Life through a different set of glasses – Adoption Part 8

When I think of life since last Tuesday when my birth mother died I am faced with my own mortality.

What do I want to do before I leave earth?  What does God want me to do before I leave earth?

What will my own death be like?

Will I fight as courageously as my birth mom did?  Will I stare death in the face and say, “Not now.”

She fought brilliantly for as long as I had her in my life.  As I have gone through the last week I’ve been amazed at the people who actually read my blog and whose lives I have touched even though they never leave a trace that they’ve been here.  Hello all you ghost readers!

The last few days have been good days.  At first I thought I’d never survive the sadness I felt.  But I feel the prayers of the saints around me….. lifting me up, allowing me to function, to serve my family.

This beautiful arrangement from my husband’s work associates in Utah arrived on Saturday.  It reminds me so much of the seasons of life.  Although generally a fall arrangement reminding me that all things end it also reminds me of the blessing of being raised my adopted parents.  The cattails remind me of carefree days spent in my childhood by the lake with my aunts and uncles.  The details are sketchy of the house or the exact lake but oh how I remember the cattails.  The greenery reminds me that I still have work left here today.  This is the season of my life.  The yellow daisies remind me of the sunshine brought into my life by the Father, my parents (all four of them) and the orange and yellow flowers remind me of the brilliance of heaven.

Can you imagine what awaits us?  I asked my birth mom that if God allowed her to break the rules and send me a telegram I wanted to know what heaven was like.  And then I thought to myself, “Why would HE ruin the surprise and the splendor for any of his children?” And does He greet us all the same?  I’m kinda thinking he doesn’t.  Since he knows each one of us and he made each one of us I’m thinking he’s got something spectacular planned for each one of us.  Can you fathom that?

For any of you reading who do not know Jesus, may I introduce you to the most wonderful person in the universe?

He really is here.  And all it takes is you turning to see Him.

He’ll be the gentleman waiting at the front door of your heart.

Adoption Story – Part 7

I wrote this to a friend today:

Just yesterday someone from my husband’s work sent a Magnolia tree in memory of my mom.  It was her favorite flower and tree.  Who sends a Magnolia tree but God?  I was floored.  I miss her terribly, even tho I know where she is and that she is without pain and with Jesus.

It is the thought of never being able to talk to her again or email with her that hits me in the gut.
God is already sending me reminders…..
It’s just that those reminders are so hard right now.

The connection feels gone.  Now it’s through the Lord.
I have two voice mails from her on my phone.  I wish I had saved more.
I have her socks, a few things from her house and photos of us over the 8 years we were together.

I loved taking care of her when she was sick.  That was a blessing.  I slept at her feet for three nights before I had to leave Green Bay.

She died the next day.
The memorial service was last night.
My sister and brother were there.
And I have my uncle and his family left too.

So I’m blessed in the sadness, the ache, the pain.
And I have an entire new appreciation for anyone who has lost a parent.
Thanks for your help, advice and encouragement.

Adoption Story – Part 6

My mom died this evening….quietly and at home.  I had to leave Green Bay last night.

I wanted to hold her hand but God had other plans.

That’s all I can write now.  I miss her.

Adoption Story – Part 5

I have been in Green Bay since Wednesday night.  Mom went into the hospital the day after I arrived.  She had another surgery and now she is at home resting until God calls her home.  For the entire time she was in the hospital she was joking, sleeping and just being Janet.

Now she is unresponsive yet still every bit “Janet”.  I rub her feet.  I put chap stik on her mouth.  I slept beside her bed last night. I counted the seconds between breaths.  I got up to give her morphine.  I put water in her mouth.  The hospice nurse came in the middle of night and I think I slept better when I knew someone was at least taking care of her.  This morning we turned her, the nurse came again and we have watched her throughout the day.  The life is leaving her.  Eternity awaits.

Her breathing is labored and has been since we got her home.

She’s still beautiful.  And I am so thankful to have this time. She gave me life and now I’m watching hers slip into Jesus’ arms.

