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Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

It’s after midnight. December 23rd.  And like last year, I am awake and pausing to reflect on where this year has taken me.  Last year, I was dealing with things collapsing around me regarding my ex-friend, I was grieving being single at my age and facing the reality of not having kids — maybe never getting married, finding that partnership that we all seek and that person with whom I’d want to have kids.

I was pretty sad — I was in the beginning stages of what was a difficult beginning to this year.  This guy was one who I thought was a best friend, who surprised me by changing the status of our relationship. Who then didn’t follow through, lied about me to those around me, apologized, and when I’d forgiven him and reached out when I needed it most he betrayed me. Now, most of this happened at the start of the year, but it began late last year and I was in the middle of this on my birthday last year.

It was a poignant reminder that I am single and have been for a very long time.  Last year I felt like I was on the same path that I’d always been on, that nothing really had changed ever.  I felt frustrated and inhibited by my life and felt like I was making no significant contribution.  It was a very difficult birthday.

But how am I this year? I’m okay. I don’t love birthdays. I do find them difficult.  It’s another year where I’m single (as always), no prospects and facing another year with that major path the same as always hurts. I don’t like it.  But it’s a very different year.

This year my grandma passed away, I dealt with the loss of someone I thought was a friend. It was a year partly of grief. It also was a year of major decisions and life changing choices.    I ended up choosing to obtain my original birth registration and my adoption file it was a profound experience to consider ideas of identity, self, life.  I haven’t finalized this exploration or this path.  But for now, I need to set it aside. I’m not ready to open the door to a reunion, though I suspect I may have found (through the wonders of social media) my biological family.  Will I walk that path one day? Maybe.  Right now I need to concentrate on another path.

As regular readers of this blog (if any are still checking in after my long period of being AWOL!) will know, I’m in nursing school. Making the decision to go back to school was difficult.  I did not want to give up a regular paycheque and the stability of the ‘known’.  But I felt trapped, useless. I was in a job that I was trained to do, but couldn’t see any growth potential. I have things that excite me but nothing in the job that would directly take me to a place where I wanted to go.  Plus, with the instability in biotech I felt like I was trapped in a low paying job with no recourse to building anything better.

So I took the leap and decided to go back to school — nursing school.  So, now, I’m back in an undergraduate program, have little work and no money.  But, I have peace. I know that I’m doing something radical, yet it’s necessary.  It will bring me to a place that will let me make a difference in people’s lives. It may be on a small, individual, scale and being able to affect people’s lives is what matters to me. It’s why I went into research — to make a difference, yet now I have a chance to do it directly.  It’s a major change to my world, but it’s one that’s finally ‘right’.

I spent the early part of the year trying to run and dance as much as I can, though in recent days that’s tapered off.  I’m going to go to Portland for a dance weekend over New Years, and it’s possible that this will be a tapering off of my dancing for the time being.  I LOVE dancing when I’m in other cities, but don’t always love it here.  So I’m trying to plan my time carefully. With so little free time the question becomes ‘how do I want to spend it?’ As one friend has commented — the live music is often better — with those with whom we most enjoy dancing.  So, if I can manage the time, I’m going to try that — I want to make sure that I’m going to have fun in my free time as much as I can and if I can focus on the venues that are open and fun.

And running.  Running is something that’s kept me sane this year. I ran a second marathon. One that stressed me out much less than the first one — I was too busy stressing over school! But, I did it! My second marathon. My life in the fall was intense — I trained for a marathon, worked ~10 hours/week, and was a full time nursing student (in an accelerated program).

So, although my ‘big issue’ — that of relationship and family — hasn’t changed. I can easily say, I’m not the same person I was this time last year. I’m not thrilled about my birthday, but I’m at peace. I’ve made changes that will lead to better things, better days in a mere 16 months.

So I wonder, where will I be this time next year? Will I still be single or will that path take a turn too? This time next year I will have finished most of my courses and will be facing only one more term — my clinical major and my practicum.  I will have started to work as an employed student nurse and will hopefully have clearer steps about what will happen after my program is done (will I leave Vancouver as I hope, or will I decide to stay? What area of practice will I choose?).

