Thursday, February 28, 2013

Guess What's New At My House?



Been a busy week around here. My new potty is lovely, indeed. It looks like a work of art, and Mike says it's supposed to be able to flush a bucket of golf balls. But we aren't going to try that.

I'll spare you the rest of the details since I've got some great links to share this week.

Remember, I'm a blog addict, an information junkie. I read decorating blogs, home organization blogs, adoption blogs, political blogs -- anything that makes me learn or think or laugh or grow. Here are a few posts I've enjoyed lately.

The Sexy Wife I Can't Be - A Christian wife bears her soul over at A Deeper Story.

To C or not to C - That is the question you'll have to ask if you adopt an older boy. Ouch!

On why I'm not giving up food or drink for Lent - Food for thought from one of my favorite bloggers.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where I Pretend to be a Fashion Blogger, Part II



Recently, I treated myself to a fashion makeover via Stitch Fix.

Stitch Fix is an online stylist. When you visit their website, you fill out an extensive fashion questionnaire. You look at photos of different outfits and give your opinion. You fill in your height and weight and clothing sizes. Colors you like. Fabrics and patterns you'd never wear. If you spend your days working in an office or driving a minivan. I even linked to my Pinterest fashion board. Stitch Fix collects a ton of info on your personal style.

Then, you pick a date to receive a Fix. For a $20 fee, a personal stylist picks 5 clothing or accessory items for you to try on at home. Your $20 fee can be applied to anything you decide to purchase from your Fix. I scheduled my Fix to arrive on Valentine's Day and told Mike that I might want my Valentine's present to come from my Stitch Fix. Win/Win for everyone.

I don't usually go for things like this, but a couple of things impressed me about Stitch Fix. First of all, you don't have to sign up for regular shipments. You only get a Fix when you request it. Second, shipping is free both ways. Stitch Fix includes a postage paid bag for you to ship back anything from your Fix that you don't want. They make it fun and easy.

In all fairness, the clothes aren't super cheap. You get to choose a price range for items in your Fix, but any bargain shopper could probably find better deals at TJ Maxx or Target or Marshall's. Problem is, I don't really have time to shop these days. And remember, I don't need a lot of clothes. I need a small wardrobe of things that work.

Each item from Stitch Fix comes with a styling card, showing different ways you might wear it with items you already have in your closet.

My goal was to keep one item, but only if I loved it. Stitch Fix gives you a 25% discount if you keep all five pieces, which is a great deal, but only if you really love it all.

At first it wasn't looking hopeful. There was a jacket I loved, but the sleeves were too tight. Two shirts that just didn't do anything for me. A $40 scarf -- ummm, that's never going to happen.

But then I pulled out an elegant long sleeved black tee. I would have never picked it up in the store because without trying it on, it just looked like a pile of fabric. But when I tried it on, WOW! All that fabric made a  lovely drapey cowl neck. Later I realized that it looks an awful lot like this dress from my Pinterest board. My Stitch Fix stylist took a good look at something I loved and gave me a version that worked perfectly for me. Good work, Stitch Fix.

Here's the part where I'm supposed to model all the stuff from my Fix, using my phone to take pictures of myself in the mirror.

Hmmm, not really there yet.

I popped the other four items in the prepaid mailing bag, and sent them on their way. And when I went online and paid for my gorgeous new shirt, I gave Stitch Fix feedback on why the other items didn't work. If I decide to order again, Stitch Fix will factor in my feedback. They claim their "special sauce" gets better over time.

Click here to try Stitch Fix for yourself using my personal referral link. When you get your first Fix, Stitch Fix will give me $25 to spend on a future Fix. And even better, when you sign up for your first Fix, you'll get a referral link to share with your friends, too. Win/Win//Win!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where I Pretend to be a Fashion Blogger


I have a confession to make.

For the past year, I've worn the same pair of jeans -- almost every day.

Simple reason. The combination of hitting fifty and having several injuries -- knee, ankle, foot -- has led to some unfortunate weight gain -- mostly around my middle. Over the last year, I literally changed shape.

Thankfully, I picked up a really cute pair of curvy jeans on sale at Ann Taylor Loft, and they fit the new me to a tee. Add a handful of tanks, cardigans and scarves, and I've been able to make a lot of cute outfits from that one pair of jeans.

