Thursday, 30 June 2011

Great Expectations

Email to Haley, from Linda; March 22, 2011

Dear Haley,

To begin, I want to tell you how relieved I am that you are feeling better. On Sunday, I spent an hour and a half writing you an e-mail only to have Kevin tell me not to send it! E-mails are really tough for me since we interpret them through our own lenses. So what I thought would be a warm and comforting letter for you, Kevin thought differently and said it may be too much! Oh well, soon we’ll have a face-to-face visit which I am really looking forward to! (...)

Kevin keeps telling me to keep the e-mails simple so I will follow his advice. I thought it would be nice to phone you and ask about the kinds of foods you and Nick like to eat. It would give us a chance to talk and to feel more comfortable with each other! (...) I love heart to heart, one-on-one talks! I certainly look forward to these talks with you (if you are willing) I can’t wait to hear all about you...every little detail!

In Christ,

PS In regards to one of your e-mails to Kev...Kevin is can’t screw anything up! Haley we don’t have any expectations! It’s hard to disappoint people when they don’t expect anything...really :) We are grateful that we can get to know you and we will take things one step at a time!


She's so sweet. I am completely impressed by this woman. I still can't get over how she could welcome me into her family, without even knowing who I am. "I can't wait to hear all about you...every little detail!" Am I ready for that? I guess I'm going to have to be!

Can you believe this thing about no expectations? No expectations? As much as I have tried to keep my expectations low, to protect myself from disappointment, I still have expectations. I don't think I could define what they are, but there are definitely hopes and they are growing rapidly. 

It's sort of impossible not to have expectations, don't you think? 

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Planning a Visit

I feel like I haven't written in so long that I forgot where I was in the story!

Quick re-set; had our first Skype call, I had a little meltdown, then Kevin and I talked on the phone and I calmed down a bit, Nick and I discussed and decided to do a visit.

Email to Haley, from Kevin; March 21, 2011 

Hi Haley,

I enjoyed the call as well, it isn't often I don't have something to say, and at times I was at a loss for words!

Great to hear you're going to jump in and come visit, in my calendar the 16-17 is better, and Linda is going to check her outlook and let me know this morning, and I'll ph you this afternoon. (...)

I'm glad to hear you're doing better, e-mail is a double edged sword for sure, more time to think writing, more time to misinterpret reading! (...)

I'll talk to you later Haley, I know once the arrangements are made, the kids will be excited, and Sarah can begin prepping her long golden hair! (ha ha)



Kevin called me in the afternoon, and we tried to pick a weekend. Who knew it would be so complicated? There was Easter weekend in there, Nick and I already had plans to go to Invermere, another weekend we had volunteer commitments, I think Daniel had a scout camp one weekend, and Amy had a birthday date with her Mom another weekend. It looked like June would be the earliest date. *sigh* How on earth could I wait three more months?

Later that day, and after 3 or 4 calls we finally picked a date that was nearly perfect. Can you believe that my dear sister Amy willingly gave up a birthday night out with her Mom, just to meet me? What a treasure that girl is. She had already emailed me that she was going to a concert in Seattle by one of her favourite artists, and that it was going to be a special evening out, topped off with a night spent in a hotel! I knew she was really looking forward to it, and I didn't want to be associated with taking away a treat like that. But Amy was so gracious, and seemed to be more excited about meeting me than a night out. They still planned to attend the concert, but would only miss a few hours with Nick and I, not a whole day.

Just over 5 weeks from today, Nick and I will meet them all face-to-face! I don't want to sell him out here, but Kevin sounded so excited on the phone, it was kind of like talking to an eager child a few days before Christmas. I was also looking forward to a visit, but had enough anxiety to temper the excitement down to a more palatable level. I hope that didn't come across on the phone as ambivalence...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It's all about me.

When I started to share my story through this blog, I mistakenly thought it was all about me. I needed to write to process all my feelings, to keep them from swirling around in my head. Big life change, lengthy mental processing needed.

At the beginning of the reunion, I used up all my free time with my husband talking on and on about my new family. At dinner, on date night, during hockey games. Note to self: Don't talk to your husband during a hockey game unless your sentence has the word 'wings' or 'pizza', preceded by, "do you want more ______"? He's not interested in hearing about the latest email from my little sister when the game is in overtime. Trust me, that email was way more interesting that the overtime period.

