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.

October 4, 2013

Tragic News For My Critics: My Therapist Said Goodbye.

Goodbyes are hard for me as an adoptee.

I was afraid of this day coming.

Photo Credit: Eje Gustaffson, Flickr

I love going to therapy more than teenage boys love Axe. 

Being in therapy hasn’t only helped my adoption related issues -- it has touched every area of my life. I had considered keeping a monthly session scheduled with Melissa simply to help me in dealing with ministry related issues. 

 I believe therapy should be something we all do, like wearing deodorant.

One day recently Melissa delivered the news: “Deanna, it’s time for us to work toward closure with your therapy.”


I almost fell off the couch.