Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day as an infertile woman

Today is Mother's Day and I had one of the best Mother's Days that I can remember.  It was a happy day for me, I spent it with my mom and my children were with me.  Before we all got together to celebrate we went to church for our usual Sunday service.  I looked around and saw so many people my heart aches for.  I have two people in my life who have lost their mothers recently, two friends who have lost their baby, and a friend who is struggling with infertility. It was a great reminder of the days where Mother's Day was painful for me.

The first few years after I gave Sarah up for adoption, Mother's Day was very hard for me.  I was a mother, but yet I wasn't.  I had a child, yet I didn't.  Almost everyone forgot that I even had a baby, so it wasn't even acknowledged by most.  But my heart felt heavy.  I always had a healthy outlook about Sarah and where she was.  I knew she was in an amazing family and I received letters and pictures quite often.  The pain was there, the loss was there, but it was healthy.

Then came my years of infertility.  Mother's Day was almost unbearable during those years. I will tell you right now that my thoughts and feelings were not healthy when it came to struggling with infertility.  I was depressed, numb, and so angry that this was happening to me, especially since I was able to get pregnant before.  The hormones I was taking did a number on my emotions as well.  I was a mess.  I was crabby, out of sorts, depressed and bitter.  The medications gave me migraines and I couldn't take anything in case I might be pregnant.  It was a cruel reality on a month to month basis that I could barely endure.  I was so determined that I just kept going and going and trying and trying.  I see now that I should have just given it over to God so I could have had a peace about it.  I think I was just so scared.  Now I look back and if I only could have seen how I would be blessed with four amazing children, I could have rested and enjoyed the ride.  I can honestly say that I am not sorry things have turned out the way they have.  God had a purpose for my life, which is pretty obvious now, and I am loving it now that I see what a blessing it is!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My kids

Today I wanted to take a little break from the chronological order of my story I have been sharing and post my absolute favorite picture of all time.  This picture is of all of my kids.

From the left:  Sarah, my birthdaughter - who I have referred to as Rachel so far; Sabrina, Tabitha, Avery and Ashley.

A little information for you, just to tide you over until I can write more about each one.

Sarah is the name her parents gave her.  I called her Rachel, but only until I found out her name.  Her parents always sent me letters and pictures, and as soon as Sarah was old enough I received cards, pictures and colored pictures from her.  When Sarah was about eighteen we finally saw each other.  It was one of the best weekends of my life.  I will write much more on that later.  This picture was taken about a year later, when she came to visit in Minnesota.  It was amazing having all my children together.

Sabrina is my princess.  She became a part of our family at three months old.  She is actually Ashley's half sister biologically.  I received a call one day asking if we would be interested in adopting a baby by Ashley's birthmother, a week later she moved in.  She is the happiest little girl I have ever known.  She brightens up the room when she walks in with her infectious smile and personality!

Tabitha is eighteen now and such and amazing young woman.  I am so proud of her every day.  Tabitha's birthparents lost their parental rights due to neglect when Tabitha was six.  Tabitha became a part of our family when she was eight years old and is not only my daughter, but my friend.  She has grown into a great Godly person and aspires to make a difference in others lives, whether that be opening an orphanage or touching someone through missions.

Averyboy is twenty two and is all boy.  He doesn't live with me, which is hard, but I see him quite a bit.  Every time I see him I want to just hug him and feed him!  He is a born leader and is very passionate. We got Avery when he was nine years old.  I had no idea what I was doing and we learned together how to be mother and son. Avery has been through a lot in his life, as have all my kids.  He has four birth siblings and being apart from them has been the hardest part of his adoption.  They were all separated into different homes.  They now have contact with each other and it warms my heart to see how much Avery loves each of them.

Ashley is my eighteen year old special needs daughter.  She now resides in a group home about 45 minutes from us.  She is very happy where she is and I love that she is a part of our family.  She makes us laugh and loves to play the Wii and have everyone watch her.  She enjoys getting emails from me and is hoping to be in the Special Olympics Bowling again this coming year.

Well, these are all my kids, the absolute loves of my life.  God has been so faithful in everything.  There were times when I didn't see it, just like all of us feel from time to time.  But HE had a plan and I can see it so clearly now.  I am so grateful for each one of these kids, just thinking about them makes me smile. :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A healing letter from a friend...

