April 13, 2013

Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay
(Better Than the Prom)

"How did it go??" 
"How did it go???????"
"I'm dying to hear how it went..........."

I'm getting this in text, private message, and Facebook status updates from all over the world.  Friends are asking about the first ever Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay search and support group that launched today.

It went amazzzzinggggg!!! 

I only blog at Adoptee Restoration on a Saturday or Sunday under very special circumstances, and this is one. 

Here are the deets...

We wanted to show some love Celebration Church style, so we welcomed them in with chocolate and flowers. 

I believe atmosphere is important.  Two of our Celebrators,  Gayle (search angel) and Bonnie (wife of adoptee) did an amazing job setting the atmosphere. I am so grateful for their help. 

Hersheys hugs and kisses were abundantly provided on the tables. And fresh cut bouquets of flowers. (We gave flowers to each adoptee to take home.) And good food. Yummy food.

Some had actually driven in from as far away as Melbourne and Ft. Lauderdale for the meeting!  I was really humbled at their desire and effort to get here. One spent the night in a hotel in Tampa last night! I was in awe of how excited somebody was about this besides me. *smile*

I didn’t know what to expect before today. There was no RSVP for the meeting. Now that I think about it, this might have been crazy for me to do it that way. It could have been me, and a few people from Celebration who really believe in this, just having our own little meeting. What were the chances that adoptees we had never met “IRL’ (In real life) would venture out their doors to a strange place they had never been and…show up?? 

I did what lots of adoptees hate. I left myself open for surprise. So there I was this morning, standing nervously at the church doors. I was with Todd, one of our Celebrators who is also an adoptee. He said, “Wow PD, you're really nervous. And you usually aren't. It's because you don’t know what to expect, right?” I said, “Yep, you know I’m not usually nervous for any meeting!” He said, “You’re kinda acting like it’s prom night.”  I laughed and said, “You’re right. I am kind of acting like that.” We both chuckled.

 I was pleasantly surprised.  People came! I knew it was going to be a great day of sharing when, even before we officially began the meeting people were connecting and sharing their hearts. As I glanced over I saw Rachael, one of our Celebration adoptees, hugging an attender and giving a word of encouragement and I said to myself..."This is going to be an incredible day, and it hasn't even really started yet!!"

Hello, I'm Bonnie! Welcome to Adoptee Restoration! Will you be needing search support?

Bonnie was on hand to welcome each person, sign them up for search help if applicable, and put their name in for a gift giveaway. Today I gave away a copy of the book, Chocolate for a Woman's Courage. Yes, I know it's a women's book but I chose the book because I'm a contributing author. I wrote two chapters of the book, which is kind of like a "Chicken Soup for the Soul"for women, and features stories of courage. (In the future we will give away gifts men might like, too. Promise!) A woman did win the book ~ Sheila from Tampa. Yay! 

 After settling in with my famous iced cold tea, coffee or hot tea and plates of fresh vegetables and hummus, fresh fruit and deep dark chocolate cake and cookies (mouth watering yet?) we enjoyed personal introductions. 

Following that I gave guidelines for the group and then brought a brief talk (Yes, I promise it was short…maybe 15 minutes?) on the power of community and shared some of my story. Then I opened it up for discussion and boy did we share! It was like we knew each other foreverrrrrrrrrrr. 

I was perfectly happy after three hours but I thought, “maybe this is going too long for everyone’s tastes and they are dying for me to bring this to a close, but they just don't want to say anything or are too shy to get up and leave…” I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured to stay. So I asked them what they wanted.  Imagine my surprise and delight when they all said they weren’t ready to leave. One even said they brought their pillow “just in case” and one said they, “had a blanket in the car.”  *giggles*

We laughed ourselves silly.

We shared deeply from our hearts. (It was amazing how immediate it was!) 

We also used half a box of Kleenex.

Some people I already knew from online through blogging and Facebook.

Others I never met before today.

Without exception, I now have a bunch of new “IRL” friends. (I actually hate that term, IRL…all of my friends are real. Even the online ones. Every single one of them are real.) But today some people became even more real to me. Like Tracy who lives right down the road from me but I only knew so far through blogging. That will change now. We are adoptees in the same city and together we make a difference. 

At about three and a half hours we began wrapping things up and said our goodbyes. As I walked over to get myself another iced tea, Todd approached me at the table, gave me a high five and said, “BEST. PROM. EVER.”

I laughed and I cried. 

Love was in the room today.
And there's more to come!!

Yes, we are adoptees! And we ROCK. Totally rock! 
*2 attenders missing from photo

Next month’s Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay is Saturday, May 25 at 10 AM. If you live in the Tampa area (Or want to drive a few hours to join us! Or even fly...lol) then come on down. We’ll welcome you with open arms. 

Pillows and blankets welcome too. 
Or prom attire.
Just come as you like. :)

*All photos by Rachael Rice (Thank you Rachael!!)