Where we find forgiveness

by JoAnne on April 9, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-girl-fishing-image11926774I 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 next out of town/state project. Back then they sure liked to have newspaper-worthy parties when he returned back to his family.

It was interesting to me how you could almost see the handwriting on the wall that his marriage with his wife wasn’t going to last. He was seldom home. That is how I was conceived.

But I have to give him some credit for being able to turn his life around. Apparently, his first marriage to his childhood sweetheart was annulled by both sets of parents. Well, towards the end of his life he was given an ultimatum—if he stopped drinking, womanizing, and started going to church, the love of his life from when he was a young man would agree to marry him again. And impressively, that is just what he did until the end of their lives.

As his daughter, we never met, :) but I think I’ve figured him out. My birth father always loved his childhood sweetheart and after he lost her the first time he didn’t care who he ultimately hurt by his poor choices in life.

I have been able to find forgiveness in my own way.

What I would have asked him if he was still alive:

• If you had your life to do over again, what would you have done differently?

• I heard you always wanted a daughter, “How could I have made you proud?”

• If you could have written a letter to my adoptive mother, my first adoptive father, and my stepfather, what would you have said after hearing my life story?

• Do you have words of wisdom from your own life experiences that might have helped me to finally let go of the sadness and disappointments?

• Is there something I could have said to you as your daughter that would have made you want to be a better husband, father, and human being?

• And last, but most importantly, “Would you take me fishing?” ♥

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A Glimmer of Light

by JoAnne on 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 and I were hiding in the backyard on that very dark night. Would you have given my close-in-age adopted brother and me back if there had been any hope of saving your marriage with our adoptive father, the love of your life?”

In my particular family dynamics, I believe what was missing from any conversation I ever had with my adoptive mother was how she felt about me after never seeing my adoptive father again. Children feel they are to blame. Mom didn’t act as if she wanted or needed us anymore.

Frustratingly, I can’t find anyone to tell me how she felt long before then … if we were always just a heavy burden.

I am for the underdog—the precious child who knows what it feels like to be truly abandoned and discarded as unworthy of being loved. I may have lost out on the love of two mothers and several fathers. I can’t change that fact. However, what makes it not hurt as much now is if I can continue to make a difference in the lives of our future generation of children who feel as I did.

Long before the police took my alcoholic adoptive father away on that very dark night, the system had failed me as a once helpless, vulnerable child. By sharing my past, my story, my history, I want to be a glimmer of light that makes a difference.

Please, I ask that adults not watch this video with the mind-set that you must go out immediately and try to save the world. My heart-felt desire is to see that every child placed in foster care indefinitely is able to experience that wonderful sense of belonging to a “forever family.” The goal is reunification for every child placed in foster care or finding a permanent home if they can’t be returned. I believe parents must be in it for the long haul with the understanding that raising a left-behind child by no means is going to be easy, but is well worth it.

I pray many lonely and confused children can one day say with confidence, “I am lovable. I am worthy of care,” as Zoe reflects in the video, “ReMoved.”

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The two of us

by JoAnne on March 12, 2014

the two us

I just realized something last night … not only do I look more like our mother than any of my four other siblings, but there are some more amazing similarities between the two of us. My birth mother gave birth to her first child (daughter) at the age of 22 on November 15th. I gave birth to my first child (daughter) Tracy at the age of 22 on November 12th. And I never noticed this either, our birthdays are less than two weeks apart. She was born on May 26th and I was born on June 4th. My four siblings were born in January, February and November.

My birth mother passed away less than 15 months to the exact day that my adoptive mother remarried and moved us to CA from NV with her new husband (my stepfather). I always wondered if I could have possibly felt something from afar when the woman who gave me life passed away. I remember that time period in my life specifically being one of great sadness. I didn’t often cry as a little girl, nothing like the flood of tears I do sometimes now :). But my close-in-age adopted brother and I had already attended three different elementary schools since kindergarten; one of those three schools we attended two separate times.

Yes, at only 8 years old, around the same time my birth mother passed away, I sobbed. My parents informed me and my adopted brother that we were moving again … this time from Santa Rosa to Sacramento, CA. I couldn’t put my feelings into words back then. I know now—my tears were for all the losses, including for my birth mother who I had shared so much in common. Not only did I look just like her, but we had the same laugh, we cocked our head the same way, and our mannerisms mirrored one another according to her relatives.

Nobody can tell me that, although I only spent the first nine months growing inside of her, our hearts and spirits weren’t always somehow deeply intertwined. ♥

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Be that one person…

by JoAnne on February 21, 2014

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You couldn’t pay me a half-million dollars to want to be the rich daughter again. It comes at such a high price. My stepfather had told my husband that he couldn’t get me to ever talk about what he had planned to leave me as his inheritance. That I would just cry and say, “Oh, dad, I don’t want to lose you!”

Such an upsetting disappointment to learn that my stepfather had equated his money with love. Supposedly, he was going to leave me a half-million dollars, but with conditions. As long as I didn’t ask for answers, like for example, “Dad, why did you say you adopted me when I was a little girl, and as it turns out you never did?” Or, what most of us would consider the simplest of questions, “Who named me?”