My friends, surprisingly, were not all interested in every moment of my reunion tale. One even interrupted me in the middle of my story, and said, "oh no, I didn't mean I wanted to hear all of that, I just wanted to know it was going well." Oh. So you don't want me to ramble on for hours at a time? I listen to you talk about your kids for hours, I guess it doesn't go both ways.

I needed another outlet, and a blog seemed to be a good choice. It helped me untangle weeks of pent up thoughts and emotions. Unpacking story by story was incredibly helpful to my mental health.

I haven't felt the compulsion to write every day for a while; *spoiler warning* I do have a post saved up about Father's Day, but with the mail strike in Canada, I didn't want to post it until my Dad actually got his Father's Day card, since the post is all about choosing Father's Day cards.

Since I stopped writing for a few weeks, I've been getting bombarded with advice as to how to 'cure writer's block' or 'just jump ahead to the present story'. I was told that a certain member of my new family now sleeps in again, because she used to get up early to see what I had written, and now doesn't bother. Ouch.

Ok, I can take the hint! It's important to them to meet me here at the blog every morning. They get a glimpse of me, of my heart, answers to questions they might be too shy to ask, something extra that helps them process this reunion thing too.

And here I thought the blog was all about me...

The real question is, when will they read the new post! Since they're not in the habit of checking every day... :)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Writer's Block

Last week I was explaining to someone (whose name I'll kindly neglect to include) that it was often challenging to write the blog. This person affectionately teased me saying, 'you're not even writing anything, you're just using other people's emails anyway'. Yep. That's what I'm doing, and yet I'm stuck. Now I know what it feels like to not know what to say next; what writer's block feels like.

I spent an entire day today reading through old emails and struggling with what part of our story to share next. I'm still getting nowhere. So much for just copying other people's emails to me; if that's all I was doing, then I shouldn't be stuck...

If I'm a bit more erratic with posting, now you know why. I'm going to try and muddle through, but it might be more sporadic than I'm used to.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A day in my time-travelling shoes

I suppose I'll be shifting around a bit more through time with the blog for the next while, as I'm opting for keeping conversations together rather than keeping to the exact timeline. We'll see how this goes :)

Email to Haley, from Linda; March 19, 2011 

Dear Haley,

I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to speak with you and Nick today! You are so beautiful...and that smile!!!  (...)

I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to be in your shoes...and it is difficult to know what you may be feeling/thinking. I just want you to know that we are glad that you made that first call. I am so grateful that you are such a “good” girl and will be a great role model for the girls. I think God has a great future for us all and I trust completely in His plans.

Today, a Skype, a real visit!!! How exciting!
In Christ,

Email to Linda, from Haley; March 19, 2011 

Dear Linda,

I loved seeing you all in 'real life'. It's so much better than just a picture! It was hard for me to concentrate on talking I was so busy taking it all in! Sorry I didn't have much to say, I think I was a bit in shock. (...)

Emotional doesn't begin to describe me today. I'm a wreck. Happy sad nervous anxious scared excited all at once. I smile reading through the emails and then I'm bawling because I'm afraid of messing this up. Overall just a wreck. I spent the rest of the evening trying to write an email to Kevin. Nick is still working on the truck, so I used a half a box of Kleenex on my own :)

I want to get to know everyone and I don't want to slow things down with you all, but it's definitely an emotional time!


Half a box of kleenex, home alone with the keyboard and the dog...if I drank much, I think tonight would be the night to get out a bottle of (insert your favourite drink here). But I don't, so it was just me, the kleenex, the keyboard and the dog. I can't call anyone because I don't know what I'd say. I looked so forward to the Skype call, and then had this terrible breakdown immediately afterward. Where's the DSM-IV TR when you need it? Perhaps I'm not quite the 'great role model' Linda has in mind.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Phone Call

My last entry left me napping on the couch with a phone, wondering if Kevin was going to call me.

He did!

We talked for about an hour, and it was amazing. I know I didn’t hold up my end of the conversation as well as I would have liked, but it was a lot better than question. It’s been so long since the call, I am struggling to remember everything we talked about, but I do remember that it was so good.

