The Chosen Heart

THE CHOSEN HEART

Longing for a child to love,
I’d wish upon the stars above.
In my heart I always knew,
A part of me was meant for you.

I think how happy we will be,
Once I adopt you, and you adopt me.

I dream of all the joy you’ll bring,
Imagining even the littlest things.
The way it will feel to hold you tight
And tuck you in every night.

The drawings on the refrigerator door
And childhood toys across the floor,
The favorite stories read again and again
And hours of fun with make believe friends.

The day you took my outstretched hand
A journey ended but our love began.
Still mesmerized by your sweet face
Still warmed inside by our first embrace.

I promised to give you a happy home
And a loving family all your own.
A house you’ve now made complete 
with laughter,smiles, and tiny feet.

A parent is one who guides the way
Know I will be there every day
Rest easy as each night you sleep
A lifetime of love is yours to keep

Longing for a child to love
I’d wish upon the stars above.
In my heart I always knew
A part of me belonged to you.

-Teri Harrison

This is another one of my favorite adoption poems.  I especially love that it speaks of the sense of belonging between parent and child, and of being meant for each other.  I know that I was meant to be the mother of my children, and they were meant to be mine.  They just traveled their way to me in different vessels!

Have a wonderful day!

The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life

I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you 
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.

— Unknown

This is probably one of the most well-known poems about adoption.  It is simplistic,yet, speaks great truth in just a few words.  Have a wonderful day!

Their Greatest Joy

This blog has been mostly devoted to my own personal journey from the valley of unknowns and barrenness to the glorious mountain top that is adoption.  I know that my story is not the only one out there.  There are many families whose stories include answering the call to care for children in need.  This is one of them.

In 1999, when Tamra was just 23 years of age and finishing college, her heart was deeply touched by the foster children who attended her daycare.  She was moved so much that she decided to become a licensed foster care provider through the state.  Tamra asked to be put on the so-called openings list for placements.  This list is how workers know that families are available to take children into their homes.  A few days had passed before any calls were made to her.  That all changed though on July 24, 1999.

Imagine, if you will, running into your home to change clothes after a wedding so that you can head out for the reception, picking up the ringing phone, and being asked “Would you be available to take in a two month old baby boy?”  That is exactly what happened.  Tamra excitedly got off the phone, grabbed her friend, and made their way to the hospital – so much for going to the wedding reception!  

This 8 week old baby boy had been intentionally thrown out and onto some lawn furniture and needed to be checked for injuries.  As Tamra was waiting to meet him, her mind was racing with thoughts of “What have I done? I don’t know how to take care of a baby!”  She also wondered if the nursing staff thought of her as being too young to be a foster parent. Tamra was not prepared, but felt the calling to say “yes”.  She did not have a crib, car seat, or anything really for a newborn, so after they left the hospital, they made their way to Wal-Mart to pick up all of the necessities for taking care of babies.  Foster families very rarely get a lot of time to prepare for placements, so they must think and act quickly.

It was very natural for her to fall in love with the little prince that came to live with her on that fateful night in both of their lives.  Tamra’s fiance, Shane (now her husband), also fell in love with him.  Their extended family worried that they would get their hearts broken, but they were also supportive and realistic about the primary goal of the foster care system in working towards reunification with birth parents and their children.  Although adoption was not their first intention, Tamra and Shane were very happy when it appeared that adoption would be the goal for him.

Things were moving along and then…new case worker….new ideas…a relative stepped in.  This little boy had been placed with her since age of 2 months, had been visiting his birth parents the entire duration of the case, and now was potentially going to be moving in to a relative’s home.  After 2 weeks of nail-biting anxiety, a decision was made to keep their boy where he was.

After 4 years and one month of loving and fostering him, their dream of becoming his forever parents came true.  Their adoption was finalized by the courts.  Their son is an amazing child, is in a gifted program and in advanced math classes.  They are very proud of him!

Despite the long haul through the system with their son, Tamra and Shane decided to pursue another placement of a foster child.  They really hoped for a girl and were blessed by the placement of a 12 week old baby girl. This precious girl only weighed 9 pounds and the 3-6 month clothing Tamra picked out for her swallowed her up!

Tamra and Shane fell in love with this little girl immediately; yet, they were realistic about foster care as they had just experienced a long journey with their son.  At their very first team meeting, they were asked if they would consider adoption of her!  They were so surprised and felt incredibly blessed!  Their adoption was finalized in 2004.

