Tell it Well, Part 5: Bitter

Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “If I could only tell one more story, what would it be?”  Tell it Well is my answer.

Part 1: Alone | Part 2: Sought | Part 3: Found | Part 4: Redeemed | Part 5: Bitter

I will never forget the night I checked my email and saw the subject line, “Is this for real? I’m your son.”  I was stunned and felt faint.  We had just watched Swiss Family Robinson with our crew of five little ones, and we were getting them ready for bed when I paused at the computer.  I must have gasped because the children started gathering around me.  I kept saying, “Don’t touch the computer. Don’t touch the computer. Get Daddy – somebody get Daddy!”  I was afraid that with one click of a button, the message would disappear and my son would be lost from me forever.

Russ and I read the message and were completely shocked that it did seem to be from my son.  As we read it over and over, my happiness gave way to doubt and then to fear.  Surely this was from some strange person whose intent was to deceive me.  It couldn’t possibly be from a 16 year-old boy, could it?  The internet was a mystery to me in 1995 and I had hardly used a computer before.

As Russ tucked the kids in bed, my mind ran ahead full of hope – and fear.  It was nearly midnight, but we called our friends, Mark and Emily, the same friends who years later would lead us to international adoption.  Mark was an adoptee who had reunited with his birthmother six months earlier; they were my source of wisdom.  We all agreed that it could be a scam, but I hoped it wasn’t.

I wish I could tell you that Nick and I had an amazing reunion at that time, but it didn’t happen that way.  None of us were prepared for a reunion and it all went downhill very quickly. We had been plunged into a highly unusual circumstance, nearly two thousand miles apart, with nobody to help us navigate.  The adults involved were all strangers to one another and there was no trust to be found.  Russ and I sought counsel, but there seemed to be no hope. I will freely confess that I made many poor decisions and had to seek forgiveness from some of the people involved.

I took comfort in the knowledge that Nick knew I loved him, he knew I had never forgotten him, and he knew our story. I hoped it would somehow sustain and anchor him during his teen years.

I was adrift and lost; it was as if I had lost my son all over again and the grief was unbearable.  Knowing everything I do now about trauma and PTSD, I am amazed that I was able to function at all.  When I look back, it all seems blurry and confusing. I found an adoption support group in Denver where I met two adoptees, Ron and Kimberly, who are still both very special to me.  I also met some other birthmothers and formed an informal support group.

The common theme I found among many in the adoption triad (adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents) was anger, and much of it was justified.  I could tell you many stories about deceit and manipulation being used to separate mothers and children.  I could recount the lies that I was told, but that would take me down a long and bitter road.  As this anger swirled around me, I let it sweep over me and focused on everyone who had wronged me – from the church and the agency, to my boyfriend and the social worker whose name and face I can still perfectly recall.

Grief and bitterness were the theme of the day and I was in the thick of it; the bitterness ate at me like a cancer.  I hadn’t yet learned how to be mad and how to fight for a cause without becoming bitter and cynical.  I could not understand why God had allowed this to happen.  Where was He?  Why wasn’t He coming to my rescue?

One thing was certain; I hated adoption.

[Hold on; hope and restoration are coming.  Jesus is so kind and he heals the brokenhearted.]

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:18

Part 1: Alone | Part 2: Sought | Part 3: Found | Part 4: Redeemed | Part 5: Bitter

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.

24 Comments

  1. Laurel
    January 24, 2012

    You just love to leave us hanging, don't you?

    Seriously, though … thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Hugs,

    Laurel 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2012

      Laurel, this is honestly as far as I've gotten!

      Reply
      1. Laurel
        January 24, 2012

        No pressure. Take your time. This is, obviously, a very hard story to tell. But, I know that the Lord has called you to tell it; and you are doing it well.

        Laurel

        Reply
  2. Kim
    January 24, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can't wait for the conclusion! Your story makes me all the more grateful for my own. As a birthmom, I realize just how special my own adoption experience was. Hearing stories like yours helps me to see how blessed I was to have honest and caring people in my life at the time who truly had the best interest of me and my child at heart. I look forward to hearing about the redemption!

    Reply
  3. Ann
    January 24, 2012

    I just want to encourage to continue taking all the time you need. I have learned that grief can only be handled in small amounts–and I know this retelling must be bringing back so much emotion and grief. Don't feel compelled to hurry the story for our (the reader's) sake, but tell it in your own time.

    You are telling it well. I know God is helping you to tell it well.

    Blessings to you and all your children!

