The first year of the rest of my life

I don’t believe in coincidences. Well, not unless we’re talking two cooks who bring the exact same strawberry chocolate trifle to the potluck dinner. Or best friends buying the same shirt on separate shopping excursions. Those type of events are simply by-chance occurrences, possibly influenced by a to-die-for recipe or the similarity of fashion sense shared by BFFs.

But when it comes to the life-will-never-be-the-same again sort of events that may seem like they “just  happened” without any purpose or meaning, nope. Not a believer.

Things like my mom mentioning to my daughter in a casual conversation the 53-year secret that I was found on a doorstep. Not a fluke. Not happenstance. Not a “twist of fate.” Not planned by her, but orchestrated nonetheless.

The one-year anniversary of the “slip” was on Friday. The one-year annivdoorstep-announcement-angolaersary of my husband handing me the copied newspaper clipping my mom had stopped by to give me, but then left with him because I wasn’t home, occurred on Sunday.

In some ways, it seems but a few months since I learned this detail of my beginnings. Yet when I recall the long days of waiting for DNA test results and the painstaking plotting of the family lines of distant cousins, it feels like the past twelve months’ journey has spanned five years.

Three-hundred-sixty-five days filled with many memory-making moments, almost all of them “ups”. The in-person reunion with a half-brother. Many let’s-get-to-know-each-other email conversations. An undisclosed amount of time spent Facebook picture-stalking. Several lengthy telephone discussions. Many giddy hours consumed by an obsession to confirm family resemblances. Multiple late-night Facebook chats. A solo excursion of private moments to my “hometown”. An official tour of said town. Untold hours trying to absorb it all.

The year included only a few “downs.” Learning that my birthmother’s death in 1990 would prevent me from meeting her and assuring her I’d had a good life. And the unintended, yet not completely unforeseen, tsunami-type storm the unveiling of the secret produced for some of my birth family.

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Compared to many similar journeys, mine was but a short jaunt. Just five months and eleven days to uncover the identity of both my birthparents, from the day my Ancestry.com DNA results came back. Further proof to me of the orchestrated timing.

I have to wonder what this past year would have looked like minus the unfolding of this incredible journey . . .

For one, I’d have gotten soooooo much more sleep. But I’d have missed out on meeting the incredible people who assisted in the search.

I might, probably would have, written more on other topics and furthered my writing career path. But several birthmothers and adoptees reunited throughout the midst of my search, would still be looking.

My house would have been cleaner and more organized for sure. But my mother-in-law’s “mystery brother” case would have remained a mystery, most likely forever.

And I’d still be gazing into the faces of strangers, wondering if we were related. Pondering whether the similar eyes or nose or the-something-I-can’t-quite-name-familiarity about the person could mean we shared DNA.

One of the most incredible aspects of all of this is discovering resemblances between me and my birth relatives, on both sides of the family. Hearing that I have the same mannerisms as my birthmother is so intriguing. All my life, I didn’t look like anyone, and now I look like lots of people!

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What’s in store for the next 360+ days? I’m excited about more face-to-face encounters and the discovery of more in-common-ness at the paternal family reunions planned for September and November. A third reunion is possibly shaping up as well. I’m beyond thrilled to meet these close relatives I didn’t know existed until five short months ago.

On the sleuthing front, we’re working on three new adoptee/birthparent mysteries. Talk about stimulating exercise for the brain. I’m continually amazed at how many people have the same name—a frustrating conundrum when piecing together genealogical puzzles. And my daughter and I hope to travel in October to connect with one of the birthmother/adoptee cases we helped to solve. Makes us wonder what’s in store for the month of December. And January. February and March and so on.

All because of a casual conversation in my parent’s upstairs “junk room” where the secret slipped out. Was it mere coincidence that this particular conversation happened on that day? I don’t believe so.

As I continue to ponder the “why now?” question, it dawns on me that maybe I was/am at the best place in my life, right now, to hear the doorstep details. To launch the search, to find my birth families, to meet my relatives. To lend a hand to others searching as well. To have a ring-side seat to so many wonderful reunions.