The days after handing Rachel over to the social worker were hard. It would hit me at the most random times. The day after Valentines Day I second guessed my decision. I was alone and started thinking, I got sad and wanted Rachel back. I walked up to my parents room and called the LIGHT House. I talked with the social worker. I knew I still had time legally to change my mind, and I was seriously considering it. I asked her if the parents, who I then knew as Mr. and Mrs. C, had met Rachel yet. She told me that they had met her the day before, Valentines Day. I knew instantly that I could not change my mind. I would never do that to someone. Even though I never realized, until much later in my life, exactly how they felt, I knew I couldn't do that. So the decision was final for me at that point. I believe I knew anyway, I just needed to hear it.

Over the course of time at the LIGHT House, I became very close to many of the staff members. I can honestly say that staying at the LIGHT House was one of the best experiences of my life. The people around me were amazing and helped me grow so much. Plus we had a lot of fun! I was so fortunate that many of the staff, who I had become close with, were a part of Peter and Patti becoming Rachel's parents.

About a week after I called the LIGHT House, I received a healing letter from one of the staff members at the LIGHT House. She was able to be a part of Mr. and Mrs. C meeting Rachel and wrote me a letter to give me the details. This was the letter:

February 1989

Dear Julie,

From the beginning! I walked into the adoption room and it was full. There were three adoptions that day. I asked Patty (the social worker) which one's are Julies, and she pointed them out. About that time Shirley, (another social worker) brought them over and introduced me. Oh Julie they are perfect, absolutely perfect. My spirit rejoiced when I met them. They both have such a sweet spirit and the love of God radiates from them.

Mr. C. had on a pink shirt and a pink button on his shirt that says "it's a girl". He said he wore the pink shirt in honor of his daughter. Mrs. C. had a pink button on too. Then Jim Williams, the director of the LIGHT House, said, "Well while all the babies are being good lets all get in a circle and have prayer." Jim asked Charlotte (another social worker) to pray for Mr. and Mrs. C. and Rachel. As Charlotte prayed I had to peek. Mr. C. had his arm around Mrs. C and Mrs. C. was holding Rachel. They were both looking at Rachel and they both had tears in their eyes. (I'm crying as I'm writing this... I really can't put into words the joy and love I say in their faces) At the end of the prayer (I was still peeking) I watched Mrs C. hold Rachel even closer and whisper "I love you".

Then I had to blow my nose and dry my eyes. They had their picture taken with Robert, the other director of the LIGHT House, and then I got to visit with them. They first thought I was your birthcoach. They knew you'd had a long labor and inquired about that. They told me about the letters they have already received and their hearts were touched. They thought it was wonderful that 'grandma' had written too. They are so grateful to you Julie. I know their love is extended to you also. The shard with me about the day Rachel was born, they were in a March for Life on that day.

I asked Mrs. C. if she worked. She smiled and said "not any more" and looked at Rachel. She said she would continue teaching a Bible study though.

The two of them were inseparable. As we stood talking Mr. C. gently touched little Rachel head. We all laughed as we watched her 'chew on her pacifier'. She had the little pink dress on that you bought for her. She was awake through the whole thing and she was an angel. There is no doubt in my mind that she could sense their love and care.

Mr. C. has a warm smile, a tender heart and its very obvious he is very much in love with Mrs. C. As he looks at his new daughter - awe and overwhelming joy and protectiveness are seen in his eyes. He couldn't stay away from her or keep from looking at her. He is a Godly man and i know he will be a wonderful father.

Mrs. C. has a friendly, outgoing personality. A gentle spirit and an abundance of love and I know she seeks Gods guidance daily. The peace of God dwells in her. I sensed a 'oneness' in their relationship to each other and the Lord.

I can not imagine how difficult this has been and is for you Julie. I had to turn my son over to our Heavenly Father when he was nine months old. Only in that way can I relate to your pain. But if I would of had to turn him over to earthly parents I would choose Mr. and Mrs. C. I say that with all honesty. They have the heart of God and little Rachel will be cherished and deeply loved her whole life through.

I love you. I miss you. I'm praying for you. Linda

The picture above is the little dress I bought for Rachel to meet her parents in. My mom shares a story of when she met me and I was in a raggedy old onsie. She ripped off my onsie and put me in a beautiful dress she had brought. I wanted them to meet her in pink! She was beautiful in pink!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My letter to my precious baby

I sent this letter with Rachel for her to read when her parents felt she was ready.