    Reply
  4. Lori
    January 24, 2012

    Now I am understanding where you get your heart for birth mothers. 🙂 Your story has certainly made me do some thinking about a lot of things. I have considered how I would react if it was my daughter who was in your situation and how I would counsel her. Well, just wanting to send you some encouragement as you wade through your memories and try to compile the message you want to convey. As we lost our fourteen year old son in a tragic accident five and a half years ago, I can certainly relate to the grief process and trauma you are describing. It is often very ugly. I am thankful that you had the Lord to walk through much of this with. I know I wouldn't have survived otherwise. Praying for you as you continue to go back through all of these memories and emotions.

    Reply
  5. Diane
    January 24, 2012

    I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that you, your Son and the rest of your family have all been on my heart, daily, seems like!

    I, really believe we are reading a very Sacred story.

    Thank you, to you and your Son, and, family, once again. Thanking you does not seem like enough, but, your life journey/story, as with all of us, is leading us into the Sacred which is around us, always! Sharing your story reminds me of that, again, and, again!

    Praying the Peace of the Holy Spirit surrounds you all.

    Reply
  6. Dawn Wright
    January 24, 2012

    WOW! I just want to say that I am soooo very thankful that God has done so much healing in you!!! Thankful that you are willing to share what can be sooo very hard. Thankful that you are putting it here for others to read and know there is healing too 🙂

    Reply
  7. lostbutfound87
    January 24, 2012

    Hi Lisa,
    This is Jaimee, after reading this part of your story I have come to realize that this is where I am stuck right now. You are so right about how it eats at you like cancer. The anger I feel is so overwhelming, I have taken it to the Lord everyday yet I still feel no release of this burden I carry. I am angry at the people that deceived me, at myself, at the rejection the rips a hole in my heart everyday. Having your child hate you for what you did even though you didn't want to do it and then having this overwhelming love for her is such torture. When your dream of what they promised is shattered it is hard for the pieces to be put back together. I continue to walk with the Lord through this journey and hope someday I will think adoption is a good thing. Right now I think it is cruel for the mother and child, the only ones who seem pleased are the adopted parents.

    Reply
  8. Hannah Tucker
    January 24, 2012

    Wow, the pain in your heart is almost tangible on the page. Praying for you as you walk down that stony road once more.

    Reply
  9. Ellen
    January 24, 2012

    Thank you for sharing, Lisa. I'm grateful.

    Reply
  10. Tonggu Momma
    January 24, 2012

    Thank you again for sharing your story. You are reaching many, including me.

    Reply
  11. Emily
    January 24, 2012

    These are things to ponder deep in the heart. Thank you, Lisa.

    Reply
  12. Heidi
    January 25, 2012

    I read Psalm 40 this morning and thought of you. "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord." Also verses 9-10. Thank you for sharing, for telling it well, for glorifying God. May many see and put their trust in Him.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 25, 2012

      Heidi, that is perfect – it should be my life verse.

      Reply
  13. Courtney
    January 25, 2012

    i haven't been here in a few days…so blessed to read the next chapter here! thank you for sharing.

    you mention bitterness. and anger. i'm realizing these 2 emotions come quickly in adoption – no matter which part of the story you are.

    Reply
  14. Julie
    January 25, 2012

    Wow, thank you for your honesty. I am sure many are being blessed by your story of redemption. I know I am:) Can't wait for the next part!

    Reply
  15. Alli
    February 8, 2012

    Lisa… I just love you and am so, so glad to get to know you better. Praying for you and your journey… Love you friend.

    Reply
  16. Rachel Rausch
    February 29, 2012

    Dear Lisa, in my own story I am learning God doesn't waste our pain. Your story is precious and even better, you are willing to live out II Corinthians 1:3-4! I love your transparency. Rachel R

    Reply
  17. laurajonesjournal
    March 26, 2013

    thank you,Lisa, for each clip of your story. I have read and respected you for so long, my respect goes thru the roof! What a mentor you are to me. Thank you for sharing with us. God has clearly helped you with each word. I'm so anxious to read more when you are ready. Praying for your family as I read.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 26, 2013

      Thank you so much. I can't believe it's been over a year and I haven't written more. Hopefully I'll get back to it one day.

      Reply
  18. Annette
    February 24, 2014

    Dear Lisa,
    We haven't seen you in ages but I think about you often, (driving into town and passing your house 🙂 seeing your sister at church……..) I was adopted and would love to talk to you sometime about it. Love, Annette

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 24, 2014

      Good to hear from you, Annette. I would love to talk with you sometime. Let's do it.

      Reply
  19. Karmin
    May 14, 2017

    I would love to read more if/when you are ready.

    Reply

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