January 26, 2017

Never Lose Hope

It feels "as if" I'm dragging my body and mind through quick sand. 
Writing that sentence releases tears.  
Uncleverly avoided.  

2013 was hard. 
So was 2014, 2015, and 2016.  
I haven't written about many things because they are still too close to my heart to share.
So many losses. 

I don't know why, but emotional processing seems to take me forever.  
I go numb.  
And silent, as well.

I am working again, which is good.  And, in another area of passion - Special Education.  
I wonder, though, why I'm the calendar girl for all things misunderstood?  
It is very lonely.
Lord, please don't let me miss life in the midst of grief.   

My son gives me such joy.  He's the funniest boy on Earth.  
Every day he makes me laugh, and I tell myself I should write down the deeply profound lessons he teaches me, in his most unique and amazing way.  

It would bless many others, if I could just wake myself enough to share. 

Finally, I've been revisiting this blog, which I began writing in 2007.  
Ten years ago.  Mind blowing.

I noticed the history-revealing archive of photos saved to my computer...and thought, I'd share a few.   

In the Bible, when David got discouraged, he would encourage himself by recounting the miracles God performed.  
He was sure a scoundrel sometimes, just like the rest of us.  So human.  
But God Himself called David "a man after My own heart".  

Lord, teach us to love.  Like you love.  

Thank you for your mercies that are new every morning.  
Thank you for sustaining us through the wilderness of grief and loneliness and our humanity.      

Great is Your Faithfulness.  

Here's my one pound miracle boy.  Just for perspective.  And praise to God.
Twelve years ago.  
I couldn't bear to look at this picture for quite awhile.

"I will comfort you like a Mother comforts her child..." Isaiah 66:13

Finally, I got to hold him.  It was Heaven.

His very first entry....

"I was born early, but God helped me."

Lord, please help us all keep living and writing our parts.

We can do nothing without You.

"How Can I Grow?"

How can I grow
If I have no roots?

I am a limb and
I have been grafted
From an oak tree onto
A flowering peach.

I shall bear no fruit
But I am expected to bloom.
I am expected to give birth
to beautiful, golden peaches.

Having lived on a tree
with which I share no roots,
I am living by the rules set
forth for this tree.

I do not breathe or move
That I do not wonder if I
Shall wrong this tree.
I have found that in the
Spring I am expected to bloom.
I do not bloom.

I would like to be myself, to
grow straight and strong,
As my heart is pulling; but
I am expected to be filled
with golden fruit.

What will I do? I must do what
My feelings direct me to do.
I am an oak. I am not sure
what kind of oak, but I am
an oak. I can feel it in my
heart and in my soul.

I must search and find out what
kind of oak I am.
I must find out
what is to become of me.

I am expected to bear golden fruit.
I will never be able to do such a thing.
But I can become a beautiful chair
or a table grand.

Author: Molly Apperson
A beautiful adoptee friend.

August 20, 2016



 (Originally written September 1, 2009)

I work for an amazing network of parents raising kids with extra needs.
We support new Mom's and families who are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, have a baby in the intensive-care unit, or whose child has just received a diagnosis of some type of health issue, disability or delay.

 It is the perfect way to "give back" a tiny bit of the support others gave me when my son was born very early.

It seems amazing, though, how everything is interlinked and interwoven in my journey.

I recently visited a young Mom on bed rest in the same hospital that my son was born and hospitalized four years ago.
It was surreal to walk those long halls and enter the familiar room where my son and I literally fought for our lives.

I remember hearing women giving birth at all hours, while I lay hooked up to monitors and magnesium sulfate praying to live; listening to them push and cry out in joy when they held their babies.

So when I entered the room today and saw her laying there, my heart broke.
Showing her the birth picture of my one pound son and watching her face react in surprise and HOPE that he made it (and so can her baby);
it was empowering and healing.

The strange part of this experience was the exchange I had at the "check-in" desk for visitors, before I could go back to visit her.

Waiting in line, I over-heard an adoption agency "mentor" asking questions regarding the "protocol" for when she brings her "mentee" in for a scheduled c-section.  She was concerned about where the "adoptive parents" would "wait" to see the baby.

