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!
“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?
“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.
Ever had one of those days when you say these words to yourself: “It’s just all too much!” Do you know what I mean?
That was my day on Monday. My daughter was diagnosed with pink eye and I couldn’t find a sitter to stay with her while I went to the pharmacy. After all, who wants to risk getting pink eye?
So, my girl had to ride along with me to the pharmacist. The wait to fill her eye drop prescription was slow. Like, at a snail’s pace kind of slow. I found myself anxiously counting the seconds on the clock.
I had writing deadlines edging closer and meetings to attend. I was also scheduled, on Monday, for chelation IV treatment for heavy metal poisoning (not something I could reschedule). Back at the house, the family washing machine went on the blink. My daughter’s bunny needed hay, and my younger son needed someone to plan his birthday celebration. On top of that, I was solo-parenting for the week which makes the juggle even more complicated!
When I was a little international adoptee, my parents would take the family traveling and camping through Europe. My dad refurbished an old VW van that he purchased in the United Kingdom. He and my mother would pack it up and off we’d go exploring!
Everywhere we went, it seemed I’d be claimed by the locals there. In Italy, folks would say, “Surely, she’s Italian.” The Greeks would add, “She’s one of us!” I was a European girl growing up in an American family. There’s both bitter and sweet in that statement.
I openly welcome questions by individuals in our community of adoption and foster care who ask about my experiences as an international adoptee.
Questions of how those experiences have formed my identity, directed my relationships, and shaped my view of the world around me.
Recently, I was posed three meaningful questions to explore, which I will do in my next three blogposts. The first question is from Oleg Lougheed, international adoptee and founder of Overcoming Odds.
It’s Spring Break 2019. I’m spending the first two days of the break in Los Angeles, touring universities with my High School Junior. I have to tell you that as excited as I am for my son, this is heart-wrenching for me, his mama.
Where did the time go? I mean, really, where did it go? It seems like yesterday when I was holding my guy in my arms and dreaming about all the precious years ahead of us. I know, I know—we still have more time in high school and—God willing—many more years as mother and son.
Yet, as I watched him walk around the UCLA campus, during our tour, I couldn’t help but choke back tears. It’s an emotional time for any mother. Certainly, it is for this one.
When I was younger, I dreamed of marrying my true love in a beautiful church with stained glass windows. I dreamed that I’d live in a white painted cottage-style home with a cherry-red door, and a giant tree swing would hang in the front yard where I’d push my two boys in denim overalls and two girls in matching dresses. My baby names were picked out. My maternity clothes were selected. Adoption, however, was never part of the plan.
Sometimes our most thought-out plans can be tailored to something greater than we ever anticipated. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace adoption as a beautiful part of my life:
I am a birth mom of one college-age daughter.
I am a biological mom of three teen boys.
I am an adoptive mom of one adventurous ten-year-old son.