Only a GOD orchestrated event could have triggered this domino effect whereby dozens of lives have been impacted.

Reunion reports to follow soon! Next week the countdown begins.     Stay tuned . . .

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.

 

 

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An Adoption Story: Absorbing it All . . .

The sun peeks through the trees as I glance about the quiet, old neighborhood in the town where I was born. From across the street, I snap pictures of the house where my mother lived when she gave birth to me. Most likely in that very house or maybe in the small block building in the backyard.

I lower my camera as a car drives by then cross the street for a closer look. I’m drawn to the left of the house where, from the sidewalk, I peer across the yard through trees, bushes, plants, and other greenery to the property behind. The rear of two light blue buildings—a garage on the right, the house on the left—are visible through the foliage. But from this spot, I can’t quite make out the back door where I was found on November 17, 1963.

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from the sidewalk in front of my birthmother’s house looking through the yard to the house where she placed me on the doorstep 

The lump that swelled in my throat when I first turned onto Superior street has melted. I drove by the house without realizing it which kind of ruined the moment. When I circled back around, the dissolved lump did not reform. I’m not sure what I feel.

As the sun warms my back through the thin jacket I needed earlier but could easily shed now, I try to imagine that day long ago. I look around, wondering how much of this vegetation existed back then. Of course, in November, the leaf-less trees would have offered a much clearer view of the neighboring property. Yet it would have been dark and cold at just after 5 a.m. A shiver ripples through me, and I pull the jacket closer.

A couple cars pass. I snap a few more pics, deciding I’ve seen all there is to see. Anyway, I don’t want to rouse the suspicion of the current residents who might question my fascination with the quiet neighborhood in general, their property in particular.

The “official tour” of my hometown, guided by my maternal half-brother, will take place next Saturday. But since a writing related event found me here now, a week early, I welcome the opportunity for a few private moments to absorb it all. To wrap my head around such a complicated series of events. If only that were possible.

Some seven months after the fairly conclusive evidence that she was indeed my mother and four months after the solved father mystery sealed the deal, I’ve yet to grasp it all. Maybe any of it.

While my half-brother has filled in many details about the family, about her as a woman and mother and her life experiences, there are a frustrating number of unanswered questions for both of us. Things we’ll never know. Details that can never be filled in. Questions that will forever remain unanswered.

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The official tour

As we make our way through the now less-unfamiliar neighborhood, I drink in the details of my mother and half-brother’s life through the tidbits he shares. He parks across the street from “the” house, then green shingled, now boasting tan siding with brown trim. “That was my room.” He points to the upstairs window facing the street. He remarks on the block building (mentioned above) that he “helped” construct at the tender age of six.

Just one house stands between this one and that of her then best friend—the one person we can imagine having shared the doorstep baby secret. If only we’d started looking before this woman died in 2015.

We meander past Grandpa and Grandma’s house, just a couple blocks away, around the corner. A home well-loved and remembered by my brother yet foreign to me.

When my mother remarried in 1969 to a widower with five children, they lived a couple blocks up the same street in a spacious house on the corner. I would have had two step-brothers and three step-sisters.

A brief stop in front of the home where I was found leaves us all at a momentary loss for words.

Then it’s on to the local cemetery, to a picturesque setting under a large tree. The family of four—my grandparents, my mother and her brother—rest on either side of one headstone, with flat place markers noting the placement of each body.

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With the warm breeze whisking around us, we stroll about. My brother reliving the past that now includes a huge secret. Me trying to grasp every detail of the journey that brought me to this place. More stories flow from his memory, unleashed by the nearness of his closest relatives, no doubt. We snap pictures, capturing the moment.

A bit more circling about town brings the tour to an end with lunch at a long-time establishment. As we part, half-bro comments, “I guess we could’ve walked from one backyard to the next but . . . ” His tone clearly says, “Maybe not.”

I shake my head. Maybe not indeed. Not only would we have garnered far more attention than we wanted, just no. I made it through the day without crying, but that would have pushed me over the edge. Not tears for myself but for her, the mother leaving her baby.