And I learned something in the process. I don't need a lot of clothes. I just need the right clothes.

As long as I have a working washing machine, I can live with one pair of jeans. Please don't judge. Smile.

It's changing the way I shop. I don't need a whole bunch of sale stuff that almost works. Instead, I need to invest in clothing that, first of all, fits, and second, is my style.

A while back, this post about building a small wardrobe started me thinking this way.

More recently, it's been Pinterest to the rescue. Thinking about my style, I put together this Pinterest board of outfits I like. Defining my style helps me not buy the wrong clothes just because they are on sale.

For me as a mom, it's important to keep the frumpiness at bay as much as possible. I love it when I come out of the bedroom dressed for the day, and the kids say, "Are we going somewhere?" However, when I spend the whole day in pajamas with unbrushed hair, it's a different story. On those days, Wenxin has been known to say, "Hey guys, Mom kind of looks like Medusa."

With that in mind, I need to go brush my hair before we start school. Today also happens to be Katherine's birthday. I wouldn't want to look like Medusa for that!

Don't miss Part II where I share about how I'm finding cute clothes via an online stylist.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let's Have a Linky Party


It's been a while since we've had a Linky Party here at Death by Great Wall. Today's topic is simple, and it's open to all bloggers. You don't have to write about older child adoption to participate. Take a moment and link up to your all-time favorite post. . . your best work. . . the one that's near and dear to your heart. No topic is off limits as long as it's family friendly.

Just click the little blue linky tool below and follow the instructions. Be sure to link to a specific post and not just your blog's home page. It's super simple. I promise.

As a courtesy, please link back to Death by Great Wall at the end of your post. Either add a text link that says, "Shared at Death by Great Wall," or use my cute little blog button. 
Death By Great Wall
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.deathbygreatwall.com/" title="Death By Great Wall"><img src="http://i1218.photobucket.com/albums/dd408/lizzygal18/Dana%20Ball%20Install/button2.png" alt="Death By Great Wall" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

And finally, be social. Visit some of the other posts in this party. You might even make a new blog friend.

OK. I think that covers everything. The party starts. . . now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Do You Say, "No," to Adopting One More?



"We already had a large family when we felt God's call to adopt. We adopted one child after another, several children in the space of a few years. Now I could spin this story in a way that makes it look sacrificial and super-spiritual. But in reality, it was just plain reckless." (paraphrase of an adoptive father speaking at Empowered to Connect)

One thing that struck me at Empowered to Connect was the honesty and humility of the speakers. No one tried to whip us into a frenzy to run out and save all the world's orphans. It seemed deliberately low key.

What was emphasized was the cost of adoption. Not the monetary cost. The day I spent at Empowered to Connect, that was hardly mentioned. The cost I'm talking about is the cost of investment parenting. The kind of parenting that takes a lot of time and possibly a lot of re-learning on the part of the adoptive parents.

It was even suggested that, if possible, we bring home one child at a time. I don't think anyone was saying that's a hard and fast rule. Especially when fostering, there are sibling groups that need to stay together. So please don't think I'm criticizing you if you are in the process of adopting two or more kids at once. But prospective adoptive parents need to be aware of how much emotional energy it will take to parent a child from the hard places.

It sounds spiritual to say, "there's always room at my table for one more," especially with the staggering number of children needing homes. But in reality, when we adopt more children than we can actually parent, we run the risk of creating a home that is more like a small orphanage than a family.

I admit I still sit up late at night scrolling through photos of waiting children, both here in U.S. foster care and overseas in orphanages. I find myself wondering if we'll ever adopt one more.

The Empowered to Connect Conference actually encouraged me to take the time to invest deeply in the four children God has given me today. Maybe when these kids are grown we will foster or adopt teenagers. Many of the waiting kids in my state are teens.

But for today, I think our parenting plate is full.

What about you? I know many of you have large families. When do you say, "No," to adopting one more? 


BabyLinkUp500pxMissional Women
Little by Little

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pinch Me! I'm At Empowered to Connect.


Mike and I spent Friday at Empowered to Connect. Along with hundreds of other adoptive and foster parents, we listened to Dr. Karyn Purvis and her team teach about Trust-Based Parenting.

