Wednesday, November 10, 2010

so a birthmom, an adoptive mom, an adoptee, and an unbelievably insensitive woman are tyin a quilt......

so i'm at church tyin a quilt to donate, and i meet an adoptive mom. we're gabbin about how blessed we are to have adoption be part of our lives, goin on and on as b-moms and A-moms do when we happen to meet.
enter insensitive lady- "well it's best to have 'your own', that way they have your genes and adopted kids usually don't turn out well". (all of this is said infront of my new friend's listening daughter, by the way). she then goes on to give the evidence of a couple of adopted children who have grown up to have problems that are exclusive to those who have been adopted, y'know, like divorce and quitting church.
another woman at our quilt enters the conversation. "i'm adopted an none of that is true of me, though my siblings who are not adopted HAVE had those struggles".
i say "see, what YOU fail to understand is that this IS her own child! eternally! meaning- always was, always will be. they found eachother by inspiration and miraculous divine intervention! we are ALL brothers and sisters! so tell me, what do GENES matter?!". sike, that's only a-wish i woulda said. but i did say, "these babies go where they're meant to be".
Adopted mom responds to the height of rudeness with grace and charity.
rude lady feels dumb.
we get up and move to a kinder quilt and carry on our rejoicing.
Adoptive mom, Birthmom, and adoptee! GO TEAM!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

my pregnancy family

letter to the family who opened their home to a pregnant teenager they didn't know in Atlanta.

hey Ms! i sure hate that i haven't stayed closer to y'all and i sure hate that you're sick, G.
i just don't feel that i've expressed adequately the significance of the role y'all have played in my life or my gratitude for it. i think i should tell you what i've told many, many others. when i came, i have to say i anticipated judgement and i expected to feel quite uncomfortable living in the home of strangers. but i remember being disarmed and feeling home very soon after my arrival. your family was the first i'd seen function close up. i learned and unlearned and relearned alot of stuff there through my observations and our interactins. the few months i spent with you, for me, were the most significant of my life. those were my deciding months. those were the months i spent dying and being born again. my heart being broken and then made whole. this was the time of my conversion. my time with you changed the course of my life more drastically than anything else has. i know i came by inspiration and i imagine you invited me by inspiration. i needed a safe and quiet place where the Holy Ghost could communicate with me uninhibited by the contention and distress that were unfortunately part of my home and family relationships at that time. equally critical was the distance from my boyfriend that allowed me to see the relationship for what it was and break my addiction to it. your home was my haven, it was my school. the Holy Ghost was my tutor in those days and i learned more in those months than i had in all the years that preceded them. i began to see truth and light where my view had been dark and distorted. i began to be me. i remember walking by the mirror in the upstairs bathroom and literally doing a double take. i saw a new countenance and i had pleasure in my reflection for the first time.
i remember you telling me i needed successes, to help me redefine myself and learn of my capability. and then you presented me with opportunities to progress and coached me through them. you taught me the power of investing in somebody.
despite the radical and exponential growth that was happening in me, i know i was still quite self absorbed and immature. i wonder if i was hard to live with but i never sensed having been a bother or a burden.
i'm sure you knew from the start what choice was right for me, but you never pushed or coerced which would have only hindered my finding it. it was as though you trusted me to work through my poor judgement. i would have doubted.
B, you were with me on the 2 most significant and miraculous days of my life. the day i met Justin's parents, and the day i met Justin. thank you so much for your care!
i know you had to be a part of the story. if i'd stayed in Memphis, if i hadn't had that peaceful place, where i could think and listen, i woulda stayed with J, and Justin wouldn't have gonehome. i'd still be trapped in depression and mediocrity. i wouldn't have come to light and life. my family would still be broken and i'd still be angry. i wouldn't have become me.
again, you are a crucial part of the story i joy to tell! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU for being your sisters keeper and for being my family.
my heart hurts for y'all now and i wish peace and the Lord's care over you. G, i love you. B, i love you. L, i love you. my prayers are with y'all!
Matthew 25:35,40

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 15, 2010. Justin is 14.

May 15, 2010. Justin is 14.