I cling to the thought that maybe, just maybe something like this happened.

Birthmother to someone associated with the police, welfare department, or court system: “I wonder whatever happened to that baby, you know, the one the newspaper said was left on the doorstep.”

Someone in the know: “Oh, the baby was healthy. She stayed in the hospital a couple weeks then a nice couple adopted her.”

A measure of closure. A bit of peace to ease her mind.

We go back to our regular, normal lives, each left to ponder the reality of her secret. The very certain fact she never dreamed her son would years later receive a letter from the baby she placed on the doorstep.

The “who” answers have left weighty “how” and “why” questions in their wake. What was once a mystery to be solved has morphed into a reality rife with raw emotions and impossible to grasp realizations. Like how without her, I would not be here, yet I’ll never know her or the impact of my existence on her life.

I always understood how this was not the kind of story to be told to a young child. But now, that truth is magnified a thousand times as so many complexities have come to light.

In the last couple weeks, the reminder has pressed closer that this story is not mine alone. I’ve even questioned whether the secret she took to her grave should have remained undisclosed. But the prompting that One far wiser than me has guided this journey, soothes away most of those misgivings.

In the meantime, I’m connecting with my birthfather and his family—my birth stepmother, my aunt, two half-brothers, one half-sister, two adopted sisters, and two first cousins as well as various nieces and nephews. His family happens to number considerably more than that of my birthmother’s–her only sibling neither married nor had children. Of course there’s the reality that on his side, it’s an entirely different scenario. “Hey, look, a child I never knew about,” doesn’t even compare to her secret baby situation.

Even though I can’t yet answer the “Why now?” for the revelations falling into place at such a time as this, I still believe there is meaning and purpose to the timing. So, I’ll be ever vigilant to GOD’s continued intervention and direction. And strive to be content with the answers I do have rather than fret over those I don’t.

Adoption records open!

Next July in my state, adoptee birth records will be unsealed. Although this action would not have helped me, thousands of “traditionally” adopted persons will finally have access to information about their birthparents. My advice to one and all?

Toss out all expectations and preconceived ideas about the “who, what, when, where, how and why” and prepare yourself to discover truths stranger than any fiction author could conjure up.

And please oh please, realize you did not and cannot now walk in the shoes of those who made those long ago decisions. So, try very hard not to judge.

Remind yourself that your story impacts more than just you and that others will have different perspectives.  Tread lightly. Be kind and compassionate. 

 Stay tuned. I’ve a feeling this journey is not yet over. cropped-head-shot-2

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.

 

 

 

 

 

“We knew you came from somewhere.”

As the search for answers behind my doorstep beginnings came to an end, my mom made this rather profound statement, “Well, we knew you came from somewhere.”

Of course I did. I had a past before being found on the doorstep. A past that didn’t simply disappear because my future was headed in a very new and different direction.

Although they didn’t care what that past involved nor did they want to know any details, my parents “got” what so many adoptive parents don’t get. That where we came from would always be a part of us.

I came from somewhere, from people whose contribution to my existence did not simply vanish because the decision was made that we would part ways.

family tree picOnce I knew who those people were, I wanted to know about them. The mom and dad, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Unless you are adopted, you won’t understand how exhilarating it was to click the box on my Ancestry.com results to “link my test results with a family tree”—the new tree my daughter began building after the mystery was solved. A tree comprised of my blood relatives.

For years, she’d painstakingly built our family tree, going back seven generations in some areas. The branches had swelled to include over 1850 ancestors. My side of the tree held the names and dates and stories of my adoptive family—the Hammitts and the Dagues.

I will always be a Hammitt regardless of whose DNA courses through my body. I’m proud of my Hammitt / Dague heritage. I love that my daughter created a family tree based on the rich history of these families who played a huge role in my life, in her life. That tree will never be deleted or replaced. Rather the new Brown / Hubbard family tree will rest alongside the Hammitt / Dague tree in our Ancestry.com account. Each as vital and important as the other.

