31 May

Grace Written There

calendar

It hangs in the hallway.

Common and plain.

Erasble. Changable.

And, yet, there is grace written there.

A box around words. Names carved out in blue.

A whisper of God’s grace through time.

I sat in the bathtub, the lukewarm water barely covering my swollen belly.

The outline of her little foot would appear. Then the jab of an elbow.

She played.

I sobbed.

The grief of letting one child go already hung heavy on my heart. I didn’t want to let this child go.

But in order to give her the world, I had to exchange this bundle of life and beauty…my everything…for nothing.

In a matter of days…a few breaths…she would be gone.

I sat in the same bathtub. Deflated belly submerged under scalding water.

Heart numb.

She was gone.

The strong baby girl with my mama’s hands and my fiery spirit was gone. Would anyone know whose hands she had? Or understand the fist clenching, jaw-squared fight of a Hunt girl?

Would she ever want to know me?

Now those blue words of hope are a few breaths away.

My memory holds a baby…my eyes will behold a young woman.

My breath catches in my chest, even as I write. Are there words for this? This tender gift of God…the meeting.

It is here, in the space of overwhelming emotion and difficult realities, that I feel His whisper. I remember that God knows what it is like to send a child into someone else’s arms….someone else’s family. That He is birth and adoption.

And I remember that in Him, we are all one. This child I don’t know, her amazing mama and me.

Family, we were, from the first. A far-flung, loosely connected band.

Pictures told tales of life well-lived, of love soaked days and a beautiful baby girl.

Hand scrawled notes with words like “from one mother’s heart to another”.

Phone calls for medical form information and laughter.

Open adoption created a beautiful circle of love for this baby girl.

It has been years since we looked each other in the eye. Since hugs and touch were a language we could speak.

These blue words that hang laden with anticipation and nervousness, what will they bring?

Grace.

 

31 Jan

Running from Me

happy birthday baby girl feet

She was but a few days, weeks maybe, old. Her soft skin and tiny fingers weren’t even a memory yet, more of a dream still. I had carried her, given birth to her, held her, loved her and now she was gone.

Gone.

And I was looking for meaning.

 

I know he was well-intentioned  this man who I shared my new dreams with. I know he and his family cared deeply for me. They had supported me and loved through a process that made me a woman…a mother…brokenhearted. I shared with him that I wanted to become a social worker. That no one would be able to help other birthmothers the way I could, having walked their road. I was excited. There would be meaning to my emptiness. There would be a reason for all this heartache. (There were MANY reasons I had chosen adoption…mainly wanting the best for my sweet baby girl…but mired in heartache and feelings I didn’t know what to do with I couldn’t grasp those reasons I needed my own. Something that I didn’t give away.)

But there in the face of my excitement came these words, “You don’t want to do that. You don’t want this to be what defines you.”

Those words. Changed. My. Life.

From that moment on I began to run from being a birthmother. I pushed away feelings of love for my daughters. I carried anger and resentment towards their parents. And while I was fairly open with people about the girls I still wore shame. I was busy filling my life and my heart with things to help me forget I was (am) a birthmother.

He was right. I didn’t want to defined by this moment…I didn’t want to be known as the woman who slept around, who kept giving up her kids, who despite being smart made dumb life decisions over and over again. I didn’t want to be a movie of the week kinda girl.

And yet, the harder I pushed to forget where I had been, to ignore what I had chosen (both bad and good), to prove I wasn’t that woman I was becoming that woman.My decisions were more and more erratic. My choice of men was, well let’s say, um, AWFUL! I bounced from job to job hoping for some kind of fulfillment.

And then, I met Jesus.

(I know it almost sounds cliche, doesn’t it? But the overwhelming, redeeming love of our Savior is never cliche, so stick with me!)

As Jesus began to work in my heart, I started to soften and see my life through a different lens. Yes, I had made many, many poor choices in my life, BUT God had a plan for two little girls, for two families to be complete, for my life to have meaning.

Something amazing happened as I began to see myself as a Jesus girl. I began to understand that what I was running from was me.My shame.

My guilt.

My heartache.