As the older lady asked these questions, I noticed the pregnant Mom playing quietly with her other young child, who was with them. The little girl was so sweet and cute, and as she walked by we made eye contact.
I looked into her innocent eyes and wondered how she will someday deal with the reality that her Mother "placed" her sibling for adoption. 
 When will this young mother REALIZE the huge life-altering decision she is making? And why aren't there more resources available for mother's like this to receive support, without encouraging her to surrender her baby?

I happened to KNOW this "mentor." 
 When she turned around, I re-introduced myself and we talked.
She is the wife of a former state senator, whose district I happened to live in a few years ago, and we also attend the same church.
I went to one of their open houses and enjoyed talking to her about adoption and the IMPORTANCE of adoptee access issues.
She shared with me her passion for "orphans" and how she someday would like to be involved in helping more than she was able to while her husband was busy with politics.

I guess her "someday" has come.
We are both at a place in our lives with roles of "helping" but with completely different perspectives.
As an adult adopted person, my idea of "helping" a young mother does not involve "encouraging" her to be a hero by "gifting" her own flesh and blood, simply because others are married, or have more money, or badly want a child.

The gravity of separation between a mother and her child ~ whether to miscarriage, prematurity, or adoption ~ is profound.

Adoption should never be "encouraged" to provide a child for another,
even if they have waited and hoped for a long time.

Support (in my mind) would involve equipping young mothers with the knowledge and tools to embrace the miracle of Motherhood.

I WISH there were more resources available to pregnant mothers, that did not involve the "option" of surrendering their babies.
When this "option" is included in pregnancy "counseling" it seems to be ripe with conflict of interest and serves only to plants seeds of doubt and low self-esteem in an already vulnerable mother and baby. 

Stranger still is this all occurred not only in the hospital my son was born, but also the same hospital I was born and lost my Mother in, in 1968.
My records (that I have had to fight for) mention "prolonged crying" in the new-born nursery the day I was discharged to the attorney.

Maybe I already knew.

The day I gave up hope of being "me" with the Mother and family God originally ordained me to be. The day that would start the journey of life-long search & necessary healing.

As I experienced this day, I found myself empathizing with the feelings of so many ~ the way my first Mother must have felt (like the pregnant mother awaiting the birth of the child she would turn right around and relinquish to others); the loss her small daughter will feel someday as she realizes the minutes, days, and years she lived without her sibling; and the fear I saw in the eyes of the other expectant Mother, 26 weeks pregnant and praying for one more day, one more month of carrying her precious infant close.
Having to surrender her child to metal beds, loud noises, sharp sticks, and bright lights in the NICU ~ so many emotions.
All interwoven and all involving the most primal, important, and profound relationship of all ~ Mother & baby.

My son (born 3 months early) STILL doesn't have a strong sense of self.
His use of pronouns ("I", "me", "you") are all mixed up, especially when it comes to conversations involving me (his Mom) and him.
We are ONE (still) in his little mind, because his development is so delayed from being born premature and being separated from me so early.
Not to mention his anxiety, attachment, and trust issues.
It breaks my heart and reinforces the profound importance of the early mother/baby bond that is lost with premature birth AND adoption.

No matter how many "professionals" (making their living from this 'business') want to gloss it over or completely deny it ~ it affects every aspect of an adoptee's development and life-long perspective. EVERY ASPECT.

If organization skills are really a picture of our inner-life, no wonder it has been so hard to live by the rule I grew up with ~ "everything in it's place". 
 Some things may never find "it's place." 

 This adopted woman's life was forever blessed,
the day I became a Mother. 

 Yet I profoundly felt my son's pain of being separated from me. 

 My hormones screamed for him while the primal inner child in me wept
 knowing his cries were for his Mother, and yet not able to hold him in the place we both longed for. 

 My womb. My arms. 

 I shudder with memories of walking away from that incubator each evening feeling intensely broken.

It's taken me 2 hours to write this. 
 I've been blessed to hear a little voice yelling "Mommy" every few minutes ~ my son wakes from napping and realizes I'm not beside him.
Thank you, God, for that voice. Thank you...

April 11, 2016

The emotional impact of losing my family through adoption, 
and then finding them again in 1990 is felt every day.
When I look back over the years, sometimes I'm amazed. 
It's true.
 Had I given up through the highs and lows of this journey,
I may have forfeited the laughter and love 
my son and I shared with my Dad at lunch today.
The full-circle Thanksgivings we've cherished with my maternal family. 