As I connect more with my biological family, as we fill in the blanks of the last 50+ years, my mind swirls with “what ifs?”. What if I’d grown up with them? My life would have taken a very different path. My husband would be married to someone else. I would be married to someone else. Neither my daughter or son would exist. Nor would my grandson. I would have different children. Be someone else’s “Gram.” That’s a lot to wrap my head around.

A fellow adoptee who recently connected with his birthmother summed it up well.“If I hadn’t been adopted, my life would have been very different. But I wouldn’t have known the difference.” Another profound statement.

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Of course my life and his could have been snuffed out before we took our first breath. Abortion wasn’t legal in 1963 or 1965, but it took place all the same. In fact the Society for Human Abortion was established in San Francisco in 1963, openly providing information on abortion, and no doubt paving the way for the 1973 ruling that would legalize the killing of unborn babies.

Even though my birthmother determined she could not raise me or relinquish me for adoption through traditional means, she chose to give me life. Then shedoorstep-announcement-angola protected my life by making sure I would be found quickly. Remember the homeowner’s dog Frisky? When the small dog went out to do “his business”, no baby on the step. Minutes later when he scampered back into the house, he
jumped over the bundle of baby wrapped in a black shirt. Although the backyard neighbors had only lived there a short time, my birthmom and Mrs. N. were acquainted as members of a local club some years prior to 1963. I’m betting she remembered them as the good, family-oriented folks I discovered them to be, and she knew they would do the right thing.

I have to wonder if she checked the newspaper for word of her baby. I wonder if maybe she cut out the three paragraph snippet—in one publication—four paragraph blurb in the other local paper—and tucked it away somewhere. I wonder if she feared prosecution were someone to discover the doorstep baby belonged to her.

baby-safe-havenYou see, “Safe Haven” laws that allow a distressed parent to give up an unwanted infant safely, legally and confidentially, without fear of arrest or prosecution, and requires no names or records, didn’t go into effect in my state until 2000. I’m thrilled that this safe, legal option is available now.

Because not everyone who can father a child or give birth to a child is equipped to, in that moment in time, care for and nurture that child.

I promised you more about the “cool process and the incredible people” that made this discovery possible. With absolutely no clues, the only hope of finding answers was to look into my DNA. We chose Ancestry.com’s autosomal DNA kit that tests a sample of saliva. The results provided a list of people who had also tested, with whom I shared DNA, referred to as “matches.” With the help of the amazing genetic genealogist Amanda R., we built a “speculative” family tree to determine how these matches fit together. Ancestry’s vast resources combined with sleuthing skills we didn’t know we possessed, uncovered the details that led us to my birthmother’s family. A couple months later, a new “close match” pointed us directly to my birthfather. Without Ancestry.com, the mystery would never have been solved.

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The company has experienced exponential growth in the last six months. In March their user base topped 4 million. Evidently having one’s DNA tested is the “in” thing to do. Which is fabulous news for anyone searching for genealogical answers via DNA as the more people who test, the more clues will be available to everyone searching.

Early in this journey, we discovered DNA Detectives, the amazing nearly 50,000 member strong Facebook group focused on using DNA to solve genealogical mysteries.The closed group–you must request to be a member–is administered by a faithful crew of kind, dedicated, knowledgeable genetic genealogists and “search angels” who pour themselves into solving family mysteries. Here we made friends with other searching adoptees, learned valuable search tips, and gained deep and impactful insights into the emotionally charged world of digging for adoption answers. The stories are as unique as the individuals, each looking for answers that can only be found in the DNA that links them to their ancestors.

While some people search for years—decades even—to solve family mysteries, the puzzle pieces fell into place very quickly for me. I found both birthparents in just five months and 11 days. Something I have to believe is related to the “why now?” factor. At this very moment, a situation is unfolding that was spurred by my searching for answers. Someone touched by my journey has embarked on his own important quest for answers.

More adventures await as the visit to my birthmother’s grave and the house where I was born will happen soon. I’ve connected with several more of my eight, newly-discovered half-siblings. Plans are coming together for meeting my birthfather, his sister and possibly some of the sibs. And my eyes will be ever open for more “why now?” evidence.

