I rode a rollercoaster today.
Not a for real one, emotional.
It started out a decent day. My alarm went, too early. But school is in session. My youngest woke up. My oldest grumbled when I woke him up. My youngest is so tired lately, so i asked him to please just rest for awhile.
His answer: “Yes, Mama.”
His actions: NOPE
And Round 1 was lost to both of us. Tears from both, raised voices, from both, and a general feeling of frustration, from both.
The fight ended about an hour and a half later, when I put him to bed. One run through of his songs, and he was out.
It’s 9/11 today.
17 years ago, we united together and promised ourselves “never forget” .
But farther back, a bit of awesomeness happened here in America. Particularly in a small town in Pennsylvania.
On this day in the early 1990s, I was adopted. My parents officially gave me their last name, and I belonged to them.
My story is an interesting one. A puzzle. Some pieces are still missing. Some are filled in. Some will wait for Heaven. Some are beautiful. Some are not.
But it is my story. All mine. Well not all, but you get my point.
Back to my rollercoaster.
I took a trip down memory lane. And it took an emotional toll.
I am so grateful for this life. And I often take for granted the life I was given.
I rarely dwell on the what if side of my life. My birth mother died in her early 30s. My birth father was never known. There aren’t many what if things to dwell on, there are too little facts for those trails.
Growing up the biggest what if trail I traveled down was what if Tom had adopted me? Tom and his wife were foster parents. He had a soft spot for me. At one fishing event, he saw me eyeing up a stuffed animal that I liked. And when prizes were given out, my disappointment was obvious. As my dad and I got into his Suburban, Tom came to the truck. “Here,” he handed me something, with his mustached smile. And it was the little leopard I had wanted. My boys have long claimed that little animal. But it never ceases to make me smile. There was never any doubt whether he cared for me, or any of the girls they took in and loved. And his smile often pops into my memory, and in turn makes me smile.
Other couples loved me, deeply. Not just aunts and uncles. Though I am blessed with some incredible aunts and uncles, and cousins. But another elderly couple from the foster parent group who loved me. They would randomly drop off Easter baskets. They never failed to send a card for holidays and birthdays.
It would never be fair to say “no one really loved me” because my love language was thoroughly spoken as I grew up.
I can point to pieces of my life that did not glow with hearts and flowers. But everyone can. And those pieces left their marks, alongside with the blessings those hard times also helped to shape me.
The roller coaster ride is emotion-filled. Sometimes the bad things overwhelm me. I look at my life and the highlight reel of pain automatically plays. But today’s memories, I remembered the blessings too.
I have two biological sisters. Their stories are not mine to tell, but they do not have the same childhood memories that I do. And that makes my heart hurt. The unfairness.
On this day 20 plus years ago, I became a daughter. Fully belonging. Fully loved. I completed a family who didn’t know they weren’t complete. I fully recognize that my life was changed the moment they followed God’s leading and said yes, but so was theirs. I am the youngest of 5 brothers. And each of them, their life was changed by my arrival as well. We all were many parts to one family, we loved and cared for and fought with each other. Granted the fighting part existed first. But the love part was there.
Someday I get the share my story with my boys. These two sweet, biologically mine boys. And that was the sweetest part of giving birth… The moment I held them, the moment I kissed them, I knew they were mine. My DNA ran through their veins.
And while my family never, ever made me feel less than because our DNA was different, there was something beautiful in cherishing my boys and knowing they were mine.
There was something devastating in my life. The abandonment issues were so strong. While my love language was spoken often by caring and loving adults, it was hard to receive. Not that I took it for granted, I just felt undeserving. I often felt “if they only knew-” and whatever grievous sin I considered, I was sure it would make everyone abandon me.
And that’s where my emotional rollercoaster dumped me tonight. Way back there in the middle of abandonment-ville.
And I’m hiking back. Journeying back. Remembering each person who chosen to love me. Starting with my parents, my siblings, wonderful people from church, aunts, uncles.
There’s a special little girl I think of now, she reminds me of me. I hug her every Sunday. I smile at her. I want her to know, whatever was in her life, now she is chosen and loved. Now she matters more than whatever caused her story to begin where I’ve met her.
This weekend Alex shared with me that he told his teacher he knows 2 adopted people. His friend at school and his mommy.
And it made him proud.
I have friends who have adopted, are adopted, are fostering and hoping to adopt. And someday I want to share my current life with kids who need it.
I am proud of my history. And I’m grateful for the story God is giving me.
Each and every piece.
If my birth mother were here, I’d say Thank You.
If my birth father were here, I’d say Thank you.
To my parents this week, I will say Thank you.
Sometimes I forget to intentionally remember.
So today I’m glad I took the time to remember. And tomorrow I will remind myself to be glad.
And if you have the opportunity to love on a child whose first family could not provide all the love or care he/she needed, do it.
Because it’s worth it.
It’s like when concrete is poured and little handprints or footprints or initials are carefully put in it. You get to do that. You get to help create a foundation of love, of trust, of being wanted. And in doing so, you etch yourself into their foundation.
Well, I am officially drained. Tonight I needed to remind myself to never forget. Because I got lost and I did. I did forget the ones who loved me when I desperately needed it. I focused on mistakes. I focused on pain. That needed to change. I must remember it all.
But now, now my house is quiet, my sweet boys are snoring sweetly. And my soul needs to rest.