Kevin was friendly and open to learning more about me. He engaged me with many questions (which is essential when talking to someone who can be as shy as I can). He answered some of my burning questions about when I was born. I don’t know how many turning points my story will require, but this was another major one for me.

Email to Haley, from Kevin; March 20, 2011 

Hi Haley, 

I really enjoyed talking to you today, e-mail is good, talking is better, as you said, tough to read emotion in an e-mail. 

I just put the old salmon on the bbq, and Linda and I were talking and I wanted to clarify something about the kids. When I said that Linda asked the kids to slow down with the e-mail, what we are after is to not overwhelm you, but we are not asking the kids to stop. You need to know that as of when we told our kids about you, we would not cut you or them off. There will always be ebbs and flows, but they are natural and I don't want you to think you have to walk on eggshells or anything like that.

We're very happy to get to know you and welcome you however much you want to be welcomed.



Email to Kevin, from Haley; March 20, 2011 

Hi Kevin,

So our phone call today is my favourite interaction so far. It was so nice to talk with you and get to know you better. I am astounded at how genuine and caring you are. I never expected to be that lucky! I guess what I'm trying to say is let's do that again :)

I talked with Nick and we decided that we should just jump in and do a visit! (...) Let me know what you think, and we can plan from there. (...) 

I'm feeling a lot better since our chat. I think I just needed to get past the 'this is always going to be extremely awkward' to 'this is natural' stage. Thank you for spending that time with me today, I really appreciate it.


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Asking for something I want

Email to Kevin, from Haley; March 20, 2011

Hi Kevin,


If I'm honest, I checked my email about every 10 minutes last night until I finally fell asleep (and then again when I was up very early this morning...I'm turning into a real junkie!). I was very concerned about what you might say, but as always you're very kind and understanding; thank you.

I don't mind when you tell me about who I look like or sound like, I just don't know who you're talking about! I'm used to years and years of, wow you look so much like your mom or dad, and laughing it off because I'm adopted... I'll have to show you a picture of them sometime, we do look pretty similar, it's kind of funny :)

I love watching Dragon's Den. I never watch the news anymore. I read it all online. We try and go to a couple Eskimos games every year, but I'm not as interested in sports as I used to be. Nick loves watching cfl and hockey. I got him tix to the Oilers vs Flames next Sunday for his birthday. I can't believe he's turning 28. That means I'm not far behind...

Visits...I wish I had someone to tell me what to do! My heart's desire is to meet you in person, I would love to do that and I've been checking out WestJet flights since I found out where you live. We're going to Invermere at Easter and I thought you guys could come out and we could meet on neutral ground. I was excited when Amy told me you usually come to Edmonton once a year. I'm confused. You say it's up to me about timing...but I'd like to know what you want. I need some help on this one.

Nick would like to add something...

"You have been very gracious about how you've dealt with the whole situation and very sensitive to Haley's feelings. I appreciate that you've been willing to share about yourselves freely. Your thoughtfulness and way you've handled the emails, skype etc. has been beyond what I would have ever expected."

We're going to be home all afternoon today, if you're not busy, why don't you call me and we could try and talk about what to do next? And I want to hear about what you were thinking when you got my first message on facebook!

Blessings, Haley

As awkward as Skype was, I still was craving contact with Kevin. I don't know why I wrote that I wanted him to call me, because I am terrible at asking for things that I need or want. Terrible! But I did, and as soon as I hit send, I became completely worried again. Too much too soon; How could I be so desperate; It's going to push him away. I wrote earlier about 'the irony of being needy' and here I am again.

The worst part of this email? Putting it out there that I hoped he would call, but not knowing if he would. I went downstairs and napped on the couch with a phone. How sad to admit that! I'm pretty sure it's things like this that make my husband think I'm a tad crazy...

Monday, 6 June 2011


Email to Haley, from Kevin; March 20, 2011

Good Morning Haley,

We watched the movie Secretariat after we went for a bike ride to the gelato shack in town. And it was during that movie that I read your e-mail, but I couldn't respond just then. The movie was terrific, I would recommend it, but your note left me with not much to say - which anyone here would tell you that's impossible. It was terrific to see you and Nick as well, skype is indeed good at helping the overwhelm.

