Tag Archives: Adoption and Faith

It’s Been A Year

It’s been a year since we left our old church. And to be honest, it kinda feels like I’ve been wandering around the desert ever since then. We visited a number of churches over the last year, but in the end, we landed at the neighborhood Universal Unitarian church.

We are there because Hope likes it; there are a couple of kids from her school who attend and unlike our old church, she seamlessly slipped into the social scene at the UU church.

Me? I haven’t; but I’m realizing that I’m not much of a joiner. I’m constantly intrigued by how my neighbors all seem to know each other, but despite my living here for 15 years I don’t have to many close relationships with my condo neighbors. #IDigress

It’s cool though, this church thing isn’t about me, and my discomfort at not being at a distinctly Christian church isn’t really that big of a deal. I have been creative about making sure that we get Christianity infused throughout life.

In the midst of all of these developments, I kept getting mail from the old church.

Each flyer, giving statement, newsletter cut me like glass. It has taken every bit of this whole year to try to get past the heartbreak of feeling rejected by my church.

It’s taken the whole year for me to wrestle with the fury of anger and the tears of sadness. I felt like there was a mini setback every time I got something in the mail.

Shortly after I received the last giving statement for the year that I would use to finish my taxes, I received a “reminder” about the pledge I’d made at the beginning of the year on behalf of myself and Hope. I gave towards the pledge until we left.

Last fall, when I received a “reminder” I sent them an email about how we were not in fellowship there anymore and that I was allocating those funds to another house of faith.

And then I got the last “reminder.”

And I let it sit.

And sit.

And sit.

I called Grammy to ask about her opinion. Let’s just say she hasn’t worked as hard as I have to forgive. Lest we forget, not only did they hurt me and Hope, but they denied her and my father a public opportunity to embrace Hope and join me in committing to raise her faithfully.

There’s quite a bit of pain in that too. We all hurt.

So, today, I sat down and wrote my former pastor a long letter. I talked about how I came to attend that church, how my being in fellowship there definitely marked a major chapter in my life—starting and finishing my doctorate and becoming a mother. I shared how I felt all during the 7-8 months it took for them to grow a pair and say we just weren’t the cute adoptive family that everyone wants to see. I shared about the times the pastoral staff were condescending. I shared about how ironic it was to hear adoption used as a Christian metaphor so often and what that irony felt like. I shared about my last conversation with the family pastor who was dispatched to share the news that Hope and I didn’t fit the motif of the church. I shared how we were attending a UU church now and how Hope was thriving there.

I asked to be completely erased from the mailing list. It’s simply too hard to have stuff from them coming to my little crazy sanctuary.

I printed the letter. I printed an envelope. I peeled the stamp. I licked the enveloped. I dropped it in the mailbox.

And a burden was lifted.

Just in time for Easter.

I am grateful to totally close that chapter.

The Background on The Church Thing

An Amazing Dedication

Being Gracious

An Adoption Blessing

Radio Silence

About Face

About that Church Thing

Supporting You from the Back Room

Finding a House

 


About Face

So, a couple of days after sending a polite, but disappointing message to my church withdrawing my request for some kind of dedication ceremony I get an enthusiastic message from the children’s pastor.

Long story short, they finally get it. That’s the good, no, awesome news.

But you know, my feelings are so messy. I’m still mad, and I’m still hurt and Lord knows I hold a grudge like my life depends on it.

Yeah, I know, major personal flaw. Whatever… it’s learned behavior for me; get burned enough and the ease of forgiving wears away over time. #jadedandcynical

Anyhoo, I read the email and just felt…tired. Exhausted.  Furious. Why couldn’t this email have come during the last 3+ weeks? Why now, after I said I just didn’t want to pursue it anymore? Why do I feel like I had to fight so hard? Why do you now say you wished you had had this great idea at the beginning of the year?

I’m relieved, and yet I’m still angry. Pissed.

And then I feel guilty for feeling furious because well, I have broken through…We’re going to have some kind of ceremony, a public ritual. It will be open to other families like ours. It will be wonderful for me, for Hope, for our family, for all of the adoptive families who choose to participate.

I think the Holy Homeboy is pleased.

And I am happy, grateful…feeling vindicated, resentful—which doesn’t even feel right when I’m talking about my church. But there you go. I feel all of this stuff, no denying it.

So, I’m guessing the Holy Homeboy is probably not quite as pleased with me. I’m prayerful that this bitterness melts away quickly so that I can really enjoy this event; so that I can really absorb its meaning, so that Hope is able to be excited about all this too. As soon as I tell her.

This will be epic.


Being Gracious

This has been an absurdly painful week for me. I hate that. I don’t hate it just because I’m miserable or because I failed to avoid the discomfort. I hate it because my occasional sixth spidey sense warned me that I would be disappointed, and then I was still crushed even when I anticipated it.

On top of it I’m traveling and away from my Hope kid. I miss her. I can tell she misses me too. We google hangout everyday. It helps, but it’s not the same. I miss her.

googelehangout

This thing with my church is just icky. And I’m forcing myself to stay with the icky because there is a deeper something apparently meant by all of this emotional upheaval. So I’m fighting the urge to just drop out of the scene for a while; I have to think about Hope’s stability and how she has come to like it there. She’s finally starting to express an interest in going to some of the targeted programming; she’s beginning to feel safe there. I don’t want to have to find all of this somewhere else, so I have to grind this out even if I wear my teeth down.

