Limbo

The last couple of weeks I’ve been in a sort of “limbo”. I’ve been here for exactly one month today and it’s safe to say the honeymoon period is over. This arrangement is not what any of us had in mind. I was sure I would have been working quite awhile ago and yet, I have not. I did get a job and I start Monday, but it definitely could have come much earlier. As newlyweds in a small space it’s hard enough having to share your home but add in the financial burden and well…my friends have been more than gracious. Not to mention sharing a room with an 8 month old and sitting at home twiddling my thumbs all day, everyday, hasn’t been all rosy for me either. 

All that to say, the adventure has lost it’s appeal and reality is settling in. So what’s next? Well, you can bet I’m not giving up! I’m committed to this journey and I think it will be great, limbo and all :) The tough times help you to appreciate the good, right? 

Well, as I mentioned, I start a new job tomorrow. I will be a nanny to a gorgeous 9-month-old baby girl, who we’ll call “G”. She is the sweetest, easiest baby I’ve ever known! Her parents are incredible and I think it is going to be a really great fit. 

I’m working on finding a new church and I’ve been to a couple that were pretty great. Eventually (after I get caught up on some bills that are now behind) I’ll be looking for a different place to live, either with roommates or by myself.

So there you have it, everything’s a mess and I’m just totally embracing it :)

Have you done anything crazy like this? Any tips?

Missing you all SO much!

 

Purity Part 3: Owning Our Behavior

116 Clique // Temptation

So where does this all leave us?

We live in a sexualized world and some of us have been pre-exposed to the darkest side of it. What can we do? Do we just embrace it and go with the flow? Do we risk rejection and being dubbed as the “prude” (do people still use that word)?

That’s what I have always done. And I talked about the damage that did in my first post.  I justified a lot of my behavior because God allowed these things to happen to me, so he must not care that sex is such a big part of my life now. It’s his fault that I am this way. He could have protected me and he didn’t. Or more recently, he could take away this sin if he would just give me a husband.

We come up with all sorts of justification.

Four months ago, I once again found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy in spite of our avid use of birth control. My boyfriend at the time was incredible. It was night and day difference from my experience with E’s father. But the fact remained, we didn’t plan for this or even really want this. Abortion wasn’t an option for either of us and adoption was not on the table as far as I was concerned. After the initial shock we started to get excited. We dreamed of what this child might be. What we might be. And then it was gone. I miscarried at just over 10 weeks. We were wrecked. I found out some other things about his past that destroyed our relationship and we parted ways, each heartbroken.

This experience was and is shitty. There is no silver lining. But the point is, it’s nothing new. I have had almost the same situation three times before and just one of those times my body actually carried through the pregnancy and we now have a precious little boy. But not one time was it without the deepest heartbreak.

Obviously heartache isn’t the motivator for change. Neither is social pressure, because we all know what the “norm” is.

So once we’ve gone there, what do we do? How do we get out of the cycle of making poor decisions and then finding ways to make them ok?

For me it’s a daily choice. I often fail, but I’m learning to extend myself grace at the same time as holding myself accountable. It’s also transparency and having people around me who keep me honest out of love. If we don’t feel safe within our church family, we’ll never be real with each other. We’ll never be honest. And accountability is moot without honesty.

Above and beyond all of that I have to want more for myself. For my future.

And I have to believe that God wants more for me. And that with the power of the Holy Spirit, I am equipped to make the healthy choice and demand more of myself.

Maybe sex isn’t your destructive choice. If it’s not what is? How do you get motivated to make a change? What keeps you from being real with the people in your life?

Purity Part 2: Preventative Parenting

As parents we have a responsibility to protect our kids’ minds. As I stated in my last post, we live in a highly sexualized culture, sex is everywhere. From appearances to downright doing the deed – the spectrum is broad and it’s all in our face all the time.

However, the way our kids process the things they are seeing and hearing and what they choose to do with those things is heavily influenced by the adults in their lives.

My childhood is most definitely the extreme here, but it is an example of how those experiences shaped my worldview for years to come.

When I was three years old most kids were reading Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss and Curious George. I distinctly remember perusing the Playboy magazines under my mom’s boyfriends bed. The adult toy catalog on the back of the toilet. The adult films on late night tv when my fellow preschoolers were likely sleeping. The sounds of my mom and that month’s “friend” through the curtain that served as her bedroom “door”.

Pair these with the overly friendly men in my life who deserve to be behind bars (or 6 feet under) and all perception of purity went out the door with my innocence.

What did I learn? A) Sex felt good. B) Sex got you good things. C) Sex in any context was normal.

So take these things and pair them with the rule breaker I told you about in the last post  and you get a little girl whose whole life is lived through a sexualized lens. You get four pregnancies in 8 years. You get an STI and pray that’s all. You get guilt and shame and low self-esteem. You get a string of relationships longer than the name of that Spanish I guy I dated; similar to “Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.”

I’m not making any excuses. I know that I am an adult and I am responsible for making healthy choices, but perhaps this can give you a glimpse of how your children’s experiences shape their decisions for the rest of their life.

As a young adult I have struggled so much in setting boundaries in relationships. I have never dated a man who held the conviction to wait until marriage to have sex and I never had the resolve to insist on it for myself. And, let’s be real, it feels good. But beyond that, sex has always been a means of attraction for me. With low self-esteem comes manipulation and what better way to manipulate a man into “loving” you than with your body? Warped, I know. Through years of therapy and a few consecutive healthier relationships, I’m slowly figuring it out.

Purity: Why Christians are missing the mark.

Let’s talk about Sex.

As Christians we talk a lot about sex without ever actually talking about sex. We use words like “saving ourselves” and “guarding our hearts” and not getting into situations where “it” could happen and how God says we have to wait and how marriage is the end to all ends.

But that’s clearly not getting the message across and honestly, I think it takes away from God’s heart behind asking us to “wait”. It is all Law and no Grace.

Where is the Love? Where is the Bride of Christ? Where is the meaning behind the “Law”?

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

His Word is clear on the matter – do not have sex outside of the commitment of marriage. But, as with all scripture, we have to ask – why? What is God’s heart behind this? If I believe that He is good and just and wants good things for me, then I have to believe this is more than just a rule. I have to believe that God has asked this of me because he believes this is good.

(Please don’t read this as if I’m up here on my pedestal sex-shaming everyone else — I need this more than most of you probably do.)

________________

Now, I was not an overly rebellious teenager. The things I did were to fit-in, not to “rebel” against my parents. I did drink, but I never did anything over-the-top and I was responsible enough not to get caught. I did have sex with my boyfriend, which by worldly standards and those of my friends – was tame. I did not sneak out, I did not smoke, I did not do drugs, I did not skip school, all of these things to me, translated as “I was the good kid.”

By all worldly accounts, I was doing great.  Yeah, I was breaking the “rules”, but not the really important rules… There was no concept of the depth and lasting impact those “minor” decisions were making on my life. To me they were just rules and there was no meaning behind them.

So as someone who has experienced three miscarriages now and given a baby up for adoption and can’t maintain a healthy relationship to save my life, I have some different ideas about what this Purity stuff really is.

WHY shouldn’t we have sex before marriage? Why is having multiple partners over the course of your life SO bad? Why is casual sex considered damaging?

Well, there’s the obvious…

Pregnancy often leads to a baby.

Sex often leads to Pregnancy which most often, leads to a baby. (Gorgeous as he may be…)

And then there’s the health risks. I cried every day for two weeks when I found out my boyfriend had given me Chlamydia. And I was lucky. It could have been something so much worse. Do you know that Herpes is incurable? And far more prevalent than you would believe? Do you know that there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections every year?

But those are all things that most of you already know because those are the things we are better at talking about.

What about the part that I didn’t know until I was in the thick of it? What about my heart? My spirit? My thought life? The effect on any future relationship? The hurt I would live with for the rest of my life?

It’s something that is hard to communicate because it is so experiential. But I can tell you, every man I have ever had sex with — even the drunken college nights where I don’t remember his name — I carry them with me. The insecurities, the deep seeded guilt, the low self-worth from the “I’ll call you” that would never come, comparisons from the way one mans lips felt on my neck vs the next, it’s all there at the core of every relationship from there on out.

When I find a man I want to spend my life with, I will carry ALL of this into our marriage. I will compare him to that gorgeous Saudi man I met at the bar; I will feel like he views me the way that Kenyan did for two years; I will want him to do that one thing that M used to do, but it won’t be just quite right; I won’t connect with him because I will be buried under years of guilt.

Don’t get me wrong — I will get married someday and I will love my husband in the deepest of ways. But I have created problems for us before I’ve even met the man. We will work our way through them and we may come out stronger on the other side — but it didn’t have to be. And more importantly – it doesn’t have to be. Not for you, or your daughter, or your sister, or niece, or even our sons (because you can be sure they suffer from these decisions too).

If we can start having honest, real conversations about this struggle we face, maybe we can start to change the course of history. In a highly sexualized culture we can’t afford to keep these hurts to ourselves anymore. In most churches, thanks to programs like Celebrate Recovery, men can find support for a pornography addiction — so let’s take it a step farther and talk about sex.

Could Have Been Beautiful

My adoption story is riddled with pain and loss, most of you know that.

But, what some of you don’t know – is that it didn’t have to be. I talk a lot about the negative impact foster care/adoption had on my life, but that’s not to say it couldn’t have gone differently and been a really positive thing.

The State of Utah failed me and my siblings in SO many ways. One of those ways, was by not terminating parental rights earlier. My birthmother’s rights were not terminated until we were old enough to have built a life together. I know that there are reasons for not terminating (and more often than not, I fully support them), but in our case – the TPR was inevitable. I also know, that no matter how young we were, it still would have been a trauma and a loss of the bond we had with each other; but I can’t help but think, perhaps if we had been moved earlier we would have stood a chance at a “normal” life.

Instead, I spent four years of my young life, moving every three or four months. From one foster home to another. From there to my mom. Then a group home. Another three or four foster homes. Back to mom. Back to the group home. And on and on and on and on. By the time I was six I had lived in more than 20 homes, with 17 different families.

My stint in foster care should have ended before it even started. My mom was given way too long to get her crap together. My entire childhood centered around her inability to be the parent we deserved. I don’t blame her; the deck was stacked against her from day one. But, we shouldn’t have had to pay that price. I should have been adopted much earlier.

If I had been placed in a loving, safe, stable home when I was three years old — I can only imagine how things might have been different. I might have been capable of loving them. I might not have endured some of the abuse I endured in foster homes. I might have had slightly fewer walls up. I might not have developed that lying habit that struck me down once I actually was adopted. I might have a healthier relationship with my family today. (I know the “what-if” line of thinking doesn’t do anyone any good, but it doesn’t change the fact that things could have gone differently with the right family).

Every child deserves to be cherished and protected. Every little girl should believe that her parents think she hung the moon.

When you have 17 parents in four years, none of them are around long enough for you to believe anything good about them.

What might have happened if one of those 17 decided to fight for me? How could that have changed things?

I know that as foster parents you don’t have a lot any control before the TPR, and sometimes very little after. But, please — if you have a little one entrusted to your care right now, please don’t give up on them. You’re all they’ve got in this scary world. They can’t (and shouldn’t need to) advocate for themselves; it’s time we step up and set our needs aside.

I know from reviewing my file that many of the placements I was moved from, were simply because it “was not a good fit”. Parenting someone else’s child is HARD. You will cry, you will fight, you will be drained, you will want to give up. But it’s not about you is it? At the end of the day – if that kid was your own flesh and blood and she was acting that way, you’d have to suck it up and find a way to work it out. These kids are no different. They need that same kind of commitment. I needed that commitment. I needed one of those 17 to stick with me and give me the life that every kid deserves. By the time I was adopted, I had experienced unspeakable loss and abandonment. That too, was destined to fail.

