December 27, 2013

Adoption Search ADD and the Importance of Overcoming It

Taking me into his arms for a few moments before our Christmas Eve communion at the church, my husband made a plea for us to connect more.

Last year (2012), Christmas Eve ~ in the sanctuary before  communion. <3

It's not normally our custom to be distant, or for me to be pre-occupied.

But a search becomes all consuming at times.

And in searching for the family I don't know yet, I sometimes neglect the family I have. 

I hate it when I do that.

And I've realized, it's time for a course correction. 

Deja Vu 

The same exact thing happened twenty years ago when I was in the throes of the search for my natural mother. 

Particularly when it got down to the wire and I was close, yet not positive about her identity or in reunion yet. 

I went through the motions of my daily life and did whatever it took to complete my responsibilities but my mind was always somewhere else.

Some of the symptoms of adult ADD are: 

  •   “Zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation
  •    Extreme distractibility; wandering attention makes it hard to stay on track
  •    Difficulty paying attention or focusing, such as when reading or listening to others
In general, I do not struggle with the symptoms of Adult ADD.  I’m sad for anyone who does truly struggle with this disability. According to this list, it’s not one of my struggles. However, regarding both of my searches, for my maternal family twenty years ago and my paternal one now, I have what I personally refer to as “Adoption search ADD.”  

It's when you struggle to maintain focus on anything in your life -- except the search.

The Challenge to Maintain Priorities

Things like paying attention to my family, or getting adequate sleep can be greatly affected. Self-care can go out the window in a search.

 I fight for a sense of normalcy in my routine but most days I admit it escapes me.

I've failed to prioritize the people in my home, at times. 
And I struggle to put myself on the list, too.
The search becomes all consuming.

I zone out when people are talking to me, going to another place in my head, going over the facts over and over again, mentally searching for anything I may have overlooked.

I become uncharacteristically quiet when we spend time with other people. 

People in my circle of friends and family have often said, "If Deanna is quiet, she's not happy about something." 

It's not so much that I'm unhappy right now though, just pre-occupied. I go to the place in my head where all the facts of the search are.

The new routine

Being diligent in my work, I handle my responsibilities as I always have. But I’ll admit, I can’t wait until my “have-to’s” are finished each day so I can attack the search with all my might.  I work on it until I’m exhausted, flipping back and forth on my computer screen between Ancestry, FTDNA and 23andMe, trying to make connections. I have literally fallen asleep for the night with my hands on the laptop.  And then, I wake up the next day to start the routine all over again. 

It goes like this:
Get the essentials out of the way. (Job, Basic housekeeping, etc.)
Search the rest of the night.
Go until eyes won’t stay open anymore.
Sleep a few hours.
Get up and do it again.
On my day off, I spend most of the time on my search.
I go through all the normal tasks of my day, but my mind isn’t really on them much of the time. 

Pumpkin Pies or Searching?

On Christmas Eve our family was eating our traditional Chinese dinner at a restaurant after communion. I was exhausted, having been on my feet doing food preparation for Christmas all day – and then serving Christmas communion – on my feet for three hours. As we sat eating our Chinese meal, I remarked, “I still have the pumpkin pies to do. Shall I do them tonight when we get home or first thing in the morning?” Our friend Lisa (Dustin’s fiance’s mother) said, “Oh, do them in the morning. Go home and get a good night’s sleep…” And Larry said, “Lisa, she won’t do that. She will not get much sleep tonight anyway.” And I said, “He’s right.” 
Larry knew I would stay up until my eyes just couldn’t stay open anymore, working on the search.  Even on Christmas Eve.

I waited until Christmas day to make the pies and stayed up until 3 am looking through family trees on Ancestry to try to make connections.

But Haven't You Found Him?

There is an extremely high probability that we have found my natural father. But it isn’t proven by DNA. And until it is, I work every angle and continue to turn over every stone I can possibly find.

Some say, “Why? Calm down. Breathe. Take your time.”

The man who is more than likely my natural father is already dead.

If I’m wrong about him and there’s someone still alive out there, my heart tells me this is no time to stay calm, breathe or take my time.

I know I’m not alone in thinking this. Many adoptees I talk to say they feel they are racing against the clock to find their natural family before they die.