So stay tuned . . .   cropped-head-shot-2

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.

 

An Adoption Story: The Final Pieces – Part 2

 

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While my parents had years to ponder my “foundling” beginnings, to conjure up scenarios about the who, the when, the why,I have had but a few months to imagine the details surrounding my being left on a doorstep. I have to agree with my mom’s repeated murmurings as the pieces have fallen into place. “This is not at all how I envisioned it.”

We peer at pictures of my birthmother who passed away twenty-six years ago—pictures we’ve studied for months—now placed next to a new-to-us picture of my very much alive birthfather.

This final piece of my adoption puzzle fell into place just over a month ago wDSCF8697 (2)hen my birthfather’s sister appeared as a “close relative” match on Ancestry.com. “Aunt Donna” broke the news of a long ago doorstep baby to her brother who knew nothing of a pregnancy or a baby girl.

At her urging and with his blessing, I sent him a brief email message that included the newspaper clipping and the link to the letter I posted in area newspapers last August, looking for anyone who remembered the doorstep baby from 1963. I struggled with what to say, and although I wasn’t thrilled with the final product, I hit send anyway. His response was quick and accepting of the situation. My loss-for-words condition remedied itself as we exchanged many get-to-know-you messages in the days that followed. He didn’t shy away from my questions which required him to sort through long ago memories and try to fit new pieces into a puzzle that he didn’t know had holes.

Despite the fact that the situation was anything but expected and is the furthest thing from neat and tidy, he’s been very welcoming. He brings four biological half-siblings as well as two adopted daughters to the equation. Add my two maternal half-siblings and my three adopted grew-up-with-me-my-whole-life brothers and that makes a grand total of eleven siblings. Eight brothers, two adopted sisters, and one biological sister.

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Yes, I have a sister. And yes, we look alike. (From an earlier post:  What if I had a sister out there somewhere? What if she looked like me?)

I also look like my birthmother.  And paternal grandmother. And even Aunt Donna. My son shares a strong resemblance with one of his maternal uncles. There’s actually quite a lot of family resemblances all around confirmed by several picture montages comparing me at various ages to my new relatives.  And I’m loving it. To finally look like someone is incredible.

Immediate family and very close friends have oohed and ahhed over the picture comparisons. But I won’t be sharing them here. Not yet. Maybe later, maybe never. Out of respect for all involved, I’m not revealing the names, the pictures or even the small Midwest town where the story unfolded. As much as I’ve enjoyed sharing this journey with you and would like to share the pictures, I’m very aware that this story isn’t mine alone.

Neither is the decision to share the “news” with my half-siblings and new extended family. While I get one vote, it’s not the deciding vote. Would I like to meet them? Yes, I would. But I won’t insist nor will I approach any of them on my own. This story of decisions made long ago has the potential to impact a host of people’s lives. Should connections and relationships develop, I will welcome them. If some never learn of my existence or choose to remain strangers, those are choices I will respect.

howWhile this ends the search for the “who”, many questions remain. Like how did she conceal the pregnancy, when and where did she give birth, did anyone help her with the birth or walk with her through that difficult time? It’s looking like those questions will never be resolved because the one person who holds those answers no longer has a voice. My greatest concern as I uncovered the truth was that no part of this journey bring judgement upon my birthmother or the decisions she made.

As a close friend listens to the latest update, her head shakes and her eyes widen. “So what’s the why?”

As in why now?  Why after all these years are the answers lining up to questions I barely knew to ask?

“That’s what I keep wondering,” I murmur.  Now it’s my head that’s shaking, moving back and forth in a kind of circular, what-in-the-world-is-this-all-about motion.

Because now that there’s no one to tell, “You did what you felt you had to do and it turned out okay,” the why of this journey is looming large. I felt certain whythere was someone who needed to hear, “It’s fine, really. The story had a happy ending.” That surely someone had been waiting fifty-three years to know what became of her/his baby girl on the doorstep. But no.

