Turning Point

Who would have thought?

March 2001
After months of grief, Tara had the most amazing dream about MacKenzie and immediately emailed Veronica and Frank about it:

In the dream Veronica and Frank had brought MacKenzie to see Tara and there was a crowd of people. Tara had a boyfriend who was hugging her from behind but she couldn’t see his face. Over the crowd she could see MacKenzie on Frank’s shoulders and MacKenzie kept saying, “Hi, Daddy!” to Frank and waving to the crowd. Tara asked Frank what MacKenzie’s first words were, that she bet they were Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Daddy’ and he said, Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½No, they were Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½dream.’ MacKenzie was very verbal in the dream and had seemed to grow up so much. She was so happy, all in pink and bouncing up and down on Frank’s shoulders. Tara’s boyfriend thanked Veronica and Frank for giving MacKenzie such happiness. Tara got to hold MacKenzie and then they laid her down on the grass on a blanket and MacKenzie looked up at Tara and smiled. It was a beautiful dream. MacKenzie was so incredibly happy that her happiness was just amazing, bigger than life.

Tara was waving to MacKenzie and laughing and MacKenzie was, too.

Tara woke up feeling so good, in the best mood, which carried her along for weeks.

Veronica wrote Tara back after she told her about the dream:

“Cool dream! I’m so excited that you sound so up! MacKenzie is sitting up almost by herself! I can’t wait for you to see her!” she wrote. “Still haven’t heard from the attorney. I think MacKenzie feels like a big girl in the exersaucer – like Ben. She is laughing and laughing all the time.”

“I believe dreams like this are sent from God,” Tara’s friend emailed Tara. “No, really! I believe He is showing you and confirming your decision was the right one. Now, what you need to do is act on the same happiness displayed in the dream! You know, dreams can become reality! We never know what God has in store for us and I can remember days I would frantically pace and wonder when my life would make a ‘right’ turn instead of always going to a dead end. I can promise you if you just hang in there, your life too will be touched in many different ways.”

Tara picked up the packet of letters and pix from Gladney the day before. She loved them as usual and showed them off to her friends again.

Early Childhood Intervention was coming three times a week to work with MacKenzie’s poor appetite. She was worried about her appetite.

She had to have gotten that small appetite from Alex because it certainly wasn’t from Tara!

“I hope this isn’t going to cause her health problems later on,” Tara wrote Veronica. “I don’t think it caused any for Alex other than being really skinny. I especially loved the pix with MacKenzie and Ben and her in her Old Navy cap. Those were precious. I have finally filled up my photo album, believe it or not after getting those pix! So now I need to buy another one but will have to wait till I get my finances smoothed out a little. I gather the exersaucer is the thing that looks like a walker? I showed Susan the new pix tonight when I went over there for dinner and she commented on how happy she looked. I’m so glad she and Ben are close and that she’s in such a loving family. Chelsea commented too on how happy she seemed and how well cared for.

It’s funny, in some of the pix she looks like me, in some she looks like Alex and in some she looks like a cross between the two of us! I wonder when her hair color will decide what it’s going to do. About her clasping her hands, she did that when she was less than a week old during a nursery visit while I was holding her and she was sleeping and it was so precious, like you said. I can’t believe how gorgeous she is. I used to like to look at myself in the mirror, too (when I was skinny).

I was also a big Daddy’s girl. I used to play games with my Dad and he’d carry me on his shoulders and tickle me, too. As far as her trying to get male strangers’ attention that sounds like me (how I used to be).

IÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½m sorry you’re having to postpone your Disney trip but your dedication as parents is awesome to me regarding not wanting MacKenzie to be behind in her training. What a job for a specialist, huh?

I’m glad she’s sleeping well because I never did and still don’t, so that’s a big relief. I told Susan tonight that I really worry that she’ll grow up with emotional problems like me just because of genetics but then I believe environment makes a huge difference. Susan agrees and doesn’t think of it as genetic. I also sucked on fingers as a child, only instead of my thumb like MacKenzie it was my two fingers. Alex was also an early riser like MacKenzie but I like to sleep late. I think I was very ticklish as a child, too, like MacKenzie.

