Saturday, October 27, 2007
There are some days that I am blessed to be taken back to the important things in life. This week I had one of those days.
I met with a client who thought that aborting her baby was the only option she had. She was living a life of desperation and sadness.
We talked and she cried. I got the opportunity to show her the baby inside of her via ultrasound. There was no manipulation - no magic answers - no problems solved. There was only life - a tiny baby - doing somersaults inside the safety of its mother's womb - a beating heart that in reality is smaller than the eraser on a pencil.
These are the things that are really important - the miracle of a life created - a life that only God can create.
This young woman left with a resolve to give life to the baby inside of her. She did not leave with a plan for her future. She knew that survival would only be possible one day at a time.
We will be there for her. We will help her determine how to relieve some of the issues that have caused the desperation in her life.
Please remember these young women - they need love - they need Jesus - they need a community that will surround them and encourage them to become the woman God has designed them to be.
Friday, October 5, 2007
2. I need to be taught that I have special needs arising from adoption loss, of which I need not be ashamed.
As adoptive parents it is important that we not attempt to deny the needs of adopted children. We really want to believe that our love will conquer all needs and losses in our children's lives. None of us want to believe that our children will have pain as a result of their adoption loss.
On the other hand, we need to be careful not to assume that every need our child exhibits is due to adoption loss. There is a fine line here - giving our children freedom to express their feelings but not creating issues where there are none. It is critical that we help our kids know that their feelings are acceptable and that there is no need for shame.
Some things we can do:
* Provide accurate information to our children about their birthfamilies.
* Create an environment that gives them freedom to talk about their feelings.
* Respect their feelings no matter how illogical they may seem to you.
* Be careful to never make their pain about you. It has to be about them.
* Don't forget that God creates families.
Pray for your children and for their hearts to be healed. Know that God will equip you to be the parent that He has called you to be.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
1. I suffered a profound loss before I was adopted. You are not responsible.
I'm not sure that any of us can grasp the loss that a child feels when they realize that they have lost a family.
When my daughter was 4 years old she suddenly encountered her loss. We were driving and she was in her car seat. Suddenly from the back seat I heard her sobbing. When I asked what was wrong she responded, through her tears, "I miss my birthmom!" I am so glad that I had had some experience and a bit of knowledge about adoptive grieving before this happened. Otherwise I might have responded with surprise and a bit of exasperation. Instead I simply told her that I knew that she missed her birthmom and I was sad that she was sad. She asked a couple of questions and then went back to being a 4-year old- happy and carefree. A few weeks later she calmly asked me..."So, Mommy, did we kind of switch mommies?"
We did all the right things (well, as much as we could humanly do) - telling her about her adoption and her birthparents, reading her Lifebook and giving her all the unconditional love we could give. The reality is this - nothing we, her adoptive parents, could do could fill the space in her heart that needed some kind of connection with her birthfamily. We desperately wanted her to feel loved. We wanted her to never feel rejected or abandoned. But eventually she could express the grief she felt over losing her birth family.
If she were telling this story she would tell you that she loves her adoptive family very much. She has never desired to return to her birth family. She simply needed something to fill in the empty space left by her birth family. She knew when she needed it the most and she asked me to find her birthmom for her. She had questions and she needed answers.
When she was 15 we were able to reunite with her birthmother. We spent a couple of hours at IHOP talking. My daughter spent most of the time listening. There were several moments when her birthmom would say something and she would punch my leg under the table. The punch meant - listen to her, she sounds just like me or she likes what I like or we have the same opinions, etc. After leaving that day I asked her how she felt and she replied, "I feel complete."
My daughter will soon be 19 and we have not had another meeting with her birthmom. They have communicated by email. Perhaps someday they will have a closer relationship. But through all these years I have occasionally asked my daughter if she wnated me to try to set up another meeting and she always said "I'm okay, no thanks."
I know there will be other times in her life that she will feel the need for her birth family and I sincerely want her to have healthy relationships that will help her to know who she is. In the meantime, she is confident in God's divine plan for her life.