Adoption Story – Part 4

After Gina made her phone call to this mystical mommy creature named Janet I got a phone call back from her.  Janet did, indeed, want to talk with me.  Gina gave me her phone number.  I nervously pondered whether I wanted to call or not.  I was about to make this mystical person in my head real.

Beside myself with nerves I finally dialed the number.  I can’t remember how long we talked that night but we talked on the phone for hours.  It was so strange to be telling my mom about my life growing up.  One thing we had in common was that we were both Mary Kay Consultants.  It’s a wonderful family to belong to and so nice to have some common ground.

For the next few days I felt as if in a dream.  Life seemed surreal. It was almost like an out of body experience.

I’ve often wondered how my mom has come to grips with seeing me as a baby and then as a 38 year old woman.  I know she has always thought of me as “Lynn”….the sweet baby she gave away so I could have a better life.  At our meeting I had grown up, developed my own personality, and was married.  How do you link the two differences?  For me, I was meeting someone I had never known but for her she was being reunited with a grown woman who was once her baby.

I know now that she was able to care for me for a period of time after my birth.  In 1965 things were done differently than they are now.  And the home she lived in provided a chance for moms to stay with their children for several weeks after their birth.  They were assigned different duties in the house but everyone took their turn with the babies.  She also got to see me right before I was adopted.  When we found each other she gave me the cross she had sent with me but was not allowed to leave for my adopted parents.  What a sweet thing to have.

As I write I am sitting in the airport waiting on my plane to go see her one last time.  Her battle with cancer will soon end and she’ll be standing at the feet of Jesus rejoicing with all the other Christians who have gone before her.

Our first meeting was on Mother’s Day.  Our last, on this earth, will be before Thanksgiving.  How appropriate.  I am thankful for having the time with her that I’ve had.  We first talked on my half sister’s birthday.  She was the person who put the information into the computer on the adoption website many years ago.  I have her to thank for having both my birth mom and birth father in my life now.

I think back on that Mother’s Day many years ago and remember looking at her, my half brother and half sister and thinking, “Wow.  I look like these people.”  For those not adopted it is an amazing connection that most just take for granted.

Since our first meeting which was awkward, wonderful and a million other things we have gotten to see one another quite a bit even though she lives in WI.  Her brother, my uncle, lives in NC so I try to meet her there each time  she visits them.  This visit will be my last.  I was blessed to be able to spend my first alone time with her in September.  We had five days together, just the two of us.  There was a blessed peace, a quietness, a playfulness we were able to experience all on our own.  And it was then I realized it was our first time where it was just us.  No outside distractions.  We slept.  We ate.  We slept more.  It was quiet.  We both enjoyed ourselves so very much.

Now as I am off to see her for the last time I draw on the time we had together in September.

And I’m thankful for her, her choice, and her ever closer meeting with The One We Love.

Day 29- Adoption Story – Part 3

I got out of the tub after dwelling on this “new information” and told my husband what had just happened.

“I’m going upstairs to see what I can find on the computer”

After browsing on the computer for a while I found several websites that would match birth parents to birth children if the information entered matched.  I really felt as if I was in no man’s land.  I wasn’t sure I had filled out the information properly and I remember the websites seemed a little confusing.  I did what I could, entered my junk email address and told the Lord the rest was up to him.

In the next few weeks I really forgot about that night.  I had three little ones at the time and “me time” was always on the back burner.  Then one evening, after the children were in bed, I remembered.  I seldom check my junk email accounts so this was not something that would have appeared in my daily inbox.

Upon checking my email there was a note from someone named Gina in NY who searched adoption sites for matches.  She was not part of any company, just an interested party.  This made me hesitant in contacting her.  I decided to email her and see what she had found.  She emailed back and sent me the link where I could see all of the birth mom’s information.  Everything matched.  I had a sister named Jill, a brother named Jeff and the birth mom’s name was Janet.  I thought how ironic that I’m Julie!

