December 30, 2013

Two Crazy Things People Say to Adoptees

Today, I’m sharing two of the least favorite things I've personally heard as an adoptee, and why they have the distinction of landing on my least favorite list:

Photo Credit: Daquella Manera, Flickr
 “Your mother gave you life. That was all that was important. Just forget about everything else... whatever else you think you are missing out on that's so important. Life is all that matters. And, she gave it to you.”

I’m pro-life, as anybody reading here for a while, already knows.

Pro-life means just that -- life.

Many people are pro-birth, not pro-life. 

For such individuals, it's an extremely high priority to get kids safely out of the womb, but whatever injustices they have to go through after they get here are a moot point. 

Regarding the need for adoption reform, someone recently said to me, “Deanna, adoption is really okay the way it is. Whatever happens to these adoptees, it'll be alright, because children are resilient…” 

December 27, 2013

Adoption Search ADD and the Importance of Overcoming It

Taking me into his arms for a few moments before our Christmas Eve communion at the church, my husband made a plea for us to connect more.

Last year (2012), Christmas Eve ~ in the sanctuary before  communion. <3

It's not normally our custom to be distant, or for me to be pre-occupied.

But a search becomes all consuming at times.

And in searching for the family I don't know yet, I sometimes neglect the family I have. 

I hate it when I do that.

And I've realized, it's time for a course correction. 

December 26, 2013

Adoptees: Getting Your Spouse to Understand Holiday Triggers

Recently an adoptee asked me:   “Deanna, it seems like you have a really supportive marriage. How do you handle triggers at the holidays? What things does your husband do to help? Can you share this in a blog post?”

I agree that Larry is very supportive of me, in general.  At the same time, we still have challenges at times. This is normal for anyone -- not just adoptees. 

I am glad for the ways Larry is able to meet my needs, but I don’t look for him to meet all of them.  

My husband and I communicate a lot -- but on any one issue, his limit is about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, I still have a lot more talking to do. Whether it’s about issues I’m having as a mother, a pastor, a leader in any of the roles I carry, an adoptee, or anything else – I need a variety of friends for understanding and dialogue. 

December 23, 2013

This Adoptee Will NOT Miss Searching

“Don’t you love the thrill of the search? And, won’t you miss it when it’s over?”

An adoptee friend said this to me recently.

No. I will not miss searching.
At all.

Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass, Flickr

Maybe some adoptees enjoy the rollercoaster ride of the search. For me, there is nothing fun about being in the dark and having to pursue the truth if you want to know it.

I find nothing thrilling about not having the basic answers about my origin.

Knowing who and where a person comes from is a human right. Adoptees have been stripped of this right by a man-made institution.  Archaic laws have the potential to keep us in the ghost kingdom - the land of the unknown, unless we take matters into our own hands to search our way out into the land of the known.

The majority of people in the world possess basic information about themselves and have never had to give it a second thought. They don't know what it's like to not know. So, at times it's hard to gain non-adoptees' support or have their compassion because they've never known what it's like to be us.
When you meet someone who doesn't walk in your shoes as an adoptee yet has compassion and actually extends a helping hand, it's an amazing gift.

I received such a gift, this weekend.  

December 20, 2013

Rebellion, Backsliding, Demons or Post-Adoption Issues?

Controversy Alert!

I know I’m fixin’ to walk where angels fear to trod. Chuck Norris said he wouldn’t even go there. 

I ate my literary Wheaties this morning.  
Buckle up people, hold on to the bar. 

Just a word to any of you who may want to go off on a rabbit trails that are irrelevant to the post... 

Don't. This is an adoption blog. So what we talk about here is in the context of adoption. This is not the place to discuss Justin Beiber's retirement.

Disclaimer for unbelievers:

Why do I share on Christian subjects when at least half of the readers here do not subscribe to any religion, many of them being atheists? Because part of the goal of this blog is expanding the Christian understanding of adoption. So please, unbelievers - have respect for the goal of today's post. 

And for the believers:

I’m a Christian and a pastor. But I am not here to argue theological issues.
I'm not that smart.

