They say adoption rocks, and no matter how many times I read it, it feels like I swallowed a rock. No matter how many times I say I understand where you are coming from, I hear you, you love your child. You've waited and prayed so long for this child. Being a family at last rocks, and you want to shout it from the roof tops. I get it. I hear you. And yet you continue to not hear me. When I tell you I love my family, but I ached for my mother and thought there must have been something wrong with me. That didn't rock. Making up stories in your head of what your own mother and father looks like, why they gave you to strangers, wondering if you'll ever know any answers to the million questions you have floating in your child-mind. Its a lonely feeling, and it didn't rock. Searching for love in any way shape and form as a teenager is sad, gosh its so sad and it certainly didn't rock.
I look at this photo, and I think maybe those rocks are what get in our way of being fully known, fully seen, and fully loved. The things that hinder our hearts, minds and souls. Its the expectations slung at us that adoption is only beautiful. You should feel nothing but grateful and an attitude of being lucky. Adoptive parents know it doesn't always rock....they know. The countless hours of worry, paperwork, praying you are doing the right, ethical thing, Be honest, its hard, and maybe even right now you are thinking I don't like this girl. I like my rocks. I like to be comfortable. The rocks you are throwing out there are these Pinterest perfect version of the expectations of what an adoptive mama looks like. Let them go.
Can you imagine if we had this collective rock chucking party? Hey you pretty adoptee.... I see you. Pick up that rock that says you are not worthy of love and understanding and chuck it with a good ole' primal roar. Sweet adoptive mama who desperately wants to get it right,,,, I see you.....I could weep because I'm so thankful for you. See that rock there that says everything has to be beautiful, perfect, and you are in control? Pick that sucker up and chuck it so far. You want to scream? Do it! Oh dear birthmama....I see you. I see the amour you put on to protect your head and heart. That big rock there that says you have to be brave and unselfish. It's heavy, but pick it up and toss it. you don't have to carry that anymore.
So one by one they tossed their rocks, and the water flowed.
They tossed their expectations and the grace flowed.
They tossed their shame and vulnerability flowed.
They tossed their fears and they found their brave..oh how it flowed.
They tossed control and faith flowed into the crevices.
They tossed their hurt and wounds and love overflowed.
And guess what? When they tossed their rocks there was this magnificently, beautiful ripple that appeared in the water that flowed. Be the ripple, not the rock.
Let it flow. Let it go. Let it flow
So does adoption rock? I'm chucking that rock, and I'm asking you to join me. Your family rocks. Forget about the followers, the pinterest worthy statuses
When we know better, we do better.
Two years ago I received my birth records, and found my birthmother within 4 weeks. The information under father said only his birthdate, and UNKNOWN. My heart sank when I read this because I honestly believed I would be finding ALL of the missing pieces. Did someone actually believe that this was ok to withhold this from me? Adoption....secrets, lies, fear, deception.
Within months of contacting my mother, we scheduled a reunion. It was everything made for a Hallmark movie. The video setting was ready to capture that first embrace, there were tears and love overflowing. There were new relationships and memories forming. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, but then I went straight to the point and asked about my father. Then there was awkwardness, quiet avoidance, and skirting around the subject. I took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in my throat deciding it was too risky to rock the boat. I don't want to lose everything I've worked so hard for. My mother has been found, she wants a relationship with me, and we will get to my father later. She just needs time.
On my last day of a week long reunion ( I know that's a loooonnnggg time for a first meeting) my mothers husband asked if we could have a private conversation. My mother quietly sat by while her husband told me " we understand if you want to find your father, but we do not wish to be a part of it, and we would hope that you do that in private". He added that when I really think about it, it's my mother I have probably thought of all of these years anyway. Whoa!?!?! Wait? What? I cried, and thanked him for his love and support of my mother, but inside I was deeply hurting. It was the only time during my reunion that I wanted to slip back to my hotel room, and sit alone in my feelings That of course did not happen, so I had to put on a happy mask and disguise my true feelings ( adoptees are pretty good at this).
