Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Phil!

Phil Collins turns 57 today. This is my most favorite song of his - a lot of personal meaning in it.

This video also proves that he actually did have hair at one point in time. . . Anyway, happy birthday, Phil. Thanks for all the great songs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I thought I had "heard it all" when it came to horrific stories of childhood abuse, but recently, a client came forth with such a terrible story that I litterally felt physically ill. I've been a counselor for over 20 years now, and over the years, I have learned how to detach myself from the pain which my clients are experiencing yet still remain empathetic and compasisonate. I have learned how necessary it is for me to leave what is said within the safe confines of my office there, and not bring it home with me. I have learned how to absorb my clients' pain, but not internalize it and hold onto it so that it becomes my own.

But last week, there was this young woman who touched me so deeply that I wanted to bring her home. I wanted to give her the unconditional love that every child should be given as a birth-right. I wanted to take the pain away and fill up that void and show her God's love for her. But all I could do was listen. And pray silently in my heart.

I don't think she's ever had anybody to just listen to her before, because as she was leaving my office, she smiled and said "It is SO good to have somebody to talk to who just listens and is kind".

She will have a long journey in front of her - healing all those wounds inflicted on her by her family and "friends". And I will be right there next to her, helping her all the way. For this is my vocation - what God has called me to do. And I am so humbled by this calling - to be an instrument of God's healing.

The Medicine has Kicked In

Thanks for your kind and supportive words to my "In Limbo" post. It looks like everything is going to be okay (thank God), but I'll know for sure when I go back in next week for a repeat test. The appointment I had last week was not with my regular doctor; rather, it was with an over-zealous nurse practitioner who said and did a few things to me which she should not have done in her capacity. My doctor will be speaking with this person directly, because it was so inappropriate and unprofessional. So, the medicine has kicked in and I'm feeling a ton better physically. But, like I said, I still have the repeat test next week, and then I decided to have a complete physical just to make sure that I am in good health, overall. God bless!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Limbo

Well, I kind of had the wind knocked out of me a couple of days ago. I went in to see the doctor (actually, it was the nurse practitioner because it was an evening appointment) thinking I had one thing wrong with me, and I walked out not knowing what to think. It's a wait-and-see dilemma - if it clears up, I'm fine; if it doesn't, then additional tests will be necessary to rule-out some other things, some of which could be very serious. I don't do this "limbo" thing very well. So, in the meantime, I am asking for your prayers, once again.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Time is Drawing Closer

Twenty years ago this month, my husband and I began the home study process for adoption. To this day, I wish that ALL parents were required to go through that process, and not just adoptive parents. While parenting doesn't come with an instructional manual, it should be something which one enters into with desire, gratitude, some knowledge of what makes a child "tick", and with just the right amount of fear so that you proceed cautiously and learn how to respect the child as a human being.

I remember the questions which were asked. Mind you, as a social worker myself, I already knew what to expect because I had asked the same questions to other parents - but it's entirely different when you're on the receiving end of the "inquisition" rather than the one actually doing the evaluation. I kept on wondering why I had to answer certain questions which I thought should not be anybody's business - but I knew what they were looking for, which was any red flags that might get in the way of being a good prospective parent.

I remember going to our lawyers office, and filling out a lengthy questionnaire, after which we had a long talk with him about the process of adoption - from the legal to the financial to the emotional aspects of becoming a parent in this manner. In our state at that time, adoptions were closed, meaning that there would be no contact between the birth parent(s) and the child and/or the adoptive parents until the child became of age at 21 years old. When that time came, then the child can go to the courthouse to see the records of her adoption. If the birth parent(s) have indicated a willingness to be contacted and have kept current information on file, then the child can legally contact her birth parent(s).

I remember thinking how long off 21 years sounded to me - a lifetime away - and that I would have all the time in the world with my daughter to love her and nurture her and help her become a wonderful young woman. But the lawyer cautioned us that the 21 years would slip quickly by, and that in the meantime, we needed to prepare ourselves and our daughter for whatever decision she would make at that time in the future.