There are people (adoptees and nons alike) who e-mail  me as a result of reading this blog and  want to get into debates with me about the Trinity, eternal security, baptism, marriage, Pentecostalism, whether I baptize people in Jesus name or in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and much more. Go get some ice cream. Be happy. Live a little. Really, it's okay to breathe, my friend.

Let me say, I have my well- thought-out beliefs on all of those issues, but Adoptee Restoration is not the context in which I am going to debate it, publicly or privately.

Today's Topic As It Relates to Adoption:

In this post I’m going to discuss three things in relation to adoption:

1) Rebellion
2) Backsliding
3) Demons

No, I am not on drugs. Nor has someone hacked my blog.

December 18, 2013

I Would Love To Comment On Your Adoption Blog, But I Can't.

I hear this all the time.

The inbox is the most interesting.

It shows me how far we still have to go.

Consider these true stories. (All names omitted and a few minor details altered, to protect those who have reached out.)  
The Almost Adoption

There’s the pastor friend of mine who loves my blog because he was almost adopted. He has lived for a few decades of knowing what almost happened to him. He finds the blog fascinating because it gives him a window into what might have been.

His parents are church members who served in many ways in the church from the time they were just kids. Throughout the years they were choir members, Sunday School teachers, and whatever was needed in the church. They still serve today in many of the same roles. 

Back when they were barely out of their teens, and engaged -- his mom became pregnant and they thought their world had ended.  

December 16, 2013

Why I Am Going to Keep My (Adoptive) Mother
Guest Blogger: Karen Caffrey

She's been interviewed here before. 
Today's guest blogger is one of my favorite adoptees. 
One of my favorite therapists.
One of my favorite people in the world.

Welcome again to Adoptee Restoration... Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD


Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD
My mom has been on my mind a great deal lately.  As some of you know, I have recently become involved again in the adoptee rights movement.  The last time I did this so intensely it was 1998.  That was when my mom still drove.  When she still walked.  When she still smiled and laughed.  When she still remembered me, and my brother, and other people she knew and loved.  It was before she became so, well, still.

I think of her when I speak with legislators about the need to re-establish the right of access, which I had when I was born and adopted in Connecticut.  Sometimes I tell them stories about my mom.  About how she supported me.  And about the things she said and did.  About how I knew she had my back.

Then I read this post of Deanna’s about adoptive parents who deliberately, deliberately I say, adopted children from foreign countries because they thought they could avoid the grim reaper their child’s need to know their origins.  And I decided I wanted to tell those people, and the rest of you, about my mother.

December 13, 2013

Adoption: It's in the Bible!

I want my adoptee friends to know God’s love. 

I want them to see Him for who He really is.

Photo Credit: Ryk Neethling

I long for the whole world to know Him. If you are a Christian, I feel certain you join me in that desire.

Many adoptees have a hard time seeing who He is clearly because they keep hearing, “Adoptive parents pray for their children, and do what God did for us! Our adoptive parents pursued us, just like God pursued us and adopted us into His family!”   

When people share that what God does for us, by salvation, is the same thing as what adoptees receive from adoption as an institution -- created by man and regulated by the government --  many don’t want to say yes to God. 

They want to get as far away from God as possible.

Because if what God  can do for them is the same thing that a man-made government institution has provided, many of them think, “No thanks.”

December 11, 2013

What I Could Have Said to This Adoptive Parent...And Didn't. (Until Now.)

 “One of the main reasons we adopted our son from Korea was so we don't ever have to worry about the reunion stuff…”

Photo Credit: Okasafa, Flickr

This was said to me earlier this year by an acquaintance I hadn’t connected with since college.  A mutual friend had forwarded one of my blog posts to her and she wrote a note and sent it to me in response. The topic of my post was navigating the challenges of reunion. Her reaction to what I wrote was that she was grateful she would never have to deal with her son reuniting with his original family because she and her husband adopted from Korea.

December 9, 2013

Mark Your Calendars and Come Join Me!

Click to Enlarge

I've never attended an inner healing conference.