I certainly appreciate your comment regarding flying blind as for sure you don't have the benefit of knowing the rest of our family; after some reflection I think we would have preferred not to make some of the comments about your voice or mannerisms that might be similar to others in my family. We forget we're new to you. And that there are 5 of us!

Expectations are crazy things, huh?

I can't speak to the TV shows you mentioned, I watch the news, MASH, The Dragon's Den, and CFL football; but that's pretty much it, we didn't even have cable until the CBC lost the football rights to TSN! I do know that lots of tv is a train wreck! So best not to set our expectations off of what's on tv.

I really don't know what my expectations are Haley. We would love to have you and Nick for a weekend if you guys would like that. I'm certainly ok wih phone calls and going slowly, as I know we are starting with very little other than perhaps desire to know more about where we come from and our history. We're just going to have to muddle our way.


Haley, there's no such thing as screwing it up. 

When you told me about your history with Camille I felt very badly about your experience for you, and for Camille and her husband as well, I couldn't imagine how hard it was for all of you.

So back to not screwing it up; we're trying to find our way you and I, and Linda and Nick are caught in the crossfire! I'm thinking there are times where they are thinking, 'what is happening here?'...there are so many layers its mind boggling, so as I've said to Linda, let's keep it simple. Keeping it simple will help us determine where to go and how fast and all that stuff. If I were to die today (I have no such plans!) I'd be very happy with what we have been able to share with each other in the past few weeks.

Frankly I'm very proud of how you and I have made out since your first e-mail. Especially when you consider our limited experience with these types of situations :) !

My cell number is _________, our home number is _________. Phone anytime.

Have a super day Haley, I hope I haven't thrown too much at you here; for me, I'm very supportive of you (and by extension Nick) and whatever speed you two want to go at is good for me.


I don't know what to say. I think I finally understand that this reunion can be different. Kevin's letting me set the pace; He can handle my desperate emails; I don't know what I can do that will push them away. Being accepted just as I am is a strange feeling that I'm not used to. I'm unsure of how to process this. 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Reality Check

We hung up after the skype call and I was in shock.

The first thing my husband said to me, “You sure didn’t talk much!”. I didn’t? I didn’t really notice! I tend to be pretty shy, so that’s not really a surprise. And what was I supposed to say anyway? I was too busy trying to take it all in to have room left to think about what to say.

Then I had a mini freak out. Maybe a huge freak out. How can Kevin look like a stranger when we’ve been sharing life stuff for a few weeks already?

It was so different to see them live. I’ve seen pictures, and they look exactly the same as their pictures, but now they’re real.

It’s hard to explain, not as though I thought they were ‘fake’ but to know each person is real, and what they have emailed me is really from each of them; I think of the kids especially. Their personalities shone through each email. I can tell just by reading the writing who each email is from if I never saw the reply address or a signature. To match that up to a live face is overwhelming.

It was like I’ve been living in a fog-filled dream world for the last two weeks, and then today in twenty minutes I had my eyes truly opened. The mist cleared away and this was my reality. I’m the plus-one in a new family.
Email to Kevin, from Haley; March 19, 2011 

Hi Kevin, 

This is the first email to you that I'm struggling to write! I hope you can read this with filtered lenses please, I am going to be as honest as I can be - but sometimes I know I can come across as critical instead of honest, and I don't do too well at censoring myself. So please read it with grace lenses :) and I'll ask for forgiveness in advance. 

It was so wonderful to see you all 'face to face'. Somehow it makes it seem so much more real.

I'm embarrassed that I didn't say much; I'm sorry. I was sort of in shock I guess. There's 5 of you and only one of me, and it's hard for me to take it all in and still have room left in my brain to think about what to say next. With emails it's so much easier because I can take the time I need to think. I'm a fairly quiet person when I don't know people well, and I'm even worse in groups. If I'm at a table with 10 of my dearest friends, it takes a lot to prompt me to join in the conversation.

All that being said...I think I need to right-size my expectations. I've been having these grandiose ideas about visiting for a weekend or I don't know, just big plans for an ideal reunion. I have to quit watching tv shows like The Locator and Find My Family! I guess it's easy to splice a 60 minute awkward silence-filled conversation into a 2 minute sound byte. We're essentially strangers, and you get the benefit of me looking like or sounding like someone in your family, but I'm flying blind. It feels so strange because even though we've had a couple of weeks of emails I still look at you and feel like I don't know you at all. It's surreal, like it's not really my life, but someone else's.

