I was an ally to Sarah, first.

Hello, dear friends. I wish I could remember specific details and quotes with clarity and overwhelming accuracy. Sadly, I can’t. High school was a stressful blur of memories and the good ones went with the bad as I let them fade into oblivion. In the 8th grade, through high-school and into the early years of college, one of my closet friends was Sarah. She was quiet, soft spoken and had a great sense of humor. As long as I can recall she loved furry little animals especially her cat, Baby. We both loved books. I can’t tell you know what originally drew me to Sarah. I know that I trusted her in a way that I have trusted very few since. I was a typically teenage girl, obsessed with attention, boys, the mall and liked to push the envelope. I didn’t take my classwork very seriously. Honestly, we didn’t really seem to have much in common. At some point during high school, I remember becoming aware that Sarah was a lesbian. (There was a funny conversation that took place about my boobs that still makes me laugh.) I don’t remember how it became more than an awareness and it became something we talked about. I have no idea if Sarah had a coming out speech that she gave me. If she did, I probably handled it like I did with Preston, “So? So what that you like girls?” What I missed at the time was how alienating this must have been at a Catholic high school with Catholic parents.I didn’t understand the persecution that Sarah risked to be herself. There is no way I could pretend to understand how life must have been for her. I know I did and said the wrong thing at times. I was self-absorbed and didn’t identify what an ally was and that I should be one. I can’t go back and change it now. I was young and dumb and didn’t have the balls to use my white, straight, privilege like I will now.

My first Pride parade was in Portland. I’m not sure the year. I think we were upperclassman in high school or perhaps we had graduated. Sarah wanted to go and I wanted to support her. I remember watching the parade wanting to do more, to be more for Sarah. I knew that we wouldn’t have a romantic relationship but I knew I loved her and wanted to keep her safe from hecklers or other assholes who were encountered. Towards the end of the parade, I remember some Bible thumpers giving us a hard time. .. Oh for Pete’s sake…I’m typing this and Everybody Hurts by REM comes on the radio. SERIOUSLY??? Give me a moment while I cry here…

Ok. Wow. Let me try to collect myself after that memory lane time warp. I remember there were religious bigots that criticized us and assumed we were a couple. There in that moment, I grew up quite a bit. I did not want to distance myself from my dear friend. I’d rather step toward her and claim her and knew with every fiber of my being that MY GOD loved Sarah and every other gay and lesbian person as much as He loved me.

I wish I could say that I kept showing up for Sarah and got involved in activism. I didn’t. I had a series of dysfunctional relationships and got pregnant at 19. I didn’t nurture my relationship with Sarah and I will regret that, always.

However, that pride parade has left an impact on me. Now, that I’m older and bolder I’m willing to sacrifice friendships and relationships fighting for what is right. It’s not just about wearing rainbows to Pride Events but to vote in such a way that all minorities will have the rights that I enjoy. It’s about teaching my children to use their privilege for the benefits of others. To show up for our friends at a Trans Pride March and carry the sandwiches for miles if this is what they need. It is about listening to the people that we are trying to be allies for and doing what they want and need. My job is to support and advocate for my bisexual son. To educate others about the stigmas and misconceptions that bisexual people face even from other LGTQ people.

As I participated in the Portland Pride Parade two weekends ago, I strongly felt like someone was missing. Sarah, the original love in my life that introduced me to Pride. I am the flashy and loud one and I think I was always a bit too boisterous for her. Who knows? Maybe if she saw me that day she would have tucked her head down to avoid the spectacle that is me and my people.

Sarah, if you are reading this, I will always have a special place for you in my heart. The love and support you offered me and the shit you put up with, I didn’t deserve. It made a huge impact on who I want to be. Love you, B

The blessing of another brother.