We all live in the same town. 
We experience life more and more together. 
The joys, and the sorrows.

I've come to know and accept myself,
and grown closer to my entire family,
by birth and adoption, 
through facing disenfranchised grief 
who completely understands and loves me.

Oftentimes, only after He's relentlessly pursued
my desperate running heart,
day after numb day. 

A Savior who I still don't trust completely,
but who has always been faithful to answer my prayer...
"Father, please help me trust You."

 One day, several years ago, while sitting at my paternal grandparent's (by birth) kitchen table, my Papa Sid showed my cousin, Lisa and me a beautiful purple plaque,
with the word "Shalom" painted in colorful script. 
He explained to us that his Hebrew name was "Shalom" and it meant "Peace." 
Our beloved Grandfather passed away unexpectedly just a few days later. 
We were so young at the time, we didn't understand the impact
and the blessing he was sharing with us.
"Shalom" means "peace, wholeness, nothing missing or broken."

A few years before, my maternal grandmother (by birth), Carolyn,
called the family into her room on the 14th floor of St. John's Hospital 
and had us recite The Lord's Prayer and Psalm 23 together. 
She passed away the next day.


Thanksgiving morning 2013 I would find myself
on the same floor of that hospital,
holding my (adoptive) Mom's hand as she peacefully left earth,
just as the sun was starting to rise. 
My adoptive family's surname was Shepard. 
Years later, it occurred to me. 
 The Lord (Jehovah Rohi) has truly been my Shepard. 
He has taken this lamb into His arms
and held me close to Him, my entire life. 
He cares.  He feeds.  He restores.

A few days ago, I was having an especially sad day...
and those days always seem
to remind me of my Mothers
The one I never got to meet,
because she passed away before our reunion...
and the one who raised me.

My sweet husband listened, and helped me remember. 
"Really though, don't we all originate from Heaven...
our real Home?"
And he's right.
Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and where is the place of my rest?"
Is. 66:1 
Father, thank you for these gentle reminders.

"I'll pour robust well-being
into her like a river.
As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you." 
                               Is. 66:12-13                                


September 1, 2015

Oh, The Places You'll Go

My first introduction to "adoption poetry" was a framed version of an old classic,
"Chosen Child".
It hung on my Mother's bedroom wall right next to an ever-growing collage of my school pictures as I grew up. I never understood why I hated that wall. It felt as if when I entered that room I needed to avoid eye-contact with that wall, those pictures, and that poem. But I couldn't understand why.
I thought I hated myself and my pictures, but now I realize it was the poem.

The poem had alot of contradictory statements which is confusing to an adopted child.
The first stance says "I had to tell you, Dearest Heart, that you are not my own" ~ it goes on to explain how much she wanted and desired a baby and how we were brought together through adoption ~ then the last stance of the poem states that I am "her's, and her's alone".
Now how can that be?

How can I not be her own, and also hers alone? It didn't make sense.
Yet that is just one example of many "double-messages" adoptees grapple with in a life-time.

Think about it ~ according to the adoption industry, in order to increase the number of available children for adoption (the commodity) we (adoptees) get mixed-messages. 
We are "unwanted", "crisis'", "abandoned", "orphans"; yet "chosen", "special", "lucky", "gifts".
Our mother's are told they are "incapable", yet "heroic".
Our very identities are "amended" in order to fulfill a role, and we're expected to cut ourselves off completely (the message of "sealed records") from our very identity, heritage, and family-line.  

Adoption is a legal contract that tries to do the impossible ~ "as if born to" can never replace the reality of profound loss for an adoptee, yet we are asked to live a life-time of splitting ourselves off from our very core.

 We become masters at people-pleasing and compliance because we receive the message that adoption has made us "worthy".
 It cleansed us of being a "bastard" or "orphan" (even if only on paper).
Our original identities are "sealed", and therefore, somehow defines us in shame.
So we work extremely hard to earn our place in a world where everything about us had to be "amended" in order to be accepted.
 What a heavy burden for any child, any human.

