My Journey to Joy

February 24, 2017

Worthwhile

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 12:01 AM
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It amazes me to think that a few short years ago I had never heard of open adoption.  When we began to pursue adoption, our agency really pushed the idea. Quite honestly, I resented it.  I think mostly I was uninformed and afraid.  So afraid.  Of a million imagined things.  Eventually, I became convinced of the merit of open adoption as I learned more about how openness can benefit everyone in the adoption triad, but particularly adoptees.

By the time we were chosen by our first birthmom, I was excited about building a relationship with her.  I faithfully sent the required updates.  I sent cards for special occasions.  I sent albums with loads of pictures.  I wrote long, newsy letters.   I was crushed when she stopped receiving our correspondence.  (We respect her choice, but hope someday she’ll choose to be part of our lives.)

Our second adoption proved to be longer, and incredibly painful.  We “lost” three babies: September 2013, January 23rd, 2015, & February 3rd, 2015.  We were deeply grieving these losses when we met our precious second birthmom on March 13th, the day we adopted our second son.  She was wonderful.  Maybe our losses helped us understand some of her pain?  We all spoke cautiously, hoping to do no harm but only good with our words.  We found out many things we had in common, but most importantly how we all desperately loved the same baby boy.  My heart ached as we left to let her say goodbye.  I didn’t know if I would ever see her again.

The next few days we soaked in the joy of being a family of four.  We bonded with our sweet cuddle-bug and took an insane number of pictures.  I prayed for our birthmom, and worried and wondered about her, but all was quiet.  Then one afternoon there was a text on our Google Voice!  I eagerly wrote back, wanting to share how our precious boy was growing and thriving.

As we continued to text, my love and respect for our birthmom grew.  While I don’t pretend to know her feelings, I can honestly say that she is a hero in my eyes.

As time went by, we became more comfortable with each other.  She gave us an email address, so we wouldn’t need to go through the agency for pictures.  She told us her last name, we told her ours…we shared our addresses.  I learned how to send videos to her via Google drive.  We agreed to meet at Chick-fil-A.  And one day I realized we have an open adoption…

There is still so much that I don’t know, so much that I am learning.  I’m sure that I’ve made mistakes along the way.  Sometimes I send pictures & notes for weeks or months without hearing anything back.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing too much, or too little?  I pray that the love that we feel will come through in all of our correspondence.

I’ve had people ask me why I bother to send so many updates.  I’ve been looked at as if I were crazy for pouring into a relationship that isn’t always reciprocated.  I’ve felt like I’m on a thousand blind dates, wondering what is the right thing to say or not to say.  I’ve been frustrated by unanswered questions.  I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing, or if I need to give more space.  And then I get an email that makes me sob:  “…I am soooo happy I picked you guys to be his parents.”

I wouldn’t change a thing…

 

February 14, 2015

Safe

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“…the reality is that life and relationships aren’t completely safe. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble’ (John 16:33). We will get hurt. We will face loss. We will be disappointed. It seems as if control is a cure for this- but it’s only an illusion. It traps us tight within our fears. Freedom only comes when we find security in Jesus, when we realize that life is hard but he is good and no matter what happens he’ll guide us through it.” Holley Gerth,

    You’re Already Amazing

December 12, 2013

Comfort

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I love the celebrations surrounding Christmas.  The lights, the songs, the glitz and glam and excitement.  I love the “over-the-topness” of trying to make everything extra-special.  I love the planning and preparation to make things “just right,” and the reward when someone’s face lights up.  This year is different.  Not bad, just different.

This year, I feel quiet.  I am drawn to the simple and low-key.  The joy of Christmas is present, but I’m clinging to the comfort of Christmas.   This isn’t my first hard Christmas, but I wasn’t as open before about what I was experiencing.  No, I don’t intend to go to holiday parties wearing a “I’m hurting” t-shirt, but I will be honest with the people who sincerely ask “how are you doing?”

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”  Isaiah 40:1

There is both sweetness and sting to memories.  While putting up a nativity, I smile knowing Granny made it.  Then I cry, wishing she’d be here this year.  Scrapbooking memories, I see pictures of last year’s celebration, and realize it was her last year with us.  There will be no “Christmas 2013” pictures with her in them.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  2Corinthians 1:3-4

The God of all comfort.  My God.  Who cares so much for me that He left heaven.  Christmas.  Comfort.  I like what Adam Clarke had to say about these verses:

“…Who shows himself to be the God of tender mercy, by condescending to notice us, who have never deserved any good at his hand; and also the God of all consolation, by comforting us in all our tribulation-never leaving us a prey to anxiety, carking care, persecution, or temptation; but, by the comforts of his Spirit, bearing us up in, through, and above, all our trials and difficulties.”  (I had to look up “carking”; it means burdensome or annoying.)

