will get better. Maybe two years really can turn into forever. But that child knows he is fully loved, all the way to the top, in times of sunshine and weeks of drear, and that is the point of adoption.


  1. I love this. I give soooo much credit to anyone who has adopted. Each story is uniquely beautiful and painful. You are doing an amazing job, and your kids are thriving. Well done Mama, well done.

  2. Bravo - thanks for putting it out there - Bravo.

    Adoptive Mama of One who is my miracle, I'm right there with you in so many ways...

  3. I loved reading your honest-to-goodness truth in this. We're still waiting. . . and still working through stages of what we hope, what we expect, and chapters of books we wish we could leave unread. We don't know where we're going, but we do know the Lord continues to move us in directions we never expected. All we know to do is wait expectantly that He'll walk beside us and meet us right there.

    Thank you for sharing. Praying for you and your lovely family this night.

  4. Dead on.
    I have seen children mourn and hurt for their foster families and I have seen new and eager adoptive parents take that mourning personally.
    I have seen so much and it breaks my heart every time.
    Adoption is beautiful. Very beautiful. But it is painful as well. It is sad and painful and difficult. Anyone that paints it as roses and sunshine daily is a liar. No matter where you get the babies from, be it the ghettos of the inner city or the far-est points in Africa, those babies will have questions and wonder many things.

  5. Tears keep coming. Thank you for being so vulnerable. My Lillianna just turned 21, I brought her home 21 years ago this month from Romania. She too knows she is loved "all the way to the top." The thing I keep reminding myself Is that this is really her journey. Her dad and I have been blessed to be a part of it.

    There is a loneliness sometimes. I share in your joys and your heartaches.

    Love to you and your beautiful colorful family.

  6. thank mama to 3 & one just with us {from China} a mere 6 weeks I needed to read this. I am limping along-some days better then others. I daily {ok-hourly!:)} have to remind myself that I need to mother how my heart tells me too! Not how some book says! LOVE will win over all!I am a firm believer in this!Blessings to you!

  7. I love this. You nailed it. Home run.

  8. I am 45 years old. I was adopted at 2.5 years old from a foster family I had been with for 2 years. It was a terrible day that I can vividly recall. When I was 26 years old, I went back and found my foster family....all to their relief. It was a huge family with lots of extended family. I found out that they wanted to adopt me but couldn't at the time.......a few months later their circumstances changed and would have been able to. IT was a regret my FM always had..connecting with her helped heal old wounds.

    My adoption turned out horrid. And as an adoptee I always needed to know, where I came from. just to see who I looked like. I just needed a connection to someone like me in this world......I also found my birth family. Essentially, there is no relationship with these folks, except a little on FB. I just needed to know. It is really strange spending so many years not knowing and then finding people who have your nose, or fingers , or feet.......really weird.

    I know your kids have come into a wonderful loving home.....and they will be eternally grateful. My situation hopefully was not common. Even though it was extremely abusive, it did not make me seek out my natural mother any more...I just needed to instinctively know who I came from.

    I think with adoptees it is an innate thing.

  9. I love reading your words and am thankful that we aren't the only ones who don't do huge Gotcha Days. First off, there are so many different days...birthday, court date, day we got home, and what we call our "family day" when we first received our daughter to take to our apartment in Russia instead of just visiting her a couple times a day. That's the day to us that was really the best day and yet, who can really celebrate it all? I think I just felt I needed a date to celebrate at the time. My biological son only has his birthday. It also cracks me up because when our son was born, I told myself it wasn't fair if he had a baby book with all the details so that was my excuse for no baby books in our house. I was the third growing up and I have one but there's hardly anything in it anyway! Phew! Didn't that take a load off my shoulders?!

  10. I love this and you! You make my laughing turn to crying like no other! I love your heart and, lady, you can write!!!

  11. i love this. encouraged by you, my friend. xo

  12. I'm a 41 year old adult adoptee. I've only recently heard of "Gotcha Days" and I confess, the term weirds me out somehow.

    Not only does it seem an odd phrase since "gotcha!" usually means "Ha! I tricked you!" It also seems to make the adopted child into some sort of commodity... "getting a child" to fulfill one's own family aspirations instead of providing a family for a child.