Every time I get happy pix of her and letters, it warms my heart.

Thank you as always for the prayers. I pray for all of you all the time, too.

P.S. My sister recently expanded her business and moved her office to property no a lake so she’s very excited about her growth.”

Tara sat down to write a letter to Frank:

“Dear Frank:
Thank you for all the great stuff you said about MacKenzie and about being a dad to her and what it means. I was bragging on you the other day. I’m so glad you’re her dad and no one else,” wrote Tara. “I quit my job yesterday and job hunted all day today. I’ve been having trouble holding jobs because of my temper due to my manic depression. I’m glad MacKenzie is gaining weight and I really pray her appetite picks up soon. I was underweight as a child but always had a big appetite. It must be tough to make sure she gets all the nutrients she needs and I admire you for it.

I am very grateful that she has nurses for parents. Glad you’re able to catch up on some sleep now, too.

It’s ironic you brought up private school because that had been on my mind as well with the school shootings. That’s so amazing that you’re thinking that way.

Thank you as always for continuing to keep in touch with me.

I thank God all the time for Him giving my little girl such a great family that is safe, happy, and secure.

P.S. In April I’m going to run in a benefit to raise money for abused women and women who have been assaulted.”

Her letter to Veronica followed:

“I gave a speech tonight. It had been two years since I’ve done anything like this,” Tara wrote Veronica. “I took a pic of MacKenzie up to the podium with me to inspire me. It worked! I talked about the adoption and this girl who was adopted cried. I talked to her after the meeting and I remember from before she’d told me it was a closed adoption and at 29 she found her birth mom but that her birth mom was still in a bad situation with drugs; etc. So it wasn’t a happy reunion. I want MacKenzie to be proud of me one day so when she finds me she won’t be sad about it like this girl was. She was so torn up about it. She told me she had an infant memory of being in a foster home because she wasn’t adopted till she was two months old and she remembers feeling utter terror. I’m so glad MacKenzie didn’t have to go through this. I gave the girl my number and told her to call me. She’s really struggling now and feels all alone, plus she’s newly sober. But she’s getting ready to go into an outpatient treatment center (I think she may have relapsed recently) so that help will be good for her.

I bragged on you, Frank, and Ben in my speech and talked about how lucky I was and how lucky MacKenzie was. And what a miracle it all was.

By the way, on a lighter note, I heard today that if you eliminate corn, wheat, and dairy from your diet it helps with allergies. This might help MacKenzie.”

She hoped her daughter wasn’t unlucky in love like she had been. Susan, a big believer in astrology, told her that since MacKenzie was a Leo, she’d be unlucky late in life.

“Don’t tell me that,” Tara said.

At 19 Tara had a crush on a co-worker but the feelings weren’t mutual so she tormented herself with that for a whole summer.

She dated a guy in her college sophomore year but she wasn’t good enough for his Baptist parents so he dumped her right after
Valentine’s Day. Her best friend then got her through her depression but also confronted her about her drinking.

She became obsessed with a male friend and on her 21st birthday finally bedded him. But he only wanted sex from her and didn’t want to be seen with her alone.

She dated a guy when she was a college senior but he just rescued her from her financial pit over and over and grew resentful. Her roommate became her drinking buddy.

Then she had a fling with a convict who was three years younger than her but way more immature than his 21 years. About that time her boss’s wife tried to convert her to Christianity.

You name the religion and somebody along the way had tried to convert her. Everything from Judaism to Mormonism was presented to her but she rejected it all. She liked the Buddhist beliefs, though.

At 26 she got engaged to Mark, the love of her life, but she pushed him away with her anger after three years of a rocky marriage.

March 8, 2001
Veronica got the third Laura Ingalls book the day before for MacKenzie along with pictures from Tara’s Christmas with Chelsea.

March 13, 2001
Veronica wrote Tara that MacKenzie was growing and beautiful as ever “as you’ll see in the pictures.”

