Saturday, May 9, 2009

adoption; then and now

i should explain a couple things in regard to the previous post. agency policy in '96 was that all correspondence between the birth and adoptive families was to be facilitated by the agency. meaning neither party had identifying information about the other; last names, phone numbers, addresses. also policy dictated that all correspondence would be discontinued at the 5 year mark. this was part of an evolution, coming out of what i call "the dark ages of adoption". these were the days of coercion, shame, fear, and secrecy. many current ideas about adoption unfortunately, are based on what it used to be.
a woman or girl would choose adoption, not necessarily because she felt it was best for her child or herself, but often as a result of family, social, and/or religious pressure. often she'd be sent away from her friends and family and all the support she'd known, so as to hide her sin. and after carrying this child for 9 months and giving birth to him, they were discouraged to hold or touch or even see the child, thinking this would hurt them more or make them change their minds and keep the baby. she'd have no information about the life or whereabouts of her child. after all this she was to go back to her life and try to forget, to pretend it hadn't happened. and i imagine, everyday she'd wake up wondering where her baby was, if he was being fed and taught and loved adequately, if he was well and happy. this, i believe is where we get the old idea that birthmothers are unstable and if given the chance would steal the baby back. i tell you, had i placed under these circumstances, i WOULD have lost my mind!
now, a birthmother is in total control. she is given the right to do what God has trusted her to do, find the best life for her child. good agencies don't pressure but educate. and there is, as we all know, NO stigma attached to single parenting in our culture now, infact there's often judgment that accompanies the choice of adoption. so you know if anyone chooses it, they are doing it because it's what THEY feel is right. and that's the only way she'll ever have peace about it. she can select from thousands of families which one she feels is right. she can announce to them in what ever way she chooses that God has heard their prayers. she has the opportunity to form a relationship with them throughout the pregnancy, see their home, interact with them as a loved friend or family member. she can place her precious baby directly into the arms of the mother she's giving him. she may enjoy a continued closeness with them including contact ranging from letters and pictures for a time, to fitting comfortably in their home on a regular basis forever, as any other friend or family member, depending upon their personalities, circumstances, and what they together agree works best for them. she knows he's happy and well taken care of. she knows he won't wonder if he was loved, she can tell him that he came from love to love. she is most often loved and adored like never before by people who know her for the best thing she ever did. i've heard countless birthmoms express that upon seeing their child at home, in his family, it was reaffirmed to them that they'd made the right choice. they find comfort in the joy of the family they helped to create. i've heard many say to their own astonishment "i knew that wasn't MY baby".
less than 1 percent of the over a million crisis pregnancies every year results in an adoption. it is not the popular choice and certainly not the easy choice. it is a choice made at her own expense. a greater cost of tears and heart ache than she can prepare for. if she can choose this, she's proven she knows how to pray and follow wisdom, she knows how to put his best interest before her own. we've begun to see these are women who can be trusted.
not only the birthmother but all points of the adoption triad benefit from this evolution toward honesty, openness and compassion.
a child in those days often would discover at 8, 12, 16, or 35... that they were adopted. the information being withheld, i suppose, to protect the child from knowing that he was "unwanted" and "unloved" (that was difficult to even type) by the woman who gave him life. or from being different. so this child now has a major identity crisis. the people he trusted most in the world have withheld extremely significant information about who he is. "what else is a lie?". furthermore if and when he was told, it often came with a sense of shame or inferiority as this was something we whispered about, we spoke of it as a disease, a skeleton in the closet. "i'm so sorry son, you're adopted". so he thinks "there is something wrong with me".
today, an adopted child is taught that being adopted makes him special. he has extra family, extra people who love him. that he was not abandoned but that he has his very own birthmom who loved him more than her life. who loved him so much, she gave him every thing he has. when i met Justin's parents they shared with me that every year they celebrate Jeremy's (Justin's older brother) birthday AND adoption day and tell him of the great love with which he came into the world and into his family.
people use to be afraid of confusion regarding parental roles should the birthmother be involved. we now know that if the adults aren't confused, the child won't be. the parents set the tone. if they are secure enough in their position as his parents to portray it in a positive way, he will adopt their attitudes.
i read a study that said the 2 most common questions adoptees would ask if they could, were-"what does she look like?" and "why did she do it?". these questions are answered now and i believe it has a powerful effect on the child's sense of identity, worth, and belonging.
also blessed by the increase in openness and communication, are the parents. beyond being in their child's best interest, they are blessed to know the woman who gave them this most precious of gifts, to share their love and gratitude with her. i know many women on both sides who say they found a best friend and a sister through adoption.
the old idea was that perhaps they would be threatened or displaced by eachother, that toes would be stepped on. this would be true if they were all trying to be parents but that's not what happens. i would NEVER challenge their role as his parents! Debbie is Justin's mother! the end! i couldn't fill her shoes if i tried! we have such delight in, and adoration for eachother! we were the answer to eachother's prayers. we both know the bitter taste of grief and loss, not being able to have what we long for on our own terms. we both know the joy that comes when we give our lives to Him who's wisdom is beyond our own, and how well He can compensate for our sacrifice. and we share a tremendous love of the same precious boy. i think enlightened adoptive parents figure "anyone who loves our baby this much is welcome". a birthmother has to trust more than she's ever trusted, and most families see fit to trust her back.
i truly believe this evolution has been inspired. i wish so much i had 13 yrs ago what so many have now but i'm SO grateful i had what i did, which wouldn't have been allowed 13 or even 3 yrs earlier.
what's more people to love, but a blessing?