The truth is, in the end it didn’t matter what my stepfather had planned to leave me or not. All along, my controlling adoptive mother had been calling the shots before and after he passed away.

Interestingly, in the beginning, my adoptive family wasn’t much different than my birth family in terms of economics. My adoptive mother and her first husband, my alcoholic adoptive father, were not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I never even ate at a restaurant until I was the age of seven. Money was tight, but I don’t remember feeling like we went without when I was a little girl.

I learned the hard way—no money in this world can buy love or happiness. For me, having a wealthy stepfather only represents feeling alone and emptiness. I was a girl who could have easily settled for less.

After having met my birth siblings, I believe my birth family was close to dysfunctional as my adoptive family. When you can look at it from a distance, it appears I jumped from the frying pan into the fire as a newborn. I understand that we all have issues in our upbringings; no family is perfect, but I feel let down by the courts that should have been there to protect my best interests as a child. There was never any accountability for a judge, doctors, a lawyer, and my adoptive mother after pulling a fast one. The hush-hush disturbing deception has continued to be swept under the rug, as if all of the wrongs were my imagination.

I thought in finding my birth mother that she could rescue me from all the utter nonsense. I still believe she would have kept it more real and told me the truth. My birth family had their problems, but the difference is that they didn’t hide behind pretense. It was “what you see is what you get,” no matter if their candidness hurt.

If I hadn’t been placed for adoption, would my life have been easier? I highly doubt it. In my particular circumstances, I can’t blame adoption. The same limited options my birth mother had when she was pregnant with me would have still been present at her premature death less than 8 years later. My birth brother and sisters were much older and could take care of themselves for the most part, but none of my relatives were in any position to raise a young child.

There is no way I can change the past. I am not a person who wallows in self-pity. What I desire more from this egregious error is for my once-innocent child’s voice to matter now. I want to see it happen in my life-time that we as a society put more safeguards in place that prevent dishonest professionals from feeling they are above the law. None of us should be wearing blinders; what happened on the day I was placed for adoption in 1954 is still happening today.

“Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller

#Day1 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1553
#Day2 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1580
#Day3 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1586

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Soul-Searching

by JoAnne on February 19, 2014

I didn’t know much about the 1950s and abortion when I revealed my personal feelings on my pink poster. At that time, I did know my mother wasn’t all that young and had been raising other children. One of several articles I read stated, “In the 1950s, about a million illegal abortions a year were performed in the U.S., and over a thousand women died each year as a result.”

Looking back, I wanted to see life from her perspective, “What was on her heart when she placed me for adoption? Did she value life as much as I do because I love children so much?”

The truth is my mother would have died had she even considered an abortion as an option for her predicament. Apparently, the doctors had warned her that with each of her five pregnancies she was doing more damage to her weakened heart. No matter how silly it sounds, there is a part of me that wonders if my older siblings subconsciously blame me and my younger birth brother on taking our mother away from them so soon. At the age of only 44 she passed away from heart problems, less than six years after my younger brother’s birth.

Sometimes, we find our answers in the most unusual ways. When my oldest sister shared with me that she was named after our mother’s favorite doll that had burned up in a fire, it gave me a sense of who this woman was that gave birth to me. Regardless, if I had been conceived during a time when she obviously had been making some reckless, poor choices, I have found forgiveness.

I believe my birth mother was searching for her self-worth/significance. Perhaps we could have helped each other in our journeys. I believe the loss of her beloved childhood doll would have been our deep connection. I too loved dolls as a little girl and truly do understand what it feels like when we’ve lost sight of what’s most important in our lives.

#Day1 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1553,
#Day2 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1580

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Our Similarities

by JoAnne on February 18, 2014

When I cut the picture out of the magazine, I had no clue what she looked like.

Some time later, I remember staring in awe at the first photo of my mother. Her reflection was looking back at me in my mirror—I could see a carbon copy of myself. I placed her photo now next to mine that I used from the magazine.

One of my birth sisters said, “Mom would have liked you the best!” She didn’t have to say that.

I have wondered as an adoptee, if we’ve always felt their presence. I know I have.

#Day1 http://storiesbyjb.com/?p=1553

mybirthmother

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My Journey…

February 17, 2014

Over 22 years ago, I took a class at a counseling center titled, “The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God’s Eyes,” by Richard S. McGee. Quite honestly back then I was floundering, I couldn’t make any sense for all the lies and secrets if my adoptive parents were supposed to love me […]

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Validation

January 28, 2014

Often I have wondered, “Who are the other authors in the anthology books where my stories have been published?” I feel honored to have my story in Laura Dennis’ newest book, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age: An Anthology. This time I was given a unique opportunity. Laura Dennis paired those of us authors […]

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A prayer request

January 6, 2014

There is so much I wish I could say about life. It’s one of those times when it truly sucks. I hate the word “estranged,” especially when it includes my niece in the complexities of relationships. My niece loved horses as a child. One year, it was fun to send her a stick pony as […]

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Letting Go

December 31, 2013

All these years, I’ve been carrying around a heavy burden. I am ready to find a healthy place to let go of the agonizing losses for 2013. I still remember my adoptive mother pulling the car over to the side of the road as she began ruthlessly scolding me. That fall I would have been […]

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