Monthly Archives: May 2014

The daughter I’ve barely known.

Before my husband and I were married, he was married before. From that union he had a daughter, S. When we were first together we had regular visitations with her in our home. Things quickly deteriorated due to the tension between the adults. My husband’s daughter had been encouraged to call another man, Daddy, from an early age. It was confusing for her that we wanted her to call my husband, Daddy. After much turmoil and heartache and tears and counseling and prayers and more tears, we decided that forcing her to come visit our house, that she did not feel was her home, was too damaging. My lack of relationship with her and inability to make our family feel like her family, is my biggest failure as a mother. Yes, her mother left no room for us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have guilt 10 years later. In our family, we do not distinguish between step-children or half-siblings. We love our children unconditionally, as our children. Similar to the story in the bible of the women fighting over one child, and the child’s real mother gave him up, we decided to let her go and have a chance at a conflict-free life without battles between houses. No visits that left her crying, begging to go home. Fights between her brother, my son, and her. Criticism from her grandparents who got mad at her for calling her Dad by his legal name.

There were no good options. It was a matter of choosing the least bad option. Of course, when you are making a life changing decision you can consider the pros and cons but you never know what the outcome will be. My husband let her step-father adopt her. Promises were made by her mother and my husband as to how the years between age 5 and 18 would be. We knew we had no control over what her mother would say about us. If we’d ever have contact with her. It was worth the risk. The risk that we may not have her in our lives but for her to have the chance to be free from the tug of war. An atheist household vs Christian home. A woman who cheated vs the man she betrayed. I could go on and on. We knew that her mother could tell her horrible, untrue things about why he was willing to relinquish his rights. False things about him not loving her or that it was about money or her evil stepmother hated her.

After 10 years, my husband heard from his daughter this week. She was looking for answers that her mother refused to provide her. Thankfully, her mother said very little about her father. Essentially that he was a man that just got her pregnant. It was a lie, but an easy one to undo. There are wedding pictures and other “proof” that it was much more complicated and they were much more intertwined than that. I remember how poorly my own “reunion” with my biological father went. It was horrible. He vilified my mother and was very dramatic about how he thought it would have been better if his mother had raised me and we’d be together as siblings. Thank you, Jesus that never happened. Despite his vehemence and criticism of my first mom, he made no effort to get to know the adult me. To have a relationship at all. I would have wanted to hear that he loved me and he considered me his daughter. I encouraged my husband in his email reply, to be certain to say those things. That he as always loved her and has never considered her himself an ex anything. He used his own words, of course. The emails that they’ve written to each other are so sweet and beautiful.

His daughter, our daughter, is interested in getting to know us. In meeting her brothers. In being his daughter again, although in our hearts and minds, she never wasn’t. Building a relationship will not be easy with her mother in the way. Once she is aware she went behind her back (my husband made his suggestion clear that she tell her asap), we may not have anymore contact until she is of legal age. We can wait. We waited this long. Loving a child is timeless. We accept her, her beliefs and who she wants to grow up to be.

My sister posted on Face Book, beneath our daughter’s picture, a reminder this is God’s timing. So many times I feel impatient and unimportant while I wait on God. This time, I am humbled by this gift he has given our family. I am aware that this is the honeymoon period of reunion. Many hard things are hard in reunion. Many wonderful things are part of reunion as well. It gets hard when you can see the life you missed by the decisions made by the adults. I hope that my own reunion experience will be valuable for all of us involved. I do not know how she feels but I do know she will have a wide variety of feelings that will likely resemble a roller coaster. As do her two brothers.

Ever since I got pregnant at 19, I made a commitment to be the best mother I could be. Sometimes I’m just a barely good enough mom and fall short of the goal. However, the children that live with me know I love them and would do anything for them. I look forward to the opportunity to support my husband in this journey and one day show S that I love her as much as the boys and would do anything for her as well.

My nugget of wisdom today is “Tell and Show your people you love them!”

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What I read over the holiday weekend. (Don’t let the lame title fool you.)

Warning: Punctuation intentionally lacking so I can get my words out faster. Thanks for understanding.

My favorite part of the long weekend, besides extra hours with my family, was being able to read long, sometimes hard, hours. Heading into the weekend I was started by reading Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, which to be honest, was weird. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into since I’d not read the jacket cover. After that, I downloaded my first ever Kindle book, (I’m die a hard Barnes and Noble Nook or Nook app reading gal.” However, the book Providence for a First Mom by Caroline Kippenbrock Dixon is digitally available on Kindle right now. This is the book I found parts of  really difficult to read. I’ll get back to that. Hang in with me. Lastly, I read a novel by Nevada Barr that was graphic at times but I love her character Anna Pigeon. I’m not emotionally attached to anyone in Neil or Nevada’s books.

