January 30, 2013

I Fought For My Sister!

Some people fight for their sister on the playground, when a bully picks on them.

Some people fight for their sister, standing by them when they go through breast cancer or some other serious illness. 

I fought for my sister, just to see her face, to know her name, to have her in my life.

Years before I found her, I knew I had a sister by birth.

I had no idea what she was like, nor her name or anything about her. 

But, I knew from non-identifying information from the adoption agency, that she existed. 

Like the majority of other adoptees, I was up against a system that doesn't give us the information that is rightfully ours, to make connections with members of our first family.  

All I can think of when I ponder this reality is, "How sick is that?"  

What kind of a person or system forcibly keeps people from their family?

There is no other way to get around the fact that it is a broken, dehumanizing set up.

Persevering through a battle familiar to millions of adoptees, my search felt insurmountable on many days. Yet even when an agency, a CI (confidential intermediary), a judge, and plenty of the other powers-that-be told me I would never be able to reunite with my family (long story) I was undaunted. 

First, I believe adoptees have this right. Period. We have a right to know our original family. 
And, furthermore we have a right to connect with some members of our family even if other members of the family are not interested in pursuing reunion.  

Second, I sensed the voice of God, urging me on. God's amazing like that. He could give a rat's behind about what anybody thinks when they are intent on separating flesh and blood.  He loves preserving families. He created the family before He created the church. 

Knowing my sister was out there was fuel I needed as I was traveling down the long and winding road that was the search, encountering detours of crushing disappointments right and left.  I thought  maybe she would want to know me as much as I wanted to know her.

It was just hope at that point.
And sometimes hope is all you have to go on.
And for that day, its enough.

When hope became reality, and I found myself knocking on my b-mom's door and then walking through her living room as she led me to sit and talk at the kitchen table, my eyes were immediately drawn to two large portraits hanging on the wall. 

My brother. My sister. 
It was the first time I ever saw their faces. 

Soon we would be face to face. 

I adore my brother. When I found him, he immediately went to the Hallmark store to buy a card for me. He searched for the perfect one, in vain. There is no section for adoptee reunions or cards that say, "Congratulations on beating the sucky legal system."  He made me a card on the computer that said, "Took you long enough to find us, didn't it?!" :) And he expressed his love and thanked me for never, ever giving up on finding them.

Meeting my sister was particularly interesting because for two people that never grew up together we are so alike, it's fascinating, even to us all these years later. 

My sister's name is Sharon, but family and close friends call her Shari.

This photo was taken the week I found her, in 1993. We were 27 and 25 years old. Do the math folks, we're getting old.  

Deanna and Shari, 1993
It would take an entire blog series to list our commonalities but just to name a few things: 

We're both people of very deep feeling and sensitivity.
We're both people whose faith is the single most important thing in our lives.
We are kindred spirits in that we think almost identically on most of the issues of life.
We've both served in full time ministry. My sister's passion is foreign missions.

Here she is with Franklin Graham back when she was working with Samaritan's Purse. If you think I'm proud of her, you're right. 
We both have a gift of teaching. Sometimes she teaches with me at our church in Tampa when she comes to visit. She doesn't crave the spotlight, but she serves whenever I ask her to, because she has a heart to help people. And wisdom just flows from her.

We both sing.  Not like the people on American Idol the first two weeks that are tone deaf, but are convinced they need to go to Hollywood.

We both eat peanut butter on a piece of bread most days for breakfast.
We both drink unsweetened iced tea with lime, every day.
We both journal during church services about what God is speaking to us through the sermon. (Her all the time, me if I'm not the one preaching.)
We are both worshippers to our core.
We both pray a lot. We never end a phone call without praying together. Ever.

Those are just a few things.

I asked her to share a few thoughts from her heart for today's post:

Teaching a class together at Celebration Church, Tampa

Deanna: How has meeting me and growing our sister-relationship been a blessing to your life?

Shari: I have a SISTER!!! No explanation needed. 

But, since you asked for one: the biggest blessing is having someone who shares my faith in Jesus. It is so comforting to be able to talk with you about spiritual things. I know that you love me unconditionally. I can share my true feelings, my joys, my sorrows. you accept me for who I am - I can be myself. You encourage me. We can laugh together and cry together. I feel safe. You know my heart. Other words that come to mind: trust, confidante, emotional connection, bond, support, prayer partner.

Deanna: What do you enjoy the most that is alike about us?

Shari: Our faith!!! We both love and adore our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our life's mission is to bring glory and honor to His name. For fun: we are both introverts.

Deanna: Describe the sister-love that we share, as best as you can.

Shari: A beautiful, sacred bond that cannot be broken, orchestrated by God Himself!  
Recently I was talking to my daughter Savanna Rose and I said, "you know, I just can't imagine what I'd do without your Aunt Shari in my life..." and I quickly caught myself and said, "Well, yes I can. I lived the first 27 years without her, and I remember what is was like when she wasn't in my life.."

I am so glad I ignored an adoption agency.
I'm so glad I didn't listen to a confidential intermediary.
I'm so glad I disregarded a federal court judge.
I'm so glad I could have cared less about the powers-that-be.
I'm so very glad I fought for my sister.
I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat.

Shari & Deanna ~ January 11, 2013


There are still unjust laws on the books, in all but a handful of states in the nation, fighting so hard to keep people like us apart, I will never understand it.

I would fight for you all over again, sis.

I love you, Shari.