These pics may not seem to anyone else to be adoption-related.
But to me they are intricately woven together with adoption.
My entire life, experience, being, emotions, connections, and decisions are all intricately, life-long, and personally tied to adoption ~ my own.
When first hearing these devastating words back as a young, naive college-graduate, from my newly-found Grandmother Carolyn:
"But Norma didn't have a girl, she had a boy," followed by "I'm so sorry ~ she passed away."
I never realized how they would dramatically affect me, as my reunion unfolded over the next minutes, months and years.
Although inside I felt numb, overwhelming grief came gushing out as I found myself almost doubled-over in uncontrollable sobs. Part of me undoubtedly died with that phone call. My Mother had been searching for me too, when she died of breast cancer at the age of 32. None of the "adoption registries" worked because she wasn't "allowed" to see me and was told I was a boy.
It has taken years of working through disenfranchised grief, while trying to go about everyday life, work & marriage, pursuing connections with my reunited family and incorporating these in my own identity; while also helping my Mom (adoptive) overcome the same disease that took Norma's life ~ to finally accept that vulnerable part of me, and lovingly coax her out of fearful hiding. To trust God enough to teach me (my name means "teachable") how to risk living, even when it brings unspeakable fear of loss.
Think about it. For adoptees, to love means to lose. We lost ourselves as connected with our very mothers. Words can't express how thankful I am for God's mercy in holding me through this journey and the connections I have finally found. With myself and my entire family. I truly could not embrace myself or my family until He led me on this roller-coaster ride of a journey.
Most of all, I'm thankful for my son. My only blood-relative I have the privilege of enjoying natural family-life with. With all these delayed developmental tasks to accomplish, I regrettably waited in paralyzing fear to have a child, until my 14th year of marriage. I am thankful for hearing Alison Larkin (another adoptee) as she eloquently and emotionally described her own battle to motherhood; leaving that conference in tears, realizing I was surely not alone in this journey. Thank you, Jesus, that it is never too late for miracles.
I gave birth to Andrew three months early. Leaving him alone in that NICU every night was like yet another slow death for me, triggering grief of my own relinquishment, along with overwhelming mother-guilt, knowing instinctively how shattering this was to my baby.
*The hospital (interestingly enough, he was born in the same hospital as my own birth) has yet to release the medical records (in spite of countless requests from my OB) that may give vital answers as to why my mother had to give birth to me by c-section and could have aided my own doctors in making decisions during my prenatal care.
I would literally have to peel myself from bed each morning by devouring Words of hope from my Bible; somehow finding the strength to rush back his side, where I found the most peace. Holding him was like a healing balm for both of us. Still is.
His little 1.4 pound spirit fought valiantly through heart surgery and numerous blood transfusions. I'll never forget his first Valentine's day, turning one-month old and coming down with a severe staph infection; looking into those tiny, intense eyes and declaring "Live Andrew!" as the doctors and nurses hurriedly worked to help him breathe.
Then watching him endure weeks and weeks of strong antibiotics daily pumped into his tiny veins (he was the first baby at Hillcrest to receive Zyvox, a brand new antibiotic at that time; I often wish the doctors had not insisted on giving him this particular one since it wasn't even started until the day his blood culture finally came back clear). It produced a severe drug-induced jaundice which lasted far longer than what the infection caused alone. By the end of his hospitalization I was a complete wreck emotionally, so wanting to rescue him and run. The only sanity I got was from continually journaling and speaking healing scriptures at his beside, which brought hope.
"He forgives all our sins and heals ALL our diseases, He redeems our life from destruction and crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies." Ps. 103
It is images like these that will be forever imprinted in my heart and mind. And the amazing, life-giving grace of God that brought us through and is still bringing us through.
What a difference a year makes! And learning to hold on through the darkest journeys of life, because joy truly does come in the morning.