#BeingLOVEDIs finding, listening, and sharing answers 2012 and 2013.

We are listening to you!  Our goal is to find out what others think it means to be loved, listen to their response, and share it with others.  We are on a mission and we want you to be a part!

During the holiday season, my two nieces decided to put together a #BeingLOVEDIs photo with the shape of a heart. They stepped away from the family fun simply to put this together.  The heart was made with photos of the #BeingLOVEDIs board.  It took them about 40 minutes on creating this photo.

Here are a few of their quotes here what they thought being loved was all about:

#BeingLOVEDIs having a wonderful family.

#BeingLOVEDIs sharing my room with my sister.

#BeingLOVEDIs having your family over for the holidays.

#BeingLOVEDIs living in this home.

#BeingLOVEDIs having a nice auntie.

#BeingLOVEDIs making new friends.

#BeingLOVEDIs making new memories.

#BeingLOVEDIs great.

#BeingLOVEDIs auntie’s girls.

#BeingLOVEDIs about spending time with family during the holidays!  Christmas is a time to enjoy your family.  Traditions, christmas trees, and baby’s 1st Christmas all have the warm and fuzzy feelings of love!

“#beinglovedis being chosen.” This is an adoption family that always makes my heart melt!!! Here is their story:

Avery and James and got married in April 2010 and wanted to start a family right away. They tried to get pregnant for 8 months with no luck (and two very early miscarriages). They weren’t ready to get testing to find out why they weren’t pregnant, so they decided to get foster care licensed to see where that might take them. In March 2011 they went through all of the training to get licensed.  

As luck would have it, shortly after they became licensed, Avery decided to go to the mall with a friend for a “pick me up day.” As Avery was getting her makeup done at a department store, she started chatting with the makeup artist (Caitlyn). Suddenly, Avery just blurted out: “We can’t have kids!”  Then the most amazing thing happened – Caitlyn said “My sister is pregnant and can’t keep the baby.”  Avery wanted to jump up on the chair and scream but instead she just calmly said, “Is she planning on placing the baby for adoption and has she chosen a family?”  When she found out there were no plans for where to place the baby, Avery just said, “We’ll adopt him.” 

Caitlyn revealed that her sister was using drugs and had 5 other children. She said that her mom and dad had adopted 4 of them in October 2010.  Caitlyn said she would have her mom call Avery because her sister (Stacy) didn’t have a phone and was currently homeless.  At that point Avery was feeling a little discouraged. Still, when she got in the car she called her husband and said, “I found a baby at the mall for us to adopt.” He was skeptical at first, but eventually they waited all weekend to hear from Caitlyn and Stacy’s mother.

Early the next week Avery and James were in the living room discussing if they should call that Caitlyn girl or not.  Then, almost as if out of a movie, the phone rang. The voice at the other end said, “My name is Stacy. You don’t know me and this is a little awkward, but you met my sister at the mall last week and she told me you want to adopt a baby.” Stacy said she wanted to meet the couple and asked if they could set up a time.  She said that she needed to call her mom and see when she was available because she wanted her there as well.  Within a few minutes they had plans to meet at an Olive Garden.

When they met for lunch, Avery was so nervous she could hardly eat. She asked Stacy a bunch of questions about herself; she wanted to get to know her and show that she had a genuine interest in Stacy as a person.  Stacy was quiet and nervous and didn’t say talk too much, but she opened up about her kids and about her pregnancy.  Eventually, Caitlyn, Stacy and their mom all started crying and said they knew it was meant to be for them to meet Avery and James.  Then Stacy said she liked the couple and that she wanted them to adopt her baby!  She put her hand on her belly and said, “This is your baby, you are going to be parents, congratulations.”  Avery couldn’t believe her ears — adoption wasn’t supposed to happen this easily! Stacy even invited them to an ultrasound appointment the next day. 

At the ultrasound, Avery sat right next to Stacy and had her eyes locked on the monitor.  As soon as she heard the baby’s little heartbeat and saw it beating on the screen Avery began to cry.  The ultra sound tech asked if Avery was the aunt and Stacy responded that she was going to be his mother.

Avery and James met Stacy at the beginning of April, and from the time Avery met her until the day Stacy delivered they spent as much time together as possible and developed a true friendship.  

Stacy wasn’t due with the baby until August, but in May, 10 weeks early, Avery and James’ son was born.  They named him Oliver and for the next 6 weeks they stayed by his side at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.  Stacy relinquished her rights 24 hours after Oliver was born, but Avery and James allowed her and her family in the hospital whenever we wanted to see him. 

Today Oliver is healthy and Avery and James still maintain an open relationship with Stacy and her family. Stacy’s parents even babysit sometimes and invite the family over for big dinners. Avery is secure as Oliver’s mother and is happy to allow Stacy and her family to be involved and love her son.