This year has been profound, full of transitions. Some transitions I hope continue and I hope for a year of more joyful times in my life. For now, I’m going to stop, enjoy my birthday, finish preparing for Christmas (one more gift to buy and I’ve been sick so need to brave the stores on my birthday… ugh!), and will work on a post of some thoughts and goals about 2010.

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Exhausted and Busy

I’m resurfacing briefly to let you all know (those who are still reading… 😀 ) that I am still wanting to blog, have even started some posts. But things are pretty crazy. Plus, for school I’ve got reflective journals to do so I feel like I’m doing what I’d normally do here somewhere else for grades. Unfortunately I can’t crosspost due to the risk of being told I’m plagiarizing myself (yes, that’s possible!).

 

For example, I had a paper due today and I ended up writing all about the adoption topic I’ve discussed here. Maybe once this course is over I can re-work the paper and post it, assuming I do okay on it. I assume once the course is done it’s fine?? Not sure.

 

The rest of my life is more or less on hold:

  • The distraction I’ve commented on in the past is most likely done and no longer a distraction (or shouldn’t be). I may be wrong, hope I’m wrong in fact, but such is how it seems. I’m fine. Dealt with it when I couldn’t figure out how to post what I was working through but wanted to write about it.
  • Still annoyed at finances — is there any bank who will treat a client properly as a student to build a long term relationship? Both banks I’ve dealt with have treated me like dirt. Yet I have no choice. I’ll stick with them for now because I have to, not because I want to support them.
  • School is going okay. Grades are fine  so far. I can’t complain, even if it’s not the ‘perfect’ that I expect of myself. Heh. I’ll get over that.

 

Anyhow, I’m still here, I’ll try to post shorter or longer posts as I can.  For now, Clinical Week 1 is done, I’ve got 5 more weeks of school this term, finals and then a break! I was so tired that tonight I slept the entire evening. I managed to cook dinner, do dishes and nap. I did nothing.  Tomorrow night I’ll get some work done, catch up on the weekend and hit the ground running next week with another paper due. Oy.

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Sometimes I sell myself short, and I’m hard on myself.  The lessons I am learning on a day to day basis are this: Not to sell myself short, to speak — out loud — positive words about myself (even when alone), to recognize when others are speaking falsely and to not own those false words — also, to not speak or think false words about myself.  The challenge to all of this is that when those false words come from someone who I love a lot, whose approval I badly desire, who I want to be proud of me and to see me for who I really am — it has the potential to be damaging. It has damaged.

But, I am learning that my self confidence comes from within, and cannot be dependent on others, even someone I love deeply.  We all look at the world and others through the lens of our own past and experience. I am not the person I was 5 years ago. I’m not the person I was 1 year ago. For that I am thankful.  But what this means is that when I am viewed through a lens that is so clouded that they cannot see me for who I am, I cannot, should  not, let them affect my self confidence.  Indeed, my self confidence should not come from any other person, and for many years I have sought the approval of those most important to me — and allowed these people to dictate my level of self confidence.  I touched on this topic briefly in my epic 445-hits-in-one-hour blog post from a few months ago “Processing Adoption Questions”.  In that post I wrote:

I don’t know where I would fall in that opposition, perhaps growing up my parents would say that I fell into the testing out side of things. But now I am quite sure that I am more responding with ‘acquiescence, compliance and withdrawal’. This is definitely how I now respond to those ripping wounds when I realize that I am rejected by those I care about, the difficulty I have in trusting after that trust has been broken.

And I do believe it’s true – and I’ve learned that it’s not likely due to being adopted that is causing this. But those feelings, they are like ripping wounds when someone who I’ve been trying to please, to make proud of me, on one level to make them love me for who I really am, speaks such damaging, false, words to me.  My natural response has been to hide, to build up walls, to doubt myself. I become nervous about making myself vulnerable and I doubt myself in certain situations (particularly when it comes to relationships).