There have been many amazing things that have happened in the past week. The boys and I went on a road trip to Portland to participate in several Pride events. (That trip will get its own post.) Today, the boys and I went with my parents, Sharon and Dan, and Preston’s girlfriend, K, to Crater Lake. It was breathtaking. We have a bunch of photos that Preston took that do capture the beauty. I’ve spent time on the phone and online getting to know my father better. All spectacular blessings. However, yesterday, I received a phone call that I had never dared to hope for…

Yesterday, I heard my youngest brother’s voice for the first time. He’s not much older than Preston and yet when given my phone number, used it to call me! It was incredible. I was impressed by how calm he was. He said he was comfortable calling me and believes that “family is family and blood is blood.” Reunion is something that I’ve had many different types of experiences with, with different family members. I’d like to think I’m some sort of expert. However, the way he boiled it down to its simplest concept, was such a blessing for me. I didn’t feel anxious talking to him, like I usually do. Of course, I couldn’t shut up and barely let him get a word in edge-wise. There are so many little details I want to know about him! I want him to get to know us, his nephews and my husband. What I already know about him is that he is strong and sure enough to be willing to put himself out there, to call a perfect stranger to “find” his long-lost sister who has loved him all along. I am so proud of him for taking a risk on me and on being reunited. I still can’t stop grinning.

I’m so grateful to his mom and our dad for telling him about me and for painting me in enough of a favorable light that he felt he could call me. To have the chance for names to become faces and to have them claim me as their family is an unparalleled moment. The more I can see them in my future, the easier it is to stop looking back.

I do not share this milestone to brag, as I know some who read my blog are still lost or have experienced broken reunions or their reunions have glimmered on the horizon in front of them and then have faded away. This chance is not something that I take for granted. I share this to offer hope. Once upon a time, I was sure that this door to this brother of mine, was closed. I share this to show one more example of my life, being lived in God’s timing. I share this as an example of young people being open-minded and grown up.

I cannot wait to see what is next for us. God is good, my friends.

Love and love, Rebecca

Identity crisis, resolved.

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve known very basic info about my biological father. He was tall. He played football. There was Cherokee in his heritage. That was about it. Talk about holes. During our brief contact when I was in my late teens, a few holes were filled in. Name, spouse, my siblings, career. I didn’t put any work to building a relationship, I was a brat and neither of us were ready. Now, we are both grown ups with a few miles on us, a shared faith and a commitment to not judging each other. It is so fun and brings me much joy to learn about the things we have in common. Today as I received the names of my family members I’ve never known, it was great. I have MORE people. This is super cool. I feel like a little kid at Christmas, unwrapping presents that have been secrets. So, now after all these years, with both sides combined I know that I am English, Irish (have always been drawn to Celtic things), German, Scottish, Cherokee. It feels fantastic. I’m interested in a little genealogy. For now, asking every question I could possibly want to know the answer to is keeping me really busy. The boys are pitching in questions too like “Do you like you like math?”.

This is very exciting and I’m sorry if anyone feels ignored, overlooked or left out. I promise to get back to regular life, eventually. Love and hugs, Rebecca

My life lived online.

Hello readers. Happy day to you. It is for me. I’m in my favorite place. In my bed with laptop, my favorite fuzzy blanket, wearing smelly hand lotion, listening to the iTunes radio station of 80’s movie hits. This is my sanctuary. I know that I am only supposed to use my bed for sleeping, you sleep hygiene purists. Hush. Here, I am able to let the noise and chaos of the busy work day fade into oblivion. This place is for my life and my thoughts and my feelings. There is no pressure, anxiety or worry. In fact, every day I worry less than the last. Being grateful makes me too busy to worry! 🙂

