I learn so much from the meaningful conversations I have with my guests on The Greater Than Podcast. I know—perhaps now more than ever—that we need each other. COVID-19 has slowed the world down. The coronavirus pandemic is real. It has, understandably, made a lot of people feel uncertain and afraid.
The response to the virus has also brought people together. Families, who haven’t connected in weeks and months, are sitting around a table and breaking bread. They’re playing board games and becoming familiar with each other, again.
Strangers are emerging on their balconies and creating symphonies of music with neighbors they’ve never met. Balcony-to-balcony they’re finding new ways to connect because humans crave connection. We need it!
Do you remember being thirteen years old? Maybe you do, or maybe you don’t want to. It’s the age of flushed pimpled faces, school bullies and desperately trying to keep a wardrobe in synch with a body that’s blooming into adulthood. It’s the age of overflowing extracurriculars, Snapchat messages, and attitude. At thirteen the world is swirling at breathtaking speed. Now, imagine that thirteen year old, the same one that always forgets their homework at home, that’s preoccupied with their Math homework, the family rules, their sibling, qualifying to be on the sports team, getting the role in the school play, making straight As. Imagine that same thirteen year old trying to wrestle with, define and navigate the complexity of adoption. Imagine the difficulty of finding the right words to express the intricate, confusing unknowns of adoption in the middle of existing as a thirteen-year-old.
I walked into the children’s receiving home with my husband that crisp fall morning six-and-a-half years ago, my heart galloping in my chest. This was the day we were going to meet our children for the first time. Our social worker told us about them only the day before, and we hadn’t seen pictures or received much information. All I knew was a two-year-old boy and his six-month-old half-sister waited for my husband and me somewhere in that sterile government building. Waited for us to scoop them up and take them to safety and be their forever Mommy and Daddy. That was what my galloping heart pounded out, loud and clear and urgent.
“If I don’t give this work my all, I’m stealing from those who need my message the most.” It was a seismic shift in my mindset! Moving from being apprehensive to share my story to being 100% determined to share my story, and doing everything possible to make that happen.
It feels like, in the world today, we are prone to devalue our stories—our big, beautiful, important stories. In other words, I think we too easily lean toward silencing our voices. We tell ourselves that we don’t have anything important to say. What could someone like me possibly have to offer?
“I would get too attached.”
It’s the most common hard pass excuse we hear as foster parents or social workers.
It’s been overused as an excuse and as a blog topic. As a foster parent, you can now Google for well-crafted snarky responses to this lame excuse for not wanting to foster. We ALL know now that it is an excuse. That people who “get too attached” are exactly what we are looking for in foster parents. We all know that they just don’t want to step out of their comfort zones and into positively participating in changing the trajectory of children and bio parent’s lives.
When my phone rings, no matter the time or how busy (or not) that I am, I rarely answer. I let it turn to voicemail, filtering the message to determine if it’s something I want to deal with, save for later or—let’s be honest—blatantly ignore. So why, on an early August morning when I heard God calling me toward adoption, did I decide to tune in, on what would otherwise be the first ring?
It was the first week of August 2018 and I went out for a walk with our dog, tuned into a random podcast and heard the hosts speaking on adoption. Adoption had always sounded like a nice idea but was not yet on our radar. Nevertheless, I came home from that walk and told my husband all about it, ending with something like, “We have to do this.” I think he was probably a little shocked, that my usually detail-minded and indecisive self would be so spontaneous and certain. Months later we’d learn that our son was born on nearly the exact morning I felt that nudge. Even later, we’d be amazed to find that our son legally became our child on the anniversary of the night my husband and I started dating. To put it clearly, we have no question as to the divine intervention that orchestrated the growth of our family.
“Seeing the beauty doesn’t diminish the pain.”
Kelli Belt is the host of the podcast, Beauty is Rising. She’s the mother of 3 and a wife of 21-years. Kelli’s 7-year journey to adopt her daughter from Ethiopia led her to the work she focuses on today: equipping adoptive mothers with what they need to be happy right now, and connecting those mothers to a larger community of support.
“There are a million reasons why people feel broken.” This comment, shared in an email, caused me to sit back in my chair and reflect for several minutes.
“Are there really a million reasons why people can find themselves shattered and on the floor?” I asked. “That seems overwhelming….”
My friend replied, “There are people who grew up in stable, but unloving homes. People abandoned in marriage. People who never found love. People rejected for all sorts of reasons that have left them feeling worthless.”
Scars are signatures of painful events in the life of our bodies. They are a reminder that informs us that we are not always in control of our lives. I have many scars. Scars on my hands from bee stings received while playing hide and seek; a scar on the lower right side of my abdomen created by a surgeon’s scalpel to remove an angry appendix; and a scar on my left arm as a result of being “cleated” while playing football.
Of all my scars, I have a favorite, the scar on my left knee. When I was almost three years old, I was running through the house and tripped and fell on my sister’s toy sewing machine. It was made from metal and had a sharp edge on the base. The gash was severe, and the blood began to flow. My father took a sheet, began ripping it, and wrapped my knee to stop the bleeding. What I remember most was sitting in his lap with my mummified leg, being comforted by his big hands. I will never forget his hands. Those hands are forever etched into my memory as a visual reminder of my father’s love.
“Michelle, you’re back.” I heard the gentle words of my post-op nurse, Michele, waking me up after my 4-hour procedure, in Cleveland, Ohio. I recall that, in our early morning pre-surgery preparations, she and I had teased each other about the best spelling of our given names. Is a one-L or two-L spelling the best? We laughed and agreed to disagree.
I remember walking into the operating room and being assisted by another amazing nurse, Karla, as she directed me onto the table, positioning my arms in an extended position—outward from my body. The anesthesiologist began placing an IV in my left arm and instructed me to think of a beautiful and peaceful place where I would want to spend the next several hours, while under anesthesia. I told her, immediately, that my peaceful destination would be Butterfly Beach, in Montecito, California. Four hours later, in what seemed like four minutes, I was being nursed back to consciousness and away from my favorite beach, by nurse Michele.