Archive for the ‘ HEALING ’ Category

The secret’s out, but the silence continues

When I first learned of my adoption around nine years ago I thought, great, now that the secret’s out my parents will no longer have to worry about someone blurting out the information to me and we will be able to talk about it openly. Sadly, that was not to be.

My parents were not only reluctant to discuss my adoption, indeed, they indicated strongly that I should “forget about it and get on with my life”. Of course, I couldn’t do this.

It took numerous weeks of counselling and many prayers for me to realise that my parents’, and especially my mother’s, unwillingness to talk about the subject was motivated not by spite or malice but fear and insecurity. But, through her faith in God and motivated by of her love for me, my mother was eventually able to overcome her fear and open her heart to understanding my need to search for my biological heritage. Not only did she give me her blessing, she even initiated the search for me. (I relate this story in more detail in my book. It’s one of my favourite memories of my journey because it affirms the scripture in 1 John 4:8:  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”.)

Months later, after I had found and been reunited with my birth mother, I was eager to tell my mother all about her. But the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is limited by our faith. My mother had gone as far as she was willing to. 

To this day she remains silent about my adoption.  She has not read my book, indeed, has not even acknowledged it. Naturally, I was hurt and disappointed at first, and turned to the Lord for guidance. How perfect are His ways. I love how He helps us overcome hurts by allowing us to relate to the experiences of others. Recently I visited with a friend of mine who had just adopted a baby girl and was eager to tell me all about it.

I was astounded at how different this child’s open adoption was to my closed process, and how far the adoption process has come in the 45 years since I was adopted. Then it was all done under cover of secrecy, “to protect the interests of the child” whose illegitimacy was considered a social scandal. For married couples eager to have a child but unable to because of infertility, adoption was considered the ideal “quick fix”. There was no counselling for the barrage of emotional issues adoptive parents could expect to encounter over their child’s lifetime.

Neither did my birth mother receive any counselling after relinquishing her baby. Once both parties had signed the relevant documentation, they were left to “live happily ever after”.

Where could my parents go with wounds that received no help to heal? My mother did what most members of her Silent Generation ddid with emotional hurts – she buried. She surrounded her heart with walls that became thicker and higher as time passed until eventually they were impenetrable. To talk openly about anything related to my adoption was to scratch open a fragile scar that had taken decades to form.

My parents and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to dealing with emotional pain, but I have come to understand their need for silence. I may not agree with it, and I wish with all my heart that I could change it, but I accept that this is not to be. That they respect my need to talk about my adoption in order to heal is enough for me.

My parents are in their seventies. I don’t know how much time we have left together, but I would rather spend it creating happy memories than trying to change things that, in their interests, are best left alone. As I do with all of my unresolved adoption issues, I have placed this one in God’s hands. There’s no safer place to leave it.

Striking back at the black hole

Stress happens. All the time. And it’s not uncommon that just as one stressful situation resolves itself, another develops to take its place. Often there are two, three or even more to be dealt with simultaneously. For previously diagnosed depression sufferers this can make that deep, dark, black hole look increasingly inviting and the urge to crawl back into it too tempting to ignore.

Sometimes I am tempted to sit on the floor and let all the painful emotions surrounding my adoption completely overwhelm me. All the unfinished business, the unresolved issues, the unanswered questions. I have to work extremely hard every day at keeping them at bay, and sometimes it just becomes… exhausting.

That’s when I feel that black hole looming ever larger and larger. And it looks so enticing. It seems so peaceful in there. So quiet. Far away from all the pressure. All the stress. All the stuff. Like a thick, warm, wooly blanket. I can almost feel myself being pulled closer and closer into its looming folds, until eventually my legs are dangling inside and it’s only my fingers clinging tightly onto the edge of the hole that are keeping me from letting go and falling… falling…

That’s when I know I have to waste no time in heading straight for my Safe Place, my “refuge in times of trouble”.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want,” I recite to myself over and over again. “Tho’ I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. I will fear no evil. I will fear no evil.”

And then the one that gives me the strength to claw my way out of the hole: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

And as I move farther and farther away from the gaping blackness I begin to feel it. The fear dissipating, and I am left with peace. “My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you…”

And as I breathe Him deeply in, so that once more “in Him I live, and move, and have my being” I hear Him whisper: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

And as I slowly exhale I know that I am safe. And I can see the hole for what it really is. A black shroud of despair where there is no light, only endless night.

