Gratitude

Her birth daughter was celebrating her first Thanksgiving with her adoptive family.

Gratitude
November 3, 2000
Tara got emailed some Halloween pictures of MacKenzie in the pumpkin patch near Veronica and Frank’s home. Her Eeyore costume swallowed her whole so she was a leopard/cat.

November 6, 2000
Veronica wrote:

“MacKenzie is sleeping and eating more since we changed to the hypoallergenic formula. I think she will just have allergies like some of the rest of us. Her eyes stay red so much of the time. She is very, very alert now and turns toward a familiar voice and laughs and smiles so much. Now I still can’t catch her smiling/laughing on film, but be assured that she is very happy. She doesn’t like the camera and becomes very somber when I get it out and prepare to take her pic.

Ben continues to ask for me to bring MacKenzie into his room and I’ll take her in there and put her on the beanbag chair. I still love to hear him talk to her. His voice becomes higher and very gentle when talking to her.”

November 9, 2000
MacKenzie was holding at 9 lbs. and she got weighed every few days. She was very alert and cooing lots. Veronica was trying to get a tape to Tara by Christmas.

“We love you,” Veronica wrote. “Please know that you are always in our prayers.”

November 12, 2000
Veronica wrote Tara that she and Frank were both working on their letters and had lots of pix for her.

MacKenzie was back down to 8 lbs., 5 ounces.

“Hard to believe a child of ours (yours and mine) doesn’t like to eat, isn’t it?” Veronica wrote. “But don’t worry as developmentally she’s doing everything she should be doing and is just little. So many people have told me stories of their children who didn’t like to eat as an infant but picked up in the toddler years. She is so precious and seems so surprised when we’re telling her, Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½You’ve got to eat, baby.’ Anyway, I can’t wait to hear from you after you’ve seen al the pictures. Ben sees me taking a pic of MacKenzie and just has to be a part.”

MacKenzie must have gotten that surprised look/ or attitude from Alex. Tara remembered how he acted that way when confronted with something. She could picture his face now.

November 14, 2000
Veronica sent Tara an email:
“I meant to write and see how you’re feeling. Don’t work too much! MacKenzie is fine and I’m sure you’re dreaming of her because she’s so
alert and happy and we talk about you lots! I have an appointment to get her and Ben’s Christmas pictures made next week. Of course she
has a special deep green velvet dress and black shoes to wear for the pic. Her allergies are doing much better. Our caseworker came to see us last week and pronounced the baby beautiful. We send in reports each time we take her to the doctor so she is up on the weight issue. But please try not to worry too much as she is a very happy and alert baby girl and developmentally doing too all she’s supposed to do, just tiny.

We went to the mall today, she, Ben, and my nephew to do the “Build a Teddy Bear” workshop. It was great fun and everyone built a bear and dressed it in a shirt.

MacKenzie took it all in. We sent our pics and letters with our caseworker so they should be available any time. I worry about you. I know I can’t say anything to make you feel less guilty with your decision. Sometimes I think I make things worse by me emails. If you want me to lay off for a while, I will do whatever you want. We sincerely care about you and want you to have a good, happy life. One that will include MacKenzie to some capacity in the future. Remember how much you are loved.”

Amy had her baby girl after pushing for an hour. She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 19 Ã?½ inches long. She said it was the most amazing thing she’d ever done and she’d never forget how special her delivery was or how beautiful her baby was.

November 15, 2000
MacKenzie was conceived a year ago today. MacKenzie lost a pound. She was only eight pounds. Tara was worried about her but Veronica told her she was okay developmentally, just small.

Amy had her first nursery visit with her baby at the hospital then went home. She ran a fever during labor so they kept the baby in the hospital for precautions. Amy took a ton of pictures. Also that day her very good friend had a doctor’s visit and found out she was going to be induced that day. Amy stayed with her and had her visit and she delivered that night, a seven pound, six ounce little boy.

November 19, 2000
Tara got pictures and letters. A friend of hers emailed her that she should move on. She emailed her back a rude letter.

She was sleeping a lot like when she first got pregnant. She had a good dream about MacKenzie. This was the first day Amy hadn’t been with the baby. She said it was kind of weird. She really loves her. She said it was harder than she thought it would be and that she couldn’t wait till tomorrow when she had another visit.

