Almost four years ago, my husband Bryan and I sat in a classroom with several other terrified couples to complete our training to adopt through foster care. Unlike the other terrified couples, I was 7-months pregnant with our first biological child. It takes a special brand of crazy to pull off what we did, and apparently, Bryan and I fit the branding.
We had Grady in December of 2014, one month before our home officially opened for adoption. The two boys from the Heart Gallery we had our eyes on fell through, so we waited until the following August before getting our first adoptive placement. Clark had turned 14 the day before moving in with us, and he went by a different name back then. He moved in on a Sunday and started high school on Monday with a new school, new town, and new family. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, this was the calm before the storm.
On the last weekend of September, life as I was planning it was interrupted. The rush of the prior week was muted. I drove five hours north of my home in Santa Barbara. I stopped. I breathed. I raised my gaze as I looked up to the blue skies and majestic Redwoods.
I was rerouted from my initial plans for the weekend. I opened my heart to hear the testimonies of women ignited by the Word of God. This was not an easy trip to make, I’ll admit. I was reluctant to go.
My life has been a seemingly endless road of change. Some of the changes were small, others were large. Some were for the better and others were for the worse. Through all the ups and downs though, there have always been two constants in my life: my mother, Amy, and my father, Mike.
I first met Mike and Amy in November of 1992. I was in the sixth grade at Sunnyslope Elementary School, where Amy was a social worker. At that time, I was living with my Aunt Cynthia where I had been for almost six months. Shortly after celebrating my twelfth birthday, my aunt decided she could no longer support me. She turned me over to Camelback Hospital for evaluation where I was examined and it was determined that my health, both physically and mentally, was too good to stay there.
Every ninety-eight seconds in America, someone is sexually assaulted. Every 98 seconds…
Sexual violence affects millions of Americans, and can have long-term effects on its victims.
We know the #MeToo movement. But, do we really understand why it’s essential that victims be given a voice?
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, my guest is Guila Benchimol.
Guila is a PhD candidate in Sociological Criminology from the University of Guelph.
Her dissertation project examines how some victims of sexual violence go on to become anti-sexual violence advocates and activists. A topic that is important to explore within the scope of this podcast.
There is no experience or condition more isolating to the human spirit than a soul denied of its truth.
I don’t think there is anything more lonely and confusing than not knowing who you are; not knowing where you’re from.
As a young adoptee, I would stare into the mirror and every time I did, I came face-to-face with a stranger. I knew that I was supposed to be familiar with this girl I saw. Yet, she was foreign to me. I didn’t know her.
I didn’t really know her story or the stories of who had come before her. I felt as if I was a girl all alone in the world. A tribe of one. No true understanding of a biological identity or a DNA history. Many around me said that it—the biology of who I was—really wasn’t important, anyway.
I am Kylie Gray. I am a wife, a mother, an amateur farmsteader, and most of all, Jesus lover. A year and some change ago, we adopted our 3 boys out of the foster care system here in the U.S. This past year was the hardest, most beautiful year of my entire life. My husband, Trey, and I always knew we wanted to adopt. When I thought about it, I just assumed we would adopt from some far-off land like China or Africa, but God had other plans for our family.
Difficult to place…
These three words identified me, within my foster records, as a baby girl who would be hard to place due to my ambiguous ethnicity and questionable beginnings. My social worker, in England, listed the names of the potential adoptive parents who had looked me over with a “negative reaction.” There didn’t seem to be any surprise that I had been met with this kind of response. My earliest history had marked me as an unwanted child.
I was the product of an affair. Neither my birth mother nor my birth father wanted to raise me. I was secreted away into foster care and marked, labeled, and tagged as lesser than other babies born into loving homes with parents who adored and embraced them.
“The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.” ~Dean Ornish
It has taken me years to understand the relevance of this quote. As a young adoptee, I could not fully comprehend the fundamental meaning of connection and community.
More than not, I would hide from these primal needs. I didn’t feel worthy of engaging with others. I was shy to connect and open myself up in an authentic way. Community scared me. The thought of being in community paralyzed me emotionally.
We’re on our way to see a Hindu priest who lives in Chatsworth, a township outside of Durban where Indians, many whose ancestors were brought to South Africa during the Dutch colonial era as slaves, were again forcibly relocated in the 1950s by the apartheid government. The South Africans I am with have been visiting this priest for years, so they have little trouble finding his house and the one-room temple he has constructed in a small courtyard behind it. We roll up onto the curb that lines the narrow street, and six of us pile out, seeking—I can only speak for myself—a bit of light on the journey.
While sitting in the car, about to drive my daughter to her first day of third grade, I looked back at her in full amazement. How on earth did we get here so quickly?
Wasn’t it just yesterday when I was praying for her? Wasn’t it just yesterday when I paced the floor and awaited word on when I could fly to Ethiopia and finalize her adoption? Wasn’t it just yesterday when I held her in my arms for the very first time?
Now, she’s eight years old—almost nine—and growing into the most elegant and lovely young lady I have ever had the honor to know. Being the woman she calls Mom is a treasured blessing. And, it’s within these moments of grateful reflection when I think of other parents who are currently waiting on an adoption and wondering when they will be with their child.