January 29, 2011

What's your choice?

I am pro-choice.
I believe you have the right to make choices over your body. If you want to donate a kidney, by all means, do so. If you are at risk for breast cancer and you want to have a double mastectomy in order to prevent even the slightest chance of it happening, be my guest. If you want to have a hysterectomy because your reproductive system has only brought you grief, it is your prerogative. I believe in choice when choice goes as far as you end and someone else begins.
Yours is not the choice to kill me simply because you don’t like me. Yours is not the choice to end your elderly parent’s life because he or she has become a financial and emotional burden. And yours is not the choice to kill a child simply because he or she has come at an inconvenient time or under less than ideal circumstances. That he or she has not yet been disconnected from your umbilical cord is irrelevant, regardless of what the law of your land dictates.
Ours is the choice to honor, respect, and nurture this new life. Ours is the choice to ultimately be part of this child’s continuous story or let someone else have that joy. Ours is not the choice to decide life or death over a life we had no power to create and no right to destroy.
We all have choices. And choices bring consequences. When we choose to engage in behavior that may lead to untimely pregnancies we must be prepared to take responsibility for the results. It is not the innocent who should pay.  And if the choice was made for us, we still can take charge of the rest. We can choose how the story ends.
January is Sanctity of Life month.
As an adoptive mother this is a topic close to my heart.  My children’s birthmom knew she could not keep them. But she could have chosen to end their lives rather than face the nine months of questions, well-intentioned advice, and hurtful remarks that she must have endured in carrying two children for whom she chose to make an adoption plan. Our society still places a stigma on women who relinquish their children, calling them heartless, and judging rather than consoling and comforting. Instead, she went forward with her decision, with the discomfort of the pregnancy, with the pain of the delivery, with the heartbreak of the separation.
My children’s birth mom made the hardest of the choices. It seems that she is also pro-choice.

PS: My intention is not to offend or create controversy. I am not one to write blogs to stir people up. This is simply from my heart as a mama who is grateful to the woman who gave life to my two amazing kiddos. So if you disagree and choose to comment, please do so kindly and respectfully.

January 22, 2011

The Waitress

Five Minute Fridays from The Gypsy Mama. This week’s prompt: Sit down, think of the most unique person you encountered while you were out and about this week, and write them into life for us. In five minutes flat.

She was just another waitress.
There were several in the restaurant and she was just one more among the faces that served our large group last night. Short curly hair, combat boots, a few tattoos. She wasn’t pretty, she wasn’t overly friendly, she would not stand out in a crowd. She just quietly kept refilling my glass, asking if we needed anything else, bringing condiments.
I will probably forget her in a few days. Most customers probably do.
But what dawned on me as I watched her was that, while she moved around the tables, each hair on her head was counted. Each thought listened to. Each hope considered. She may not even know it. Maybe nobody ever told her. But as she did her duty, she was marveled over, she was sung over, she was loved.
There is One who knit her together delicately and carefully. One that has recorded every day of her life. One that knows her name, thinks she is precious, and loved her enough to die for her.
I forget sometimes that every person I encounter is one of God’s beloved. I may not know her story, but He knows every tear she has cried.
I pondered all this from the comfort of my bed later that night. I thought about my lack of recognition and the loss of opportunity and I prayed that someone else, wiser and more obedient than I, will see her, really see her, and be bold enough to handle the introductions between the waitress and the God who rejoices over her day after day. 

January 14, 2011


**Five minute Friday from The Gypsy Mama**
They laugh together, make up stories together, chase each other laughing around the house. They push each other on riding toys, dance together in the living room, jump on the bed together and together they get in trouble for it. They sleep in the same room, whisper late into the night to each other, sharing their stories, their thoughts, their games.
But also…
The squabble, they fight, they kick, they hit, they punch. He spits at her, he swirls toys at her. She pushes him, she pinches him. She runs to me crying: “He bit me!” He comes at me running: “She took my toy!” He knows what buttons to push to bother her; she bosses him and treats him unkindly.
And then…
When they don’t know anyone is watching, when they don’t know the camera is ready, they take each other’s hand and walk across a bridge together.