In a search, time IS of the essence because even a few weeks or a month could be the difference between finding a living person or a grave.

Genealogy at the Altar

When we were in the midst of serving communion, my friend Gayle who is also on my search team, approached the altar. After she was served communion, I asked her, “Gayle, can I ask you a genealogy question?”  I know, I know. Tacky. But maybe it wasn’t so sacreligious to mix communion with genealogy.. After all, genealogy is a huge part of the bible…right? Hopefully Jesus doesn’t mind.

Just prior to Gayle’s arrival at communion I received a message from 23andM3 that I had a cousin match whose surname is also on the family tree of the man we believe is my natural father. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself or think of anything else. In the car on the way to communion and on the way to the restaurant afterwards, I was on the 23andMe site on my iPhone, trying to establish the connection and figure it out.   

Gayle didn’t mind my questions at all. In fact, she went home and worked on the lead, as well. Gaye Tannenbaum was also working on the search Christmas Eve as well. (Yes, their dedication is amazing.)

The Pros and Cons

 While we wait for the first DNA test from “M” to come back, we are trying to establish further connections to the man we believe is my natural father – or disprove him as such. 

Right now I have a list of pros and cons as to why we believe we have found my natural father. On the left hand side are the “pros”. I have twenty of them at this time. Some of them would just blow your mind.  On the right hand side are the cons. We don’t have one con. Not one.
If he is not my natural father, there is a man out there who amazingly fits the not-easy-at-all-to-fit profile of the man we are searching for.

My husband is, in general, a much more skeptical person than me. He tests things a lot more than I do. And from the first moment, he was convinced that we have found the right man. He has no doubt in his mind.

Gayle is convinced.
My friend Joanne is convinced.
They say there is absolutely no way this could not be the right person.
And yet my heart is afraid to believe.

I Don't Want to Bleed  

Because I’ve been waiting 47 years and my heart is afraid to invest and then fall so hard.

I know what it’s like to fall hard, as anyone reading this blog the past year knows. I don’t want to go back to bleeding socks again.

I start to think about the long road ahead of me if he is not the one.
What if the DNA comes back and we’re not a match?

They all counsel me, “Don’t go there. Don’t think about that. We don’t  believe you’re going to have to deal with that. And even if you would have to, now is not the time to think about that. Just trust. Believe.” 

 I was supposed to go with Savanna Rose to the Salvation Army half off sale yesterday. But I woke up and became consumed with the thought, “What if we’re wrong and I have to start all over again?” I melted down into tears at the thought of the DNA not matching and I asked Larry to take her to the store.  I didn't think I could hold myself together enough to go. No matter what I attempted to do for several hours I just blubbered.

On Christmas Eve I wrote to Gaye Tannenbaum asking for her wisdom. I said,   “Gaye, I’m trying not to stress.”  She wrote back and said: “Do or do not - there is no "try". I needed to hear this and many other wise gems she shared with me.

As I was having my crying jag yesterday, Larry followed up to Gaye's pearls of wisdom with more advice and comfort from his heart. And I see, they are right. I can’t focus on the what ifs.

A Stupid Prayer

I’ve stopped asking my friends to “pray for the DNA test.”
It was silly. 
Why the heck did I ask anyone to pray for a DNA test?
It either is or it isn’t.
There’s nothing to pray about. 
The DNA is already established and is fact – either way – and this fact will not change by people praying or not praying.

I guess maybe what I should have asked them to pray for is strength and wisdom, no matter the outcome.   

Because either way there’s nothing I can do about it.

Life ~ Post-Blubber Fest
In Exodus 14:15 the Lord gave Moses a word to stop crying and move forward. 
I took that as a word for me last night too.

Yesterday afternoon I wiped my snotty nose, got a shower and fixed myself up. 

The Mr. and I went on a date last night. 

Then we stayed up half the night together. 

This time staying awake had nothing to do with DNA matches or searching.  

I just focused on my husband and he focused on me. 

And it was wonderful. 

And today, for the first time, we scheduled a couples massage as a gift to us.

I Won't Lose What I Have for What I Don't Have Yet

Do or not do.
There is no try.
It’s going to be alright.
I’m going to be okay either way.
I can do this.
I am strong.