As I write, I am on holiday with my two children. They are playing outside in the sunshine, laughing and talking about the fun they will have in the outdoor pool later, jumping in off the side and diving for hoops.
This is the dream of parenthood. Summer holidays soaked in sunshine, family time, and long lazy days enjoying being together. Like many adoptive parents, though, I am also aware that this dream has been—and still is—somebody else’s nightmare.
I remember the day when I stood in the home of my birth mother and held her. We were in England and she had pulled me into her bedroom to “speak privately.”
Mum looked me in the eyes and said, “I never wanted to let you go. And, I need you to know that.” She then folded herself into my arms and we both began to cry.
It was just a few years ago, yet I recall the moment like it was yesterday. Mum handed me the original papers of my relinquishment. I had always possessed a copy. But, now I was staring at the actual document. Stained with her tears. The piece of paper that had been signed by my birth mother on the day she gave up her rights to parent me. How I hated that piece of paper.
Welcome to Parenthood! Here’s Some Pink Eye.
My husband, Sean, and I always dreamed of having kids. When we married in 2004, like any fresh-faced couple we planned out our future—we were going to make babies and start a family. Finding out that the traditional path to parenting was not possible caused us intense anguish. Since the desire for children still beat in our hearts, we started looking into other possibilities. Thus, began a twelve-year journey from Alaska through the Midwest to finally land at the bottom of Texas. On the way, we survived the pain of fertility treatments, explored the unpredictability of private and international adoptions, and when one door after another—mind-blowingly—closed, we turned to foster care.
I was born December 20th, 1974 at the Mobile Infirmary in Alabama. I was born without a name, without an identity. I do not know what kind of day it was, I do not know what time I was born, nor do I know how long I stayed at the Infirmary before going to a hospital in Mississippi where I awaited a family that would take me to a place that would become my home. Very old records reveal that the nurses in the hospital called me “Susan” and thankfully they kept a small journal regarding my 6-week stay. Sadly, they wrote that I was not a very happy baby. I cried a lot and was not soothed easily. I may have had colic, or maybe I was missing the warm touch of a mother and father. I have to believe that being born into a state of chaos can cause discontent, even in a baby who does not seem to know what is going on around her. The nurses, though, took very good care of me and gave me some stability. It was not long until the warm touch from a mother and father—and a brother—arrived! I may not have been born with a name or an identity but I was born with a purpose; I was adopted.
I’m an adoption writer. As an adoptee and mama-by-adoption, it’s a subject I know well. I also write on topics of faith and forgiveness, gratitude and God.
I’m a Christian. I love mercy. I get up every, single day with the prayer that my life would be an example of justice and of fairness toward others.
My faith doesn’t make me perfect—far from it—and it doesn’t make me immune to mistakes, heartbreaks, or setback. My faith gives me hope and a confidence that through the ups and downs of this life, God is near.
And so, when I took a few precious moments today to sit quietly in prayer, I was deeply moved when my little girl (who I didn’t realize had come into the room) snuggled up on the couch and said these words:
I was recently at a medical appointment, my toddler daughter in tow. The doctor was running late. Like an hour-and-half-late. My daughter, out of snacks and out of patience, was doing what we call “noodleing.” Basically, she had willed her body to become a wet noodle, and nothing could appease her.
The doctor finally came in, and as we were talking, my daughter doing what toddlers do, I said jokingly, “I know you can fix my orthopedic issue, but do you have anything for tired moms?”
And the doctor’s reply? She was totally serious and said, “Why did you have so many kids?”
I was shocked. But I shouldn’t have been.
Everywhere we go, especially during the summer when my four children are home, women (always women), usually over the age of sixty, come up to me and exclaim, “You have your hands full!”
I used to push and run and barely breathe. Life was an uphill climb to an unknown destination. Like a hamster on a wheel, I frantically peddled my feet forward, never really arriving anywhere.
I felt out of touch with myself, short of air, and numb to feel. It wasn’t elegant. I call this stage in my life my “time of roughness.”
I kept my life rough on the surface—jagged and sharp—in order to keep people away, to keep feelings from entering, to keep memories from coming too close.
It’s early morning, here in England, and much is quiet except for the sounds of sheep in the field. I’m in the English countryside, where I was born, and enjoying the soothing melody of home.
It’s been nearly three years since I’ve been back here. Just as it always has, my birth country greets me and meets me with memories: a past and present intertwined with gratitude and grief; my journey as an international adoptee.
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with author, Chavis Fisher. We discuss how we can uplift the children and youth in foster care and raise their voices. In addition, we share the importance of foster children understanding that they are not alone in their journey—that there are people who love and care for them.
With over eighteen years of legal practice, Chavis Fisher has worked with hundreds of foster children, adoptive parents, Court Appointed Special Advocates (better known as CASA) and Department of Child Services agency employees. She received the prestigious Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for her commitment to improve the lives of children in need of permanent homes.
Chavis Fisher is the author of the book, Adopting Tiger, which explores foster care through the eyes of a child. It’s a number one best selling book on Amazon. I couldn’t put it down!
To learn more about Chavis Fisher, please visit: chavisfisher.com.