And my heart melts…
And I pray this is how they face the world for always. I pray they confront the ugliness and salute the beautiful together, hands tied, united front. I pray they hold each other’s hand when crossing life’s bridges even after we are long gone. They have each other and for that I am forever grateful. I hope they remember this too and Give Thanks.

January 10, 2011

The Person I Wish I Knew

Yesterday was Isabel’s birthday. Inevitably, my children’s birth date is a day I spend thinking and praying about the one who saw their first moments in this world and made the hard choice to let them go.
How do I thank the woman who changed my life and gave me such precious a gift I can never repay? I guess I don’t yet know the words invented to express what I feel towards her. It is so much more than gratitude, or admiration, or even indebtedness. I am a mother because she is not and I am reminded of her sacrifice every time I look my children.
One of the things we had to consider while going through the process of adoption is how open we wanted our relationship with the birthparents to be. The spectrum is wide from no contact whatsoever, to visits to your home or theirs several times a year. We thought about this long and hard. We weighed our options, the pros and the cons. We placed ourselves in the spectrum carefully and prayerfully. In the end the decision was made for us by the kids’ birthmom.
For whatever reason, S. chose not to have contact with our children.  I cannot judge her. What do I know? I’ve never been in her shoes. I choose to believe that she felt it would be easier on her pain not to know them or see them. Perhaps she had never heard of open adoptions and felt she had no other option or choice. I do know in my heart it was not a heartless act of a careless mother. From what I know of her situation, the choice of an adoption plan was a courageous one for her, meant to give her children the life she knew she could not. That’s a woman who loves her children in my book.
But adoption, as happy an event as it can be, is not all rainbows and butterflies. In adoption there is loss and, believe me, we are the ones that suffered the least.  Yes, we mourned the loss of the biological children that never were, but in the end we are parents; we have these two amazing beings that fill our lives with laughter and joy.
On the other side of the adoption triad is a woman who walked into a hospital carrying life and walked out with empty arms back to real-life, minus baby. On the other side of the adoption triad are two children who are loved by their parents but who are left with lots of painful questions that may never receive an answer and that become deeper and more thoughtful as they get older.
Isabel began asking such questions early on. I’m waiting for the day the one I dread the most will come: why didn’t she want me? Now, I know that’s not true, but how do you explain that to a little girl?
There are seasons when the questions cease for a while, and then there are seasons when adoption is all that seems to be on her mind.
A few days ago she came to me and said:
“-Mami, I saw a picture of Miss S. holding me as a baby!” (she calls her birthmom Miss S., as she calls all women in our life)
“-No, baby, we don’t have a picture of Miss S. holding you.”
“-But, mami, I saw it on the computer screen!”
Our screen saver is an ongoing slide show of pictures from our files. I realized she had seen a picture of her foster mom holding her the day they placed her in our arms.  It made me smile that her foster mom is white. Isabel still does not associate families by color as most children do at her age. This is not unusual given that there are four adoptive families in our church, all formed transracially.
“-Baby, that is not S. That is a lady that took care of you when you were little.”
“-Oh. Well, where is Miss S.?”
“-I don’t know, baby.”
“-Where does she live?”
“-I don’t know, sweetheart.”
“-Oh.” Off to play she went.
She had never before expressed a desire to see her birthmom or to know where she lives. These are shadows of things to come. How I wish I could provide her with a picture. How I wish I could see a picture. I want to know where she got her big brown eyes and her beautiful mouth. More than anything I know the feeling of belonging that I experience when I look at my mom and see the family resemblance.
There is loss in adoption and the mirror is a constant reminder. Isabel and Noah are blessed to have one another: they look like each other, they have that connection. Many adoptees do not and we can’t minimize the importance of family resemblance. Matt’s family has strong genes. There is the Johnson’s mouth, the Johnson’s hair, the Johnson’s you-name-it. When they discuss the cousins’ traits I ache for my kids who will never be part of that conversation.
No matter where I was in the openness spectrum of adoption before, I have now become an advocate for the open adoption end. What child would not benefit from more people in their lives that love them and cherish them?