“…for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”  Jeremiah 31:13b

When I hear spots on the radio about “the real meaning of Christmas” being “time with friends and family” or “the laughter of children”, etc. I just shake my head.  I love those good things, but Christmas is, whether I’m alone or in a crowd, piled high with gifts or empty-handed, full of laughter or mourning.  Christmas is Emmanuel.  Only that can withstand the hard years, the unexpected tragedies, the unfulfilled hopes.  Knowing that God is with us, with me…that is my comfort.  

” Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”  2Corinthians 9:15

 

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.

October 10, 2013

Loss

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Those familiar with adoption realize that it comes with much loss.  A child loses his/her original family.  Bio-parents may die, have their children forcefully removed, or surrender them for the hope of a better future.  Adoptive parents may have lost their dream of biological parenthood, feeling a baby grow for 9 months, and being there to hear their baby’s first cries.  We live in a fallen world, and there is loss.

So often people talk to me with stars in their eyes about adoption.  And believe me, I love adoption!  I want people to be excited about the possibilities.  But it is real, and it is hard.  It involves sacrifice.  And there is always loss.

My husband and I tried to prepare ourselves for the pain that a second adoption would inevitably bring.  We worked to steel our emotions.  But there is always something unexpected…

In the midst of our early grief and trauma over my grandmother’s murder, my father was taken to the hospital with heart attack symptoms.  A procedure was scheduled.  Just routine, but there is always a chance of something going horribly wrong; I knew I wanted to be there.  That morning, as I bathed my little man, I got a phone call.  A friend knew of a birthmother looking to place her sweet, 4-month-old daughter; could she tell her about us?  That set into motion a day of frantic phone calls to our social worker and lawyer, all while getting to the hospital and waiting through my dad’s procedure.  (Which mercifully turned out fine!)  Everything was moving forward at a breathless pace…until I got the text: “She only wants someone in our family.”  And it was over.  I know now that I wasn’t meant to be her mommy- but, oh, I wanted to be!  I wanted her, to love her.  An adoptive mommy can fall in love awfully quickly, without even trying.  And I did.  And now there’s loss…

A few weeks ago I met a precious woman who asked me to parent her baby.  We totally “clicked,” and she said she knew God had sent her to me.  (And I believe He did.)  I tried to tell myself that these things often fall through.  I told my social worker “just in case she called and asked about us.”  And lo and behold, she did.  She followed through.  She set up a meeting.  And six days later she had a miscarriage.  And there is loss.  I ache for her, and for myself.  And my heart cries, “Why?!”

We haven’t even completed our homestudy.  We weren’t prepared (not that you can, really) for the emotional roller coaster that is adoption.  I don’t know the “why’s.”  And I hurt, so much.  But I know the Who.  My faith is in Him.  I cling to the promise that my God is working things for my good.  I cling to hope in His perfect plan.  I mourn the loss…and await the redemption of this pain.

October 24, 2012

Perspective on Adoption

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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…A few young women I worked with chose adoption for their children. Keening, grieving, terrified, cornered in an impossible position – attempting to simultaneously save themselves and a child from unbearable, insurmountable obstacles, traumatized by the loss and the thought that they were abandoning their child as they had been abandoned. One unmothered-mother, profoundly abused, severely attachment- and conduct-disordered (a year or so away from a significant prison term for a shockingly violent offense), claimed calmly and indifferently to feel nothing for or about the unwanted pregnancy she carried, or the baby she delivered and waived her parental rights to.

A small handful of family-less young mothers, hoping to raise their child on their own – with no external emotional support and no experience of a loving, nurturing parent of their own – at first brought their infants home to special supportive housing. After the mothers reached 21, aging out of the system and its financial support, several babies became second generation foster-care children.

One resourceful, amazing kid, attached to a warm, supportive church that gave her a home when she aged out, and a community of defacto grandparents, aunts, uncles and babysitters. She kept in touch with me for years, sending photos of her beautiful child as he grew and thrived in her loving care. A miracle, against unbelievable odds.

I do not claim that what I have borne witness to is representative of anything generalizable. It is only what I saw. Nothing more, nothing less.

