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.
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Loren Michaels Harris.
Loren Michaels Harris is a survivor of the foster care system. He draws upon his upbringing to motivate and inspire others in overcoming their obstacles to success and achieving the life they want.
Loren is a motivational speaker and message discovery coach. He assists individuals in realizing what they can do with their own personal stories and messages—how their stories can be used to help others reclaim their lives. It’s the “power of we” that Loren so eloquently shares with us.
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 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.
There was a time when I could not speak the word “adoption” aloud. It was so charged with pain, the very thought of it overwhelmed me. Thorns of bitterness accompanied the word forming a thick barrier.
Adoption represented trauma and deep, unresolved grief.
As a young teen at the very end of the 1970’s, I became pregnant. My parents turned to their church for advice which led to me being sent to live in a foster home far from everyone I knew and loved.
Home, it’s been a weighted word for me all of my life. Perhaps, other adoptees will understand what I mean by this. As a person of international adoption, I have struggled with where home is for me.
I’ve tossed and turned with thoughts of what and how much I am allowed to feel for the land I was born into and the land I was adopted into.
If you honor one side are you dishonoring the other? This is a very real question for the adoptee: the internal conflict between birth heritage and adopted heritage.
Often times, it was easier for me not to face this question. As an adolescent—a time filled with the longings of identity and belonging—I’d turn off my emotions and silence the chatter of those telling me who and what I was.
I’m not an adoption professional. What I am is an expert on how it feels to be adopted. I’m an international adoptee. I hold a wealth of knowledge and understanding about living in the skin of adoption.
I was born in England. Not in London, but in a smaller place known as Bury St Edmunds. Bury St Edmunds is a town in West Suffolk on the River Lark.
It is of an ancient ruin and is said to have been the site of a Roman villa and later a royal Saxon town. Bury St Edmunds is named for Saint Edmund—king of the East Angles—killed by the Danes around 870, and is buried there.
I tell you this not because I’m a historian, but because I hold a deep sense of pride in where I am from and from where I was adopted.
“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” ~Oprah Winfrey
We live on a planet plagued by crisis. War, hunger, disease, exploitation, racism, gun violence—these are just a few of the headlines presented, daily, on news outlets worldwide.
It’s seldom when we hear on our televisions, or read on our news tablets, of the crisis that I advocate on behalf of: the orphan crisis. This crisis has placed its grip on an estimated 17.8 million children around the globe: orphaned and vulnerable children in need of our care and attention. And, where there are orphaned and vulnerable children—there are also vulnerable and marginalized mothers.
There are times when I find it challenging not to be hard on myself. Just last week, for instance, we took a family Spring Break trip. We traveled through Joshua Tree and Zion National Park.
In Zion, we set out on an afternoon canyoneering and rappelling excursion. Now, I have rappelled in my life—this wasn’t my first rodeo. In fact, there was a time when I rappelled deep into caves and down steep cliffs, like a pro. So, I felt very secure in my ability to scale the giant rocks of Zion. I also was pretty psyched about showing my kids my rappelling ability.