There are lots of misunderstandings about open adoption out there and they mostly come from a place of lack of knowledge. Yes, there are situations where the child is best not to have a relationship with his or her birthmother. But when this is not the case, I now think that the decision about how open to make the adoption, if you have the choice, should be one that is considered carefully, with research, and with the child’s best interest in mind.
Since we did not have the choice I can only pray daily for S. and tell my children what I know about her, making sure they always know the difficult choice she made for them and how much love, pain, and selflessness is involved in that choice.
**Dear S., if you are out there, I hope someday we meet face to face. I want to thank you in person for the way you changed my life and introduce you to the two incredible human beings you brought forth. I hope you can feel our prayers; I ask God to give you a peace that your children are safe, loved, and growing to know Him and love Him.**

January 3, 2011

Why I'd rather be awake.

"If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up."  ~J.M. Power (Mama Kat’s Weekly Writing Prompt)

We were made to procreate. God placed in each living being an instinctual desire to re-create and continue the species. Humans being were further given the opportunity to make choices about procreation. We can choose to do so or not to do so. We are not just driven by instincts. We can logically and personally decide if we want to bring forth children or remain child-free.

Except when you can’t. What most take for granted for some of us is unattainable. You don’t really understand the power of that choice until you don’t have it. Infertility is cruel and random. You mostly don’t think about it until it invades your life, turns it upside down, and takes over your dreams.

I had the normal dreams of most young girls. I would go to college, get an education, find a job, marry my dream man, have children, live happily ever after. As I was growing up life seemed to go just as planned. College and graduate school, check. Job, check. Man of my dreams, check.

The next logical step for us was to have a baby. And so we began to dream. Oh, how we dreamt. We dreamt of a little girl with my curly hair and Matt’s green eyes. We dreamt of a little boy with my energy and Matt’s introspective personality. We dreamt as we planned, timed, checked, and counted days.

We kept dreaming as weeks turned into months and months turned into years. All around me my friends would get pregnant and become moms. And I prayed, and hoped, and mostly dreamt. We continued dreaming while the doctors tested and prodded. We kept planning as they took samples and made diagnoses.

Twice we thought the dream would finally come true and twice we were disappointed by medical science. But we could not stop dreaming of the little girl and the little boy for we thought if we stopped dreaming we would stop living. Infertility consumes you. It becomes the nightmare that kills the dreams.

And I moved as in a fog. Dreaming of the children I couldn’t have. Dreaming of the mother I could not be. And living only medical nightmares.

One day when all the science we were morally and ethically willing to endure was exhausted I was faced with two choices: to allow the nightmare to drag me deeper into a dark obsession where I compromised my beliefs of right and wrong in pursuit of this elusive dream, or to shake myself awake and allow the Dream-Giver to re-shape my reality and my hopes. So I woke up.

I woke up to the reality that there are many ways to make a family. That the little girl I was dreaming about for so long was not in me, but out there. That she would have beautiful eyes, brown, not green. That she would have curly hair, not like mine, but beautiful anyway. That she would not grow in my womb but I would love her madly nonetheless.

And wide-awake we filled the paperwork, we went through the homestudy, we received the phone call. Wide-awake we chose her, we picked her up, we made her ours. And a little while later, wide-awake we brought her little brother home the same way. A boy with energy to spare and as laid back as a peaceful stream. Wide-awake we took charge of our dreams and made them come true, with God’s amazing help and grace.

I don’t believe adoption is for everyone. It is not to be entered upon lightly for it can be a painful, bitter-sweet process. It is not second best and it is not a last resort. For us it was a God-given calling and the reality that made our dreams come true.  For some of my dear friends dealing with this monster we "affectionately" call IF, their dreams have and will be made reality with the help of the doctors. Others have and will make the choice to re-define their dreams and dream up a new way of living, child-free. But for us, it took waking up from our infertility nightmare to realize our two dreams were out there somewhere waiting for us to find them.

Mama's Losin' It