Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dear Friend: Why I'm a conservative twenty-something evangelical Christian in a post-modern world

For months now, my sweet husband has been nagging—er, encouraging me to write a new blog post. It has been a while, and a lot has happened in our family.  I hope to share with you more in posts to come, but for today I am going to be writing a very different kind of post than I normally share on this blog as it is not specifically related to adoption.

This week I received a message on Facebook from a friend who had some concerns about some of the beliefs/issues I have spoken about on my page.   I felt that the argument was valid, respectful, and well represents the views and beliefs of most in our society today.  For this reason I asked their permission to anonymously share their message on this blog for three reasons:  I know I have many friends who do not feel the same way I do about certain topics (and have told me so), and I wanted to address their concerns, I want my youth girls especially to understand why it is so important to have a well thought out worldview, and I also thought I could kill two birds with one stone and get Caleb to stop encouraging me, and respond to my friend. So here it goes—it is long and for that I am sorry!

This is the message my friend sent me:

So, Katie. I think we have a problem.  You have a beautiful family, and I'm glad to see things are going well for you. I think it is admirable that you stay home with your child, I think that is a very valuable gift to give to your child. I appreciate it immensely that my mother chose to stay home with me.
However, feminism is not the problem with people's outlook on stay-at-home moms. Feminism is idea that men and women should be equal in society. That women should not have their opportunities limited by virtue of their gender. To me, this means that women should choose to not [or to?] work outside of the home, or pursue any career of their choosing. For that matter, I think men should also have that choice, and I would find any man that wanted to stay home with his children just has admirable (maybe even more so, because he would probably face additional societal scrutiny). But I also don't think that a mother who chooses to work outside the home, not out of financial necessity, but for her own fulfillment, is less of a woman, or not raising her children properly. I think society needs largely to let go of ideas of gender roles and let there be equality in relationships, and let people make choices for themselves. I think the idea that child-rearing or anything is else is women's work because God says so holds women back unnecessarily, when women are capable and desire to do all kinds of things. I'm guessing that in large part here we don't disagree, and I understand that stay at home mothers are undervalued, and I understand the point you were trying to make. But I felt like you were swinging the pendulum too far back the other direction.
Also while I'm here, I want to mention a couple other things that have come up on your page. On premarital sex: this is a personal decision. People may have sex when and under whatever conditions both partners agree to. It does not waste away one's heart or make anyone any less to have sex. Yes, there are risks associated with sex that need to be considered. These include emotional ramifications, but the potential of emotional harm comes with any close romantic relationship. While they are not harming anyone, there is no reason to campaign against it.
On modesty: Also a personal decision. It is not on women to not cause disrespectful reactions with men, it is on everyone to treat everyone respectfully regardless of what they are wearing. A woman in a bikini does not necessarily respect herself any less, she could very well be proud and embracing her body. Or want a tan. Or think it's pretty. It really doesn't matter why because that's up to her.
On gay marriage: I understand that your religion holds that to be a sin, but that shouldn't rule other people's lives that do not hold your belief system. To doom people with different attractions to not hold the same rights as heterosexual people denies them rights based on others religious beliefs. Churches don't have to marry gay people, but to take it any further brings it too far. And to let a majority vote on a minority right like happened in South Carolina is just an easy way for the majority to oppress the minority.
Ok, rant over. This had been building up in me for a while. I hope you found this to be a civil disagreement; I meant no disrespect. I also understand if you don't wish to engage this conversation, I just wanted to air my grievances. I wish you all the best.

Dear Friend,

Thank you again for writing me.  I welcome messages like this because they cause me to dig deeper into what I believe and why.  For the sake of clarity I want to address my beliefs in the four areas mentioned in your message: feminism, pre-marital sex, modesty, and homosexual marriage. 

Now let me share with you the lens through which I look at the world and form my beliefs and opinions.  I always cringe when people refer to Christianity as my “religion.” A religion involves a group of people in an organized belief system going through the motions to find some higher power or level of being that is impersonal and quite impossible to reach.  But in Christianity the great God Creator of the universe, knowing that we could never by our own personal efforts reach Him in His perfect holiness, sent His very best as a sacrifice so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. It is in this relationship, my own personal experience and walk with my heavenly Father, and the Word which He gave to me that I have founded my worldview.  No one can argue with my own personal experience and faith.

