Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My song...I have a song. Such a gift.

Lewis's adoptive father, Mike, wrote this song for me about a year ago. He wrote it only a few days before performing it at a charity event as you will see in this video. He indeed wrote it for all birthmothers alike in this world...but he wrote it to me. He wrote it for me...this is my lullaby. Such a special. I hope that it blesses you as it blesses me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I got "spanked" at church yesterday.

“If you do not read this book regularly…you don’t love God.”  -Hollie Miller

Whoa.  That got me a bit fired up Sunday morning. 

It’s funny though, on top of being quite certain that I totally disagreed with this statement, I was fairly sure the emotion I was experiencing was pure defensiveness. I thought, “Um…excuse me? Yes I do.”  I couldn’t really put my finger on which chord it struck in me, but I knew I didn’t like how I felt when hearing it. I couldn’t come to any kind of conclusion on why I was feeling this mixed bag of emotions either and was unable to make heads or tails of it. Was I right to feel the need to defend my position? Or was I wrong in that I felt defensive even to begin with? I didn’t know, so I set out to find a way to feel BETTER. So, can I tell you about it? I’ll apologize in advance for my innocuous and semi-ridiculous overuse of the triple dot…yep…that’s the one…but I write how I talk. So try to stay with me on this.

So what was my position you ask? Well, I am a Christian right?  So, everyone knows that if you are a Christian then you read the Bible. This is certainly true for many, but I believe that there are many more like ME then anyone would care to admit. In my case…I have struggled in this department. It is a task that I find painfully difficult to commit to and for whatever reason have yet to find a burning desire to “get in the Word” regularly. I’ve had my bursts of mediocre at best attempts…but really never felt like I was being moved and stretched by it. Too honest?  Do you judge me or identify with me? Or a third option might be perhaps that you understand because you too have been here before…stuck in a rut. I am not one that typically chooses to hide my inequities but rather shout them from the rooftops. Those of you who know me well can attest to this fun and yet strange fact. I am an open book, and I have something to say about most anything. Ha! I simply would rather just go ahead and put them out there for all to see so that I can stay grounded in truth and learn from it! It certainly makes life more interesting and the learning curve a little less painful.  So back to my original question that you hypothetically posed at the beginning of this paragraph. What is my position? Sunday morning I was convinced that although I don’t make time to regularly spend time reading the Word of God, I was still in the “okay zone” with my walk with Christ. Quite convinced  that because  I believe in Jesus Christ, go to church on Sundays, attend bible fellowship,  sing in the choir,  volunteer with non-profit organizations, pray with my children,  talk about my faith with strangers , continually seek the Lord in prayer and  read my Bible sometimes…that I was good with God. I think to myself…”He knows how busy I am…he can see me struggle to juggle every day. Job, kids, house, soccer, dinner, laundry, sibling rivalry and everything else that causes me to sprout grey hairs and fine lines and wrinkles! He knows how tired I am each day and how impossible it is for me to even find time to pluck my eyebrows much less sit down and READ! IM DOING THE BEST THAT I CAN!”  

But am I?

After church I spoke to a handful of friends that are without question, good. Good friends, good parents, good listeners, good people. Not perfect people, but Christian people that can help me gain perspective on my faith when I am lost in the mix.  One of them posed a scenario that for whatever reason hit home with me. Respectively I applauded my friend in this genius analogy because it was simple enough in its nature that it broke through my neuroses and pulled me out of the complexity and back to the reality of the situation. Here it is paraphrased and a bit elaborated for the sake of making my point.

Cammy, imagine its Mother’s Day. How would you feel if your boys went downstairs in the morning and slapped a couple of cold pop tarts down on a plate and a cup of instant coffee and brought it to you.  And perhaps a piece of paper with some pencil scribbled on it that clearly they just quick threw together that very morning because they didn’t take the time to make you one in advance. Would this make you feel loved?  Hmm…not really.  Okay and now imagine that they got up and made you runny eggs, burnt toast, cold coffee and some really yummy strawberries (since it’s the only edible thing on the plate) along with a sweet card with every color of the rainbow with their little scribbles and pictures of “mommy” and “us”. Would this make you feel loved? Absolutely.

So back to my question…to myself.  Am I doing the best that I can?  Tough pill to swallow but the truth is…no. I’m not. I’m doing better than a lot of folks out there indeed…but when did I decide that it was acceptable to measure my obedience against the efforts of those around me? That’s so arbitrary! What about measuring it against what GOD is asking of me…after all there is this whole BOOK that spells it out for me. Perhaps if I read it more often I will gain better clarity on all the things I need a resolution on.