Since we began this quest, my daughter and I have reunited three searching adoptees with their birthmothers. One adoptee will celebrate his 50th birthday this week having connected with his birthmother who has looked for him for years. We also solved the case of the “mystery brother” for my mother-in-law and in the process discovered a plethora of new first cousins for my husband and his three siblings. A newfound niece will join the family celebration for my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday this weekend. We couldn’t be happier about connecting with this newly discovered branch of the family.

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Maybe the “why” of this journey has less to do with me and my story than I assumed. Maybe the purpose in my search was the opportunity it created to assist in the reunions mentioned above. Or maybe my quest was about the reconnecting with family this discovery has spurred for my new Aunt Donna. While I find myself still longing for my birthmom to hear the words, “It turned out well,” from me, the grown-up version of the tiny baby she walked across two backyards, that’s another decision that is not mine to make.

I suspect there are a variety of “whys”. That evidence of new reasons and purposes will continue to emerge. I do hope that’s the case. This experience has been, all at the same time, overwhelming, inspiring, and satisfying. And this whole business of reuniting people is as heartwarming as it is addictive.

So what’s ahead? For one, a special trip to my hometown as well as more reflections on the cool process and the incredible people that made all of this possible. While the search may be over, I’ve a feeling the journey has just begun. And I’m counting on some more “whys” too. So stay tuned for more . . . very soon! 

ScribcolumnBeth 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.

Pieces of an Adoption Puzzle: The Story Continues

For the first time in my life, I celebrated my November 14th birthday with 99% assurance of my birthmother’s identity. Thanks to the DNA testing results from Ancestry.com paired with the expertise and diligence of a kind-hearted genealogy geneticist and aided by the discovery of mine and my daughter’s detective skills, we have uncovered the secret of one side of my birth equation.  A member of this family—a presumed half-brother—kindly agreed to test his DNA, and the results substantiated our theory.

While the DNA findings are quite convincing, our digging for answers hasn’t uncovered one living person who can confirm that this woman gave birth to a daughter—or was even pregnant—in 1963. Because she died unexpectedly in 1990, her DNA can’t be tested nor can she corroborate the scenario. The lack of this absolute proof leaves a squiggle of doubt that we will try to erase in the coming days with one additional DNA test.

My newly discovered sibling not only agreed to share his DNA results with a stranger, he has been incredibly open to the possibility of a sister he never knew existed. I feel as if I’ve been on a tilt-a-whirl the past few months. He must feel as if a cyclone swooped him up and deposited him in an unfamiliar land. Yet his willingness to delve into this decades old mystery along with me has been such a blessing.

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Evidence is mounting that no one other than my birthmother had knowledge of the pregnancy or a “door step” baby. The more I think about how alone she was, how traumatic it must have been to go through all of that and then to wonder for years what became of the baby, a sadness swells inside me. My half-brother grieves over this as well.

The vague, back-burner wonderings I entertained each November about whether I’d ever meet my birthmother multiplied by tenfold when I learned of the door step detail. As I embarked on this quest, I hoped doors would open to the chance to say, “It all turned out okay.” But now that there will be no chance to announce, “I’m fine” or to ask, “How have you been?” I’m disappointed. But it’s not an I-wish-I’d-never-started-this-search kind of disappointment. Just a stab of remorse at the lack of closure.beth-3-weeks

And now the $64,000 question. Will I pursue the other side of the birth equation? The DNA results didn’t offer as many good clues on the paternal side, and frankly, I need to close the private investigator shop for some R & R. There’s always the chance I’ll wake up one morning to find a new DNA match, maybe a really close one, that will point in the direction of my birthfather. If that happens, I’m sure my curious nature will again shift into high gear. But for now, I think I’ll take a break from searching and focus on learning about my birth mom and her family with the gracious assistance of my new half-brother.

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The newspaper account didn’t get all the details right. It was a DOG not a CAT the homeowner called to and I weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz. and was 19 inches long.

