Unraveling an Adoption Mystery: The Story Continues

When my daughter tested her DNA with an Ancestry.com, Christmas-gifted kit this past January, it was mostly to uncover her ethnicity and to hopefully add branches to the family tree she’s painstakingly built over the last five years. And for fun. A cool way to indulge her love of history in general and genealogy in particular.

dscf8661When I spit into the test-tube like container of my own DNA test kit in August, it was to seek information about my unknown beginnings and maybe even uncover the identity of my birth parents. While I’d always been curious as to the details surrounding my birth and surrender for adoption, discovering I’d been left on a doorstep, having not been born in a hospital, had piqued my curiosity to a level bordering on obsession. The who, what, how and why questions raced through my brain.

With the help of an archived newspaper article containing the brief details concerning my “foundling” status and a quick Facebook search, I discovered a granddaughter of the couple who found me that mid-November morning in 1963. She’d been eight-year-old at the time and seemed to remember the incident as if it had happened yesterday. Her barely-contained excitement as we spoke on the phone was so genuine and refreshing as she shared details not included in the short, three paragraph write up. Two weeks later we met in person when my husband, daughter, grandson, myself, and my parents made the one-and-a-half hour trip to the city where I’d been found and presumedly had been born.

As we lunched at a local diner, she shared the details of that morning, recounted time and again over the years by her family. When her grandpa let their dog, Frisky, out sometime after five a.m., he was certain there was nothing on the step. But five to ten minutes later, when he opened the door to let Frisky back in, he noticed “something” on the step. Assuming it was Frisky having rolled his small body inside the rag rug on the step—as he was known to do—grandpa called out to the dog, expecting him to shoot from inside the rug cocoon, a trick he’d perfected. But when Frisky came from the yard and jumped over the step into the house, grandpa nudged the “something” on the step with his foot and was rewarded with the sounds of a baby. He scooped up the bundle of blanket and a man’s black wool shirt that encased a 5 lbs. 12 oz. baby girl. He and his wife raced the baby to the hospital, concerned for the child’s well-being.

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front of the house where I was found

I was found to be in good health but remained in the hospital for three weeks, where the nurses named me “Susie Hope”. The woman whose husband discovered me on the step worked in the hospital cafeteria. In the weeks that followed, after her shifts, she often made her way to the nursery where she would hold and rock me. Hospital personnel heard of her frequent visits and instructed the nurses to “not let her do that anymore”, fearing she was forming an attachment to the baby … to me. The nurses, however, chose not to stop her from showering me with attention. I tracked down an employee who worked at the hospital in November of 1963. Although she worked in another department and never saw me, she remembered the doorstep baby story well. She shared that my frequent visitor, a friend of hers, also bought me an outfit. Ah … how sweet.

How I wish those kind folks were still alive so I could meet them, express my gratitude for their thoughtfulness, and share that the “doorstep baby” story did indeed have a happy ending.

My DNA results took only one month to return, less than the six to eight week timeline the website suggests. It contains lots of fascinating information that a caring and very knowledgeable genetic genealogist is helping me to decipher. In addition to the way cool detailed analysis of my ethnicity, the report also indicates a whopping 234 (and counting!) 4th or closer cousins. “And counting” because as more people test with Ancestry.com every day, new connections are discovered. I’ve already gained eleven new cousin matches in the month since I received the results.2016-10-12-5

One first-second cousin match has provided us with enough information to zero in on the family of one of my birth parents. A member of that family has submitted a DNA test, whose results will hopefully narrow down, if not confirm, either my birthfather or mother.

Friends have asked the same questions I pondered myself before even purchasing my DNA kit. Why do I want to do this? What am I hoping to gain? Other than to satisfy even a little of my raging curiosity, I immediately knew I wanted to ease the mind of those involved in what had to be a gut-wrenching decision. “You did what you felt you had to do and everything turned out fine. My story had a happy ending,” I’d say if I got the chance.

Then I’d be tempted to ask, “But what about yours? How have you been since then? Did you spend years worrying about me or regretting the decision?” I hope not. I really hope her life and his life turned out well.

What I really wish is that I’d discovered the “doorstep baby” detail earlier, when the chance of connecting with those involved would have been more likely. But I try to shoo that thought away each time it creeps in because GOD’s hand, HIS protection and timing have been so evident from the very moment I was laid on that door step, that I must continue to trust in HIS plan. I believe with my whole heart there’s a reason the pieces of this giant puzzle seem to be falling into place at this very moment in time.

