Monday, April 13, 2009

Welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome! Amstel is back in action after a mini-holiday-hiatus. Thanks for coming back to see what’s going on in my crazy life!

I had a long drive to South Carolina to visit my aunt, cousins, and immediate family members for Easter Break. Driving (in addition to blogging) is extremely therapeutic for me. I get me some Rascal Flatts for the drive and I just go to town! Anyway, I got to thinking about how the heck I ended up where I am today. Gosh, I never in a million years would have guessed that I’d be speaking about open adoption and my decision with such self-acceptance. I realized that because of the open adoption and the willingness of Don and De to allow me to remain in Deanna’s life, I have been granted a second chance.

How often do we get second chances? I never did growing up. If I messed up, I never had the chance to fix it. I learned from my mistakes and I moved on. When I screwed up big time senior year, I didn’t expect a second chance at all. I knew what I had done could not be fixed, and that was that. But after the adoption, and after a year-long “pity me” session of wallowing in my sorrow and the pain of losing my daughter, something snapped. I’ll tell you why. During my freshman year at Meredith College, I was struggling to cope with the decision I had made. All of my close friends at school knew about Deanna. I loved talking about Deanna, but I never really let anyone in on the difficult part. The part that still hurt. I made it a point to shed my tears behind closed doors, where nobody could see me falling apart.

I had two big dreams when I got to college: to become a news anchorwoman or to become an elementary school teacher. I was at a crossroads and I needed guidance. I arranged a meeting with a professor in the Education Department to talk about the possibility of majoring in Communication and getting my teaching license so I could do either one. I was not prepared for what happened next. During our meeting, this woman, Dr. Parker, asked me which I would rather do. I excitedly thought about my future. “I guess I’d like to try for the broadcasting first, and if that doesn’t work out I’d love to try teaching. But I’d honestly be happy doing either one.” She immediately took her glasses off and stared me down. “Miss Hutton, if you think education is something you can just ‘fall back on,’ then I suggest you find another career. Teaching is for those who honestly care about children.”

Wow. Stunned. Silence. Tears. “But, that’s not what I meant…I do care about children!” I fought through the tears. Did she have any idea what I had been through for the past year of my life? When I left her office, I found my way blindly through the hallway. Everything was a blur. It was after 5:00 pm, so nobody was around on campus. I curled up on a bench outside of Ledford Hall and I bawled my eyes out. I had reached the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. The head of the Education Department just told me I didn't care enough about children to become a teacher.

When I had the strength to get off of the bench that day, something in me snapped. If this woman who didn’t even know me thought I didn’t care about children, what did others think? Did they think I didn't care about children too? And what would Deanna think of me years down the road? That I didn’t care enough about her to keep her? I decided on that day that I was leaving Meredith College and I was never looking back. I made it a point to do everything in my power to prove to myself and to Deanna that I had made the right decision.

I got involved and I went above and beyond what I ever thought possible. I transferred to NC State and became president of Real Choices, a student organization that advocates resources for pregnant and parenting students on campus. I became arch regent of the Golden Chain Society, the highest honor bestowed upon the top 12 rising seniors at NC State. I volunteered at and established alliances with local crisis pregnancy centers, and I taught 8th grade Sunday school. I interned as Community Content Liaison, Video Expert Intern, and News Desk Intern at NBC 17 and Communication Intern at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society during four separate internships. I worked as a Public Relations Representative for Raleigh Neurology, a sports reporter for Wolf TV, and I helped to create the NCSU Service-Learning Funding Committee, a committee that provides grants to students wishing to participate in a service-learning experience with a local nonprofit. I started speaking openly about my experience with open adoption, I began going to church every week, and I remembered to thank God every single day. But most importantly, I did all of these things while still maintaining a relationship with the most important little girl in the world.

It took me an awful long time to mentally overcome that experience with Dr. Parker. And since then, I’ve encountered many “Dr. Parkers” (roadblocks, challenges) during the past 4 years of my Amstel Life. But each and every one of these experiences has given me the motivation to do more than I ever thought possible. If I saw Dr. Parker today, I wouldn't be mad. I'd probably just tell her thank you. Thank you for giving me the kick in the ass that I needed to stop wallowing in my sorrow and to go out and make something of my life. For helping me to realize that I actually did have a second chance.

Oh yeah, and I really do care about children.


CSO said...

Glad that you realized Dr. Parker wasn't a roadblock, but an eye-opener. She's right about teaching not being a fall-back option -- it's a tough, tough job, and just loving kids isn't enough to get you through. But sounds like you're learning to face tough experiences and begin to know if teaching is the right path for you.

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