On a side note, a bit of “birth date mystery” trivia was resolved this year with the help of the official adoption file for “Susie Hope”. That’s the nickname bestowed on me by the nurses at the hospital and the name that was also used in the legal paperwork. A bit more personal than “baby Jane Doe,” isn’t it? Anyway, my parents celebrated my first birthday on November 20 as that’s the day the initial court documents said I had been born. Turns out that’s the day I officially became a ward of the state, three days after the November 17th discovery as an abandoned, estimated to be three-day-old infant. When my adoption was finalized a year later, those official documents pronounced my birth date as November 14.

It seems the official math went something like this. Day of discovery, November 17, minus the three days of my estimated age, equaled November 14th in the eyes of the court. My mom was none too happy about the clerical discrepancy as everyone who was anyone already knew her baby girl’s birthday to be November 20. However, at the court officials’ insistence, birthdays 2 and 3 and 4 and so on, were observed on the 14th.

A rather bumpy, uncertain beginning for me.  An unimaginably difficult situation for my birthmother. But life went on for both of us. And GOD watched over the little one she couldn’t care for.

I’m still watching and listening and waiting for an “Aha!” moment that will define why the puzzle pieces are coming together at this moment in time. I really hope that moment comes, if not here on earth, than someday in eternity. Regardless, I trust in GOD’s precise, perfect timing.

Thanks for walking with me through this “slice of my life.” Feel free to share my story with anyone who might benefit from the evidence of a mighty GOD at work. And stay tuned for more because I’m pretty sure GOD’s not done with the lessons to be learned through this amazing journey.

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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.

A Family Resemblance: The Adoption Mystery Continues

Most days I don’t think about it at all. It’s just a part of who I am. An accepted part. From a very  early age—as long as I can remember—I concluded that whoever gave birth to me couldn’t take care of me so she, and possibly the he as well, gave me to someone who could take care of me. And I was okay with that.

But I’ve always, always wondered who I look like. My birth mom, birth dad, a grandparent? Aunt or uncle? A sibling? Maybe even a sister . . .

My entire life, I sooooooo wanted a sister. I had three adopted younger brothers and lots of cousins but not a sister.

What if I had a sister out there somewhere? What if she looked like me? A half-sister even. How incredibly cool would that be.3df0503bbb8462651faa9fea8afcb191-2

I’ve always found family resemblances so fascinating. I love looking at old photos and discovering shared traits between the generations. It’s especially cool to discover a “spittin’ image” resemblance when comparing photos of folks separated by a generation or two.

At my husband’s uncle’s funeral, as we perused the collection of photos from his long life, I exclaimed over the resemblance between the uncle in his younger days and his youngest son there that day. Apparently I exclaimed excessively over this not-unusual occurrence because one of my husband’s cousins turned to me and with a shake of his head and a minor eye roll stated, “Yeah, it’s called genetics.”

“Well, I know that . . .” I muttered, feeling the need to button-up my too-obvious enthusiasm. “But still . . . they look so much a like!”

As I defended my awestruck reaction, it hit me. If I had a clue who I looked like, this father-son resemblance wouldn’t seem like such a big deal. I probably wouldn’t be standing here gushing over how 40-year-old father and 40-year-old son looked like twins. So give me a break.

While my daughter and son take after my husband and I somewhat, there’s no “Would you look at that!” resemblance.

Thanks to the DNA test results of a prospective birth family member, we dscf8661are closing in on one side of the equation concerning my birth parents. While this is quite exciting, nerve-wracking and sobering are fitting descriptors as well. As the pieces continue to fall into place, I find myself wondering more and more about the life realities and circumstances that would have urged someone to abandon an infant. I’ve never been sad for me and my situation, but I am sad for the person(s) who felt their only option was to leave a three-day-old baby on a doorstep and walk away.

It’s a simple yet intensely profound reality that not everyone who can father or give birth to a child is equipped to care for and nurture that child.

Even before I consciously decided to embark on this journey, I was keenly aware of how a search for answers could impact those on the other side of the adoption story. While I was certain I would be okay with whatever the quest would uncover, I had to consider that those involved in that long ago decision might feel anything but excitement when greeted with reminders of that past event.