And when I learned to lay them down at the foot of the cross. God began to move in me.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to h
im are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame. Psalms 34:4-5

We’ve all made poor decisions,we all live lives marred with sin (sometimes mine was just more noticeable than others), we all need the grace and love of Jesus to help us put down our old ways and seek Him to become different, better women!

My sweet, amazing oldest daughter is 15 today. I knew her when her fingers were tiny and gripped my pinky, now those fingers play the piano and write beautiful poems. Her little legs that once kicked my belly button from the inside now make her a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.

 

And I’m sure her eyes, so deep and beautiful are still gorgeous and carry a hint of an impish spark (after all she is related to me!!).

This past year, God took this busted up girl who spent much of her life running from herself and offered a tremendous dose of grace. I’ve gotten to know my amazing, loving, funny daughter via facebook, texts and letters. We have an amazing relationship that is hard to define, but is exactly what we both need. When I wrote a blog last year for her birthday I wrote to her, reveling in the memories of what it was to “know” her. This year, I know her and I’ve been able to tell her I love her (and receive her love). She has healed places in my heart that haven’t seen sunlight or hope in, well, 15 years. Through words of a very wise, very caring young woman (my daughter!!), God has offered me healing and hope.

But, do you see that if I was still running there would be no healing? The truth is God has a plan for us — to redeem our pasts (and our sin) and to use us in ways for His kingdom that we couldn’t ever imagine. But, not one ounce of healing, not one ounce of redemption can come when we refuse to set it down. When we try to ignore our pasts (locking it away) it leaks out like a dripping pipe…slowly eroding our hearts, our hopes, our dreams and changing who w

e are. When try to run from our pasts it is like trying to run from your shadow on a sunny day. Our pasts are what make us.

Oh, but they do not have to define us. Our past, our sin, our shortcomings only define us if we choose to let them. If we choose, instead, to be defined by Christ it changes everything. Christ takes that past and allows us to see where God was in it and how it can be used in the here and now. For me, part of God’s plan allows me to share my experiences as a birthmother with people (other birthmothers, pregnancy center volunteer trainings, and more). And for me, part of God’s plan was healing…a little at a time. I will never be the mommy who raised my two little girls (they have incredible mothers who God chose for them), but I do get to be a friend who loves them, prays for them, cheers them on and loves them in a special way that few will ever understand!

 

And that my friends is what Jesus’ plan for me looks like (well, part of it…).

What do you need to set down? Is God calling you to come to terms with your past (your sin) so that He can use it for His glory?

 

 

15 May

A Taste of Redemption

path

Six strangers gathered around a conference table – eyes on me.

Waiting.

Listening.

This is what redemption looks like.

~~

For months after my girls were born and placed with their adoptive families I couldn’t walk down an aisle with baby anything on the shelf.

I remember birthmother’s days, mother’s days, and babies’ birthdays spent hidden under a sea of blankets. Crying. Empty. Miserable. Waiting.

In the days, months and years after placement I existed but barely lived.

Heartache rang through my life like a noisy gong.

Even as my relationship with Christ grew and I built a life founded on something other than heartache or numbing it…

…my pain felt like pain.

…my loss felt like loss.

…my babies weren’t mine.

Being a birthmother meant emptiness, pain and a sad reality.

And then, this year something began to change.

I began to change.

A letter arrived.

Emails arrive signed with nicknames and filled with blooming connections rooted in whispered love.

My girls, my babies, have reached out to know me. To allow me to love them and know them.

And as I’ve started to grow into this title I’ve worn loosely, always fidgeting and adjusting things, God nudged me to a place I’ve never known.

On the heels of telling our children (the ones we are blessed to parent) about their half sisters and their adoptive families. God gave me a birthmother’s day gift that likely will change my life.

Redemption.

Empty sleepless nights filled with grief, redeemed in their teary, empathetic eyes.

Tears and loss redeemed in their smiles and laughter at my jokes (even the lame ones!).

And as I watched hands scrawl notes of my words, I felt it. As I thanked them for helping women, I felt it.

I drove home praying. Crying. Thanking Jesus.

Tonight, my pain is a memory. My loss is not an empty hole but one being filled in by a new, blooming phase – a relationship with young women.

