Category: Memoir (page 1 of 3)

Mama, why was I adopted?

“Mama, why was I adopted?”

The weight of her question barely registered as my mind focused on the invisible checklist that appears every time I exit the car:

Purse – check.

Wallet – check.

Keys – check.

Cell phone-

Dang it – where’s my cell phone?

In a flurry of my own activity, I nearly missed the opportunity I’d been waiting for – the moment my daughter was pulling me into a conversation about her adoption rather than having me (once again) push it on her.

Fortunately, before I completely missed the moment, I found a fast response:

Continue reading

There’s black people at the suburban restaurant

As we followed the hostess through the restaurant, I was so distracted, I forgot to look for the big tank with the live lobsters.

Even at 34 years old, I’m still not sure if people have told me the truth all these years – the lobsters in the tank at Red Lobster are just one Ultimate Feast away from becoming someone’s next meal.

I’ve always felt an urge to go find them and bode a final “goodbye” in case the rumors are true.

But I was so focused on finding our patiently-waiting family members, I didn’t even think to look for them.

mae-on-a-hike

A battle with my 7-year-old over if ankle-length yoga pants and a short-sleeved shirt are warm enough for the 20-degree day ran us fashionably late.

Fortunately, our family didn’t seem to mind and all nine of them gave big smiles and waves when they saw us arrive.

They especially lit up when they saw my daughter Mae – they all adore her.

We sat at the end of the table where we could see our family and many of the other guests in the restaurant.

I’d had plans to get up and go find the lobster tank, but was soon distracted once again.

There’s a lot of black people in here.

Continue reading

September

It was 2010. In the few months prior to the life-changing car ride my husband and I took passing fields upon fields to southern Missouri, I felt like I’d swum to the bottom of the ocean and was just coming up for air.

For many months, I’d become familiar with the darkness of loss. I’d wandered the earth as a wounded soul. A second case of colon cancer came unexpectedly and reawakened the survivor in me. It also changed the course of our adoption plans.

Adoption wasn’t a hard sell for me; I’d had the call on my heart as a child and made peace with it being my route to parenthood after my first diagnosis. But I’d set my heart on international adoption from Ethiopia. With my second cancer, working with an international adoption agency and heading to Africa was not a possibility for at least 5 years. Nobody wanted to let the sick girl adopt a baby.

The ache of infertility swelled with each pregnancy announcement.

From the outside, I looked fine. But on the inside, I was anything but fine. I was sad. Confused. A little dazed. And unconsciously angry.

I held it in until I couldn’t hold it any longer. I called a counselor who gently helped me start pulling back the layers. And I got some alone time.

For the first time since we’d begun dating when I was 16 years old, my husband and I spent 10 days apart as he left to lead worship for a youth camp. In those 10 days, I drank wine. I went on walks and hogged all of the pillows in the bed. And I started really praying again.

I began journaling about my pain and frustration. I opened up about my desire to be a mom and I asked God to make a way. I partially doubted He heard me, but I prayed anyway. I wanted to believe He cared. The darkness began to lighten a little.

Mike came home and a few weeks later during the car ride where we passed fields upon fields to southern Missouri, headed to meet our newly born niece, I approached the subject of parenthood with him. I shared I’d been praying for God to make me a mom and provide direction for us. In a quick, one-word reply, our lives changed forever.

September.” Mike said. “God told me we need to start the process in September.”

missouri-fields

Starting in September

As we drove, the sound of our tires rotating against the highway grew louder as silence made us soak in what was happening. We were two weeks into the month of September already.

There was no time for frustration from a lack of communication because obedience meant we needed to process quickly and act fast. We began the adoption process a few days later when we got home.

Throughout fall of 2010, we got adoption plans in place. We found an adoption agency that worked with cancer survivors and felt a peace about pursuing domestic adoption. A generous grant from The Samfund paid for our home study. Friends who’d adopted gave us advice. Family and friends offered generous financial gifts to help us. We prepared our hearts to be parents and assumed, based on agency estimates, we’d be parents within 5-9 months – May at the earliest.

