Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Last night I had the strangest dream.

Nothing about a row boat and a trip to China, but a strangely real dream.

I dreamt I was a pregnant mom considering adoption for her baby. I met the prospective adoptive parents and I showed off my belly. I thought they would want to see their baby growing. I gave a profile and even lifted my shirt over the belly for them to "see" their child. I was so proud, and I knew the prospective adoptive parents must be so glad that their wait was almost over. They left.

In the next part of my dream I was gripped with sadness about how I would have to give up my baby. "Maybe I could raise the baby," I thought. But then I realized that the adoptive parents were counting on this baby being theirs. I felt like I owed it to them to place the baby with them. What was I going to do?

I think in this dream I was both the pregnant mom and the prospective adoptive mom. It was heartbreaking as the pregnant mom, thinking I now had to give up my baby because the adoptive parents were so happy and I'd already agreed to the adoption. I felt like I owed it to them.

Writing this makes me want to cry. I don't believe our situation was like this, but I can now understand why some birthmothers feel like they've been coerced into giving up their baby for adoption. Notice I'm not using "Positive Adoption Language?" Because in my dream it felt like I was giving up the baby, not placing the baby into someone else's arms to raise. It makes me feel better as an adoptive parent to say "placed the baby for adoption" because then I get to feel like this was her choice and not something she felt she had to do. Am I kidding myself?

So that was weird. I hope I never have that dream again. Now that I'm a mom by both birth and adoption I can understand a little more what K must have gone through loving our baby with all her heart and yet letting him go to us. It was a vivid dream, although I know I really have NO idea how a birthmom feels after placing her baby.

Over the past few years my blog has changed a lot, so I don't know if I still have any firstmothers/birthmothers who read. But if I do, know that I'm not saying I know how you feel. Maybe in my dream I experienced one of the emotions you may have also felt at some point, but that doesn't give me much experience in this area. Please know that I respect you and respect that you may have some emotions about adoption that an adoptive mom like me wouldn't necessarily think fit my picture about the miracle I see adoption to have been for us. I think we can really learn from each other.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cool poem I got today in my email.

By Carol Wimmer (widely mis-attributed to Maya Angelou)

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not shouting, "I've been saved!"
I'm whispering, "I get lost! That's why I chose this way"

When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble-needing God to be my guide

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I'm worth it

When I say, "I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

When I say, "I am a Christian," I do not wish to judge
I have no authority--I only know I'm loved

Monday, April 20, 2009


How long did it take you to fall in love with your spouse? For some it may have been very soon after you met. For others it may have taken months. For yet others years or even decades. I would imagine most people are somewhere in the middle of "soon" and decades. Imagine if you were so excited to be married some day and how you might cook up some fantasies about what that would be like. Then imagine you met your current spouse and for various reasons needed to marry him right away. Can you imagine being married to someone after having known them for just 48 hours? What if in addition to marrying your whole schedule was changed and you weren't able to get out much. Trapped! Maybe he snores and you wake up endless times during the night and wonder, "What have I done?"

I'm reading a book called "The post-adoption blues: Overcoming the challenges of adoption" by Karen Foli and John Thompson. As a result of this reading (and as a result of watching two neat friends who are new adoptive parents and soon-to-be adoptive parents), I've been thinking about why it was hard to be a new adoptive parent. The gist of the book is that we enter parenthood with certain expectations that may or may not be met, or may or may not even be reasonable.

One example of an expectation that may or may not be met is instant bonding with our new child. We expect because we waited so long for a baby that all of the wonderful feelings of motherhood or parenthood will hit us the minute we pick up the sweet innocent creature. We picture ourselves nurturing the baby through long nights, receiving sweet smiles in a month or two, and showing off our baby to everyone who will look. We know it's going to be challenging and we're going to be sleep deprived and our whole lives are going to be turned upside down. Or do we? We do, but we don't quite.