I called Gina and talked with her.  She told me her story of giving up a child for adoption when she was young.  In doing so she explained why she searched and helped others.  She was a wonderful woman and a Christian which made me even more at ease with her involvement.

In NC adoptions are closed meaning even if both the mother and child want to contact one another they can not.  No information is given out from the adoption center.  The only alternative are websites like the ones I visited.  Even so, I decided to call the lady I knew at the adoption agency who had provided me with all “non-identifying” information allowed by the state.  I basically had a two page report about my parents, grandparents etc. that told occupation, interests, ages at my birth, height, eye color and hair color.  That was it.  If there were any known illnesses in the family that information was also provided.

The sweet woman at the adoption agency said she could not disclose my mother’s name even if I had a name to give her.  I explained to her how I didn’t want to pursue a relationship with this woman if she really was not my birth mom.  She understood and told me if I gave her the name she would tell me whether or not she thought it might be worth checking into.  There was a long pause and when she said, “This might be worth checking into” I felt my insides do a roller coaster flip.  I started crying.  “Really?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied.

Of course I knew I was adopted……

knew there was a mom out there…..

but had I ever thought I would actually talk with her, much less meet her?

The honest answer was “NO”!  Everything about her had always been so abstract.  Nothing about her was tangible, real, do-able.

The next phone call was to Gina again.  I told her what I had been told.  I cried with her.  I admitted I was scared.  I did not want to make the first phone call.  Would she please call and talk to her and then call me?  I was still uncertain if she wanted me in her life but the fact her information was out there told me it was a possibility.  Gina agreed to try and find her.  Some of the information on the website was old.  The phone numbers were not current.  The information was 9 years old.

Had she been hoping to find me for that long???

More tomorrow…..

Day 28 – My Adoption Story -Part 2

I enjoyed so many things as a child.  I fished at the crack of dawn with my dad for bass.  The grape fire-tailed worm was my favorite because it smelled like grape kool-aid.  I don’t think my husband believed there was such a thing until my dad gave him a bag of them about a year ago.  I could have slept with those things!!!!

I also rode horses during high school which kept me out of some trouble.  All you moms and dads out there…..have a good hobby going for your kids before high school.  What you spend in money you will save in grief.  I loved the barn and everything about horses.  Most of my time was spent there.  I’d grown up with all the horse posters and statues in my room and read Black Beauty a million times.

Thinking back I believe the horses replaced Holly Hobbie.  {I wish I still had those sheets!}

I wasn’t a big hit with the boys in high school which was half ok and half not ok.  I went to college by the beach and loved every moment of that.  I didn’t study much but I had what I thought was fun.  Now I see it as nonsense.

After college I worked several jobs I hated until I fell into advertising.  I loved it.  I was good at it.  I made money doing it.

But 5 years into that job and I still felt an empty hole inside.  It was a hole only the Lord could fill and that He did.  I made a lot of changes in my life.  God made even more.  I found an awesome church and entered Christian recovery, I quit my job, met the man I’m now married to and then moved to Memphis, TN after living in a small town for 29 years.

We moved to KY after TN and it was there I had my first two kids.  After three years in KY it was off to SC where God kept us for 10 years and we had two more children.  So my kids grew up there.  We found a church we loved.  We’d been married five plus years and worked out a lot of kinks.  {Oh yea, we still work them out!}

That is why our move to FLA has been so difficult.  All of us had tight “real-life” relationships in SC.  We miss those relationships to this day.

It was while we were in SC and I just have to tell you like it happened….

I was in the bathtub one night reading, put down my book, and asked God what he would have me learn from what I’d read.  There was nothing for a few minutes and then clear as a bell I heard in my heart of hearts, “It’s time to find your birthmom.”

More tomorrow!!

Day 27 – Things left unsaid- OPENNESS Adoption Story -Part 1

I was reading another blog about things left unsaid and it caused me to think.

You’ve not heard the story of my adoption.

