Her Obituary

A number of people have asked when I plan to continue my Tell it Well series and I don’t have a clear answer.  I do plan to finish telling the story of my journey from being a birthmother to an adoptive mother, but it is taking time. The next few posts in the series include the story of meeting my son again, our relationship, and many emotion-laden events.  As I have been writing, I’ve been very aware that this is Nick’s story, too, so when the first draft was done, I sent it to him and asked for his thoughts.  It has prompted some good discussions between us that they are not complete enough yet for me to begin posting.

I write about the importance of “giving voice” to our children, and by pausing in the telling of my story, I am giving voice to Nick.  If you listen long to adult adoptees, you will frequently hear their frustration that they were given no choice in their adoptions.  They were commonly infants when the course of their lives was inextricably and profoundly changed as they were handed from one parent to another person who would then become their parent(s).  Their birth certificates were altered, names changed, and the information about their first parents, their original names, and personal information was all sealed away from them.

Despite the lack of posts in the series, I continue to think about and process my story.  Not long ago my fostermom called and we chatted a bit.  She mentioned that she has some 8mm film of the year I lived with her that has recently been transferred to DVD and she wondered if I might like to see it.  That triggered all sorts of feelings in me – I’m not sure that I’m ready to see it.  I honestly don’t know if I can.

Like Honeybee and Dimples, I have my own trauma triggers.  Certain smells, foods, places, and even images, bring a rush of fear and my body responds with feelings of anxiety.  When I was a freshman in college, we watched a movie in class that brought my own trauma to mind and I had to get up and leave the room.  The problem was, I was nearly ready to pass out.  As I walked to the door, I focused on the doorknob, as my vision grew darker and darker.  I made it out into the hall  just in time to slump down on the floor and put my head between my knees.  Even writing this now makes me feel a little strange as images are rushing through my mind.

My fostermom asked about Nick and we talked, as we sometimes do, about the time of his birth.  We wondered aloud about something and I asked if she thought the social worker would know the answer.  This led to speculation about how old she might be now and Leann asked if I thought she was still alive.  As we talked, I went to my computer and searched the social worker’s name – all at once, I found her obituary.  A photo of her as a young woman was on my screen.

This woman had been my enemy.  She lied to me and manipulated me all in an attempt to take my child and give him to somebody more worthy and acceptable.  I was one of her great failures.  She could never fathom why I couldn’t just get on with my life.  I mean, really, did I have to keep sending letters to be kept in my son’s file?  Did I have to keep asking if they had heard from his adoptive family? Couldn’t I just get over it like a good girl?

For years I harbored anger toward her because she could not, or would not, grasp the devastation she had brought to my life.  It was her job, after all, and I was just one more kid in her caseload. Could I forgive somebody who never believed she had harmed me?  In my bitterness, I didn’t want to forgive her, but in order to fully heal, it was a necessary step.

While I will never forget her or the harm she caused me, I do forgive her.

I’ll say it again just for my own benefit, “I forgive you, Esther.  I forgive you.”

#781 – 790 giving thanks

eight dental appointments done yesterday – three to go

no cavities

long emails from Sweet Pea in the Gambia

Eby watching his favorite basketball shorts spin in the washer

more snow…

a new recipe loved by all last night

Honeybee sharing her science project with us

Ladybug playing several piano pieces

a notably calm evening

coffee with my friend this afternoon

I may just need to take a few deep breaths, press the publish button, and clean my kitchen. Thanks for letting me share my story with you, friends.

Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

11 Comments

  1. Cat
    February 29, 2012

    I haven't commented on this "series" at all yet. I have thought a lot about what I wanted to say I could never get the words right. Today I just wanted you to know that I am so thankful you have shared your story. Although it is not my story, it is a story that is part of my history in a different way, and you have shed light on that for me. You have touched on so many things also on my heart. So, for what it's worth, you have reached readers in ways you might not have even anticipated. And for that, I thank you. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Anonymous
    February 29, 2012

    I've been in social work/ public casework for almost 18 years. I started at 22 years old right out of college. I can't even begin to tell you how little I understood about this work when I started. I cringe when I think back to some of my early casework mistakes. Unfortunately, this job is more of an art than a science. We all come to it with our own set of beliefs. Some people are drawn to this job because they genuinely want to help people- some have a savior complex. Others like the adreneline rush. I like to think that I am learning and getting better at it as time goes by. I know that I try. I guess what I'm trying to say is thank you for forgiving your caseworker, whether she thought she needed forgiving or not. I'm sure she was also a product of her times when people had very different ideas about what was best for children. You'll never know that at the end of her life she might have looked back and wished she had handled some things differently. I know I do.