I would say I loved BB from the minute I held him. I did. I had chosen to love him because we were adopting him. But I wasn't in love with him. I didn't long for him when I was away. Nor was I in any way prepared as to how he would change our lives and our marriage. I had no idea how scared and empty I would feel in the middle of the night when it seemed like the only thing I would really ever know again was this tiny, helpless, screaming, hurting baby. He just took over. Babies do that. I didn't know I would feel like my husband and I were separated because we didn't spend as much time together as we had before baby.

In addition, in our adoptive relationship I really did feel like he was so alien to me. I had not birthed him, had not felt him move and shift in my womb, had not talked to him in the middle of the afternoon as he cooked, and had not known him before October 26th, 2006. Then on October 28th he was everything and required my every attention. Sometimes it felt like to much. I never really thought we'd made a mistake, but sometimes in the middle of the night for a moment it did feel like that. Why had we totally interrupted our lives for a person we didn't even know? I'd married a stranger and promised to love him forever. It was weird. And hard. And wonderful. I'm so glad we did it. But I imagine it is a little bit like entering into an arranged marriage. I know without a doubt that BB and I bonded at about 6 weeks of age when that sweet boy screamed in my arms in the middle of what seemed like a sound slumber. From that minute I would have easily given my life for his. Before that minute I probably would have, too, but I might have had to talk myself into it.

An example of unreasonable expectation is figuring that since we worked so hard to become a parent, because maybe we're older or because we anticipated parenting so excitedly, that we should be the best parents ever. Talk about unrealistic! I know how I feel when my plans are thwarted. I feel angry and resentful. The other day I was expecting to see "after" pictures of makeovers at the end of Rachael Ray and what I got instead was a 30 minute monotone weather report. I was livid - and for something so petty! But as irrationally angry as I was, it had nothing to do with me as a person or with my abilities. It's not that I expected to be a perfect parent, but I didn't expect to hear myself say, "I can't wait to drop off my baby at childcare," or "I just need an hour to myself!" or "Shut up - stop crying!" Then when I did say those things I felt guilty for being a bad mom. I should be a great mom because I wanted it so much. I was doing it wrong, and if I made a mistake, it meant that I was not good enough.

I kind of hope my new adoptive parent friends and my expecting by adoption friend don't read this because I might cause mass hysteria. But, this was my reality. It might not be theirs, it might not be yours, but it sure began to feel like reality to me as soon as we returned home from the 4 hour drive from Dallas with Alien Baby in the car with us.

Hours of therapy have taught me that good enough is good enough when it comes to parenting! Can I get an Amen? This is an interesting book, "The post-adoption blues," but a lot of it is catered to international adoption, kinship adoption, and foster-care adoption where your "baby" may be an older child with a difficult past. Not that infant babies don't have grief and loss, but those hurts aren't as clearly manifested when they are a newborn. By the time they're two like BB you have no idea if their issues are adoption issues or toddler/school-aged/fill-in-the-blank-here issues.

Adoptive parenting is just like regular old parenting with an additional dimension. We have our unique issues, but so does parenting any other child in our home. It's a wild ride, parenting, isn't it? Wheeee!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lost and Found

I found this note the other day when I was throwing away some old papers. It was from a student I taught when I student taught (sounds like a tongue twister).

Dear Mss. Schandredge I think your
Are good musician! Your very cool! Your
A very good music person! And
your very funny!

It was fun while it lasted, the student teaching business. Maybe I'll get another one of these notes someday in the future.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

Finally Easter Sunday! What can I say other than thank God for this blessed day.

Randy and I both worshipped in the Exaltation Choir and Orchestra this morning. I stared at the back of his head the whole time because there were so many people in choir today that I stood way to the left rather than more toward the middle where I usually do with the rest of the Soprano 2s. I can't explain how powerful it was to be in that assembly this morning. We sang our faces off and now my jaw hurts. I could not sing loudly enough to praise God the way I would have liked.