I've never hosted one.

In fact, when God impressed on my heart to lead one, I'd never even heard of such a thing.

Shortly after I had the thought during prayer many months ago that I was supposed to do this, people started asking me to. No, they didn't say, "Deanna, we want you to host an inner healing conference..." but what they did say was worded in such a way that it was basically what they were asking for. 

"Deanna, I wish you could get everybody together for a weekend conference that is focused on moving forward from hurts that we face..."

"Deanna, have you thought about planning a retreat where adoptees could focus on healing? I would like that very much..."

December 6, 2013

My Review of Philomena (No Spoilers!)

This past Tuesday I went to see Philomena with some friends from Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay. We met for dinner a few hours beforehand and caught up on our lives before we settled in at the theater. 

After discovering we all like our popcorn drenched with butter, we got a huge stack of napkins, not just for buttery fingers but for what we already knew was going to be an emotional flick.

Photo Credit: Sarah_Ackerman, Flickr
After 213 previews, only slightly exaggerated, Philomena finally began and we braced ourselves for the emotional rollercoaster we willingly and even excitedly paid for.  I usually don't pay for triggers. This was an exception.''

December 4, 2013

When Should An Adoption or a Parent's Identity
Be Kept a Secret?

Monday night our family went out to dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday.  During the meal, one of our sons asked me what the definition of an "adoptee lite" is. I explained this term is often utilized in the adoption community when an adoptee has one natural parent and one adoptive parent.  Some also refer to this as a "half adoptee". They asked why that would be the case.

Photo Credit: Restricted Data, Flickr
I explained that in some cases, a person may marry a man or woman who already has children and adopt them. 

I also shared that at times, the adoptee is so young when this takes place, they may grow up unaware of the adoption if they are not informed. A woman may have a child and have no ongoing relationship with the father of the child. Or they may go through a breakup while the child is still very young and marry another man who raises them as if they were their biological son or daughter. Sadly, many choose to keep this a secret from the child.

Sometimes a mother may feel it is in a son or daughter's best interest that they not know who their biological father is. 

I didn’t stop talking when the server walked up to our table. As our evening came to a close my husband and sons headed to the parking lot first and Savanna Rose and I lagged a few minutes behind. As we were gathering our things to leave the server approached us and said, “Can I talk to you? I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation..."

December 2, 2013

Why Adoptees and Fantasy = Reality

"Natural children, who have parents, siblings, and other blood-related relatives, are grounded in a reality from which they can spin their images. But adoptees do not feel grounded or connected by any such reality. Much of their imagery is not centered on the adoptive family in which they live as if they belong, but rather in fantasy and imagination. They have a sense that their very perceptions are deceiving them. They have lost the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is supposed to be real." 

My natural hair color is brown.  

I knew little about my natural mother for the first twenty seven years of my life. So when I pictured her in my head, she was always a lady with brown hair. 

Imagine my shock when I knocked on her door the night we reunited and she opened the door and a blonde haired lady stood before me. (She colored her hair at the time.) I had thousands of fantasies about my natural mother and what she was like, and when we entered reunion I discovered many of my fantasies didn't match up with reality.  

November 27, 2013

When Adoptees Are Chastised to "Just Be Grateful"

Adoptees are often chastised that we just need to be thankful or grateful, particularly when we share our feelings or speak out for reform in adoption.

A reader posted this at the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page this week:

In answering Elizabeth’s question, I want to share with you one of the most important truths I know.

November 25, 2013

There Is More to Me Than Being An Adoptee

Recently I was talking to an adoptee friend about her search for her original family. It's been a long and winding search, over many years time. When I asked what the main obstacle was in achieving her goals, without missing a beat, she said, “time.”

Photo Credit: Speed Pro Photo, Flickr

 I understood completely.

It has been difficult for her to keep up with her search, with all of her family and work obligations. I face the same challenge, and maybe you do too.

There is the factor that time is running out when it comes to original family members who may be deceased by the time you find them. 

And, there is the factor of the responsibilities of your current life.

We are adopted, yes.