As an adoptive mom, it is important for me to be confident in my role as her mom. It is critical that I not feel threatened by her need or her relationship with her birth family. She will feel the most loved when she knows that I want what is best for her; when she knows that I support her. I believe that she would not have felt the depth of loss if she had had an ongoing relationship with her birth family. I pray that families starting the adoption process will understand this loss and will do what they can do to build a heathy relationship with their child's birth family.
Remember, It's not who the child belongs to; but who belongs to the child.
Monday, September 10, 2007
When I read this book I found myself sad and horrified at the depth of loss that adoptees expressed. I grieved because the needs noted in this book were all too familiar to me. I could see some of the issues through the eyes of my adopted daughter and my heart hurt for her.
The voices of these adopted children tell a familiar story of loss, fear, and hope. This book was written by a woman who was adopted herself, giving voice to children's unspoken concerns, and showing adoptive parents how to free their kids from feelings of fear, abandonment, and shame.
Sherrie Eldridge reveals the twenty complex emotional issues you must understand to nurture the child you love-that they must grieve their loss now if they are to receive love fully in the future-that they need honest information about their birth family no matter how painful the details may be-and that although they may choose to search for their birth family, they will always rely on you to be their parents.
This book is a great resource for adoptive parents. It is preventative medicine, if you will. As I became more familiar with the needs shared in this book, I felt better equipped to help my daughter work through her feelings of loss and abandonment.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tonight I spent the evening with birthmothers in our monthly support group. They each have different stories.
One of them just placed her baby girl 3 weeks ago. She is grieving - she is at peace. Her arms ache with emptiness but her heart tells her that she made a good decision for her daughter. She already sees the amazing things that God has done and continues to do through this unplanned pregnancy. God has used this time in her life to bring her back to Him, restore relationships and give hope to a family that had lost all hope.
Another grieves tonight in a different way. Her life has been riddled with difficulties. Her son is 13 years old and she allowed those issues to separate her from the contact with her son that has always been freely offered by his adoptive parents.
Tonight she admits the fear that her son will never forgive her for missing his last 5 christmases and birthdays. Tonight perhaps she will begin a journey of healing.
The third young woman shares a sad story of broken promises and her broken heart. She placed her child in a private placement and the promises that the adoptive family made so quickly before the baby was born have now turned to fear and anger and a refusal to communicate with her or send pictures. She wants very little - she poses no threat, but she has no recourse - no solution - no advocate and tonight she simply needs to pour her heart out to others who can truly feel her pain. My heart breaks for her and the hopelessness of her situation.
The last woman has an awesome adoptive family who truly honor her. They will help their one-year old son to always know and love his birthmom. She has had a hard life and tonight she asks for prayer that she will have the strength to set her life on a straight path.
Our desire is to minister to these women and to advocate for them. All adoptions are unique, but I pray that more adoptive families (especially those in private placements) will seek out training and preparation for adoption. Many of the broken relationships are results of a lack of education. Families and birthmoms need preparation and they need an advocate.
I have seen private placements that work, but I have seen many more where fear has consumed adoptive families and the birthmother loses.
God builds families through adoption through birthmoms who make a courageous decision to give her child a life that she cannot give them. Adoptive families have an opportunity to be Jesus to these young women - to offer grace and mercy to the woman who made the incredible sacrifice.
How do you honor your child's birthmom?
Thursday, August 30, 2007
When we ask a birthmother this question she most often responds with two answers -
1. I worry that the adoptive family won't love my baby.
2. I am afraid that after I give them my baby they won't love me anymore or stay in touch with me.
When we ask an adoptive couple this question, they almost always reply... We are afraid that a birthmother will want her baby back.
It's interesting to know what each other fears the most.
I have worked in adoption for almost 19 years and in that time I have seen approximately 3 women ask to have their baby returned to them after placement. Of course, there are other legal issues that could possibly disrupt an adoption but even these are much fewer in number than the media would portray.