When Oliver was 7 months old Avery told her husband that it was time to do fertility testing and get to the bottom of what was going on. She told him that they would never be able to find another baby like they did with Oliver and that they needed to try and get pregnant if they wanted more kids.  Ultimately, Avery and James found out that they both had fertility issues and that even expensive IVF (which they couldn’t afford) might not work. The couple considered taking out loans but they decided it was too risky considering there really wasn’t a guarantee.  They decided to adopt again. 

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Avery wrote a letter to family and friends that read in part:

“Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you may or may not know, James and I have found out recently that the chances of us having biological children are less than 1%. When we received the news we were left wondering what our next step should be.  After much prayer, thought, discussion, and soul searching we decided that we will not pursue any further fertility treatments.  Even with the best medicine and doctors  our chances are still very slim.  We feel good about our decision and are at peace with it for now. 

We believe that adoption is the way we will expand our family, it feels very right for us.   We were so incredibly blessed with our son Oliver through the miracle of adoption and we are hoping for another miracle.  Adoption through a private agency is currently between $30,000-$50,000.  YIKES.  What you may not be aware of is that private adoptions without an agency are between $2,000-$6,000. The only catch is that when you go totally private you have to find your own babies, there is no agency to help you find available babies/children. 

That is where all of you come in to play…  We would LOVE it if you would keep us in mind if/when you hear of someone who is considering placing a baby for adoption.  We are open to babies of all races, ages, and even babies who are drug exposed. We are also open to open adoptions.  We have enclosed a couple of cards that would make the sharing of our contact information a little bit easier for you should you come across someone. 

Thank you for your friendship, love and support.  It means the world to us to have you in our lives.”

After sending the letters, Avery and James took Oliver to Maui to unwind. While in Maui, a friend called and said, “I got your letter and this might be a long shot but I know someone who needs to place a baby.”  At that instant Avery KNEW this was their baby! Her friend told her that the mother (Karen) was currently in jail but she would be paroled soon and Avery could reach her by mail. Avery wrote a letter, but was too afraid to send it. Instead, she waited until Karen was almost paroled to a half-way house and then found out how to arrange a visit. As it turned out, the process would take a week and Karen would have to officially agree to the visit. Avery got nervous – what if Karen had changed her mind and didn’t want to meet? To Avery’s relief, her visit was approved and Karen still wanted to talk about adoption. 

Over a few months, Avery and her family visited with Karen, went to doctor’s appointments, and developed a friendship. Sadly, in the beginning of June Karen broke parole and was sent back to prison.  Still, she and Avery wrote often and Karen kept her informed on the baby and her progress.   

When a person is in prison no one can know if she goes to the hospital, including adoptive parents.  Avery knew that she was going to be induced on September 20th and she also knew she wouldn’t get a call until a few days later. It was an awful time, and her mind raced with questions:  Did she deliver on the 20th?  Was he healthy? Does she still want me to adopt? What if they don’t call?  Fortunately, the hospital soon called and let them know they had a sweet baby boy waiting for them.

 Karen and Avery continue to have correspond through letters and she can show them to Carter (her son) one day. She wants him to know who his birth mom is and that she loves him.  She sends her pictures often and has even been approved to visit Karen in prison.  

Over the summer while Avery and James were waiting for Carter to be born they received a call from DCSF asking if they would be willing to take a 4 yr old boy into their home.  DCFG told the couple that it would likely turn to adoption.  They said yes and now have Aiden in their home as well. After a few months, Aiden decided that he wanted them to be his forever family, and thankfully a judge agreed.  

This family shows how love can come from the least expected places! Avery’s advice for other couples looking to adopt is to be VERY proactive, asking friends and family to help them find a baby who needs a home. Letters and even Facebook can help you find a child who needs a forever home!  

#beinglovedis what gets me up every morning with a smile no matter how little sleep I’ve had.” #instagood #photooftheday #morning #love #happy #happiness

Being loved is energizing! When you know you have people around you who lift you up and send you good thoughts all day it can make you want to get out of bed in the morning!

Likewise, you never know how your love to friends and family might help them get through the day. When you show someone you care you might be the only thing that motivates them to get up with a smile!

Being loved is a gift! I’m always happy to see what kids think of love, because their answers are so pure and true — they never over think it!

Being loved can make you feel free and also make the world seem more beautiful. When you up open up to share strong connections with friends and family, the sun shines a little brighter :)

Being loved is like winning the world! I recently attended this beautiful Hindu wedding, where love was all around. Special occasions can truly remind us of how lucky we are to have family, friends, and love in our lives.

Being loved is also having a soft place to land, as the bride said! When we know we have love and support behind us, it gives us the confidence to take chances, because we know we have somewhere to turn if we fail.

“#beinglovedis knowing somebody is always there for you. + Always being given a lusciously thick and strong hot chocolate each morning.” The extra care of bringing someone a hot chocolate or coffee in the morning is a great way to show that you love them and care for them! #hotchocolate #chocolate #love #morning ##australia #instagood #iphoto

“#beinglovedis traveling with your family.” Traveling can really show your love for each other when pushed to your limits and out of your comfort zones. Putting up with one another and dealing with grumpy times is a way to show love! #traveling #fiji #family #love #iphoto

“See and be seen.” #BeingLOVEDIs?  What does it mean to you?