But we aren’t just adopted.

November 22, 2013

An Interview With One of My Favorite Birthmothers
Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

Birthmothers have been an essential part of my healing process. I've mentioned many times that so many of them were there for me in my darkest hour. And they are still there now. I count them among my dearest friends. They have helped me to understand more and the have taken time to understand me.

One of the women who has been a great blessing to me is Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy, or "Claud" as she is often called. 

Claudia is the mother of four children, the oldest relinquished to adoption in 1987. As a prolific blogger, she has spend hours writing about her deepest feelings and talking to people about what it's like to relinquish a child. She is a writer, editor and director of social media who has been blogging since 2005.  Claud's writing has been featured at the New York Times, Blogher, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Land of Gazillion Adoptees,  Adoption Voices Magazine and many others. She writes at her blog, Musings of the Lame. It's my joy to introduce you to this amazing woman -- a mother who has made a complete overhaul in the adoption industry her life's work.

Deanna: Claud, your story had me riveted. I have to confess -- I read the whole thing in one sitting. I just couldn't stop until I finished it! I want to direct readers there to read the entire thing for themselves, but can you give us a snapshot of your story so they know a bit of your background?

November 20, 2013

When Mothers Defend Their Right to Stay Unhealed

Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD, wrote an amazing post this past week at Adoption VoicesMagazine that had me dancing around the room.

At the same time, the post had some mother's panties in a bunch.

If you haven’t read, “Birthmothers and the Responsibility to Heal,” you might want to exit out of here right now and go read it. 

And comment on it.
It’s that important.

Ready, set, go!

Leave this blog, comment, go potty, get a cup of coffee, and come back and cozy up with me. I don't bite. At least not on Wednesdays.

Okay, now that you’re back…

I don't even know where to start in sharing what I adore about Karen's post. I like this post so much, I ate it for breakfast, shredded on top of my oatmeal this morning. Super good, people. 

November 18, 2013

How Pastors and Churches Can Help Adoptees

 There are between 6 and 7 million adult adoptees in America. 

Photo Credit: Lori Stalteri, Flickr
In my 26 years as a pastor, I have met many adoptees who would never darken the door of a church because they've receive hurtful and dismissive messages when they have dared to open up and share their feelings with spiritual leaders. 

 Adoptees who reach out to the Christian community may be hurt instead of helped if Christians do not come to understand the differences between a spiritual understanding of adoption (known as "salvation") and being an adoptee in a world where most people are not adopted.

When adoptees finally open up and share their pain, it wounds them all over again to hear from a Christian and especially from a trusted authority figure such as a pastor:

November 15, 2013

Things People Say to Adopted People

Being a pastor, I have a front row seat into people’s lives both good and bad. I rejoice with them in good times and weep with them in times of sorrow.

Photo Credit: ST33VO, Flickr
I’ve comforted a lot of people as they have received news of everything from a death in the family to a diagnosis of cancer. 

With all of these tragedies, I can safely tell you that I have never said things like:

November 13, 2013

When Adoptive Parents or Authority Figures
Tell A Child's Story

 When it comes to telling their child's story, many adoptive parents start with "Our arms were empty...we struggled with infertility, and so..."

Or they say,"We never struggled with infertility. We just love adoption and had it in our hearts to be a blessing to a child...and that's how the story began..."

The adoptive parent's personal story may start that way. 

But their child's story doesn't start with them.

The adopted child's story always starts with another mother and father besides his or her adoptive parents, and a whole different maternal and paternal extended family.

The beginning part of a child's story should never be erased, in order to make others comfortable.

And, the child's story is not for an adoptive parent, or any other adult, to tell.

A child is the owner of his or her personal story.

When it comes to an adoptive parent or other authority figure (social worker, pastor, Sunday School teacher, friend of family, etc.) the child is rendered powerless to tell them to stop telling their story. Or, to stop telling it their way.

So,  most times the adoptee smiles and nods, or they are quiet.
Or they meekly stuff it down and go on.

November 11, 2013

Why Do Some Adoptees Want To Search For a Bio Parent Who Was Never There?