Friday, May 8, 2009

wow....May, it's a doozie

so saturday is birthmothers day, sunday is regular mothers day and Justin's birthday is a week from today. how did he get 13?! i miss those guys. it's been 7 yrs since correspondence was discontinued. i was asked the other day "so what's his birthday like for you?" i said that it's always different so i don't really have an expectation. as the years have passed, there is more and more of ...everything else on this special day and sometimes the day is over and i've been too occupied(though constantly aware) and haven't made the due reflection a priority. truth told, i'm still not sure what to do, HOW to remember. i mean, i remember EVERYday. there's no closed box tucked onto a shelf in the back of closet to take down and open.
i have developed a ritual i'm happy with, i fast that special day. a fast of gratitude to my Father in Heaven and Savior that through my inclusion in that special family, and through the atonement, i was called out of darkness. i take the opportunity to remember my captivity and my deliverance and thank God for the sweet association i share with the Nortons. also, i fast for their family, for their well being and that they'll be in His hands. but at the end of these last few 15th's i feel like i missed something if i haven't made it more. i hesitate to include those around me though i'd like to because it ISN'T to them what it is to me, and i once overheard someone close say that i just wanted attention. I did! is that exploiting something sacred? i hope not but yeah, i did want someone to pay attention to the day with me. and to pay attention to the sweet and bitter emotion that comes with my memories. what IS appropriate? i have had very loving participation from friends and family, earlier on especially. it's been most appreciated.
i know! i'll write. it was always difficult for me to write them when i had the opportunity and harder still knowing they won't read it any time soon but it's good for me and i imagine Justin and his family will be glad to have it some day. i miss those guys. i wish i had news. even if i could just somehow watch the movie of their lives as a distant observer. y'know, i do really well mosta the time but why can't we just have lunch? why can't we tell eachother thank you face to face? why can't i call her to tell her who i'm dating? why can't she tell me his milestones and how proud she is. i've never heard their story. i don't know how they fell in love. i don't know how or when they found they couldn't bear children and what they felt. i don't know how they came to adoption. i don't know how they got their first son Jeremy. i don't know the story about the day they heard Justin was coming home or about the day he did. i know these stories for so many other families. my adoptive AND birth family friends tell me. i've never said these things before. i AM grateful for what i had. it was the minimum i needed to survive. and i know there were so many who placed before me without so much as a letter or picture. my heart breaks for them. i AM so happy for the way things have evolved to include birthmoms in the joy of adoption. i AM happy for my friends. i know i am blessed and my needs are met. i know he has all he needs. i just wanna say happy mothers day to the mother who means most to me, second only to my own. i just want to give the hugs and kisses i've been storing up all these years and receive theirs. i know it'll happen. i'm just ready already! i miss those guys!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My testimony of the atonement

this was a letter i wrote to a struggling friend years ago in which i give my personal account of the work of the atonement in my life, specifically, during my pregnancy.

i don't think we ever really understand the amazing miraculous power of the atonement. i had a MIGHTY change of heart when Justin came. it was so literal and so real to be "born again, a new creature" i no longer carried ANYTHING from my former life, none of the shames and none of the pains. i had new sight, new desires, new attitude, new personality. everything i'd lost PLUS everything i'd never had but should have. Even when i have given back some of those blessings, this is still a different life and a different Tamra than it was before then. my worst day as Tamra is better than my best day as Tammy, that poor girl. it reaches back in time, it retrieves what is so far gone we thought it was irretrievable, it gives us our vision back, it heals our sickest sicknesses, it binds even the heart broken a thousand times, it removes our handicaps! it teaches what we never knew and reminds what we forgot. 100 percent! i was brand new, i WAS a little child. i felt the tenderness of my Father in a way uncommon to this earthly experience. i still know it, i can never deny it, it did all that and more for me. you are not yet wasted. the Lord is offended when we think our sins are greater than his power to forgive and REDEEM. when we "don't understand his mercies". i have at times asked him to remind me of that, when the enemy of my soul whispered to me that i was gone and
the Lord didn't even want me anymore, that i had reached the bounds of the atonement. he has answered me specifically and definitely, thank goodness, even in my unworthiness he called and invited me back. he still wants u too. we've both felt at times in our lives that the Lord wanted us for some good purpose, u think he doesn't anymore? nonsense. its only his work and his glory. he leaves the ninety and nine for us! there is a feast waiting for our return! its so affordable, we just have to be as little children and believe him. and its ok if we don't completely right now as long as we can ask in whatever sincerity we can conjure " help thou my unbelief". i sometimes forget how to be as a little child so i ask my good Father to teach me, and good Father's don't upbraid or withhold when asked for help or good things. we may be tired, but we are not dead. we may be out of shape but we can work out for three minutes today and four tomorrow, and if we press forward and endure, we'll b strong and healthy, get it? we've wasted time, but not all of it. lets get what we want, better yet lets get what He wants, what we never even thought to want.

my you tube video

this is an interview Seth Adam Smith asked me to do. he's very talented and has many inspiring videos on you tube.

interview for

this site has me and several other birthmoms, ranging in openness and time lapsed since placement. all are beautiful, well spoken, powerful women.

'08 FSA Birth mom panel

the girls who presented with me were rock stars! i mean, seriously impressive people with incredible stories.

"And God remembered Rachel"

but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31). And Leah bore Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi, and Judah. Meanwhile, Rachel remained childless (see Genesis 29:32–35).

With ever-increasing envy and mounting desperation, one day Rachel explosively demanded of Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Leah subsequently bore two more sons and a daughter.

The Apostle Peter testified that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering” toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.