I am attached to Caroline’s characters, and can identify with them…did I mention I am one? Caroline Kippenbrock Dixon is MY first mom. The baby she reliquinshed? Me. The teenager she reunited with? Me. (I struggle to want to be transparent and forthcoming about how I feel in response to her book, but I don’t want to spoil the story or look like I’m trying to steal any of her spotlight.} 

My feelings are many and strong in response to her book and her story. It is HER story, her perspective and memories and sacrifice. Anyone can see that some of our memories overlap. Let me point out that the moment where she relinquished me, defined me and the course of my entire life. Yes, the entire one. I mourned her as a wee infant. Just because I was adopted and found a new family didn’t mean I started completely over. I know I missed her. Her smell. Her voice. Her heartbeat. (If this concept is new to you, please research the primal wound.) Despite the years of loss and longing, I understand and appreciate why I was relinquished and that she chose life for me. I have known as long as I can remember that I was adopted. My juvenile misunderstanding that I was given away has itself given way to an adult’s empathy and logic. Now at 35 I have healed most of the hurt and brokenness that I experienced as an adopted child without my first mom in my life. 

This may seem odd or ungrateful but the part of our relationship that I value is when she chose to be reunited with me when I was 18. I have learned amazing things and found peace and healing that I believe I would still be looking for if she remained a stranger. She asked me one time, “Have you learned anything from what I went through?” Yes. Yes, I have. I have learned to take a chance on a virtual stranger because they are your child and that is what a mother’s love does. It’s breadth and depth shows no boundaries. When your child returns to you with a different accent, with a different culture with habits and values that at times contradict your own, when they are rude and disrespectful and yet you say c’mon, you are mine and I claim you…that is what I have learned.  I have learned that a mother doesn’t pick favorites among her children, whoever is being the butt and is walking on her sister’s shoes, even if she is the long lost and just returned daughter, you correct bad behavior and hold people accountable. Love is sharing the people around you with each other. In our case that meant nurturing a relationship between her husband and myself so that we both knew he had room to be my Dad, even thought we are not biologically related. She shared with me her beliefs and faith and spiritual practices and how to show people love. Love can be a letter or card in the mail with a recipe hastily written out, or the perfect matching t-shirt, or a plane ticket. Hugs are always love.

This last one was hard for me to learn. I was a touch-me-not for most of my life. I can’t imagine the heartbreak at having to watch me learn to let her squish me, or hold my hand or stroke my hair. To pile up in her four poster bed in pjs for the first time is a huge, emotional memory for me like a wedding day or a birth is. At times, now that I’ve learned to crave this close physical connection from her, I feel like my heart is breaking for each day that we spend apart. However, we are each made to bloom where we are planted and while we wait to be in the same dirt, I can be grateful that I am blessed to know her to miss her.

I could go on and on and on, alas I downloaded a book today and better given my heart a break from writing and do a little light reading. Love your people while you have them. Life is always shorter than we want it to be.


Letting my writer out…

“Letting my soul breathe takes effort, allowing it to speak and it’s words to fill the pages of my blog, is a sweetness none compared to. Imagine a foot that has been asleep and is numb, then you experience pins and needles as it begins to wake and finally, oh joy of blood flow and complete use again, you can jump and dance and run. This is what it feels like to let my writer out of hibernation. To catch up with her and her dreams and feelings as we contemplate the blinking cursor on the screen. I love to write.”

Now that I’ve let the ice thaw on the creative juices I froze years ago life is changing and it’s changing fast. I love FaceBook, I’ll admit it, I over post and overshare. There is something about the little box that you can pick your matching mood smilie that satisfies my ego. “Here I am! Look at me” “I’m self important!” ! It’s silly and slightly juvenile. This morning however, while I could have commented on my early morning phone call with my first mom, or my reluctance to get up for work, or the quality of my sleep, the italicized words posted above flowed onto the keyboard. I could have kept going and made a proper blog post out of that early morning vein of inspiration. It’s been a very long time since I’ve considered being late to work so I could put a thought to “paper” and it felt amazing. In my day to day life, I’ve pared down my vocabulary so I sound less pretentious and more like a countrified Central Oregonian. Without searching, I can feel that city girl with the extensive and descriptive vocabulary stroking me from the inside. I can hear her, even better than I can feel her. Her speech and writing patterns are different from this external person that people encounter daily. It’s surprising, distracting, pleasing and even a smidge intoxicating. In the last few days I’ve been increasingly unfocused on work and family and I’m drawn to fantasy and writing like a love bug to another. My plan is to try to ration my time on the internet and in the blogosphere. I recognize this nearly insurmountable challenge as I am self-indulgent and the internet is always at my fingertips. It would be nothing for me to fall into the world of words and leave real life behind. I love it here. Not enough to miss the milestones of my children, or to shirk my work responsibilities or make my spouse think I’m having an affair with my own mind…At least not today. Be beautiful, people. We all are.


