Pardon my French.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I've seen some interesting comments come through on my blog recently. Unfortunately, there are people who choose to write hurtful things about our open adoption. I know there is tremendous hurt and pain for anyone who has had a negative experience with adoption - whether an adoptee, a birthmother, or an adoptive parent - and I would never want to diminish that or cause more hurt to someone already hurting. But I do want to address a comment from someone who asked me to respond publicly on my blog.  

The writer says this: 

"How wonderful. I can see how poverty prevented you from raising your fist daughter. You really seem to have a hard time making ends meet. How do you explain to your daughter why you gave her away? I'd love for you to share that with your readers." 

Sure, I'd love to share my response with my readers. First of all, I think it's poor judgement to make an assessment of someone's ability to make ends meet based solely on reading their blog. Nevertheless, at this point in my life I'm not having a difficult time making ends meet. And the reason is because I had the opportunity to earn my college degree, to complete multiple unpaid internships, and to serve as a leader with several student organizations on campus - all of this while supporting myself financially for four years - so that when I finally did graduate, I had the education and experience necessary to land a job that enables me to pay my bills each month. Yes, there was a time when I had trouble making ends meet - and that time was when I was 18-years-old and pregnant.
Since that time, I have worked really hard to get to the point where I am today, and I'm not ashamed of the hard work I've put in or any of the things I have accomplished. 

I'm not saying that I couldn't have earned a college degree or accomplished great things while raising a child. I know plenty of very capable single parents who have done it and done it phenomenally. But I absolutely would not be where I am today, and more importantly, Deanna would not have had the quality of life or opportunities she has been provided with either.  Not to mention having two parents who have been fully committed to her well-being and emotional growth since before she was born, and too-many-to-count people who love her and have positively impacted her life in some way. 

For most of the first few years after placing, I dealt with crushing guilt and depression. I cried often  and wondered how Deanna would feel about her adoption. Would she hate me? Would she want to have a relationship with me when she got older? What questions would she have about her placement and how would I answer them? My faith is what has gotten me through those difficult times. When I made the choice to follow Christ, I realized that there was a bigger plan and purpose for my life and that sharing my experience with open adoption could help others. I now know that I have been forgiven, redeemed, restored, and made new. Sitting around and feeling sorry for myself was no longer an option. Philippians 4:13 says "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."
 That verse is one of many that gave me strength during those hard times.

Something that bothers me is the public's perception of birthmothers. We're not poverty-stricken, uneducated women. We're smart, courageous women who made a selfless choice to give our children something we could not provide at the time. We each have our own unique set of not-so-pretty circumstances that played a role in our decisions to place. And our decisions are not always based solely on finances. Society tells us: If you have the finances to raise a child, but you decide to place, then you must be really selfish. Yes, finances are an important factor in deciding whether or not to place a child for adoption because let's face it... you have to be able to support yourself and another human being, but there is so much more to it than that. So much more. There are plenty of people who have more than enough money, but may not be capable of parenting. I can tell you that at 18, I was not financially or emotionally capable of being responsible for the wellbeing of not just myself, but another human being. An incredibly precious one at that.  

So what will I say to my daughter to explain my decision?  To be honest, I'm really not sure.  Will I say the perfect words to make it all better?  No, probably not. But will the words I say come from the depths of my heart and be the complete and honest truth?  You bet. Because of open adoption, I have the privilege of being able to answer any of Deanna's questions at any time. Whenever she wants. Or maybe never if she doesn't want to talk about it. But that choice is ultimately hers now.

That's the beauty of open adoption.  

Our Wedding Day

Friday, October 4, 2013

Our wedding day was absolutely fabulous!  Both Aaron and I felt so incredibly loved by our families and friends that we didn't really have time to think about anything else. Since July 11, 2005 - the day Deanna was born - I knew I wanted her to be part of my wedding.  Eight years ago, I didn't know who my husband would be, but I knew wholeheartedly that I wanted Deanna to be by my side no matter what. Another reason why the openness part of open adoption was so important to me.

I will post some updates later about how our open adoption has been going eight years in, but for the purposes of this post, I'll be brief.  Don, De and Deanna recently moved to California for a job promotion that Don received.  Sad, yes.  It was tough, but ultimately the right choice for them. Anyway, it meant a lot to me that they made it a point to be at my wedding, even delaying their move to California a few days to make sure they were there for me.  Deanna was a flower girl, along with Aaron's niece, Zoe, which was a special memory I'll never forget. They became fast friends and even looked like they could be sisters.

