Hello Friends! Sorry for the long delay between my last post and this one, honestly I have been swamped at “my day job” and I haven’t really had a ton of adoption news to share, but I have a little…
A couple of weeks ago the Pastor from my old church called me. He works in many community outreach programs and in the course of, well, reaching out – he met a young woman going through an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption. He asked me for some information, contacts, etc. We talked for quite a while and I told him that if she needed to talk she was welcome to call me. I had dinner with my Mom that night and she asked if I was considering adopting the young woman’s baby and I told her no, though later I thought it would certainly make an interesting next chapter if, when I decide to start my family, I get to experience another facet of the adoption experience and I become an adoptive parent.
I also got a new packet of pictures of Michael and from Beth and John, a letter that said that they are putting in a package to adopt again! I called the attorney immediately and offered to write them a letter for their package. I am so excited to see their family grow – they are such amazing people and Michael is an excellent big brother.
Like many of you – I’ve been watching the latest season of Teen Mom, of course mostly for Tyler and Catelynn. I cannot tell you how much I laughed and cried when they got to see Carly – what a beautiful little girl! I’ve seen it twice and every time something different strikes me, but I was really impressed at the way Catelynn and Tyler acknowledge that Brandon and Theresa are Carly’s parents. I really hope that the relationship that all the parents share will help Carly grow into a happy adjusted young lady, who is comfortable and confident that she has been loved by so many people. (I am also eager to see the reunion as it looks like Dr.Drew lays the law down to Catelynn’s mom, which makes me like him even more!)
Other than that, it’s Fall in South Alabama and we’re getting ready for Halloween and the whirlwind that it starts that takes us straight through to the holidays and then into a new year. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for me!
It’s kind of funny, but there are things I remember with perfect clarity from my first phone call with Leah and there are things I feel like I didn’t hold on to tightly enough. I remember listening carefully to the way she talked, intrigued by her accent and overwhelmed by emotion. This was my Birthmother, after years of wondering – here she was. There were a few thoughtful (I will not say awkward) pauses and clearly we were kind of feeling each other out. The end result was that Leah and her husband decided to rearrange their travel plans to come and visit me in Pensacola! I called my Mom and talked to her and she made arrangements for Leah and her husband to use her sister’s condo on the beach.
It’s hard for me to not feel like everything was meant to be, because everything just seemed to fall into place, and literally a week after our first phone call I was standing in the airport waiting for Leah to arrive. My Mom was with me and two of her best friends, my two aunts Ruth (who was there when my son was born) and Carol. These are the women who had been there for every major event of my life so it seemed fitting for them to be there today. We shuffled about and waited…and waited…and waited. On a funny note from the moment that we knew the flight landed the waiting seemed longer, rather than shorter.
However, coming down the gateway, there she was and all I could think is “oh my god, that’s my Mother.”
There was a very brief pause and then our group dissolved into hugs and tears. My Mom hugged my Mother and I would later hear that she told Leah, “Joy has two mothers now.” Aunt Ruth was, of course, taking pictures. Mom and I drove Leah and her husband out to the condo so they could get settled and then we went back to town so I could get some car stuff settled. (I had added a degree of difficulty to the equation by buying a new car in the middle of all this – I had been driving a company pick up truck.)
At the condo we took a few more pictures, of course. Later I would look at the pictures and laugh when I realized that Leah and I both do the same head tilt in pictures. I also got the picture that I have always wanted, even though I didn’t know it – a picture of me and my Mom and my Mother.
Over the course of Leah’s visit, we did some of the tourist things – like going to the Naval Aviation Museum and we did some of the non-tourist things, like I took them to where I work and where I live to meet Ben. We had a family dinner at my Mom and Dad’s house and Mom pulled out all sorts of old family pictures.
I don’t think what we did was as important as the connection that we made during that visit. All awkwardness was put aside and our family circle expanded to include Leah and her husband.
What’s funny is that it’s almost hard for me to remember my life before Leah was an active participant in it. We don’t talk as much as we would like (especially since I am a reluctant Skyper) but we email often. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but I know without a doubt that she’ll be there.
When I look in the mirror, at the woman that I’ve become I see the two women who have shaped me. Leah who through the courage of her conviction gave me life, gave me her genes. She gave me a love of words, a fascination with art and photography (though I think she’s a better creator of artistic endeavors than I am), and so many other gifts, some I am still uncovering. My Mom who taught me how to make life a celebration, the importance of girlfriends, and so many other things. I don’t have enough words or time to express my love and gratitude for them but suffice to say – I love them both dearly, and I am lucky to share my life and my heart with both of them.