I'm scared because of what happened with Camille. I think I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to make sure I don't screw this up, but I don't even know what it should look like.

So where do we go from here? I don't know. I'm at a loss. I think skype is so cool because you can see each other, and it's almost like you're in the same room, but it's distracting for me to see you and I'm trying to see me in you and I can't think about what to say. It's info overload. I guess I would like it if you and I could just talk on the phone instead for a while. And I think I would like to ask you a few questions about when I was born if that's ok. And if Linda or the kids wanted to talk, that'd be ok, but I think I'd like it to be 1 on 1 instead of everyone at once.

Ok, so that was long and rambling, sorry. Nick went back to work and I'm just processing it all on my own and thought that you should know what I'm thinking too.

I'd love to talk again soon, but you can email me first and tell me how long and rambling I am sometimes :)

Blessings, Haley 


Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Skype Call, Part Two

I'm thrilled to tell you that Kevin has agreed (I'm told this was half 'happily' and half 'reluctantly' due to his private nature...) to write a guest post. Please enjoy the view from his glasses today.

Skype day was like most Saturdays at our house, a bit busy and a bit lazy. Everyone in the house was excited/nervous all day. We knew Haley would become and remain part of our lives, my wife and I had already agreed (how good is she?!). Skyping would be another step in the string of steps already taken. I set up in the kitchen. In retrospect, my wife told me she'd never seen me so nervous. I remember feeling anxious, very anxious...

I don't recall who called whom, but when we got on the call it was only Haley and I. Initially it was surreal, my first time on skype, seeing the daughter I knew I had but knew little about until just a few weeks previous.

I had prepared a small list of things to talk about because I'm not very talkative on the weekends as I talk all day at work. We'd traded photos previously, so I recognized her immediately. It's impossible not to notice mannerisms in Haley that I and my siblings share.

Woah! Not easy.

At times it feels like we're just staring at each other; even though we've found a nice pleasant rhythm in our writings back and forth, adding audio and video has added a whole new dimension that for sure I'm not prepared for.

I'm struggling to bring things up, and Haley is really quiet, it kind of feels like we're on a nervous blind date, time to call in the reinforcements! We pull Linda and Nick into the camera view and things start to settle down again, then after a few quiet pauses we bring in our kids.

After more small talk there are seven of us watching tv, not much to say but all amazed as we look through the glass. My list of questions gets used up, I try to make jokes to keep things light but it's hard for everyone (maybe because they weren't funny, though I find that hard to believe) we're all excited and nervous and mesmerized by the new family members. We lift up our 45 pound dog Danny and introduce him to Lucy, who likely weighs 6 pounds out of the bathtub, this was proof to me we were struggling a bit for content!

After we say goodbye, everyone in my kitchen lets out a huge sigh of relief, we did it! I imagine it was the same in Haley's house. We'd successfully met 'face to face' and not only survived, but set ourselves up for continuing to head down the path of getting to know each other.

That was an amazing day; with luck there will be many more to come.


Friday, 3 June 2011

The Skype Call

March 19 through my Facebook statuses:

7:37am: Today is the big skype date! No wonder I couldn't sleep...I've been way too excited. I hope this mountain of laundry can distract me until 5:00!

4:02pm: 1 hour. I'm gonna throw up. It was easier when I was busy with cleaning. 

I chose very carefully what to wear, only to recall that our webcam has more of a neck-up view (ha! so much for vanity...). I put on makeup, to which my dear husband says, “makeup for skype? really?” Yes really. No I don’t wear full makeup every single day of my life, but on days that I especially feel like smoothing over any flaws...

I asked Nick to make sure skype was on, and then I sat in the other room feeling like I was going to throw up for about an hour. That’s what happens to me when I’m nervous; full on nauseous. Finally, after watching every second tick by on the clock there was only ten minutes left to wait. I sat at the desk and waited. New clock to stare at, unkindly though it didn’t provide me with a second hand. Each minute was monotonous. Kind of like how you’re thinking right now, so get to the call! What happens on the call? The anticipation burns, and there’s no relief until you eventually hear the ring.

Finally, at exactly 5:00pm, the appointed time, we met 'face to face' for the first time.