Courtney Rae arrived at my home, clutching a bag of toys and clothes. Her eyes darted around the room as she took in her new surroundings. Courtney Rae looked at her relinquishing foster mother, and then focused her eyes on me. Her new foster/pre-adoption mother. Standing firm, she angrily declared, “I hate you. You stink and this house stinks too!”
Our first night together was consumed with a little girl’s rage as Rae kicked the walls and screamed, “I don’t have any mama!” Exhausted and drenched in perspiration, she finally fell asleep. It was at this point that I approached her and began stroking her head and touching her fingers and toes, in awe. I fought back tears of sorrow as she, even in a deep sleep, clutched her jaw and tightened her face.
I’m in a small group of women that meets every Tuesday. We pray together, listen to each other, and support one another through life’s ups and downs.
I love these women so much because they’ve shown me what it means—really means—to feel wanted and included, heard and seen within an intimate group. Their hearts are filled with grace and love.
I wonder if they know just how beautiful they are. I look at each of them and see radiance and kindness. I hope they notice the same qualities, too, when they look at themselves in the mirror.
“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.
The yen for authenticity is a universal quest. To paraphrase Meister Eckhardt Tolle, “We long to know who we REALLY are.” This knowledge comes from within but also from our environment and the people immediately around us, our families.
Families: a loaded word.
It’s been said that the road to adoption recovery is a search for authenticity. Adoptees must choose from two family trees, one biological and another through adoption. In writing my memoir, The Goodbye Baby-A Diary about Adoption, I realized that neither family tree was the answer. My feeling of being “at home in the world” had to come from a source within, a gradual unveiling, a stripping away of masks I’d assumed for a lifetime.
I once believed that adoption was my weakness. I no longer think this true. Adoption has become my strength.
There was a time in my life when I thought of myself as fragile. I had been internationally adopted out of foster care, as a child. I viewed myself as broken. After all, I questioned, what parent would leave behind a child that was whole? There must be a kind of brokenness about me. I was convinced that the shattered pieces of me were the driving force behind my parents’ decision to walk away. I had done something wrong. I must have committed some sin that mom and dad could not forgive.
The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~Plato
Could there be anything more daunting than staring at a blank canvas, or a blank computer screen? It’s always the first stroke, or the first word that seems so difficult to release.
At the same time, could there be anything more exciting than contemplating the potential that a blank canvas holds? The moment when you anticipate all the possibilities about to unfold. Indeed, as Paul Cezanne once put it, “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”
I study the effect of media on children and families and recently finished a study on the effect of the superhero and princess culture on children. If you have ever been around a preschool child, you know that both superheroes and princesses are very popular with this age group. In fact, many children this age say that they would like to be a superhero or a princess when they grow up. I’ve pondered on how being a superhero or a princess might relate to our royal identity and what this might mean for the way we see ourselves in an eternal light.
Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong. Ephesians 2: 19-22
A friend once told me, “There is no coincidence that the words story and store are only one letter different.”
The story we tell ourselves, and the memories we hold in our minds, directly impact how we store away, or perceive, life and our place in it.
All too often, the memory — the story — takes precedence over God’s truth. When the world makes us feel so very unloved, unimportant and insecure, we forget just how much we are loved by God.
In other words, sometimes we’re so focused on our own suffering that we block out the memory of God’s ever-present love.
We get stuck within the wound…
She was a miracle.
The second that I saw her, I knew.
Wrapped up in layers upon layers of clothing that kept secret her malnourished body.
She was tiny, yet she was mighty.
A survivor, a fighter at only ten-months of age.
Holding her in Ethiopia, I could feel the power of her story — the power in the meaning of her name: Let Her Be Greater.
Okay, I admit it. The daily news cycle is getting me down. So much negativity, ill-will, and accusation in our political process. Hateful rhetoric and false facts consume the headlines. There are days when I feel drained. How about you?
I should clarify that I’m not a huge television consumer (this from a one-time television news journalist) and as of recently, I’m hesitant to turn on the TV at all. It’s not, however, just the television that’s a culprit. The internet, social media — you name it — all have a part to play in what I term as, social suffering.
Folks, we’re suffering together — no matter what side of the political or social fence you stand on. As a country, we’re showing signs of depletion, and our kids — the future generation of this nation — have a front row seat to the show. As a mother, I refuse to be pulled in to these rough waters and dragged under, emotionally and spiritually. I refuse to let my kids be pulled under, as well. I refuse to suffer.