    And on a 3rd level, I think, more than anything, adoptees want so much just to be "normal" that celebrating the otherness of being adopted, over and over and over... I don't know. It just weirds me out. Celebrating a birthday seems enough.

    Your empathy for the losses of your children is admirable. I can attest that no matter how young at the age of adoption, the adoptee always feels the loss. The young are just unable to verbalize it, so those losses will be internalized in different ways.

    Your family is beautiful. You should be proud of the job you're doing... kudos!

  13. I never knew how hard it was until I read your words. Oh, but grace for the hard times. Lots of it with all that love you've got in your heart makes for good parents.

  14. We don't do Gotcha days either, and I don't know why except I don't want to. This post is straight up beautiful. Touched me.

  15. Thank you for saying what I've tried to say for 14 years. You have a gift my friend.

  16. everytime i read your posts, i wish we were neighbors. peace to you my friend. oh and joy and hope and all that jazz.

  17. simply beautiful. such hope brought to my wondering soul.

  18. Your words always make me stop dead in my tracks, your words challenge me to the very core, your words make my heart a good way, your words make me want to grab ahold of my own kids and tell them one more time today just how much I love them, your words are like honey to my tired and weary Mama soul. Your kids are soooo blessed! Thank you for always being so real with your words, I love coming to your blog, it is always so refreshing! Even when you are on deaths door... : ) Keep it up sister, one foot in front of cup of coffee after bag of salty chip and salsa goodness after another...your kids lives are so much better because of each moment in each day that your pour into their hearts. You are amazing!

  19. I feel the same way about gotcha day, but could never explain it as well as you have, thank you! We have four kids, all adopted, all who process and express pain differently. It has been hard to press into the pain, but also freeing. It is not to be feared. Thank you for reminding me of this. I am tired of having to constantly filter through the adoption issues vs.just being a kid, but it's worth the effort, and helps so much. It's good to hear from someone walking a similar road.

  20. Yes. Adoption is broken hearts trying to carry on beating isn't it? Keep going. Keep writing. Xxx

  21. I hear you. I feel your joy and pain. I am adoptive mom to 2 grown children, ages 20 and 23. One came at age 5 and six months later we received the other at age 2. Such joy and daily emotional work and play and busyness and trying to be a "normal" family that I never really took the time to start the tradition of celebrating the specific date of adoption. I kept wondering when I could relax. Other moms would just laugh and say, "never". Well, that wasn't very encouraging to my stressed-out self. But, God's grace is sufficient. Both are still at home. We are still working out our emotions on a a daily basis and healing has come in some ways. As much pain as we feel as parents, we must try to put ourselves in their shoes and remember that they carry much bigger holes in tinier hearts and bear scars that we do not. Pray more than I did. Trust with all your heart. And love above all.

  22. HI
    One Side of a Heart - On Adoption
    Great post! and incredible blog ! Very helpful post! I must say. Simple & interesting. Wonderful work!
    thank you!

  23. My official adoption date happened sometime when I was four and as far as my gotcha date - I have no memory of it. And honestly I hadn't ever wondered about it until I read this post. ;) There are vague memories of grief, confusion and sadness and one distinct memory of my reaction to the book, "Are You My Mother?" I hated the book and being angry at the mother bird leaving the baby behind in the nest. I hated that no one wanted the baby bird. I remember throwing the book in the trash. I also remember being allowed the freedom to do so as books were/are sacred in our house. I remember the kisses and the hugs and the firm but loving guidance through the whole process. I remember the prayers and scripture being read over us (my brother and I were a package deal). I remember waking to find my mom watching us sleep from the chair across the room. My parents' consistent love was what sustained me through those early rough patches and the minor bumps in the road in the years to come. Hang in there. I won't say that it necessarily gets easier anytime soon but a bond does form and trust is established and love grows - just stay the course.

