Thought-Provoking

by JoAnne on December 12, 2014

close some doors today

Over the years, I’ve opened up a lot of closed doors that have revealed the truth to many lies and secrets. Some of the answers quite honestly were too overwhelming and have left me with even more puzzling questions. At times, I have wondered if I hadn’t opened any of the doors would I have been better off. Not so sure about that.

I have learned in my journey that what one tries to hide from others usually has much more to do with their own weaknesses and failures. Not keeping it real has little to do with protecting someone from possibly getting hurt.

Even when I became an adult, did my parents not think that I could handle honesty better verses deception?

If you’ve never met me in person, I can be hard on myself. Regardless of how ugly things may have turned out, I feel like I am somehow to blame for even the circumstances that were obviously beyond my control. It is hard for me to put into words the unfairness in the world that has hurt me deeply.

A long time ago, a pleasant-sounding older man called a couple of times when my parents weren’t home. We were instructed to always get the name and the phone number of the caller. The guy gave me his first and last name and followed it by saying, “Oh, just tell him his son called.” His last name was the same as mine and my stepfather’s, but I didn’t even bother to ask my parents for any explanation. I knew they wouldn’t have told me the truth.

I still vividly recall answering his phone call in the kitchen, and later that evening hearing part of a heated exchange between mom and dad coming from behind their closed bedroom door. My mother was yelling angrily, “Just pay him off!”

As it turns out, that man’s name, as I still remember it all these years later was indeed my stepfather’s son. I did not know that my stepfather had been married before and had another family — an ex-wife with an adopted son and an adopted daughter, along with two grandchildren around my age.

I learned that approximately four years after those telephone calls, my stepfather’s son had passed away sadly at the age of only 37 from health issues.

With my friend’s help, I was able to find my stepfather’s daughter-in-law, his late son’s widow. What a lovely older woman! She was very kind and understanding when I, some random stranger, called her on the phone. I knew that she was answering my questions more candidly than my own parents would ever have.

My stepfather’s daughter-in-law shared with me that around the time of the calls from her late husband, that I had answered as a teenager, would have been close to their wedding date. She said that her husband had always wanted to make his father proud. Apparently, my stepfather wasn’t in attendance at his son’s wedding or his funeral, and that she had never even met this man her late husband idolized.

Just wish I could have given my stepfather’s son a hug and said, “I am sorry; I truly understand what it means to have someone we love let us down.”

I know I must figure out how to close some of the doors because no matter how much I want to … I can’t change the endings to so much sadness and disappointments. Are there any easy ways? I would love to make it happen in 2015.

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I was asked if I might be interested in doing a guest post on my friend’s blog

Someone Profited from my Adoption But It Wasn’t Me

You know me; I love writing opportunities/challenges.

Lori Holden is a wonderful adoptive mother and the author of a book on open adoption. I admire Lori for her willingness to always take the time to listen to us adult adoptees and what’s on our hearts, an excellent way to understand her own children’s adoption journey’s better, as she strives to be the best parent possible.

I must admit that sharing this part of my life story makes me feel the most vulnerable.

majority

#flipthescript

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Joy in the Moment

by JoAnne on October 20, 2014

little girl 2

The sound of other kids playing in the room seemed distant, as I attentively watched the beaming 3-year-old twin finding joy in the moment. A few minutes before, I had suggested to him that he could wear the colorful, dinosaur-print underwear, if he would like, but the little guy shook his head stating firmly, “No, I like these.” Holding his hands on his hips, he paraded around in his brand-new white underwear announcing proudly, “My daddy bought this for me.”

Sitting there with tears in my eyes, I knew from my own painful life experiences, why a small gift from a father could be such a big thing to a child.

Let me tell you, helping potty train twin boys is not an easy task. This is not my first set of twins either, but actually my third that I have taken care of in my home over the past 17 years.

I have loved being a part of children’s lives and seeing firsthand their unique personalities blossom as they grow into successful young people. And unexpectedly along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself, too. For me, it has been healing to finally be able to put into words what I needed from those who were supposed to be my parents.

You know, it’s almost embarrassing to say that technically I’ve had four fathers, but I can only ever remember throughout my life a couple of gifts that were given to me by any father figure. My biological father was never a part of my life. The courts have tried to convince me that the man’s name listed on my original birth certificate (my birth’s mother’s husband at the time of my conception) was legally another absent father. And then there was my first adoptive father — an alcoholic, and lastly, my step dad that my adoptive mother married after her divorce.

Life should never be this complicated and confusing for any person, much less a little girl. I can’t say that I truly had even one father step up to the plate and steadfastly call me his very own with his unconditional love.

I missed out on experiencing that joy in the moment. To all fathers, regardless if your daughters or sons are small or all grown up, I hope that my story will in some way touch your hearts. It’s never too late to share with your child a small, significant gift just from you that they can treasure always out of your genuine love for them. Truly, I believe it is a big thing when it comes from their daddy, like my precious little friend parading around proudly in his brand-new white underwear.

It’s hard to believe that the twin I wrote about in my post from a number of years ago is now in the third grade.

Recently, I received a card in the mail from my close friend’s father thanking me for helping him find his birth family. It dawned on me as I was reading his thoughtful words, I never even received a card from either of my fathers who at different times had been a part of my life. Make it one of those random Hallmark moments today … go down and purchase a meaningful card specifically for your daughter or son and sign it Love, Dad.

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“Do Something”

by JoAnne on October 4, 2014

These lyrics spoke to my heart from Matthew West’s song, “Do Something!”

“I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

It was just our family’s secret that I was ashamed of too for a very long time. My non-biological brother was only two months older than me; we were both adopted at birth. The truth is that he had to try to fight his demons alone –my brother struggled with serious mental illness for much of his life until passed away this last year. I will never understand why my stepfather, a medical doctor, and my adoptive mother, an retired RN, didn’t try to get him the help he desperately needed.