It’s 3 am and I’ve been waiting for the intensity of emotion to subside and give way to sleep. I don't fully understand what I’m feeling. I haven't felt this in 6 years, since the birth of my first nephew. It feels like missing. Like awareness again that Justin is not here. Which is right and as it should be. But I remember how sweet it all was when he WAS with me.
I miss being pregnant. I miss how close I was to the Lord. I miss the close and constant care and company of that spirit which lead and taught and comforted and strengthened me. The communication was so clear and so sweet. I miss having that kind of purpose. Every day had meaning. I miss having such a love and a work to do. I was responsible for something precious.
I miss the feeling of deliverance and relief. I miss the feeling of newness, reconciliation, more than forgiveness, total acceptance and approval, embrace.
I miss that room, the room where Justin and i communicated and connected, in a way as mother and child, but more soul to soul, where we got to know each other, or better said, where we were reacquainted. He is a tremendous and a valiant soul. I miss being a momma. I was special. I felt so honored. I was good. I loved the smell of him! I miss the feeling of him in my arms. I miss his face. I wish I could see it again. I wish memories were clearer.
That room was a temple. Even when finally, it was only mom and I left there, the room had a peace, a stillness. I miss that day.
I prayed tonight that in my sleep I may visit that place and time. And I feel I’ve come too far from it. Not in terms of time or geography, but I’m no longer worthy of it. I haven't lived up to it. I was meant to do more and better from there. i wish i could go back. i'd be more vigilant to maintain the grace I’d received. If I could've just stayed as i was then. i was good. And it was so sweet. i need to find my purpose again.
I always say “it doesn’t hurt anymore. I’m not sad anymore.” So I’ve been arguing with my heart that this emotion must be something other than pain. I give. It hurts. But there’s a beauty in this kind of pain.
There HAS been healing, My pain Has faded and settled into its proper place and proportion but I think I’ve been wrong. I think now that perhaps it never goes away all together. That’s ok. My burdens have been made light enough to bear and even now, as it was 14 years ago, the bitter is tempered with a compensatory sweet and gratitude is the overriding emotion.
Justin is 14 today. i wish i could go to the party. i pray with great energy that he is continuing where i left off, ensuring he is in the right path and preparing for his special mission. i pray he knows of himself what i know of him. i again, for the millionth time, and not the last, thank God for Debbie and Gale. They have been the hands of the Lord in my life. i cannot wait to be again face to face with my friends! Happy Birthday sweet and precious boy! I DO miss you. i hope she kisses you extra today for me!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Myths and Misconceptions

so, the MOST important thing for anyone to know about adoption, is that chances are, you don't know anything. i was surprised to find, when i first set foot into the world of adoption, how inaccurate most of my notions of adoption were! and in my conversations with people from many varying levels of education and experience on the matter i have encountered some shocking ideas! i try to cut folx some slack knowing i was once so unenlightened. also, given the rapid and dramatic evolution adoption has undergone, even in MY lifetime, as well as the media's love for horror stories and worst case scenarios, it isn't any wonder that many have outdated or fearful thoughts on the matter.
to people in the adoption family, these things are sacred. to have something SO beautiful and so much a part of who we are and what we love misunderstood can feel like the sharpest dagger to the most tender part of the heart. (and some of us can get pretty feisty)
SO, this week I'm going to feature some of the most common and most harmful myths and misconceptions. Birth mamas, adoptive parents, and adoptees feel free to add some of your (least) favorites as well as add you commentary to the ones listed.

"Birthparents don't want their babies"

i saved the worst for first! I'm not kiddin, it hurt my chest to write that!
i have not met this birthmom.
abortion is ever more available, affordable, and acceptable. the woman who can't be bothered to raise a child, i would think would take this route.
i wanted Justin more than ANYTHING I'd EVER wanted! it took me MONTHS to get over myself! the only thing i wanted more than to have his hand always in mine was for him to have all that could be his!
adoption is rarely a birthmother's plan A. to come to and through this choice, we must break our own hearts, defy our very instinct! NEVER believe that it is anything other than the love of our children that could enable us to do this impossible thing!