As a young child I was the master home-made card maker. I would make elaborate cards for my Mom proclaiming she was the BEST Mother in the world.
I think it was my way of trying desperately to ease the insecurity in both of us.
With the words of "The Chosen Child" poem always looming, I can now understand that insecurity.

Years after my reunion with my first family, I went to an art class which turned out to be a life-defining experience. We were asked to read the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, the Places You'll Go" and then compose a poem, and create a companion pastel drawing.
I had never taken art before and felt like because I had no talent that my pastel would be embarrassing at the least, but decided to try...

A few hours later, feeling like time was literally standing still, I brought myself back into the real world a different person.
A person who had finally given myself permission to grieve and shed tears over my adoption.
I had always heard that art was good for the soul; that it somehow unlocked the right (more feeling) side of the brain, and by the time I pulled myself away from this project I was a true believer.
I vowed to take more art classes, set up a studio, and dive into this new found passion.
Several years later here I sit without going one step further into that dream...

I'm just thankful for the amazing experience of that class, that teacher, and the healing that flowed through it.

"Oh, The Places You'll Go"
by Baby Girl Lowe living life as Samantha Franklin

You'll wake up one day and find yourself floating
on rivers of Golden Tears....
In deep scars of black and purple, too
Flowing from your hidden view
Amidst eyes of blue.

Encircling your heart is crimson red...
Blood of the fathers you never knew.
Finally you'll find the real 'you'

Deeply hidden in the sea of blue
Your only chance now is to ride the hues
Grief unlocks the colors of life....
You'll find your "purple" deep inside...
after the ride.

So close your eyes, and feel the depth
You'll find you're not alone...
Surrounded by the throng, the unseen tears...
Hold on.

We must visit the eyes of our forefathers...
The pain of our unknown
Connect with the blood with whom we found life
Love through the tears of our own.

July 3, 2015

Independence for Adoptees?

My natural Mother, Norma Carol, was a social activist and author who wrote articles for a local newspaper. One of my treasured possessions is an article she wrote about Alice Paul, a women's activist who fought for the right of women to vote in the early 1900's.

If my Mother were alive today we'd be standing arm-in-arm speaking out about the closed record system in adoption.
She could have been one of the brave women interviewed by Ann Fessler in "The Girls Who Went Away".

She registered on the ALMA Registry, and told her family never to forget that I would someday come looking. All the while, she searched for a "son" because the hospital and attorneys told her that she had given birth to a boy by c-section, when truth was, I was a daughter. That saddens me.
In 1968 it was almost impossible for a young, unmarried mother to keep her child. In 2015 it is very possible, but the same adoption issues that were prevalent in 1968 are still in force today.

Sealed records, secrecy, lies, coercion, and unethical practices permeate the adoption system.  When will our society realize and acknowledge the researched and proven fact that separating mother and child brings life-long consequences, and should never be done simply to build another family for those willing to pay. 

A humane society would never legalize "marketing" strategies to encourage the increase of children and babies "available" for adoption ~ yet here we are.  Sealed records benefit no one except those who profit from this unethical and unregulated system in the transfer and stripping of human identities.  Our nation will never have a truly honest discussion about adoption ethics unless money is removed from the adoption system (even in the form of federal adoption "incentives") and the inhumane practice of "amending" and "sealing" birth certificates is ended.   

One of my favorite movies is called "Iron-Jawed Angels", about the women's suffragist movement at the beginning of the 20th century ~ the story of Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony. They fought for women's right to vote, even though many, including politicians and other women, thought they were "radical" and even "angry". Thanks to their hard work, determination, and refusal to give in, every American woman enjoys the right to vote in every election.

"Women in the Voting Booth", an article in the Daily Record, begins with...

"It was 90 years ago this month that women across the nation got the right to vote through ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This was 144 years after the Declaration of Independence — proclaiming that "all men are created equal" was signed, and 50 years after African-American men were given the right to vote."

When will adoptee's be given the simple right to their own identity? 
Adoptees deserve the same right as every other American citizen to access their own original birth certificate and court records upon adulthood.

It will be a wonderful day when ALL Adoptees can proudly walk into the Bureau of Vital Statistics office and request their own original, unfalsified birth certificate without "good cause", without shame, and with equal standing.

