Two-Thirds Through Insanity

I can’t believe my visit with my daughter on the 11th has already come and gone. I don’t know how it’s possible. Those two and a half hours went so fast. It’s like that time was just gone in the blink of an eye. 

She didn’t want anything to do with us on the “hike”, but then clung to us during lunch and at the playground. She would shy away from birthdad’s camera like the plague, but she constantly wanted me to take pictures of her with my phone. And I got some really good ones (see gallery).

She’s always pretty quiet in the beginning, but this seemed more than normal. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy. Maybe it’s hard to tell when it’s been six months.

I had been talking to some friends in the adoption community a couple weeks earlier, and I mentioned out I’d been upset over feeling like I had no say in deciding what my daughter would call me and I didn’t like it. Looking back when talking with an adoptive mama on Instagram, I got caught up in the discussion and was overthinking our relationship. When it comes down to it, my daughter knows I’m birthmom and that’s what’s important. When she grows up, she can decide for herself what she wants to call me.

Nothing much has really happened between then and now. I was dogsitting the whole time.

Placement anniversary was this past Saturday though. I posted something on my Instagram stories about the day.

Watching birthdad hand her to adoptive dad with those words was heartwrenching. I mean, those words are so just so so heavy. And it’s been seared into my memory.

Church? Faith?

I grew up in church. I went every Sunday. My grandparents took me.

My sister was baptized before I was. When I was 9 I followed in her footsteps and was baptized. Looking back, I don’t know that I really understood what the decision to do that made. I mean, I’m sure that I understood on some surface level at a child’s understanding, but I don’t think I fully grasped what it meant to ask Jesus into my life and accept him as my savior. I think I wound up changing churches not long after that happened. About seven years later I really started thinking about wanting to be baptized again. I never really talked about it with anyone because it was made into such a big deal and honestly couldn’t fathom trying to explain why I felt the need to do it again. I was at that second church for nearly 17 years – the last 10 were spent staying silent about wanting to be baptized again.

I don’t think there’s a short way to summarize why I’m sitting here talking about my faith and the church I’m at. It’s a “God thing” that I’m in the place that I am now. I feel so weird saying it, but my adoption – my daughter’s adoptive parents indirectly – played a role in it too. I remember finding their church online, watching some of the messages that adoptive dad had given, and feeling like I wanted to find somewhere like that for myself. Which led to me searching for a new church…

End of May 2019 I really started looking at different churches. I went to multiple churches, trying to find the right fit for me. It was not as long of a process as I thought it would’ve been. It only took me about six weeks. Sometimes I knew right when I walked into the church that it wasn’t the right place for me.

I remember walking into one church, a place that some friends of mine go, and thinking that it was too commercial. They had fountain drink machines in the atrium… I’m sorry, but if you think that’s necessary in your church then I questions what the purpose of your church is…

The church I decided to join was actually the very first church I went to when church shopping. Expectation Church. I was looking for a church that had more a contemporary worship service. I needed somewhere that had a larger group of people my own age. I craved a place that felt like home to me, rather than somewhere I had tried to “make” home for too long.

I started attending during their transition summer, between leaving the old building and moving into the new building, when they were meeting at the university. That’s when I met S+N, who lead the young adult eGroup, and really started meeting people my age. I kept coming back week after week. Then around the middle of September, I officially joined the church. When I did that, I also spoke with one of the pastors about wanting to be baptized again and explained my reasoning for it. He told me that he’d done it as well when he was growing up, so he saw absolutely no issue with my doing it. So I chose a date in November – three days before my birthday, and it wound up being the week before the church’s grand opening for the new building.

In October I started volunteering in eKids Jr (our preschool department) and met the pregnancy counselor I had worked with when I placed my daughter in 2014; however, I had realized she and I attended the same church in August. Months later, I can’t remember exactly when, I met other people from my adoption journey – the interim couple who had my daughter between hospital discharge and placement.

Then in January I started serving on the Production team. So I’m with a bunch of other people on all our tech stuff to make the worship experience look nice and run smoothly when we stream online.

After being in quarantine and watching church from home for just shy of 4 months, I’ve realized just how angry I’ve been with God. And the concept of church. Yes, a fairly big piece of that anger is from being a birthmom, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.

I’ve been struggling in trying to find ways to grow in my faith. I struggle with sitting down to read the bible. I purchased a bible study that goes through the whole thing, but I’m struggling to even get through more than the first three chapters of the first book. It’s a lot more difficult that I thought it would be.

I’ve watched so many videos on YouTube of people (okay, women) who are talking about their bible studies and morning devotions and prayer journals, and everything looks so idyllic. I know it takes discipline to create/develop this routine and stick with it. I just feel like things never worked for me because I don’t have the “right” things.

