A Mother's Heart
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Thou Shalt Not Commit

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Thou Shalt Not Commit


I was a child born out of unfaithfulness. Both of my biological parents were married. Sadly, while cheating on their spouses, each had children at home too. There is no doubt in my mind—my biological father knew my mother was married; he worked in the same open pit mine with her husband at the time of my conception. Did my birth mother know that he was married and had a family living in another state? Not sure. Hearing the story only second-hand, my biological father, a contract Geologist, was described by my mother’s sister as the “Bozo” that was staying temporarily in a trailer park. Wow, what soothing words every daughter wants to hear about their “flesh and blood” father.

Lately, I’ve been wondering why cheaters and even their mistresses have such a blatant disregard for the Holy Bible’s 7th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ It seems like infidelity has become more acceptable and that there really is no humiliation attached to the sinful word “adultery.” However, what I’ve especially noticed from my personal journey is how society puts very little significance on the harm unfaithfulness is doing to our children caught in the crossfire.

As an adult, I searched in vain for the woman who gave me life. Disappointingly, I learned that my birth mother had passed away at only forty-four years of age. My only consolation seemed to be finding the three children she raised as one last connection to her.

If only I could have stayed that “invisible sister” and found the facts without causing any disruption; I would have seen that my two sisters and one brother didn’t want our mother’s shortcomings staring them in the face. Looking back my insensitivity must have felt like I was trying to see if their hearts would break. The harsh reality was that my birth mother had placed me for adoption because of infidelity.

Over and over again, I’ve played out the painful set of circumstances in my mind, hoping somehow to reconcile the sad parts within myself. It’s hard for me to accept that to my half-siblings I represent “shame.” It was important to me and my feelings of self-worth for others to see that even from a past wrong that I am the good that came from it.

I was overwhelmed with all the “What ifs?” as I wrestled with the tough question, “Would I have contacted my mother’s children, if I had known their father was not mine?” In retrospect, I believe that it would have been easier to see their lives from a distance. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t change or fix the past as the child born from an affair.

Last week, plastered over the media were photos of the ex-Senator John Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter posing in provocative ways for a tell-all magazine article. Differences of opinions were being voiced in lively discussions on the social networks as well as on the news talk shows from how repulsive it was to give a “mistress” celebrity status to she wasn’t the home-wrecker. The picture that really struck a disturbing chord with me was one of Rielle’s small-frame dressed only in a man’s white oxford shirt lying on a bed holding their “love child.” I believe that we can’t change those who are going to be unfaithful to their significant others, but what I’ve learned from my own first-hand experiences is that all the children involved in the scandalous relationships can be deeply wounded by the selfish choices of parents not just today, but in generations to come. What if we were to put our energies in finding ways to help to preserve their lives instead of putting the spotlight on who is sleeping with whom?

Although being the sister left behind feels like I must have done something wrong, I don’t blame my siblings for not being overly-delighted about my intrusion into their lives. I long to convey with all my heart that I am sorry…I understand better now that our mother’s unfaithfulness to their father had to hurt.

I feel honored to be a part of the Blog Carnival. Please go to Bridget Chumbley’s site http://www.bridgetchumbley.com/ to read other blog entries this week or to join.

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  • Val says:

    My mom always says that when people ask “What’s wrong with kids today” she has a simple answer…”the adults!”People so often don’t count the cost of their actions on their own life let alone their children. However, You are definitely the very very good and precious gift that came out of the bad choices your parents made. I for one am very glad you’re here!!!! Excellent blog my friend

  • Glynn says:

    JoAnne, this is a hard story to read, and a harder story to tell. I’m still reeling. Thank you for the courage to tell it.

  • JoAnne says:

    Val, That’s probably why I love children so much. I want to be an extension of their voices.

    Gynn, Each time I write a story from my heart, I hear a voice inside me say, “The truth in your words might just help somebody else in this world that’s hurting.”

  • Joan says:

    JoAnne, What an awesome blog. You have given us a look directly into your heart and have shown us what a beautiful person you are. Thanks for your honesty and your willingness to share yourself with us.

  • joyce says:

    This was so well said. I could feel your hurt and confusion. That part of the story doesn’t seem to be told in today’s world.

    I appreciate your honesty and your perspective…it’s the first real story I’ve heard I think, unlike what we see portrayed on the tv or hear about in celebrity-ville. Thank you for that.

  • Lynn Mosher says:

    JoAnne, What can I say? You always show your precious heart and I know others benefit from your transparency. I echo Val…God brought the precious out of the sordid and you shine His light! Bless you, my sweet friend!

  • kali says:

    Thanks :~)

  • Bridget says:

    Your story is so amazing, JoAnne. I’m always touched by how you tell such a difficult story so well. I know it hasn’t been easy, and I pray that healing will come for all of you… it isn’t your fault… don’t forget that!

  • Sarah Salter says:

    I have to echo what Val said… When I was growing up, my Granddaddy always used to say, “There are no problem children. The problem is the parents.” And while that generalization probably isn’t always true, there are sometimes that it is too sadly true. Thank God that He loves the children for who they are instead of punishing them for the sins and weaknesses of their parents!

