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.
CPS stood on my doorstep at 11:00 pm, with a sleepy one year old boy. We have been anticipating his arrival since we got the call, early this afternoon.
He’s had a rough day. A day not many of us can even fathom. Since we received confirmation he was coming, I have been eager to comfort him.
I look at him and I know, “This is going to wreck me.”
I scoop him from the social worker. Holding his innocence in my arms—losing a bit of my own. Committing to carrying the weight of his world, the good and the bad. Preparing to hear his story. Ready to give him all we have…
When you’ve been touched by adoption, you appreciate certain things that most people take for granted. For one, you realize the magnitude of being able to have a child that someone else gave birth to. Some people that go into adoption can’t have children and becoming a parent in this way brings so much clarity and appreciation. Little things get celebrated and seemingly meaningless dates become a big deal.
Over the past three years, my husband, Ian, and I have been on a journey filled with consistent optimism, but also staggered by heartbreak. Long days of hard work and faith were often followed by tears and doubt. We had amazing support from family and friends. We were also lied to and cruelly manipulated. Through these three years, Ian and I have walked through fire together. We lost nearly all semblances of personal space and privacy; we worked through hundreds of pages of paperwork and legal pulp; we drove thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars, all for the chance at turning hope into reality. It was in the middle of nowhere, on a hot June night, where we finally found our seven-pound miracle. I am writing this story, not for pity or to commiserate, but to expound on and rejoice in the one thing that kept us going throughout all our setbacks: hope.
1.) Kashia, adoption has always been a huge part of your family. Both your mother and your youngest brother are adopted, and your husband’s mother is adopted as well. Have you and Riley both always had adoption in your hearts?
Oh my goodness, yes times a million! It was one of the things we first bonded over when we met. We have always loved the plan to adopt and knew no matter what our circumstances were, that we were going to one day.
2.) How did your faith help you through struggling with infertility and the adoption process?
What is better—to continue to love but ache from the bitter slashes of hurt and betrayal or to build a wall of steel and never love deeply again?
Early in my life, like so many of us, I learned about the sting of rejection and careless words. That sting took a toll on my heart and affected me emotionally for many years. Eventually I built a wall, placing it between myself and meaningful relationships. Turning my back when things got rough seemed to be my safest option…or so I thought.
On this episode of The Greater Than Podcast, I speak with Christine Bauer. Christine is the author of the memoir, Those Three Words: a birth mother’s story of choice, chance, & motherhood.
Her book represents the journey of a woman’s life and the choices that are made within a life. The pages are filled with reminders of the power of family, respect, acceptance, love—and, yes, the power of choice.
Starting the dialogue about a woman’s choice, no matter what that choice looks like, is a conversation that Christine is passionate to engage in. I’m honored for Christine to share her perspective with us—for sharing encouraging words about feeling our sadness, and leaning in to those places that hurt inside of us.
In the words of Christine’s mother, “Sadness stretches the heart so that there is more room for joy.”
We have to feel our lives if we are going to rise up and become greater in all aspects of our lives. We cannot stay numb. And, what we discover, over time, is that choice is always attached to a powerful, real, and raw story.
Leaning in to those stories is where we create greater empathy and understanding around the conversation of a woman’s choice or any other choice in front of us.
We are honored to have Natalie Brenner share her heart here on our community blog, The Quilt of Life. Natalie is a mother-by- adoption, biology, and foster care, photographer, and best-selling author. She is a fierce believer in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. Welcome, Natalie. And thank you for sharing your voice!
What inspired you and Loren to become foster parents?
After we brought home our first two children, one through adoption and the next shortly after through biological birth, we knew we would eventually become foster parents. Our community was filled with foster families, the need in Portland is substantial, all we needed was a bigger home and for our babies to be a bit bigger. Essentially, the crisis was overwhelming: there are so many children who were ripped from their families and placed into hotels with DHS workers because the shortage of foster family resources is huge. These kids are the most vulnerable children of society, and they deserve a warm home, a stable routine, someone to call family in the most difficult time of their journey.
Two more weeks until November; just a few more days until National Adoption Awareness Month officially begins.
November can be an emotionally loaded month for those of us in the adoption community. Feelings can run the gamut; a true testimony to just how deep and diverse the adoption experience is.
An experience ripe with joy, sorrow, loss, gain, blessing, and pain. There’s a coming together and a coming apart. There’s a shattering and a healing. There’s community and isolation. There’s calm and rage. Contrasting views and perspectives. That’s adoption.
Almost four years ago, my husband Bryan and I sat in a classroom with several other terrified couples to complete our training to adopt through foster care. Unlike the other terrified couples, I was 7-months pregnant with our first biological child. It takes a special brand of crazy to pull off what we did, and apparently, Bryan and I fit the branding.
We had Grady in December of 2014, one month before our home officially opened for adoption. The two boys from the Heart Gallery we had our eyes on fell through, so we waited until the following August before getting our first adoptive placement. Clark had turned 14 the day before moving in with us, and he went by a different name back then. He moved in on a Sunday and started high school on Monday with a new school, new town, and new family. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, this was the calm before the storm.