I caught myself talking to my five year old this morning about obedience interestingly enough. Didn’t even really recognize the irony until the end of our little “talk”. But I found myself saying this, “Tucker why do you not listen to Mommy? I ask you to stop making your brother cry and you don’t obey me and it makes mommy really upset! You say that you love me all the time and you tell mommy sweet things but then you turn around and disobey me and that is not okay. If you love mommy, you will obey me. If I ask you to do something, then I expect you to do it BECAUSE you love me. That is the best way to show mommy your love…it is to be obedient. Okay?”

Hmm. Interesting little speech I gave. I thought it was really well played out and well said…but I truly believe that it was meant for my ears only. This is what my Father says to me. Here is the part of this whole unraveling process that literally cracked me up. All this time I have been praying for the desire to be in the Word. I have literally desired the desire. Does that make sense? I asked him, “Lord please put conviction on me so heavily that I can no longer have excuses to not read your Word. Please put the burning desire in me to open my Bible daily and spend time with you as this is an area that I struggle with deeply.” For quite some time now I have asked for this prayer to be answered. So here is something sort of funny. The very first thing I did when I got home from church was open my Bible. I wasn’t really even certain of what I was looking for, but isn’t it fascinating that the very thing that got me all lit up was the same thing that got me back in the Word? Even if it was just for a few minutes, it forced me to open my Bible. Prayer answered! I had a burning desire to go home after church and open my Bible and READ IT. Not for the reasons that I had anticipated when I prayed for this…but who cares really! I had the desire to READ! So amen right? Well…I’m afraid it’s not that simple.

Here is why. I need to CHOOSE to read every day. I have to make that time BECAUSE  I love the Lord. I should WANT to make that time not because I want to go to Heaven someday…but because he died on the cross for me…he saved me…and I LOVE him. (Another fabulous point made by a dear friend of mine.) I don’t want to spend my life serving the Lord pop tarts and instant coffee. I want to take time to show him that I love him by really making my best effort each day. It may result in some runny eggs and some nasty coffee but eventually I will get to a point where I not only make a “mean” eggs benedict and perfectly crispy bacon…but I start to ENJOY the process of making it for Him. I want to show my Lord and Savior I love him by being obedient to Him. This would include spending time with Him in the Word…daily. 

Do I love the Lord? Yes. Do I love Him enough? Nope! Never will really…but I can TRY MY BEST!
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. And quite frankly, it wouldn’t mean as much to the Lord if it wasn’t a sacrifice.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22: 37-38.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Breaking the Stereotypes Against Birthmothers

I am a birthmother. I have been a birthmother since 2000 when I placed my first born son for open adoption with a family in my home state of Minnesota. Ten years later I have found my life to be blessed beyond comprehension due to the series of choices that I made leading to my placing my son. The first choice was LIFE for my son. The second was ADOPTION. The Third was LIFE for myself.

There is this ongoing stereotype that all birthmothers are that of what you see on the lifetime movie network. It comes with the following assumptions: we are all young girls, all strung out drug addicts, all alcoholics, all promiscuous or prostitutes, oh and of course on top of that we are stalkers and kidnappers. I think the worst stereotype of all however is the one that says birthmoms don't want their baby...or don't love their baby.

This is so far from reality.

In truth, the average age of a birthmother on a national level is 28-33!!!! Surprised??? I have worked very closely for the last three years with Bethany Adoption Services as an advocate and mentor to birthmothers all around me. I also speak on panels helping to break stereotypes for the couples that come through to seek domestic adoption. I have learned a lot from Bethany Adoption Services as they are the largest non profit adoption agency out there! They know their statistics!! I speak to couples that are seeking domestic adoption to help them not be afraid of birthmothers. Help them to see that we are not all 13-16 years of age, but in most cases are much older then that. I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant. We are not always born into the ghetto but a lot of us come from a wonderful upbringing with privileged backgrounds and still wound up pregnant before we were ready. I came from a typical well oiled family with wonderful opportunities in my raising. We are not all alcoholics and drug addicts but instead in most cases are smart and educated individuals that made bad choices that led to an unplanned pregnancy. We also are not all promiscuous in nature or prostitutes but some conceived a child in love but just too soon in life to provide for the baby. This was unfortunately not the case in my experience...but I am all about speaking out to defend ALL birthmothers alike. The one that puzzles me the most is the stereotype that implies we are all stalkers and kidnappers. This I tell you is not the case and I want to address it delicately because it is important that you understand.