    Thanks for sharing this, JoAnne!

  • Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart and revealing the good that can come from a bad situation, JoAnne! Blessings to you!

  • Thank you so much for your faithfulness in sharing your heart. God does everything for a reason… YOU are for a reason, and so is your story.

  • Louise says:

    JoAnne — thank you. what a very powerful and honest voice you have. I too find it gut-wrenching to read this story — and yet, know, deep within me, that this is an important story to read. your truth resonates and must be heard. Thank you for letting me hear you. thank you for bringing your story to light with such grace and beauty.

  • Rich Dixon says:

    Wow–this required guts. I can feel the conflicted feelings and wounded heart. It’s an important story told with both power and grace.

    A bit of a silly side note–your title on Bridgette’s carnival page looks like “Thou Shalt Not Committ JoAnne Bennett” which sounded pretty interesting!

  • JoAnne says:

    Joan, thanks for always being there for me and my family. You have been such a wonderful blessing in our lives that goes much deeper than just a neighborly friendship…just ask my daughters. I love you!

    Joyce, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. I think about Rielle’s daughter when she is all grown up and perhaps doesn’t understand why John Edwards’ other children have hard feelings or don’t want anything to do with her. How can she possibly not think she is somehow to blame?

    Lynn, His light shines through my transparency…great visual my friend. I see being able to put my heart into words as a gift that comes out of being able conquer the tough stuff.

  • JoAnne says:

    my friend, Kali, a woman of usually more words, you still summed it up well with your “Thanks;” I left you speechless :). Life sometimes feels like a boxing match and I know you would always be in my corner rooting meet on.

    Bridget, For me, being able to put a difficult story into words has been part of the healing process. I’ve never been able to see myself as a victim, but rather that each experience, no matter how painful, has helped me to grow stronger as an individual. I am living proof that God never gives us more than we can handle. At times, I just wish he would give me a glimpse of His bigger picture for why things turn out the way they do.

  • Terrific post. Thank you for sharing.

  • JoAnne says:

    Hi Sarah, I am glad you stopped by. Having worked with children for many years, I can usually see the handwriting on the walls early on with the ones whose lives are going to be a real struggle. Invariably, it’s a parent’s issue, but the child is used as the scapegoat.

    My friend, Connie, “Revealing the good from a bad situation,” a nicely-stated compliment. I am determined to never to become bitter, but keep plugging at seeing those rainbows.

  • JoAnne says:

    Angela, I went on your blog and was very touched by your compelling life story. When you say, “God does everything for a reason,” I know you are speaking from your own heartaches and where you found truth. Nice meeting you.

    Louise, I believe the truth sets you free. I am hoping by sharing my painful story with pure honesty, grace, and beauty that the words from my heart will touch someone else that is hurting.

    Nice meeting you Rich :). You made me laugh about the way I put my title on the Carnival blog. My close friends will find a lot of humor in my play on words too, especially when I often will say, “You know I am still sane.” Thank you for your sensitive words about my post.

  • JoAnne says:

    Triona, thank you for stopping by when I know you have a lot of irons in the fire.

  • This is such a hard story, but you tell it beautifully. I agree with your sentiment that not only are the children of adultery, but also I believe the children of divorce, overlooked in those situations. Others decisions are impacting them in life changing ways and many of them are too young to know how to properly deal with such adult topics. Thank you for sharing this! Thankfully, although your biological family might see you as a mistake and a shameful reminder, God sees you as His beloved daughter and a precious child who He has a plan for.

  • Frank says:

    Thanks for sharing what is so personal. I have a similar story, though I never sought out my birth parents. Thank you for your honesty and for remembering what should be our focus: the children. I’m writing more on it at theoppositepc.blogspot.com. Hope you stop by to read and comment.

  • Don says:

    Good topic. I think the adultery that is rampant today speaks more about our society than it does the individual. Society has so cheapened the sacred honor of marriage. People change spouses as often as they change out their toothbrushes, when the bristles are worn. We have become a recyclable society, replacing items and people in our lives when they become a little shabby, worn, or cannot keep up with the “Next great thing” that comes along. This mentality is an epidemic that plagues the youth of today. Also, Hedonism & instant gratification plays into this. If it feels good, do it. If you want it, take it. There is no sacrifice to get most things in today’s modern age of now,now,now!

  • JoAnne says:

    Melissa, You are so right about children of divorce being overlooked as well. When we ask what’s wrong with this world, I believe you can see the answer in the eyes of hurting children. Most of time, it all goes to back to an adult’s selfish choices. I appreciated your kind words.

  • JoAnne says:

    Great blog Frank. I find it interesting that both you and your wife are adopted. I see where that could really help to be able to bounce off feelings that someone else might not necessarily understand. Nice meeting you :)!

  • JoAnne says:

    Great analogies Don. I think what would be interesting is to take your sentences like for example, “People change spouses as often as they…and ask teenagers and well as adults to put their own ending to the sentence. Their answers would be really telling how people view our society today.

  • JoAnne, I believe that there will be closure for you some day and I am determined to help you find it. You are a wonderful writer and this world is better for it.

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.