Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Into the Silence

Since I have been on the other side of this table, I can read this specialist like a book. She's wondering, "Just how honest can I be?" I can see her return read of me, evaluating that I am not the type to burst into tears at the first inkling of bad news. It's a delicate dance we're having.

She's telling me what I already know, have hoped to avoid, but have been doggedly pursuing for over a year now: there's something wrong.

Still, I am experiencing revelations daily. Although I have already assessed him, diagnosed him, and have merely sought professional confirmation and assistance, seeing the reality in black and white finally does bring me to tears. I do it discreetly, alone, upsetting no one but myself.

I am learning that some of the professionals in this maze are honestly caring, genuinely concerned, and purposefully helpful. Some are merely indifferent and therefore tolerable. Some, and these are the ones to watch for, are very full of themselves as saviors. They scare me. I'm beginning to think I need armor to save me from those who would save me.

My son, on the other hand, is as happy as ever. He likes going here and there and playing with all the new toys. He never says a word to all these specialists. His speaking is a private and careful affair. He says his precious few words after much thought and very rarely for strangers. But his eyes dance and he catches my gaze to hold up a truck. "Green," is what he would say if we were at home, meaning, "Look, mom, my favorite color."

The technical name for the way he speaks is "telegraphic speech." It's a phase we usually pass in and out of long before the age of three and a half. He and I have struggled for it, attained it late, and have maintained it long enough to make of it an art.

Make no mistake, he is a smart one. He has been deaf intermittently which is part of his delay and partly why doctors have delayed in taking me up on my insistence that something else is going on. Now that they are shouting my own clamorous alarm back to me, I find that I would really rather not be hearing it.

It's an odd position to be in. I am at once an honest assessor of his abilities, a plebeian petitioner among the royalty of experts, and a mother bear on her own turf. Like my son, my eyes speak the volumes I can not say:

Don't mess with me...Help me...I know...I don't understand.

I've been on the other side of all this as a teacher and advocate. I know the ropes. I could have sworn this would have given me some advantage. Only now am I realizing my mistakes. Compassion only carries you so far. It is an arrogance to assume that familiarity with the details gives you a sense of anyone's reality.

I am finding myself humbled in ways I would never have expected. I stare at the experts and think back to when I've said those same words about another woman's son. So this is what she felt when I said that. Now I know why she looked at me that way. Knowledge is always trumped by experience, sympathy by empathy.

Not that I am in any way advocating a lack of sympathy for those in sympathetic circumstances. Not that I think it is fruitless to try to understand another in this world. What I am saying is this: I am slowly and utterly beginning to understand the commandment, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Just because you are familiar with the terms, the outward appearances, there is little of another's actual experience that can be known. We may say things to one another from across a chasm of differences. We may even come to some understanding. But it is in the ringing silences between the words that we lose one another again. There, in that realm, is God. Only He knows what truths lie therein. Leave the fathoming of it to Him.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Missing Baby Syndrome--A Strange Case for Foster Care

My husband and I can count to four quicker than a blink. It's how we keep track of our kids. We get in the car and count. We hand out the toothbrushes and count. We sit down to dinner and count.

You might say we get a bit obsessive. We do it not because we can't tell who's there in the blink of an eye, but because we are constantly suffering from what we call our "Missing Baby Syndrome."

We love kids. We'd have a houseful. With the size of our house, we actually do. It's why we foster, this love we have.

I remember our first fostered infant. (Since we can't use his real name for privacy reasons I'll use the name that still makes me tear up when I say it, "Ochee.") Ochee came to us addicted to methamphetamines at birth. To keep him quiet, his parents had also been dosing him with it. Not only was he addicted and giving him the drug stopped his craving, stimulants have the opposite effect on kids' nervous systems. He must have calmed right down. It took us about 6 weeks to do it.

You'd think I wouldn't tell you that if I wanted to talk you into fostering children.

