Friday, November 27, 2015

Men's Health Month

As some of you may already know, November is men's health month, which I feel like often gets overshadowed by October, it's preceding Breast Cancer awareness counterpart. Organizations like Movember have helped shed a light on many men's health issues, like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and even poor mental health and physical inactivity.

I was recently contacted by Tommy John who have partnered up with the Testicular Cancer Foundation for the month of Novembert to help them raise awareness of testicular cancer.

Did you know...

Early detection is so important making self-exams crucial. Click here to get a self-exam shower card for yourself or the man in your life. 

So how is Tommy John helping?
-They are giving 5% of all sales coming from their limited edition "Mustache and Ball" collection
-They are contributing $10 for each purchase made by new customers who were referred by someone else. 
-They are donation $1 for each entry in their Instagram contest up to $1000
How can YOU help?
-Encourage the men in your life to to be pro-active!
-Check out Tommy John's #SupportYourBalls page where you can find their "Mustache and Ball" collection. 
-Refer a friend and Tommy John makes a $10 donation to the Testicular Cancer Foundation
-And lastly, don't forget to enter the Tommy John "Share a pair win a pair" Instagram contest. To enter, take a picture of any pair of round objects and tag them on Instagram with the #SupportYourBalls, and follow @TommyJohnWear and @TesticularCancerFoundation for a change to win a pair of Tommy John underwear, which also adds to the Tommy John donation amount!

Happy Men's Health Month and don't forgot to #SupportYourBalls!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

National Adoption Day

Happy National Adoption Day!

Being that I am adopted myself, I of course am very pro-adoption! And since today is National Adoption Day I wanted to share some information with you.

National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families. A coalition of national partners – Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network – sponsor National Adoption Day.

Did you know...
More than 100,000 children in the U.S. are waiting in foster care for an adoptive family.

The average wait for a foster child to be adopted is nearly 4 years.

And most devastating of all... More than 23,000 foster children age out of the system every year with no family or permanent home.

Thanks to National Adoption Day...
4,500 children were adopted by their forever families during the 15th annual National Adoption day in 2014

400 cities participated across the United States in 2014.

Since its inception it 2000 National Adoption Day has helped move nearly 54,500 children from foster care to forever families.

I encourage you to check out http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/ for more information about adoption and ways to get involved in your area.








(*All information and statistics provided by: http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Adios Amigos!

I can't believe it but, on Sunday Sam and will have been married a year! And to celebrate we are finally going on our honeymoon. The wedding was so all-consuming (both of time and money) that we decided to hold off on the O'Quinn-Moon.

Today we leave for Tulum, on Mexico's Carribean Coast and I couldn't be more excited. All inclusive. Adults only. Aka Heaven.

See you soon!

Monday, November 9, 2015

How Can I be Upset Over Something I Never Had...

I recently discovered that my birth mom had passed away.

The feeling of loss was not something I had ever prepared myself for. In all honesty, I always imagined her and I would have reconnected at some point. The sting was even worse considering just the weekend prior to finding out, I had had a heart to heart with friend discussing my desire to seek her out. My friend had convinced me "if not now, when?" to which I agreed and decided I was going to finally reach out to her, little did I know she had passed away just two weeks prior. I think the timing of it all is what is the most unsettling to me. If I had just come to this realization days earlier I could have maybe had the closure I had always hoped for.

Now, everyone's adoption journey is different, and mine is no exception. Unlike some adoption stories I've heard about, I've never yearned for a relationship with my birthmother. Don't get me wrong, I've fantasized about what she was like, if she had my sense of humor, my temper, my crooked right pinkie, but I never felt that my life was missing a mother because it wasn't. My adoptive mom is my mother. But, when I found out she was gone... there was a sense of loss. Oddly enough (well not that oddly, if you know me), one of the first things that came to mind was a scene from Friends, where Phoebe plays a trick on Rachel when she finds out she's pregnant. Originally Phoebe tells Rachel that she isn't pregnant (when in fact, *spoiler alert* she is) and Rachel is upset and says the line "How can I be upset over something I never had".

That perfectly described what I was feeling. Did I know my birthmother? No. Did I have a relationship with her? No. Had I even seen her since I was a toddler? No. But I was still upset... over something I never had. Something I had always brushed off as something I would do "some day". Now, more than ever, I am reminded that we shouldn't put things off that we really want to do. I had been saying since I was a kid that when I turned 18, I would seek her out. Eighteen came and went... and so did over ten more years after that. Then I said I would invite her to my college graduation... and then my wedding. I did neither. And here I am, never having known my birthmom and now, never even having the chance. It's a bitter pill to swallow because there is nothing I can do about it.

This sense of regret is what prompted me to be bold. It's no surprise that the internet has made finding information and people easier than ever. Through the power of the internet I had previously found a potential half-sister of mine. I had also found that my birthmom's memorial hadn't yet happened. I had to reach out, like my friend said "if not now, when?" And that's exactly what I did. With the help of  Danica I constructed a Facebook message to send to this potential half-sister of mine. It took some motivation from Danica... but I hit send. And she responded! She was warm and friendly and apparently had known about me all along! I couldn't help myself... I asked if it would be alright if I attend the memorial, and she extended the warmest of welcomes.

And so... I went, with my mom riding shotgun, we made the hour and a half drive to Victorville and I attended my birthmoms memorial. Just typing about it now, the anxiousness fills me again. I walked in and froze. Thank god my mom went with me or I probably would have walked right back out of the door. After a couple minutes my half sister and I make eye contact... from there everything is sort of a blur and I swear I even blacked out a couple of times but we exchanged a hug and said our first in-person "hello"s. I couldn't stop staring at her. The whole thing was so surreal. She asked me how I wanted to be introduced to people and I had no idea. I didn't know who knew what and just how much they knew. But before long I was being introduced to people, to be honest, I couldn't tell you how she introduced me but the most impactful was meeting my birthmoms husband of 24 years. He told me that my birthmom talked about me often and even cried on my birthday. It was hard to hear and yet, at the same time, somewhat comforting. I was so warmly welcomed by everyone that I met, almost all of whom, already knew who I was. On the drive home I told my mom "That really couldn't have gone any better". Obviously, not knowing my birthmom personally will forever be a regret of mine, but getting to know the people that knew her best is the next best thing and I'm so glad that I did it.

Afterward I got lunch with my half sister and we talked about my birthmom and our lives in general. The sense of relief I felt knowing that I wasn't some dirty little secret, and not only did everyone know about me... they knew me by name. Do I wish I had gotten the chance to actually meet and talk to her in person? Of course, but I can't help but think that things happened the way they did for a reason, a reason that I maybe don't understand now and maybe never will, but I'm sure there is a reason.

November is National Adoption Month with National Adoption Day falling on November 21st. Adoption is a wonderful thing and I consider myself lucky to have an adoption journey of my own. It has made me who I am today and I am so grateful for it. As always, I am an open book as far as my adoption goes, if anyone reading this has any questions or would like to discuss my adoption further or just adoption in general, I would love to hear from you.