What I wish I was brave enough to say was DO NOT tell me who I thought of or didn't think of. What if the shoe was on the other foot, and it was you who was kept away from your sons? Would it be ok then, because you're just the father? Did you never think of your father?
So I am a stubborn girl and I decided FINE, you don't want to help me, then I will do it all by myself. I am so used to going at it alone. I had his birthdate and my mothers sister in law had slipped the name Gary. She had told me that she wanted me to know my father loved my mother very much. She shared with me that my grandfather told lies about my father to keep him away. My father had wrote many letters to my mother and my grandfather threw them all away. She has no idea that he fought hard to talk with her father, to share his feelings and love. My grandfather had made his decision. His daughter would not be a part of Gary's life and either would I. I started searching online anyone with the name Gary, the same birthdate, and anyone who lived within a four state area. I wrote random Gary's letters saying.... I know this is crazy, but could you be my dad? No responses. I was like a crazy, stalking weirdo. I eventually decided to take my chances with a DNA test. I carefully calculated the perfect amount of saliva and prayed that the spit would lead me to my father. 7 weeks later, and much detective work on my part, I found Gary....my Gary...my father. I did it!
He received my letter, and in the same week it was sent I was talking with my father over the phone. I wish I could adequately share with you the love and excitement in his voice as he shared with me how happy he was to have been found. He said I was never a secret, and that he always thought of me telling friends and family somewhere out there I have a daughter. The best news was that his home was only 1 hour away from my adoptive family who had just moved to Florida. How perfect is that? I can visit my parents and meet my father, so I planned a trip.
My adoptive mother was very hurt when I found my mother that I did not include her in on every detail. We weren't exactly close, and I've always needed to protect myself from her hurtful words. My main concern was that I didn't want to hurt her. I decided to be more open and sharing with my adoptive parents while navigating meeting my father. We had great talks about my fears, and the feelings I always had growing up, but they could have never known about because I stayed quiet to guard their heart. They were loving, supportive, and I felt an extreme amount of guilt that I had not trusted them with my heart the first time around meeting my mother. My adoptive parents really wanted to meet Gary, but inside I was still cautious, and wondered could Gary and I truly be ourselves and have the conversations I wanted to have with my parents present? I was in full on good adoptee daughter mode wanting to not hurt them and please them so we all traveled to my birthfathers home together. I worried the whole car ride there if my mother would say something inappropriate, would she be judgmental or was I worrying for no reason? On the car ride there my mother passes me her phone to show me some photos that she had collected to share with Gary. Beautiful baby photos, sweet little pig tail photos throughout my childhood, and memories up into the present. There was one photo that I just looked horrible in....dreadful jr high years with big bangs and chubby cheeks. Embarrassed I said, "oh please don't show this one, its awful". We arrive and my mother video tapes every move we make, it's a relief to wrap my arms around him, but I know we both feel like we are under a microscope and this is not how I pictured this meeting happening. My mother whips out her phone, and she shares one photo, extending her arm and giggling. It wasn't that she shared the photo I asked her not to share. I would be totally vain, and if my father truly loves me he is going to love any photo of me, right? It was that she ONLY showed that one photo which felt like to spite me. No beautiful baby photos, no heartfelt thank you for giving us such a precious gift, just that one photo and I wanted to cry.
Gary calls me all of the time, just to talk about nothing or tell me a story. He wrote me a 10 page letter sharing about his life and he was so open and honest I felt like I've always known him. He isn't perfect, in fact he's a little rough around the edges, but that's what I love most about him. He trusts me with it all. Reunion is not for the faint of heart and I'm not certain I prepared myself to be cut open for all to see. There is beauty, heartache, raw emotions, and I'm leaning heavily on grace.
