Monday, January 4, 2010

More Q&As

I have much to say and layers on my heart, but for now, I'm just going to ask you to pray. I'm in active pursuit of finding a literary agent to represent the book I want to write and the process is intimidating to say the least. Pitching my heart in a standard three paragraph, no-fuss, letter is harder than any 30 page paper I've ever had to write. I'm begging God for wisdom as I thoughtfully, lay my words on paper.

In the meantime, I've had several questions sent my way, that I'd like to answer. Hopefully, you don't find our little Q&A sessions's the easiest way for me to answer everyone at once and I jump at every opportunity available to share our story!

Here we go:

The birth parents of my children abused my children so strongly that they lost custody of their kids. I have no warm fuzzy feelings for these people. How in the world am I going to talk to my adopted children about their birth parents? I am not a bitter birth parent hater. I really am not, but in our case, these birth parents are out living their lives while their children are struggling to pick up the pieces. Seriously, any advice is appreciated.

First of all, I would never profess to have all the answers. In adoption, every scenario is so unique and different, there's no way that one answer will always suffice. God has really been speaking to my heart in regards to adopting out of foster care [a different post for a different day] and if ever a chaotic system of loopholes and differences existed, it's there. It's difficult for me to offer advice while not in your shoes. The best life advice I can give is to speak kindly.

We all fall short of God's glory and make bad decisions (some more than others). Ben and I strive to live love out loud, in all situations, and want Tyrus to be a I Corinthians 13 kind of man. We want him to know that God's version of love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When it comes to openness, how is that enforced? Do the birth parents within your agency have legal rights to the updates. I am just curious.

To be perfectly honest, I think this falls on the honor system [correct me if I'm wrong]. If a birth mother/father went to the agency and complained about an absence of promised pictures/letters, the agency would surely contact us, but I know it's not something the agency follows up with. We did fill out paperwork that outlined our openness and it was pretty specific, but I didn't see a mention of it anywhere in the court documents filed to the county. I also feel that full-on open adoption involves relationships full of mutual love and respect for one another. Although boundaries may be later established, families that choose to engage in open adoption, usually embrace it with big hearts. In our situation, we could never renege our decision because Rebekah has become a part of our hearts and family.

What have you decided Ty should call his birth parents?

Ty will refer to them by their first names, with the appropriate Mr./Ms. in front of it and although he does have biological siblings and aunties and grandparents, they won't formally be considered a part of our family. Meaning, I don't want Ty's second grade teacher to ask him how many siblings he has and for him to say, "Well...I have a sister and brother at home [hopeful thinking], but then technically my birth mom has four kids and my birth dad..." We feel that is too much confusion for one little mind. Rebekah's family will always be a part of our extended family (and Ty will know that her kids are half brothers and sisters), but his immediate family will consist of Me and Ben and any other children God blesses us with. How Ty chooses to refer to them when he's older will be up to him.

It seems your birth mother needs constant reassurance that she will be a part of Ty's life. Is that true?

No. Rebekah is one of the most lovable, easy-going friends I have and if anything, she leans toward the side of never wanting to impose/interfere with our life. You may be mistaking the number of references to her, throughout my blog, as a way for me to satisfy her neediness. But at face value, I simply love her and can't say enough about her and the place she holds in my heart.

You and Ben seem very fit and active. What if Ty doesn't share the same tendencies? What if he is an overweight child?

I'm a firm believer that Ty will grow up to be like us because it will be his normal. What kid wouldn't want to go bouldering or mountain biking or cliff jumping? I'm pretty sure if mom and dad are "all in," so will little Ty! Again, I'm no expert, but when it comes to weight issues I think most of them relate to eating habits and lifestyle choices. Ben and I don't pound double cheeseburgers and potato chips. We try to make right choices and enjoy the energy that comes with them. The best we can do is set Ty up for a lifetime of good habits, what he chooses to do when he's out from under our watch, is up to him.

How come your blog focuses on you and Ty and not as much on Ben?

Well...It's my blog [smile]. In all seriousness, there are two reasons. First, I use this blog as a journal. Each page contains my thoughts, my cries, and my words. It is my special place for exploring life as an adoptive mom and growing as I go. I, also, don't ever want to misrepresent Ben. I'm not sure about your marriage, but we don't always agree on everything over here and it's just easier to be responsible for me - what I say - what I post.

I don't have the exact wordage on this last one because I couldn't find the email, but someone questioned my "gift" terminology when refering to Ty. It was not a nasty anonymous hater, rather it was a sincere birth mother. The premise of the note was that it bothered her that adoptive families view their children as gifts when that was not the birth mother's intent. She said she did not give her child to an adoptive family as a gift for the family, but instead gifted her child with a family...that her concern was not that the family could or could not have children. It was that her child would have the best family possible.

I am thoughtful when it comes to adoption and try to look at every angle to make sure I'm not missing the best view, but my commenters also get exaggerated eye rolls from me when I feel their being oversensitive. My intent [here] is not to offend, I completely understand where the above birth mother is coming from and before she mentioned it, I had never contemplated her point. But, in general, there is so much insecurity when it comes to political rightness, it drives me batty. Adoption is not an exception. We get so caught up in terminology - birth mother/first mother, gave baby up/made an adoption plan, real mother vs. adoptive mother, etc., etc.