Simultaneously, and in no way directly connected to my consultancy, I began getting referrals for my private practice. Randomly, many of my early clients were adult adoptees or adoptive families. I watched adopted teens negotiating separation and individuation with the additional twists and turns, losses and uncertainties, anxieties not unique to, but enhanced by adoption. I heard some adoptees identify their beloved adoptive families as their only “real “family, and others identify their first, biological parents as the “real” ones. I listened to decision processes to search and to those who thought searching was entirely unnecessary to them. I heard of adoptive parents actively undermining, co-opting, threatened – or deeply supportive of their adult childrens’ journeys. I watched complex, confusing, overwhelming, search and reunion processes unfold, some instantaneous, some protracted, some fulfilling and joyous, some tragic, some both at once: answers at long last to life-long questions, and a wave of new, previously unanticipated questions taking flight, many never to be answered.

And in the midst of it all I became an adoptive parent.

I receive calls sometimes, asking if I have an expertise in adoption.

I am not an “adoption expert” and I do not aspire to be.
I do not know what it is to be adopted.

Truthfully, I understand less and less about adoption every single day.

I have come to believe that every simple, clear statement made about the adoption experience, from any perspective, is at worst wrong and at best incomplete.

Including this one.

My experience in adoption is merely vicarious. I have stood near, peering into that swirling vortex of archetypal energy, putting a toe or a hand in when I am implicated or needed, watching people I care about, dear friends, clients I treat, family members, my children, construct and deconstruct their very identities in the face of a tidal wave of paradoxical answers to impossible questions:

What is motherhood, fatherhood? What are parents? What is birth? What is blood? What is natural? What is inevitable? What is choice? What is fate? What is bravery? What is abandonment? What is rejection? What is selflessness? What is selfishness? What is history? What is justice? What is privilege? What is poverty? What is coercion? What is generosity? What is belonging? What is kinship? What is money? What is ownership? What is commerce? What is love? What is family? What is nurture? What is genetics? What is race? What is racism? What is culture? What is loss? What is grief? What is gratitude? What is anger? What is health? What is normal? What is identity? What is memory? What is truth? What is bias? What is real? What is wholeness? Who are any of us to each other? Who am I?

The adoption community itself fractures under the weight of these paradoxical energies splintering into opposing factions, communities organizing around their chosen set of answers. Some advocate for all adoption to be halted as unethical, coercive, destructive abductions. Some think smuggling children across borders without papers is justifiable to “save” a child’s soul and “provide a better life”. Birth mothers, first mothers, natural mothers, adoptees, adopted persons, adult adoptees, adoptive parents, forever families, adopters – every word becomes an injury, a wounding – language itself becomes impossible and insufficient to describe all of the light and darkness, joys and sorrows, connections and disconnections, contradictions, ambivalence and dissonance.

I’ve learned to think of all of the voices in the adoption community, as dissonant as they are, as part of some whole, that I can never grasp.

Like when people talk about God.

And I have never known any two people to forge answers to more than a few of these questions in the same way.

Any fantasy, myth, generalization, romanticization, stereotype, unconscious bias or assumption that I have ever made – in any direction – about adoption, adoptees, original parents, has been soundly turned on its head, repeatedly.

And perhaps that is the point: these are not experiences for me as a non-adopted therapist, a non-adopted adoptive parent, to identify with, co-opt or fully comprehend.

Perhaps the call is to behave with consistent respect for what I can never understand.

copyright © 2011 Martha Crawford all rights reserved

To read the rest of this article, go to: http://whatashrinkthinks.com/2011/12/04/this-is-not-an-adoption-blog-and-i-am-not-an-adoption-specialist/

March 14, 2012

Disappointment- His Appointment

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Change one letter, then I see
That the thwarting of my purpose
Is God’s better choice for me.
His appointment must be blessing,
Tho’ it may come in disguise,
For the end from the beginning
Open to His wisdom lies.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Whose? The Lord, who loves me best,
Understands and knows me fully,
Who my faith and love would test;
For, like loving earthly parent,
He rejoices when He knows
That His child accepts, UNQUESTIONED,
All that from His wisdom flows.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
“No good thing will He withhold,”
From denials oft we gather
Treasures of His love untold,
Well He knows each broken purpose
Leads to fuller, deeper trust,
And the end of all His dealings
Proves our God is wise and just.

“Disappointment — His Appointment”
Lord, I take it, then, as such.
Like the clay in hands of potter,
Yielding wholly to Thy touch.
All my life’s plan in Thy moulding,
Not one single choice be mine;
Let me answer, unrepining —
“Father, not my will, but Thine.”

Edith Lillian Young

Job 23:14 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me:
and many such things are with him.

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