  24. I have a draft along these lines kicking around in one of my folders, but I just haven't been able to pull the pieces together. And maybe that's the thing. I kept thinking that when God pulled the broken pieces together in my life, the lives of my children, and those of their birth mothers, we'd have just one big, beautiful sunshine-y family portrait that would do Norman Rockwell proud. The things is, even when you fit the puzzle pieces together, there are still spaces between. My children and, I'm assuming, their birth parents have experienced pain I know nothing of. Each also has his/her own temperament and strengths and weaknesses for dealing with that pain. No book can take into account all the variables that make up each adoption story. Only Jesus can meet each of us in our stories and move us toward wholeness.

    Okay, I'm pretty much writing a blog post here. Anyway. Yes. You're absolutely right. Thank you for this.

  25. As usual, Shannon, you have written another beautiful post on adoption. As a mom [also through adoption], I sincerely appreciate your adoption posts since it mirrors so much of what we went through and are going through. They are so real-thank you.

    We actually do Adoption Days with our kids-we celebrate the day the court signed the papers. Yeah, it's tricky since there's "Meetcha Days", "Gotcha Days" and "Adoption Days" involved with the kids. Our DS, age 2+ when adopted really looks forward to his adoption day and would be very, very disappointed if we missed it. He needs this celebration. My daughter really could care less. It's really about being a mom and knowing what your kids' need.

  26. "Maybe it's less about memorizing the right answers and more about looking them square in the face during every question, every doubt, every sadness. Maybe it's leaning in to a kind of pain that we do not know and will never understand just so that they aren't there leaning alone."

    Oh, that is just it right there! My husband is an adoptee, as are both of my younger brothers. My middle brother was born in Korea and we have had a painful journey but have tried to remind him that he's not alone. I really love this post. I'm going to send it to my mom who often wonders if she should have/could have done anything different. We also dealt with racism even from family members. Yet, our history is ours. I'm so grateful for my brothers and husband and the women who are 'just moms' that raised them up.

  27. boom. you are so right. you teach me and remind me and challenge me all at once.

  28. I just think I need to tell you that you are the best writer on the planet. How do you put all of that heart and heartache into words for us? You slayed me with this one.

    No adopted babies(yet???), but we do walk the road of motherhood together. Thank you for reminding me there is beauty and hope and purpose even in the foggy, groggy, weary, tear stained days(months...years...)of life with our littles.

  29. Beautiful. And powerful. Loved reading your heart in this.

  30. This post makes my heart go pitter-patter. You say it with such grace, wisdom and love--and it's clear your children will someday thank you for it.

  31. This post rocked my socks off!! Beautiful!! Thanks for being you and sharing the journey with us!

  32. As adoptive parents, my dh and I have experienced the overwhelming loss of our dream for our family: we have had to let someone else tuck in our child, now. This child's challenges cannot be fixed (barring a miracle) and he hurt our other children so, for safety's sake, he has to live with someone else. However, your post has helped me see that the pain of this loss might possibly be redeemed in that we may more fully empathize with the deep losses our other adopted children could experience. Thank you for helping me make that connection.

  33. Your words move me...beautiful!

    {I have been following your blog for a couple of months now and love it!}

  34. You have such a wonderful gift of words....another beautiful post! Bless your heart!

  35. I love your stories. Thank you for sharing this painful part of your wonderful family. hugs

  36. I love that you keep it normal, and don't do all these extra days that just set them apart. I have many friends in our church who have adopted and they do all these day, that not only make that adoptive child standout each time, but also keeps showing how they are different than the biological siblings they already have that don't celebrate those days. I have never understood it. They want us to make it seem normal for them and they fit in, then they continually point it out thru "special days", "special posts", and "special adoptive group dates" only for them. Keep it one big, normal, happy family! I love how when I read your posts, I didn't realize that you had adopted, they are just your kids. Your focus is right on!