As I seek to put the pieces of the puzzle together, I want to be as sensitive and kind and understanding as possible to whomever I encounter, regardless of their reaction or response to me or my situation. I realize that as much as I want to know the facts, others might long just as strongly to keep those details hidden.

The decision made long ago to leave me on a doorstep impacted every day of the rest of my life. In a similar way, my efforts to dig into the past will have lasting effects on me and who knows how many others.

A “This affects no one but me!” attitude gets a lot of mileage these days. When a person doesn’t want to be concerned with how a decision will affect others, they hotly defend a me-first position, refusing to believe that the choices they make today will impact someone else’s tomorrow.

But that’s not the way life works. Our paths’ connect and intersect and branch off from each other in twisting, turning ways that leave permanent marks. Our life influences those around us in either a negative or positive way—whether we choose to accept that reality and responsibility or not. Because that’s how life works.

Stopping for even a moment to reflect on the other side of any situation can make all the difference in the world, to everyone involved. If it pushes us to make wiser decisions, softens our reactions, sands the sharp edges from an angry retort, opens our eyes to the wounds those around us may bear in silence, if it slides us into someone else’s shoes for even a minute—the ripple effects of our more sensitive actions can be unbelievably profound.

Especially in this month of November that celebrates adoption awareness—but every other day as well—I am thankful for many things. Among a host of blessing, I’m deeply grateful for birthmother/father who gave me life and placed me where I could be found quickly, so that I could be raised by someone not only equipped to care for a child, but a couple who very much wanted a family.

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Help spread the word that adoption is a good thing. No. . . it’s an awesome thing. Support families seeking to adopt. Encourage those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to choose life and adoption. Because not everyone who can father a child/give birth to a child is in a position to nurture a child.

Stay tuned for more updates on this very fascinating “slice” of my life. 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.

Come on, Stretch Those Writerly Brains

I believe in stretching myself as a writer. You know, attempting things that are outside of my comfort zone, tackling things I said I’d never do because “that would be boring … or hard … or ‘not my thing’.”

So in addition to fiction, which I thought was my “thing” but is the “thing” I’ve had the least success with so far, I also host a blog themed around abstinence and renewed abstinence. I write feature articles for a local magazine based on interviews with business owners. I provide web content in the form of weekly blog posts and monthly newsletters for businesses via their account with a marketing firm. I rewrite the basic information for business websites. And on occasion I edit articles written by others.

I noted, repeatedly, that I had no interest in interviewing people like my friend Kayleen does. None at all. But I’ve met so many interesting folks and discovered several “hidden treasures” among the businesses I visited.

I moaned at the thought of researching and writing articles on subjects about which I had little to no interest. Blech… But I’ve learned so much along the way. Many things that will benefit me when I begin marketing my own fiction in what I hope is the not-too-far future.

And because this is National Poetry month, I have challenged myself to compose poetry—one of my very least favorite forms of writing–for you, our faithful Scriblerian followers.

In the past, again to expand my writing skills, I have written poems for special occasions. I once attempted to write a poem each week related to the Sunday School class I taught. “It will be good for me,” I reasoned. That lasted two weeks. Well, actually one and a half as I couldn’t make it through the second round.

So without further ado, I present my poem–

In Honor of Spring

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Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

But the tulips of spring,

How they make my heart sing.

The grass is so green,

And my, how it grows.

So cool and so soft

Against my bare little toes.

The warmth of the sun

Surrounds the fertile earth.

As the wonders of spring

Fill us each with such mirth.

A confession I must make

Although it pains me so.

Only the tallest part

Of the lawn did I mow.

The day had been long and

Twas already past seven.

My bones were so weary

To rest–that would be heaven.

I’ll finish the job

Before the grass is knee high.

I promise I will

About that I would not lie.

Should anyone be wondering, this is not my attempt to prepare for Chip MacGregor’s famous Bad Poetry Contest held each May.

I challenge you to write a hasty poem, spend fifteen minutes max on it, and share it in the comments. Are you up to the challenge?