Upon announcing my public search for Mr. Greek (my natural father) on the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page, this comment appeared:


Please don't think I'm picking on Rita. For all I know, Rita and I would have coffee and go shoe shopping together if we lived in the same city. 

I have shared Rita's comment here as an illustration, because Rita is not alone in her feelings. 

Rita is one of untold numbers of people who feel the same way she does. They don't always share it in the same exact words, but the gist of this comment is one that is repeated millions of times. If you are an adoptee, you've probably heard it.   

Comments like these are filled with assumption: 

November 4, 2013

Attention Adoptive Parents:
This is How It's Done

One of the goals of my blog is to expand the Christian understanding of adoption. This includes helping adoptive parents gain understanding of what their son/daughter may be feeling and experiencing.

With transparency being my foremost writing style, I quickly realized the level of honesty in my posts was too much to handle at times for many adoptive parents and some people in general. Others say reading my posts has “saved them” whether it be from making a mistake to losing their mind. While I certainly don’t consider myself a savior of any sort, I am grateful my words have been a blessing to a number of people.

With that said, I want to highlight an adoptive parent today who everyone could something learn from. That person is my father ~ Leon Doss. 

Dad and Me, April 1967

My Dad and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything. 
Many days we've gone head to head. 
Or toe to toe. (Enough cliches already?)
We've really had our share of ups and downs. (There's one more for  ya!)

October 30, 2013

Facing Adoption Rejections
Focusing on the Family We Create ~ Part One

A conversation with Laura Dennis (Lost Daughters blogger/columnist, author of Adopted Reality, and my bff.)

Deanna: Laura, as you know one of our adoptee friends is currently experiencing a crushing rejection from her natural family. As we were attempting to console her about what had just happened, you went right to the heart of where I usually go personally when experiencing disappointment with my natural or adoptive family. You told her, "In times like this, I focus on the family I created." Your words immediately resonated with me, because this focus has been so crucial to my own health and well-being.   

Laura: It’s so hard. Anyone who has had the courage to go through with search and reunion has faced rejection, or the possibility of it. Adoption reunions involve so many emotions, so much deep and buried pain; it can be hard to navigate, even when both sides want contact. 

I feel so awful and impotent; our friend is beside herself, just so full of grief.

But I so dislike platitudes. “It will all work out for the best!” 

No, no. It might not. Maybe it will all work out, but maybe it won’t. It might really suck. It might take all your strength to get through. It might take a long time, longer than expected.

Rejection from our natural families can feel like a sucker punch to the gut. It’s like non-adoptees would say, “Don’t take it too seriously; it’s just your birth family!” Bull. It is something, it’s a big thing, and the pain is real, tangible even.

That’s why in those moments of darkest rejection, we have to refocus. Holding my own child? Remembering that it’s my job to bring that person up, to create a loving relationship and strong bond? Those are things that are within my control. (And yes, I do have adoptee control issues.)

Deanna, I know you feel very strongly about this topic. The family you created is what has brought you through some of your darkest times. Can you talk a little bit more about the peace this has provided for you? 

October 25, 2013

Adoptee Rights or Death? What Will Happen First?

Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay support group meetings are like a monthly "homecoming" of sorts, at least  for me.  What a refuge to be in a room of people who totally understand. No explanations are needed, and yet we take time for anything anyone wants to explain, because we need to express ourselves.

Photo Credit: Roland, Flickr

Sheryl* is a newcomer to our AR Tampa family, her first time attending being last Saturday. She brought her search information with her so our search angel, Gayle, could assist her. Imagine my shock when she pulled out a spreadsheet that was at least 10-15 feet long, to share with the group! She has been working on her search for her original family, the majority of her life.

Through tears Sheryl said, “I am 66 years old. I am working as hard as I can on this search and have completed DNA testing. My question is, if I die before this search is complete…will someone keep working on it and finish it?”

October 22, 2013

Adoptees and Trust Issues with Spouses and Significant Others

"I can't maintain a relationship, my trust issues are so severe..."