Life is full of “whys”. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to unravel the mysteries, decipher the motives, and get a gasp on what the future holds. But isn’t it better to trust in HIS goodness and rest in HIS plan–even and especially when we can’t see the end game?

However this slice of my life concludes, I’ll be fine. Will I be disappointed if I don’t get all the answers I’m seeking? Probably, yes. But that’s okay. And if the reasons for now being the time this mystery unravels are never revealed, I admit I’ll always wonder. But that too will be okay. GOD’s got this. HE’s always had this situation firmly in the palm of HIS hand. 

I’ll keep you posted!  🙂 Scribcolumn

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

GOD’s Timing is Perfect

ScribcolumnAs I journey through the most intriguing quest of my life, I am keenly aware of GOD’s timing. No…no… it’s more than that.

I am in awe of how HE is orchestrating and arranging and fine-tuning the unfolding of this story.

Someone, probably several “someones”, many years ago, made a gut-wrenching decision—to leave a three-day-old baby on a door step. To walk away and never know what became of this life. I was that baby.    (see “The Making of a Family…)

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the door where I was found

And now, only two months after learning of my “foundling” beginnings, it appears I am on the cusp of discovering the WHO and the WHYS surrounding that decision. Through little effort on my part, GOD has opened doors and stirred memories and so divinely put the right people in the right place at the right time. Incredibly kind fellow Christians who are praying along with me for HIS will to be accomplished.

Because HE’s GOD.

memeMy curious, dig-for-the-details nature is, to put it mildly, restless. I’m trying very hard to be patient and continue to wait on GOD’s timing. HIS faithfulness soothes my anxious spirit. HIS hand print has been so evident, how can I choose to do anything but step back and allow HIM to work?

For three weeks, the message on the church’s sign has been, “GOD’s TIMING IS ALWAYS RIGHT”. So very true.

The pastor’s devotional at last night’s meeting was on how GOD opens doors.  Mm hmm…

And a new friend I’ve met on this journey shared yesterday— The details never escape an Omniscient God…every detail has His print upon it. Very well said.

GOD is all over this situation. Obviously.

This “slice” of my life comes as no surprise to HIM. HE already knows how the entire “pie” will fit together.

Just as HE’s held my life in his hands for these many years, GOD’s got this new leg of my journey as well. Updates on the quest to follow…

When has GOD’s timing been so evident in your life?

Beth is passionate about seeing GOD at work in the “slices” of every day life AND about the saving of sex for marriage. She believes strongly in accountability and mentoring and considers herself a cheerleader for “renewed waiting” too. Because SEX is worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. Connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

The Writing Life

I’m trying to settle back into real life after the amazing adventure fellow Scriblerian Linda Samaritoni and I embarked uponScribcolumn
last week attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference in Nashville. And I have to tell you it’s kind of lonely, real life that is. Oh I came back to a family happy to have me home, an exciting 4th birthday party for our grandson, and even overnight guests we don’t get to see often enough.

But you see, all of these people are what we in the ACFW refer to as “normals”. They aren’t writers. They don’t continually participate in an alternate universe inside their heads. They don’t carry on conversations with very real, yet ultimately imaginary people. At least most of them don’t. They don’t dissect every motive and response and conversation in every TV show and movie they view. And boy, do they wish the writers—the “non-normals”—in their life would chuck that annoying habit.

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Linda and I at the ACFW Conference Gala

Writers are a unique breed. We know our brains work differently than do “normal” brains. We accept that fact and try to convince our head-scratching family and friends to accept us as GOD made us, all the while realizing they probably never will truly “get” us.  

Back to the conference adventure. My mind was literally racing in a hundred different directions as Linda and I headed south. The myriad details of life had piled especially deep in my brain for weeks. I wondered if I’d have the ability to put all of that stuff aside and be fully present at the conference. I’d so looked forward to being with my writing friends and soaking up the classes, the workshops, the writerly atmosphere, but I worried I’d be too strung out on the daily-life-grind to immerse myself in the conference experience.

I needn’t have worried. Even as I scanned familiar faces across the expansive Omni hotel lobby, my mind began to settle in. Within hours, I was home. Not small-town-Indiana home, but at home with my fellow writing community.DSCF8745

I’ve said it probably fifty times in the last five to seven years since I got serious about writing, “There’s nothing like being with other writers.” Absolutely nothing in the world. I tell those new to the writing life to snatch every second of “writer time” because there’s nothing like surrounding yourself with people who get what it’s like to be a writer. Being with folks whose brains functions as yours does, well, it’s tough for even a writer to describe how amazing that is.