I knew that I would tell my daughter from the beginning that she was adopted, and that she had a birth mom who loved her very much. I have read the letter composed by the birth mom to my daugher so that she could get to "know" her. We have included the birth mom in our prayers during the special times - like Mother's Day and Christmas and on our daughter's birthday - and I have kept her in my heart and prayers on a daily basis, as my daughter has, I am sure. What I didn't anticipate those 21 years ago is how I'd be feeling now, now that the time is so close for my daughter to make her decision next year. I thought I'd be prepared for it, as the lawyer suggested - and I've done many things to not only prepare my daughter for it, and to help myself as well - BUT - I am not ready for it. At all.

I'm scared. I'm afraid. I'm worried. I'm anxious. I have to keep on reminding myself that this is NOT about me - it's about giving my daughter the chance to do whatever she deems is right for her - but it's still difficult. I have loved her forever, I have been there when she was so deathly ill, I have been there when she gives me those wonderful hugs and kisses and tells me she loves me, I have heard her say I'm the "bestest and prettiest" momma in the whole world. But, I'm afraid that once she meets her birth mom, then she will compare us and find me lacking. I'm afraid that she will become so attached to her birth mom that I will become an afterthought.

A few years ago, when my best friend died, my daughter (who was about 6 years old at the time) saw that I was crying. She immediately went and found the blanket which my friend had made for my daughter's adoption, and my daughter handed it to me and said "Here, momma - take this because then you will always have a part of Ruth with you where ever you go". When it comes time for my daughter to leave and meet her birth mom, I am going to give my daughter a special gift, too. The gift of my loving her enough to let her go so that she can meet the wonderful woman who gave birth to her, the unselfish woman who gave me the glorious opportunity to become a mother, the courageouse and brave woman who trusted virtual strangers with the most precious gift of her daughter. I will do this because I know that Sara will ALWAYS have a part of me where ever she goes, and vice-versa. If, by chance, Sara decides to not meet her birth mom, I will support that decision, too. In my private practice, the majority of adoptees who've met their birth parents have had very negative experiences. Of course, I am concerned that it might happen that way for her, and I'll be here to help her through that. But, either way, it's her choice as to what she's going to do. She may even decide to wait until she is older before making her decision.

All I know is that it doesn't matter how much one "prepares" for this to happen, it still comes as a shock when the time draws nearer for this decision to be made. Where did the last 20 years go? That little pink bundle which I first met in the lawyer's office was all wrapped up in Ruth's blanket and lots of love. She has grown into a beautiful and intelligent and compassionate young lady with a loving heart, who takes your breath away when she enters a room because she has been graced with an inner beauty shining through those gorgeous eyes which are filled with God's love. And I love her - pure and simple - because she is, without a doubt, my daughter.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Meeting Needs

One of the reasons I haven't blogged much over the past several months is due to the fact that a lot of my time and energy has been consumed by just being a mom. When kids are smaller, you think that it will get easier as they grow older because you think that they will need you less. Well, they need you less in some areas, but they need you more in different and possibly even more challenging areas. When your son or daughter is a child, you are hypervigilant over physcial danger to your child, whether it's in the form of illness or injury. When they are a teenager/young adult, the focus seems to switch more emotional and spiritual consequences they suffer as as a result of their choices.

Being a mom of female teenagers can be exhausting. To top off the "normal" concerns of adolescence, my kids have each had their own issues to struggle through and come out the other side as young women with good heads on their shoulders. It's a very fine line I walk, at times, between wanting to hold on and protect them, or watching and waiting with winced eyes and my breath held in and not saying a word while they "discover" themselves. I've bitten my tounge, at times, until I've drawn blood. At other times, I swear I should win a medal for gentle diplomacy. And yet, most of the time, I fail and end up becoming upset or critical or controlling. And it's during those times, that I find myself on my knees, asking the good Lord for help.

