Tag Archives: adoption

Best Laid Plans – Family

Life

I’ve put off writing about my personal life for many reasons, but the main one is the simple fact that I must come to terms with my reality versus what I’ve wanted my entire life.  It is not easy, and sooner or later, choices must be made.

I never expected to be single and childless nearing 40.  Anyone telling me that I should be happy to be so thoroughly unattached doesn’t know me at all.  It never should have been this hard.

As a child, after I learned about Turner Syndrome and infertility, any conversation about infertility included phrases like “don’t worry, the technology will catch up to you” – my well-meaning mother referring to IVF – or some vague mention of adoption.

I’ve long known that adoption was what I wanted for myself.  I couldn’t imagine putting myself through round after round of IVF only to have it not work.  Physically, I might have been OK, but emotionally, I don’t know how I could knowingly do that to myself time and time again.

In a sense, Mom was right.  IVF is more accessible and successful than ever.  It still doesn’t change the fact that failure is the most common outcome.  It doesn’t change the fact that I would need donor eggs.  Most important of all, it doesn’t change the fact that there are so many children who need love and a home – now.

Then why am I so hesitant when it comes to adoption?  That is a trickier question.  I suppose it has a lot to do with the fact that I will be doing this alone.  Somehow, I never thought I’d end up being single.  Even though I barely dated in high school, I thought I’d meet the right man in college.  In fact, I counted on it.

Oh, I could write a book on how I met all the wrong boys at Michigan State and across the world – or I should say, a handful of well-intentioned boys who never saw me as anything but a little sister.  One actually said that to my face.  I intentionally use the term boys here; I have yet to date a man.

Why am I always good enough for friendship and that’s it?  During my time at MSU, I lost a lot of weight, and the resulting male attention still leaves me unspeakably angry.  I was still the same smart, well-intentioned girl who can be fun and funny once you get to know her.  Only my weight changed.  One day I wasn’t worth knowing; the next, I didn’t know what to do.  While I wasn’t exactly drowning in male attention, I noticed.  It became all too clear.

Why should I have to change some arbitrary characteristic to be happy?  That is an awful message to send to anyone – but as a society, we do it all day, every day.

I suppose I should worry about myself and pursue parenthood on my own.  That is exactly what I intend to do.  Yet, there is such a huge piece of my life missing.  I never wanted it to be this way.  Hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised and finally meet the right man.  Unfortunately, that takes an incredible leap of faith living in Arenac County.

What it comes down to is that I am tired.  I am tired of being rejected before someone gets to truly know me.  I am tired of being lied to repeatedly.  I am tired of being alone.  I am tired of watching everyone else find their person, knowing that it probably won’t happen for me.

Above all, I am tired of feeling not enough.  I am enough.  It is time I started acting like it.

The biggest obstacle I face, aside from all that comes with foster care and/or adoption (by the way, anyone who thinks it is easy knows nothing about either), is trust.  Being on the receiving end of lying and cheating will do that to a person, particularly when that is your only experience in a relationship.

How can I bring myself to ever trust again?  Yet, I must.  I refuse to let one bad relationship, no matter how long or awful, have the last word on love.

By the way, if you are concerned about me after reading this, don’t be.  I will be fine no matter what happens.  I am just incredibly frustrated and see no easy fix.  People may question why I share something so intensely personal.  It is for this simple reason:  I do not want anyone in a similar situation to feel alone.  He or she is not alone.

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Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl

I recently read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis per my sister’s recommendation.  Actually, it all started with the meme above.  I then found out that my sister loved the book.  Of course, it immediately moved to the top of my to be read pile.  I love the fact that I belong to a family that shares and recommends books!

Here are a few gems from the book and my thoughts. There are many more I could share here, but I will leave you to discover them yourself.  I highly recommend the Kindle version of the book as it allows the reader to highlight important passages without defacing a physical book.

Sometimes choosing to walk away, even if it means breaking your own heart, can be the greatest act of self-love you have access to. – Page 53.

This just seems to sum up the process I put myself through this summer.  The sad part is that I should have definitively learned this lesson years ago.  I wish everyone, women and men, knew this before heading off to college – or shortly thereafter.  It ultimately would have saved me so much time and heartache.

I knew I was letting my fear control me, that the worry about giving my heart away again only to have it stomped on kept me from taking a next step.  In the midst of such heartache, it’s hard not to worry.  I cried so many tears, thinking, Lord, why would you put this desire on my heart if it wasn’t ever going to come true?  And, God, if we try again, you’re not actually sending my heart out to be slaughtered, right? – Page 108.

Oh, have I been there!  More than once.  There are times when I still wonder how I will ever be able to trust again.  It is not easy to pick ourselves up and try again.  Yet, we must.