When my adoptive mother came to KC for a visit this fall she stated that her and my adoptive father have decided if Gary wants to be a part of my life, he would need to come visit me....not me always going to see him. I am a grown adult....and they have decided. Are you kidding me? Not to mention I've met him once. There's no track record of me only putting in the effort and not him. Not to mention this is none of their business. She then added..."he didn't look at your photos very well". She has so much fear, that she stirs the pot with a big ol' spoon of he doesn't really love you. I thought the love of a mother would come along side me and say look how he looks at you, of course he loves you, who wouldn't.
I hope Gary can feel my love and know within his heart that his daughter never gave up. He was that important and he is more than enough. We both are.
I'm so frustrated with the voices that say you must choose OR thinking. I could just pull every hair out of my head because its everywhere you go.
Gun lover or banish all guns from the face of the earth....take them all.
Immigrant or terrorist to be feared
Democrat or Republican
Conservative or Liberal
Left or Right
Saved by grace or only if we've earned it ( whatever hoop to jump through you want to label)
Kneel or don't kneel. Patriotic or guilty of Nationalism
You get my point. The world says you are one OR the other. We couldn't possibly believe that there should be sensible gun control and the rights to protect oneself. We must choose that the problem is mental illness OR a gun problem. How about we have a gun problem and we want those with mental illness to get the help they need AND in the mean time lets make it more difficult for someone to get their hands on a gun if they have mental illness.
Let's consider that it is possible to love America AND understand that God doesn't just bless America. When the Bible says " For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave his one and only son" I think the key words to take away are loved AND world.
I could really get fired up and going on about a lot of these scenarios but I'm going to move on to adoptionland. I'm going to point out the problems with OR thinking and how if we look a little closer, take down our defenses we can see things a little differently. We'll call this the ability to show up and break down the walls that say you can't be seen or heard.
1. You must choose be for OR against adoption.
Why can I not be able to see that in some cases adoption is for the best case of the child but there are also many times adoption occurs unethically or a permanent decision is made for a temporary problem.
2. Adopted OR destined for abortion.
Oh my goodness....how many times as an adoptee are we told this.....be thankful you were not aborted. Excuse me!?!? Abortion is not the alternative to adoption for many women. Parenting is.
3. I'm grown in a heart OR a tummy
I grew in both of my mothers hearts AND in one tummy. I'm not confused about how I was born and to whom loved me.
4. Grateful or ungrateful
Stop with this. I am grateful my mother gave me life. I am full of gratitude for the love and support of my adoptive family. Here comes the AND... and I am aware and sensitive to the trauma I experienced and continue to experience from being severed from my first family.
5. I'm a gift or a shameful burden
Well which is it? This one is so painful to dissect. The world told my mother that because she had a child out of wedlock she is a sinner, she's not enough, she's probably on drugs, a whore and embarrassment to the family. But oh how the tide changes when she decides to make an adoption plan. Hopeful adoptive parents sing her praises and point out her BRAVE LOVE. Adoption agencies tell her that her baby deserves more than she can give her. All of a sudden this subject of embarrassment is a beautiful gift. Sigh! Wasn't I always the gift? I do believe you when you call her brave...so much brave...but would you call her that if she chose to parent also?
6. God's plan or God sits with us in our pain
I do not believe that I was set apart by God to be destined to life without my first family. God weeps with myself and my family. We were not part of some divine plan that blesses one mother over another. Sometimes in life we feel the need to justify everything. Someone dies and people say God needed him more. No. Infertility happens and suddenly their is a calling from God to adopt. God placed adoption on their hearts. No. They say God knew I needed you. Listen, there are tragedies, there is heartache, AND God doesn't cause our ashes. God is the author of love and like a loving father he hurts when we hurt.
7. Joy or sorrow. Beauty or ashes
There are no rules for grief. Can we get this one straight? You can stop telling adoptees to "get over it". No, no,no! It's ok to smile, laugh, sing, dance, rejoice AND....AND its totally understandable to have sorrow, to lament, to have sadness. I write my own story and I dance my own dance.
" Maybe it's okay if it takes time to be okay. Maybe healing is a road that is paved with endless grace" Morgan Harper Nichols
Take your time and be gentle with yourself dear one. You can choose AND