There is so much I could say about the meaning of Easter. However, I think it's going to have to wait until later because I'm just about d-o-n-e after today. I'll just type out some of the lyrics to one of our songs this morning. Happy Easter!

...For everyone knows, in three days He rose,
Now and forever to redeem you and me.

He lives! He Lives! Conquered the grave, covered our sin.
He lives! He Lives! Death could not hold the promise within.
He lives.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It is Finished.

Today is Good Friday. I'm not sure why historically this day is called Good Friday, so someone feel free to chime in. All I know is that "Good Friday" is the day we recognize the merciless death of Jesus on the cross. A death preordained by God so that no one but Him could have stopped it. Which He didn't. That is amazing grace and I'm so thankful.

The first time I observed Good Friday was about 8 years ago before Randy and I became engaged. I took the day off work as my optional holiday and had begun a fast at lunch the day before. I remember eating that sandwich and chips overlooking a beautiful Texas valley down near Gonzales, Texas. I was working as a music therapist and I was down that way treating clients. I had never fasted for 24 hours before, and it was hard. I'm a big eater. But I took that time I would have spent working and eating (a lot) to pray and read the Bible's accounts of the death of Jesus. OK, I also went to a Jennifer Knapp concert, but it wasn't that great since we could smell the delicious aroma of barbecue in the background. Out steaks never tasted so good the next evening as we gathered at my brother and sister-in-law's house with my whole family. Poor Randy. (Totally just kidding.)

How religious was I? How pious! Not really, actually. I don't feel that it is required to observe Good Friday, nor that it is required to fast that day. But personally, I chose to do so in order to really consider the sacrifice He made for me when he died a criminal's death on the cross. Since then I have not "religiously" observed Good Friday. I'm not even sure I've ever fasted that day since that time. I just finished a grilled cheese sandwich with potato rounds and have my Diet Coke by my side right this minute.

The Bible tells us not to walk around looking famished when we fast, lest someone asks what's wrong and we appear to feel self-righteous about the big sacrifice of food. Nothing, NOTHING compares to the sacrifice Jesus made on that day. He is GOD. He could have called an oodle of angelic beings to minister to Him on the cross as he hung there tortured and bleeding. But had He done so, there would have been no Easter, now would there? But more importantly, there would be no salvation, and that is a fate I can't imagine. Actually, I could try to imagine it, because I spent a lot of years running off.

This morning I sat down with my Bible and read the four Gospels' accounts of Jesus's death. What was impressed upon me this morning was the following verse: "Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two" (Luke 23:45). The sun, the bright burning sun, was darkened. Not by the passing of the moon over it, but by God Himself. The sun was darkened as the Son died. A similar verse is in the books of Mark (15:38) and Matthew (27:51).

The veil is figuratively the divider which separated man from God. Temple sacrifices were given on the inner side of this veil, accessible only by a select few (one?). The tearing of this sheath illustrated that once and for all, man was no longer separated from God because Jesus is the final blood sacrifice. Thus, John writes, "So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."

It is finished. That's it - no more sacrifice necessary. What a tender mercy! Can you imagine having to sacrifice an animal as a sin offering each time we sin? I'm not talking murder and adultery, either. God's standard is perfection and He knows we can't compete with that! So Jesus - perfection in human form - is it. The final blood sacrifice. I already said that, right? Gee, I wonder why.

So what. So I want to observe the day that this happened so many years ago. What can I possibly give up that would reach the level of sacrifice God made for me? ME! That's crazy. I know I'm pretty cool and can get a laugh or two, but compared to a sinless Jesus I look like a flea, a pest.

It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A special day.