What I'm telling you is this: holding a sobbing child in the middle of the night and praying the hardest you've ever prayed in your life is an avenue of great love. If you want to love someone in the same heart wrenching way that Christ loves you, foster. If you want to be the first soft voice in a young child's life and if you want to know what life's really all about, you will foster.

It's not easy. I sobbed for days when he left us. After the hair strand tests, the heart doctor, the neurosurgeon visits, and the long, long nights, he is now somebody else's sweet worry. But there is a part of him that will always be mine. The first laugh. The first time he touched my cheek and cooed. Those are mine. And the feeling that dogs us, that someone is missing when we count up the tally of our children, that's mine too.

Missing Baby Syndrome is that space in our lives that he filled. We miss him and all the other little ones who have come and gone in such sweet succession. I am so privileged to have had the chance to know them and give them a glimpse of how life was supposed to be.

My husband and I don't know everything there is to know about children, but we know this: all children are on loan from God, even the ones the who grow up right before your eyes.

"Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
James 1:27

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Is Racist?

You've got to hand it to Bill Clinton. He really brought down the national debt. That was one of the few things I think he got right. I disagreed with him on nearly everything else and thought he was a vulgar person and beneath the dignity of the office of the President of the United States. Funny how no one called me a racist then.

George W. Bush got the Life Issues right, but the man was hopeless in building the bi-partisan rapport on a national level that characterized his governorship here in Texas. Can you stand the irony? Granted the cards were stacked against him in the national media and the Democrats exploited that very well. That said Bush simply did not take advantage of alternative media at any point in his presidency. In addition and much worse, in eight short years the man doubled the national debt from the Clinton era. A tax and spend Republican is an ugly beast. Did that make me a racist? No, they called me smart back then.

Under Barack Obama the debt has been doubled again in less than his first 100 days of power. I am not alone in raising a ruckus and protesting. Worse, he is the most radically Pro-Choice politician I've seen actually make it up the rungs of power. He really did vote against the Born Alive Act in Illinois. He really doesn't mind infants being killed on either side of the womb. I think he is wrong, profoundly and completely.

Now I'm a racist, and I'm not alone. Anyone who disagrees with our president is painted with the same brush. We're all a bunch of bigots if we stand on the other side of any issue from Obama.

Sure, I'll even grant that there are some who could care less about the politics and only see the color of the president's skin. I've not met any yet, but I've no doubt they are out there. There's plenty of obnoxious to go around, after all.

However, there is a strong push from the left attempting to stifle debate by throwing the race card. Granted, the latest was just an actress, but even the mainstream media has been smugly dismissing dissent with the implication that anyone in disagreement is a stupid, NASCAR-loving hick from the sticks. (Hey! I don't even follow NASCAR!)

I won't go so far as to say I'm not stupid. I've done some pretty dumb things: I even voted for Clinton that first time around. I plead my youth on that one. In fact, just this last week I grabbed up a hot skillet full of cornbread and blistered my hand. It doesn't get any more dumb-hick than that. I have my moments.

I also have my well thought out positions on issues. Disagree with me all you want, but if the best you can do is call me stupid or racist, it makes me wonder.

Who is the racist here?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Which Side Are You On?
I can’t believe my ears. I am having a conversation with a Pro-Lifer, and he has just explained, very calmly, that I have no right to exist.

"What?" I say, unbelieving. I must have misheard him.

"Of course abortion is wrong. Of course! But..." And here he shrugs, "When a woman is raped? Or if there is incest? Surely, we have to have compassion for her situation."

"Compassion? How is abortion ever compassionate?" I am flabbergasted and am having a bit of trouble stating my point. I get that way. It’s why I don’t evangelize as much as I should.

"Oh, I’m sure it would be a difficult choice. It may even be hard to live with after. But a woman can’t be expected to bear the child of her rapist." He looks so sure of himself. He doesn’t even seem to notice that he has taken up the language of the other side to explain his point.

"Huh?" I manage. Like I said, I’m really not good at this stuff.

"I’m just saying that it would be devastating to spend nine months harboring the child of the man who raped you. Can you imagine that?" the man shakes his head sadly.