Their daughter has had some challenges.  She is autistic and has a seizure disorder, but she is an amazing joy in their lives.  They feel so blessed to call her their daughter.  Life would not be the same without her “sassyness” and her personality.  She has made great strides and they have great hope for her continued progress and well-being.

Tamra and Shane want those who are considering foster care and adoption to know that you have to give the children your all.  Foster parents have the opportunities to help set the foundations for these children that can last a life-time.  It is a risk and you can get hurt, but the impact you can make on the lives of children is worth it.  Perseverance, consistency, stability, advocacy, and trusting your knowledge about the kids you are caring for are attributes that Tamra and Shane feel are necessary when fostering children.

They believe that the Lord had His hand in forming their family through foster care and adoption.  Tamra and Shane do not regret a single thing and feel extremely blessed to call their children their own.  Their greatest joy is raising the children, witnessing their triumphs, and experiencing life that is free from abuse and neglect.  

In Tamra’s words “Adoption is a beautiful thing!”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

Adoptive Parenting & the Unknowns

This past weekend I was taken by surprise when an X-ray completed on my son that was intended to evaluate whether or not he had pneumonia revealed something else.  The doctor walked into the room and asked if I have ever had any concerns about his heart.  As the conversation developed, I began to realize that I know virtually nothing about his genetic medical history.  I stood there and felt a little panicked at all that I do not know.

These four words, “I DO NOT KNOW”, are words that I have had to say to medical professionals about both of my children through the years.  I get angry when I do not have the answers or clues needed that could assist in seeking results or directing the path that doctors need to take.  I know though that even parents who are raising biological children do not always have the answers needed when discussing medical history, and that medical conditions are not always related to genetic history.  I mean, look what happened at me!

As an adoptive parent though, I feel very helpless when standing in front of medical staff with barely anything to add.  My thoughts go from frustration, to anger, and then to guilt.  I feel frustrated for not being able to help.  I get angry at realizing that poor choices by my children’s birth mothers could lead to health problems for my children.  I also get angry knowing that it is almost nearly impossible for people who have been adopted to find out their medical histories.  Often, they have to get attorneys to subpoena the courts to open the record.  It is not an easy process at all.  I understand protecting the birth family’s and adoptive family’s right to privacy, but when it comes to medical history, adoptees should have the right to know as much as they can.

The guilt sometimes comes from not finding out as much as possible before the adoptions were finalized, or for not pushing for answers from case workers and biological family members if possible.  I do not blame the case workers at all (I was once one and my husband is currently one).  I just wish getting the information would have been easier.  I know that I asked as many questions as possible about their genetic medical history.  It seems though that each time something comes up and I do not have an answer for, I feel guilty.  Looking back, I wish I would have listed out every disease process and used a yes/no system to ask questions about genetic history.

I was talking to another adoptive parent the other day about these issues and we both agreed that it is different from raising biological children.  Let me clearly state though that It is NOT different in the love, effort, and energy poured out when parenting.  It is NOT different in the genuine sense of knowing our children are “ours”.  But, there are different issues that adoptive parents face.  My friend who adopted privately has had to face similar issues.  Her son is now an adolescent so she was able to share with me how she has faced some of the unknowns and questions her son has had through the years.

There are many unknowns in adoptive parenting.  I do not know if any other significant medical problems will develop as they age.  I do not know what my children will think or feel about being adopted as they grow up.  I do not know my children’s biological grandparents’ names, histories, or any other valuable information that could be passed on.  I have very, very few pictures of their birth mothers and fathers.  I do not know if they will look for their birth parents (although I am open to assisting them with this).  I do not know if they will get angry for not having more open contact through the years.

My son is okay.  It was just an incidental finding related to respiratory issues.  His heart is healthy and he is going to be fine.  I can relax now.  I can stop stewing over the conversations about health issues that I should have had with his case worker and birth mother.  I have come to realize that adoptive parenting is an incredibly complex; yet, amazing experience.  I am also realizing that I must walk in faith when it comes to navigating the unknowns.

If you are an adoptive parent (especially out of foster care), do you have any nuggets of wisdom you have gleaned through the years that you would like to share?  If so, please comment as I am always seeking out ways to understand the complexity of adoptive parenting.