I love Easter. Since I became a Christian 12 years ago Easter has held so much more meaning to me than just plastic eggs filled with candy. When I lived at the VA in Topeka, Kansas doing my music therapy internship I was the accompanist at a Methodist church and took part in their Ash Wedesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. I'm not much of a denominationalist, a word I think I just made up, as I am as some of my friends have on their Facebook accounts a "Jesus Luva'." Love that. But it was fun to experience the structure of the Methodist church that Easter. It was especially fun to go through the Wendy's drive-through with a cross ashed into my forehead.

Before I had a church home I visited other churches on Easter. Just for fun, let's see - somewhere in Cali when I was a kiddo, Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Iowa, Cathedral of Praise in South Carolina, a random church I visited in Colorado, Timberland Church in Colorado, and Otterbein United Methodist in Kansas. Since then I have spent the last 9 Easters at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, Texas where I have been a member for about as long. Amazing. I can't believe I've lived in Austin for that long for one, and I can't believe I've been a member of the same church for that many years!

So today was a Palm Sunday service where we heard about all of the pomp and circumstance under which Jesus entered Jerusalem less than a week before He was crucified. How amazing is this? He prances into town on a smelly, dirty, donkey, as humble as can be, and receives a hero's welcome! Less than one week later he is hanging on the cross dying a criminal's death. No one stepped in to try to save him, his own very best friends denied they even knew him, and he was mercilessly tortured for hours upon hours. Where were his loyal subjects then?

What the heck does this have to do with me in the 21st century? Well for one thing, it's easy for me in my human failings to praise God on a Sunday and ignore him on a Tuesday. When I put other things like television and internet before time with Him, I'm not declaring my unending love for him like I promised I would on Sunday morning as I sang in the God-blessed HPBC Exaltation Choir. I'm not trying to be impossible on myself expecting that I should be praising God every minute of every day, although in heaven I will! I am so thankful that God found me worthy enough in Christ, not because I'm all that but because Jesus is all that, that I still receive His eternal blessings. And let me tell you, I have been blessed. Yes, even before we had children, before I had Randy, before I was even born, I have been blessed.

I was going to blog about the after-church activities, but I think I won't today. I missed Ash Wednesday somehow, it slipped right past me. But I think I'll chronicle my thoughts about the rest of this week's big events - Good Friday and praise God, Easter Sunday. So if you're interested in these kinds of things, stay tuned. If you're not, stay tuned anyway. It's fun here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I'm a great mom!

When things are going well. I give lots of encouragement and specific praise, I genuinely adore my children when they are being, well, adorable, and nobody has been seriously hurt yet so I must do a decent job of protecting them from harm. But being a good parent has a lot more to it. I need to stay calm when they are freaking out, in control when I don't think I can take any more whining, and act gracefully when my plans change due to illness, fatigue, or other needs.

That being said, I don't think I am in the running for "Parent of the Year" today. We went to Chik-Fil-A after ladies' Bible study with our friends Rachel and Hudson (2). Upon pulling into the parking lot I realized that I did not have my purse or any money. Rachel agreed to spot us. We went in and LB and I ordered at the counter. I thought I'd seen BB go into the kids' play area, so I was unconcerned.

After I had ordered and went to find BB, I heard a woman's voice say, "Is this one yours?" There I found my son sitting at her table enjoying their waffle fries. He had started to go outside and she went to get him. I was embarrassed, but everyone was OK so I tried to be graceful about the whole deal. We found our table and I walked away to get high chairs. When I turned to return to the table I saw LB with his hand trapped in the play-area door while a nice businessman went to help him. LB was screaming one of those silent screams where I knew he was going to wail at any moment, so I lightly covered his mouth to protect my ears. So then I'm caught silencing my toddler because in my negligence he got his fingers pinched in a heavy door.

Oh, man, call the police and take me in.

Fortunately I was well fed emotionally before this all occurred, so I was able to see past my own embarrassment and not be too hard on myself. Maybe that's not my problem, though, as I let my kids traipse about Chik-Fil-A unaccompanied. All's well that ends well, the kids are in the bath and washing the CFA experience right off of them.