I know that some of you have the opinion that I share too much of myself, my life, my family, online. I can see where you are coming from. Being told that I had my cell # public on FB really blew my mind. That was an ignorant accident, which I fixed. What isn’t an accident is choosing to share what life has been life growing up as an adoptee, or Preston’s mental health challenges, our experience with inpatient mental health treatment and safety proofing our teenager in our home, my stories of reunion, my faith and my family. I choose to share what we have lived and how we love so that others may learn from what we’ve been through. My friends know that they can contact me if their children are in a mental health crisis. I have a unique perspective and will not judge. I am not ashamed of myself as a parent who made mistakes. I’m certainly not ashamed of my children and how they’ve dealt with challenges thrown at them. I’ve lived a large portion of my life with disordered eating. Through therapy, love, prayer and deciding to have a positive life, I am in recovery. (Not cured. Addiction doesn’t work that way.) I have learned to love and except the size I am. In recent photos I LOOK HAPPY!!! It’s a good look for me. This is my authentic life. It has ugly and love and joy and pain. Every moment is worth it. Everything I am and everything I have I give thanks to God. I hope that other people can be inspired by my faith. There is value in my life lived online. I have friends across the United States. When I know of a prayer intention that needs more attention, I rally my prayer warriors and they never let me down.

This life I live and share online, is real. I’ve lived my entire life without my biological father. This week, I reached out to him on FB and he reached back. In the few days following, he’s answered my remaining questions about my heritage. (I have found it really hard to focus because I want to keep reading and re-reading the new info for my identity.) This online transparency isn’t for everyone. I know I push the envelope and other people’s comfort zone. I try to be respectful of what other people might not want shared online. I want to let me excitement run rough-shod over everyone and everything and spin around in a circle laughing until I fall down.

So here I am, to share me, my stories, my failures and my triumphs. I offer you my wisdom, my dreams, my friendship, and most of all my prayers. With love and more love, Rebecca

Finding my father, again.

Early Saturday morning, Preston and I were looking at FaceBook together. It has been awhile since I’ve snooped on my biological father’s FB profile and cover photos. So I looked him up and showed Preston his face. I care about him and I’m curious about what he looks like, what he’s up too, and so on. When I was 18, I was able to be reunited with him via phone. I didn’t handle it well. I was a snob and judgmental. Basically, a self-absorbed, stuck up, selfish teenager with LOTS of drama. Most of that drama was of my own making. For one reason or another, I did not make an effort to have a relationship with him and we fell out of touch. Over the years, I’ve put greater emphasis on other family members and relationships. I never forgot about him, his wife, my siblings. I have photos of them in a box and my favorite is of my father standing on a beach. Plagued with insecurity, I could never bring myself to reach out and try to reconnect with them. My fear of rejection overruled my curiosity and interest in requesting a second chance. I’ve known very little about my father and this has always been a void in my life. Yesterday, when I was snooping on his FB, I saw post that was about Christ at Christmas. My heart burst wide open. MY FATHER IS A CHRISTIAN!!!! Why is this such a big deal? It shows that we already have the most important thing in common. To meet it felt like a door was being held open for me. I prayed about it and took a chance and sent him a brief message, apologizing for my immaturity and lack of appreciation of him. I also included my photo and one of the boys. Then the waiting began. I paid the dollar is takes to send a FB message to someone’s main folder to have a better chance that he would see it. 🙂 I was prepared to wait weeks, months or longer for a reply. I think it was 4 hours and then, there is was. A friend request. I was overcome with emotion. We happened to be getting on the road and head into town to go to a party so my curiosity had to wait! TORTURE!!! In fact, as the party was winding down, I sat quietly and read every single post I could find.

So now, at 36 years old, my father’s face is familiar to me. I know he likes to wear sunglasses, what color his truck is, we both drive a Ford, his favorite color and what size shoe he wears. My life and heart feel so full. I don’t know what comes next but I am happy to provide him access to my life and his grandsons. I have LOTS of photos, albums and FB posts to wade through. However, I am an open book.

I am so grateful for this opportunity. Let me be an inspiration to you to look at your own lives and relationships and mend mendable fences. Take a chance on yourself and the other person to do things differently and have new experiences. Sending love and prayers to all of you…Rebecca

Happy Mother’s Day to both of my moms.