November 20, 2000
It was coming up on Thanksgiving and Tara had debated going to her sister’s but decided to wait till Christmas. Luckily she was working a
lot of over time at work, which helped with her thinking about MacKenzie.

Veronica emailed Tara:

“Know how many prayers of Thanksgiving will be given for MacKenzie and you. We love you,” she wrote.

Amy said she had a great visit with the baby and that she was so perfect she stays awake for almost two hours at a time so she’s able to play with her. She said she eats like a pig and is very strong. Her APs fly into town tomorrow and it’ll be the first time they get to see her.

November 21, 2000
Amy’s baby was a week old. Her APs flew in and went straight to the hospital, she said. She said she was very jealous of them because they get her baby forever and get all the compliments on her while she gets to go home without her. She said it is very bittersweet because she’s so happy for themâÂ?¦but so sad at her loss. She said it was very hard. Tomorrow will be the last time she sees the baby because she will complete Placement. Her AP mom gave her a necklace with a guardian angel on it with “Our Jewel” written on the back. Her AP mom said she would give her baby one when she was 16 but until then she would wear it. They cried and told Amy how much she meant to them, how much her baby was loved and how much they admire her gift to them. She said it was very emotional and that she was very thankful to have APs like them. She said she was going to miss them.

November 22, 2000
Amy’s AP parents gave her a christening gown for Placement for the baby to wear. Her booties were ones that her AP mom had worn. Amy said Placement was very beautiful. Amy packed to go home in time for Thanksgiving and be with her family.

Thanksgiving 2000
Tara wrote MacKenzie a letter:

“Dear MacKenzie:

Today is your first Thanksgiving. I hope you’re happy. I’ve thought about you all day. I’m spending it with friends and I know your new parents and lots of new friends and family surrounds you.

A year ago you were in my belly, just a seed, only I had no idea. I watched an episode of the TV. show “ER” and saw a nurse have twins on Thanksgiving Day (a year ago). Not knowing I was pregnant at that time, I thought to myself Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½I can’t imagine that!’

Little did I know you were growing inside me!

I want you to be happy and have an extraordinary life. I’ll have many Thanksgivings without you but you will always be with me in spirit and in my heart and that will never change. I am grateful that God blessed me with you and your family with you.

You are very loved this Thanksgiving. Your big brother is great sibling and he will always protect you. Your mom, Veronica, is the best mom
anyone could hope for and she will always keep you warm, safe, and well cared for. Your dad, Frank, will always have time for you and
will be the father every little girl deserves. Your grandmothers will dote on you and love you like their own. Your maternal grandmother will visit you often. When you were born she was rejuvenated. The miracles of babies!

God loves you so much that He blessed me with you so that I could provide your family with a precious little girl such as you so that their family would be complete. God loved me so much that He gave me the courage to carry you and place you in a loving home. God loves your parents so much that He provided them with a home so you would never have to worry about being unsafe. God loved your brother so much that He made sure he had a little sister to care for and learn about caring for someone smaller than him. God loves all of us so much that He blesses us in ways we can’t imagine.

Although I was sad yesterday and this morning I can look at your pictures and know that today, this day, you are happy and well cared for, something I could not provide. I didn’t want to look at you and see that I had killed the light in your eyes by not being able to take care of you. Every child, including you, deserves to be taken care of in every way – financially, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. A mom should be able to provide for all these needs.

Now you have this and more and I am grateful God gave you to all of us.

You are God’s child first and foremost and He made you special.

I love you and hope that when you read this one day you’ll know how lucky you are. And how lucky we all are to have you.

Love, Tara”

Then she wrote a letter to Frank:

“Dear Frank:

Thank you for being such a great dad to MacKenzie. I’m doing well and had a really good Thanksgiving surrounded by friends. Thank you also for giving my daughter the holiday she deserves. I hope you like and trust me and if you don’t now that you will one day because I would never do anything to jeopardize her happiness. I do worry about her weight and I checked with my mom but she said my appetite was normal as an infant although Alex (her birth father) has a very small appetite so maybe that’s where she got it.

I do hope nothing’s seriously wrong and I continue to pray for her and your family. I hope you don’t mind but I always send copies of yours and Veronica’s letters that you mail me through Gladney to my mom and sister, Chelsea so they can keep up with what’s going on.