    Reply
  3. Paula
    February 29, 2012

    I have enjoyed your series so much, except it pains me so much that you have made reference to being Catholic several times in a negative way. I am sorry that you did not get the support you really needed from your family and the social services, but that is not Catholicism. It is a failure of people. Your experience with Catholicism certainly doesn't match up with mine. I think those failures could have occurred in a family of any faith or no faith at all. I am happy for you that you found faith in a different place, but I hope you don't dismiss the whole Catholic church as uncaring and unloving. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of your story.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 29, 2012

      Oh Paula, I'm so glad you mentioned this. I am not bitter toward the Catholic church at all. Much of my family is Catholic as well as many friends who I love and respect. Sadly, the church is very tied to my story because the adoption agency was Catholic Charities, so it is entwined together. I think I'll edit that sentence right now because I don't want to detract from my message, which is about forgiveness and healing. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I always appreciate your comments.

      Reply
  4. Courtney
    February 29, 2012

    wow. very powerful friend. FORGIVENESS is so powerful!

    Reply
  5. Diane
    February 29, 2012

    Again, I find your sharing so brave!! I also believe your story does need to be shared, as well as your birthSon's thoughts if he so chooses! He, as an adult now, could probably speak for many of our younger adopted children who may/or may not, yet, be able to put their actions and thoughts into words.

    I, also, thank you for sharing so openly about the church playing such an active role in your story, or possibly lack there of?? Not being critical, at all. I, personally, am just trying to support you in your telling of your family story, yet, along the way have learned so much from your Truthful story. I believe God does want the truth shared. I worry about the church and how they represent in orphan care and adoption. Not any one denomination, really, but, the entire church. We've so much to learn in order to live out Communion and I believe it is through tenderness and honesty we as the church can begin to heal and truly become the Body of Christ.

    My heart hurts at the good the church believed they were and are doing when it comes to orphan care, foster care and adoption and yet, I believe there is still sooooo much the church needs to hear from those who have been hurt by the good the church believed/believes they are doing.

    I am sorry for the pain and suffering your entire family has endured and continues to endure because of decisions made by so many of those who should have been entrusted to love you and your birthSon well.

    In the telling of your story it is clear to me, again, that God is the Father to the Fatherless, His Word is good and true. By your blog and family photo's I see Him, never abandoning you. I hope this is affirmed by your Son, also. That God was the one constant in his life.

    Thank you, again and again.

    Reply
  6. Christy
    March 5, 2012

    My question to you is: How do you forgive the person actng as "the social worker" when that person was your very own mother?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 5, 2012

      Christy, that is a good question. Interestingly, I was forced to forgive the people closest to me because I loved them and wanted to be in relationships with them. It was much easier for me to remain bitter and angry toward the social worker who was not an integral part of my life. This is incredibly painful – I know, and I'm sorry you share this sorrow with me.

      Reply
  7. Paula
    May 13, 2012

    Hi Lisa,
    I stumbled onto your blog and your story while looking for a John Piper quoe about adoption. I'm taking a web break from writing a letter to my father who abandoned our family nine years ago. He recently contacted me and tonight is the night of my reply. It's healing to me to read of your forgiveness, because my job for tonight is to tell my father that I forgive him because Jesus has forgiven me. Forgiveness costs us dearly, doesn't it? We give up the right to restitution or revenge. The only reason why I can forgive my father is because God has adopted me. He will make sure that justice is done, whether by my dad paying for his own sins or Jesus having paid for him (amazing!). Further, I don't have to worry about exacting justice, because my Heavenly Daddy is on the case, and my father answers to Him now.
    I have needed to realise that justice WILL be done – I couldn't forgive before that.
    Thank you for your blog. I think I'm going to learn a lot from you. x

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 13, 2012

      Paula, your comment has brought tears to my eyes – it is SO hard to forgive, but there is freedom and such relief when we can truly let it go. May Jesus do an amazing work in your heart and in your father's through your obedience to extend forgiveness. I can only the imagine the fruitfulness of your actions.

      Reply
  8. The Other Paula
    May 13, 2012

    Oh, by the way, I'm a different Paula from above. Sorry for the confusion!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy