Monday, August 31, 2015
Miracle #4- Two for one
I decided to name this post "two for one" because I want to share two stories. One story is about my own adoption and the other is about the choice that I made to give my baby the opportunity to a better life, that I couldn't provide. Adoption truly is a miracle.
I know that this is a forum to discuss adoption as an alternative for children at or before birth but I want to share the story of my adoption that occurred when I was 9. This experience helped lay the foundation for my core belief that we had the opportunity to choose our families. I believe that our Heavenly Father gave us the choice of families we wanted to be with and that it is up to us, in this life, to accept or reject decisions we made in the pre-existence.
When I was born, I was born to a loving mother and father who were seemingly happily married. They already had a two year old daughter together. I'm sure at the time it seemed like the perfect family was beginning. However, as life sometimes throws curve balls, my mother and father divorced when I was two. Both parents found other partners and got married. My father married a woman with a daughter from a previous marriage and they had two more children together. My mother married a man that had no children. I remember having the thought that a lot of divorced kids have of hooray, two Christmases.
After my father's two sons were born, our visits with him became increasingly distant. Distant both in time and value. My sister and I felt out of place in their family. Even as young kids, it was apparent to us that we didn't belong. At the same time, the increasing love and fondness we felt from our step dad was exponentially growing. We knew from the time that we met our step dad that there was something different and yet familiar with him.
I don't have a lot of memories with my biological father. I don't know if I could really even describe what he looks like. I do however remember a Saturday afternoon when I was 8. He came and picked my sister and I up and took us to a park to tell us that he wasn't going to be our dad anymore. I remember us all crying together and I remember hearing my sister asking what we did wrong. I remember having the brief feeling that he didn't love us. I then was comforted by the feeling that he did love us but knew that we were truly meant to belong to our new step dad. We hadn't done anything wrong. We just weren't meant to be his.
Soon after we made the trip to the courthouse were we stood before a judge who held the decision of whether we could be an official family. I remember him asking my step dad if he really wanted to be our dad. The feeling of love coming from him that day was palpable. It was the last time that step was ever associated with MY dad.
The saying goes that anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a dad. That saying was written for me and my dad. I know I was meant to be with my dad. From day one, he has been the greatest example of kindness, love, generosity, forgiveness and compassion. Growing up, he was very stern and direct which is part of his charm. Sometimes friends would confuse his directness as mean but it was meant to keep us on the straight and narrow. He was always very encouraging and welcomed us to do what we wanted as long as it was within the rules. His rules were very simple: 1. Be where you're supposed to be. 2. Do what you know is right. And 3. Don't do stupid. Easy enough, right. As a teenager, I would learn that simple rules can be the hardest to follow.
As long as I can remember, I have always been girl crazy. I don't know why I was burdened with it as an adolescence but I always felt the need to have girlfriends. My sophomore year of high school I met this beautiful, outgoing, popular, smart, very funny junior and I was smitten. Even though we didn't date right away, I think we both knew kind of early in our acquaintance that we were somehow special to each other. About a year after we met our relationship turned to romance.
During one of our earliest dates, I remember hearing the most haunting statement I had ever heard when she said, "I can tell that you are going to be trouble." I remember thinking that I knew that would haunt me for life. I remember thinking that we should have ended our romance right there. But we didn't.
We continued dating and after a few months we had a suspicion that a baby was on the way. We were both horrified of what our parents would think. How could we let this happen? Together we went to our local planned parenthood (or planned party hats as it was referred to in her checkbook) to confirm our suspicions. We were told that we were going to have a baby and that we should probably tell our folks. They were talking crazy talk. How could we tell our folks that we had done this?
After the next several months we talked about telling our folks but always chickened out. I had day dreams that we would have the baby, get married and live happily ever after. She graduated high school and we went through the summer together. She was planning to start college and I was gearing up for senior year. All the while we were holding our little secret. It still amazes me that we were able to continue through "normal" life without anyone knowing.
One September morning I was getting ready for school when the phone rang. The phone often rang early but on this morning I knew what the call was. I answered the phone and it was my girlfriend's sister (my mom and her parents were out of town at this time) who didn't say anything other than, "we are at the hospital and you might want to get down here." I hung up and went to my dad and told him that I needed to not go to school. He asked why and all I could tell him was that it had something to do with my girlfriend. He didn't push it any further because he trusted me. How could he trust me when for the past 9 months I had deceived him?
I went to the hospital in time to see the most perfect girl I had ever seen be born. It was one of those magic moments where nothing else matters except for that exact moment. It was also a moment where I felt almost every possible emotion that could be felt. I wasn't sure which emotion to let out so I eventually just let them all fly. Joy, anger, love, fright, companionship and betrayal were all there.
We had some discussions along the way about how we could best care for this baby. We both knew all along that adoption would be the answer but just like telling our parents, we were too afraid to start the discussion to make it happen. Once the baby was born, there was no more putting it off. Our church offers social services as a program and they have support for things like addiction, mental health and family services. After the baby and mother were resting from birth I made the call to family services.
Bryan was wonderful on the phone. I told him everything. I told him how we hadn't told our parents yet and that we had this perfect healthy baby girl and that we didn't know what to do. He told me the first step was to come clean to our parents and that he would be right over. I then called my dad and told him. As you can imagine, it didn't go well. In retrospect it went probably better than it felt at the time. He was upset and told me that it was something I needed to figure out on my own. He was upset in that he was disappointed that I hadn't been honest with him and that he felt sorrow for me but he never got angry with me.
After a short while Bryan came to the hospital with a packet of info. Included in the packet was a file with potential adoptive parents. I hadn't realized that we actually got to pick who would belong to our baby. That feeling was so humbling. We carefully read through the letters from parents who were desperate to have a baby in their family. We came across a letter from a couple that had already adopted a little girl and we both knew that they were the ones. It was another one of those moments of perfect clarity.
We spent the next 24 hours together as a temporary family. We cried a LOT, we prayed together we talked and we delayed reality. Eventually our parents came back to town and were able to spend time with the baby as well. Even though they were upset, they showed so much compassion. They knew how heart broken we were because they were as well.
Our time in the hospital came to an end and our baby was taken away to get ready to meet the parents that she was destined to be with. The parents that we knew she belonged to and to who her parents and sister had been waiting for. We had one more opportunity to say goodbye to her when her parents and us met together at the adoption office. As soon as I saw them I again knew that they were meant to be together. The love in that room was so strong. I couldn't help but think about that day at the park when my biological father let me and my sister go. I felt that pain again but this time I felt what it must have been like to be him. I realized for the first time that he loved us so much that he wanted us to be with our real dad. He knew that we weren't his, he was just a vessel to get us to where we belonged. Just as we were the vessels to complete our babies family.
Through the blessing of a semi open adoption, I've been able to receive pictures, letters and videos of this amazing girl. Every year that passes, feelings change. I still think about her constantly. I wonder if she ever thinks of me and if she does I wonder what she thinks of me. I still have sleepless nights and lots and lots of tears. However, unlike the beginning, the tears of sadness are being replaced with tears of pride and joy. It is so obvious with every correspondence how much better her life is because she isn't with me. She has all of her birth mom's great attributes mixed with a bit of me and her parents touch. She is so amazing and I feel so blessed to be a part of the miracle that is her.