I don’t worry about MacKenzie in the sense that I think she’s not being taken care of because I know you are excellent parents. I just worry about her weight and allergies and hope she doesn’t wind up with asthma like me. It means a lot to me that you’re as involved with her as a dad. My dad was very involved with me too even though he abused me.

I’m very grateful that you can be a whole father to her unlike my dad was. That’s cool that she got to go to Six Flags already. I went when I was three to Six Flags Over Georgia when it opened and we went a bunch through the years and when I was 16 it was my first job. I also loved the carousel like MacKenzie and I have a picture of me when I was seven riding it.

This year will be a lot better than last year and is already shaping up to be. It warms my heart to know and see that Ben is so protective of MacKenzie because I always wanted a big brother. I have two stepbrothers who are older who I’ve known since 1975 but it’s not the same thing.

We always went to Disney World, too, when I was a kid. My sister, Chelsea would always take my niece, Joanne when she was little because her mom couldn’t afford to take her. I understand you being protective of your family and I admire you for that but I want you to know that although you don’t know me and have no reason to trust or believe me since you don’t know me that well, that I would never do anything to hurt MacKenzie or your family.

I know lately there has been some TV movies of the week along the birth mom theme regarding adoption that don’t always portray birth moms in the best light. Unfortunately there are some birth moms like that but I’m not one of them. I wish I could make you believe me but I know I can’t so I just have to have faith I guess. I told Veronica in an email that no matter how sad I get or got and no matter what happens I would never to anything to hurt MacKenzie or your family.

I’m going to go to Chelsea’s at Christmas and show my family the videotapes you’ve sent me of MacKenzie and make copies for them. I’m still sad about MacKenzie but today God saw me through that. I pray for MacKenzie and your family all the time.

My living situation is very peaceful now and has given me a chance to get closer to God because I have more privacy and time to meditate and pray.

Love, Tara

P.S. I’m putting some pix in the mail that were taken in August.”

Amy’s baby was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day and got to join her new parents who said they had something to be very thankful for and that they loved her so much.

Tara was so peaceful that her daughter would grow up without the knowledge of being abused by so many people like she was. She had been violated in some way by almost every person she met from her parents to teachers to former boyfriends and nothing was left except her fighting spirit.

Her kindergarten teacher spanked her in front of the whole class.

Her Uncle Larry French-kissed her when she was 12.

A counselor at the children’s home she was in tried to fondle her.

Some girls in a mental institute she was in terrorized her on Halloween.

Her stepsisters made fun of her.

Her stepbrother got her in trouble for things he did.

Her foster mom insinuated the sexual abuse she suffered at her father’s hands was her fault.

Her foster brothers made fun of her.

Her fifth grade math teacher mocked her.

Some of the house parents in the juvenile home made things up about her.

Her stepfather tried to fondle her breasts.

She’d never forget this guy from middle school who terrorized her all three years by thumping her on the head and taking away her coat and books. He would always announce his arrival with a high-pitched laugh and run towards her, his eyes filled with glee and sheer delight at what he was about to do. Her mom and teacher tried to convince her that he liked her. All she knew was her best friend defended her when she could and she dreaded going to school because of him and others.

Then there was the therapist at one of the mental institutes she was in who convinced her that the sexual abuse her dad performed on her was something she wanted. She walked around believing that for seven years until she got into therapy specifically for the abuse. The therapist was no longer at the defunct institute although Tara did try to sue her. She had waited too late. She didn’t want another patient to suffer at her hands. She wasn’t even degreed or licensed, just a behavioral therapist who was a big Freud follower and cited him as the expert in sexual abuse and what little girls wanted from their dads.

Her father was affectionate, manipulative, excitable, grandiose, and fun. He was like a kid in a candy store with no control or discipline.

November 23, 2000
“You are on our minds so much today,” Veronica wrote. “How is the girl’s baby (the one who made the blanket)? I asked our caseworker last Monday about her and she couldn’t tell me anything. She is very protective of all the girls; as well she should be, so I am glad to know she did have her baby.

I’m so glad you like the pictures. I again, do apologize for the redness to her eyes, but hopefully it’s something she’ll outgrow. She is such a happy girl and so beautiful that I MUST get some pictures without red eyes!