When a women comes to a time in her pregnancy where she comes to terms with the fact that she cannot provide for her baby in a way that is healthy or good for the child, she is already thinking in terms of what is best for the BABY. She is already beginning to make loving and selfless decisions on her child's behalf despite how much she will hurt because of it. Is that not the very definition of good parenting? You do whatever you have to for your child no matter how much it hurts us as parents! When a women is carrying a child within and is able to make hard choices to better that child's life on Earth...this is a testament to the LOVE that she has for this child NOT that she doesn't want it. When this women then carries this child to term all the while planning for the adoption, she is carefully choosing parents that she feels are suitable for her baby. She is thoughtfully planning the life that she wishes she could give her baby, but cannot. What a sad thing it is, but so heroic. There are some women that consider adoption and change their minds and choose to parent. This is a great thing and I support parenting always. But there are others that realize very early on that they cannot give their baby the life that it deserves and they find a different way to provide it. There is SAFETY in the decision. When a birthmother makes that decision, for real, it only takes a millisecond. There is no looking back...only moving forward. She now feels good in having MADE the decision and she can now start planning for the placement. Now she has labored and birthed this little miracle and gone through the physical demands of pregnancy...and she has a warm pink adorable breathing thing that has now come into the world and it is her baby. But even still she chooses to place this child in the arms of another. This is the hardest it is a reality that is tangible. There is no escaping it and its much like a death. But she will do it for the betterment of her child's life! Does this sound like someone who doesn't love or want their child? This is the ultimate SACRIFICE! No matter how much you uncontrollably and instinctively want to keep that child...the birthmother acknowledges that it would be the SELFISH thing to do. Now the final kiss has come...the goodbye rips your insides out and you truthfully wonder if you will ever recover from this devastation. The thing people dont understand is that if a birthmother has come THIS far to do what is best for her child...she chose LIFE...she chose ADOPTION...she chose a FAMILY...she PLANNED carefully...she LABORED...she said GOODBYE. All of these things are painful choices...why would she try to go and take the baby back after all that? Think about it! All along she is making choices that are always best for the baby. Why would she suddenly start being selfish after all is said and done? A birthmother is a very special kind of person because she makes every choice surrounding the child's best interests. Do you honestly think
this person that I just described is the kind of person that would get in her car months or years after placement and go to the door of the adoptive couple and try to steal that baby back? Is she the kind of person that would go and stalk the family and peek through windows to plot a kidnapping? Does she sound like someone that would suddenly decide that since she has a job and a life now that she is now suited to care for her child and is now going to fight for her parental rights back? OF COURSE NOT! She is the kind of person...the kind of mother that understands without a shadow of a doubt that it would NEVER be in child's best interests to rip him or her from the only life and family that, that baby has ever known. That would be a SELFISH choice and birthmothers don't make selfish choices.

Birthmothers are selfless. They are beautiful and they deserve to be celebrated and uplifted. They deserve to be proud of their choices and they deserve to hear THANK YOU. There are over 1 million babies aborted each year...and only 13,000-14,000 are placed into adoption. You do the math. I heard recently that of the 57% unplanned pregnancies that occurred last year, only 1% ended in placement. This small margin of women...they are heroes.

No more Lifetime Movie Network programs that put birthmoms in a bad light...and UNTRUE light. No more couples saying "I would never do domestic adoption...the mom could come back and take the baby!' No more women being criticized and questioned about why they chose life and adoption for their child. No more assuming that birthmothers don't want their baby and that's why they "gave it up" or "gave it away". NO MORE! It is time for birthmothers to shine and for people to see that there are other options then abortion. There are choices to be made that will bless your life and give you something to be proud of!

I am now married to a wonderful man with whom I have two beautiful boys of my own. I am many things in this life, but I am most proud of being a birthmother. I choose to share my story and offer my support to birthmothers worldwide in the hopes to inspire others to choose LIFE and celebrate birthmothers for their amazing hearts for their children.

Its not a choice every woman can make...if it were easy...everyone would be doing it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

There should be a Beyonce song for all the single parents out there!