  37. I love this so much. Thanks for your honesty! My husband grew up in an orphanage...he was seven when his mom dropped him and his sisters off at the church down the street like she did every Sunday. Unbeknownst to him his mom made plans with a sweet couple from the church (who most certainly could tell they were neglected) who were affiliated with a Christian orphanage. Without warning they drove them to three separate orphanages that day. He was seven, his siters were nine and eleven. I'm so grateful for the family who stepped in. It's not to say that my husband and his sisters don't have "issues" but I know it would've been SO SO SO much worse if they had stayed with their mother. I can see firsthand the hurts in my husband's eyes when he's looking into the eyes of our kids (our oldest being seven), I know the pain is deep and there are places I wonder if my husband will ever allow me to see...but he LOVES. He loves the Lord, he loves me and he loves our kids. You and Corey are doing a great thing. That's what you guys are teaching your little ones...that it's okay to love, it's okay to let someone love you. Just keep on keepin' on. I pray for you and your family frequently. I love coming to this space of your's and hearing what you have to say. If you ever want to talk to Joe just let me know. He's very open about all of it. I know being in an orphanage is different from having a real mom and dad but I thought I would at least extend the offer.

    Happy Tuesday to ya :)

    Angie from Ohio

  38. Hi Shannan, I really enjoy your blog, and I love what you said about the whole "Gotcha day" thing. We adopted our son 6 years ago from Guatemala and I had read all the books and had planned on having a "gotcha day" but then, I unexpectedly got pregnant with my daughter and the whole idea of him having two days ( birth day and "gotcha day") and her only having her birth day wasn't right for our family. The more I thought about it....for us, we didn't need a "gotcha day". He knows he's adopted and he knows he has a birth mom, and my daughter knows she's not adopted and they love each other and they still both call me "mom". I am the same to both of them. I think you're doing a great job! Thanks for sharing!!! Meredith:)

  39. so beautiful and honest and real!

    i so appreciate and love how you share your heart!
    hope you are feeling better!

    LONG time lurker - first time to comment!
    you are inspiring!


  40. Shiny~

    This was lovely & sad to read and many other emotions in between.

    I keep coming back to your blogland because your heart is so open, you're honest & real. Love that. NEVER CHANGE!

    Brad & I are about to leap back onto the adoption wagon again early this summer. We had to take a long break after his hip surgery due to finances. I love your honesty. There are things I'm worried about & then other things I've just let go of.

    There's no way for me to know, but I see us with a child who is not white. We don't care. We love all people and just want to be parents. However, my husband's family is extremely racist & the more I see that, the truth is, the less I like them. The whole truth is that it makes me like them not at all. I have no idea how to have them in our future child's life without them causing harm. So we've had extremely frustrating discussions (hubby and me) about how they probably won't be allowed in. I was reminded of them when you mention Ruby being on the receiving end of racism. Sigh and UGH.

    My mother died young. I was 19 and although I wasn't a little kid, it was the most traumatic experience of my young life. The horrible parts get easier with time, but it's not linear & most of the time makes no sense even to me. I watched a movie the other night that had ZERO to do with mothers and daughters, but found myself crying at the end and missing my mom so much that I physically hurt. I assume this is when my cold a.k.a. the black lung REALLY set in. ;-) The point: The best thing you can do for your littles (in my opinion) is this:

    "Maybe it's leaning in to a kind of pain that we do not know and will never understand just so that they aren't there leaning alone."

    That's what has been most helpful to me in my life regarding not having a mother here. I don't want people to experience it, I finally realized that I do not wish that pain on anyone. All that really helps is what you said above. It's the only thing that has helped me. At the end of the day, you just don't want to feel alone in your pain.

    You rock, girl.

    Your babies are lucky to have you for their mamma.


  41. I feel like "gotcha" is degrading and possibly a little scary and violent sounding. You jump out at someone and yell "gotcha!" when playing a trick. We don't celebrate it. We do view our son's adoption court day as an anniversary of sorts; it's the day he officially joined our family, like our wedding anniversary celebrates the day my hubby and I became a family. Adoption has enough pain involved in it; I feel like highlighting meetcha and gotcha days are just more ways to unintentionally deepen your child's pain and feelings of loss. It's just like as our son gets older, we will be sensitive to how he wants to celebrate his birthday, because maybe he won't some years, because it might be painful. And, oh, how racism toward my precious baby turns me into a giant monster/mother. It hurts my heart so much...

  42. I am so blessed to have 5 of the best grandkiddos in the world. I wish I could take credit for what a great job you and Cor are doing as parents. But the truth is, I could never do the amazing job you do, day in and day out. I find myself all the time thinking," Why, that is just like Shan when she was a baby". And then have to chuckle, about the reality.
    I know they will each have work through some really tough heart wrenching times, but with Jesus right there with them, they will make it. You are so right, they needed us,but we needed them!!