Dr. Purvis is a developmental psychologist and author of The Connected Child. Dr. Purvis specializes in working with children who are at risk for social, behavioral, and emotional problems. Most of our kids who were adopted at older ages fall into that category.

I always say that The Connected Child was the best thing I read as we prepared to adopt Wenxin. Coming to us at age 7 1/2, he'd already had a lot of losses in life. When one of the nannies at the orphanage gently pushed him through the door and whispered, "Say Mama and Baba," we were strangers to him. We didn't even speak his language.

Thinking back to those early days, I'd like to thank Dr. Purvis for teaching us that play is important.

Because of Dr. Purvis, when we went to China. . .

We were silly.

We giggled.

We played.

Arriving home in the U.S., we reminded each other that the playful approach seemed to be working. Sure we had rules and routines, but we tried to keep things light, and whenever possible, we played.


I wasn't sure why it worked, but I knew that it DID work. Wenxin relaxed. He began to let us love him. And he began to attach.


It was a treat to hear Dr. Purvis in person on Friday. I was so impressed with her heart for children from hard places.

On Friday, Dr. Purvis talked a lot about brain development in babies. She shared that, ideally, over the first year of life, a baby learns that "when I express a need, my need is met." Babies cry when they are hungry or wet or over-tired, and soon a parent comes and feeds them or changes them or rocks them. According to Dr. Purvis, the science is there to show that this actually aids the baby's brain development.

Dr. Purvis also reminded us that with our newborn biological kids we spent almost a year saying, "Yes," before we ever had to say, "No."

"Yes, I'll feed you."

"Yes, I'll change your diaper."

"Yes, I'll pick you up and hold you."

Of course, once babies are mobile, it becomes necessary to say, "No," as well, but by that point, the baby has learned that the world is a safe place for him and that he can trust his parents.

However, for many of our adopted kids, it was a different story. They cried and no one came. They were hungry, and no one fed them. They lay for hours in wet and dirty diapers. The baby in chronic distress is on high alert. He learns that no one will meet his needs, and he has to fight for survival. His default brain responses become aggression, violence, manipulation, control, and triangulation.

Dr. Purvis says that neglect actually changes the way the neglected child's brain works.

With that is mind, a playful approach makes so much sense. Our kids from hard places are afraid. They are on high alert. Play helps them relax.

And do you see why finding ways to say, "Yes," is important too? As we say over and over again, "Yes, I'll meet your need, " we build trust.

In a sense, we need to give our kids what they missed as babies. I've seen this work in our home.

As Wenxin got to know and trust us, he liked to be held. Please know that this came in time. I didn't hold Wenxin in China. He wasn't even sure he liked me at first. We let him get to know us and never forced physical affection. But still, we found non-threatening ways to touch him. We tousled his hair, or held his hand as we walked. I put sweet-smelling lotion on him after his bath.

As he relaxed a little, he began to want me to hold him. Look at this photo. Doesn't this remind you of how a mom holds a newborn?


Once, one of the other kids commented that I was spending a lot of time holding Wenxin. Wenxin replied, "Momma's catching me up. She's been holding you all your life. You even got to grow in her tummy. Momma's catching me up."

Smart boy. That's exactly what I was doing.


If you're adopting an older child, I urge you to read The Connected Child and even attend an Empowered to Connect Conference , if possible. Our children who experienced trauma or neglect face huge challenges, but Dr. Purvis shares that an informed, loving parent is a powerful tool. There's a place for counselors and therapists too, but they really can't take the place of a loving, informed parent.

I have some other things to share this week from Empowered to Connect, but for today, let me close with a short video from Dr. Purvis.



Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't Be Jealous, But . . .


I'm at Empowered to Connect today. With my husband. And no kids.

I'm so excited to hear Dr. Karyn Purvis in person. You can look forward to a blog post early next week in which I'll gush about all we learned.

As I'm running out the door this morning, I'll leave you with this week's Blogaholics Anonymous.

Remember, I'm a blog addict, an information junkie. I read decorating blogs, home organization blogs, adoption blogs, political blogs -- anything that makes me learn or think or laugh or grow. Here are a few posts I've enjoyed lately.