Frank talks about your very warmly with everybody. MacKenzie is sleeping much better at night and usually only awakens once during
the night. I still wake up though to check on her as my body is conditioned. Soon,hopefully I can sleep until she “calls.” Incidentally she is still in our room in the cradle, but has begun to take naps in “her baby bed” to get her used to it as I guess it’s time to move her into her own room. She’s already a month older than Ben was when we moved out the cradle and just used his bed, but since she’s so littleâÂ?¦I will check out the December issue of Self Magazine for your letter to the editor.

About MacKenzie’s eating, seems like they start cereal at six months and then gradually add the vegetables and then the fruits. Slowly so we can immediately see what she is allergic to. But I bow to my pediatrician and just wait for him to tell me it’s time. They’re really regimented about starting stuff. We get print outs at each check up about what to be doing this month.

We love you and are so very thankful for you. I printed out the letter to MacKenzie for her book. It was truly beautifulâÂ?¦you are so talented with words.”

November 25, 2000
Tara got her three-month packet of letters and pics:

“It’s hard to believe it has already been three months since we took this beautiful little girl into our home,” Frank wrote. “She is so very precious and I love her with all of my heart. Thank you for the wonderful gift you have given my wife and I. Our family is complete.

MacKenzie is still in a very fragile stage of her life. She still only weighs around nine pounds. It is a struggle every day to get her to increase her intake without forcing her to eat. I have my faith that will guide us in making sure we’re doing everything humanly possible to ensure that she reaches her full potential.

I don’t want you to worry about her at all, just be assured that she is in the best possible hands and that she is very happy where she is. We had a wonderful Halloween with Ben and MacKenzie. I took off work to make sure I was here for her first Halloween. We had a blast. We have been to the amusement park with her last week. She loved the carousel. She had more fun just watching Ben riding the airplanes and the boat. We are planning many trips to see Santa Claus and of course she will be spoiled for Christmas.

Ben is a very protective big brother who loves his little sister. He is so proud of her and very nurturing. Realize that your daughter is in the best possible hands and that we are doing everything possible to make sure that she will be happy and safe. I hope you enjoy her pictures as much as we do. I would like to know if you are coping well and are growing in your profession. My hopes are with you.”

Veronica wrote Tara that MacKenzie really is trying so hard to eat but doesn’t want much more than two to three ounces per feeding.
“Please don’t worry too much,” she wrote. “We’ll all look back on this when she’s older and concerned about losing weight!

She continues to be beautiful as you can see in the pictures. She is very alert and is always looking around. If someone is holding her and
she hears my voice or Ben’s she cranes her neck in an effort to see us! It’s really cute when she’s trying to find her brother! I’m sending you a picture of Ben with her. He’s trying to get her to talk on the phone. It’s too cute. She really watches her hands and is becoming interested in rattles that make noise.

She scoots down, whether it’s in her cradle or bed, or on the couch, she constantly scoots. One day I got her out of bed after a short nap and she had “scooted” both her socks off had one leg of her pants leg off and was working on getting her arms out of her shirt! She’s a busy girl! She wants to be naked!

We’re really looking forward to the holidays. Frank has scheduled a week off after Thanksgiving to put up the lights plus spend extra time wit h the kids. For MacKenzie we’re getting lots of books as Ben has quite a library and we don’t want her to feel left out! Of course she’s going to know about presents and Santa but we know Ben will notice and have to make sure she has the same number of presents.

One of our dogs still gets up with me every time; day or night and sits right beside me while MacKenzie has her bottle. She has become very protective of “her” baby. She even snapped at a friend of mine who made a sudden movement toward MacKenzie. It’s really quite cute and nice to know the dogs (even though they’re small) will protect her!

I think I told you via email that her Eeyore outfit was too big at Halloween so she was dressed as a cat or jaguar or something feline and there are a few pics of her in her outfit as well as at the pumpkin patch a few days before Halloween.

We just put Ben’s toy train in his room and he likes MacKenzie to be in there with him in the beanbag chair. It’s so sweet. He brings the various trains to her to tell her each one’s name and also takes books and reads to her. She loves it and they are content for about thirty minutes. I will try to get it on video but when I enter the room sometimes they stop playing. I love to listen to them on the monitor, as they don’t realize I can hear them.

We love her so much and are so thankful to you for this wonderful gift. Please know we still think of you several times each day and are already talking to her about you and teaching her to love you.

We’ve already bought a special Christmas dress and will definitely have some Santa pics for you! Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you must know there will be a special prayer at dinner for you!”

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