My most precious little Rachel Kristine,

Oh how I love you. You mean the whole world to me right now. All I have ever wanted was a little girl of my own. Now I have you and I must give you a better life. I know it is the best thing for you. My mind has gone back and forth sense I've been at the LIGHT House. I finally made my decision when I realized I couldn't provide you with the kid of life I wanted you to have.

I too was adopted. I was six days old when I was given to my wonderful parents. They are the best parents. God definitely chose them for me. And I feel that God has chosen Mr. and Mrs. C to be your parents. I chose them because I felt so good inside after reading their profile. They're really good Christians - and that was the most important thing to me. I know that they will raise you as a Christian so that I will see you again someday in heaven.
I made a promise, the day I had you dedicated to the Lord, January 29, 1989, that I would pray for you each and every day. My prayers will be for your health, that you will find Jesus Christ as your personal savior at an early age, that you will have a happy life, and that you will become everything that you want to be. I will also pray that you know and understand my love for you. I never thought that there was a love as strong as the love that I feel for you.

My being adopted, I didn't understand. I wanted to write to you so someday you would understand and not have to struggle through unanswered questions. Now I understand, but I had to learn a few lessons through painful experiences. I love you and don't want you to have to suffer and go through any of the rebellion I went through.

I have so much enjoyed the nine days that I got to spend with you. You are so content and so much fun. You have made us laugh so often. You love to suck on your fists or anything you can get in your mouth. You were sucking the minute you were born. I love it when you suck on your fists to tell me that you're hungry, or let out a little whimper to tell me that your diaper needs changing. You are the cutest baby that I have ever seen. You were so good and so cute those nine days I had with you. I have always heard my grandma's calling little babies "button", "Rosebuds", "Bunnies", "Angel"... Especially the "Rosebud". You are so pretty in the color pink and your cheeks are so rosy that you look like a little Rosebud.

My most precious little Rachel Kristine, I chose your name because it has such a special meaning. Rachel is a name that I have loved since I was a little girl. I decided that would be the name for my little girl someday. When I learned the meaning of Rachel, that name became even more special. It means "Little Lamb". I know how God watches over His lambs - and I have to depend on Him and trust Him to be your shepherd and watch over you in my absence.

Is. 40:11 says, "He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart." You are close to my heart too, my little lamb - today and always. I have given your mommy and daddy a Precious Moments Little Lamb that they will give you when you receive this letter. I hope and pray you will understand it means that I love you and that I have entrusted my "Little Lamb" to Jesus.

I also have a Precious Moments Lamb, just like yours, to be a special remembrance of you always. I will treasure it as I treasure my thoughts and my precious moments with you.

Your middle name, Kristine, is after my sister. She is my parents natural daughter. I love her so much and she is one of my best friends. I pray that you will have a wonderful family as I do. My mom and dad love me so much and they have been great parents.

I love you and cherish the time I had with you.
Your natural mother (who will ALWAYS love you)

Nine Beautiful Days

I was two weeks overdue, I was tired, and sick of being pregnant. All my friends had left the LIGHT House and I was anxious to get home and begin my new life. More than that, I wanted to meet this precious baby that was growing inside of me. I was set to be induced, but the night before I started labor. I woke up in the middle of the night with cramps. I was so excited... little did I know what the next 30+ hours would be like. I packed up my room and walked the halls. My mom was able to get a flight and pick me up at noon the following day. My contractions were still light and farther apart so we went shopping. At 5:00pm we went to the hospital. I was only dilated to 1! UGH! We still stayed at the hospital. I won't go into all the details, but I will say that my baby girl wasn't born until around 2:00pm the next day. It was a rough labor.

Once my baby was born, I was wheeled into a room.  My mom and MaryAnn, my birthing coach, went with my baby girl. I remember laying in the room thinking, "Ok.... I just had my baby. Now what?"

During my whole pregnancy I knew I was going to place my baby for adoption. Once I held her in my arms, everything changed. How could I love this sweet little baby girl so much when I had just met her? I never wanted to let her go! I named her Rachel Kristine. I picked the name Rachel from a book my godmother gave me called The Missing Piece. The name Kristene was after my sister, Kristen.

