Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Blog Jump Start Week 5: Burning Down The House

Coming in past the deadline to join in with Donna at her Jump Start Your Blog link-up.  Hopefully late is better than never! Last week's question was, "What would you grab if your house was on fire?"

I am thankful that this is a situation that I have never faced, and pray that I never do.  However, it has crossed my mind a few times, considering the fact that we live surrounded by forested land that literally comes up to our doorstep.  We know that if a wildfire ever makes it to the hill below us, during the right conditions, our cedar-siding home would be very vulnerable.  Thankfully, the odds are not great of that happening since we live in a fairly humid environment, but still, stranger things have happened.

There are not a lot of material possessions that I am overly attached to in my home.  When we moved ourselves from Missouri to Kentucky a few years ago, we did a big purge and it was the best thing we ever did. Each item that I donated or threw out was one less item we had to pack and it felt very liberating.  Somehow, however, we still ended up with much more than we needed, and still have boxes from that move four years ago that remain unopened.

The things that I would grab are probably predictable. Photo albums I've made of the family since our boys were born (I print off photos and put them in albums because I don't trust computers to preserve them) would definitely be on the list.  My laptop and a few pieces of artwork would be nice to save. I'd also grab the personally autographed books written by my grandfather and my father. The one autographed by my grandfather is now irreplaceable. And if there was time, I'd grab my jewelry box, not because it has high value jewelry, but because much of the jewelry has sentimental value to me.  I have jewelry that was given to me by old classmates in elementary school, and a necklace from my grandmother, things like that.

But if the house was really on fire and I had time to only grab one thing in a hurry, I would not hesitate and know exactly what it would be.  I would grab my wedding dress.  My wedding dress, which also was once my mother's wedding dress. And while I rarely wish I'd been blessed with a daughter, when I think about my wedding dress, I wish a bit that I did have a daughter who could one day wear it, too.  When I was a little girl, my mother would proudly show me her wedding dress and say "Perhaps someday, you will wear it."  As a small girl, I started dreaming of one day meeting my Prince Charming and wearing that dress as I walked down the aisle.  Not because I loved the dress so much, but because I loved my mother and her dream of me wearing it someday.

That dream did come true.  When I became engaged, the first thing my mother and I did was pull out that wedding dress from the back of her closet.  I had never dared put it on before, for fear of jinxing our dream. Apprehensively, I slipped it on. It was a perfect fit, and I felt like it was just meant to be.

Today, the wedding dress is tucked away safely in the back of my closet, waiting for perhaps my niece or, if I'm really optimistic, my granddaughter or future daughter-in-law to wear it.  Probably not likely, but it's worth dreaming about. That's what my wedding dress reminds me of, that dreams sometimes do come true, and that is worth saving.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blog Jump Start Week 4: Who Would I Invite To Dinner?

Another link-up with Donna in our blogging challenge.  This week, the challenge is to answer the question "Who Would I Invite To Dinner (living or deceased)?

This was a toughie.  I had to spend some time thinking about it and I really loved Rebecca's twist on it over at her blog.  Yes, the best people to eat dinner with are always those we love!  Nothing ever tops that and Rebecca nailed it.   I am thankful that my family eats together at least once, sometimes twice a day, but I also take that for granted too many times.  I know someday that I will be calling my boys and begging them to come visit me and their father and have dinner with us.  That day will come all too soon.

But, if I could fantasize and invite anyone, who would it be?  After giving it some thought, these three folks came to mind.  Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Flannery O'Connor.  Why these?  Well, Theodore Roosevelt was one of those larger than life people who had big ideas, big adventures and a big mouth (and he carried a big stick, right?).  He had to have been full of stories about Africa, South America, and the Great West.  He was fearless to a fault, and I love trying to figure out what makes people like that tick.

Rachel Carson would be another choice because I think we'd have a lot in common.  Since I was young, I've admired her and I used to want to be a lot like her.  She broke a lot of glass ceilings in her day and could get lost in a book, or on a walk in the woods, or just by watching a bird float on the wind.  I can relate to all of that.

And Flannery O'Connor would be my third guest.  I would love to invite her just to watch the expressions on her face as others around the table spoke.  Having read several of her stories, I think she understood human nature better than almost anyone, and I bet she could cut right through any conversation or story and get to the heart of the matter.  I can only imagine what she would think of Teddy and his boisterous, tall tales! Would she just sit quietly with a knowing look on her face, or would she challenge him with questions, or would she enjoy the antics and encourage him to talk more?  I would love to find out.

So that 's my short list.  I like to imagine Rachel and Flannery sitting next to other.  Two masters of the written word, trying to get a word in edgewise, while Teddy dominated the conversation.  All of us in mutual respect of the other, held together by a love of storytelling and maybe a little too much passion.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Blog Jump Start Week 3: Something from the Drafts {If Pro-Lifers Don't Promote Adoption, Who Will?}

Linking up with Donna for Challenge #3 of the Jump Start Your Blog series.  This time, the challenge was to publish something that has been hanging out in our "Drafts" folder.  This is a post that I wrote in 2014 that I never published.  But considering that the anniversary of Roe v. Wade is approaching, publishing it now, in light of Donna's challenge, seemed timely.  Thanks, Donna!