“MacKenzie is babbling all the time now and has replaced mamma with dadada and bababa,” Veronica wrote.

March 16, 2001
Tara still knew nothing regarding finalization of the adoption.

“MacKenzie has a new trick,” Veronica emailed Tara. “She throws all her toys off of the high chair, exersaucer or walker and then grunts till we pick them all up. Then she’ll drop them one by one, stopping between toys to see if we’re going to pick it up. The little stinker!”

March 20, 2001
Tara’s “every other month” packet of letters and pictures came in the mail that day from Veronica, the same day Tara had a fight with her boss and quit her telemarketing job, which she hated:

“As you can see by the pics,” Veronica wrote. “MacKenzie is growing and growing! She’s 13 pounds and 6 ounces and playing ‘catch-up’ on some of the tasks she has lagged behind on. We have Early Childhood Intervention coming to the house to help us reach these developmental milestones. She is at an eight-month level on her language skills and she is very vocal! Currently she is trying to sit up and can do so for a few seconds at a time. Basically she’s now average or above average on everything except ‘oral motor.’ She continues to not want to eat. It’s so hard for me to understand not wanting to eat!

But we’re aggressively working on it. She puts everything else (not food) into her mouth, so is probably teething, but I think it took Ben two months of mouthing everything for that first tooth to put in an appearance! We keep checking those gums but thus far no teeth.

She continues to love her exersaucer and spends lots of time on it. She can turn herself all around, jump, and play with all the toys on it. I think she likes it so much because it makes her feel like a big girl like her brother.

She is laughing; laughing lots and has acquired a contagious belly laugh.

One day her hair looks almost blond, the next red, the next brown. Her eyes continue to be her mom’s beautiful brown! Countless times IÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ll catch her with her hands clasped in front of her just watching them. It’s so precious. Of course she loves to look at herself in the mirror although I’m not sure if she’s looking and realizing that it’s her in the mirror or another baby.

She has become quite a daddy’s girl. She watches Frank all the time and seems to expect all his attention! Also, if we’re at a restaurant or an outing and there’s a perfect stranger (male) she’ll coo and keep staring at him just wanting to be noticed. She doesn’t do this with females!

We’re postponing our Disney vacation one more summer. That way MacKenzie won’t miss any home visits with the oral motor specialist who’s helping get her to eat. I think being a year older will be better anyway.

She’s sleeping all night! Hurray, as Ben would say. Sometimes when I check on her, she’s sucking her thumb but puts herself back to sleep.

She continues to be an early riser – usually 6:30-7 a.m. She’ll take a morning nap and occasionally an afternoon one. She is very ticklish all over! All in all, she’s a very happy baby, much loved by all her family.

Please take care of yourself. Know that you’re in our prayers several times a day. I pray for your happiness and for peace with your decision. We love you so very much.”

Frank wrote his letter separately to Tara:

“Well it has been almost seven months since you gave us the gift of MacKenzie,” he wrote. “Thank you very much for this precious little girl.

She is developing more and more every day. She is kicking her legs most of the time now. Before long I know she will be crawling and then in a few months or so she will be walking.

Weight continues to be a problem for this beautiful little angel. We are doing everything known possible to get her to eat and to meet her daily nutritional requirements. She is very active, coos, laughs, and smiles a lot now. Perhaps if I were in my twenties it would be a lot easier missing sleep, but that is not what is important right now. What is important is that this little girl gets everything that she needs for nutrition, love, affection, security, and the list goes on and on. I hope things are going well for you. With all of the violence on TV I am going to have to work more and more to afford for my children to go to private school. Ben is the best big brother and MacKenzie is the best little sister that either one has ever had.”

March 23, 2001
Tara finally got a date for finalization, the day she would get to see MacKenzie for the first time since August: April 17th!