It is important that birthmothers never feel pressured or feel a sense of obligation to the adoptive family. Adoption, as we do it today, provides an incredible sense of peace, security and comfort to a birthmom as she chooses a family, has visits with the family and has the freedom to make a plan for her baby. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a birthmother and an adoptive family simply fall in love with each other. It is a picture of love that very few have the opportunity to witness.
Of course, there are times when a birthmother changes her mind about adoption after the baby is born. This is incredibly tough for the adoptive family - it is a failed placement - a loss for that couple. But, so much better to have that decision made before you take your baby home with you.
As we approach adoption from a Christ-like perspective we have to be reminded that our first goal should be to represent Jesus to a birthmother. If a birthmother chooses to parent, adoptive families must lean of Christ, acknowledge the pain and trust that God knows exactly the baby that He has chosen, even before the foundation of the earth, to be a part of your family.
Adoption is a journey and God wants to use this journey to grow you and refine you and make you more like Him. When the baby He has planned for you is placed in your arms, you will understand at that moment the sacrificial love of a birthmom and the incredible blessing that God is pouring out on you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tonight I honor a young woman who made the most unselfish and loving decision that anyone can make. Tonight she completed a well thought-out plan for her baby girl - she placed her baby with a couple who would become her forever family.
This was not a plan that would free her of responsibility.
This was not a plan that implied a lack of love for her daughter.
This was not a mother rejecting the child that grew in her body. This was not an easy plan.
This is a woman who desires more for her baby than she could possibly provide.
This is a woman who took a hard look at her life and knew that she was not ready to be the kind of parent that she wanted her daughter to have.
This is a woman who loves her daughter and put her best interest before her own.
This is a woman who showed more courage than I can comprehend.
Tonight she is home with an empty womb and empty arms. She will grieve the loss of this child, but she will also be reminded that her daughter will be raised by two parents - a father and a mother - who will love her as if she were flesh of their flesh. She will know that she made the decision out of an amazing love for her baby.
Pleae pray for this young woman as she grieves. If you know a birthmother who placed her baby for adoption, applaud her, encourage her and support her decision.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Our adoption journey began on Saturday night, January 14, 1989. My husband and I were enjoying a quiet evening at home alone - fire in the fireplace...Houston Rockets on TV... our 4 kids out doing the teenage thing. All of this equals an amazing night at home, enjoying the fact that our children were starting to do things on their own and we were beginning to see the signs of "empty nest". I was scheduled to start work at New Life the very next Tuesday. What timing!
With one phone call the next 18 years of our lives changed. Jessica literally arrived on our doorstep late that night. We knew her birthfamily so we knew the difficulties that she had faced in her short 3 months of life. She was quiet and deep inside her we knew that she was afraid and wondered if she could trust these new people in her life. We began this journey expecting it would last for a weekend. But, as God would have it, the weekend stretched to more than 9 months. That is when the journey became difficult and painful.
As a family, we committed to this baby girl even when she was taken from our home and it seemed that it was impossible. We determined that we would be there for her as long as God allowed. We traveled a treacherous legal path and waited on God. We prayed intensely. We fasted and prayed regularly. We believed God and followed His directives. We eventually, by faith, relinquished our own desires and told God that we would accept willingly what He desired for her and for us - the hardest thing we have ever done. The details belong to my daughter so I will not share those.
The beauty of this story is that God protected a precious baby girl and honored the prayers of a family dedicated to her best interest. Before Jessica was conceived in her birthmother's womb God had a plan for her. He knew that she would be grafted into the Seay family and that this was the place he had designed for her to grow and become all that He wanted her to be.
And so - on October 30, 1992, our baby girl became OUR baby girl! Praise be to God!
Get to know Jessica by checking out her blog (seay-pictureperfect.blogspot.com).
I would love to hear how God led you on your adoption journey. After doing this for 18 years, I know that every family has a story of how God brought them to the point of adoption. We encourage each other by sharing our story. Would you share it with me?