But with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in holy writ: “And God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22). And she was blessed with the birth of Joseph and later the birth of Benjamin. There are millions on earth today who are descendants of Joseph who have embraced the Abrahamic promise that through their efforts “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).

When heaven’s promises sometimes seem afar off, I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. And just as God remembered Rachel, God will remember you. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Claim the Exceeding Great and Precious Promises
Elder Spencer J. Condie
Of the Seventy

God "remembers" his children in different ways according to our need. He remembers many, who feel forgotten and forsaken in their childlessness, through adoption.

Luke 9: 24.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

To a mother, her child is her life. And i can attest this is true. By letting go of the most precious thing i've known in obedience to God, my hands and my heart and my life have been filled.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Matthew 19: 29 (one of my favorites)

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or CHILDREN, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

(an hundred fold....? that's alot. does that mean babies?!)

Mathew 18:5

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.


A Story of Adoption and Redemption
by Linda Hyde (my momma)

This is the story of a girl named Promise.
She was a child of promise,
As all children are.
She came into life as
A delicate flower.
She grew and she blossomed
...And then she was bruised.
No one knows how it happened,
What went wrong -
How does one ever know -
It was never intended that it should happen:
Before she was hardly
Out of her youth,
She found herself with child.
How happy she was, in so many ways,
For she longed to give life,
To cause to bloom
...And yet how sad.
She was alone.
She felt she had no one,
No one who cared.
She dreamed a dream:
She walked in a mountain meadow,
The grass living silk beneath her feet.
She mused, she breathed, she felt the sun at her face.
At length, as she drew close to the top,
She saw that a garden wall graced the summit.
A garden!
An expectant crowd of green-and-silver leaves
Overhung the top of the wall.
A glimpse of blossoms,
A fragrance - a glorious feast of fragrance-
Graced her senses.
This was a garden to live in and to be nurtured all your days!
She wanted to go there,
She longed to be there.
She ran!
The going became arduous,
The way rocky.
She grew weary,
So weary.
Voices whispered in her ears:
A subtle hiss,
An intoxicating hint.
They led her where she did not want to go,
She went because she was bruised,
Bruised and broken.
She stumbled.
How very thirsty she was!
How she hungered!
How she longed for relief.
Someone dragged her to the garden gates
And left her there to mock her
(Knowing she could not get in).
"I will find a way!" she thought fiercely,
"I will go in!"
And she found a way,
Because she had the will.
She did not go in by the gate,
She did not come in as a guest.
She came in as a thief,
Clawing her way over the wall,
Dropping to the velvet turf
With a furtive crouch.
The scent!
The wild, happy aroma!
The air was awash with it,
Like water to swim in.
She floated on it till she was wafted
To a Tree, bursting with Fruit:
White, robust, lucid,
And so fragrant.
"I must have it!" she cried.
She jumped, she leaped,
She grasped,
And came down
With the fruit in her hand.
Joy! Joy! Joy!
"It is all I have ever wished for,
It is all I want;
I will eat it and never hunger,
I will drink it and never thirst!"
Up the fruit rose in her hand,
Her lips parted wide,
Her teeth making ready,
Her tongue anticipating…
Then came a sound,
Such a sound to make one's
Heart come alive.
Two sat weeping
Beside the tree.
Her hand froze,
The fruit stayed suspended,
Like a diadem.
Their weeping was loss, sorrow,
Longing, longing, longing!
Down by her side, tucked within the folds of her skirt,
Went the fruit, gripped yet more tightly.
But she must know...
Her heart breaking for them,
She ran and fell at their feet -
"What can it be?
What is this weeping?"
A gasp within her -
What was this?
Desire to aid,
Desire to save
From this unknown tragedy?
What had she to give?
Their story brought an icy wind
To chill her heart.
Their lot in this garden was to tend,
But not to pick, the fruit.
They had entered in at the gate,
The had come up by the way,
They were entitled to the fruit,
But they could not pluck it.
If they were to have it, it was to be given them
Only by someone else.
The fruit in her hand was a living fire;
Her hand burned with it.
She must give it to them:
It was theirs;
But the choice was hers.
There was no choice to be made!
The fire melted the ice,
Her hand reached out,
The fruit was offered.
How happy they were!
How sad she was.
She must die with sadness.
She must be buried in the dirt,
She must sink into the soil,
She must cease to be.
Suddenly cleaved by the Light.
Warmth revived the fainting seed.
She was lifted up.
Like a blossom in the palm,
She lay resting.
A Voice whispered in her ear,
One she knew from Everlasting.
Like a seedling rising to the Sun,
She turned to it.
Her heart listened.
She opened her eyes to see Him.
"You have done for them
What they could not do for themselves,"
He told her, his gratitude like lightning,
His words like living water.
"You are mine."
Gently out of the hollow of His hand,
She came to rest again in the meadow,
The green living silk cushioning
Like a comforter.
Promise, with child, awoke,
Knowing what she would do.
Then, she would climb,
And not alone.
As she had cared for them,
Others cared for her.
She would go in by the gate.
She would find her friends.
There is a garden in her heart;
From it He whispers his promise:
"I will do for you what
You cannot do for yourself."