My childhood could have been beautiful; it’s not too late for the 400,000 children in foster care today.

This post is written for Foster Parents, but the vast majority of you probably don’t fit into that category. Each state is different, but I know for Idaho you can call 211 and get information on how to become a foster parent. If you have even the slightest tug right now, please look into it! These children are already so vulnerable, let’s not see them bounced around for a simple lack of adequate caregivers!

I am Philomena

brinnicole:

This post has a lot of insight into the profound psychological issues behind the relinquishment of a child. As well as, outlining the fact that just because we have these wounds, does not mean we cannot go on to actively contribute to society.

Originally posted on Letters to Ms. Feverfew:

Adam Pertman, adoptive father, author of books such as ‘Adoption Nation’ and ‘Adoption by Lesbians and Gay Men,’ researcher, and president of the Even B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, recently wrote an article for HuffPo about the movie, “Philomena.”  It can be found here: Big Lessons That Transcend the Movie: There Are Philomenas All Around Us

I felt a profound sense of relief when he acknowledge my own reality:

“…the reality is that during the mid-20th century and beyond, severe religious, social and familial stigmas against unwed motherhood were the norm far beyond Ireland. As a consequence, it’s almost certainly true that there are more Philomenas in the United States than in any other country — i.e., women who, given a choice, would have parented their children rather than suffering the anguish of losing them” (Emphasis added.)

He is right. And I am one of them.

Me in 1992…

View original 909 more words

Choosing Colorado

Quite possibly the scariest thing I’ve done in, well….ever.

A few months ago I decided that I needed some things to change; financially, relationally, spiritually and ultimately – geographically. I took the leap and found a job in Houston, Texas where I could live with my (birth)mom and soak up the sun in a new place.

It was all going great and I was thrilled, while somewhat terrified. It is not easy leaving everything you’ve ever known.
But I did it. I made the decision and I sold my whole life’s worth of junk belongings and quit my job. I told everyone I loved I was leaving and I packed up what I had left, into my tiny little car and hit the road.

I had barely made it to the first of four states I would travel through on this journey, when it became abundantly clear that I was making a mistake. I won’t go into the details (I’m learning about privacy and how being an open book isn’t always fair to the others in your book). But what you need to know for the purpose of this post, is that my mom and I will never be in a place where we could live together. We are too different and too much alike and too mother-daughter and not mother-daughter at all.  The simple fact is, it can’t and won’t happen. That in-and-of itself is something that cuts deep. Not to mention the fall-out of not going to Texas.

I left within a few hours of arriving and checked into a hotel for the night. I called two of my closest friends and I processed with them the realization that I was now homeless and jobless and had nothing and nowhere to go. One of the two was expecting me on her doorstep within a few days and she, without reservation, told me to come as soon as I was ready and to stay as long as I needed. “Home” was no longer home, so going back didn’t seem like an option. A friend in Utah, graciously offered her basement until I could get on my feet. But that was still in the midst of this issue at hand. After a night of praying and crying and very little sleep I decided Colorado was the next step.

I’ve been here a few days and I think I will stay. I am looking for a job and she has said that I can stay permanently if that is what works. She has been a sort of safe haven in the midst of some very hard things. I could not be more appreciative.

So here I am, eating a whole Humble pie all to myself. Knowing that without these people, I very well could be sleeping in my car on some snowy mountain pass in Podunk Wyoming.

After the initial shock, I’ve been able to find my bearings (somewhat), and have started to see the possibilities that are still in front of me. I don’t know how I missed the mark so completely over the last few months, but I also know that my future is bright and I do have an incredible opportunity to do just about anything that I want now. It has been so very hard but also, in a lot of ways, very liberating.

Thank you all for your love and encouragement as I try to sort this all out!

Battle Together

Church yesterday sort of shook me.

The message was about a story in Exodus chapter 17 where the Israelites are battling the Amalekites. Moses told Joshua to retaliate against the Amalekites and promised to stand on the hill with the staff of God in his hands during the battle. The story goes that so long as Moses’ hands are raised in a position of worship, the Israelites are winning. But if he lowers them, the battle turns.

Now, here’s the beautiful part. (I know, I know. You’re thinking Battle? Beautiful? Where is this going?)

Have you ever held something above your head for awhile? Shoot, even just holding your hands up, with nothing in them…You get tired. It’s not a naturally comfortable stance.

So of course, Moses gets tired! And they realize if he lowers his arms the Israelites begin to lose. So what do his friends do? They don’t try to take over and do it themselves. They don’t tease him. They don’t get frustrated. They don’t show disappointment or pass judgment. They offer him a place to sit and they provide supports for his arms to remain in the air. They meet him in his weakness and humble themselves as servants.

Whoa.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Can I just brag for a minute? God has given me several incredible women through my church that have been “supports” for me both spiritually, physically, and emotionally….over and over and over and OVER again. I could not be more blessed! And trust me I rarely made it easy for them. Some of them have loved me through my absolute darkest, most selfish and damaging decisions.

My prayer for this journey to Texas is that God would bring new women alongside me to continue to hold me accountable, and be the grace and love that I so desperately need in this crazy hard life. And above and beyond that, that I might begin to see myself as someone who could fill that role in another persons life. That through being served, I would learn to be a servant. That I would know how to meet someone in her weakness and help to lift her arms in worship as the battle rages on before us!

Isn’t that a gorgeous visual?!

Man I’m going to miss this little town we call home.

<3

On meeting Sarah, and other things.

I am a really bad girlfriend.

Not the girlfriend part specifically. Just that when I am in a relationship, every other aspect of my life seems to go into a tailspin.

My life. It is a carefully constructed balance that doesn’t take a lot to fall to pieces. It seems, dating does the most disrupting.

I started unofficially seeing someone in July and then more officially in October and by December…Well, I was a mess.

So there’s that.

___________________________

And there’s Sarah. I met her. After 8 months. I met her. There she was sitting and laughing next to me, as if she was where she had been all this time. We are very different. And yet not all that different. She is funny and fiery and guarded. I can’t help but wonder who she might be, had she grown up allowed to be fully her. I adore her. She is beautiful, and disciplined, and kind.

She is my sister.

We are as whole as we’re going to get; this little family of ours.

IMG_6690

Missing: two siblings and 3 nephews, one niece and the Nonna.

IMG_6661 IMG_6660

Finding her. Meeting her. Knowing her.

It makes me wonder. Dream. What might we have been like? She and I are so much alike in personality. I wonder if we would have liked each other. I think we would have been close. Kammi too. But that’s a whole different story.

___________________________

For months now I’ve wanted to move. But…Where? When? How? Why? There were so many variables, so many unknowns. I just couldn’t come up with a solid plan. My (birth)mom  has wanted me to move to Texas for a very long time now, and I’ve seriously considered it on a number of occasions. But it’s scary to think about leaving the familiar. While things here aren’t great, at least they are the “known”.  Right?

Well, I finally took the leap. I am making plans to move to Houston by mid-February! My mom will fly up here and help me get all packed up and then she will drive down there with me and all my life. (I really need a hoarders intervention if I’m going to be able to make this move!)

It is scary and exciting and bitter and sweet.

It’s adventure.

It’s Texas! <3

___________________________

I’m only making one resolution for this year.

I will learn to drive a stick. 

That’s all.

‘night 2013.

IMG_6689

Adoption is Not Beautiful.

This is another post in response to the Facebook frenzy that happened a couple of days ago.

I took a hiatus several months ago from blogging on all things adoption, because it was severely affecting relationships in my personal life. But that doesn’t mean I care any less about the issue and it doesn’t mean my opinions are any less valid than anyone else’s. I have had people say some downright awful things to me in the last two days, so I’m sorry but I’m not done blogging about it. And if you have something nasty to say, please, leave me a comment and reiterate how this industry is so dang ugly.

I come before you vulnerable and hurt. So please take these words in the sincerest, least antagonistic tone possible.

I am at a loss as I think of the many ways people just don’t get it. It is so hard to feel so strongly about something and have so few people around you who see it the way you do. Or even try to.

When I voice my opinions on adoption the response is, without fail, “I’m sorry you are hurting, I will pray for healing.” And that in and of itself is not bad! There will always be room for healing, unfortunately I don’t imagine this life is something I could ever be fully healed of.  It is heartbreak that I will carry to eternity. And that is ok for me. I have accepted this is my journey and in-part, the path that I chose. However, it is not about my need for healing or even my pain from adoption.  I care because I have been hurt, but that is not why you should care. You should care because it is unjust.

Do you know what I lost? As a child? I have always known that I had another family out there in the world and I knew that as a little girl I loved them. As I grew up I began to understand that in new ways. But, it really wasn’t until I found Sarah that I fully grasped the gravity of what had happened to us. My baby sister grew up in a nightmare believing that she had been abandoned and unwanted. Do you have any idea the impact that has had on me? Do you know the depth of the grief and the guilt that has led me to? Knowing that I could do nothing to protect my own sister? And I shouldn’t have to carry that guilt or pain. As a six-year-old girl, I didn’t deserve to lose my entire family at someone else’s hand. And do you know that we were all adopted into separate closed adoptions? Do you know that it is by the grace of God that we even know each other today? And love each other as if no time has passed? We had an awful childhood, but we had each other. And for us that meant something; it meant everything.

D0 you know what I lost as a mother? For a child who grew up with no biological roots to speak of, it is no wonder that I ran as fast as I could from the one thing that could tie all that back together. Even now as an adult, I keep my distance from any relationship but especially biological ones. I’m not going to make excuses, I know that I made the decision to give my son up, that is clear. But that doesn’t mean I knew what the ramifications of that decision would be. I had no frame of reference for what that mother-child bond would entail. I did not know what I was walking away from. I did not know that I would carry him with me in every breath from that day forward. I did not know that there would never again be a day where I would not grieve his absence. Every. Single. Day.

So that my friends is why I care.

But those are not your experiences, so why should you care? You should care about a system that is tearing apart families unnecessarily. About an industry that is creating orphans. About children being torn away from their heritage for obscene amounts of money. About child trafficking to meet the demands of American families who have vowed to save the worlds orphans. It has very little to do with me and everything to do with impacting change. If we don’t speak out about injustices then who will? If we don’t acknowledge that something isn’t right, then the cycle continues. More mothers face a lifetime of loss and more children are traumatized.

I’m not saying there are not children who need to be adopted — there absolutely ARE! But don’t you think that $50,000 toward an international adoption could instead be used to open a women’s clinic providing adequate prenatal care and encouraging mother’s to care for their children? Let’s get at the roots of abandonment and preserve families. Instead of saving one “orphan” (and let’s stop calling them orphans when they have living parents), lets save 10 mothers from the society that tells them to abandon their children. Let’s start showing people love instead of telling them they’re not good enough. Lets be preventative instead of trying to put a bandaid on a gaping wound. Let’s heal traumas instead of compounding them.

Let’s have a dialogue about the failings of the adoption industry and about how those two words should never go together and yet they are synonymous. Let’s stop talking about how much of a blessing our adopted children are and start talking about what a tragedy it is that our children had to be adopted. Lets validate the trauma and loss that these kids experienced at birth. Let’s be real about the brokenness that is an unexpected pregnancy or a disabled child or the “wrong” gendered child or whatever reason it is that could cause a parent to walk away from their own flesh and blood. Let’s stop making something so painful, look so glamorous.

((*EDIT* I want to clarify that I am in NO way saying that a disabled child is a tragedy. However, in MANY countries, the reason a parent abandons a child to an orphanage is often related to a disability or medical condition — the abandonment is the tragedy, not the condition! I wanted to make sure that was not miscommunicated!))