"So," I begin slowly, to give my brain a chance to kick out of emotional gear and back into logic, "you feel a woman should abort depending on her feelings for the father of her child?"

He shakes his head again, irritated I’ve jumped to a conclusion he doesn’t like. "No, what I mean is that a woman who has had violence committed against her, a crime against her, she shouldn’t have to bear the product of that crime."

Again, that funny echo of language from the Pro-Aborts. "You’ve renamed a baby," I point out. "You just called it a ‘product of a crime.’"

"That’s not what I meant! You know what I mean!" He’s beginning to dislike this conversation as much as I do.


"Did you know I was adopted?" I ask him. He blinks at me, struck dumb at my seeming non sequitur. "I’ve met my birth mother, too."

I smile. He shakes his head a little as if trying to jiggle together the sense of my sudden tangent. I decide to add another tangent. "You’ve met my kids right?" His eyes are getting that slightly worried look, but he nods. "Nice kids, I think. And I’ve adopted, too. Yeah," I sigh. "I wonder if my daughter would have spent her life in foster care. Not too many people were lining up to adopt her, you know. Just us."

I stop talking. He says, "Um," and raises a finger. There’s a look in my eyes he doesn’t much like. It’s a hurt and disappointed look. I know, because I’m the one letting it show. I always feel it when I hear this argument from the Life side.

"My mother was raped."

I let that sink in for a moment, then I walk away. I don’t have the civility or good sense to continue. If I did I’d explain that my birth mother wasn’t particularly noble or courageous. She just knew I was a baby. I was her baby and even though her husband tried to force her to abort, she didn’t. She was an OB-GYN nurse and knew there was no such thing as a safe abortion. So, like I said, it wasn’t so noble. Mostly self-preservation and part whim.

She is a very whimsical woman in a lot of ways. She has the modern disease of the worship of the self, like we all do to some degree, and she has remade herself many times over. I’m actually very lucky.

At her whim I could have been torn limb from limb until I bled to death, never heard, never known. At her whim my children would never have been. At her whim, my adopted daughter would most likely have become a permanent ward of the state and been raised in foster care until she aged out at 18. I was a school teacher, known in my school for "saving" the kids who were severe discipline problems. What would have become of all those kids? Think It’s a Wonderful Life. At her whim, how many would have wound up expelled, jailed, lost because they never "bought into school"? Of course I never think of these things quickly enough to really, really drive home my point.

I’m here. I was here the moment I was conceived. My mother would not have been better off by having the violence of abortion performed on her already violated body. She was able to go to sleep at night, after the fear and anger simmered down, because she had not lashed out against me because of the harm done to her.

Life is a gift, even when the start of it is a horror. My mother was able to heal more completely from her rape knowing she had chosen the better part. She was not a twice over victim.

And in case you are wondering, I don’t have some deep psychological scar because my father was a rapist. He was a sperm donor. The man who raised me was my father. And unlike most every movie I’ve seen depicting adoption, I’m not some crazed time bomb waiting to reveal my true nature as damaged goods. Well, at least not any more than the rest of you. I mean, really, nobody’s perfect.

Thinkstock single image set

Writer's Note: If you are Post-Abortive or Post-Rape and still in anguish, please seek prayer and care. Contact for healing after abortion. Contact for a directory of local Rape Crisis Centers. God loves you and wants to comfort you in the cradle of His arms. I will pray that you let Him...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cheesy Mini-Post

Here's a tip for all of you with gourmet taste and a McDonald's budget.

Try this with a store bought ricotta:

Line a colander with cheese cloth,
pour ricotta into the cheesecloth,
rinse with 1/2 cup white wine
stir in 1/2 cup plain yogurt into cheese
Tie ends of cheese cloth into a bag
Let hang to drain for 20 minutes.
Ready to use.

Try it in a calzone!

If that's still too much trouble, prepare a box of rotini pasta, add a jar of premade pizza or spaghetti sauce, toss in your "homemade" ricotta and enjoy. If you used a good enough wine for the recipe, serve it with dinner!