I am fighting this battle right now after the Challenging Day of a few weeks ago. A good friend of mine called me on it tonight (we were chatting about guys, of course), and she’s right, I was selling myself short, doubting myself. And I’m faced with a choice: I could just hide, not say anything, take the easy way out (and, I’d probably have fun, because the choices I’m faced with in this situation: both are good options).  But if I open myself up, be vulnerable, take the risk I could end up with an amazing option. But if I take the easy road out, I am re-building that wall of ‘safety’ that I’ve been working so hard to take down. I don’t want to do that.  So, I owe it to myself to take the risk: to make the choice to be vulnerable because in the end I think I need to do that, for myself, to be a whole, self confident woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

And really, in this particular situation where I have a choice to make, and need to risk being vulnerable, it’s a fairly ‘safe’ situation. It’s not the damaging, stressful, “Challenging Day” situation, it’s a good situation, perhaps one of the safest I could find to take the chance to be vulnerable — I’m sure I’m missed.  But I wasn’t ready tonight. I knew I needed to do more thinking first: maybe tomorrow I’ll be ready. But I’m glad for good friends, who recognize when I’m selling myself short and will say ‘enough’. So thanks. 🙂

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Metaphorically speaking, close your eyes for a moment. You’re barely 19 years old, single and you’ve just taken a pregnancy test. And it’s positive. What would you do? How would you feel? What would your choices or actions be?  I, to be honest, have never considered what must have been going through my birth mother’s head. What she was thinking, feeling, did she love me? I have never considered those questions about her life. I’ve recently begun to ask those questions.  Recently, I’ve learned more about my circumstances and I can’t help but wonder — did my conception cause the end of a relationship? I always assumed I was the result of a fling, I wasn’t, but I was the result of a relationship that wasn’t going to go anywhere. Perhaps I was the trigger to examine the relationship and it lead to the break up. I don’t know. The point is, it is a profound thing to find out that you’re pregnant. At any age, and in any life stage and circumstance.  But I’ve always lived my life, subconsciously, from the perspective that it began not on my birthday, but instead on my adoption day.  I’ve never asked those questions before. But the reality is that, for me anyways, I think it’s important to address these questions. To a certain degree. Where examining these questions will lead, I don’t know.

What kind of life would I have had, had I not been adopted? Who would I have been? How would my personality and world view be different? What would my identity have been? How has all this affected me and my identity? Those crux, keystone moments in our lives, they affect us. There are moments in our lives, we may not remember them, yet they have impact.

The author, Nancy Verrier, of “The Primal Wound” is a therapist and an adoptive mother. Her research and work looks at the effects of adoption on on the adoptees. Until very recently I have never even considered that it may have affected me, yet I am looking at my life and I am asking myself if it has had an impact on me.

In a paper that Nancy Verrier wrote titled “Adoption: Primal Wound, Effects of Separation from the Birth Mother on Adopted Children“, speaking about her own daughter, she comments:

For love to be freely accepted there must be trust, and despite the love and security our daughter has been given, she has suffered the anxiety of wondering if she would again be rejected. For her this anxiety manifested itself in typical testing-out behavior. At the same time that she tried to provoke the very rejection that she feared, there was a reaction on her part to reject before she was rejected. It seemed that allowing herself to love and be loved was too dangerous; she couldn’t trust that she would not again be abandoned.
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I was to discover during the ten years of my research that hers was one of two diametrically opposed responses to having been abandoned; the other being a tendency toward acquiescence, compliance and withdrawal (Verrier, 2005)

I don’t know where I would fall in that opposition, perhaps growing up my parents would say that I fell into the testing out side of things. But now I am quite sure that I am more responding with ‘acquiescence, compliance and withdrawal’. This is definitely how I now respond to those ripping wounds when I realize that I am rejected by those I care about, the difficulty I have in trusting after that trust has been broken. These are those core wounds that I am processing and I have asked the question: has my adoption played a role in this?

It’s a challenge, I’m not sad about being adopted — very thankful in fact. My family’s my family I can’t imagine the alternative.  I’m not angry at my birth mother, I’m not sad that she made the choices that she made. But, that doesn’t mean that at the time, as a young infant, it didn’t impact me.