Unpublished work Copyright 2007
Linda Jean Rainey Hyde
8148 Donnell Rd
Millington, TN 38053
Millington ward, Memphis North stake

Isaiah 61:3

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness....

this is one my momma brings up. i love it. it's about the miraculous, unexpected compensation when you think nothing can.

my momma's account

I always thought I would die if this happened. I thought I could not possibly survive it. I didn't really believe it could happen. But it did. And looking back, it should not really have been a surprise. This daughter had been "bucking our system" since she was 2 ½ years old. I had been praying and fasting for her for years. But instead of asking myself, "What can I do to help my child get better?", I spent an inordinate amount of time and energy bemoaning the pathetic state of my mothering capabilities. In that sense, in the sense of incapacitating fear, I watched helplessly as her life spiraled downward. And it was no surprise when she became pregnant. For us both, even for our whole family perhaps, it was the Lord's wake-up call.
I had been pining before the Lord that our family wasn't like my family, the family I grew up in. I had brought before the Lord all my husband's faults, not realizing that my own lack of courage and confidence kept me from being a true helpmeet for him. In this atmosphere, our family floundered. I say floundered, because we did not give up and drown; instead, we, my husband and I, kept the covenants we had made before the Lord in the temple. We persevered in family prayer and scripture study, and in family home evening. Our daughter, though caught up in a moral quagmire, was thus able to distinguish between her feelings for her family and her feelings about the Gospel. She stayed active, she kept the Word of Wisdom, she paid her tithing. Thus, the Lord's life preserver kept us afloat, though floundering.
Our daughter's pregnancy brought everything before us in stark reality. Shall we sink or swim? Shall we abandon her to her choice of a doomed marriage and/or single parenting? Shall we offer to take her and her child in and provide for them if necessary? Shall we do what we've done best in the past, and exert undue pressure on her, to place for adoption? To choose any of those options would subject us to sinking. And we kind of did. We told her we respected her right to choose, but we made it very clear that we would expect her to do whatever she had to do to take care of her baby. She could not live with us, she could not expect financial assistance. She was 17, she could go out on her own. From now on, I told her when we found out (she and I together, at the same time) she was pregnant, none of our needs count any more; the welfare of this child is the top priority. And I made it clear that that meant placing for adoption.
Well, everything we said had reason. It was good reasoning. It was also hard reasoning. Mercifully, the Lord came to our rescue. We had been talking with a Church Family Services representative. Our daughter cared enough about pleasing her Father in Heaven to give her a reluctant hearing. We saw the Church video which discussed her options. Of course we were all the more persuaded about adoption. At this point, however, we began to see that we needed to back off and give the Spirit a little more room to operate. When she came to me and said that she had decided to marry and keep the baby, I stayed calm. I asked her only to call the Family Services sister and to inform her of her decision. Somehow this dear lady was able to persuade her to postpone her decision until she had been away from home for a little while, living with another family in the Church, distanced from the emotional pressure of family and boyfriend. If she still felt that way when she came home in three weeks for Christmas, then so be it.
I felt relieved and hopeful.
Our sweet daughter had always had a very tender heart. Though adamantly resistant to, shall we say, unrighteous dominion, and perhaps with a stubborn streak to begin with, it was always she who showed the most concern for me when I was ill or had just delivered a baby. She was forever wanting puppies and kittens, and had managed to acquire three house cats, though I had always said I would never have a pet in the house. She had a strong "save the world" inclination. And she had always wanted to have her very own little baby.
Once away for a time, her tender heart won out. Her situation made itself much more clear to her. It wasn't long before she acknowledged in her mind that adoption was the best thing for this little one. It took some time, some aching pleading with the Lord, however, before her heart agreed. She decided to place for adoption, not through our efforts, but in spite of them.
From that point on, my admiration and appreciation for her and for her righteous desires began to grow by leaps and bounds. She continued to live away from home and received her GED. When she realized that her boyfriend had no real interest in the baby once it was clear she wanted to place for adoption, she let go of her boyfriend. She attended group sessions with other young women in her situation. She tried to build her relationship with the Lord on a stronger foundation. As the time for delivery was only a few months away, she prayed fervently for guidance in choosing the right family, and the Lord answered her prayers in a very direct way, assuring her that he was very much a part of this process.
In the meantime, I believe I came to see that there was much more that I could do to grow in personal righteousness as well. I started examining my own life with a little more faith and frankly, with a little more kindness. Consequently, I began to view my family and my husband with a little more kindness as well. I began to know that personal righteousness is at the crux of all our walk in life. I do not think it a coincidence that it was around that time that I could finally say I was happily married.
When the time came for our dear daughter to deliver the baby, I drove down to be with her. As I observed the doctor and nurses and grew concerned about some of their actions, the Lord let me know that this child would be born strong and healthy. When he made his entrance, I know that there were angels in the room. I could feel their presence, and I knew that what I was witnessing was holy. I speak not only of the birth of a child, but also of the fact that this was a special birth; this child was being brought into life in behalf of a family who could not bring it to pass on their own. In that sense, this birth was a vicarious act of love.
At the time she delivered, the policy was not as open as it is now. The only time she had with Justin was that short time in the hospital. State law allowed ten days for the birth mother to change her mind, during which time the baby would be placed in a foster home; desiring that Justin be placed as directly as possible from his birth mother's arms to his adoptive mother's arms, our daughter waived that ten days' allowance. I was with her for the next thirty-odd hours in the hospital. As in the delivery room, so there was a holy presence in that recovery room, as we enjoyed the company of this sweet child. We both felt that he was truly special, with a great destiny. And I know that our sweet daughter was comforted in her decision, though still dreading its outcome.
Too soon, she dressed him in the best outfit and fed him for the last time. The brethren from Family Services came to effect the transition. They were to carry Justin to his family. She signed all the necessary papers, then took him in her arms. I can never write of this moment without crying. Tears coursed down her cheeks as she silently expressed to him enough love to last a lifetime. That precious Justin, barely two days old, purposely reached out his little arm and with his tiny fist patted her face, gazing meaningfully into her face. This is all true. Then she handed him over and he was gone. It was the most noble act I personally have ever witnessed.
Until Justin was five years old, she received pictures and letters, and treasured them. She still treasures them.
Twelve years later, she has never ever regretted her decision. She knows that she was an instrument through whom Justin was enabled to come to his own family. However, the ensuing weeks and months were anything but easy. I don't know how it would be for any other young woman; for our tender-hearted girl, it was a time of grieving, sometimes almost inconsolably. There was even spiritual darkness at times. She talked to almost anyone about it, she showed her pictures to people. She worked through it. She suffered, but she was also refined. She became a new person.
What do I wish I would have known, or that someone would have told me in order to be prepared for this situation? That it is survivable; that placing for adoption has a deep redemptive power; that charity truly never faileth. Maybe I had do learn these things for myself.
In the years since, I have seen that in all her trials she has been supported. She has been miraculously preserved from harm in several situations. God does not abandon those who have bended themselves to his will. She has been able to be a huge influence in the lives of many women as she has worked with Family Services in various settings. She has also helped adoptive parents understand better the birth mother of their child. She continues today to serve in capacities of support and help to young people.
My plea to anyone in this situation is, honor the agency of your child. Plead with God for charity and wisdom. Consider seriously God's will, and bend yourself to it as you pray that your child will in her time of decision. Trust in his love and support. Explain simply but clearly to siblings what is happening and why, emphasizing that love and support are tantamount. Listen to and validate their concerns. Know that you will survive this difficult trial. Have charity and know that you will all be healed in his time. In all likelihood, it will take a lot of time. But that's what "time" is for.
In retrospect, I can see that, as always, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, ashes have been turned into beauty. We are better and stronger and happier, and more able to reach out to others in their afflictions. Our children know that they can count on each other in times of trial and in times of rejoicing. We are able to talk over and work through the difficulties of the past. My husband and I are eternally, joyfully, committed to each other For this I am thankful not only to my Heavenly Father, but also to the sweet daughter through whose instrumentality so many of these blessings have come.