Adoption Reform Speech: "THIS TIME MUST COME"
By Sandy Musser

Presented at the First March on Washington Adoption in August of 1989, by Sandy Musser, a natural mother who went to federal prison for helping people search:

"I stand here before you today as a civil rights activist for the adoption reform movement. But I want to talk about three well-known activists of other eras who loudly and clearly proclaimed the need of freedom for their people."If a man named Moses were standing here before us today, I believe he would be speaking on our behalf and say to our present government - Let My People Go! Because Moses was not only the leader of the Jewish nation- he was also the most famous adoptee - one who had been adopted outside of his Jewish heritage and Jewish faith.But when he became aware of the bondage his people were in, he fought and persisted to see that they were set free. The Bible says that God heard the heart cries of His people. Our heart cries are now beginning to be heard around this country. We fight against the plagues of the adoption and child welfare system - the plague of the sealed record, which always equals cover-up; and the great plague of all - a corrupt system that has become a billion dollar business!" But I believe that we're well on our way to the Promised Land, and that most intelligent, caring individuals really want truth and openness - not secrecy and lies. This will be a land that will not see the need to sever birth roots nor eradicate the family name; a time when guardianship is a more cherished role than ownership. It will be a land that will not require the control of the social work profession, nor legislated rules and regulations; a land where no money need exchange hands (known as "fees") in order to adopt a child. Our Promised Land will be a land where adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents can come together and form a circle of love that will be immersed with openness, honest; and heartfelt caring."

If Susan B. Anthony were standing before us today - she, too, would be speaking out on our behalf. She, too, would be saying, let these people go. She knew what it meant to be denied rights - rights that her male counterparts enjoyed. She fought and led the women of America through the streets and halls of justice so that they too could have a voice at the ballot box. In 1873, she and 15 other women marched to the voting booth and exercised their God-given right to vote - and for this she stood trial. She was prosecuted and fined - a fine she refused to pay. How many of us are going to have to stand trial, pay fines, and be prosecuted for demanding or exercising our God-given right to our original birth certificate or other records concerning our own lives?"

If Martin Luther King could be here today, he would most likely be at the forefront of our March. He would be raising his hands, his head, and his voice, heavenward and shouting to the world - Let these people go! In one of his famous speeches, Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream that someday our people will not be judged by the color of their skin" We share a similar dream - that the day will soon come when we will not be judged or branded because we bear the name of 'adoptee,' birthparent' or adoptive parent.'

"We pray for the day that we will not have to bargain, plead, beg, petition or pay for what is rightfully ours. We anticipate the day when legal documents called birth certificates will no longer be falsified - when birthmothers are no longer signed into the hospital under an assumed name, given them by an agency or attorney - we look toward the day when a simple request for information will be granted - and when Big Brother no longer stands over us with folded arms guarding our most prized possession - our BIRTHRIGHT!"

Finally, I want to share the words of a poem written by MaryAnneCohen, a birth mother with great insight and foresight. It's entitled 'THIS TIME MUST COME'

"TIME WILL COME when our tragedy will not be replayed, When no child will be torn out of the arms of love into the arms of money. When all births will be blessed, all equal. And there will be no word remembered to brand a child born outside society's ties, no recording of legal lies…When love is more lasting than papers, and no child is deprived of either heritage or nurturing, even when they come from separate places. And it is finally seen that blood and home are not the same, And neither replaces the other, and there is no quota for love…

"TIME WILL COME when social workers are to serve, not sever; When they know it is better to unite than separate, To be true than to lie, to be seen than to hide, To accept than renounce, that the give and nurturing of life are both sacred and deserving of respect; That all parents are real parent, not rivals. That love is stronger than fear of laws or time,and cannot be terminated, cannot be legislated, cannot be denied…

"TIME WILL COME when all children can grow, become real, cast off shadows, renew or sever ties by their own choice, be responsible, BE FREE! When our bondage ends, and we answer to our children; Answer with the gift of sight, gift of words, gift of sorrow…When every person has the right to trace their roots in their mother's face, their father's eyes…When nobody is condemned to eternal childhood,and no mother cries forever…

"THIS TIME MUST COME"Copyright © 1989, 2001 Sandy Musser.Visit Sandy's website at http://www.angelfire.com/fl2/musser