Tonight, loving Jesus means following in His footsteps. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side….” (John 20:27) Christ knew the offering His scars to Thomas (and the others) would change their faith. Grow their faith. Changes lives. Tonight, being a birthmother meant being vulnerable in Christ’s name. It means showing my scars. It means pouring out (the abridged version) of my pain, loss and sin on the table in front of six strangers.

Tonight as I left the pregnancy center volunteer training I offered my life and words to God…my offering on the altar of the life He’s given me. On the way home I prayed over the volunteers and the women they willsomeday help. I know that girl.

I was that girl.

I am that girl, who tonight tasted redemption.

 

 

31 Jan

Happy Birthday Baby Girl

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Ten tiny fingers.

Ten kissable toes.

And wide eyes that drank in every detail of our moments together….like she knew they were few.

Fourteen years ago today my first daughter was born. Immediately she was whisked across the room to be cleaned, weighed and poked and prodded (what a welcome, huh?). And the nurses, doctor and others huddled around me. With medical complications the few moments after Ashlynn’s (the name I gave her at birth and what we will use here to protect her family’s privacy) birth were confusing and we were far apart….how much of our life would go on to be, I suppose.

When I finally held the sweet-smelling little bundle my heart was shattered into a million pieces. Here she was, this little creature who had done acrobatics in my belly, whose hiccups kept me awake at night, who found comfort in my heart beat. And she wasn’t mine.

Her parents waited anxiously in the hallway. The arms she would run to for love and comfort were aching to hold her.

I wanted to mean something to her. To be special to her, but in those moments I knew our intimate connection was already broken. I could feel her slipping away.

Somewhere in the middle of the night it seemed everyone in the hospital was busy or asleep except Ashlynn and I. I laid in bed with her nestled in my arms. I counted her fingers. I kissed her toes. And I told her all the things I’d never have a chance to say….I whispered “I love you” over and over again. Her brown eyes seemed to stare straight into my soul…like she was trying to memorize me as much as I was her.

And for just a moment I began to think of myself as her mother. What it would be rock her in our home. To kiss boo-boos, braid her hair, and dance together. I imagined hearing the word mommy and my arms forever full of the first blessing God placed in my womb. Clinging to her in the quiet room, I wanted it. I could do it. I would be her mother.

The clang of the door and the nurse coming in to check on us. Snapped me back to the reality of where we were and all that I was about to lose. Quick to help, the nurse took her so that I could sleep and with her she carried my dreams of motherhood.

Given up.

 

 

 

 

Ashlynn was adopted by an amazing couple. Her parents are the people God chose for her. And they have been gracious to allow me a glimpse into their world, her world.

A few weeks ago I sat breathless in the driveway.

 

Hardly able to move I stared at the paper in my hand.  Aware of every curve in her handwriting, every indent left by her pen. I drank in every detail before I began to read the letter.

She is not my child this young woman straining against childhood reaching for adulthood.

We once shared blood, breath, heart beats, time and space. And yet this is our first communication.

Oh the rich and glorious blessings of open adoption.

From 3000 miles away her blue ink on white page writes straight to my heart. Her words. Her personality. Her.

And in that moment something healed a little in me.

For years, um 14 years to be exact, I have lived with a fear that this child I gave up would hate me. Would have no use for me. Would not want to know me.

This hole in my heart…the one shaped like her…would gape open for my whole life.

Much of open adoption is painful, or at the very least uncomfortable, for me. Glimpses of a bond I gave up. Reminders of mistakes and scars. Questions. Raw emotions wrapped up in precarious relationships…where hope, fear, hurt, and loss meet joy, love, and grace in a whirling funnel cloud of life.

When I chose open adoption I had no idea what it would mean to live on the outside of my child’s life. I saw only the benefits of the openness — access to medical questions and histories, truth about decisions and placement, knowing that the child was well and happy. And those are huge, amazing, life-changing benefits and when phone calls start with statements like, “I’m filling out medical forms. Are you ready?” I chuckle at the awesomeness of God and the wonder that is my life.

But yet, being a birthmother (for me) is much like that moment when the nurse carried that baby out of my hospital room. A hollow empty space and time where, love wants to live but has nothing to cling to. Where memories mix with loss.