By the first of January, all of our paperwork was submitted, our home study was approved and we were waiting to receive the news we’d gone “active” with the agency.

And then we received the text.

burgessfam-mermaidbirthday

Great is thy Faithfulness

If you’re familiar with our adoption story, you know the text we got that cold January night changed everything. Three weeks later, we brought home a 4-month-old baby girl (from our hometown!) and quickly became Mama and Daddy. Amidst the dramatically intense emotional roller coaster during the three weeks leading up to her adoption, we looked for signs we were on the right track. One of the biggest confirmations:

Our baby girl was born in September.

That September day in 2010 that welcomed her into the world was 7 years ago today. I’m thankful that 7 years ago, we obeyed the call to start the adoption process. As we’ve celebrated our daughter’s birthday for the past few days, I’m in awe of how incredible of a gift she is to us. And I am struck by God’s faithfulness.

In the nights I prayed, journaled and cried blaming God for my second cancer, yet asking him to make me a mom, God’s been faithful.

In the hours that a birth mom wrapped up her baby girl and hoped for God to give her a good life, even if that meant letting someone else raise her – God’s been faithful.

In the hope that my husband heard God correctly and we stepped out in faith to adopt, God’s been faithful.

Despite my doubt that beauty could come from ashes, God’s been faithful.

As our daughter has grown from a baby to a beautiful, radiant, joyful, kind and creative 7-year-old little girl, God’s been faithful.

From September to September, God’s been faithful.

mermaidparty-cupcakes mermaidparty-pintailonmermaid

Mae-hachimal-birthday

Slow Down and Step Up

Isn’t it funny how when we’re younger, time can’t go any slower?

Mae’s birthday is in two months, but September cannot come fast enough. She updates her birthday list each day and mentions it at least once. I, on the other hand, was up until midnight the other night looking at mermaid theme parties on Pinterest, rapidly trying to get a plan together.

It’s not really my thing, but she’s requested it so this Mama’s going to attempt to make it happen.

Sitting comfortably into my 33rd year of life, I feel like I’m riding a rocket ship most days, and time doesn’t want to slow down. It could be partly because I’m planning already for March 2018 at work. And I am still in denial that I just enrolled my daughter for 1st grade earlier this week.

How is she almost 7 years old!?

Step Up

While a transition of the perceived speed of time has come with age, and I’d honestly rather have childhood’s view of it back, another transition that’s come with getting older is very welcomed.

It’s the transition of perspective regarding what other people think, also called fear of man. I’ve stepped up into the security and confidence that come from a rooted identity in Christ. It helps me disregard the fear of other’s opinions (most of the time – I am still human). I’ve given myself permission to like things that are simply just “me,” and to find my own styles and tastes. Case in point:

homemade-strawberry-jam

I made jam this week to relax. With such a passion for women’s empowerment and leadership, never did I think I’d pick up a “stereotypical” old-school cooking and baking hobby, but I absolutely love it. (And so did my household because this stuff rocked!)

national-hotdog-day-fight-crc

I celebrated National Hot Dog Day with my team. Sure, hot dogs and chips aren’t the healthiest option on the menu and I can’t eat them a lot, but I love them. So I eat them once in awhile and it brought simple joy to my day.

db-walmart-skirt

I bought a skirt from Wal-Mart. It was not expensive and it’s comfortable. It’s nice and cool for the summertime heat. And frankly, I don’t care where it came from – it’s perfect for me. Now THAT is freedom talk right there.

Acceptance

Part of me wishes this growth would have happened sooner, I wonder what a 16-year-old me with this confidence would have been like. But for the most part, I’ve accepted it as my life’s path, and the journey many of us go down in our own way and timeline.

I also want to be open with the struggle it is to stay in this place. Each time I open my computer to write or do something that could be unpopular or full of tension, the fear of man rears its head again. But the grounding in truth and love of Jesus brings me back. This is a routine I practice mindfully each day, without it I’d be back at age 16.

To find acceptance of myself is a golden nugget that’s appeared in my 30s.

Which is really timely, considering I’ve got a 7-year-old’s mermaid birthday party to pull off in two months.

Older posts