  43. this is so beautiful.
    it is such a blessing to be able to witness God working in your life, and writing your story.
    one day at a time.

  44. Great post. We don't ritualistically celebrate Gotcha Days either. I will try to quietly say it to the youngest 3, but our oldest 2 are biological and it feels awkward to do it. We just celebrate family. And try to get through a crazy life.

  45. Dearest Friend, when I put down a good book at night, or even a bad read for that matter, there is no place to comment, I only have my thoughts. Your gift farmgirl/rentalgirl, is writing your heart, then opening it up for all to read and discuss. I do believe that is what I love bestest about you.

  46. thank you. we leave in one week to bring home our boys. i needed to read this tonight.

  47. Oh, how my heart knows these things. When I think about Si's family day and I want to sob for all that he has lost. That's probably why I try to bring Korea to us as much as I can. I grab hold of it for him - the holidays and the food and the people. Because a little is better than nothing. And because he is so stinkin' proud to be Korean. I hope he always carries that with him. But then there are a string of days when I forget a bit because we're living out this life. I forget he was adopted and look at him just as Josiah, my boy. And then when we're driving down the highway yesterday and he calls out from his carseat "Why was I adopted, Mama?". Bottom line, this kiddo and I love each other something fierce. And I couldn't be more thankful.

  48. Well written Shannon. I am gong to send the link to a friend of mine who just adopted from Ethiopia.

    Glad you are feeling better!

  49. Shannon,
    I'm not sure how I stumbled across your blog a few months ago, but I've been reading it ever since. I even had to quickly share your wonderful writing with my English major daughter in college, living a million miles away in NH.
    A passionate writer, reader and lover of words since she was the happiest little girl in the world kind of kid, I knew that she would appreciate your talent. Often times I try and visualize what my oldest daughter Olivia, a word smither also, would be like as young mom and honestly you are the closest picture I've found! Although her journey on earth ended at sixteen yrs old, she often talked about not letting chemo get in her way of having children... "I will adopt" she'd say. Your entries, especially on mothering make me feel as though you clearly "get it" on what's important in life and that is more than refreshing. I'm not shy and I always tell all young moms my mantra, " Treasure your children every day, because they deserve it." Please visit and share her message when you get a chance or when someone needs to hear it. Thank you~ Carla

  50. Oh, my heart is in my throat. Thank you for painting an honest picture. We are on the waiting side of our adoption. And it is the honesty of mamas like you that help us understand just a piece more of what adoption is and can be. Relentless love, no matter the outcome.

  51. this is me exactly, I read several training material for Jack's adoption (all the while knowing it was not really needed) and then I skipped training for Chloe's.

    But then Chloe taught me that not having attachment problems (being raised by a foster family) was not a guarantee for this not being traumatic. This year has turned me upside down and inside out.

    I am embarrassed by my attitude, but am grateful that I found "Parenting your Internationally adopted child" by Patty Cogen. It is so amazing so much concrete advice for things to do to help them with their pain. I am so sorry I didn't know about it 3+ years ago.

    praying for you friend.

  52. Thank-you for this post. I have the deep desire of adoption tucked safe in my heart until God says "move". I appreciate your honest and love.

  53. i definitely don't consider myself an adoptive mom either...I'm her mama. period. the end.

    this post brought up a lot in my heart...all things I've felt deeply.

    i don't even have words to really leave a comment, but i wanted you to know that what you're writing in this post touched the same feelings in my heart.

  54. oh, shan. I just adore you to the moon and back.

  55. I love this... we don't really celebrate gotcha days, we don't celebrate the adoption days... because while we honor where they came from and how they got here, it's just their story... everyone has a story. Some babies come out of their mom's wombs, some meet their mom's half way around the world in an airport, it's just how they come.

    I fully believe these little souls that are our children, were mine from before... as in before I came to earth. These were my kids, and they just had to come to me through a different path, but that seems to be how my whole life has gone... down a different path.

  56. I <3 you. I <3 your family!

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