I just don't get it. {Enter Soapbox Rebekah} Mixed in all the "right" word mumbo jumbo is a stand off be-careful-what-you-say-around-me attitude, that isn't welcoming to anyone. Now, hear me, if Rebekah was sensitivie to any of the above examples, we would absolutely honor her with our words, but thankfully, we are in one accord on this. The adoption community can be too sensitive (and it's mostly on the adopting family side).

It honestly doesn't phase me when someone asks about Ty's "real" mom. I know my place in Ty's life and don't feel the need to defend it. Most inquirers are new to all things adoption and don't know how to play by our PC-rules. Regularly, I refer to Rebekah as "Ty's mom" or the birth father as "Ty's dad." I don't do it on purpose, it's just natural - they are Ty's mom and dad.

I was thinking, today about this whole issue and immediately John 3:16 came to mind - "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." It doesn't read: God so loved the world that he made a crucifixion plan for his one and only son. So why do I have to avoid using "gave up" when talking about Rebekah and Ty? Doesn't it sound less substantial and selfless to say Rebekah made an adoption plan? Rebekah did more than make an adoption plan for Ty... she gave her sweet baby boy to that he could have a daddy and a life full of opportunity.

Maybe if we all met on common ground we could start communicating openly.... {Soapbox Rebekah is done}

All that to say, whether Rebekah meant Ty to be a gift to our family or not, he is. He is the greatest gift I've ever received. And although Rebekah paid a great sacrifice, the Master Giver is my heavenly Father.

I think that wraps it up. Here is my sweet miracle in action:

Gotta love a warm Texan Christmas.


  1. If it helps I am a foster adoptive mom and my husband and I have had many a conversation about the birth parents of our children. They are too young to know details right now, but here's what we do.

    We teach them that a person is good because God makes all things for good. However, a person can make a bad choice.

    We're hoping that when the time comes, what we teach them now about people will help them understand their birth parents later on.

  2. Thanks for sharing- you are such an honest and inspiring writer!

  3. As always, great job. You have a true gift of words and expression and of sharing the word and Christ!
    You should have no problem with your query letter! They are hard to write and the process is long but, stick with it! Can't wait to read the finished product!!

  4. Oh my sweet Rebekah. You never cease to amaze me. You better believe that I will be one of the first to buy your book (maybe more then one copy) and read it. You truly have a gift of words. And you can be sure that I gave Ty to you not only because I wanted him to have a father...but because I wanted you to be his mother. I love your question and answer posts. :)


  5. I am praying for you and for the publication of your book. God is doing and will continue to do awesome things we can't even imagine through your story and willingness to share.

    This is the verse the Lord gave me this morning when I woke up and I think it is fitting to share with you, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1


  6. Can't believe how big he is. Such a handsome young man! Thank you again for your blog. God has blessed you with the ability to express your heart into words. Thank you for your faithfulness. God had continued to stir in my (& my husbands) heart adoption is a real possibility for us. He reassures my heart answers my questions many times through this blog. Once again thank you for your faithfulness not to this blog but to our Father! Praying continued blessings over you, your family, and your journey.

  7. Rebekah,
    Great answers! I too look forward to your book. As an adoptive mom I don't necessarily agree with some of the responses as far as "real family" questions go. I do not refer to my children's birthparents as "mom and dad", and I feel that doing so to strangers perpetuates people's misconceptions of adoption either (a) being coparenting or (b) being something that happens in a broken world i.e. the notion that a child's natural place is with their biological family. The Bible is clear that this is not the case or else we would have never had the opportunity to be adopted into the family of God. I do agree that when we refer to our children as "gifts" we are referring to God as the giver, not necessarily their birthmother. So great of you to put that in words!! And I definetly agree that the sensitivity in the adoption community often stems from the adoptive parents evident by my comment here!! :) Love your blog, love your photos, LOVE your open adoption!!

  8. Rebekah, I've been a lurker up to this point, I came across your blog last spring in my tendency to follow people's reading list until I find something that grabs me. Your writing pulled me in. In regards to finding a publisher, I'm not sure if ou are familiar with these women,,, but they are Christian women who both recently published books on the heartbreak and faith in their lives. They may be able to help a fellow writer.
    I think your story is beautiful.

  9. Thanks for responding to my question. :) I wish you knew more about my story or knew me IRL because you would know that it is not about being PC at all. :) I am not an overly sensitive person, and I don't have a need for anyone to tread lightly around me. There certainly is no shortage of opinions and preferences when it comes to adoption terminology, but that was not the point of my comment on your post. Words are especially important in the world of adoption because they are very telling about our grasp of the complexities of adoption. Most people have a very, very limited view, and certainly not an accurate one, when it comes to the reality of adoption. I commented on your post because you have a huge following of readers and they soak up every word you write about your adoption. You have an enormous opportunity to help dispel myths and stereotypes about the least understood people in the adoption triad. That is a wonderful thing! All I ask is that you be open to realizing that you are still at the very beginning of your journey and understanding of what living with adoption is really like. I think it is wonderful that you have such a beautiful relationship with Ty's birth mom. II wouldn't question that for a moment. It is personal and unique to your family, as is every adoption story. But I think at this stage of the game, in your passion, you may not know how much you don't know, if that makes sense. :) I used to do a lot of public speaking for my adoption agency, and the crazy thing is that they WANTED me to do that in the first few years post-relinquishment! LOL But as time goes on, I have a lot of sadness that I was so quick to be an adoption "teacher" when, in fact, I still had a lot of learning to do. We have to make sure that our soapboxes have solid foundations if we are going to stand on them to proclaim our message. :) Otherwise, we can unintentionally do a lot of damage. And the realization may not set in until later when there is legitmate regret for things we have passed on to others.

