Tomorrow…

Tomorrow, my daughter Mary, who I placed for adoption, will turn 24 years old. When I think about this, I wonder not necessarily as a mother but as a woman what she struggles with. Does she have friends in her life that speak truth to her and encourage her when she is down? And in light of my last post does she know she is significant and has an irreplaceable role in this life?

The irony of all this is that I didn’t know I had an irreplaceable role and beauty that no one could take when I was her age. I exchanged it all for a lie. I bought the lie that boyfriends, sex and being the bad girl would give me significance and beauty.

prom mom 2

As a result of believing this I ended up with all types of troubles including two unplanned pregnancies among other consequences. I say that carefully and very lightly. To be clear, both Mary’s life and Xaviar’s are precious and planned by the Creator. He makes no mistakes!

Surely, my consequences could have been something different than pregnancy, after all, there are plenty of women we know that can’t have children, couldn’t God have closed my womb and caused it not to bear life? Absolutely! But he didn’t.

The acceptance and affirmation we seek in this life can only be met God. I am not saying God can’t bring people into your life to speak into these places, he did for me, especially as a young woman who didn’t have a father, but apart from God’s will, seeking this out how we think best will only end in grief and disappointment.

Unfortunately, even after two pregnancies, I still struggled to see my worth and ended up remarrying with lots of baggage only to discover that I still through marriage was seeking something only the Father could restore. I remember when all the disappointment was laid bare for me to see! Years of seeking temporary fixes to my unmet need – all along my beauty and irreplaceable role that gave me significance and affirmation I already had, it is who I am and always was.

Cool pic with Sam

The story isn’t finished, as I am still walking out marriage and womanhood, but one thing I am sure of now, I don’t need a husband, friends, money, or success to tell me I am beautiful and worth it. My worth is found in God alone. God is and has restored the broken places of hurt and disappointment.

We are worth more than selling ourselves to an empty lie… whatever the lie is you are tempted to believe.

I pray that every woman who reads this will seek and find the truth, know your worth, that your choices don’t have to make or break you, and God is a Redeemer!

I would certainly be blown away if she sought me out! I would be honored to have that place in her life to remind her who she is. For now, I pray the God who delights over her and celebrates her life keeps her pure and holds her in the palm of his hands!

Thoughts on Adoption

I was talking with a woman about her and her husbands decision to consider adopting their foster son. She said something that particularly stuck with me, she said she, “struggles to see herself as his mommy.”

I don’t know anyone else in my daily life that has placed a child for adoption. However, I know many that have either adopted children or are considering adoption so I quietly listen and watch from another perspective. Most are not aware of my experience and when given the right time I do share but its not exactly the story you just throw out there. It tends to be a bit heavier than talking about parenting.

As thoughts stirred, the “heart of adoption” kept coming to mind. Adoption is referenced several times in the Bible . Here is what I found using a study tool I frequent. God is the original author of adoption. He purposely predetermined, through broken man (Adam and Eve), that He would send His Son Jesus to restore us through adoption. We are heirs to the Creator of all creation, given full rights to his kingdom.

The theme of adoption wasn’t just a New Testament thought, its carried throughout the whole Bible. I hope I am not coming off as some theologian rather just sharing through my experience the expanse of God’s ways and yet the very practical nature of adoption. The extent and complexity of adoption is far beyond comprehension yet a simple sacrificial act of love.

I think of that woman often as I haven’t seen her in a while. Meanwhile I continue to be surrounded by families who have adopted. It reminds me that my choice to provide my daughter an intact loving family through adoption was a simple act of love. Though the pregnancy was a consequence of pre-marital sex, God, who makes all things beautiful, redeemed a hard situation. And not only that but adoption is straight from the heart of God and ultimately what he intends for all mankind – new birth into a new life through saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all called to be a part of God’s heart towards man kind.

I give all praise to my Father God who adopted me into his kingdom, mends all the broken pieces from poor choices and gives me new life.

Remembering My Story

When I realized it had been a year since I started blogging, I decided to celebrate by changing the theme. If you have blogged for any period of time you know that when you do that you have to edit the posts to “work” with the theme. So I did just that.