Although the day felt perfect, not everything went exactly as planned. But we do have some funny memories to look back on. When Aaron and I were attempting to cut the cake, nobody told us that there is a freaking LAYER OF CARDBOARD inside the wedding cake to hold up each tier. I suppose that should be obvious, but who would be thinking about cardboard when you're trying to co-maneuver a sharp object with 170 people staring in your direction? Aaron and I just kept sawing the knife, trying to cut through the cardboard, smiling, smiling... smiling.... nervously laughing. Finally, we realized what was happening and moved the knife up a layer so we could cut through the cake.  Ta-da!  Magic.

Did you know that some garters are less elastic-y than others?  Neither did I.  Until Aaron and I were leading the way up to the buffet, with a large pack of guests following behind us, and I felt something slither down my leg. Whaaaaat the heck was that?  I realized that my garter had gotten stretched out and had slipped down my leg.  I stopped right then and there, halting the entire buffet line, reached under my dress and pulled the darn thing off my leg.  I quickly balled it up and shoved it inside Aaron's suit pocket. Later, I had to put the garter back on, but the only way it would stay on my leg was to literally put it alllll the way up there as far as it would go, making the garter removal portion of the evening very awkward.

Two additional debacles that weren't quite as funny: Our  DJ cancelled on us two weeks before the wedding - via snail mail letter. Yeah, that happened. Luckily, we have a friend who is a DJ was able to fill in at the last minute, but holy crap, who does that?!  Also, our limo driver crapped out on us and didn't show up at the end of the night to pick us up.  Fortunately, the reception venue had a golf cart that was available for us to use, so nobody even knew that we had a different exit planned. On a positive note, after we drove off in the golf cart, my sister and her boyfriend met us on the other side of the building and agreed to chauffeur us to our honeymoon villa (5 miles away). Before we left, I made a special request for my sister go back inside and run a recon mission. I asked her to fetch us some leftover cake since we barely had time to even taste the most expensive dessert we had ever and will ever purchase. Michelle didn't disappoint; she emerged with a huge smile on her face and about 12 takeout boxes full of leftover wedding cake. The unreliable limo driver quickly became a distant memory, as we realized that our impromptu golf cart exit was obviously meant to be.

Our wedding day was pretty awesome and we couldn't have been happier with the way everything turned out. Looking back on the day, and thinking about the series of events that led me to where I am today, I'm realizing more and more that the sweetest surprises and the greatest blessings often come from the things we haven't planned for ourselves.

Finally, here are some our favorite pictures, taken by the amazing Haley George Photography.

One of my favorite moments of the entire day - my dad walking me down the aisle. 
the first kiss
My father-in-law, Jim and three beautiful sisters-in-law, Jenny, Hannah & Anne

De, Aaron, Amstel, Don & Deanna

Friends: Jena, Angela, Caitlin  |  Sisters: Laura, Michelle, Anne, Hannah, Jenny  |  Niece: Zoe

Deanna sandwich!

Father-Daughter Dancing!

My sisters, Laura & Michelle and flower girls, Zoe & Deanna

Deanna and Zoe twirling around the dance floor

It wouldn't be a wedding reception without Cotton Eyed Joe!
As you can see, Deanna is now strong enough to pick me up!
Our awesome friends from Raleigh came all the way to Pawleys Island to celebrate with us!

All muuuuuurrrried up! 

Amstel Got Muuuuuried!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good news, friends.  I am officially a married woman!  Aaron and I tied the knot on June 22nd in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.  The whole entire week was just perfect.  Aaron's dad, who also happens to be the pastor at our amazing church, Covenant Church International, performed the ceremony. Having Aaron's dad marry us made the ceremony even more special and meaningful.

Something else really special was the beautiful double rainbow we saw the night before our wedding on the way to the rehearsal dinner. Rainbows have special significance to Aaron's family. When Aaron's dad and mom were dating, they had prayed a lot about whether or not God was calling them to join their lives together.  One day, when they were on their way to the beach, they were talking about what God wanted for their relationship, and they saw a huge, beautiful rainbow and believed it was a sign that God was confirming their relationship.  When Aaron's mom passed away a few years ago, rainbows became especially meaningful.  All three of Aaron's sisters and his dad have spotted rainbows during some big life events, confirming even further that their mom is smiling down on them.  I always had wondered what Aaron's mom would have thought of me and wished that I had been able to meet her.  When we spotted the beautiful, double rainbow the night before our wedding, it confirmed to all of us that God was with us, Aaron's mom was with us, and that she would have approved. :)

Instagram photo compliments of my lovely friend, Melanie!

Aaron's sister, Anne, and his dad, Pastor Jim!