The what ifs and some days delight me and scare me. Will I ever hold her? Know her? Will she ever let me be part of her life? Will I forever feel this ache of loss and love?

There in the driveway, letter in hand, for a moment the ached eased just a little. This child once mine reached out and I became a blubbering mess of a woman. This moment of grace took my breath away.

Today, as I celebrate her birthday. I pray for her. Prayers of strength, courage, love and joy. Of faith and grace and thanks. And I revel in the memories of the moment I got to be her mother.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

 

13 Jul

The Truth that Met Me in the Fast Lane

It was as if the words hung in the air. The song played on, but the line sat there in front of me. As though written on the windshield I had to look through the words to see the truth of my life…past and present.

As a birthmother I have heard a lot about how noble my sacfrice was. What a gift I’ve given the girls and their families. And I have wanted to believe that, but it felt like there should be more to it. That moments wrapped up in pain, joy, the scent of a baby and a tidal wave of hormones have to be for something more than praise from strangers, an empty belly and movie-of-the-week memories. But what?
I have grappled with that question for over a decade. With every picture, letter, and phone call I have known there is something deeper to this birthmother thing then grief and longing. 

And then there it was. A random afternoon. A random song on the radio. And God’s truth meets me face-to-face in the fast lane and changes my life forever. 


I’m not one to say God spoke to me. I’ve never heard His voice, but I’ve felt His presence. I know His hand in my life. And I know when my heart meets Truth. And in those moments I know what God is saying. Louder than the voices in my head and heart I can hear Him.


For weeks I have been in love with this song. It seems to minister to me in the midst of difficult moments and in the everydayness of life. Play the video. Listen. Close your eyes. Let the beautiful music and soothing truth wash over you in whatever your circumstance is….let’s worship together for a moment and then I’ll tell you how this song changed my perspective on my life




Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things.”

Becoming a birthmother wasn’t (just) about giving my girls all they needed and deserved that I didn’t have. God worked that plan for me too. He loves me way too much to give me lesser things. He knew that every step I took in healing and growth as a birthmother would bring me closer to Him. That in comforting others, sharing my story, loving my girls, grieving our lost moments, praying, laughing, doting on my babies I got to parent, and the million other things I do as a woman who gave up her children would make me a bit more like His Son. That I would draw closer to Him.

And God’s best is what it is all about. 

If you have read any of my other adoption posts, you’ll know that I don’t like to open the “what if” door to my past. And often when I do I want to write. I want to reach out. I want something to feel real and concrete and whole for just a breath or two. And yet, tonight as I write I don’t want to open a door to past that never was. I want to look back and remember those moments. Those are my moments. 

Before time began God knew the tears of a young woman in a dim and silent hospital room. He knew that my tears would wet the pink cheeks of my daughter. Think of that…He knew my tears. He knew my pain. He knew that His hand would be the only thing that would save me from myself that night and many nights after that as I began to wish for death and live recklessly.

He knew my tears were not in vain. That my suffering was not pointless. That my breaking heart He would bind. He knew that His love was…and is…greater than my pain.

That is the truth that met me in the fast lane this week. That God didn’t use my decisions and circumstances to only bless others…in fact, perhaps I received the greatest of the blessings in the adoption process. I grew a little more like my Savior…
Father, sometimes it is so difficult to feel the blessings in the midst of the storms. I am grateful that You never give up teaching me, showing me, helping me to redeem my past and see it in Your light. Thank you for loving me enough to make me a birthmother. Thank you for memories of infant girls, and for memories yet made with young women. Help us all to find you in the fast lane of life, Father. Change our view — past and present. Help us become more like your precious Son. Amen.
06 May

joyously full and overwhelmingly empty in the same breath

The stretch marks across my belly are like a road map into the past.My belly.

Despite my weight issues, I love it! I love the memories of the blessings my belly has held.

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I will celebrate with two of those little blessings. Being a wife and mother were dreams I didn’t know how to dream and now they are dreams come true everyday.

But the day before Mother’s Day there will be another celebration. One marked by quiet reflection, whispered memories and bittersweet tears. Saturday is Birthmother’s day.