My Learning Curve: P.L.A.C.E - Adopting the best attitude when interacting with kids from hard places.

Wisdom Wednesdays: The First 60 Days Home - Keeping it real about the early days of an international adoption.

My Train Wreck Conversion - how a leftist, feminist, lesbian college professor, who hated Christians, became one.

How to Fall in Love With Your Home - If you have a Pinterest board full of dream houses, here's a 40 day challenge to fall in love with the home you already have.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Love is Thicker Than Blood

“Blood is thicker than water.” We've all heard it. This German proverb is meant to explain that the bonds of family are stronger than those you make with others. But what if you’re not blood related to those you’re supposed to be most closely connected to? Does that mean you don’t apply? That you don’t get it? That the strength of your feelings just isn’t strong enough?

I have been struggling for the past few weeks to write this post. I have so much to talk about when it comes to adoption that I have a hard time narrowing it down to one subject. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been incredibly distracted. My grandmother passed away on January 26, and I spent a lot of time in my hometown before and after her death. Returning to my life here with my husband and friends and picking up where I left off has proven quite difficult.
My grandmother, Louise, was 92 years old. She saw the Great Depression, World War II (and every war since), and watched women and African Americans fight for and gain equal rights. She had a wonderful husband and two children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. “I’ve had a really great life,” she always told us, and she had.

I spent most of the day in the hospital with my grandma and mom the day after she was admitted. Her congestive heart failure was reaching a point that we knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer. When my uncle showed up to stay with her for the night, I drove Mom home to sleep a bit before coming back. She told me stories the entire drive.

“When Daddy (my grandfather) was at this hospital recovering from heart surgery, Momma (my grandmother) went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat and ran into this little lady who was knitting and surrounded by all of these little baby clothes. Momma was so curious that she asked, 'Who are you making all of these clothes for?' The lady said, 'Oh, I’m making them for the babies who are adopted from the Godparent Home!' This just set her on fire! We were still trying unsuccessfully, and as soon as she told us about the Godparent Home, we put in an application. She was just so excited about all of those baby clothes and knew we wanted a baby so bad.”

This was only the first time my or my brother’s adoption was mentioned that week. Sadly, the way it was brought up to my brother wasn't in such a sweet, commemorative way. A person who came through the receiving line at the funeral home on family night introduced herself to my brother by asking, “Are you one of the adopted ones?” (Seriously!? How insensitive and rude! Some people…)

People bring up adoption in the most random ways. Our family usually only brings it up to highlight special memories, such as the little knitting lady unknowingly leading my parents to the place from which they'd adopt. Some people bring it up because of curiosity, like the woman who so rudely “introduced” herself to my brother during such a difficult occasion. The third time adoption was brought up that week was to me again; this time by the type of person who doesn’t know they’re even touching upon the subject. This is the most common way that adoption pops up in daily life.

After the graveside service I rose to walk from beneath the tent and was immediately surrounded by relatives, friends, and members of our church’s congregation. Hugs came from all directions, followed by supportive and loving comments to me about my grandmother. One lady from church held on and wouldn't let go.

“She was such a sweet woman. You will have so many wonderful memories! 92 years is a long, long life of good memories,” she said consoling me. She then tried to lighten the conversation by joking, “Well, you have good genes then! I hope you can look forward to 90+ years with hardly any health problems. Good genes!”

I smiled and nodded; this wasn't my first rodeo. In the few seconds of a conversation like this, it’s amazing how quickly your mind can run through so many thoughts before you even need to respond: "She doesn't know. How long has she known me? Just be nice and play along. Great genes; agree with her that you have great genes." 

“Yes, great genes! I keep teasing Mom that now I’ll have to put up with her until she’s 90!” She laughed, hugged me, and left me to greet others.

I may not have Louise’s genes, but she showered me with love from day one. She and my grandfather, my other grandmother, my Mom and Dad, my brother, uncles, aunts, cousins… they all have loved and do love me so much. There has never been a day that I have not been a part of that family. The one thing I want adoptive parents to know is that blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood.


Emily is a 26-year-old adoptee, wife, graphic designer, and blogger. She has started a fairly new blog to write about her life as an adoptee, Finding Tristen Kay, and blogs personally at Em Busy Living.



