In adoption land we hear many stories of waiting. Stories of waiting for a positive pregnancy test, waiting for adoption placement, waiting to become a mother, waiting and holding their breath to see if a birthmother will change her mind, waiting for the judge to make it final.
Oh, I know about waiting. I know about desperate prayers, on my knees and dying to self during the waiting, You could say I've been waiting my whole life to find the pieces to my puzzle. I'd become familiar with the yearning to know why I was given away and if she had any regrets. I would stare into the mirror and pray that one day I would know my mother, and that in my reflection I would see how her eyes form the same shape when we smile, that our hairline met at the same places on our face, and the raised mole below the corner of my lip was from her.
I placed my information on Adoption Reunion forums as soon as I turned 18. For some reason I believed this would be the magical year that my birth records would be available to me. I thought by law my mother had to wait until I was 18 to find me, because SURELY she was desperate to find me. I know about checking those adoption reunion registries year after year after year, only to find that no one was looking for you in return.
Two years ago at the age of 40, I realized the state I was born in had opened up birth records for adoptees. All I had to do was fill out the proper paperwork, have it notarized, and drop it in the mail to wait. The paperwork said to allow 6-8 weeks for processing, but a week later an envelope from the state of Kansas appeared in my mailbox. It happened so fast, yet I had waited so long. I poured myself a glass of wine and called a friend to hold me together. Through tears we opened it and it said Baby Girl (mothers maiden name). Surreal to say the least and a title I didn't know could bring such strong emotions. The waiting continues however because I believed I would be receiving a full name of my mother and father. Nope.......just a maiden name, and zero information for my father.
I was in some luck that my mothers maiden name was an uncommon name, and the detective in me went straight to Facebook to search for my family. I didn't want to waste one more minute waiting to find them. In two days I narrowed down who I thought my mother was, found her address in the white pages and wrote her a letter. I wanted her to hear my heart in my words and feared that if I called I would frighten her away. I also couldn't face the thought of hearing her voice if it was a call of rejection.
This is where God lead me through the desert. This waiting was one of the darkest moments of my life, and I let my heart and mind lead me straight to the fear of being abandoned once again. I made myself dizzy and ill checking the mailbox, Facebook, and my email for a response. I lost weight, couldn't eat, began having chest pain believing I was having a heart attack all due to this overwhelming stress. During this time of waiting, when I couldn't turn off the voices that said she's never going to respond I prayed, I cried, I worshiped, I pleaded and yelled out to God. A particular song kept showing up on my Pandora just exactly when I needed it the most. Steffany Gretzinger's Letting Go. When my heart was heavy and felt like I might die, this song would come on and totally break me every.single.time.
You brought me to the end of myself
and this has been the longest road
just when I thought my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song
I am letting go and falling into you
I felt a wave of peace rush over me listening to these lyrics and felt God holding me and all of my broken pieces. I needed to let go of the anger, the fears of rejection, the story I had told myself of unloved, unwanted, and unworthy and fall into the arms of my Father who would never leave me despite the answers I may find or not find in my waiting.
I confess I still get scared sometimes
but perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies that screamed inside go silent
The moment You begin
One morning during this exhausting test of patience, that song came on. Only this morning I had had it, I was done. I was broken and defeated like I have never felt before. That song came on again and instead of peace I felt mad. I screamed out loud to God.... I need a new song!!!
The next song that broadcasted through my Pandora that very minute was titled NEW SONG. Not only is God listening, but what a great sense of humor. That same day my waiting came to an end, and my mothers email popped up in my mailbox. She had received my letter and most certainly wanted to know me.
I know about the waiting. The heart ripped open and the air so thin and hard to breathe. I also know the wind on the other side of the mountain, like being brought home.
For an adoptee to "come out of the fog", one must come to a realization that they never honored their true inner feelings of being relinquished. When I was asked if I was interested in finding my family, I would answer no because I knew my role as an adopted daughter. My loyalty was to my adoptive family and I was grateful. Even at a young age I knew the backlash of being honest that I longed to know and be loved by them. After finding my family as an adult, and coming fully out of the fog, one of the heaviest scars is the story that my parents, adoptive parents, the church and society tells me of God's plan for my life.
I have read blog after bog...Instagram feeds that tell the glorious tale of God placing a calling on their hearts for adoption. They were called to adopt. Ok we'll get back to this. What I want to talk about is this spiritual warfare that has been going on in my heart as I read these stories. The past few months I haven't felt distant from God, but I have felt so let down and removed from religion. I hear these adoptive parents sharing the most intimate, sacred moments of their child's life. A loss that they can never fathom, and many of them so deaf to those screaming their tale of pain because in their mind God chose them. They quote Bible verses such as " For this Child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him." 1 Samuel 1:27-28 God is used like a magic wand. This is where my heart says if this is what your religion offers than I want nothing of it. Their " God's plan" story tells a tale of a God who cares nothing for mother and child. I know for a fact my mother also prayed for this child, but she had zero support. Her heartache hidden in the deepest shadows of her soul. God was there, but where does she fit into their adoption journey calling? Was there a divine calling to adopt or after infertility was that the next chronological step?