“Please don’t worry too much about MacKenzie,” Veronica wrote. “I know that’s like telling you not to breathe or something. But she really is great!! We love Early Childhood Intervention. We had to go through a bunch of people to get to the occupational therapist, which is the only one we need. But to get to her we had to endure the social worker, nurse, dietician, and physical therapist doing evaluations. Those are the ones she tested out so well – at 8-month level and she was only six months old. But finally we got the OT and she is very aggressive with getting her to eat so I am excited. She says that in four to six months, MacKenzie will be eating! She (Sally) is trying to come three times a week.

MacKenzie has a walker, too, but her feet don’t quite touch the floor. However, we do put her in it sometimes and Ben pushes her around in it. They kind of bump into things, i.e., TV. chair; etc. We call it Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½bumper walker’!

About the court date: Tentatively it is April 17th at 9:45 a.m. Now it’s up to you, but I doubt you’ll want to come to the courthouse, but we thought we could meet you later for lunch or at the playground or wherever you want. We sent off our fingerprints for the criminal background and have to allow for three weeks for those to get back so that’s why it’s kind of later than I thought. I can’t wait for you to see her. I already bought her a special outfit to wear to see you! Can’t wait to see you.

I’m so glad you still go to your support recovery group. I remember once a year my dad telling his story. The support he received kept him sober for many, many years.

I hope you find the perfect job if there is any such thing.

I will bring the camera and camcorder to our visit.

Your story at the support group meeting touched my heart. I hope you can make a difference in that lady’s life. Incidentally, do you remember me telling you about a lady at our church who placed an infant eight years ago? She came and talked to after church one day and she had never written for her letters, pics; etc. Well, just recently she made contact with her son and his APs and it’s been great. She had about 100 pics at church to show me the last Sunday. Her son is beautiful and he included a copy of his report card for her to see he made all Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½As.’ He is very athletic and busy, busy. He and his APs love her as you could tell in the letters. She is so excited and at peace with her decision.

And her four-year-old knows all about him and wants to meet him.

Right now the OT (occupational therapist) is working on getting MacKenzie to have better control of her tongue and we’re practicing clicking, lalalel, dadada sounds. They use cold to stimulate her palate and lots of play therapy. I’m learning a lot just by being here and watching. I think she’ll be fine, eventually eating lots and lots. Once again, try not to worry too much. She is a beautiful, happy, much loved little girl who just doesn’t want to eat!!

I remember you always in my prayers. Please take care of yourself and I will talk to you soon. Think about finalization and what you want to do. Whatever you feel comfortable with is fine with us. Our moms will join my husband, Ben, and MacKenzie. Since it’s on a Tuesday, doubt there will be a lot of extra people just since it’s a bad time. At Ben’s I think we had 27 people but it was also in the summer time when everyone was off school and work.”

March 25, 2001
“I’m so glad you’re excited about the court date,” Veronica wrote. “Haven’t heard from Ben’s mom since August, right around MacKenzie’s placement, but we sent her a letter and lots of pics in January. Hopefully she’ll ask for them soon.

No one really knows why MacKenzie has tongue thrust. I personally think it’s because she has reflux, which wasn’t diagnosed until three to four months and it must burn to eat, as reflux is where the food travels up the stomach into the esophagus. I think every time we fed her a bottle, it burned her esophagus and made her not want to eat. I keep imagining what it must have felt like – like when you have really bad heartburn and she couldn’t tell us. Sigh. Poor thing. We just have to reassure her that it won’t always burn to eat. The problem isâÂ?¦how do you tell and infant that? Medications are helping and hopefully soon she won’t be afraid to eat.”

March 27, 2001
The girls in the dorm now were age 14-16. It varied. Tara was glad she came through when she did. It was weird to think she could be some of their mother’s ages.

She wished she didn’t have to wait till April 17th to see MacKenzie but she was very excited and told her mom about it that night.

Tara dropped off another Laura Ingalls book to Post Adoption to be mailed to MacKenzie.

Though it rained outside and was a nasty day, inside it was a warm night. Her spirit was fed and her will to live was strong. She wanted MacKenzie to be proud of her one day and to smile when she met her.

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