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…

 

January 6, 2016

What’s It Like Raising a Child of Another Race?

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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One Sunday afternoon, I was chasing my one-year-old son around the foyer of our church building while services were taking place in the chapel. He was a bundle of energy, running in circles, climbing on and off the couches, and smiling with his beautiful smile at anyone who would look his way. As I chased him past a woman who was also waiting in the foyer, she suddenly asked, “So what’s it like, raising a child of another race?”

Her question caught me off-guard. While it’s true that my son is black and I am white, right at that moment, he wasn’t “a child of another race.” He was just my adorable child. I responded by telling her that, right then, it wasn’t any different than raising a child of the same race. He was just over a year old, so at that time in his life, “raising him” meant I changed his diapers, fed him Cheerios, cheese, apples, and milk. I tickled him, built block towers, sang songs, and, currently, chased him around the foyer at church.

Seeing past my own white privilege takes lots of patience, practice, and failures. Many times I’m so blinded by it, I don’t even know it’s there. But, don’t fool yourself. It absolutely IS there.

However, the reality is that raising a child of a different race is not the same as raising a child of your same race. Of course the basics are the same. You fiercely love them, as only a mother can. You feed them, clothe them, teach them manners, kindness, and how to look both ways before crossing the street. But, you can’t teach them what it means to be a race you don’t belong to. As a white woman, I can’t teach my son what it means to be a black man. I can read all the books, listen to all the speakers, and watch all the movies, but it won’t matter. I’ve never lived it. Seeing past my own white privilege takes lots of patience, practice, and failures. Many times I’m so blinded by it, I don’t even know it’s there. But, don’t fool yourself. It absolutely IS there.

Raising a child of another race means stepping outside of all my comfort zones: physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. It means being willing to attend activities, churches, schools, and fairs where I am the minority and my child’s race is the majority. Surrounding him with people who look like him is essential to helping him become comfortable and confident in himself.

Raising a child of another race means being willing to learn how to care for his skin and his hair in the proper way. It means researching products, styles, and methods. It means I can’t simply take him to any salon or barber shop for a haircut, because most people around my town are not familiar with how to cut his kind of hair.

Raising a child of another race means listening to the voices of the people who have lived similar experiences; whether they be transracial adoptees or simply grown men of the same race as my son. It’s realizing that their stories are hard to hear. It’s realizing that I can’t protect my son from many of the things the world will throw at him because of his race. It’s realizing that these things may make me feel uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore them.

Raising a child of another race means being the “poster family” for adoption. It means we are looked at, recognized, and questioned about our child and our family every where we go. It means being willing to navigate those questions with respect to our child’s privacy. It means being okay with the fact that, according to the world, we don’t “match.”

Raising a child of another race means being the “poster family” for adoption. It means we are looked at, recognized, and questioned about our child and our family every where we go.

Raising a child of another race means having my eyes opened to the world around me; both the good and the bad. It means experiencing things in a way I never have before. It means that familiar sayings, jokes, songs, and stories that meant nothing to me previously suddenly become racist. It means being willing to stand up for my child in the face of ignorance and educate those around me. It means learning to be courageous.

Raising a child of another race means that some nights, I lie in bed and cry over what was reported in the news that day. It means I worry about the kinds of things that will happen to him as he gets older. It means I know I have to prepare him for the world he will go into. It means I feel excitement for the great things he will accomplish, and fear that he will be held back from accomplishing them.

If I ever get another chance to answer the question of “What’s it like to raise a child of another race?” I know what I’ll say:

“Raising a child of another race means that I have learned more about life, love, and the world around me than I ever anticipated. It means knowing, without a doubt, that God created each of his children in unique, yet equal beauty. It means feeling gratitude for the diversity in this world. It means learning to love a new culture: its food, its music, its traditions, and especially its people. It means adding a fullness to life that I didn’t know was missing. It’s beautiful, hard, amazing, and agonizing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

author image

Rachel Galbraith

Rachel Galbraith is a busy mother of five children, one of whom was adopted at birth. She has a Bachelors Degree in social work, and has worked as a medical social worker, specializing in the field of women and children. She was privileged to play a small role in the adoptions that often took place on her hospital unit. Writing has become her own personal form of therapy, and she is excited to combine it with her love of adoption. In her free time, she has a love-hate relationship with distance running. She readily admits to doing it only so she can eat chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

http://adoption.com/whats-it-like-raising-a-child-of-another-race

March 28, 2015

Kristen on Mourning

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“When I face loss – big and small – and the mourning hangs on, I sometimes imagine God tapping His foot, telling me to get over it already. Heaven knows I say these words to myself. But He doesn’t. Loss is one way Love is made visible, and God does not trivialize our pain or set expiration dates on our mourning. Yes, there is a time for everything, a time to mourn and a time to dance. But in the transition from one to the other, God is patient.”  ~Kristen

 

http://chasingblueskies.net/?p=5837

February 28, 2015

Evelyn Puerto on Acceptance

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“By accepting their trials as from God’s hand, in trusting Him fully, in surrendering to His will, their faith was strengthened, and they were given peace and joy and a profound sense of God’s love.”  Beyond the Rapids, Evelyn Puerto

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.

November 7, 2013

Compelled

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I wasn’t going to share this with anyone, but just as I felt compelled to do it, I feel that I should share.  This was my experience last November.

Today I went way out of my comfort zone.  I bathed and dressed my baby.  I printed off directions to somewhere I’ve never been.  I loaded up the diaper bag and off we went.  I texted my husband to tell him where I was going.  I thought of lots of reasons not to go.  (I really didn’t have time, I needed to be back to take my son to his grandma’s for babysitting, this is scary and uncomfortable…)  I kept going.  My husband said he’d be praying for me.  I cried.  10 miles and 21 minutes later, I arrived.