And yet, as I do process these questions I am reminded of some key things:

  • My family is my family. I spent time considering this question about whether I have a sense of rejection by my biological mother, and I realized that there isn’t. Not at all.  My questions are all about me and my identity. My mom is my mom and my family is my family. Even sitting here on the sofa, closing my eyes I can’t bring up the picture of “what if my biological mother had been my mom”. It just doesn’t compute.  And in my heart of hearts my mom is my mom, she hasn’t rejected me. Therefore, any questions or sensitivity I may feel about rejection and abandonment logically comes from a different source (as an aside, yes I am learning about this source — that’s another in process post, on a different topic. Stay Tuned…).
  • Yes, adoption means severing of, really, the only relationship that the baby knows. I get that. It’s something that needs to be dealt with. I’m sure that the severing caused wounds.  I’m also sure that my parents dealt with it by telling me “The Story“, by making sure I was loved. I’ve been making sure I’ve dealt with it by examining myself and my life.  But the reality, too, is that I don’t really know the circumstances of my biological mother’s life at the time when I was born. One wound early on may well have been the “least wounding” of the options.  It may not have been, of course, but I can’t know that, and I can’t make that call. The only person who could make that call is my birth mother. The one thing I know, is that it was a thought out decision. She didn’t rush into it at the last minute, right as I was born — she thought it through.
  • My origin is not my adoption day, my origin was my conception, and then later, my birthday. Those weeks and months were moments that shaped who I am, and even as I look at the biology of who I am, I realize that where I come from does play a role.
  • I am beginning to understand why I hate my birthday. Why Christmas isn’t usually easy for me. Why the week after Christmas is usually spent quiet, alone and in reflection. Why New Years is always such a relief. Why I’m thankful for New Years Day.  That string of dates probably makes no sense until you realize that my birthday is December 23rd. My first Christmas I was a ward of the province and I was in the hospital.  The time between Christmas and New Years? In limbo, waiting, at the hospital, being cared for by the staff. New Years it’s almost the time for my parents to come for me, and January 2nd was the day my parents got me (based on the way things worked then, that was the earliest they could come up). I’ve always celebrated my birthday. But I’ve always hated that whole time of year. January 2nd? For that day, I’m thankful. Maybe thinking through these things will allow me to enjoy the entire holiday season.
  • My adoption was a wonderful gift. Given to me out of love for me and out of an understanding by my biological mother that as a young woman, just out of high school, she wasn’t ready to be the mother she wanted to be. She valued me enough that she carefully considered my needs, and realizing that she couldn’t meet them, she gave me a pretty name (Christa Joy), and gave me up. I do understand how that severing can be both painful and an act of love.
  • With the way adoption was structured when I was an infant, there were secrets, my origins were erased but for a simple, generic, letter. I haven’t read all of Nancy Verrier’s research, but my guess at this point is that it is this attempt to erase the past that in part creates the wounds that many adoptees face.  I am very much pro adoption, but I am anti-secrets and “history erasing”.  I don’t know what the solution is, and there are many different options today. The wounds I am talking about, I believe (but I’m no expert), are a result of an obsolete institution. The face of today’s adoption is very different.
  • The secrets, the sealing of the adoption records, were perhaps the trigger for my curiosity. I’ve always had it, and it’s this curiosity that drives many of these questions.   And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand my history, my background, my biology. The question of “Nature Versus Nurture” is an important one, and I believe both factors play a role in shaping who we are.  And for most people their “biological history” isn’t separated from their “environment”, so it’s a non-issue. But for me, for many others, it is.  Indeed, it is probably partly responsible for why I went into science, in the first place.

So as I continue on this exploration of identity and self, I realize that I am a whole healthy woman. I am loved by my family, friends and am surrounded by healthy communities (dance scene issues notwithstanding). I have a good life and I’m moving forward with better options in the future. I am happy with who I am. And this is good. I am feeling at peace.   It too, leads me to explore other questions of ‘self’. As I’ve mentioned before:

Recently I’ve realized that most people look at their families and can identify ’self’ when they see them. They resemble their relatives to varying degrees. I look at my family and I see familiarity. I see resemblances not in looks but in mannerisms, attitudes, responses. I don’t look at my mom and dad and see how I will look when I reach their age, or what infirmities I may develop. I see my parents.  Most people can look at their families and identify ’self’ in their relatives. In my family there is the dimple — it even has a characteristic ‘name’. I even have a slight version of it. So I fit to a degree. But mine’s not the same. It’s unique, not the ‘### Dimple’ as we call it.  I don’t look at my cousins or grandpa (when he was alive) and see my dimple, I don’t see self.  I see ‘the family dimple’ but not my dimple.  Not in the same way that my cousin and her daughter would see self when they look at each other, or at my aunt.  This isn’t a bad thing at all. I don’t mind. I look at all these people and just see people I love. People who love me.