Friday, February 8, 2013

Homeschooling My Seventh Grader

Up until this year, Nathan's always attended a university model school where he studied on campus two days a week and worked from home the other three days. This year, we decided to bring him home to homeschool full time.

Why did we choose to make this change for seventh grade?

First, to give us a year to intentionally pour into his life as he's entering his teen years.

And second, to take a year to focus on his gifts and interests.

Take this morning, for instance. I declared today to be "Science Day." Science is a special love of Nathan's, so today I had him teach the younger kids how to use a microscope. I think I'm going to make "Science Day" a regular Friday activity. Nathan will get experience doing a presentation to a group, and his siblings will get a little extra science.

 
Then, there's art. In my opinion, Nathan is a gifted artist, and this year I'm encouraging him to take time to draw. During our study of the Civil War, I asked him to take a stab at drawing President Lincoln. Not bad for a kid who's had very little art instruction.

Finally, there's writing. I'm loving collaborating with Nathan as he develops as a writer. Below is a story he wrote this week about a slave family escaping on the Underground Railroad. We used a sample story in IEW's U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, Volume 2 as a starting point for Nathan to develop his own story. 

Hurry

By Nathan

“Hurry, we don’t have much time!” whispered Father during the dark night. Soon, I was being pushed out the door. 

Mother and Father had talked in hushed tones all day. “Auction this week,” I heard them say. I didn't know what an auction was, but the desperate looks on their faces made me afraid.
 
We sprinted through the cotton fields toward the fence that barred us from the outside world. Tripping on a tangle of roots, Father crashed into some bushes. Mother yanked him to his feet, and we crept away, until we heard the overseer’s yells. Jumping the fence, we headed for the river, the angry barks of snarling search dogs pursuing us. We dove into the water to cover our scent. Shivering, we came out on the other side and hurried through the black night toward freedom.

Many hours later, we ran into another river. I realized a man was standing at the bank. As we got closer, I discovered it was my escaped 18-year-old brother, Job. Job explained he was going to take us up river and help us get to Canada.
 
As we crossed the river, questions filled my mind.  How did he find us?  Why was he risking his life to come back and save us?  Why wasn't he safe in the North?  Exhausted, my questions faded away as the gentle rhythm of the water rocked me to sleep. 

Suddenly, I was shaken awake by Job. I opened my eyes and saw that I was no longer in the boat, but a forest with sunlight shining through the trees. Job said, “Get up, the slave catchers are coming!” All four of us ran through the forest, dodging trees. I thought I heard shouts far behind us. I spotted a cabin up ahead, and when I was about to tell mother about it, we suddenly ducked inside.
 
Peering through a crack in the door, I saw a group of white men rush past the shabby little house.  Relieved, I let my guard down.  Suddenly, I felt a hand around my waist.  I looked down.  It was white.
  
Wriggling loose, I bolted for the door. But he was too fast. He caught me easily and yanked me to him! Biting, kicking, clawing, I struggled, as the tears ran down my face. The white man just laughed.

Then, my heart sank as I realized Job was laughing too. My brother had betrayed us. 

Job said, “Don’t worry. This is Mr. Wheeler. He is going to hide us from the slave catchers. He is our station master today on the Underground Railroad. He was just moving you away from the door for safety.”

Relieved to know he wasn't going to hand us over to the slave catchers, I was glad we were no longer on our own.  

Because we escaped that one dark night, I was able to learn to read and write. Because we escaped, I was able to earn money for my labor. Because we escaped, my children grew up free. Now, many years later, the memory of the voyage north is as vivid as ever. I am thankful for all those men and women who devoted their lives to helping slaves like I once was escape from the South.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Loving Homeschooling in February

It's February, and I'm feeling pretty happy about how our homeschool year is progressing.  This month, we're taking it easy, soaking up more of the subjects each child loves and introducing some fun enrichment activities.

For my 7th grader, Nathan, this means taking hours of the school day to devour the whole Harry Potter series. He's still working hard in Algebra and Latin and Writing, but I'm not complaining if he lies on the sofa all morning reading Harry Potter.
Wenxin, Julia, and Katherine are all reading books they love as well. But we've slowed the pace a little in their other subjects and added some fun brain exercises with Lego Quest, a set of 51 building challenges. Here are some of their creations.