I was a wee 8 weeks old when my parents adopted me.  I remember my mother telling me she didn’t sleep at all the night they got the call.  They were to come pick me up the next day.  Can you imagine an adoption going that way today?  The cost?  Nothing.   I shake my head at the thought.

I grew up with another adopted brother whom I look a lot alike.   Then as the old story goes my mom was pregnant with my little sister about a month after they adopted my brother.

Then there were three.  My parents talked about how special we were and what a blessing adoption was to them.  I almost felt sorry for people who where “just born.”  I was born and then chosen.

My dad traveled quite a bit while I was growing up.  I took dance lessons, knew both of my grandparents on dad’s side and my grandmother and great grandparents on my mom’s side.  I swam on the swim team.  I rode horses later in life until I went to college.  Life was wonderful.  I had a best friend.  We met in 1st grade.  We’d ride bikes and talk about my birthmom, imagining she was a queen of some lovely castle and would one day come and sweep us away of all that ails a 12 or 14 year old girl.

I didn’t look like anyone in my family except my also adopted brother.  Which made other thinks maybe it was my sister who was adopted.  As a grown up I now see so much of my mom and grandmother in her.  How could she have ever been adopted?

We shared a room growing up.  I was a pig and she was neat.  I was mean and she was nice.

We roamed the neighborhood, rode bikes everywhere, played flash light tag and learned UNO on our neighbors back porch.  We made forts by the creek, forts in the woods, we fished in the creek, lit firecrackers in the drain that led from the pond on the other side of the road to the creek.  I remember it being big enough to stand upright inside.  Childhood was good.

I wondered about my birth parents but always in a fantasy sort of way.  I never really wondered why they gave me up.  I knew enough about life as an older teenager to know there was pain in the world.  I wondered if my mom had made a decision out of pain and love…one that was best for me.  But I wondered if coming back into her life would bring back painful memories of a time long ago.  So I let what would be be.  I prayed for her at times.  I wondered if I had any other brothers and sisters but it still was all in a “just wondering” sense.  There was no driving force to find her and ask, “Why?”  There was only a sense of wonderment (is that a word?)

Tune in for more of the story on Friday.

Saturday in Green Bay – WI

I sit here in Green Bay, WI with my birth mom.  She has been battling cancer for something like 20 years.  I met her 8 years ago.  Our story is a wonderful one I’ve yet to write.  The cancer is gaining ground and she just had several operations.  I went with her to chemotherapy yesterday.  The whole thing was quite an experience and made all she is going through even more real.  Since we live so far apart I’m not a part of the day by day challenges of battling cancer.

She has been such a blessing in my life.  She gave me life.  I look like her.  A nurse yesterday told me I have her laugh.

It’s a quiet day.  We are still in our pajamas.  The Auburn football game is on TV.  WAR EAGLE!!

My sweet friend is at my house cleaning up from the movers packing my house in SC yesterday and moving it to our new house in FLA.  The day after I get home from WI the truck arrives.  My sweet mother-in-law is staying to help with the unpacking, unloading and decorating.  I sit here in awe of how God gives us rest, provides, and takes care of things the more we (I) let go of my life.

If there is anything I have learned in this last year it is to live life one day at a time.  There Jesus resides.  The Holy Spirit leads and God smiles.  God always works out the next day.  It is not for us to solve, worry or think on.

My mom has lost most of her hair and she still looks beautiful to me.  She has fought such a valiant fight.  Her strength is amazing.  Her attitude is quirky…sometimes sarcastic, sometimes loving, sometimes accepting, always trusting in the One who is in charge.

The last few weeks has been a whirlwind as they have moved our furniture from one house in FLA to the other.  When I get home the furniture from SC is being delivered.

And in this crazy life place God has provided the needed time with my birth mom, a break from life as we move into our home He has given us, rest, and help when I return.  Not to mention my mother-in-law taking care of my kids while I’m in WI and a husband who’s allowed me to come visit my sweet birth mom.

What is life like when we really let go and trust Him to handle it all?

I want to live in that place.

It’s the best.