Just days after my first daughter was born (and placed with her adoptive parents) I laid in my bed. Hands on my deflated belly and cried myself to sleep. I didn’t want to hear how noble my sacrifice was or how I did the right thing…I wanted to know if I’d ever stop crying. If life would ever feel normal again. If my deflated belly would ever not remind me of pregnancy, baby kicks, the sound of a newborn’s cry, and just how empty my arms and heart are.

And truthfully, I am very much that same young woman….one day a year. 364 days a year I live a life full of laughter, princesses, army men, dogs, homeschooling, and love! I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I am missing. Birthmother’s Day echoes the emptiness my choices left me with.

What would it be to know the sound of laughter of my two daughters who don’t call me mom?  Our table seats 6…I imagine their faces and tales of early teen life filling our dining room. What are their favorite meals? What would it be like to snuggle with them? Will they ever want to know me?

The truth of our lives is quite different and always will be. They have beautiful, strong, amazing women to call mom. Women that God hand picked and placed in my path. Funny, that I “chose” their parents. I looked at profile after profile searching for the women my babies would call mommy. For the women who would nurse their wounds, help them with their homework, teach them to love, and share the everyday things that bless a mother’s heart.

I am blessed to be a mother. I am keenly aware of the fleeting moments with our small children. That they grow at the speed of life and before I know it our halls won’t ring with giggles and we’ll be remembering our todays as long ago yesterdays. I’m thankful for every moment.

And, I am blessed to be a birthmother. For with the ache and the emptiness comes the truth that the babies I once held in my belly and briefly in my arms are where God intended them to be…with their mothers. And I am thankful to two women who fought paperwork and legal battles. Who faced down infertility and circumstances they couldn’t control. For on the other side of that painful mountain, I met them. They became mothers. And they became my friends…

So celebrate the mothers (and the birthmothers) in your life this weekend! For it is a true gift from God to be called to the sacrificial station of motherhood. Oh, and the blessing of being loved by your mother!!

Father, thank you for letting me play a part in the lives of four of your children. And while my roles for two of them are far different then the others I believe you will heal those scars and fill those empty places someday. As I live this life that is joyously full and overwhelmingly empty in the same breath, please walk with me. Remind me of the daily blessings you have given me and hold my heart when it beats a broken beat into the past.

19 Aug

He Waits for You

Someone asked me recently, “What would you want them to know?”

We were discussing the two children I placed for adoption in my early twenties. “That I love them,” was my immediate response.

With a nod she said, “Of course they’ll know that. Just by your sacrifice. They’ll know that.”

That answer should have given me a warm fuzzy feeling. After all that’s what marks the experience of a birthmother, the experience of carrying a baby for nine months and kissing if fair well…giving them up. Sacrifice. Right?

But it didn’t.

You see, I want them to know I love them. That a day doesn’t go by that they are not in my thoughts and prayers. That everyday there is a hole that only they can fill. That as wonderful as my life is, it will never be complete until I look into their eyes and tell them I love them. That’s it, right there…that I can tell them I love them. I wait for the day when our relationship is not defined by any labels, letters or words spoken by others but of moments filled with life lived together. I wait to know their laughter, memorize their smiles and get to know them.

And it occurred to me as I began to ponder the longing and the waiting. That perhaps my experience as a birthmother is not so unlike Jesus’s experience of longing and waiting for us.

The stories of His sacrifice are universal, people who don’t even “believe” can recite the details of His birth and His death. But He wants more than just a nod at what He gave up for us.

He waits for us to look for Him – – to understand that He is more than any label or book or words spoken by others. He is God. He made your heart and wants to whisper His love to you daily.

I have no idea if (or when) I will get the chance to know my girls, but every day I have the opportunity to lay my heart in the scarred hands of the One who waits for me. The thought that Jesus loves me and longs for me has taken on a whole new meaning in my life as I view it through the lens of my own wanting and waiting for love.

What do you long for? A baby? A husband? A wife? Healing? How does it make you feel to know that there is someone that has that same passion and grief for you? Take a moment today and bask in the love that we so often take for granted. Thank Him for waiting for you.

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