Some of you may be thinking that each of my moms, first mom, Caroline, and (adoptive) mom, Sharon, should each get their blog post. I considered that, and yet they are a complimentary pair, and with my high needs, I have needed both of them to mother me. Over the years, I’ve learned much from both of them. I am grateful that they are both faith-filled women that love God and have prayed me through my life. Due to age, culture, experience, they also have many differences. One of the greatest gifts they have given to me, is their love and acceptance of each other. My mom, Sharon, was responsible for my earliest impressions of Caroline. Without a trace of negative judgement, Sharon told me about my first mom being a young, unmarried teenager who loved me so much that she gave me life, and gave me up, so that I could have a start in life with two married parents, who loved each other, and had jobs, and love for me with less struggle than a single, teen mom could have provided in 1978 with limited family support. Sharon NEVER spoke one ill word about Caroline. For those of you unfamiliar with the insecurity of some adoptive parents, this is a very big deal. Even when I was a young child, Sharon was paving the way for Caroline to come back into my life someday and find love and acceptance. This is truly a magnificent gift that Sharon gave Caroline. Perhaps it is because Sharon herself is an adoptee, or because she has a Masters in Social Work and worked in adoptions for many of her years. Or maybe because she has the biggest, loving heart of anyone I have ever known. While Sharon was realistic about the possibility that it might be hard to reunite with Caroline, she always encouraged me. Whatever insecurities that Sharon may have had (maybe there were none) about sharing me with a stranger, Caroline, she never spoke of them. Other people, my brother included, got worked up on her behalf, but she always reassured me and said it was ok. My emotional struggles, many self amplified, created an atmosphere in which our home resembled Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. Drama queen would have been an accurate description. Both of my parents tried to encourage me to participate in counseling/therapy and pursue pharmaceutical assistance for my heartaches. My parents never turned their back on me. Not when I took their station wagon and drove to San Jose, CA from Portland, OR. Not when I yelled, screamed, slammed doors and was hateful. There was no end to their compassion, forgiveness and commitment to being my parents, despite the fact that some people might have felt that I was someone else’s crazy as I wasn’t flesh of their flesh.

When I was 18 and was able to write to the Commonwealth of Virginia to request to be reunited, it was Sharon who reminded me the time had come. She was excited with me as Caroline was located and we began the process of connecting. Sharon helped me pick the photos to send to Caroline. It was a roller coaster of emotions. If my mom, Sharon, was jealous or hurting, she never showed me and was my biggest supporter and encourager. There wasn’t a manual on how to behave in such a huge life event. We all winged it. I do know that when Caroline flew to Portland to meet me in person, Sharon was there in the airport with a sign that said, Welcome Caroline. (I know this has left an impact on Caroline.) Through some rocky times, my mom, Sharon, counseled Caroline on how to have a successful relationship with my volatile self without paying too high of a personal price. She told Caroline something along the lines of “just because she (me) is creating a hurricane, it doesn’t mean you have to get in with her!” While my mom, Sharon, could have rejoiced that Caroline was back to be the whirlwind’s mother, she actually mothered Caroline some as well. Instead of leaving us to our own to try to navigate our tumultuous reunion on our own, Sharon was the translator, supporter, cheerleader and mother of reason. As I was growing up, I did not appreciate, nor was appropriately grateful for all the crap my mom and dad went through with me. It was Caroline’s comments about my behavior and her example of gratitude for them, that softened my heart for them. So you see, I have each of them to thank for showing just how much I gained from the other.