    First mother, wife, and mom to two precious little girls

  10. Just want to say I don't think your Q&A posts are lame. I actually find them interesting and I always seem to learn something. Thank you for doing them.

  11. I absolutely love your paragraph about how God didn't make "a crucifixion plan". That really got me to thinking. While I will probably continue saying, "make an adoption plan" for the most part, it did show me a new, healthy perspective on the "gift" of a birth mother. I had just never connected it in my head with Christ's gift before, not that specifically. I do tell Andrew that his birth mother gave him a family, mostly because we've never gotten to meet her. But, in your case, with your closeness with Rebekah, it totally makes sense. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  12. your Q&A posts are not silly, when I read through your comments I wonder what you think of them and am interested to hear.

    Ty looks like he had an awesome Christmas!

  13. I'm pretty sure God had you on my heart the other day. I found myself thinking of you and your desire to write a book, during my prayer time. I'm not much of A "reader" but yours is one I look forward to reading. I will continue to pray about this.
    Also wanted u to know how much my parents (beckys Aunt and Uncle) get a kick out of seeing Ty grow up thru your pictures. Thanks for posting and sharing him with us like u do. We love you guys and I am so grateful that u love Becky so much. Thank You!

  14. As always I look up to you and always enjoy how you look at life. It inspires me to be a better person and live more like Jesus did!! I am so thankful that you share you life with us...b/c I see it as a great example of how we all should view the world and live our lives!! I have shared your story many times and love to do so and show how amazing our Lord is!!! Love U!

  15. Rebekah,
    I have never left a comment before, but I have been reading your blog for awhile. We have 2 children by adoption, that were semi open per birth parents choice.We are currently playing the waiting game for another baby. Our children are 8 & 9 and we always tell them that they were a gift. Not a gift from their birth parents, but rather a gift from God! They understand that their birth parents were completely unselfish as they made their decisions not to parent as they were only thinking of the babies and not of themselves. Whether a child is adopted or biological, they are a gift from God!

    Good luck on your book! Ty is adorable!

  16. you might check out Thomas Nelson, Inc. in Nashville TN....they have a self publishing section...may be the way to get your book published.

  17. Hi!
    Don't know if you are aware, but it's National Delurker Week...trying to get all those blog lurkers to comment, and let me just say... I am a major lurker of your blog. My husband and I are going through fertility treatments... I came across your blog before Ty came into your lives, and have been reading ever since. Your joy, hope and faith give me... well, those same things. Thanks for being an awesome blogger!!

  18. Praying..can't wait to read your book. Always find out a little info I did not know in the Q&A's. Love you...very cute pictures

  19. Love the new pictures, he's such a handsome little man!!

  20. I love reading about your adoption story and sweet baby Ty. Clearly the adoption process is so complex, and it affects the different parties involved in completely different ways. I think it's amazing that you Rebekah can share the same story from two different points of view-- she is definitely remarkable in being so honest about her sadness but without being bitter. This is your blog and you should be able to express your story and your emotions in whatever words you choose to use. Just as your pain of the past was so evident in your words, now your joy just leaps from the words on the screen! Don't let anyone try to steal your joy!!!

  21. I believe God does like to be referred to as Jesus' "birth father" while Joseph was just his "second dad" ;) Still chuckling over "crucifixion plan"...very witty, my friend!

  22. HI, I'm a lurker, but I have been reading you blog for about 8 months or so. But I wasnted to say...I LOVE LOVE LOVE how you write. Your words go straight to my heart. I love your quotes from the bible. I write them down at my desk and read them as much as I can. Your little boy is getting so big. Thanks for just being you and not worrying about what other people will think. I love the question and answer posts. they are the best. christina

  23. I love you Q&A post....always so interesting!! You do have a way with words that just pulls people in to read them!!!

    Ty is getting so big and I love that smile. =)

  24. your heart comes through your words, loud and clear. your book pitch will be amazing!

  25. I'm delurking as well! Every parent I know, adoptive or biological, refers to their children as gifts. Gifts are from God. EVERY gift is from God. I know there is a higher level of sensitivity in the adoption community because of it's sluggish speed in gaining mainstream acceptance, but a child is a gift and you have every right to describe sweet Ty as such. (imo)

  26. Love this, especially the last Q&A. I totally never offends me when someone says "real mom" referring to R, because I know what they mean and know they aren't trying to hurt my feelings, especially when it's a friend or family member.