Monday, March 22, 2010
Written by my lovely sister, Michelle Hutton:
Well, I can’t give myself a better introduction than Amy has done for me. I do have to correct her on one point, though. I am not a licensed psychologist, but a licensed psychological associate. The difference is, of course, that I had neither the money nor the motivation to put myself through another 4 years of a doctorate program before starting to work. I settled with a master’s degree and a license that allows me to practice psychology in the state of North Carolina. I mainly work with middle- and high school-age kids from impoverished families. This is my first time guest-blogging, or "glogging," and I am thrilled to get the opportunity to write for Amy.
As my background (police officer, peeper-tackler) has no doubt alerted you, I have always been the “tough” sister. I took care of the problems, whatever they might be. When other people tried to intimidate my sisters, I jumped to their defense. I was not shy about my willingness to verbally or physically defend either of them, be it a crazy ex-boyfriend, a jealous classmate, or a new boyfriend coming over to meet the family (sorry, Laura).
Even when my sisters fought with each other, they both came to me for answers. I always provided the comfort and support that an older sister ought to, and tried to fix their relationship the best I could. I enjoyed my role as the problem-solver. So, naturally, when we found out Amy was pregnant, I made it my job to come up with solutions. I came up with elaborate plans involving my family that would allow us to keep and raise Deanna in Pittsburgh. I almost completely discounted the Leonards’ role. This was Amy’s baby, darn it, and I added the unborn child to the list of people I felt I had to protect.
Then I found out that Amy was considering adoption. I felt that I had lost some sort of battle. I imagined the baby far away, never knowing anyone in her family, and completely without my protection. I was very angry with Amy and Robbie. I cried myself to sleep for several nights. Confused and irrational, I called both of them to vent my feelings. Robbie tried his best to calm me down, but the only thing he said that made any difference to me was something to the effect of, “Amy feels like everyone hates her right now, she really needs support from you.”
That simple statement woke me up to the hurt I was inflicting upon my sister, whom I loved and protected. I made the decision then that I would support Amy. This did not mean I was happy with her decision. I still couldn’t understand how she would want to give away part of herself to a family of strangers. It was difficult for me to put myself in Amy’s position and see why she made the choice that she did. Trying to find someone besides my sister to blame for this decision, I focused on the Dollars. I decided that I wouldn’t like De or Don, the two people who would willingly take Amy’s child away from her.
Suffice it to say that, when I finally met De and Don, I was distant, reserved, and extremely suspicious of these people who were now my niece’s protectors and caretakers. Luckily for me, they did not take this the wrong way, and soon enough I willingly passed the role of the protector off to Don, who will someday also want to strike fear into the hearts of young men who come to meet the family. It took one meeting for me to change my opinion of De and Don. From that point, I saw the Dollars as my sister did from the very beginning: a loving couple who wanted a child. Amy had told me over and over (before I was ready to listen to her) that she felt that she and the baby were the answer the Dollars had been praying for. After I met them, I believed that Amy was right.
The lesson that I learned from this is that I had to trust Amy to make the right decision for her and Deanna, regardless of what my personal opinion was. We could all tell Amy what we thought she should do, what we thought was best for her and the baby, but really Amy was the only one who could know what would be best for her. My sister made the perfect decision. She was able to meet her own needs as well as Deanna’s needs. Amy was able to go to college, join the swim team, conduct ridiculous interviews with unsuspecting people, and graduate. Deanna is able to enjoy an extra-large loving, supportive family. They are able to see each other and have time together.
I know that if anyone could have given me a picture of this future when Amy was pregnant, I would not have had nearly as much trouble accepting Amy’s decision as I did when the future was so uncertain. I love the new additions to my extended family, and respect my sister’s personal strength more than ever. And De and Don know that if they have any problems, they have a former-police-officer-and-peeper-tackler waiting in the wings to help.