"a woman chooses adoption in order to have the chance to finish growing up, pursue their education, etc."

while this IS a benefit of choosing adoption, it is NOT a reason to.
I'm blessed by the many experiences and opportunities I've had to live the young single adult life. college, roommates, dating. i can spend my time and money however i choose. all of these things are greatly hindered for a single mom. but i tell you, without hesitation, i would give it ALL back! he means so much more to me than ANY of it! I was not my reason. HE was. i was totally prepared to put my WHOLE WORLD on the alter to keep him with me. but i couldn't sacrifice his.

"a birth mother can move on"

this is true and false.
i have progressed. I've had healing. my priorities and focuses have evolved. where, in the beginning, i thought of little else, my world is now full of other interests and pursuits.
while this isn't my whole identity, it's still a big chunk. and that's ok. it's awesome in fact. i will think about Justin and his family everyday of my life. and it brings me joy, not pain.
for 9 months we shared our food, water, blood, and oxygen! he is flesh of my own flesh! bone of my bone! i will NEVER be "over it". and i don't wanna be. i will never put them away in a box in the closet. this story is my FAVORITE story! about my favorite people! it will bless me all my days!

"if i choose adoption....I'll be broken"

this was one of mine. it's also true and false. it was fully my expectation at the time i made my choice that i would function around a broken heart for the rest of my life, like an emotional limp. my choice did brake my heart, to be sure. my arms ached for him. my chest hurt. it felt my air went with him. i had longed, i had missed, I'd felt loss, but never like this. to write of it now i can still feel the memory of it. i had lost a child. and i felt it. not just for a few days or weeks or months. i felt sorrow and grief for the first few years and occasionally even still. i have to say though, there was peace and sweetness to temper the bitter aching from the very start. but as time passed it began to be intermingled with more and more gratitude, peace, joy, until i rarely hurt anymore. i feel deeply when i tell my story but when i cry, don't feel sorry for me! my tears are the gratitude my words can't express! Justin stopped by on his way home and saved me. he was my missionary! my love for him was the only motivation sufficient to make me change. had God not blessed me with these most difficult trials, I'd still be locked up in anger and pain and darkness, my view so narrow. and i wouldn't know love. I'm not back to how i was before. I'm SO much better! I'm not broken. I'm mended! somehow, my greatest loss has been more than adequately compensated for. that's nothin but a miracle!

"people who choose adoption are very young, have drug problems, are very poor, and have very unstable lifestyles"

i wish this WERE true but as a result of these instabilities, in my observation, such women generally lack the clarity and presence of mind to choose adoption. on the contrary, I've seen conscientious, selfless, responsible people who, for those qualities, would make the best parents (in fact by putting their child's needs above their own, that's just what they're being).
while women of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and circumstances have chosen adoption, the average age is 22. a young girl's frontal lobe is not fully developed and she often won't have a very clear sense of the reality of tomorrow or the needs of another person outside of herself. so she's going mainly on instinct, which of course dictates that she does not separate from her offspring. even at 18 it was nothing short of divine intervention that got me to, and through the decision. that said, i have known girls, young as 12, wise beyond their years and they are my heroes!
one of my many resistances to the idea of adoption was that i thought i didn't fit the bill. i thought adoption was for "those girls", the ones who would clearly be terrible parents. but i knew i was a good person, i would be a good mom. i thought, if you CAN raise your child, you do. i now know, it's a matter of good, better, best.

"adopted kids are always screwed up, if you place for adoption, your baby will be too"

i think it's funny now that i actually worried about this. there are several factors playing into this misconception. one is that people don't make the distinction between foster, international, and birthparent or infant adoptions. which is not at all to say that children adopted through the state or internationally WILL be "screwed up" but it certainly comes with a different set of challenges. the study I've seen showed that children adopted within the first 6 months of life (barring any abuse or neglect) showed no negative repercussions as a result of having been adopted. when compared to their peers they did as well or better in areas of academics, behavior, identity, or feelings of belonging. then when compared to those raised by single, biological parents the gap widens.
i think another factor is, yet again, the influence of the past. in the "dark ages of adoption" there was no openness, no information, no communication from a birthparent, and there was alot of shame and secrecy. we've learned from these mistakes and we now see that those things contributed to feelings of abandonment and inferiority. in this day of open, real, working relationships between birth and adoptive families, a child knows they came from love to love. they were not unwanted. they have EXTRA family who cherish them. there are no gaps in their identity. this is something that makes them special. we don't whisper about adoption anymore. there is nothing to hide!
furthermore, you cannot imagine the screening and procedures a couple goes through to adopt these days. and infertility can be quite the refiners fire. i think these folx are the cream of the crop! and after their work and wait and worry, and knowing the sacrifice it came from, they don't take parenthood lightly and they don't take their children for granted.