Growing up, church/faith wasn’t really a present topic or thing at home. I can’t recall ever really seeing my parents inside a church if it wasn’t for a performance or something big like that.

Stepping away from the church I’d been at for sixteen years took a long time to actually happen. Probably started thinking about it two or three years before I did anything about it. I was afraid of how people would react if I left the church. I’d been here so long and never voiced a desire to leave to anyone other than my mom. I’m an Enneagram 4, but I was afraid of leaving what was “comfortable” to do what was right for me.

Yes, it was worth it when I did leave somewhere I stayed out of habit. But that didn’t make it any less difficult.

I still feel awkward talking about living at home with my parents and not going to the same church, but a lot of people have made the comment that at least I’m still going to church. And while I understand where they’re coming from, it still hurts a little (and is a little offensive) that they (somehow) thought that if I left where I was then I would’ve just stopped going to church.

Regardless, I’m sitting here writing this and trying to figure out how I can best grow and further my faith journey – especially now that my church has opened back up and I’m able to sit there to hear the pastor’s message surrounded by people again.

Maybe I’ll do an update down the road so y’all aren’t sitting there clueless wondering what happened to me on this journey.

One-Third Through Insanity

Okay, we’re starting this update on the 6th… We’re two days from Peanut’s birthday…

Nothing really crazy has happened since the start of the month, but it’s been an interesting month so far.

Nothing much happened on the 1st (Wednesday) – I had a birthmom zoom call and was packing for dogsitting.

On the 2nd (Thursday), one of the birthmoms from the Zoom call drove down from New Jersey to hang out with me. We stayed up until almost 5am talking, and on a video call with two other birthmoms too.

Friday night I went over to an adoptive mama’s house, and wound up hanging out there for like four and a half hours. We were supposed to have coffee and go for a walk, which turned into coffee in the house because her husband was held over at work. And she fed me dinner – pizza and salad. We talked about so many things adoption.

I don’t know how her birthday is going to go for me. I think we’ve just put together the final pieces of planning out visit. When? Got that figured out easiest. Where? We’re going to a national park. What we’re doing? We’ll do a mini hike and a picnic lunch after. How long are we gonna be there? No clue, whatever happens happens.

Saturday night I went over to a friend’s house for an independence day bbq. It was just her, me, her parents, and the dog. I was there for like 5 hours. We just hung out and talked. It was a good escape rather than being alone the whole night. And she knows about my daughter, so I didn’t have to hide that either.

Sunday, (the 5th) I saw my late uncle’s partner when he and his family came to pick up the CR-V we’ve had at my house for like three months now. I heard things that I never expected to hear, things I had no way of knowing, things that have left me confused. I mean, he was the only family member I had ever talked about my daughter with (outside of my sister and mom). We lost him in February, and it hadn’t really hit me until I knew his car wouldn’t be parked in front of my house anymore.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, and we’ve hit her birthday. The night before (Tuesday) I had been drinking and having a Zoom karaoke night with some birthmama friends. When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I was definitely not feeling great. I emailed my boss that I’d be about an hour late, but I’d be in the office. I finished packing up from dogsitting, took bottles to recycle, got a drink from Starbucks, put gas in my car, and finally made my way to the office. I shared some things on my Instagram stories, and next thing I know I’ve got someone asking for my email and sending me a gift card for Starbucks. For lunch I had one of my favorite lunches at work – fried chicken buffalo style mac & cheese. Just seemed appropriate for the day I was having. Then I wound up hiding away in the IT wing because I wasn’t sure for a bit how I would respond if people came in asking about something in my office and I didn’t immediately have an answer. (I know that it really isn’t that big a deal if I can’t answer right away, but there are days when it bothers me if I can’t.) Anyway, my boss called me at one point asking if I was okay – he knows how difficult her birthday is for me – when I happened to be hiding in his office. He told me to just grab a cable on my way out and put it back later. After I got home from work, I got a text message saying I had a DoorDash gift card from someone. I only know one person with the name that was on it, so I reached out to her. Sure enough she did it – she didn’t want me to have to worry about dinner. I didn’t need it that night, but it’ll definitely be nice to have on Saturday after we go see Peanut. Closing out the day, I got a FaceTime call from three birthmom friends out in Utah – they had just finished running their birthmom support group and sang me happy birthday for my daughter. It was so touching.

I don’t think I could’ve gotten through yesterday without the huge amounts of love and support that I received yesterday from the community I’ve built.

I don’t think I could get through the month of July (and some other difficult times in the year) if it weren’t for my community and support system.