My mom was able to stay with me and Rachel at the LIGHT House and we had a glorious nine days with her. I was so fortunate to have that time with her. We gave her baths, fed her, burped her, snuggled her and just loved on her. We had a baby dedication for her, and a bell ringing ceremony. My mom was so great during that time. She helped me in every way imaginable.

During our nine days I spent a lot of time trying to decide exactly what to do. My mom came to me one day and sat on my bed. She said she was going to talk to me as a mother and then as a friend. As a mother, the grandmother to this darling little girl, she could make the basement of their home into an apartment. She and my dad would help care for Rachel while I worked and during the day I could help around the house. As a friend, she reminded me what it was like for her when she got me. As adoptive parents, they couldn't have been more thrilled and they loved me as if they had me themselves. She told me that an adoptive home would have more to offer Rachel, and as an eighteen year old, I was young. She told me she would support me in whatever decision I made.

Wow. That made it harder. I had no idea how I was ever going to make such a decision. I won't go into all the details here, because they aren't important. But I will say that something happened that made me realize that I wanted better for Rachel. She deserved an amazing mother and father. I knew instantly what I needed to do. The next few days were devastating. Everything we did from that point on was heartbreaking because we knew it was only for a short time.  Every feeding, every bath, every time she fell asleep in my arms... I cried.

The last day was one of the hardest days of my life. I can't imagine how I would have done it without God and my mom right beside me. We watched the social worker drive away with Rachel in the backseat. My heart ached... How was I ever going to live without her?

I knew I made the right decision, but the pain was unbearable. Even writing this now, I can remember myself back then and it was hard.

I could make this a great story and tell you I got right back on my feet and lived happily ever after right away... but that isn't the truth. I went into a funk for about two months. I didn't know how to live with this hole in my heart, I didn't know how to go on. But I will tell you that it just took some time. Sure it took awhile, but it got better with each passing day. Some days were harder than others, but eventually I was able to be happy again and have fun.

Peter and Patti, the couple who adopted Rachel, sent me letters and pictures the whole time she was growing up. It helped me heal. I knew she was loved and happy, and that helped tremendously. I will write more about them later.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My pregnancy

I loved, loved, loved being pregnant... once I got used to the idea and made a concrete decision I was having the baby. I took care of myself and loved the way I felt. I have always believed that women were beautiful while carrying a life inside them, and I was no different.

My family brought me down to Kansas City, because I was going to stay at the LIGHT House, a home for unwed mothers. I remember the day my parents dropped me off. We walked up the stairs to this huge building, it was an old convent. I was so scared. We got a tour and my family left. I can't tell you what it was like saying good-bye and watching my parents leave. I knew it was the best thing for me, but I was so unsure of so many things at that time. The LIGHT House had a rule that I couldn't have any contact with the outside world for ten days, which included my family. Knowing that, made it all worse. Their reasoning was to have me get acclimated to the program and get through my homesickness. It worked, but it was very hard.

My stay at the LIGHT House was an adventure, to say the least. I was brought up in a middle-class neighborhood, borderline upper-class. My family was a good Christian family with two parents that were still married... a 'typical' all-American family. The women, some of them girls, at the LIGHT House came from many different backgrounds, mostly poor and troubled. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like I had my 'crap' together. (I have always been so insecure, but for some reason at the LIGHT House I found myself, and who I was and I was actually ok with it!) I connected with most of the staff and I was able to help with some of the girls. Sometimes I wonder how some of those girls are. We were so close while we were going through this tremendous experience together, but once we left the LIGHT House it was time to move on... to let go. It was a part of our lives that we all cherished, but needed to let go in order to heal. Especially those of us who gave our babies up for adoption.

This was one of my journal entries:
"I had a really great pregnancy. When I first found out, I was rather calm. I guess I thought it would just go away. Well, it didn't. I couldn't stand the thought of my family watching me get bigger, so I decided to go to the LIGHT House. What an experience. Most of the girls there were from very poor situations. There were up to forty girls there at all times. Most girls kept their babies. About six, in the eight months I was there, put their babies up for adoption. I didn't start to show until I was in my fifth month. I used to love to lay on my stomach while we all watched TV. All the other girls were so jealous!"