Yesterday I spoke with an adoptive mother who described to me life with a child with RAD ( Reactive attachment disorder). She spoke of the dreams and plans she had with her child, but these dreams seemed shattered when the child failed to attach and showed significant behavioral issues due to trauma. She was promoting an author, speaker, and adoptive parent who chose to rehome her child with RAD. This mother spoke to me with respect and patience as I challenged- and I mean asking the hard questions claws out, her thoughts on rehoming. I will leave this touchy subject for another day, but I couldn't help but think of the God's plan scenario. Like shopping for a new appliance, and when it didn't look the way you thought, didn't fit the space, was too noisy, it is returned. As if children can be comparable to ordering from the Sears catalog. I'm not for one minute dismissing the complexity or struggle of parenting a child with trauma, but was it not the relinquishment that caused the trauma in the first place? A second abandonment will not be for the child's best interest and health. Am I crazy for thinking not? And did God call you to rehoming? Was this all apart of the journey and God's plan?
It can be so maddening and isolating trying to share my heart and when I feel depleted I tend to forget that yes, religion has failed me, but all I have ever needed God's hand has provided. God has never abandoned me and continues to show up over and over again. It's often in the times I feel the most alone, that God shows me we are given to one another. This spiritual darkness has opened my eyes that there are voices upon voice who echo mine. I was never alone. God carves space in my heart for those who seem like we are on opposite sides of the white flag yelling " I surrender, I surrender." Have you ever felt so emotionally drained that if someone even looked at you the wrong way, you might crack? I had been lying in bed, tears streaming down my face and I told my husband sometimes I just want to check out. I wasn't telling him I wanted to kill myself, that's not what I meant, but I just wanted to not be present to all of these adoption feelings. I wanted to never see the look on his face when I start talking about adoption again. I wanted to quiet the voices that try to tell me my worth, and I thought if I was checked out I wouldn't want to throat punch the next person who said " We are all adopted by God" like that makes us all the same. A few days later I went to the words of Pastor Nadia Bolz Weber. I listen to her sermons through podcast when I need to be reassured of God's love. She says "Gods voice is the warm voice of a mother to her newborn." She reminds me that God sits with me in my darkest hour and that we are never alone.
you can listen here. I have many favorites but just listened to Wounds and Wells; a Sermon on the Samaritan Woman
If you keep me, I promise to be a good girl. We only need love, not material things They're just things after all and nothing could replace you. I just need you. Imagine all of our years together celebrating milestones, birthdays, tucking me in at night, all of the beautiful things shared between a mother and daughter. I swear I'll be a good girl and you'll never regret keeping me.
How does one feel, when the one person who is supposed to love and protect you the most leaves? Unloved, unwanted, and unworthy....these feelings would pierce right through me. They wove their way into every relationship I would ever have. I worried my parents could leave me also, so I assumed the role as the good girl. Don't rock the boat, don't disrupt others with your feelings and emotions, stay small and quiet. As a child I strived to be the teachers pet. I raised my hand first, had the most stars on the chart, and if someone inched before me I became ill, sick to my stomach, and wanting to go home. I fabricated my story to my classmates, making them believe I was the real life version of Annie. Like Annie, I believed my parents were out there somewhere, heartbroken, and searching for me. As a teenage girl, I looked for love in all the wrong places. I assumed if I gave myself away, in return I would be loved, wanted, and they wouldn't leave me. I numbed myself, felt the weight of shame and disgust, and felt more empty than I had ever felt before. I learned that love was far from unconditional, but a hustle I would have to learn and strive for my entire life. As God often does, He helped me see the beauty in my struggle. He helped me smooth out the rough edges and to use them to show me my worth. Loving, loyal, transparent, forgiving, sensitive to the brokenness around me, He made me aware to seeing the radiant, bright light that shines in others. That everyone carries a story, and collectively we all desire to be seen and known.
Two years before I reunited with my birth family, my adoptive parents made the decision to sell their home that was ten minutes from mine, and move to Florida. They lived ten minutes from me, but rarely spent time with my children or myself. Not much would change relationship wise if they moved, and yet I had a sadness and anger for the expectations I had as their daughter, and the grandparents of my children. Through tears over the phone I gathered the courage and bravery to share my heart, my sadness, and that I was probably experiencing some abandonment issues. I use the word brave, because we NEVER talked about adoption or my feelings. My mother assured me that she loves us, told me many families live miles apart, and that they deserve to be happy.
One week later, while visiting my elderly grandparents my mother said to me " hmm...haven't seen you here in a while, I bet they ( my grandparents) have abandonment issues." All said in the most snarky tone of voice with head tilted. I had forgiven my mother many times for her sharp tongue- but this time I thought how can I ever forgive her? I had shared courageously with her my deepest wound, and she in return used it to hurt me and say I wasn't a good granddaughter. Not to mention, I WAS the granddaughter who visited, packed up meals for them, and helped when needed. Not out of duty, but because I loved them. I had four kids ranging from preschool to high school at the time, so my hands were full, my schedule stretched, but never too much that I didn't make time for my loved ones.. Not only was this statement hands down the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me, it was unfair and untrue. Abandonment issues wasn't an insult to her or a reflection of her parenting. It meant that people who are supposed to love me the most left, and I'm scared of everyone else in my life doing the same. To this day my mother claims " not remembering" the conversation. An amnesia of sorts.
Some days I fear I will never shake the feelings of not being good enough. I easily feel like the outsider looking in. I hold my breath waiting for people to leave. They will discover I'm too clingy, too boring, too broken, just all together TOO MUCH. I will continue to practice self love, and see myself as love and being loved. I will allow myself grace for striving and become more familiar with whom God says I am. He calls me daughter, He calls me redeemed, and He calls me worthy- not because of anything I've done or haven't done to prove my worth. Because HE IS, I AM loved, chosen, worthy, and transformed.