Right now I am coming off of a CRAZY day of meetings, emails, phone calls, networking, webinars, negotiations, proposals, and transactions!!! That's just from 9-6! Sun up to sun down I am always full court press working. Whether it be my "mom" hat, "cleaning lady" hat, "personal chef" hat, "chauffeur" hat, "referee" hat, "family therapist" hat, "personal stylist" hat or my most recent "Internet Marketing Expert" hat...I'm always working. At this very moment I have my three year old standing next to me crying because we have no batteries for his flashlight. One second while I diffuse this little situation...(pause).

 (Sigh) I'm back. I tell you what...I really don't know how some women get by all on their own, day in and day out. I.......uh oh.......he's back. (hold again)...

OH the devastation. His blue flash light from Santa is all out of batteries and is literally sobbing. How do I explain to him through his sweet sorrows that I am not interested in driving to Kroger right now to buy AA batteries for his blue flashlight? I wish he understood how ridiculous that would be...but for now his tender three year old heart will have to accept that his flashlight problem will have to be solved another day. Poor baby.

My goodness, I am exhausted. I gained some interesting information today that gave me a new perspective on how I am perceived by others...ENERGETIC. Really??? I feel completely exhausted every second it seems like...but I just have to chalk it up to happiness I guess. So I simply tell them, "I'm happy!" and that usually gives them a chuckle and I'm off to the next thing. I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!" I am always moving, never stalling, constantly thinking about what I can be doing NEXT. I wonder if this is bad for my blood pressure, brain function, heart rate, or mental health? Plain and simple? What keeps me ticking every second of every day is my love for Christ! I can do all things in Him...I have happiness in my heart. I may be tired but this little light of mine...I'M GONNA LET IT SHINE! So yes...I'm energetic, bubbly, silly and have a big personality. I'm super tired all the time, but I'm just happy too!

The second I wake up, I'm rushing to get myself ready. Then I get the boys up and there are two speeds with them. Slow, and slower. So we are all rushed to eat, dress, brush teeth and load up the "yellow car". Its all very chaotic and slightly neurotic. I'm borderline losing my mind within the first hour of everyday, but the funny thing is, I miss those little monkeys the second I drive away from their school. Huh...(shake my head). Anyway...

I just want to give a shout out to all the single moms out there! Seriously I don't know how they DO IT! Everyday I get the boys up and off to school, I then have a full days work and majority of the time I am the one picking them up as well! This is normally around 6pm, right when dinner is expected. We get in the door and all he** breaks loose amidst my efforts to get dinner on the table. There are backpacks all over the floor, coats thrown down in the kitchen, the boys digging into whatever they can find in the pantry, and I've got 5 things going at once to try to throw a meal together. Meanwhile my phone keeps dinging that emails are coming through and the phone is actually ringing at the same time! Then...they come when I call, we all eat and enjoy the moment of eating, giggling and talking. But then before you know it, we are all off to the next crazy thing. The boys are wrestling and racing, the dog is barking, the TV is too loud and I'm cleaning up dinner and the mess from cooking. All this while I'm still dressed in my work clothes and heels.

Sound fun? Well...I assure you it's not like this every day. Only about 70% of the time do I find myself in this whirlwind of activities in a 12 hour period. I also assure you it's very hard work being all these things at once...but MAN do I love my job. All of my jobs. I love my kids...and I love the responsibility of caring for them. But most of all...I LOVE MY HUSBAND. He will be home soon...and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I asked him to mop the kitchen floor for me...he would do it if he thought it would make me feel better. He does laundry, he does bath time, he does dishes, HE MADE A MEATLOAF the other night for crying out loud! He is amazing and I am thankful for him. Thankful that he is coming home soon. Thankful that I have him tomorrow when he comes home to us yet again. Thankful that I don't have to go the distance by myself. If I thought that i had to go at this alone every single day, I think I would be admitted to the funny farm in my immediate future.

God bless single parents...God bless my boys....GOD BLESS MY HUSBAND.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sowwy Face: One of my favorite stories from when Tuck was still a little guy.