Because i loved him THAT much

People often don't understand my choice. Many respond with pity on their faces as if to say, "You poor thing". I tell them, "Don't feel sorry for me; I'm a lucky girl." This is the happiest story I know.
Some will say, "Well, it's best that you placed your son for adoption, because you needed your education and to finish growing up," or things of that nature. And while it is true that I am blessed to pursue the educational and social prospects of my choosing in a way I would not have been able to with a child, and although I've been endlessly blessed by my choice, none of these facts constitute why I chose.
Of course I enjoy spending my time and money the way I want. Of course I feel blessed to date without the added complication of being a single parent. And of course I love the independent young adult experience and all I gain from it. I can tell you, though, without hesitation, that I would have given it all up to have my Justin's hand in mine. I would have sacrificed all that was mine....but I would not sacrifice what could be his.
There are those who say, "But Tamra, you could have made it work! You were 18, you had money enough, your boyfriend wanted to marry you! You're a good person and you loved your baby so much!"
I confess this was my thinking for the first several months of pregnancy. I was not one of "those girls;" I'd be a good mom.....but not the best. I was enough....he could have more. And I had had the "more:" two parents who'd prepared for me, who chose me, and most importantly, to whom I am sealed in a forever family.
How could I tell my son, "Not for you."? Even with all my bargaining and rationalizing, at the end of the day I could not, even at my best, make up the difference between me and the family he COULD have. No amount of overcompensation would have been sufficient.
Many will just ask, "How? How did you do it?" I still don't know. I didn't. I couldn't have. The choice I made defied my instinct as a woman, as a human being, even as a mammal. To give away a piece of myself, my very heart, flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone -- it seemed the very air from my lungs went with him. It was impossible....for me.
And then to survive! But more -- to fare as I never had, with a new peace that felt like breathing true oxygen for the first time! I thought that to make this choice would leave me broken for life; instead, I am mended. None of this was or could have been my doing. That sort of strength comes from a source beyond myself.
As I held my baby, my Justin, in the hospital room, where the veil between here and heaven became so thin, my doctor stood silent in the door for a moment, watching as I sang to my little treasure, as I stared, endeavoring to memorize his face. He saw the love in my eyes and said, "You won't go through with it."
What he and many others don't understand is, it is BECAUSE I loved him that much, that I was able to do this impossible thing. Had I loved him an ounce less, I would never have let go. It was the only way I could break my own heart and let him go home to those who were his -- and I know now that he was theirs before he was mine. THEY shared him with ME. They are an extension of my family in a way I cannot explain. When we met, I recognized them. I can't tell you from when or where; I don't know the conversations we had or the nature of our relationship, but I knew those faces! And immediately in my heart I felt family love for them. Never before or since have I experienced anything to approach it.
There are a thousand reasons why my choice has been right and perfect for all whose lives have been affected, but THE reason is.... I asked: "Father....what do I do?" Before I knew or understood any of the wisdom or logic of it, I knew the Lord's will for my baby and me, and I allowed my own will be swallowed up in it.
"Didn't you want your baby?"
More than I have ever wanted anything. He wasn't mine.
He has been my missionary. I bless his family for being willing to wait while he fulfilled that mission. My heart has been mightily changed.
We were both born that day.

