Home. Family. Belonging. Love.
These are words that have often had both simple and confusing definitions for me.
We are taught about love throughout our lives and these lessons begin before we are born. We learn what love is through the demonstration of it in our lives. We learn too through any spaces or places that lack it. Our sensitive and wondrous bodies and brains remember this. We are established with a foundation and framework for how we see the world based on what the world shows us.
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…
I was a small girl when my mother told me I was adopted. Though I was too young to remember her exact words, I will never forget my feelings. I felt sorry for my friends who weren’t adopted. My mother had just told me what, by the age of seven, I had already felt; that my parents loved me unconditionally and that they had ached with longing for a child.
When I grew old enough to understand my birthmother’s role, I realized that I had been doubly blessed. A girl who couldn’t raise me had loved me enough to give me to someone who could. This selfless person knew that motherhood is more than playing house and that her ultimate responsibility was ensuring the best for the baby she had brought into the world.
My Adoption Story
“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.” —Fleur Conkling Heyliger
March 24th will always be one of the most important days of my life. On this day, almost 29 years ago, I flew from Seoul, Korea, to Michigan to meet my forever family.
As an adult, I know that many stories begin like this. However, as a child, I never thought about what adoption really meant. I’m not quite sure my schoolmates knew either. My classmates just knew me as the girl who always shared cookies, cake, or cupcakes and celebrated her adoption every March 24th. Each year, my mom or dad helped educate my friends and classroom about my “Plane Day.” We would even bring in little folded handouts to give to everyone.
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.
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.