Early on in my reunion, I was drawn to Caroline in a way no words can describe. In looking to find our similarities despite the culture clash, I rejected many things that I’d learned from Sharon, or ways I favored her. I was in an epic battle with myself and the world around me, in a quest for identity. Trust me when I say, having an identity crisis is not a cliche’ to take lightly or make fun of. In cleaving to Caroline, I rejected Sharon for some things that I labeled uncool or too practical. (I’ve since seen the error of my childish ways. I am proud of the ways I am like Sharon, my best friend, whom I idolize.) It was fascinating to find healing in our similarities, body shape, handwriting, preferred hobbies, emotional behaviors and a myriad of other things. It is easy to recall the discoveries and emotions of our reunion 18 years ago. As the years have gone by, Caroline has reminded time and time again to respect my parents. Welcome advice that has changed my life and relationships with my parents. The geographical distance between us, for me, is the biggest challenge I face in our relationship. She reminds me to bloom where I am planted. We’ve both come to realize that what we have to offer others is so similar, that being in far away ponds, our ripples can reach more people, without overlapping. I could not be more grateful for the people in her life, her husband, Brian, my brother, Wayne, my sisters, Krista & Melissa, my aunts Lee and Elizabeth, her soul sister, Bernie, Tammy Kling, all the WER riders and friends, Jeremy, Natalie, Pam and the others I’ve failed to name, that she has introduced to my life. It is richer and filled with more love, because she welcomed me back and has loved and embraced me and expects others to do the same.

There are fewer Mr Toad’s Wild Ride moments, now that I am a 36-year-old, married, mother of two with a 15 year career as a Certified Medical Assistant. Rather than asking anyone to get in my hurricane with me or need either mother to bail me out of crisis, I manage daily life, even the dramatic things, pretty well on my own with my husband and therapist. I enjoy sharing my challenges and triumphs with my moms. I do turn to them for counsel and support but most of all their prayers.

This has been the best Mother’s Day I can remember. I am happy and enjoying a healthy relationship with both of my moms. Their love for me is a blessing that I acknowledge every day. My children feel their love that has been passed along through me.

Dear Lord, Without both of these moms, I would still have needs. However, these two incredible women, together have taught me to embrace your love and live a life of gratitude, counting my blessings and letting you carry me when times are hard. Thank you for giving them to me. Amen.

I’ve been blessed by a 70th birthday memory book.

I first met my mom, Sharon, on December 13th, 1978. I’d spent the first 4 weeks of my life in foster care being cared for by strangers. There in the social workers office, I was held for the first time by my parents who would be my forever family. (Bawling already. This is going to be a tough post.)

Meeting my parents

Meeting my parents

I know that my parents went home that night and flew into a whirlwind of getting ready to bring me home. From that day until this one, my mom has gone to great lengths to prove that I am hers and I belong. (My insecurities needed the proving.) I have a million stories about the incredible things that my mom has done for me. I could never say enough “Thank yous.” She will be 70 this month. When I got to thinking about this birthday, I wanted to make sure that I made her feel special. So, in January, I sent requests to 90+ friends and acquaintances asking them to help me make a scrapbook style memory book for her. (I didn’t keep it a secret because I don’t keep things from my mom and my dad and I didn’t want to go behind her back.) I asked them to send cards, notes, photos, memories or other anecdotes about my mom. I used her FB friends list, a church directory and other means to reach out to people. The response has been incredible. The stories that my mom’s friends have shared about her make me swell with pride and often well up with tears. I know that my mom has been a blessing in my life. I could write a long list of why she comes second in line only behind my husband, on my list of best friends. What has overwhelmed me is impact that she has made on so many people. More than once she has been given credit for helping her friends draw closer to God.

I never expected to be so emotionally involved in this project. I’m humbled that I am in the position to contact and compile these moments that weave together to form my mom’s legacy. To be honest, I’m sorry that this is coming to a close. Never have I enjoyed getting emails or cards or notes in the mail as much as I have these past few months. Even though the “deadline” I had set has passed, submissions keep coming in. I may not get all the pages together and photos glued in until the last minute. I’ve always been a procrastinator and have done my best work under pressure!

Without the kindness and participation of my mom’s friends, I couldn’t have put this book together. Thank you, if you are one of the people that contributed. I know that she will love reading what you’ve shared, with Kleenex. Goodness knows I’ve used a bunch just putting the pieces together.

May the Lord bless you as He has blessed me. Love and hugs, Rebecca