Planning to blog…

Today was a wild and crazy day, one of many that seem to pop up into my life with it’s current set of circumstances. Lots of challenging and interesting things happened. Several things didn’t go as planned, a child stayed at daycare longer than he would have liked and the other one was sick. Work was nutty. When I thought I’d had all I could possibly take, I got a frantic phone call that prompted me to race out of the office like a bat out of hell. (Forgive the cliché’, I’m trying.) Like the fat girl I’ve tucked away is prone to do, I fell into a bag of potato chips on the drive home from work. It was during that drive home that I had the beautiful brainstorm to write a blog about my first mom’s legacy that I have learned and I am living. However, more drama ensued when I got home and I’m left feeling uninspired, crabby and pissed off. I should dust myself off, focus and weave my tale, but I can’t seem to get my head out of my a$$ far enough to it justice. My point is this, we all have those days, when our creative voice is silenced by the crap that comes up. We make bad choices and revert to old habits. I owe it to myself, as do you, to honor the disappointment, let it have a moment in time and then let it go. Don’t let today’s drama derail the gift of tomorrow. Leave your sorrow with the sundown and be happy to find that your joy comes in the morning. Love and hugs, RU


My first mother’s story of reliquishing me, and our reunion.

It is my impression that we rarely get two sides of a story. No matter how aware we are of another person’s journey and opinion, the only way for justice to be done to their story is for them to write it themselves. That is exactly what my first mom, author Caroline K Dixon of http://www.carolinekdixon.com, has done. She bled her soul into the words themselves and they’ve since been published in a sweet memoir, available on Amazon.com. (My coding is rusty. Please click the link below.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1940834090/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1400348026&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40

Her book has been a long time coming. I’m grateful that enough years have gone by that at 35, many years after being reunited, I am secure enough that whatever is written, even the things that I said or did that show me to be a little tarnished, I’ll be ok. I love my first mom. I always have. I would never attempt to deny her catharsis, by putting limits or demands on her creative process. I know you will enjoy reading it.


There is no limit to reinvention…

My last post in this blog was years ago and I’ve since deleted or hidden all those old posts. I find myself at a different place now. A person with a different focus and values. More life has happened to me since then… I considered starting over with a new blog name and all that. However, I’ve done that before and it doesn’t pay homage to where I’ve been, even if I’m the only one who knows those experiences and secrets. As I was reflecting on to change the name, or not, I began to dwell on the idea of reinvention. The concept is one I’ve always embraced. To change identities and values as life demands and suits. I’ve had so many roles and titles in my 35 years. Not intending to list them, an invested reader will pick up on them as time goes by.

My current focus is maintaining my own healing after brokenness. To guide my children through the ups and downs of the journeys their lives will take them on. While intertwined, we each have our own story with our own drummer and our own beat.

I live a life of intention. Purposeful living that includes compassion for all people, first and foremost as God teaches.  I will not entertain political debates, on my blog. There are plenty of venues for that. I love ALL people and fiercely support the LGBT community as several of those near and dear to me proudly claim their place in that community. Speaking of community, my strongest sense of community is within my own home and with my ,3 other nuclear family members. I have dear friends but there is no place I’d rather be. Working in medicine for nearly 14 years, I’ve been blessed to learn that life is precious and precarious. As both my children have faced illness, I’ve realized that being a mom who misses time with children going out with the girls or traveling is not who I want to be. (I do not however, judge others for their choices. It’s not my place.) There is no perfect parent, no SuperMom even if Siri calls me that, there are good enough parents. This part of my values is a work in progress. I hold myself to ridiculous standards. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to give grace to others. While I know I deserve the same from myself, it’s a challenge.

Many things bring a smile to my face, singing with my children, board games that end in laughter, finding snippets of inspiration online, helping a patient or a stranger and leaving them better for having had me touch their life, sitting in my husband’s lap when I am sad or scared or angry, connecting with my family that lives hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away, being a part of the lives on my online friends, some who are as close as family. I am wild and silly and random and love the shock the person in line behind me in the drive thru by paying for their beverage. (My favorite is a Venti Iced Green Tea No Classic with Extra Ice, if you are curious.)

For most of my life I abhorred change. I feared and hated it. I would exclaim my negative feelings loudly and be that much more miserable for having done so. Now, I don’t get excited about it but I can accept it and embrace it, with effort. I see it as a gift. Life’s permission to try something new that I hadn’t thought of or thought I didn’t want or couldn’t accomplish. Some days it takes tremendous effort to see the good past the bad, the blessing and learning past the pain. It’s all worth it. I keep telling myself it is and you know what, I’m right.

I have no idea what we will experience together, you and I, dear reader, but it will be colorful and full of life. Thanks for coming by.

 

Love, Rebecca