So where this will lead me, I don’t know.  With strong, dominate features (like my family’s dimple), I do see the similarities, of course, but most people don’t have traits that strong.  And, I have absolutely no idea what it means to see myself in someone else.

So where I stand right now: I realize I have questions that haven’t been answered — and I will continue to explore to answer those questions (to one degree or another).  But on the whole, I am healthy, well adjusted, happy and comfortable with where my life is, in light of my adoption. And those core wounds I mentioned that I’m processing? There’s another cause, not related to my Adoption. I’m so thankful that I have identified the cause, because it means I can deal and move forward.

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There’s been a lot going on.  It’s been quite evident by my posts recently, and I’m working through a lot of different things: relationship roller coasters, injuries, family stuff and losing my grandma.  But there’s been things I’ve been trying to work through that I haven’t yet described in detail. Part of that was I felt it was important to share specifically with my family first — before opening it up to those who follow my blog.  I had a conversation with my parents recently, it’s relating to what I’m working through. I have also needed time before being ready to be open here, but I’m sure that most people are wondering what has been going on as seemingly unrelated categories have been selected in my recent posts. But all the head space connects, so to me it makes sense, even if it was vague to you at the time.

The thing is, a few months ago, partly triggered by the breakup with the lost friend, I made a choice. A life changing choice. Recently, I told a story of me and my adoption.  That moment, the moment of my adoption had a profound impact on my life. It was always, I thought, the first defining moment of what makes me ‘me’. The defining moment of my identity.  I’ve always had a great deal of curiosity about my story, I’ve been curious about genetic history. I think, that perhaps this curiosity is partly what drove me to science, a genetics lab, even breeding guppies as a teenager or angelfish as an adult. To see and understand heredity better.

Recently I’ve realized that most people look at their families and can identify ‘self’ when they see them. They resemble their relatives to varying degrees. I look at my family and I see familiarity. I see resemblances not in looks but in mannerisms, attitudes, responses. I don’t look at my mom and dad and see how I will look when I reach their age, or what infirmities I may develop. I see my parents.  Most people can look at their families and identify ‘self’ in their relatives. In my family there is the dimple — it even has a characteristic ‘name’. I even have a slight version of it. So I fit to a degree. But mine’s not the same. It’s unique, not the ‘### Dimple’ as we call it.  I don’t look at my cousins or grandpa (when he was alive) and see my dimple, I don’t see self.  I see ‘the family dimple’ but not my dimple.  Not in the same way that my cousin and her daughter would see self when they look at each other, or at my aunt.  This isn’t a bad thing at all. I don’t mind. I look at all these people and just see people I love. People who love me.

My family story is so key to me, that I haven’t really consciously considered that first week of my life after birth.  I’ve never considered how that first week affects my identity. Indeed, I’ve always assumed I had no identity until my parents got me.  Since 1996, Adoption Records have been opened in British Columbia.  At the time there was news media covering this information — it was big news, the ending of secrecy (with options for no contact or personal information vetoes if people need them). At the time the records were unsealed, I realized that I would request the records, search perhaps. Find out that background that has always held my curiosity.  But I wasn’t ready. I was worried about how my family would react.  I decided then, that when I got to the point of being ready to start a family, I would find out my medical background.  I have never felt a lack of relationship, or a missing piece. Just curiosity.  Perhaps it’s the physical connection during those 38 weeks of pregnancy (yes I now know it was 38 and not 40), but I’ve always had a curiosity about my birth mother, her family, who they are — am I like them or am I not? What part of me is nature and what part is nurture?

But, with all the life questions that I am considering, that I’ve been working through so far in 2009, this was something that came up and it was time to answer them. These questions about my origins. So, I filled out the form and at the end of February, I received my original birth registration. As an adoptee this information had been sealed. Likewise my adoption papers with my current full name was sealed from my birth mother (she too has the freedom to request that, should she choose). Like all of us though, my birth registration exists, and it’s the same form that any of us can receive, and that all our parents filled out at our birth.