Quest 1: Create a Vehicle





Quest 2: Create Something Monochromatic





They probably didn't even notice that they learned the word, monochromatic. They were having too much fun -- those darn homeschoolers -- playing at school!

The quests progress to things like "make a self portrait" and "build an Olympic event." Here's a complete list of all 51 Lego Quests. My kids are loving the challenge.

How about you? Do you feel the need to school at a slower pace in February? Are you making any changes for the second half of the school year?

Little by Little

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

So You're Adopting from China . . .



If I could sit down and have coffee with you today, the first thing I'd tell you is, "Congratulations!"

Then, I'd give you a big hug,and we'd ooh and aah over the photo of your new child.  I'd listen to your story and eventually, I'd share lots of stories of my own.

I'd become your biggest cheerleader.

So if you're adopting from China, I'm glad you're here. Grab a cup of coffee, and spend some time reading these posts that I wrote especially for people just like you. Leave a comment somewhere, and tell me about your own journey. I'd love to meet you in person, but really, this is the next best thing.

Ten Things to Do While You Wait - using the wait to get ahead of the game.

Nine Things I'm Glad We Took to China - packing with attachment in mind

How Did You Get a Boy From China? - the updated truth about China adoption and boys

Keeping His Chinese Name - our unconventional choice; well, really it was his choice

He DID NOT Just Say That! - handling the inappropriate things people say to adopted kids

When Fear Looks Like Disobedience - a new paradigm for viewing your child's behavior

Are you part of a message board or online adoption forum? Would you be willing to post this link so more families can join in the discussion? Thanks! You're the greatest!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Unforgotten


I was 32 and at a business conference in Colorado. Someone at the reception desk handed me a message that Nancy returned my call. I picked up the receiver of the payphone nearby and tried calling her again.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Nancy? This is Jill.”

“Oh, yes, Jill. I’ve found your file and will be happy to send it to you if you give me a number where I can FAX it. Remember, all the identifying information will be marked out. Only the non-identifying information will be readable. But you can get an idea of your story.

“Um. There is something else I should tell you,” said Nancy.

My heart was beating in my ears. What did she need to say?

“There is a fairly recent note. You have two sisters, and they tried to contact you through the agency about a year ago. They wanted you to know that your birthmother has passed away.”

I just stood there at the pay phone and really wanted to sit down. The life-long pang of loss took on another dimension.

“Oh,” I said. “Thank you for telling me. I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of half-sisters. And, she died? I am kind of prepared for that. When I was searching for her, I had a mysterious impression that I didn’t have a lot of time to find her.”

I gave Nancy the FAX number of a nearby Kinko’s where about 20 pages of the most personal of personal information was going to be printed out for the wandering eyes of the Kinko’s employees. My best friend and I rushed over to the Kinko’s to retrieve the FAX.

We then drove up into some nearby Colorado hills, parked the car, got out and sat on some rocks overlooking the valley where a town was nestled.  After five years of on-and-off searching for my birthmother, I slowly read aloud the story of how my life began and the sacrificial choice my birthmother made.

            Like a tide rising, there was a gradual filling in of the numerous blanks in my life. My records were sealed by the state, and even my wonderful parents had scant details to tell me about myself.

There I sat, reading for the first time that my birthmother was a nurse and had served in the Air Force for two years where she met my birth father, a fighter pilot. When she became pregnant with me, she struggled not knowing what to do. The social worker wrote a detailed account of what transpired just before I was born.

Interestingly, nothing was mentioned about my parents. I suppose that’s in another dusty file box at the agency. Mom and Dad got me when I was 16 days old. Sixteen months later, my brother, their biological child, was born. What can I say? Mom and Dad were the best parents I could’ve gotten. They aren’t perfect, but they are perfect for me. I'm so thankful for how my parents were able to rescue me from what could have been. Their encouragement, strength and security in themselves helped me embark on the search to find the missing pieces of my beginnings.