Lately, I'm beginning to see where some of those prayers are starting to be answered. The oldest is really succeeding in college, after a very painful first year. The youngest is struggling in school, but is blossoming in other areas. The struggle that my youngest is going through is related to her ADD. Unfortunately, the ADD seems to be getting worse instead of better - so whoever said that you "outgrow" this condition was full of it! It's so challenging to stay on top of all of the homework and expectations for each of her classes, plus try to run my own business, and try to keep the household run smoothy. What's even more difficult is getting the teachers to understand this diagnosis, and asking them to follow certain guidelines in their teaching methods in order to ensure that DQ has some success academically. The part which is the most difficult to explain is the fact that DQ has such a high IQ, yet her performance doesn't match up with that IQ. She's very disorganized, fails to hand in assignments, forgets to write down some assignments, and then even tries to cover up her forgetfulness and disorganization by hiding the truth. Her motivation suffers, as does her self-esteem. Our relationship suffers because of being a "mean mom" for holding her accountable for her actions.

God gave me these girls for a reason, and I believe it's because He thought I was the "best fit" for each of them, somehow having the ability to help them through their illnesses - TP with her lupus, and DQ with the ADD. And yes, I do believe that ADD is an illness because the ADD brain processes information in different ways than a "normal" brain does, thus requiring meds and a process of re-wiring the way the brain processes information through repetetive and often frustrating instructions. How many times does one have to say "let me see your completed homework" before one is finally, finally able to see one assignment which is TOTALLY complete with nothing missing? To tell you the truth, probably about 100 times - so it's a huge cause for celebration when an assignment is completely done. But that's just half the battle - the other part of it is then to make sure that the assignment actually gets into the receiving hands of the instructor. I swear there is a black abyss somewhere between my house and school which is holding a ton of DQ's lost assignments, which thus necessitates her doing the assignment all over again (if she's lucky to have an understanding student) or getting an "F" for the assignment (because the teacher is tired of hearing this "excuse").

So, anyway, I'm coping - but I'm tired. I'd like to write more often, and I think of all that I want to say - but I just don't have the energy to do so because I'm fighting so many battles on this end. So, please be patient - this, too, shall pass. I'll be coming back in full swing at some point in time - but my kids need me, still. And even though those needs can exhaust me, it's still such a good feeling TO be needed.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Resolutions, Anyone?

On New Year's Eve, as is my tradition, I was writing down my resolutions for the upcoming year - and I was struck by the common theme which came out from each and every one of them. The theme of self-discipline.

Now, some people would call me "controlling" (that's debatable :-o ), but if you stop to think about it, usually people who have a high need to control things in their life acutally feel out of control, and thus the issue of self-discipline comes into play.

The areas in which I lack discipline right now are organization, spending, eating, and spiritual life. So, my resolution for 2008 is simple enought in theory but difficult enough in actually putting into action. I want to become more self-disciplined in all of the areas above, plus a couple of other areas which I won't disclose quite yet.

Our holidays were lovely. Christmas was very low-key and the family had a great time just spending time together. The day after Christmas, we went to Michigan with TP to spend time with our familes, except for DQ who went to Disney in Florida with her HS marching band to play in a parade on Friday. They were there a whole week, and I picked her up yesterday. She was exhausted, but happy - happy to be home and happy that she had such a great time while there. New Year's Eve and Day were very quiet, too. We just didn't do much in the way of entertaining this year - I think we were longing for just quiet and reflective times together.

I go back to work tomorrow after being "off" for a little over three weeks. I didn't get done all that I wanted to, yet I was constantly busy with my "to-do" list. I'm hoping to get more organized at my office (see resolution above) so that I don't have to spend so much time doing the paperwork there. I hope that I'm able to truly get some "time-off" over the next week or so because I am pretty exhausted. But some of that may have to do with having a horrible toothache and infection - which is probably going to mean a root canal in my future. The meds and the infection and the pain just make me really tired. Hopefully by tomorrow I will start to feel better.

I hope each of you had a blessed holiday season. Now, it's back to the everyday routine, which is good in and of itself. My new routine is going to include writing at least every other day on my blog, which is something I've been neglecting for quite some time. I found that I miss writing here - but I just didn't have much to say for awhile (writer's block, I suppose).

So, what resolutions did all of you make????