It’s really kind of funny that I aggressively jumped into the search for my birthmother, armed with a few names and a the place where I was born. My desire drove me fearlessly forward and as I mentioned before it wasn’t until I actually got David and then Nancy on the phone that anything other than the need to find my birthmother drove me on. When I actually got David on the phone I realized I hadn’t thought my plan out very well, and later I was fortunate that Aunt Nancy and I seemed to share an instant connection that put any awkwardness aside.
Timing is everything and I was very lucky that I reconnected with my Aunt Nancy a few weeks before my Birthmother was scheduled to the visit the States for the first time in several years. Corresponding with Nancy made the time pass quickly and life certainly had it’s own hustle and bustle to keep me busy, but before long the part of Leah’s visit that would take her to visit Nancy was here and there was nothing for me to do, but wait.
I knew when Leah and her husband were arriving at Nancy’s house, but what I didn’t know was when Nancy would tell her, so I had nothing to do but wait…and worry…
In retrospect it’s really kind of funny, but growing up everything I watched on television had indicated that most birthmothers don’t want to be found, but I hadn’t really considered that my birthmother would be one of those birthmothers until I was so close to being reconnected with her that it seemed inevitable. In the few short days from when Leah arrived at Nancy’s to when I would hear from her – I played every scenario possible through my mind. (I try to expect the best but prepare for the worst.) The absolute worst I could imagine is that after Leah’s visit, I would get a phone call from Nancy telling me that Leah didn’t want to be in touch with me and had indicated that she would rather not know anything about me at all. I wondered if Nancy and I would stay in touch if Leah didn’t want to get to know me.
It was Wednesday when the call came, and I will never forget it…
I taught the high school boy’s class at my church, and with the Bible in one hand and my hand on the doorknob I was getting ready to walk out the door for Wednesday night supper and class afterwards – the phone rang. I paused for just a minute to see who was calling and from the back of the house I heard a voice, it was a gentle voice, with a touch of a British accent. It was Leah.
Everything was forgotten then, as I turned my back on the door and went to answer the phone and talk to my Birthmother (who I prefer to just call my Mother) Leah.
Later that evening, after I had changed the message on my answering machine, Nancy called back. I explained to her, as I had explained to David, that I had reason to believe that Leah was my birthmother. However, awkward the experience with David had been it was completely undone by my conversation with Nancy.
She confirmed that Leah was my birthmother and that she was now married to an Englishman and living in England. (Confirming the suspicions that I had developed the minute that I heard that one of David’s sisters lived in England. She admitted that from time to time she had wondered how I was and if I would ever pop back up. However, once we had resolved that I was in fact, Leah’s daughter all formality and awkwardness seemed to slide away.
Nancy and I talked on the phone for quite a while. She told me about her life – she was married with a beautiful daughter who is just a little younger than I am. We talked about interests that we shared – we both loved to read and to cook. In no time at all, Nancy had completely accepted me as her niece. To this day, her complete acceptance of me and the unconditional love she extended to me is still one of the great miracles of my life – she is my Aunt Nancy.
Though we talked for quite a while, it wasn’t until the conversation started to wind down that we started to talk about Leah. Nancy said that she didn’t want to tell her via letter, email, etc. and as luck would have it, Leah and her husband were coming to the States for the first time in several years. Nancy would tell her about me then and let Leah decide what she wanted to do. In the meantime we exchanged email and snail mail addresses.
Just like that, I had an Aunt Nancy!
If I’d had any doubt about the very real connection that Aunt Nancy and I had made, it was only solidified over the next several weeks. We emailed frequently, chatty emails about the goings on in our lives, and I even got a package in the mail from her! It was full of little things that showed me that she was taking all of my likes and dislikes to heart and she was thinking of me. I cried as I went through the contents and found a newspaper clipping about Brett Favre in the box, someone we shared an interest in (don’t judge me! LOL!).
I had an Aunt Nancy and now there was nothing to do but wait until Leah got here to see if I would have a Birthmother too.
For some time now I’ve had a reader named Amanda who has followed this blog – Hi! Amanda!, *waves.* Amanda is one of the many people who has written me emails of encouragement and left comments here and there. Well Amanda, sent me an email and asked me if I would speak at an event in Mobile, Alabama for an organization called Adoption Rocks! Of course, I agreed and now I am anxiously waiting next week and hoping that I completely justify Amanda’s faith in me!
On a funny note, Amanda gave me a time range of about 2-5 minutes and I have alternated between the feeling of “how will I ever get all of this into that small amount of time?” and then utter panic about how I will possible fill those 2-5 minutes! (I’m apparently a little more complex than I imagined.) I also keep tearing up while I make my notes so it’s going to take lots of review and practice to keep me from getting choked up!
It looks to be a great evening – Miss USA Alabama Audrey Moore is going to be there and country artist Carla William Weavil. If you’d like more information on this night out in support of adoption or to make a donation to Adoption Rocks! Click Here!