letter to another inquiring friend in crisis pregnancy

X! I'm real proud of you girl. i can tell you're taking this seriously and really want to do what's right, and only you really have that stuardship to know. i would never presume to tell you what you should do because i get to walk away and you are the one who will walk the path chosen. anybody else's conviction won't give you the peace of mind you will NEED. but i can tell you my story. all i wanted was just to KNOW, whatever choice i made, i just wanted to have peace the next day and 50 yrs later that i did right by my son. i didn't want to doubt or wonder-could my son have had better or more? it was the greatest responsibility and most difficult decision of my life. i was so frustrated that i couldn't tell the future. i wanted to see the end of every path. that's where i found myself on my knees. honey i promise i know how you feel but it's your enemy who seeks your destruction who gives you reasons not to pray! they are lies, tricks. don't let anything keep you from the help and clarity and calm and guidance the Lord is anxiously waiting to give you liberally! the stakes are too high. X he loves you! you are dear to the heart of the shepherd. this experience can be the best thing that ever happened to you! it was for me. couldn't see it from the beginning. i thought my life was over but it hadn't even begun! i lost so much of myself through this experience and it hurt! but those parts were no good and i was blessed to die in those ways to make room for a REAL and miraculous rebirth! your Father wants you! i've sensed so much in you that you are a valiant one with some great mission and purpose. i really love you X! i want to see you happy, walking in that light. you should have that. you really can. i feel so much for you that i can't fight tears, for how hard it is right now but believe it or not i'm exited for you for what it can be! from my deepest grief came my most choice blessings! i wouldn't change anything! i'd suffer it all again! the Lord compensates with mercy we can't imagine! i learned love! it was bigger and greater than i'd ever thought possible! i learned faith. to suspend my fears for myself and the unknown for the will of the Father and the love of another. i thought my choice would leave me broken but i took the path anyway, because the Lord told me it was what was right for my little boy. i am not broken but mended! i've been so tenderly defended and delivered and carried! i had never known anything but a heart broken by the world. i was healed of wounds i thought were too deep to ever heal! the Lord honors sacrifice and what more precious thing could be put on the alter? i love my life! i love my choice! i LOVE that little angel boy! i love the life he has! i LOVE that family who was ALWAYS his! i love Jesus Christ! i can't believe what he's done for me!
you said that you feel like he should be with you. of course you do! it's your instinct. you're a good person with a feeling heart. of course you want your baby! i said for so long almost defiantly-"he's mine! he's mine!" but he wasn't mine. he belonged to his Father in heaven, so do i, so do you. and i had been trusted with him.
you're gonna receive more advise than ever at this time and i don't want to add to any feelings of being overwhelmed by it. just ask for the Holy Ghost to guide you in which is good and useful and discard what isn't. i'm not gonna lie and say that i don't think adoption would afford you the greatest happiness and peace of mind, the kind that lasts and sustains, but i know what was right for us might not be what is right for you and again, i know only you can KNOW. you CAN know, X. you've got a heart that is tender and compassionate and i know you love the Lord and this child and want to do right. i believe you will. don't be scared X. be still and know that you are in His hands. be believing. hold to the rod, the anchor, and nothing can shake you! member that AWESOME fire circle on that mesa about the path of stone? there is a rock for you to stand on! firm and strong when we are weak.
you let me know if i've said too much or overstepped. if this is not useful to you, i won't be offended. i only hope with all my heart that i can bear your burden with you in some way. it's a burden i've known. i've included below some peices written by my mother and myself and also a few links that i hope can help or comfort or guide. but again, if it's not what you need then disregard. you'll find your way, love. you're a good girl.
i love you X! you're in my prayers!

i just heard this on sunday. i had to find it for you-

"I have prayed, as you have, to know what to do when choices that I faced would have eternal consequences. Over many years I have seen a recurring pattern in the times when the answers to such a prayer have come most clearly.

Once, for instance, I prayed through the night to know what I was to choose to do in the morning. I knew that no other choice could have had a greater effect on the lives of others and on my own. I knew what choice looked most comfortable to me. I knew what outcome I wanted. But I could not see the future. I could not see which choice would lead to which outcome. So the risk of being wrong seemed too great to me.

I prayed, but for hours there seemed to be no answer. Just before dawn, a feeling came over me. More than at any time since I had been a child, I felt like one. My heart and my mind seemed to grow very quiet. There was a peace in that inner stillness.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself praying, "Heavenly Father, it doesn't matter what I want. I don't care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do."

In that moment I felt as quiet inside as I had ever felt. And the message came, and I was sure who it was from. It was clear what I was to do. I received no promise of the outcome. There was only the assurance that I was a child who had been told what path led to whatever He wanted for me.