The building was an unassuming red brick, 1970’s style.  The signs were a discreet brown, with white letters.  There was one car in the parking lot.  A gentle breeze was blowing leaves, so that they skittered down the street.  Cars crunched acorns when they passed.  Other than that, it was very quiet.

At first I walked up and down the sidewalk, then I sat my son on a brick wall.  He played with my keys, while I prayed and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  He’s the reason I had to go.  To Planned Parenthood.  Because when I look at him I am so thankful that his birthmom chose life.  That my baby has a family who loves him dearly.  That he is.

Seeing that building, and knowing what happens inside was horrifying.  Looking at the dumpster out back made me want to throw up, wondering how the aborted babies’ remains were disposed.  I prayed for forgiveness for my country and my apathy.  I prayed for light and truth for the staff.  I prayed for hope and God’s love for birthmoms considering abortion.  I prayed for Christians to answer the call to provide support and help to families in such desperate situations.

On the surface, it was an uneventful trip.  I saw one person as I walked back to my car- a building inspector looking at a nearby property.  I didn’t accomplish any great feat, or have an exciting story to tell.  I just went.  And prayed.  And I’m changed…

November is National Adoption Month.  Adoption is an option.

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.

September 3, 2013

Family

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 2:18 PM
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In 2008, my husband and I began our journey toward a family.  I had a pretty complete picture in my mind of what that family would look like, and how it would come into being.  I must confess, I didn’t give much thought to what God’s picture of our family would be, just assuming it must match mine.  (Ignorance, arrogance, immaturity?)

Giving up my idea of perfection and turning towards God’s plan was a long, hard process, that continues to this day.  His vision for our family has been more than I could have dreamed or even imagined.  (Isn’t He great that way?!)  And it appears He isn’t finished yet…

We’d like to announce that we are expecting Baby #2!  We don’t know when; the rules are all different with adoption!  We only know that we are carrying another child and birthmom in our hearts, exactly where God has placed them.  We’re aware that the “labor” involved may be quite difficult, but we’re again turning to God for His strength and help through the adoption process.  We know that He will “deliver” our child at the perfect time.

I don’t know what our family will look like.  Will my children be close in age, or years apart?  What gender will this baby be?  What race?  Will our family grow to include a close relationship with a birthmom?  More grandparents?  How old will I be when my second child is born?  Will he/she come home from the hospital, a foster home, or somewhere else?  So many questions…I know God knows the answers.  And He has a perfect picture in mind…

July 27, 2013

Max Lucado on God’s Plan

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Sometimes God is so touched by what he sees in us that he gives us what we need and not simply that for which we ask. -Max Lucado

July 25, 2013

Joke

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I’ve been mulling something over in my mind recently.  I’ve come to a few personal conclusions, but I still have more questions than answers.

I love a good joke.  I love to laugh until tears stream down my face and I accidentally snort (which embarrasses me, so I laugh even harder!).  I’ve pulled pranks by disguising meatloaf as chocolate cake, arranging for all of my co-workers to call in sick, and etc.  I’ve laughed when my students pulled a silly prank on me, but I shared with them my criteria for a “good” prank: it must not damage property, and the recipient must find it funny as well.  Pretty simple.  But how many times have you seen everyone laughing, while one person ducks away, embarrassed, to hide their tears?  I don’t find that funny.

A few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp wrote an amazing post on mental health.  (*You really must read it; so good!)  She told about her family’s dark time when her mother was admitted for psychiatric help, and she was instructed to tell no one.  Then this: “I once heard a pastor tell the whole congregation that he had lived next to the loonie bin and I looked at the floor when everyone laughed and they didn’t know how I loved my mama. I looked to the floor when they laughed…”

All my life I’ve heard and shared jokes about different races and people groups.  Some are innocent and truly funny.  I believe a mixed group of people could stand around laughing about them.  Others weren’t.  If that person had been standing there, the joke would have fallen flat, or never been said.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  Luke 6:45

I was laughing the other day about a woman who came to an event sky-high on something.  Later God showed me my lack of compassion for her.  Her situation was to be pitied, not giggled about.  Sometimes laughter is how we deal with awkward situations, things that make us nervous or are traumatic.  I understand that.  I don’t know where my own line needs to be, much less someone else’s!  I just know that I was wrong to laugh at her condition, ludicrous though it was.

Daniel & I tried for many years to grow our family, first through pregnancy, then adoption.  It was a long, grueling process.  Our hearts were ripped right open.  And women frustrated with their children have laughingly offered, “Do you want mine?”  A woman with an unplanned pregnancy recently joked, “Maybe I’ll just give the baby to you!”  I automatically smiled and gave a soft laugh, but there was nothing funny about it.

I’ve sometimes been horrified when I’m teasing a friend to see a flash of pain or anger in their eyes.  Then I know I’ve gone too far, or hit a sensitive spot.  I’ll usually apologize and make a mental note to avoid that subject when joking.  Causing pain isn’t funny.

I understand that we can’t avoid all offence; we’re human, and we will accidentally hurt someone’s feelings sometimes.  There are complexities of situation, motivation, relationship…  But what if we really thought?  What if we filtered each joke by how we’d feel if we fit the stereotype being needled?  What if we decided that people aren’t a joke?  That everyone deserves respect, whether we like their religion, race, politics, sexual orientation, handicap, or whatever-it-is-about-them-that-is-different-from-us?  There’s plenty to laugh about, plenty of silly, innocent things.  I’m editing my own humor.

*Here is a link to Ann’s post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/04/what-christians-need-to-know-about-mental-health/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29

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