I only got sick twice. Once because of the smell in Scholotzky's, where I worked at the time I found out I was pregnant, and once because of the heat in Kansas City. It was so hot and there was no air conditioning at the LIGHT House. I remember when I was about three months along. I could feel a hard lump in my stomach. That was such an amazing feeling. To know that you are touching the baby. I don't remember the first time the baby kicked, but I do remember what it felt like. It's so special. Its amazing to think that there is an actual human being growing inside of you. God is amazing!

I was pretty sure that I was going to put my baby up for adoption the whole time I was pregnant - but I was trying to keep an open mind. I don't think I had a clue what was in store for me.

I made a lot of friends at the LIGHT House: Valerie, Kellie, Carry, Darlene, Shannon, Julie, and Cheryl. We were all in the same situation. We had classes daily. We had to take certain ones. Chapel, aerobics and I was in a GED class. We were also able to take fun classes too like ceramics, cooking and a porcelain doll making class. It was great that they kept us busy. By the time November came, most of my friends had their babies and were gone. It made it hard, but I really needed the time alone to rest and think.

On my due date, January 10th, 1989, I took my GED test. I barely fit in the school desk. It was so embarrassing. I had to sit sideways in the desk the whole time I took the test.  Everyone kept looking at me.  I'm sure they were worried I was going to go into labor right there! On January 22nd I felt cramping. I was so naive that I didn't realize I was in labor, I thought I was constipated. :) When I figured out I was in labor, I packed all my stuff in my room and got ready. I called my mom and she was on her way. She had to get a flight from Minneapolis to Kansas City. She was determined to be there and thankfully she made it in time!'

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The day I found out I was pregnant...

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant like it was yesterday. I was driving down Hwy 13 in Burnsville, MN and I just had this overwhelming feeling all of a sudden, and I knew. I just knew I was pregnant. Don't ask me how I knew, maybe other women have had the same feeling, I don't know. I pulled over on the side of the road and cried. Bret, the would be father, had broken up with me for another girl and I was still mourning that loss. One of my best friends at the time had a daughter and I knew what her life was like. How could I have been so stupid? I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test. My mind raced all day. (Back then you had to take the test in the morning, so I had to wait.)

I remember the set up of my room. My parents were in the process of building a new home so we were all living in a town home until it was finished. My sister, Kristen, and I shared the huge room, like a living room, downstairs.

The next morning I went into the bathroom and took the test. It took ten very long minutes to process.  While I waited I sat and put my make up on in front of a mirror on the floor next to Kristen's bed. We talked about the test and what I would do. After the time was up, I went and looked at the test. I came out and didn't say anything for quite a while. I just sat back down on the floor and continued getting ready. Kristen just stared at me waiting patiently to hear what I was going to say. Finally I could get the words out... "The test is positive, I am pregnant." I was completely numb. Kristen asked me what I was going to do and I said I didn't know, but what options did I have? I couldn't tell my parents, it would kill them. That was all I could think about. My parents.

I drove to school and walked in like a zombie. I told two people. My friend, who already had a kid. She looked at me like I was an idiot, and she was right. I also told Bret's best friend. Bret wasn't at school that day, he was sick. Immediately after school, at least I think it was after school because I don't remember being in any classes that day, I drove to Bret's house. I had a note for him, how mature.... It pretty much said that I was pregnant and he needed to break up with the other girl and get back with me until we figured everything out. He said he would. I found out much later that he never did break up with her, but he was there for me. The poor guy was only sixteen himself, how was he suppose to know how to handle this situation?

Bret and I talked about everything for quite awhile and the topic of abortion came up. I knew I never wanted to get an abortion, but I didn't know what else to do. I was so against abortion, but I was more against hurting my family. I remember looking up abortion clinics in the yellow pages. I found one and picked up the phone and dialed the number. On the other end of the phone someone answered and I instantly hung up the phone. I knew then that there was no way I was going to be able to have an abortion. It was against everything I believed in and I just couldn't do it.

I went home not having a clue what I was going to do. I probably thought I would just wait awhile and figure it out later. I had time. When I walked into our house, my mom was sitting in the chair next to the window, and I knew she knew. I could see it in her face. The pain, the disappointment, the fear. I caused all of that. At that moment I was so sorry, but there was nothing I could do to change it. We, mostly I, decided I would go to the LIGHT House for this pregnancy and give my baby up for adoption.