This week, Emily H tweeted me a link to an NPR article about an adoption related ceremony at a local church. It was a short article, but gave just enough to say—look these families want and need support and acknowledgment within their church family. Ironically, I used to attend the church featured in the article years ago. I got up the gumption this Sunday morning to send the link to the pastor tasked with communicating with me. I also suggested that Adoption Awareness Month was coming up, as was Adoption Day, and mayhaps this was a time when they might consider doing something for adoptive families in the church who want some kind of ceremony. We’ve got thousands of people at our church, I’m guessing we’re not the only adoptive family.

We’ll see. I wish I could be more optimistic. I don’t like feeling like this. Hopefully it will pass soon, and we’ll be on to the next thing. In the meantime I’ll try to just focus on being gracious and brushing it off.

brush2


Uncontrolled Cries

So today is the day I have hit my emotional bottom.  It’s been 54 days since Hope arrived.  We’ve had ups.  We’ve had downs.  I’ve learned a lot; I’ve endured a lot.   I’ve laughed a lot and I’ve cried a lot.  There were a few days when I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed.  I finished writing the last two chapters of my dissertation during these 54 days and sit on the precipice of attaining my highest academic achievement.  I met someone who brought a little color and calm in an otherwise difficult time.  I love my daughter; I am committed to her, and I’m hopeful that one day we will be the kind of mom and daughter that I dreamt of a long time ago.

And on this 54th day, I sit in a local Panera crying uncontrollably while shoveling obscene quantities of carbs in my mouth, knowing I’ll regret it later, but unable to stem the tide of snarfing.   Several very nice ladies have stopped over with stacks of napkins and kind smiles.

I don’t lose it in public often, very rarely.  I cry a lot, but I try to do it privately.  Today, I really am unable to pull my scattered self back together.  Today I am completely unhinged, and the only reason I’m not in my bedroom crying in a ball with The Furry One looking on fretfully is because a loving cousin rushed over to kick me out to find some respite alone.

I debriefed with Grammy this morning and the full on rejection, accusations and inability to believe in me or the long term success of me and my daughter is just too much to bear.   All other real or perceived battles with Grammy are unable to even come close to the emotional upheaval I am grappling with today.

I didn’t say much on the call.  I attempted to call her to debrief yesterday, but told my dad I didn’t have the courage to do it.   He didn’t understand.  I won’t bore you with all the gory details but here’s a little Sports Center highlight reel:

  • Hope is going to bring me down; all her problems will negatively affect me.
  • Grammy is physically afraid of Hope and will not provide respite for me.
  • Grammy thinks that smelling wine on my breath after coming home from a work reception means I have a drinking problem.
  • Grammy insinuated that my daughter might be possessed.

Oh and one from earlier in her visit:

  • She didn’t think it wise to make hotel reservations to go to my graduation until after my defense because you know, I might eff up.

I’m not sure what to do with this and all the rest that I can’t write here.  I’m so disappointed, but most of all I’m angry…angry with myself.  Grammy had already shown me repeatedly that she was not the person I would be able to rely on during this journey.  But she told me she wanted so much for me to give her a chance, for me to open up, for me to lower the cloak I had around me and my daughter and let her in to help us, to love on us and to be Grammy.  So I did.  And the first exposure to our reality sent her doing a drive by drop-off.  And me sitting here with a heart full of regret that I ever let my defenses down at all and a feeling like I never will again.

I know at some point I’ll let Grammy back in because I want to model for my daughter how to get over such incredible pain and how to forgive.  But I have no earthly idea how or when I will be able to muster what’s needed to do that.  Hopefully next time I’ll be better prepared to wrestle with the possible rejection and abandonment that may follow.  Also, maybe next time I won’t carb load while sobbing at the local eatery.  Maybe next time I won’t need respite because my reserves will be deep enough to plug the gaping hole that might appear in the aftermath.  Maybe next time I won’t be hurt and disappointed at all because Grammy’s reserves will be deeper, and she will be able to embrace us as we are, thorns and all.  Maybe she will believe in us then.  Maybe she will actually believe in me too at that point.

When I first started this journey I was rather put off by how conservative the adoptive community seemed to be.  I had a healthy sense of my faith and belief system, but I rarely saw folks who were like me—pretty liberal, comfortably Christian, but not showy about it, progressive, Black…the list goes on and on.  I still don’t always see myself in this community, but I know and appreciate how much I have found my place and how my faith in God has evolved, especially during these 54 days.  I’m in a constant state of prayer.   I’m still not as conservative as I perceive many in the community to be, but I get it now…this calling requires something more, something deeper than ourselves.

I’ve often said I don’t know how something would get done, only that it would get done.  It always has gotten done.   I have a set of footprints and a small cross on my right ankle reminding me that when it’s only one set of prints, it was then that God carried me.  My faith has always been there, but it is a bit more on the sleeve now.  And so I’m puzzled that the model of faith I’ve had, Grammy, just doesn’t believe in Hope’s healing from trauma and in the ultimate success of our family as I believe.  I believe we will be delivered.  I believe that Hope will grow up to be happy and healthy.  I believe in her restoration.  I believe that we will be ok, better than ok.   I don’t understand how Grammy doesn’t believe that.  I don’t understand how she can utter words that don’t speak wholeness over us.  I just don’t understand, and now I don’t think I want to hear what she is saying at all.

What’s the adage? If you can’t say something nice….

I know she loves me, but today was just too much.   It was just heartbreaking.

Today is the 54th day in this post-placement journey, and it was so, so very hard.

Now that I’ve made numerous people uncomfortable at the Panera, I think I’ll take my weepy self to the beauty supply to buy crap I don’t need.  I will blow out my afro tonight and paint my nails and give myself a facial.  I will reach out to the new sitter service I found and see about setting up once to twice a week respite so I can practice some self-care.  I will thank my friends and family who have come to my rescue.  I will pray for me and my daughter.

I will pray for Grammy too, even though I am not sure what to say.


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