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!)

This could probably be said about any parent and their son or daughter, adopted or not. 

No parent is perfect, of course. (Me included!)

Today I’d like to focus specifically on adoption issues and what my Dad has done right in this regard that others can learn from.

Dad in the Dark

Dad didn’t always realize how being adopted affected me. 
I don't blame that on him.
Much of it was due to the fact that I never shared my feelings about my adoption until recently.

As with many or even most adopted kids, I didn’t know what to call post-adoption issues when I was younger. And when I was an adult, coming “out of the fog”as it is known in the adoptee community, took me a long time.

Like many adoptive parents, particularly of the Baby Scoop Era, my parents were under the impression that adopted children needed no special help. This was because they weren't informed about post-adoption issues, by the adoption agency or anyone else.  Society did a good job of keeping them in the dark about the fact that their daughters would have any special needs as a result of adoption. 

My adoptive mother once told me that the social worker assigned to my case told them, "Bring her home and raise her as any other child. She will need no special treatment."  

My parents were in the dark. I don't blame them for what they didn't know.

What I want to focus on today is my Dad’s response to me going public and sharing my story here.

My Dad, trying to figure out his iPhone

Dad found my blog on his own. 
I never asked him to read it. 
But he did. 

He read the whole thing.

In particular he read my personal story with great interest.

At the end of the story, what did he do?     
He  said, “I’m sorry.”

Yes, that’s right…”I’m sorry.”

Not, “I’m sorry you are hurting, but I really want to share with you how this affects me too…”

Not, "I really want to share with you what I need from you." (He understands my adoption was about me, not about him. I'm the one who was actually adopted.)

Not, “I’m sorry you went through this pain... but just remember, I’m the Dad who changed your diapers and got up with you in the middle of the night!”

Not, "I'm sorry, but I disagree with you. Here's how I see it..."

Not, “I’m sorry you wrote any of that. It was so uncomfortable for me."

Just "I'm sorry."

Sorry for what?

One of the first things he was sorry for was how he and my (adoptive) mother's divorce affected me. Viewing my adoptive parent's divorce as an informed, forty-something woman versus an in-the-dark teenager, I see things differently now.  Understanding my adoptive father's decision to leave doesn't mean an absence of heartache.  Nobody desires a broken home, even for what may be a justifiable cause.

With that said -- although it may have been necessary, my father is sorry for how the divorce hurt my sister and me. He is sorry for the compounded significant losses in our lives.  

I sensed that he was sorry he had not been informed about post-adoption issues in general.

Following the reading of my story, he asked, "Are you okay?" and "How can I help?" 

When my biological mother got cancer, Dad was very encouraging and prayerful.

When she passed away, he was the very first one to reach out and tell me how sorry he was for my loss.

He saw it for what it was -- a HUGE loss.
The biggest ever, in my life -- next to relinquishment.

Calling Them Family

My Dad always recognized by bio mother as family.

She was not just a friend, or a stranger out there in the world somewhere.  
She wasn't just a lady who was special.
She was family. 

"I'm praying for your entire family," he said.  

My Dad recognizes my natural family as my FAMILY. 

When referring to them, he calls them my natural mother, step-father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, etc.

Because they are.

I might add that this is something he did even before reading this blog, or my story.
Yes, my dad is my family – and so are they. 
He acknowledges this, honors this. 

It means the world.

Calling them my family doesn't make him any less my family. 

He seems to understand this, while so many  in this world don't. There are other adoptive family members who do not understand or accept this at all.

I don't make this statement unfounded. Scores of adoptees have told me their adoptive family doesn't recognize their natural family as their [the adoptee's] family.  

I understand.

I am very appreciative of my dad recognizing my entire family, as part of me. 

Encouragement and Prayer

He wrote encouraging letters to me during my 40-day leave of absence from work, after my bio mother's death.  

He sent me scriptures every day that God laid on his heart, to lift my spirits.

These scriptures were not a backwards slam of some sort. (We've all probably received those at times. Sad.) Everything he sent me was a true word of encouragement, not a passive aggressive message that made me feel even worse.

I didn't receive a worn out Christian cliche.

What I received were scriptures of encouragement sent from a pure heart.

My Dad begins every morning by sitting at the table reading his bible and praying. Those prayers always include every one of his family members, close friends, his church, and other requests that are specific in nature.

He prayed for me daily and asked how he might direct his prayers specifically.

My Dad and Kay

After I came back home they continued to pray for me.

Supporting My Search

He is praying about the situation with my DNA tests and the search for my natural father.

He doesn’t push, or try to control anything --  but just invites me to share whatever I want. 

“Deanna, I want you to know I support you,” he said a few weeks ago on the phone. “I believe that possessing a person only pushes them away from you. Jealousy and possessiveness don't ever bring people closer together, it only drives them apart. I have no desire to possess you, and I just want you to know that. I do not see  search or reunion with your natural father as a threat.  It may go without saying but I want to tell you I support you." 

He continues to pray concerning this.

My Dad teaching his Sunday School class at his church.
Supporting Adoptee Rights

As everyone who reads here knows, I am a supporter of adoptee rights, meaning that I believe adoptees have a right to know their identity. It's one thing to support your daughter or rights for adoptees quietly, and yet another to let your voice be heard with your name attached.

Over the past year my Dad has commented on both my blog and Facebook page with comments in support of equal rights for adoptees.

I have never contacted him and said, "Hey Dad, you really need to get behind this equal rights thing for adoptees and support it because it's important to me." He just started supporting it.

When I spoke out publicly on the Veronica Brown case, my Dad fully agreed that Veronica belonged with Dusten Brown, her natural father, and stated this with his name attached, publicly for all to see on Facebook. He was proud of me for speaking out on my blog and on the radio.

"This father deserves to keep his baby girl!!" he wrote one day on Facebook.  He followed up by saying he was praying for the outcome in the case.

I was so happy that my Dad saw things the same way I did about the Baby Veronica case, but even prouder that he let his voice be heard.

Dad and Me ~ Graduation 

Why am I searching, if my Dad is so great?

 It's not a matter of happiness, or even a matter of relationship or support.

I'm not seeking my natural father to find happiness. (I already have it, and besides that, he can't provide it.)

I'm not seeking him for an active relationship. (He may be dead. Or he may not want an active relationship with me. I am always careful to use the term active relationship because whether we are in contact or not, we are always in relationship...because I am related to him.)

I am not seeking support from him. (I have wonderful support in my life. I have enough whether he ever supports me, or not.)

I am seeking him because I have a human right to know where I came from.

The same right that every human being who walks the planet has.

I have a right to know my father's name.

I have a right to see the face of the man I came from, even if just in a photo.

You have that right too, even if the law in all fifty states doesn't line up with it yet.

Dad and Me ~ My Wedding Day

Our relationship going forward

I could not expect any greater of a response from my adoptive  father, to my going public about adoption, or my search for my natural father. 

Rightly motivated support makes all the difference in the world. This comes from pure love, not something for selfish gain of some sort.

When the phone rings and it’s my dad on my caller ID, I want to answer it.
I don't have to be someone other than who I am for my Dad to accept me. 

Sharing my story, and my dad's subsequent response, has actually brought us closer together -- not further apart.

I hope all adoptive parents can grasp the significance of how my dad has responded, whether your son or daughter is seven years old, or forty-seven.

Thanks Dad. I love you.