I came home from the conference armed with answers to specific questions and direction for my publishing journey and determination for pushing my YA series out of the “still working on it” phase, where it’s been languishing for years, and into the “publishing phase”. But in order to accomplish that, it’s time to move past the “missing my writing friends” stage and forge ahead.

I’m reminded that we weren’t intended to do this thing called life alone. Not one of us was meant to navigate this world in a solitary fashion. We need each during the gut-wrenching times as well as the over-the-moon celebrations. We crave the camaraderie of friends and family in the doldrums of daily life as much as we do in the moments, both joyous and grievous, that steal away our breath. We’re wired to walk this road in tandem with others.

In the crazy busyness that surrounds most of us, it’s easy to ignore the longing of our soul for those deep connections. I challenge you to make time to embrace the connections in your life, to nurture the relationships that feed your soul’s cravings. Let others lighten your load as you help to shoulder their burdens. Don’t try to be strong or tough and do this life alone.

We Scriblerians do this life together thing quite well despite the many miles that separate us. I hope each of you finds a niche where you can be yourself with fellow travelers. 

Call Beth a “cheerleader for abstinence”!  She’s passionate about saving sex for marriage and believes strongly in accountability and mentoring as crucial tools to success in postponing physical intimacy until marriage.  She’s equally as passionate about “renewed waiting”. Because SEX is worth waiting for. YOU are worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. And connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

 

The Making of a Family: The Proof of GOD’s Intervention

ScribcolumnI have always known that I was adopted as an infant. Same with my three younger brothers.

Before  we could truly grasp what it meant to be “adopted”, we knew we had been adopted. Seriously, my youngest brother who endured surgery for a double hernia at the age of two and two-thirds months, thought his surgery scars were from being adopted. His older and wiser siblings who knew all about this adoption stuff tried to correct his faulty thinking but to no avail. We finally gave up, deciding he’d figure it out eventually.

Our understanding of adoption came from this book, read to us continuously from the day we became part of our adoptive parents’ family. I promise you, “read continuously” is not an exaggeration. I’m certain I could recite the book by a very young age.

chosen baby

When I searched for the book by title, the first books I found were not the familiar plain green cover I remembered so well. Knowing the book had to be on the elderly side, I feared I wouldn’t be able to find it. But I persevered and further digging uncovered an earlier edition that looked exactly as I remembered.

Talk about a trip down memory lane! The illustrations, the characters’ names, even the look of the print were all so familiar. In my mind I could see myself “reading” the story to the brother next in line behind me when we were something like 3 and 1 1/2 years of age.

By the time brother #2 came along, the book was in tatters and had to be replaced. One of the revised covers I discovered seems a little familiar so I’m wondering if the replacement book had that cover. But the copy I’ll always and forever remember is the one above.

While our parents’ chose to receive no information about our birth parents, they felt it was important that each of us be aware of our adoption, and the fact that they wanted us very, very, very much. Hence the reading of the “The Chosen Baby” time and again.

Four days after I penned my  last “slice of life” post, I discovered a rather intriguing fact about my past. A fact my adoptive parents’ knew all along but chose not to relay to me as a child who might not receive the news well. I understand that. A child’s ability to sift through information and to reason is unpredictable at best. I also get why they struggled with  the question, “So, when DO we tell her?” after I became an adult.

 It seems I was left on the doorstep of a residence in a small, Midwest town in the wee morning hours of a cold November day in 1963. Wrapped in a man’s black wool shirt and a blanket, I was approximately 3 days old, having not been born in a hospital. I was 20 in. long, weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz., and found to be in good health.

Talk about a “slice of real life”! In the less than three weeks I’ve known this bit of information, my mind has been spinning. I’ve already embarked on a journey to see what I can learn about my biological beginnings.

If this story doesn’t testify to GOD’s intervention in my life, I can’t imagine a more fitting example. I never had feelings of abandonment or shame concerning my adoption. I always assumed whomever gave birth to me didn’t feel capable of caring for me, so she/he/they chose to allow someone else to raise me.

GOD knew a young couple several counties away desperately wanted a family, and HE put the pieces of the puzzle together. And HE put the pieces together again three other times to create our family of six.

I’ll keep you updated on my journey in future columns.

UPDATE from last time. Remember how my early twenty-something son relayed news of a really-not-so-good-kind while I was writing the “They Need a Mom…” post–the one about letting young adults figure stuff out of on their own? While I’d love to report that things on that front have been resolved —you have no idea how much I’d love to be able to report that–alas, it is not so. Still, I know GOD is in control. This mama is continuing to pray GOD’s power and presence over the situation and to trust in HIS plan.