And as I continue to “renew my mind” I am once again reminded that “without Him I can do nothing.” But with Him “all things are possible” and I no longer have to fear. I can see my adoption for what it really is: a gift from God to my parents, a gift of eternal salvation to me. I am blessed.

A world of new friends

Ever since I first learned of my adoption about eight years ago I have wanted to connect with other members of the triad, especially adoptees, to share experiences and emotions.

I never dreamed that the publication of Someone’s Daughter would provide the answer to my prayers. God’s ways are indeed perfect. Undoubtedly, the Internet has played an integral role, especially social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and this blog. I also recently discovered a social network specifically for those touched by adoption – Adoption Voices – which I have also joined.

Since publishing Someone’s Daughter I have connected with so many from various parts of the world who can relate to my experience. The first was a birth-mother, who is also a self-published author like me. Interestingly, she chose to tell her story in a children’s book, in which she explains why she chose to give up her children for adoption. A book such as this would make a beautiful gift from an adoptive mother to her young child, who is perhaps just starting to ask questions about his or her adoption.

I have also connected with many adoptees, which has been wonderful. Like any other traumatic event, adoption can only be truly understood by those with personal experience, and being able to correspond with others who have “also been there”  has been so healing for me. I feel truly blessed and am so very, very thankful.

Misunderstood and reviled

The publication of an extract of Someone’s Daughter on Parent24.com has caused quite a stir, judging by some of the comments posted by readers.

Even though the positive comments far outweigh the negative, when I first read the latter I was very hurt by their intensity.

“You are a terrible disgrace”, wrote someone who signed their name as ‘?’, accusing me of seeing a lucrative story to write and shame my parents about. “I think you are selfish and saw a story to write about that would make people feel pity on you,” he/she delcared.

“Pull yourself together”, stated ‘casino’, while ‘turbo_superboss’ wanted to know why I was “so ungrateful and angry” at my mother for not telling me.

Of course, I know their comments are based on ignorance. None of these people have read my book and are judging me without knowing all the facts. Yet I still felt hurt, misunderstood and unjustly criticised.

At the same time I was aware of a sense of familiarity to all of this. Then it struck me. Jesus experienced the same unfair judgement and misunderstanding while He was on earth (Luke 17:25) and especially when He hung on the cross. Although He had every opportunity to defend Himself, and with God’s power in Him was more than capable of doing so, He chose not to.

Like my critics, Jesus’ attackers could not (or would not?) see the full picture and consequently, completely misunderstood His message.  Yet, despite all of this, Jesus asked His Father to forgive them for their ignorance just before He died. What compassion, what mercy!

Jesus also warned Christians that they would encounter persecution for His name’s sake: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

The lesson for me is clear. I should expect criticism, but I must show compassion and forgiveness, just as Jesus did. I may have finished writing Someone’s Daughter, but God’s teaching and healing continues. What a blessing.

Sharing with adoptive parents – a healing experience

It was with much anticipation, and not a little apprehension, that my husband Sean and I recently attended a support group for adoptive parents. I had been invited following the publication of Someone’s Daughter. The members of the group wanted me to share my experiences as an adoptee, which they hoped would give them insight into their own adopted children. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the group, or what they expected from me, but after Sean and I met our friendly hosts Jan and Luzonne Mentz and each subsequent family as they arrived, my nervousness melted away.

What an amazing group of people. Most are transracial adoptive parents, which in itself presents a host of challenges. Indeed, there was much excitement among the moms when someone produced a book on how to dress your (black) child’s hair.

But what impressed me most about this group was that they have so much love to give, especially to children who have been abandoned or whose mothers are unable to raise them for whatever reason. Even though they are fully aware of the myriad emotional and psychological issues surrounding adoption, and especially adoptees, they are willing to take them on fully, and are eager to learn as much as they can.

I spoke briefly about my own story, after which many were eager to ask questions, especially about what they could do to ease the load for the children when they started to probe their own biological roots.

I don’t know whether the information I provided was helpful, but what I do know is that the roughly three hours I spent in the company of these families was exceptionally healing for me. Just being in the presence of, and being able to talk to members of the adoption triad was amazing, and something I have been praying for for a long time.

All adoptive parents are special. Even God has a special place in his heart for those who take care of orphans, as they do. May He bless you and your children richly in the years to come.

Rest assured, I will be back.

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