My expectations were unusual, perhaps because I have always identified with my family and felt loved special and chosen, but they were unusual. I was expecting that there would either be a Non Disclosure Veto or a No Contact Declaration . I was expecting to receive a more complete medical history letter, but no information. My identity has always been tied with who I am, or have been since my adoption that I was expecting to find out that my birth name was ‘Baby Girl Smith’. According to the information I could find that does occasionally happen and I could see many reasons why that might be the case.

Regardless, I was expecting perhaps what would be the ‘worst’ case scenario. I didn’t realize how much I was prepared for that until I received the information. But that’s not what I received. No veto, no No Contact Declaration. Just my original Birth Registration. I now know my full original name. My birth mother’s full maiden name. Her birthday.  How many weeks the pregnancy was (hence knowing it was 38 weeks), and my birth weight.

I was blown away. I was named. Not only was I named but I was given a name that conveys caring, thought, love. Furthermore, the name is so similar to my own first name I’ve been more shocked by this than I expected to be.  What is my original name? Christa Joy (Last Name kept private, of course — ask me offline if you know me).

It’s strange because I can identify with that name, somehow. This spelling is a short form for Christina and, though I don’t introduce myself as Christa, some people end up calling me by that name, sometimes.  I suspect it’s because of my family’s nickname for me: Chrisa.  Incredibly close to my original name, and since Chrisa is quite unique, I suspect some people hear ‘Christa‘.

It was ironic. A family friend, who may not remember that I’m adopted (if she knew — she may not have known my family before I was born), commented how much I look like my grandma did when my grandma was young when she saw my grandma’s obituary. My mom told me this, we had a good, flattered, chuckle at this.  At my grandma’s memorial this same family friend called me “Christa“.  It was surreal and ironic.

And this is the conversation my family and I had several weeks ago, what feels like a lifetime ago.   So walk with me, as I keep thinking about what all this means, processing, learning, growing and changing.

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Careful with sharing. Needing to talk about something that could open a giant can of worms. Taking a risk. These ideas open me up to a risk of rejection. There’s fear there.  For the last few weeks I have realized that I needed to open up a conversation with my family.  That’s not a bad thing. But if you remember back to my ‘Careful With Sharing’ post from the other week, if it’s not an easy conversation, or if it’s a conversation where there is a perceived risk of rejection, I don’t like to be vulnerable. I’ve been preparing for that conversation with my family now for a few weeks.

Realistically speaking I had nothing to worry about. They’re my family. But I still didn’t know how they’d react. So I thought, planned, made dinner plans to see them yesterday when I was in their neighborhood.  I took the earliest opportunity to talk to them. I thought, planned and hoped for the best opportunity.  I received it. Yesterday, going over to my mom and dad’s my mom was alone in the kitchen. My dad wasn’t there yet and my brother was in a different room.  As she was cooking, I had a chance to share what was on my mind. I had the best possible response. My mom was wonderful. I was afraid, that what I had to say would hurt her. That it could cause rifts, or pain, or family difficulties. But it didn’t. She was interested in what I had to say, asked questions, was very supportive and understood my perspective completely. Supports any choices I may make in the future.

My dad too, in many ways, I had the best response possible.  Later on at dinner, I repeated the conversation — this time with my mom’s support (in fact she initiated it since there wasn’t an easy opening for me — thanks mom!). My dad was very clear that he too supports any choices that I may make in the future relating to this conversation.  It was challenging to discuss it on his level — this is very much an emotional feelings type situation for me and my dad is not one to express or focus on emotion at all. It was all about the analytical side of things.  But, he was clear that he will support and stand with me.

My brother, I knew would support, yet I wonder if he understood. He has been in a place of challenges right now. A place of transition. I know he’s stressed out. I know that my choices in this are not his and I don’t know if they ever would be. But I know that he supports. When he heard the news, he just listened.  I wonder how this will impact him. Whether it will drive him to think.  For now, I’m sure it’s not where his head is. He has many other things on his mind and I don’t think he’s ready.

