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.

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.

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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.

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?

 

 

 

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?