February 14th, 2008 ...
Home today with the kids, and thank God for that 'cause Isaac "Acky" is sick with a wicked cough. I just wanted to share a little something that happened this morning that I think you should get a kick out of.
There is a light switch in the family room that controls the TV, the lamp and the ceiling light. This particular light switch was taped down originally until Tucker discovered the magic behind this one switch. He will not stop flipping it after I have told him over and over that he is not to touch it! He just smiles with glee and does it I put him in a timeout, he serves his time, and then later revisits his wonderful magical light switch.
This morning he did it FIRST THING while coming down the stairs, as if he had been dreaming about it all night, and thinking about it since the moment that he woke up! So I put him in a timeout. He was pretty upset because he thought he was on his way to a bowl of cinnamon toast crunch...but the sugary delight would have to wait. He cried with his head tilted back and his face looking straight up to the ceiling for a little while...then he finally calmed down. I went over to him and asked him why he was in a time out, of which he responded "Ah...light..touch no, no". I said "that's right. you don't touch the light switch that's a no, no. Now give me a hug" So we hugged. "Now tell mommy you are sorry" at which he was then pulling away to go get his breakfast, and mumbled with a whimpering voice "sowwy mommy" I said "Tucker...say it to my face" He then turned to me with a pitiful look on his face and trembling voice and said "Sowwy face" and he kissed me on the cheek. LOL. That was pretty funny and so cute.
Love you and miss you!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Tender Tennessee Christmas

Well, we spent our first Christmas together ALONE as a was really surprising to me how much we enjoyed it. Not to say that we didn't miss our family members back home, but we were able to create our own memories and traditions with our kids for the first time...and it was precious. 

Our day consisted of waking up WAY too early, excitement over Santa and the missing cookies and milk and fumbling out from under the covers to find glasses and bathrobes much like my parents used to do. The kids dove into the sea of presents with their eyes darting back and forth like crazys and all the while I'm saying, "Hold on just wait...let mommy make some coffee." Then as Im filling the pot with semi brown water from the old pot yesterday (too tired to care) I hear Nathan continuing to calm lil guys down...chomping at the bit to tear into every gift in sight! Reminded me so much of my own childhood memories.

We had my moms traditional Christmas breakfast, Egg Strada (let me know if you want the recipe its to die for!) and we just spent the day together relaxing and playing! The kids played with their toys literally from sun up to sun down, the fire crackled all day warm and glowy...and even a little bit of snow fell outside our windows that day. I pretended that it was a special gift from Santa just for me right before I dozed off under a heavy blanket for an afternoon snooze. A Christmas Story played in the background, the kids had relocated upstairs, and I was in pure bliss. We had PJ's on all day, we ate leftover beef stew (WAY better on day two) and warm crusty ciabatta bread for dinner, and Santa stuffed or stockings with plenty of chocolate goodies.

It was a day for the books...a day to remember. Our first Christmas as a family. Tuckers favorite toy is a toss up between the Criss Cross Crasher and his new Leapster game...Isaac loves his Thomas the Train Logging Adventure. Nate was happy with his books and CDs, and pretty much knew what he was getting unfortunetly...but me...well...I was most happy to have my babies wake up out of their warm Disney themed beds and creep downstairs to a Christmas of their own. That was what made it most special to me.

Mom: "Tucker whats Christmas all about?"
Tuck: "Jesus' birthday..."
Mom: "Who is Jesus?
Tuck: "God..."
Mom: "What do you think of Jesus?"
Tuck: "I think he is beatiful."
Mom: "Why?"
Tuck: "He died on the cross for us...he is nice."
Isaac: "Jesus is da gweatest GIFT! Dats wat I learned at church!"

Love those boys. Thank you Lord for your son Jesus Christ...and thank you for my boys too.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of 2010

Well...I started a blog. WOW. What an undertaking. Well not really...I'm just really impatient and generally don't have the internal "calm" that one might need to set this whole thing up. But, I did...and I'm quite proud actually. Tomorrow is one more day of 2010...and we will be stepping into 2011. What happened!? We have lived here in Knoxville, TN for three years already? REALLY??? It truly feels as though we just got here...just got settled...just got comfortable. I guess the old saying is true...time flies when you're having fun. These past few years have been something to remember. What a journey God has us on down here in would be a shame not to document it...and so we shall BLOG!

I want to also have a fun way to stay connected with family and friends OTHER then the traditional Facebook. Sometimes I like to send emails home but there is this little voice in my head that sometimes says..."they don't wanna hear about this Cammy!" and I start to feel like my lengthy updates are a bit assumptive and slightly narcissistic.  So a blog allows those who remain interested in our most recent events and over all general well-being to...well....they can check out our blog!

I promise we will not blog everyday, but we will keep you posted on the funny moments with the boys...latest big events or activities worth sharing and of course our faith journey in Christ.

Thanks for checking in! xoxo -Cammy