Not only is it my blogging anniversary but it will also be Mary’s birthday on February 27. After all, that story was the original purpose of blogging. How fitting that I decided to re-post My Story:

I grew up in a humble home, free to run around barefoot, with un-brushed hair and skinny legs. I am Italian, Irish and something else…I became aware of how different I was from my cousins, dad and even my mom but mostly my sister. She has blonde hair with blue eyes; I have black hair with brown-hazel eyes. My Dad, I would eventually learn was my Step-Dad. He treated me as his own, just like he treated my sister (his biological child); he was a car mechanic by night and an Electrician by day. I remember him coming home late at night from work; he was a hard-working man most of his days. When he was home he took us for rides on his motorcycle, he let us crawl under the car while working on it and had a voice that could sing.

My extended family I would describe as kind to one another. The memories we hold are many – as a child we Aunt Claudette and Dadwere together every holiday and birthday. My grandparents lived two houses down from my childhood home and my biological father’s sister, my Aunt (picture to the right) on the other side, next door over. For the most part my childhood was normal.

Around the time I turned 12, my Mother and “Dad” were divorced and before I knew it we were moving out of the only house I ever knew and called home.  I started middle school and other things I had no business starting. I was pregnant at 15, my freshman year in high school. I didn’t last very long in a traditional high school and eventually attended a program through the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). There I would meet lifelong mentors who I am indebted to; they would be my support system as I would make the hardest decision of my life – to place my daughter for adoption.

Family members and friends encouraged me to have an abortion and for different reasons. I remember being told that pregnancy would cause stretch marks and ruin my skin for the rest of my life; that I wouldn’t be able to go to college and hardest of all I was told that if I chose to keep my child that I would have to move out and handle my responsibilities. At the YWCA, I eventually experienced similar responses from peers that were also pregnant, and thought I was crazy to consider adoption. While most of them wouldn’t tell me directly how they felt it was implied by their skillful ability masked in a comment like, “wow, I couldn’t do that.” Only a handful truly had compassion and concern and would befriend me, after all, we were literally walking the aching road of pregnancy together.

My sweet boy and meIn 1994, I decided to go in the United States Air Force (USAF). I will never forget the moment that would awaken the hardest day of my life – kissing my 18 month old goodbye as he lay in his crib. I left at 5:00 AM on March 3, 1995 for basic training in San Antonio, Texas. I had high aspirations and nothing was going to stop me, not even the emotional waves of leaving that sweet little boy peacefully sleeping.  However, this gut wrenching twist in my stomach and knot in my throat that stopped the tears wouldn’t let up; visions in my mind of leaving her sweet little face through the glass window at the hospital on February 27, 1991.

Initially, I wasn’t going to see her but at the last minute I told the nurse I changed my mind and wanted to see her. There she was a head full of black hair, that same black hair that left me unsure of myself as a child. She was beautiful with fair caramel-colored skin and long legs, the same skinny legs that reminded me of myself running around barefoot with un-brushed hair. As tears ran down my face, my mother did the only thing she knew to do which was wheel me out of the room as quickly as possible to the closest exit.

Xaviar is a handsome, wide-eyed, inquisitive little boy, full of wonder. He has a way of getting himself in trouble by unwittingly “telling” me all the happenings of his day. I will never forget the phone call from his kindergarten teacher, “please come and get him, he has been kicked in the private part and is in a lot of pain.” Our time, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, per orders of the USAF were very difficult, though I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything; but I didn’t have family to call on for help. I rushed to his school and took him to the doctor. He always had a way of creating, let’s just say, situations like this. Today, he is taller than me, still has handsome brown eyes that draw you in, a personality that demands attention upon his presence and a sweetness that still tells everything.

His sister on the other hand, I don’t know, the last time I saw her was the day I was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheel chair with tears running down my face. Yet, that is not with regret. I have never regretted placing my daughter up for adoption. In fact, I can’t help but think about the letter the adoptive parents sent me a few weeks after her birth. It included a precious verse from the Bible, Ephesians 1:3-5: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure…”  I experienced a glimpse of God’s nature by placing her up for adoption just as God adopted me into His Kingdom.