"the birthmom might try to take back the baby"

this is the stuff of Lifetime-made for TV-movies.
in GA i had 2 weeks after placement to change my mind. this added to my hell. i know some states allow up to 6 months. in UT the moment relinquishment has been signed it is already binding. even where it's possible, it is rare that a mother will change her mind after placement. adoption is not something that a person chooses half hearted or on a whim. my thoughts, while feeling that crushing loss, were that i would NEVER want them (his parents) to feel it. knowing what i knew, that that family was his, that they were better, even than my best, that THAT was the life that he was SUPPOSED to have, how could i take it away from him.
and again, things are not what they once were. if I'd chosen adoption because of social, religious, or family pressure instead of my own conviction that it was right for us. if i never held him or said goodbye. if i had to wake up every morning wondering where he was, with who, does he get enough kisses, is he fed well, etc. under these circumstances i can see how a person would have no peace and I'm certain i would have lost my mind. but this is NOT adoption today. as a birthmom sees the family she helped create, sees her baby laugh, sees the love his parents have for him, her decision is confirmed and solidified.

"no parent can love a child like their biological mother"

the instant i first saw him....words fail. i recognized immediately that i had never felt love before that moment. i felt my heart grow inside of my chest. i would've given my right arm for him, i'd've stepped infront of a bus for him. there was NOTHING i wouldn't have done for him. the world stopped....for moments while i tried to understand how he could be real. i recognized him. that moment is preserved in my heart. i feel it now as i shed even more grateful tears.
i regret i wasn't there the first time Debbie saw her Justin (but my heart still melts at the thought of it). i have NO doubt that HER heart grew! that SHE knew him! that HER gratitude has spilled out through her tears for 13 years. she IS giving her life for him! day by day.
while the the blood we share is real and significant, it is not as real and as significant as is the sealing covenant. and biology does not have to exist for genuine family love to. i know that they COULD not love him more if he had their genes. i believe he was theirs before he was mine.

  • "placing for adoption is 'the easy way out'" or "she should be made to face the consequences of her choices."

    someone please tell me HOW the choice i made was easy?! it took all i had, no, MORE than i had! it was the most difficult and painful thing i've endured, and i CHOSE to endure it.
    my mama has said that adoption is the hardest choice to make but the easiest to live with. not to suggest that the pain associated with the loss of a child is short lived, but we have our peace of mind. we can see the fruits of our sacrifice and they compensate for our hurt. people are told that abortion will be an easy way out but it is a lie. easy choice to make, incredibly difficult choice to live with. there is no consequence-free escape route.
    did i make a very bad choice? yes. did my Justin? no. a human being is not to be used as an object lesson! should HE have to pay the consequences for my poor choice? no way!
    i certainly did not evade consequence, nor did i evade my responsibility to provide for my child, whatever the personal cost.

  •  i once heard a set of parents express that they wanted their daughter to parent because if she placed, it would be too easy and she'd only do it again. the scenario they thought would help her be more responsible was that she (they) would raise the child. the truth is that women who choose adoption are LESS likely to conceive again out of wedlock. they also receive higher education and better employment and are less likely to live in poverty

    "well at least you didn't have an abortion". 

    firstly adoption isn't an "at least" situation. it's not just "better than" a horrible alternative. it's the BEST for my child. secondly, abortion was never on the table for me. and while it does happen, i've only known 3 women out of literally hundreds who changed their mind from abortion to adoption. they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. one seeks to evade consequences for self and the other chooses greater pain and difficulty for self to minimize that of the child. in my observation it is typically a choice between abortion and parenting or parenting and adoption. we don't choose adoption because we couldn't be bothered to parent. 

    (these are my own views and commentaries. i only represent myself in these statements. opinions may very, even among my adoption peers)