Monday, November 2, 2015

#FlipTheScript on National Adoption Month: Day Two

pendant & photo by Rosita Gonzalez of mothermade 
#FlipTheScript PromptTalk about the “adoptee in the room” moment—that moment when you realize you are the only one in a space who can address a particular aspect of adoption experience, when you have to decide whether or not to speak up knowing that what you have to say may be confusing, unsettling, or triggering to others. Perhaps you have found yourself in this position at a work function, at a family gathering, or while with a group of friends. Or, you may have run into this situation in an online forum or on social media. Did you decide to speak or not, and why? If you did speak, what reactions or feedback did you receive?
Please read my response to this prompt at the Lost Daughters blog. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Whatever Happened to Rebecca Hawkes?

Do you remember her? She used to blog and tweet all kinds of things about adoption, and then she just disappeared.

Yeah, It happens. Sometimes life just moves along a little too quickly, and all we can do is hold on for the ride.

In August of 2014, two major changes took place in my life. 1) I left a career of 20+ years to take a new job in a completely different field. 2) Our household expanded to include a third teenaged daughter.

I don't want to say too much about either of these developments publicly, but here's the short version: The job involves working with families in a strength-based way, and I'm enjoying it a lot. Our new daughter is a kinship placement from a disrupted adoption. Her placement with us has resulted in the reunification of two biological siblings who had been separated for years. Legally, we are still in limbo, but I am thrilled to have her here with us.

I am blessed in many ways. I enjoy my work and love my family. I considered it a privilege to share my home with all three of my smart, talented, beautiful daughters. But with all change, there is a period of adjustment. I am just now beginning to get my bearings again. I've also been dealing with some non-life-threatening-but-annoying health challenges and, recently, the loss of a close friend. All of which is to say, I've been absent here, but fully present in the swirl of life out there beyond the Interwebs. (For one thing, the three smart, talented, beautiful daughters are involved in many activities that require transportation from mom!)

You'll be hearing more from me this month though. Yes, that's right. It's that time of year again: National Adoption Month. Like many adoptees, I used to dread this month, but the emergence of the #flipthescript movement makes November so much fun! I couldn't stay away.

I'll be posting tomorrow at the Lost Daughters blog and facilitating a Round Table discussion there later in the month. And, of course, I'll be reading what others are writing in respond to the second annual #flipthescript prompts.

To my adoptee and adoptee-ally friends, I've missed you! I'm looking forward to raising the dialogue of adoption issues with you this month.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Living Outside Reality: A Guest Post by Deanna Doss Shrodes

“I’m not saying any of it is untrue. I’m just uncomfortable with it.”

This was said to me by a family member when I wrote my story (which is now being released by Entourage Publishing as a memoir) on my blog, last year.

While the response to my story was overwhelmingly positive to say the least, there was a family member who was unhappy. No one accused me of stating untruths, at all. In fact, I offered to immediately remove anything that  was untrue if it was brought to my attention. (I am aware of no untruths in my story then, or now.) I was assured, it was all true. They just didn’t like it.

I have learned since then that there are plenty of people who believe their own discomfort is reason enough to silence others. In spending many hours pondering this issue here is what I’ve landed on. When people tell you that what you are stating about your personal story is all true, yet they ask you not to voice it, in any form (especially publicly) what they are saying is this:

“I’m not living in reality or ready to live in reality. Please leave me in my undisturbed bubble so I can go on denying reality.”

I don’t pose this question to be mean or even the slightest bit disrespectful. But, how can one see this posture as anything but making a conscious choice to live outside the realm of reality? If one speaks truth and especially one’s own truth, and is asked by others to refrain from sharing that truth, does that not speak of the fact that the person asking you to refrain is living somewhere other than reality?

Surely it indicates they are living in a place of pain and discomfort, not ready to face reality. But does this mean they should hold others hostage with them in the process?

When I was wrestling with a family member's plea for me to stop sharing reality on my blog, I had a cup of coffee and conversation with Felicia Alphonse, a woman in my church who just happens to be a therapist. I asked her opinion about whether people should share personal truths even when they are unsettling to others in their lives.  Tilting her head to the side and taking a moment to ponder she looked at me and said, “You have to heal…” and I said, “Yes…okay, and…?” She went on, “An important part of healing is speaking the truth and leaving secrets behind. It’s unfortunate that some are uncomfortable with it, but the bottom line is – you need to heal.”

The conversation with Felicia was really key to my decision to continue being as open as I have been on my blog, with my legal name attached to all my writing.

It was a key conversation in deciding to go forward with my book when I was presented with the opportunity.

There are times others in our lives are not ready to live in reality.

But if we are desirous of healing, it doesn’t happen with cover-up.

Covered things don’t heal well. Just try keeping a bandaid on a wound forever and see how well that works. It doesn’t. You have to expose the wound to the air at some point in order for the healing process to happen.

I understand why many people want to live outside the realm of reality. When you first face truth, it has the power to slay you. I spent many a night crying in the bathtub or unable to get myself together enough emotionally to face friends. The grieving process is challenging. But ultimately, facing reality and living in it has enabled me to live the beautiful life I’m now living.

I wouldn’t trade living in reality. It’s not easy to get there but so worthwhile once you do.

Deanna Doss Shrodes is a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God and has served as a pastor for 27 years. Currently she serves as Women's Ministries Director of the Pen-Florida District of the Assemblies of God. Deanna and her husband have been married for 27 years, have three children and live in the Tampa Bay area where they serve as lead pastor of Celebration Church of Tampa. Deanna speaks at churches and conferences internationally and is also an accomplished musician, worship leader, songwriter, and certified coach. An award winning writer, she is also a contributing author to Chocolate For a Woman's Courage, published by Simon & Schuster, a contributing author to Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace published by CQT Media and Publishing, Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age published by Entourage Publishing, and the author of the book Juggle:Manage Your Time, Change Your Life. Adopted in 1966 in a closed domestic adoption, she searched and found her original mother, sister and brother and reunited with them in 1993. Deanna blogs about adoption issues at her personal blog, Adoptee Restoration, and also serves as the spiritual columnist at Lost Daughters. She leads a support group, Adoptee Restoration Tampa Bay, for adoptees in the Tampa Bay area.