A few months ago, I packed up several bags of baby clothes and took them to a local pregnancy resource center that is always looking for donated items.  This particular pregnancy resource center does wonderful work, is 100% pro-life in their cause, and has helped hundreds of pregnant women locally and probably thousands nationally.  I love supporting them and their work.

While handing off a few donated bags of clothing, I spoke to the very kind and friendly woman who volunteers at the center.  I know her fairly well; she is very pro-life and leads her church's Respect Life Committee.  She donates her time to the pregnancy center, so I have tremendous respect for what she does and who she is.

Considering the fact that my husband and I are waiting to adopt, I thought maybe she would be a good one to share this fact with, since she meets many women facing crisis pregnancies on a weekly basis.  So we talked, and the conversation went something like this:

Me:  We've been waiting to adopt for almost a year now but our approval ends in about 6 weeks and it's not looking like we'll get  a baby.

Her:   Oh, if it is God's will, it will happen.  Why don't you think you'll get a baby?

Me:   Well, it takes a long time, and some couples never get chosen. There just aren't enough babies available domestically for couples like us who want to adopt them.  It makes me sad because I really wanted another baby after we adopted our son, and I don't think biologically that is going to happen now.

Her:   Yeah, when you get around 40, you need to start thinking that way.

Me:  Actually, I'm almost 45.

Her:  Oh!  Well by that time, you really don't want to have another baby!

Me, somewhat awkwardly:   I would love to have another baby.

Her:  What about going to another country to adopt a baby?

Me:  We don't really want to do that and aren't in the position right now to do the travel necessary.  It is also often much more expensive.  But a lot of Americans do go overseas to adopt partly because not many babies are available domestically.

Her:   You know, we almost never get a client [pregnant woman] who is thinking about adoption.  I think last year all year, we only had one client who said she was thinking about adoption, and in the end, she didn't do it.

Me:   It's unfortunate that adoption isn't promoted more but sadly, it has a lot of negative stereotypes. Just the phrase "giving your baby up" suggests that the birthmother is giving away someone who she doesn't want, which implies that she is a terrible human being and incredibly selfish, when really, choosing adoption can be an act of extreme unselfishness.

Her:   Oh, we never use the phrase "giving up the baby"; we try to say, uh, well, what we say is, well, we just say "give your baby life."

Me:  Oh yes, give the baby life, but why not give it even more? Why not ask them if they have thought about adoption?

At this point, I shared a little about our personal experience with our son's birthmother and her parents and how much love they had for him, so much so, that they chose adoption for him.  

After we parted, I reflected on this conversation.  As pro-life people, we are well versed in the "Choose Life" mantra.   We put it on our bumpers, on our t-shirts, on our billboards, and on our Christmas cards. This is a wonderful thing to do and has no doubt changed hearts and saved lives.   But what happens after many women choose life?   Do their babies live in homes free of domestic abuse?  Can they give their baby a father who guides them and protects them?   How many of these babies will end up available for adoption anyway in 8 or 10 years because they have been placed in foster care and their parents couldn't properly care for them?

I totally get why a birthmother would not want to consider adoption.  A single-mother is considered a hero in our society (true, many are), whereas, a mother who chooses to place her child for adoption is more likely to be viewed as "avoiding responsibility" or "thinking only of herself". And then there is the grandparent factor.  Many adoptions are stopped by grandparents who step in and say "I will raise your child" which makes them the de facto parents, but then who fills the doting, spoil-them-rotten role of the grandparent?  They say "don't you dare give up MY grandchild" for adoption.   How could anyone, especially an already extremely stressed and exhausted birthmother, handle such pressure, even if she was considering adoption?

I myself have never had to make that decision and so I can't say that I would be able to choose adoption if I were the one facing a pregnancy for which I was unprepared.  But I do think that if I heard positive and encouraging stories regarding adoption, if I lived in a society where choosing adoption was held in high regard and considered a very loving and unselfish decision, if I had the encouragement of my parents and my friends (and pregnancy resource center workers), then I would be much more inclined to give it some serious consideration.  Unfortunately, this is not what most birthmothers experience today.

Back in November, which was National Adoption Month, I waited for at least one pro-adoption story in our diocesan newspaper.  There were none.   But the month before, October, which was "Respect Life Month", there were weekly stories about various pro-life efforts around the diocese.  

As Catholics, we are very good (and rightly so) about promoting the "Choose Life" message and helping the mothers who make that choice.   And I was pleased to see that the theme of this year's March for Life was adoption. However, unfortunately the  "Consider Adoption" message still needs some serious marketing and as pro-lifers, we shouldn't hesitate to share it.   That message too, will save lives, and might even make a few lives better.