I learned from that experience and countless repetitions that the description of the Holy Ghost as a still, small voice is real. It is poetic, but it is not poetry. Only when my heart has been still and quiet, in submission like a little child, has the Spirit been clearly audible to my heart and mind."
(As a Child- Henry B Eyring)
this is almost exactly how it happened for me. i DID NOT want adoption! but i did want to do right by my son and by God. i'd pleaded with him to direct me but left out that option. i gave the Lord multiple choice-A,B,orC but i left out D. i was more than willing to marry that guy who wasn't for me, who i'd never been happy with and probably never would, even if it meant divorce (which in my heart of hearts i knew it would). i was willing to be a single parent with all the sacrifices that accompany that choice. i didn't care if i never went to school, i didn't care if i'd miss the single adult experience, even if i never got married, if i could just keep my son. i begged and i bargained. i counseled the Lord instead of seeking counsel from him. i told him i'd dedicate my life to this child! i'll never sin again! i'll overcompensate! just let me keep him! but then one day, frustrated, full of confusion, and at my very end, having been unable to find a consistent peace in any of these choices, i wept to my Father "i've worked so hard, i've removed the sin from my life, i'm trying to repent, i read and i pray! i haven't gotten an answer! PLEASE help me! i need to know!" and the reply came with clear words if not a voice "Tamra. Give the Lord your will". and the thing is, i'd thought i had. but in that moment i understood for the first time what it meant. thy will be done means- whatever happens, if it kills me, if it is the very thing most precious to me that you require, thy will be done. it doesn't mean- i'll do anything except....or thy will be done if it's the same as mine. it is what Moses' mother understood as she put her son in a basket on the River and trusted the Lord's hands to be more capable than her own. it was what Abraham understood as, with heaviest heart he placed his only son by his wife Sariah, for whom he'd prayed and waited, literally on the sacrificial alter.
in my humility, i obeyed. i said, and for the first time really meaning it "alright, thy will be done". the answer came. it was what i had dreaded and wept at the thought why did it come with peace? i was astonished. i went downstairs and when i vocalized the the choice that had been communicated to me "i've decided to place my son for adoption", a feeling, a physical feeling, started at the top of my head and moved through my body. peace was new and therefore unmistakable to me. i didn't know what would happen to me. all i knew was that i was not for that little boy. and i didn't know how, but i knew i'd be able to do this impossible thing, that somehow this would work. i don't know if i could've said i "knew" anything before that moment. but this, i knew, and i still know. the feeling and mood of my pregnancy changed at this point. there was clarity, calm, there was an increase of confidence. while it wasn't MY plan A,B, or C, i was relieved to know the answer to the most significant question i'd ever asked "where does this baby belong?"
so i just paused in the writing of this to read your email. i wasn't gonna send it til i heard back. (-; don't wanna bombard you.
i think you're right about that God has a plan for all of us, where we should be. donno if you had a chance to read the first article after my letter but it shares the experience i had which let me know in no uncertain terms that he just wasn't mine. i didn't choose that family, i found the family God had already chosen for him. before i understood this i took it personal that the Lord told me no. i though "but i'm a good person, i'd be a good mom!" i was hurt the Lord didn't trust me. but that's now what it was at all. he belonged with them. i was a good person and i would be a good mom! it just wasn't my time. he came to me on his way home because i needed him too. he was my awakening, my new beginning. he was my motivation to live the good life my Father had wanted for me. i CAN'T BELIEVE how blessed i am!
i'm sure you probably know there is a group you can attend with other girls in your shoes and those just on the other side of it. if you haven't attended, believe me, no one will try to pressure you or take your baby, but they can support you and love you and show you this is survivable.
you don't gotta be worthy to pray. you just gotta be His child. if my Justin ever hesitated to come to me because of mistakes he'd made it would break my heart. and God is a perfect parent! the stakes are high over you. there's a battle going on over you. God wants you, and for the same reason, so does the enemy. just ask X. if you lack the faith ask for it. if you lack the humility ask for it. whatever keeps you from praying, ask for it to be removed.
thanx so much for writin back! i'm so honored to know you! you really are special. choose to believe it!
i love you! i wish i were there to sing you hymns.