I want you to see someone who kept showing up again and again, even when it was tearing her apart.  I want you to see someone who kept walking in faith because she understood that God’s plan for her life was magnificent – even if it was never easy.  And even if it wasn’t easy, she was bold and courageous and honest even when the truth was hard to share. – Page 173

I admit, lately I have struggled to have faith that God does indeed have a plan for my life.  I am currently slogging through it all to figure out exactly what that plan is.  If I am meant to have a family of my own, why haven’t I been able to make it work yet?  Why is that the big unnegotiable of my life if, indeed, it is impossible?  I ask myself questions similar to this all the time.  Ultimately, it is not my timing, but God’s.  It will eventually work out.  Until then, I just need to be patient and keep working.  It will never be easy.

As you can see, I loved the book.  It is a great example of a book that came into my life at the exact time I needed to read it.  I happened to read it just as I was struggling with these questions.  While I would recommend the book to every young woman I know, it doesn’t mean I think the book is perfect.

If fact, in one sense, the book left me feeling unsettled.  It is a feeling I get whenever I get too involved in anything related to religion.  What no one seems to address in organized religion – and Rachel seems to unintentionally fall into this – is that not all women will end up married and become mothers.  Singles in the church, particularly those no longer in their twenties, seem to get left behind.  Whether explicit or implicit, the focus always seems to be on marriage and family.

While I think Rachel was right to spend much of her book focused on marriage and motherhood – after all, this book shares her life experiences – she doesn’t address what happens if you do end up alone.  She doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the possibility even though she goes out of the way to address situations not her own.  This may not be true, but it appears she assumes everyone will end up married and a mother.  A simple acknowledgement would have served the book well.  Then again, maybe I am reading way too much into this and too sensitive.  It doesn’t matter.  The book itself is great, and I highly recommend it.

By the way, I love how she addresses adoption in this book.  I am so glad I read this book before I started the adoption process.  Her family’s story related to foster care and adoption is not an easy one, but it does have a wonderful outcome.  In the end, that is all that matters.

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There Are No Words

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This fall, a certain set of circumstances made me begin to doubt myself in a way I never knew was possible.  As I have stated so many times here, the very first thing I ever remember wanting out of life is a family of my own.  For me, that means adoption.  I have questioned whether I will be able to do it on my own for quite some time, but this fall was different.  It was personal in a way I never imagined, and I began to doubt whether I truly want to be a mother at all.

It became a slippery slope, and I began to question everything in my life.  What do I really want?  I shouldn’t still be asking these questions at 36 (now 37).  I have failed so many times on so many levels that I began to wonder what is so fundamentally wrong with me.  After a while, I let go of certain dreams.  I would love to meet the right man, get married, and adopt.  After all this time, I am beginning to doubt that it will ever happen.

Over these last few trying weeks, I realized that I can’t give up on my dream of having a family.  I am supposed to be a mother.  Giving up on that dream, even briefly, left me absolutely devastated.  I will eventually be exactly where I need to be.  Until then, I will keep trying.  That is all I can do at this point.

Even as I write this, I wonder why I am sharing something so intensely personal.  As always, it comes down to this:  I know that I am not the only one struggling with these decisions.  If someone else can benefit by realizing that he or she is not alone, it will be more than worth it.

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New Year, Old Question

Think for YourselfHere goes nothing. The new school year is upon us. In late June, I accepted a position teaching Spanish and world history at an alternative high school. At this point, as I have completed several professional development sessions and prepared my classroom with my colleagues, I can safely say that I feel right at home. I am eager to meet my students on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

This upcoming school year is the culmination of several years of taking dozens classes at both the local community college and university, seemingly endless testing, and hundreds of hours in countless classrooms both as a student teacher and a substitute teacher. I am as ready as I will ever be. While it would be a flat out lie to say that I am not nervous, I can safely say that I prepared. Better yet, I am excited.

Over the last five years, I found my way out of depression and an awful relationship. I didn’t focus on anything other than completing my education and training to become a teacher. I am now well on my way to becoming “me” again. The questions I face now are as personal as it gets. I am now where I want to be with my career. I just need to stay on my current path. The same cannot be said for my personal life. Frankly, I am unsure of what I want anymore. It is true that I want more than anything to be a mom. That is non-negotiable. I will adopt. Beyond that, I do not know.

The details get me. I find myself wondering if I truly want to do this alone. I know I can do this on my own, but when I am completely honest, I do not want to raise a child alone. It doesn’t mean that I won’t or can’t do it alone. I know I can, and I will. At the same time, I want a man in my life that I can count on. I want someone to share all of this with day in, day out – an actual partner. For several reasons, many of which are way too personal to share here, I don’t see it happening. My instinct is to be as happy as possible alone, focusing on what I want and starting a family alone. I am afraid of shutting the right man out. It feels as though I am caught between doing nothing and risking utter humiliation. Again.