As my brother’s sister, when I hear news stories like below, I need to know the answer, “How can we as parents, community and society help our young people suffering with mental health issues?”

The other afternoon at around 4:30 pm a 15-year-old came back to his local high school here in Oregon with matches and a gas can; he wanted to start his school on fire. Walking into his chemistry class, he indicated an intent of starting his notebook on fire. The student voluntarily went with the principal to the office. The boy was taken to a hospital on a mental health hold.

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Dear Wonderful You

by JoAnne on September 28, 2014

As most of you know, I love to write and have had a number of stories published. But for many years, I’ve been equally as passionate about making a difference in the lives of our young people. When I learned my “Dear Wonderful You” letter was going to be in this upcoming book, I have to say it’s one of the most meaningful accomplishments as a writer. You know I can’t change the past, however, I believe the letters in this book will help other adopted and fostered children like myself, during those times when we need someone to understand how we are feeling. If you happen to know an adopted or fostered child that could benefit from reading this book, I am buying a few extra copies, and would love to make sure they receive one. That would mean a great deal to me. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

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Holding Onto My Childlike Faith

by JoAnne on August 4, 2014

McLeod1

It was opening day of trout season. The spring weather didn’t seem to be cooperating with the anxious fishermen, as they awakened to a light dusting of snow. From a young girl’s point of view, the only problem I could see was getting out from underneath my warm blankets and facing the chilly cabin. As my bare feet tiptoed across the wooden floor, all I could mumble was brrr, but I was ready to brave the elements for this adventure.

Dressed in several layers of clothes, I sat shivering on the metal bench of the boat as my dad and I got ready to set off. Looking over the side, I wondered if the fish were frozen in the lake or if it was too cold for them to be hungry. I imagined myself dangling a long pole into the water full of fish-shaped ice cubes.

Hours after the crack of dawn, when the avid fishermen had already staked out their spots on the watery hole, my father rowed our small aluminum boat to a leftover spot. We weren’t in our secluded place long enough to even get bored before something magical happened. The jerking motion I felt coming from underneath the glistening water tugged at my emotions, as well as my fishing pole.

I wasn’t sure what was trying to get my attention at the other end of the pole, but whatever it was, there was no doubt in my mind that it was trying to pull me in with it. I knew I needed my dad’s strong hands to help me bring in my catch. His eyes were filled with excitement as we shared in the anticipation of what was to become my favorite childhood memory.

My dad kept bragging that it was going to be a big one. I beamed from ear to ear as he helped me reel in my trophy. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if it turned out to be a mucky, large tree branch attacking my fishing pole. Being able to spend this rare moment of time with my dad was enough for me.

I giggled hard as my dad finally yanked the fish right out of the water, like pulling a loose tooth. The silvery, rainbow-colored fish bounced around our small boat while Dad tried to pull the hook out of its mouth. We kept trying to remember to quiet down, so we wouldn’t scare all the other hungry, cold fish away.

As we headed back to the dock, Dad proudly shared my news with all the fishermen we passed who had been camped out since sunrise on the water. He wanted my big fish weighed as soon as possible. There was a lot of commotion being made over how I, a young girl, made my debut as a fisherman.

At the store by the lake, I was happily surprised to learn that my fish was the biggest one caught for that first day of trout season!

The dad who took me fishing that day was one of four fathers who have come and gone throughout my life as the result of adoption, divorce, and remarriage. Even as I have struggled with feelings of being abandoned numerous times, my favorite childhood memory was one thing no one could take away from me. My “fishing dad” has left me with a lasting impression of what a father’s love means to me.

Now, years later as an adult, I sit on a weather-worn log overlooking that same crystal-clear water. I have come back to a place I’ve dreamed about so many times in my life. The beauty of nature is still as breathtaking as ever. The mountains that almost touch the sky look as though they are sprinkled with powdered sugar, and the peaceful lake gently dances over the rocky shores at my feet. I feel God is “leading me beside still waters to restore my soul.” Remembering the strong hands of my dad helping his little girl catch her very first fish, I see the strength of my Heavenly Father. I picture Jesus, arms outstretched, reaching to all the ends of the world with His powerful hands, surrounding my life with the blanket-like warmth of His care and protection.

Trustingly, I hold onto my faith with hope and anticipation — the same way I hold onto my fishing pole bobbing over the water. I feel God’s reassuring hands wrapping gently around mine as I experience not only the magical moments of life but also its challenges.

Sometimes, we have to recapture our faith through the eyes of a child to witness God’s love with a pure and true heart.

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My Brother’s story

July 13, 2014

After my husband left early for work Saturday morning, I got up for a few minutes to read my e-mail. One message was from my long-time friend asking if I had seen the video she sent to me privately on FB last week. For some reason, I had not watched it yet, so I sat […]

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He loved me … he loved me not?

June 27, 2014

Above are the only two pictures that I can call my very own of my first adoptive father. I wish I could say it was when life was simpler, but that would not be the truth. Not too many months ago, I learned that my adoptive father was married before. I contacted his first wife’s […]

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Where we find forgiveness

April 9, 2014

I was thinking about my late birth father tonight … he was a very intelligent man. As a geologist doing both on-loan and contract work, he had something like 45-plus newspaper articles written about him. There were no pictures of my father. A lot of the clippings announced where he would be heading for his […]

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A Glimmer of Light

March 30, 2014

ReMoved from HESCHLE on Vimeo. I am always asked why I have such a heart for children, especially sharing such a deep connection with the little girl or boy who has no voice. After I watched this poignant video, I kept thinking to myself, “Mom, you never came running for us when my two brothers […]

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