Growing up, the pang in my soul from all the unknowns in my story caused a continual ache. The ache didn’t keep me from making friends, playing an instrument, doing well in school or traveling the world. The ache was something I lived with. The pang was an emotional chronic pain similar to what physical chronic pain can be. It’s always there, but one keeps moving and doesn’t know what life would be like if the chronic pain was gone.

Sometimes  the pang was in the forefront of my thoughts. During holidays, when our whole family was together – Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles, second cousins – I felt the pang more intensely. Physically, I blended into my immediate family quite well. But when the line of the family circle was drawn larger to include aunts, uncles and cousins, I felt a disconnect in a way that was unexplainable during my first 27 years. My extended family were so accepting and warm toward me that they would forget my biological heritage was not the same as theirs. I have two heritages — one is biological and the other is the family culture that raised me. Both heritages have formed who I am… and I'm so grateful for what each contributes.

During my twenties, I learned that the pang in my soul was tied to a great loss and that my fear of being left was connected to the first minutes of my life when my birth mother, Lois, would not even hold me for fear she could not relinquish me to a better situation. I also learned that I believed a lie from the darkest of places. This was the lie -- My existence deserved rejection. If I hadn’t been born, I would not have been rejected.

Because of God’s undeserved love toward me, I also learned He had chosen me before anything existed. That He is always near me and would never leave or forget me. A passage in the Bible brought me comfort, “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible,
 I would not forget you!”

Wherever I went, I met adoptees and we shared our unique stories and feelings. Their perspectives about their birthparents and how the loss played out in their lives helped me realize I wasn’t crazy. The loneliness began to diminish.

When my search came to an end that day on the hill in Colorado, I was driven to find and meet my half sisters and other family members. Within a few days, the non-identifying information brought me into contact with Beth, Kristin, my cousins, aunts and uncles. They were patient with my questions and each helped me to understand Lois a little better. That is a story for another blog post.

Probably because Lois had passed away, I felt a need to find my birthfather. With help from my half sister, Beth, I tracked him down. He was quite put out that I found him. Eventually, we met. Let’s say that I would be okay if that was the last time I saw him.
           
            For me, I can say that the pang in my soul has healed into a scar and is no longer an open wound. The dam in my heart that held the loss, fear, anger, grief, loneliness and want of answers is broken. At first, the flood waters were so overwhelming that I dealt with a lot of anxiety. Moving through those waters was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, and I could not have done it alone. My community of family, friends and God Himself brought me through. I became able to accept the love my parents had given me.

One thing I’d like adoptive parents to know is that there are many things I’d love for them to know! There is a book entitled, Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge. I highly recommend this book. Every adoptee is different in how each responds to being adopted. This is a wonderful introductory guide to begin to put words to what an adoptee is experiencing whether or not he or she shows it.

 Adoption is a glorious and wonderful event, but intermingled with the good is profound sadness due to the loss of being abandoned. Those feelings are often overwhelming and confusing. Adoptive parents need to be prepared, equipped, loving and strong to provide a safe place for their child to unfold – in their time – the loss so they can receive and appreciate their parents’ love.

   

Jill, a married mom of a three-year-old, has a degree in PR-Journalism from Auburn University and a M.A. in Christian Thought from Reformed Theological Seminary. She works for a mission organization and enjoys writing when time allows. Jill and her husband are also considering adoption to complete their family.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Blogaholics Anonymous


 
I'm a blog addict, an information junkie. I read decorating blogs, home organization blogs, adoption blogs, political blogs -- anything that makes me learn or think or laugh or grow.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this week's posts.

Singled Out - This blogger recently shut down her very popular blog over concerns for the privacy of her two adopted sons. So happy to see she's started blogging again under a pseudonym at this new site -- still serving up an honest view of older child adoption in real life.

The Girl Who Got Away - "Most Americans think sex trafficking is something that happens somewhere else to someone else, if they think of it at all." The girl in this story could be any of our daughters.

Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend Of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-a - a gay rights activist forms a friendship with Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-a based on respectful conversation.

Why My Support For Abortion Was Based on Love. . . And Lies - Few of us are on the fence about abortion rights. Most of us easily declare ourselves to be pro-life or pro-choice and probably don't feel the need to read another abortion article. But this one, by a former atheist turned Catholic, made me think.