Call Beth a “cheerleader for abstinence”!  She’s passionate about saving sex for marriage and believes strongly in accountability and mentoring as crucial tools to success in postponing physical intimacy until marriage.  She’s equally as passionate about “renewed waiting”. Because SEX is worth waiting for. YOU are worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com. And connect with her on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.

They need a mom…

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I love it when the happenings of daily life spur a moment of reflection, induce a time of introspection, or launch a fresh prospective. That’s why I’ll be wrapping my Scriblerian column posts around the daily happenings of real life.

Sometimes the insights will focus on one of my great passions: challenging young people to save sex for marriage OR commit to “renewed waiting”, both themes of my “Waiting Matters…Because YOU Matter” blog. Some “slices” will ponder the many complexities of parenting. Others will seek to understand this great big GOD we serve. And some “slices”   will be of a very random nature. I might even on occasion share a recipe for pie. Yum

Today’s slice comes from the real world of parenting.

A couple weeks back, as I made the first swath across the front yard with the mower, several young men piled out of a couple of vehicles at the neighbor’s house. Cars continued to arrive, bringing more 18 to 21-year-old guys. Soon the sidewalk was littered with duffel bags and coolers, and a hefty pile of personal gear assumed space on the street behind an SUV-type vehicle.

“Must be having some kind of party,” I murmured turning the mower around for yet another swipe toward the garage. Then I remembered—the young man who’d moved in several months before was getting married the next weekend. “Must be having an overnight bachelor’s party,” I surmised. (Yes, I routinely talk to myself while mowing!)

cars coolersA cluster of guys gathered behind the open hatch of the SUV. Their heads dropped in the direction of the piled high baggage then raised and turned toward the open hatch of the vehicle. A brave young man attempted to stuff another bag into the already full cargo space. Arms folded against t-shirt-clad chests as his effort wedged in one more bag but failed at getting in a second. Then the head scratching began. Literal fingers repeatedly grazing temples as their heads continued the see-saw motion between the pile on the street and the open hatch.

I laughed out loud and announced, “They need a mom.” Everyone knows Moms are great at packing. And she’d make the stumped males realize all the luggage didn’t have to fit in one vehicle. Because all of them wouldn’t fit into one vehicle.  Yep, a mom to swoop in and save the day. That’s what they needed.

My snickering ceased as a serious thought formed and then consumed my mind. Not this time.

A mom to fix their dilemma was not what these young men needed. It was time they learned to figure things out on their own.

I breathed a prayer for safety and wise decision-making on their guys’ weekend. I lifted the soon-to-be-wed couple in prayer as well.

I continued to mow, checking in on them and shaking my head at their slow progress.  A couple more guys arrived as I finished the front and side yards. Luggage still remained scattered about. Although I really wanted to lend just a few minutes of my well-honed packing skills to them, I refrained and instead headed to the backyard.

Later, when I came around the house to get a drink, they were all gone. A few extra vehicles remained but none of the baggage. The street seemed strangely quiet after the hour-long ordeal of preparing for their weekend adventure.

Any one of their moms could have whipped the situation into shape with room to spare. But moms and dads won’t always be around to fix things, to save the day, for these young men. Packing for a weekend away is crazy minor compared to the major stuff these young adults will have to handle in the years ahead.

It’s a truth we all know yet most of us resist it. We have to let our kids do things on their own, make decision and mistakes, then figure out what the next step is. They have to learn to get back up, dust themselves off and keep going.

Cars again lined the street on Sunday evening as the guys returned from their weekend adventure. The unloading process went much quicker than the loading process, and soon they were on their way, none the worse I’m sure for the haphazard packing that accompanied their adventure.

As I’m writing this post, considering how to tie it all together, I get a text from my early-twenty-something son. “Can you talk now?” I answer yes, and a second later he calls with news of the really-not-so-good-kind. I promise I’m not making this up. Any of it.

He shares the very adult-world situation he’s facing, not because he wants us to fix it–he’s very independent–but just because he thought we should know.

The truth is we can’t fix it. And that’s tough for my “fixer-mom” personality to accept. Really tough.

I’m sad, angry, and frustrated that he’s facing this unexpected situation, but I’m happy and proud his call wasn’t in the least about Mom and Dad fixing it.

Anyone who thinks parenting is tough when the kids are little will not want to hear that parenting the YA crowd is far tougher. You find yourself longing for the days when a skinned knee or missing blankie were the biggest crises of the day. Parenting young adults definitely falls in the category of life situations that ramp up a person’s prayer life.

