June 24, 2013

Post-Story Q & A with Deanna

The following are some questions I've been asked by readers in response to the story.  I thought I'd share them with everyone, in case you've wondered too...

Photo Credit: takomabiblot, Flickr

 Can I meet Tom?

No. I have promised Judy that her identity will remain private in my writings. Thus, I have changed Tom's name as well. I would love for the entire world to know Tom and can understand why you'd want to. Everyone loves Tom. He's amazzzzzing. Due to respecting my mother's privacy, I cannot do an open interview with Tom or introduce him in any way that would reveal his identity here.

Why are there no pictures of Judy and Tom in the story?

I promised I would not reveal her identity in my writings.

The story is so amazing. It needs to be a book. Are you looking for a publisher?

No. Right now I'm healing as well as walking through the family situation with Judy's illness. This summer  I will continue to tend to my household, co-pastor the church, and coach a few hours a week. It will take all the energy I have to do that. (I have put accepting speaking invitations on hold for the rest of the summer, except what was already confirmed earlier in the year.) I don't have the wherewithal to write a proposal, chase a publisher and jump through their hoops. If one wants to chase me, bring it.

How long do you think you'll be in therapy?

As long as it takes. 

Are you still pursuing DNA testing?


Is it a lot on you to do this DNA testing and search for your original father while you are going through the situation with Judy?

Not really. All that I needed to do for DNA was actually take the tests (provide my sample). The search is different for my father than it was for my mother. I did all the work for the search for my mother. A team is doing the search for my father, and pretty much just give me updates and tell me what's going on. It's not that I'm lazy or anything or not wanting to be involved. I'm just clueless when it comes to this kind of searching and those who know what they are doing are taking care of things.

Where are things at with your DNA tests?

The second one just came back yesterday.  There will be one more we are waiting on before they will all be in, but the team has already been working on the results from the first test. And will now start on the second.

Why haven't you answered my e-mail yet?

There's a huge pile up in my boxes, (The Adoptee Restoration e-mail account, the Adoptee Restoration Facebook, and my personal Facebook inbox.) Many have reached out to me to offer love, advice, and comfort since I've opened up and shared my story.  I appreciate it more than you will ever know.  A lot of people were writing to ask me for advice or prayer long before this series started.  One night last week I answered mail until 2 am, and another night until 4 am. I just can't keep that up.  I've decided to do a little bit each night and get to as much as I can at a time and just let that be okay. I ask people's understanding in that I'm co-pastoring a church full time, and have a marriage, family, etc. I have developed a new FAQ/Contact page that I am hoping will help everyone understand. I thank you for your patience with me. 

Are you getting any rest?

Yes. My family and I left this morning to go on vacation together the next two weeks.  Lots of you are my friends on Facebook. (And I'm glad!) I know you might see that I'm near you sometime in the coming days if one of my family members "checks me in" on Facebook at a local place. I'd love to have coffee with you, but I would like this time with my family just the five of us and Emmy, and the time to rest. I thank you for understanding.

Are you planning on taking a rest from blogging?

No. Writing is not work to me, it's breathing. I like breathing.  Now that the "Deanna's Story" series is over, I will go back to blogging at Adoptee Restoration on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And, I will blog at deannashrodes.net on the other days of the week.

 Is your church supportive of you?

Yes, extremely. I couldn't be out here writing this kind of blog, being as open as I am about everything from peeing the bed to rubbing my feet on the sheets if I didn't have a really supportive church. :) 

Has this experience of the past four months changed your approach to ministry?

I would hope my approach to ministry is always changing as God changes me.  Right now I am feeling stronger waves of compassion than I ever have. This experience is not causing me to be bitter. It is shaping me into the person I dream of being -- a woman empty of secrets, full of compassion, set on fire with passion to create positive change in the world.  

Do you believe sharing your story could create greater family fallout?

I sure hope not. That's the last thing I would want. I love my family. Hopefully my family can accept me for who I am and understand that everyone has a right to share their story. I welcome and support each of them to share their story.

Are there any regrets you have in sharing your story? 


How do I find a therapist like Melissa?

As you read in the story, the way I found Melissa was to email therapists in the area with a brief email to inquire about a few things before setting an appointment. Ask if they have an understanding of significant loss, trauma  and grief in relation to adoption.  Keep going until you find a therapist who answers your inquiry in a way you are comfortable with.

Bonnie Martin, MEd, CACS, LCPC is a therapist recently featured here on the blog and concerning finding a therapist, she gives the following advice in  this post: "I would advise a state licensed professional counselor who has studied complex trauma, psychodynamic theory, attachment focused therapy and/or complicated grief. Finding a good therapist is like finding a good pair of shoes. You may have to try a few on for size until you find the right fit."

Do you think writing and speaking so openly in this story will ruin your ministry?

 If you mean "ruined" as in not being a carbon copy of your typical minister (or minister's wife) and acting according to what is deemed acceptable by uptight religious people, I guess I'm ready to be ruined.

 Are you going to accept speaking invitations again in the future?

Yes, at some point. Two readers contacted me this  past week to ask about the possibility of coming to their church this summer. I am just not up to traveling more right now except to fulfill what was already on the schedule. But I'll see how I'm feeling and consider things again in the fall.  
I am also leaving things as open as possible in case a trip to Richmond comes up.

 Are you going to give regular updates as the story goes on?

Absolutely! That was one of my motivations for writing the story. I am not good at faking or hiding and I knew at some point I would want to write and process the emotions I'm feeling about my original mother being ill, DNA updates, etc. For me to do that in a way where I can truly pour my soul into the writing and tell readers what I'm really feeling I felt they needed a framework to understand where I'm coming from in the first place rather that write a bunch of ambiguous stuff.

I  also give short updates or thoughts (yes I do have short ones)  on the Adoptee Restoration Facebook page. If you "like" the page you will get these updates.

 I want to meet you, Deanna! I feel like I know you even though we have never  talked. But I want to meet you in person and give you a hug!

 You can. I've love that too! Meet me at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Atlanta in August!  This is sponsored by the Adoptee Rights Coalition. It's the event I've been most excited about all year long. I'm hitching a ride from Tampa with a bunch of  adoptee and first mother friends!  I will be there for the sign making party on Sunday night as well as the demonstration on Monday. I hope maybe you can come and join all of us.  There's no registration cost! You just come. But you do need to register even though it's free. (I'm not in leadership with the ARC or anything. I'm just passionate about what they do and tell people about it.)

In our most recent conversation, Tom said, "Ummmm Mel...please don't tell me I'm going to get a call that you've been arrested in Atlanta at a demonstration..." [huge chuckle here] I said, "No Tom, this is all legal...no worries." 

I love you all. 

Thank you for reading.