I am relieved. Feeling full of emotions, some of them very unexpected and new, but more peaceful. Partly because now that this conversation is complete I can be more open here about things in my life that have gone on.  I was fearing a type of rejection with this conversation and I was not rejected.  Ah the things that I am dealing with.   I will continue to process. Continue to deal, and hopefully come out the other end a more whole, healthy person.

As to what the conversation was about? That will wait for a later post. A subject on it’s own. But I will share. When I’m ready.

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Before I start to write what’s on my mind, I want to point out that I’m not interested in starting a debate, or a flame war.  I also don’t want to stifle others opportunity to express themselves, so if you have comments you’re welcome to share them.

So what’s the topic? Abortion and Choices.

I think that each woman should be permitted — and given the opportunity — to decide where she stands on this issue. I don’t think it’s a good idea to remove the legality of abortion; back alley abortions terrify me.  But I also know that, legal or not, I would not choose to have an abortion.  I’ve felt this way since I was a young teenager. It’s not because of any spiritual beliefs that I hold. It’s not because of where I define the start of ‘life’. Though those ideas may have otherwise played roles in my stance had there not been an overriding reason.

What is that reason? To answer that question I need to tell you a story. I don’t remember first hearing this story but it was my favourite story as a young child:

There was, a young couple who tried for several years to have kids of their own.  But they couldn’t.  So they decided to start the process of adoption.  They waited and waited and waited. Eventually the husband got a call at the office. There was a baby girl, born to a 19 year old, single mom who couldn’t care for this tiny baby herself.  This single mom wanted this tiny baby to be cared for by a family who was ready to have kids, who wanted kids, who could love her and care for her as she deserves. This tiny baby girl was waiting for a couple just like them.  The husband dropped everything. Called his wife and they made plans. He ran around telling everyone in his office. Rushing home they booked a flight and flew up to Prince George.  The nurse brought this little baby girl, 10 days old, and placed her in the couples’ arms.  It was time for this tiny baby to be burped, so the husband gave it a try, but this baby was so small that he just tap tap tapped on this baby’s back — he was afraid he’d break her. The nurse just smiled, took the baby girl back, gave her a good strong ‘thump, thump’ until the baby let out a strong ‘BURP’.  At first, the hospital didn’t want to release the baby to this couple, simply because the baby had an eye infection. Fortunately, this couple had a cousin who was an opthamologist so the baby was released into their care.   Flying home, they had a seat between them where the tiny baby girl was placed and where she could hold on to both their fingers.  When they got home, their family was waiting: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. This baby girl’s family.

That baby girl was me. The young couple: they’re my parents. I don’t remember not knowing this story, as a child I may not have understood fully what it meant, but I felt loved. Special. Chosen.  As I grew older, I understood that it was a different way of forming a family, not the usual. But that didn’t matter. I was special, chosen, wanted by my parents.  They are my parents, my family. My real family. My family connection is about love and choice, there may not be the “biology”, but it’s real and it’s my family. I love them. Dearly.  When I was 3 we got my ‘baby’ brother. That was my other favourite story to hear as a child. But that’s his story to tell, so I will let him tell that story.

This story of how my life began has had a profound affect on my life. It was that crossroad in my life. It was an initial defining event in my life that shaped who I am today. I find I’m continuing to learn what that means. Furthering my understanding of how that affects me, who I am, who I will become and even my core personality.

One profound way it’s affected me goes back to when I was in high school and I’d heard rumours of a girl having an abortion. I realized then where I stood on that issue. Regardless of spirituality, or any of the standard arguments, the reality is that I was born to a teenage single mother.   Yes, abortion wasn’t legal (as far as I know) back in the day — but it definitely happened, and frequently. It was an option. Yet she chose to give me life.  Indeed, this choice was the first profound impact on my life, the first crossroad. Giving me life, allowing the pregnancy to progress.

I realized back when I was a young teenager, that I had a great deal of respect for that choice and it struck me very firmly that as much as it may be difficult to walk that path, if ever I was faced with that decision, that I too would choose life. I could not choose abortion.  As was done for me, so I would do.  This, fortunately, is not a decision I have had to face.  I want it to be known too, I will always stand by any girl friend and their choices in this area; this is simply my choice.

And these choices, back before I was ever aware… how they continue to impact me. In ways I don’t yet understand.

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