letter to inquiring friend in crisis pregnancy

i'll give you short answers here that doesn't even begin to cover it but i'm tryin to get up there next weekend. could we do lunch or somethin?
so, i was with J almost 2 yrs and when he found out he didn't tell his folx for quite some time. i think he was holdin out for a miscarriage. but at the same time, he'd already asked me to marry him before i was pregnant (though i was only 17 [embarrassing]) so he was kinda like- yeah! now she has to! and i did become engaged to him in the first trimester, knowing i'd never be happy with him and it would in all likelihood end in divorce. but it meant i could keep my baby and i thought i could satisfy my conscience with that choice. i was willing to be unhappy in marriage and/or divorced just so long as i could have my baby. but i couldn't stay satisfied with that. i knew it would be doing Justin no favor to give him that sort of family. it took relocating to get that perspective. my case worker (divinely inspired) persuaded me to stall my plans 2 months and move from memphis to atlanta to get some distance and perspective. to have the opportunity to think in a quiet place without parents who insisted i place for adoption, without a boyfriend who was full of fairy tales and fantasies about the life we'd have, without friends who said it would all be so fun and cute and who assured they'd be there for me, and without others who asked "are you really gonna have it?". she invited me to consider it from afar and if at the end of 2 months it was still my choice to marry we'd all feel more comfortable about it. well this was '95 so only rock stars had cell phone and we couldn't afford much long distance so.... i began to notice that, while i missed him almost unbearably (as we were so codependently addicted to eachother) i would regress on the days we'd talk. i'd become confused again. see, i was working SO hard to get the spirit in my life because i knew i'd need that to be a good mom, whatever that would mean for us. i was repenting to the best of my ability and it was working....but not when he was in my life. so i broke it off. getting married woulda let me off the hook, so to speak, but at the detriment of my baby. i did not choose to place at this time however. as you know it is a most terrifying prospect to consider. i was asking God to tell me what to do but then i was telling Him what that should be. i was counseling Him and not seeking council from Him. i was saying "whatever's best for my baby" and "thy will be done" but in my heart i was saying "except that". i promise to obey, just don't ask me to do that". i begged and i bargained, i promised i'd work triple hard and find a way to compensate for the difference between me, and a family-with preparation, maturity, experience, a father, the priesthood, the sealing covenant, etc. i knew i was a good person and i loved him so much already, i'd be a good mom! but in these efforts i found no peace and i was frustrated. one day at the absolute end of my wits, exhausted by my own willful defiance and overwhelmed by the responsibility placed on me, i came to the Lord and said "i've done everything you've told me. i study, i pray, i forgive, etc.....i need you to tell me what to do! please! just tell me what to do!" it was then i heard, certainly with words if not a voice, "Tamra, give the Lord your will". and at that moment, for the first time, i did. the spirit translated to me that- thy will be done- doesn't mean-as long as its my will, or A,B,or C but not D. it means- i know i don't have the answer, i need you to guide me. it means-if it kills me, thy will be done. and in this case, that's almost what i expected. i knew this was bigger than me. beyond my own capacity. and i thought it would destroy me. i didn't know how i'd do it, but i knew there would be a way provided. i imagine perhaps something of what the saints felt when they were asked to leave their nauvoo and cross the plains, or nephi when the lord commanded him to build a ship. certainly akin to what Abraham felt as he placed the son he'd prayed for on the sacrificial alter. certainly what Moses' mother must've felt as she trusted her little baby in a basket on the river into God's hands. i let go of my will for obedience and for the love of my child and my desires for his best interest. and immediately....a i hadn't felt since childhood if ever. and then the first time i said it out loud a physical feeling i cant describe started at my head and moved through my body. the anxiety i'd felt at the thought of adoption dissipated. it was going to be alright. we were in the Lord's hands now.
i realize now, it didn't mean i wouldn't have been a great mom for him. it's a good, better, best thing. when there was better, and when I'D had better, how could i tell him "no son, not for you. it would've hurt ME too badly".
i wasn't destroyed! it wasn't the end for me! but the beginning for both of us! it hurt in a way i don't know words for. but it has been so compassionately compensated for. somehow, He made it worth it. i suffered like never but with peace like never. and i've been refined. i was converted and baptized by this experience. it broke my heart, but that heart was no good. i have a new heart. it did kill me in a sense but it was a merciful death and i was born new with my son. how, out of SUCH grief is it that i now can't speak of it without rejoicing and being filled with gratitude? my boy is home. he was theirs before he was mine. i've never worried about him. not once. i'm SO blessed i know that family!
so,does that cover your questions..... i shoulda known i couldn't be brief. i never can on this subject. but i still hope we can get together. i got lots more (-;. and i'd love to hear your story. please o please don't be offended by anything i said. it's MY story, it's what was right for US. YOU are the one who has to find peace in your own decision. no one else's will sustain you.
hope this isn't too heavy. i feel for ya girl. it's a lotta weight to carry, literally an figuratively (-;. you CAN do it though.
peace. please write back and share your thoughts or ask me anything.

o boy.... i realize now there are a couple things i did not address in the previous ....note. you asked if he knew i placed and if i still talk to him....J.
so, i continued to talk to him from time to time during pregnancy in an effort to be fair and allow him to be involved. and also because even though i knew he didn't fit in my life i still missed him like mad. and mostly's hard! i needed someone to share it with, help shoulder the burden. God did not intend his little girls to go through this alone! in retrospect i wish i'd've minimized contact even more.
i asked him once what he felt about adoption, before i was even considering it. he told me he'd never allow it. that he'd take the baby from me before he'd have strangers raising his child. y'know, i think he was just desperately trying to hold on to me. he knew as long as we had a child in common, he'd always have me. but i think really he was terrified of the responsibility of being a father. and his behavior in my absence demonstrated he was more interested in being young and wild and single than a grown up or family man.
so when i decided on adoption i was nervous how he'd react. but he calmly said "it's right". i gotta ask him someday what th heck happened.
i offered him every opportunity to be a part of it. to visit, to help pick the family, to be at the birth. and he professed a willingness and desire to do all these things. and i now think it was a blessing he ultimately declined the involvement i offered. while i resented him for that with all my lonely little heart at the time, it wouldn't've fit. it would've confused me and added so much stress.
after i placed and came home, i was so lonely. a new kind of lonely. there's nothing else like it. and i thought i was totally alone in my grief. i'd never known another birthmom and no one really understood what i felt. desperate for someone to share it with and thinking, if anyone, it should be him, when he called to see me, finally, i did. i tried to tell him my story but it was forced and uncomfortable. i showed him my precious pictures trying to draw something from him but couldn't. he said to me, perhaps sensing my efforts to get something from him he didn't have- "Tamra, your son has never been a reality to me". sounds harsh, right? i'm so glad he said it. i was casting my pearls before swine. not to be insulting or say that he was a pig. it's just, swine don't know pearls from rocks. they have no value or meaning to them. J wasn't a part of our story. i can't think of the J life and the justin life at the same time. 2 different girls. you'll never hear me refer to him as "the dad". i say my x boyfriend or if i HAVE to be more specific "the guy that got me pregnant".
i think that when "birthfather" comes up someday when i'm talking to my Justin he'll say " huh....he's never been a reality to me.
i'm not bitter (anymore) in saying these things. i've forgiven and i really wish him well. in fact it wasn't until i forgave him that i could finally let him go from my heart.
it took a couple yrs to get over him. that intimacy does what its sposed to, i tell you what! i see now why God said- no, not now, wait. he was trying to protect me. that bond is a blessing when it "seals" you to him who you choose, who is right for you. but a curse when its taken out of context. it was nothing short of the hand of God that allowed me to get out. i thought i could never feel that way for anyone else and that i'd always feel for him.
i saw him at a wedding a few years after placing. i didn't know what to expect. he could've been any person to me. no malice or resentment, no particular affection of any kind. it is a blessing.
GEEZ tamra! long winded maybe? again, this chapter is my favorite part of my story so far. i love to talk about it.