No matter where you are or what language you speak, being loved is a concept that transcends all boundaries. So, where are you and what does being loved look like where you are? I want to know!

Being loved is what life’s about! I recently took this photos at the US Open Surfing Competition in Huntington Beach, and I think they’re a great reflection of the diversity of what love means to young people!

Being loved can mean feeling accepted, accepting your mistakes, gaining true friends, and the love we get from parents.

“#BeingLOVEDIs giving a hug each day.”

Let’s face it, everyone needs (and deserves) a hug. It can come from anyone; a friend, a lover, a stranger, a colleauge, or from family.  Better yet, to give and get one every day is just what the doctor ordered.  Touch is a critical part of our lives and being loved can come through the experience of hugging.

From our #BeingLOVEDIs journey, we came across many people that said so much about what love was WITHOUT it being romantic. Maybe a hug a day is just what everyone needs to feel complete and it doesn’t have to be romantic.

“#BeingLOVEDIs living ones life with passion, commitment, zest, love, compassion, vulnerability, and honesty towards oneself  and others.”

Each word has so much power.  I especially love the word vulnerability.

Vulnerability is being disarmed and expressing our true feelings in a relationship.  A key to creating a secure relationship!

Most of my couples counseling I am looking at how couples can either be or not be vulnerable in the relationship.  When people can’t be vulnerable to their family, friends, or lover, it shows that there is a block in the relationship safety.  I love that Eddie brought up the vulnerability.

Eddie is San Diego’s OUTside Travel Guru who travels the world and provides helpful tips on friendly LGBT destinations in the world.  Thank you to Eddie for giving great #BeingLOVEDIs description for us and providing LGBT tips on traveling.

“#BeingLOVEDIs free for all.”  

We all deserve to be loved and give love. We shouldn’t have to pay for it, we shouldn’t have to beg for it, nor should we have to go without it.  Being loved we all should have, yet at times it may be difficult to fully accept.  Many times, I notice clients in my office struggle letting someone love them.

This is Sister Ida is one of the San Diego Sisters.

Children are experts at knowing what #BeingLOVEDis all about.   When I ask them, they say it is “mommy and daddy” or “cuddles” or “having good parents.”  They understand that being loved is the nurturing acts that they experience from their family.  When their parents love them, provide food for them, hold them when they cry.

Kids are my weakness!  They make my heart melt.

Children need love and they also like to give love!  Above are a few of my favorite little ones.

“#BeingLOVEDIs loving in return.”

This couple has it right.  Through this project, people describe relationships as something that makes them feel complete.   They describe it as a feeling that makes them feel happy 50 years from now.  #BeingLOVEDIs something that makes our blood cells feel like it is filled with warm helium.  Or better yet, having a partner loving you in return.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I get the privilege working with couples every day in my office here in San Diego.  I get to witness passionate love, supportive love, and love to fight for.  Here we want you to see what others say #BeingLOVEDIs all about.

This project grew larger than we ever imagined! Here is a little about the birth of #BeingLOVEDIs.

One day, Corinna (the social media guru) comes to me (the relationship guru Jennine Estes) and says she had an idea to create a hash-tag project to help my company.  She called this her “splash media” idea to literally throw out a message and “splash” the social media world.  For those who do not use Twitter or Instagram, a hash-tag is a word or phrase with the number symbol # in front of it attached.  Anyone who uses the hash-tag, you can see the comments and community that use the hash-tag.

I thought her idea was great!  And my business mind began to run a thousand directions and thought of how we could get a hash-tag project that would really go viral. Our first goal was to just make some sort of impact and visibility online.  But then our minds went further. We thought it could really far if we get people to interact with us.  Since I am working day-in-and-day-out with relationships, I thought of the main goal I see everyone looking for: LOVE. Either to be loved, to give love, to share love, to heal love, or to be in-love.  It was simple!

I didn’t want to focus solely on couples, because this excludes the single folks.   All I knew is that love is our natural desire as a human being, so we came up with #BeingLOVEDIs.  It included everyone!

The best part about this project is that I focus my counseling on love daily.  I get to hear my clients share what it means to be loved, what they need to feel loved, what parts of their heart hurt when they don’t get love, and what happens if the love they have is lost.  I want to know the deeper side of what it really means for people to be loved.

San Diego Pride 2012 was right around the corner and we thought it was a great place to test out our idea.  That event is all about acceptance and love. We quickly created tattoos, chalk boards, cards, and t-shirts to spread the message and really find out what people really think being loved is all about.

To our surprise, this small hash-tag project became very well respected.  Everyone wanted to be part and share their thoughts.  And this is when it began to grow. We couldn’t stop with this event.  We couldn’t just sit back and watch Twitter and Instagram people.  I needed the face-to-face contact and making it personal.

And of course, it didn’t stop there.  We created a short little video as well.

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