One day, I look forward and hope for the chance to meet my daughter Mary Elizabeth, to see her beautiful long skinny legs and pure black hair. I am grateful for the experience. I would eventually have stretch marks and graduate from college. My mother and I are very close now; God has restored what once was a very broken and hurtful relationship to one that is open and growing in love each day. My mother is also blessed to have many grandchildren including the 3 from my husband and me.

20131225_181322Eventually, I would take steps to build a relationship with my biological father despite having been adopted myself by my step-father I call “Dad”.  My father and I see each other regularly and he enjoys brief times with his energetic, loud grandchildren and has grown fond of our new relationship. I have also spent the last two Christmas’s with my biological brother, from my father’s previous marriage. However, I will never forget lying under the Plymouth Valiant with my Dad, rides on the motorcycle, and best of all, his rendition of Randy Newman’s Short People while gracefully strumming his guitar. I look forward to hearing Mary’s story but until we meet again, I will share the beauty that comes from the ashes of an unplanned pregnancy!

Part II: My Story

I decided to write Part 2 of My Story. Where I come from is related to where I am today – for better or for worse. What I am discovering in my adult life would have been helpful to know in my 20’s. I am sure on some level we can all relate. It certainly would have helped me work through the unresolved fact that I had black hair and my sister did not. I am not so caught up on this any longer but early on, I couldn’t help but notice!

The paradigm of it all though troubles me on occasion. I was adopted by my step-father when I was about 2. At the age of 15, I gave birth to Mary to be adopted. Then I became the proverbial blended family where my ex-husband was a step-father to my son, Xaviar, and I was a step-mother to his children. While neither of us adopted either of our step-children, we have experienced and continue to experience the world of step-parenting. I say that soberly and with great tenderness because clearly divorce hurts and mostly the children involved.

I called this Part 2 for two reasons: 1. Being a step-family made up the last 17 years of my life and; 2. It was an ever present area of conflict (purposeful smile). Conflict not so much in the way of it being negative as the word denotes rather in a stretching-of-the-soul kind of way which doesn’t exactly feel positive either.

Sibling funBecoming a step family was a process, hence the word: becoming.  I imagine, as with any hard place in life there are good memories but not without cost.

Approximately one- third of all weddings in America today form a step-family. What makes this so challenging is no step-family looks the same. I have found common experiences among other step-families but overall there is no one size fits all.  To make matters worse, the findings add that one third of Americans who got divorced were doing so for the second time – and I understand this all too well however my goal is to stay married.

Setting the stage for what feels like an insurmountable struggle up a steep cliff I have hope. I may not have been able to say this a week ago and it pains me to know I am far from the top, but I am still climbing. Most of the struggle comes from the conflict over feeling that my step children are intruders to my traditional family within our blended family. Meaning for the first time in my life, my family consists of my husband and me and our three biological children. My son no longer lives at home either. Though when he did it was different because he is an adult, with his own life, plans, etc. (like that of a room-mate). My husbands children have never lived with us so they are not part of our daily lives.

cliff-photo

A few simple things have helped me from falling off the cliff, perhaps you may find one helpful:

Remembering we are not each others enemies – we each have feelings, viewpoints, and experiences. I’ve had many an argument with myself regarding this because everyone feels like the enemy quite frankly.

Being honest. Somewhere along the way, I decided that most often it was safer to not be (of course there is something to be said here). Despite what I think the response will be as a result of my honesty, I do well to be real and honest. I am the only one that can share what I am thinking or how I view what is happening to me or around me.

Although to balance honesty, there are times to be quiet. I always think of when God told Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, we are told that she held all these things in her heart and pondered them! Along with several other verses in the Bible that speak about the right timing of your words.

When I think about where I come from and the struggles against me it gives me perspective on how to handle today. Furthermore, the obstacles we each faced walking into our second marriages challenges me. And yet, I find courage in that. I know that God can work through the poor decisions of others that have hurt me and those decisions I’ve made that hurt others – past and present. I also know that I will continue learning how to support my husband’s relationships with his children and becoming a blended family. I am certain of Gods promises to change my ashes into beauty.