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Focus

focusThis sums up my 2017 so far. I intended to chose a word for the year, but never did. In fact, I am still working on my word for 2016: Home. Have I made progress? Yes. Unfortunately, I am not quite there yet. I suppose it is for the best. There is still so much to do. I still have so many things to go through and do before I can truly say that I have turned this house into a home.

Right now, I need to focus to finish everything I’ve started. There is so much going on with my education and teaching career, the canoe livery, my family, and the wonderful organizations to which I belong that I find myself constantly reorganizing or changing dates if necessary. I love it. What would I do if I didn’t have such a full life? I honestly have no idea.

This is exactly why I question whether or not I even want to be in a relationship. I’m not quite sure how it would even work. Considering my plans to foster to adopt, I should make the most of these last few years of living alone. It is nice not having to answer to anyone or to be responsible for anyone else. I am increasingly aware that it will not always be this way. On the other hand, maybe I take everything in my life way too seriously.

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May

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Call it a casualty of having an overly full life, but I have no idea what happened to May.  It began with a quick getaway with my Mom and the end of one of the most trying semesters of my college career, Mother’s Day brought new hope and renewed faith, and Memorial Day signaled the unofficial start of my summer life.  I’ve wanted to write a post about motherhood and Mother’s Day for close to a month, and frankly, I doubt I can do my feelings justice.

Something felt different about Mother’s Day this year.  Even though in recent years I’ve been fortunate to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom and Grandma(s), the very thought of Mother’s Day was enough to make me break out in hives.  When I worked in retail, I had to keep my composure as customer after customer wished me a “Happy Mother’s Day!”  They all meant well, but they also had no idea how those words stung.  The first thing I remember wanting out of life – to be a mom – eluded me and continues to elude me, at least for now.  Even though I knew that I wanted to adopt in the future, I saw no way to do so.  Fortunately, I changed the circumstances of my life.

That is why this Mother’s Day felt so different.  There is nothing standing in my way now.  Winter semester 2016, now in the books, marked the last traditional semester of my teacher certification program, my second college career.  After completing my last class at the end of this month, only student teaching and extensive testing stand between me and my first teaching position.  I will finally be in a position to adopt and create a family of my own.  The sense of purpose – and peace – I have in my life now shapes everything I do and my future.  I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I did not expect to feel this way so soon.  I haven’t even taken classes to become a foster parent yet.  Above all, I needed to trust that I will make it happen.  I love knowing that it is now all up to me.

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Not My Mother’s Life

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Getting Married is Not An Accomplishment – Natalie Brooke – Huffington Post

As my last semester as an undergrad comes to a close (student teaching not withstanding), I can’t help but wonder what my future will bring.  I finally came to the conclusion that I will have to create my own path.  There is no template in my family for what I am about to do.  My mother, and my grandmothers and great-grandmothers before her, married by age 21 and became a mother by age 24.  I do not know what single-parenthood looks like on a daily basis.  Am I confident that I can handle being a single mother?  Yes.  Is that what I intended for my life?  No.

Add in the process of becoming a foster parent and then adoption, and I am clearly in uncharted territory.  Fortunately, I’ve been preparing for this most of my life, and I am fortunate to know several people who have adopted and served as foster parents over the years.  I have resources.  Add in the fact that most of my family lives nearby, and I know that I can do this.  I also have a wonderful group of women with Turner Syndrome that I can lean on for support too.

In fact, a comment by a fellow woman with Turner Syndrome really made me think.  Her statement summarizes what I’ve been feeling for much of my teenage years and then my adult life and nails it.

“What feels lacking is the status given to women for their fertility – and precious little else.  I think we are in the *perfect* position to blow that ideology back to where it came from and help people learn of different ways to make a family and make a life.”

Unless you’ve lived through infertility, I don’t think people recognize the extent to which women are still valued for their fertility.  That brings me to the article above.  As a society, we celebrate marriages and births.  Women are still largely defined through family and marriage.  While privately our family and friends might celebrate our academic and career accomplishments, they are not celebrated in the same way in our society.  Why not?  Who says that one has to marry to create a family?  That may be ideal, but it just might not work for everyone.

Why should I wait until I meet the right man before I pursue my dream of having a family of my own?  I already spent ten years with someone who was not right for me in the hopes that we would get married and start a family.  It turns out that he did want a family, just not with me.  As difficult as those lessons were, I am much stronger for it.  After letting go of that relationship, I was finally free to start pursuing my dreams again.  It wasn’t that my ex prevented me for pursuing them.  Instead I found myself holding back until the timing was “right” and focusing on “us” when there never truly was an “us,” at least not as how I perceived it should be.

Frankly, I would love to meet the right man, someone with whom I can share my life.  If it doesn’t happen, it isn’t the end of the world.  As I go through the process of becoming a foster parent and adopting, I am going to focus on myself and what I want out of life.  I am in a position to create the life that I want.  I might as well make the most of it.

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