How thankful I am that we serve a Mighty GOD, and I know I can trust HIM with this and every other situation in my life.

Until next time… Praying GOD’s power and presence over my son’s situation, and peace over this mom’s heart.

Call Beth a “cheerleader for abstinence”!  She’s passionate about waiting for marriage and believes strongly in accountability and mentoring as crucial tools to success in saving sex for marriage.  She’s equally as passionate about “renewed waiting”. Because SEX is worth waiting for. YOU are worth waiting for. She’d love to hear from you! Comment here OR email her at waitingmatters@gmail.com.

The Full Experience

With narrowed eyes and the appropriately scrunched eyebrows, my husband questioned why on a 91 degree day I insisted on leaving my passenger side van window down. Rather than seal out the summer heat thereby allowing the air conditioner to effectively cool the sun-baked interior, I had chosen to keep my window in the all-the-way-open position and hang my arm through the opening.

“I want to get the full experience,” I shared, answering his inquiry before it became vocal.

His eyes narrowed further into slits. “The what?”

“The full outdoors experience. Now let’s drive around.”

“Mm hmm…” Head shaking slightly, he shifted into reverse, and we proceeded to meander through Cataract Falls State Recreation Area.

To feast our eyes on the peaceful, serene setting. And take in the sounds of nature that filtered in through that open window. It would have been a shame to miss the birds’ chirping or the insects’ buzzing or the rabbits’ scurrying through the brush. And the falls. A closed window would have blocked out the cadence of the water cascading over the rocks.

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Traversing as close to the waterfalls as my unreliable legs allowed us to go and taking a brief hike along the wooded bank had left us sweat-covered and hot. Still, I wanted to soak up more of the outdoors even if only through the eighteen square inch opening in the side of the van.

Because that’s what a person does when on vacation. Soak up the things that are different from the every day routine of life.

When we’d inched our way along the last of the paved drives, we headed for the exiDSCF8473t. As we turned on to the road, I pushed the control to roll up the window.

“Thought you wanted the full experience,” my husband quipped, an ornery smirk tugging at his mouth.

I adjusted the air conditioning vent to blow more fully on my still sweaty face. “I did and we got it, now hush.”

Share one of your own “full experience moments” from this summer!

Words of wisdom to my 16-year-old self…

In keeping with the recent theme of advising our younger self, I’ve penned some words of wisdom to my 16-year-old self.

Dear me,

I know you want a boyfriend NOW. I understand you’re worried a great guy may never come along for you. Honestly, you should lighten up about that. A lot of things in your life are really good—focus on that. It’s not the end of the world that you don’t have a boyfriend right now.

I can tell you with 100%dating picture certainty that a great guy is on his way and soon. He’s a keeper for sure. So just be patient. I know that’s never been your best quality. In fact, if you could make “chilling out” more of a priority, that would be awesome. You’re too much of a worrier. I know the term “GOD’s got this” means nothing to you now, but HE does have this and that and everything else. HE so totally knows what HE’s doing. Learn to trust
more, worry less, and roll with the punches.

 You know how it bugs you that you’re not part of the “in” crowd? You have friends, sure, but you’re not popular. Well, if that’s one of the things you can learn to “chill” about, that would be best because things in that department don’t get better.  Oh, some of the snobbish folk eventually get neck cramps from hoisting their noses so far in the air. Er… I mean they outgrow the tendency to look down on everyone. But that doesn’t happen until you’re, you know, ancient, like in your mid to late thirties. 

Eventually the whole popularity thing becomes less important to you. You mostly get over being bothered by them. But that’s a lot of years of letting them get under your skin, so I suggest you get over it NOW. Just focus on being the best “you” you can be and don’t worry about anyone else.

too slow clock

And you know how you feel like time moves so slowly and you’re always wishing this or that would hurry up and get here? Well, stop that right now! Stop wishing your life away. Live in and enjoy every moment as it comes. Please trust me on this one. Time is moving at exactly the pace it is supposed to.

 

 

Back to being who you are. You need to believe in yourself more. GOD’s given you abilities and qualities that HE wants and needs you to use. Don’t sell yourself short. In fact if you could spend some time building your confidence, it will serve you well in the decades to come when you have a tendency to shrink back from challenges that you should embrace. So yeah, take a course or read a book. Do something to boost that level of confidence because there’s a whole world waiting out there for you.

Most Sincerely,

Your much older and wiser self

How do you feel when you think back on the person you were at 16?