"I've been married three times, and am such a failure at it, with my trust issues...."

Photo Credit: Vagawi, Flickr
"I don't think I can trust anyone enough to marry them...I'm scared to death to make the commitment..."

"I can't get a relationship or keep one!"

I hear this from adoptees, all the time.

I recently met an adoptee who has been engaged for EIGHT YEARS so far. Eight years of engagement, because she is so afraid to fully trust, even though her fiance is, in her words, "amazing." 

And although I've been married for twenty six years, I completely understand.

October 18, 2013

When People Dismiss Your Story

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are a painful  memory for a dear friend of mine, who happens to be a woman in ministry.

My friend comes from a very large, religious family. Every holiday the parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would gather for the family dinner. Following  the meal, all of the women in the family would retreat to the kitchen where they would spend time putting the leftovers away in Tupperware containers.  

Photo Credit: vxla, Flickr

Organizing into an assembly line of sorts they would proceed to wash and dry all of the china and put it back in the cabinet. With the dishes back in order, they would gather up all the linens to launder them and begin to put the dining room back in order. This would take quite a while with such a large family and all that went into the elaborate dinners.

While all the ladies in the family were busy as bees accomplishing these tasks after the meal, my friend was in another area of the house...

with her grandfather…

who was raping her.

October 16, 2013

A First Mother (Birthmother) Rocked My World

"One person can do unbelievable things. All it takes is that one person who's willing to risk everything to make it happen.”  
~ Sam Childers, Another Man's War

A first mom just rocked my world.  

I began my recent leave of absence, with an intense time of grieving.  My natural mom had just died. She made the devastating choice of keeping the secret of my natural father's identity -- taking it to the grave, and never giving me the one thing I desperately needed from her.

Photo Credit: Wwooton1, Flickr

I would wake up in the morning, crying before I even stepped out of bed. 

Brushing my teeth was a major event.

 The feelings of loss were unexplainable. One day I said, “God, my greatest prayer is that nobody ever has to face this pain that I’m experiencing right now. What can I do? How can I help others?”
The situation with finding my natural father felt hopeless and sometimes still feels like a lost cause, even though I have a great search team.

October 14, 2013

Why I'm Still Here

Acts chapter 2 of the Bible says that in the last days, the young will have visions and the old  will dream dreams. I do both…what does that make me? Mixed up, Deanna. Mixed up. 

No seriously…      

Photo Credit: Patty Koplitz, Flickr
I still consider myself young so having visions makes perfect sense to me, though my kids think I’m ancient and probably believe it's time for me to cross over to dreams.

This will be a totally foreign concept to some of you who read here, maybe half if not more of you. I am cognizant of the fact that many who read here don’t believe in God.  You are going to wonder if next I will tell you I saw Elvis at a Denny's in Knoxville.   It's a total honor to me that you read here, and that we can have such respectful dialogue.

October 11, 2013

Born Into Lies, Choosing to Speak Truth...

Speaking truth to ourselves is important.

Adoptees start our very lives with an absence of truth.

Photo Credit: pittaya, Flickr
We come into the world shrouded in secrecy, and then the very first official document that marks our very existence is amended with lies. 

We are expected to  repeat those lies over and over throughout our lives.

A woman’s name is on our amended birth certificate that says she birthed us.

She didn't. Let's not confuse anyone with the facts.  

October 7, 2013

Does It Bring You Abundant Life?

One of the post-adoption issues my therapist worked with me on was an eating disorder. Up until the day my natural mother died, I had not conquered that issue. In fact I had never managed to go more than 21 days without regressing.

Photo Credit: Sam Howzit, Flickr
That all changed the day my natural mother died.

I’m not saying I’ve arrived. 

Not boasting here and making a triumphant announcement of perfection or anything like that. This isn't my first rodeo with post-adoption issues or stupidity.

What I can tell you is that for the longest time, ever in my life…60 days as of today, I have not regressed.  **happy dance**

Wheeling my suitcase out of hospice, I remember thinking to myself, "I will never be the same again." 

And with God's help, I'm not.

I was changed and never looked back.