In the beginning, after God created the heavens and the earth, He created man.  I find it absolutely fascinating that God the Father, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and even the angels in the Bible are all male, yet God found it important to create a woman.   This woman, though a part of man and formed in the image of Christ, was created for the unique purpose of companionship.   She was set apart with different skills, strengths, and weaknesses.  She was beautiful. She was gentle and fragile. She was perfect for Adam. You see it wasn't about equality with one another as man and wife, but it was about their purpose as companion and caregiver because they each were uniquely and perfectly created. 
Because of sin, over time oppression of women became and remained a huge problem.  We must remember that this isn’t the job that God gave to men—to oppress women, He gave them the task of caretaker.  In the United States the women’s right movement began in the mid-1800s to gain equality for women in government issues (like voting). In the mid-1960s the feminist movement had good intentions of wanting to create reform for women in areas of education and the workforce, and even in the home where women were often belittled into feeling that that was their only hope for a life.  My problem is with many modern feminists who want to create equality to the point where there basically is no gender differentiation. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for girl power especially when it comes to corporate America!  The thing that I feel we are losing though is what made us unique from the very beginning—our feminism. We were made with a desire for beauty, to crave love and affection, and to mother. It’s OK for us to not be men, and to celebrate our differences. Truthfully, whether we like it or not when it comes to the home God has given men the important task of being the leader (Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3). It’s in his nature to need respect, to provide for his family, and even to desire the companionship of a woman. It’s fine and dandy if a woman wants to work, whether out of necessity or just for personal fulfillment.  However, I believe a married woman should discuss this with her husband and trust his leadership as to what is best for their family. This is why choosing a spouse is the second most important decision a person can make. I don’t think God says that the job of child rearing is solely for the woman, but for both parents.  If a woman feels held back I believe that is probably going to be an issue in her marriage that God never intended. 

I choose modesty because I am confident enough in who I am that I don’t have to dress in an immodest way.  Do I want to feel beautiful? Of course! And anyone who knows me knows I am all about some fashion and am far from frumpy!  It is innate for a woman to want to be noticed and feel attractive, and while this isn't the reason all women may decide to be scantily clad, I would say it is for the majority.  When we are noticed by men it gives us a feeling of beauty and self-worth.  Former model, actress, and now fashion designer Jessica Rey said this, “Modesty is not about covering up our bodies because they’re bad, modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves…it’s about revealing our dignity.” If you can be confident in a bikini on your own accord and don’t care what men think –fantastic! It’s nice to just feel pretty. But I would like to instill in my daughters 1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”  This kind of inner confidence is invaluable.  Plus, while we may not be responsible for the reactions of men 9 times out of 10 they will still react dishonorably.  My husband would rather not have other men looking at me that way, and I’m pretty sure that one day when you have a daughter of your own you will feel the same about the looks she draws from men.   Here’s more from Jessica Rey:

We have in our society done ourselves a huge disservice by cheapening the beauty and mystery of sex.  We are constantly bombarded with images of sex in movies and TV, we hear dirty jokes about sex, we tell our kids that sex is OK as long as it’s with someone you love and create this false concept of what sex actually is. We paint this picture of something romantic and intense, or we say it’s not really a big deal so just do it for fun with whoever will have you.  Yes, sex is fun and romantic and intense! When you have sex with someone you bare everything to them.  You connect with them on a deeply physical and emotional level.  I think you take for granted how much so, and how much of yourself you lose when you decide to do that.  I don’t know why you would want to be intimate with someone who is not your spouse.  I have not met any couples who regretted abstaining from sex until marriage, but I know many people who did not wait and have many regrets.    On our wedding day my husband and I had all the beauty and mystery of sex to look forward to.   I could say to my spouse, “I valued you enough to save myself for you and you only.” Look at Matthew 19:4-6, “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'” 

I also would like to add that as a product of pre-marital sex, the two people committing the act are not always the only ones affected.  No contraception is 100%. So yeah, as someone who was going to be orphaned if not adopted, I campaign against sex before marriage.

I am not going to spend a great deal of time on homosexual marriage.  I will say that the Bible is clear on homosexuality in both the Old and New Testament (Leviticus 18, 1 Timothy 1, 2 Corinthians 6), and that I believe it is wrong.  I also believe it is a highly sensitive and complicated issue that the church has done a poor job of addressing or understanding.  We have not done a good job of ministering to those who have chosen this lifestyle or struggle with their sexuality.  However, it is our right to protect this union that we feel is holy. Go back to the garden.  Marriage was God’s first institution created for man the caretaker, and woman the companion. This doesn’t mean we hate gay people! It just means we are protective of the holy union of marriage.  Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had this to say in the case of Hollingsworth vs. Perry,

"The one thing that the parties in this case seem to agree on is that marriage is very important. It's thought to be a fundamental building block of society and its preservation essential for the preservation of society. Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in The Netherlands in 2000. So there isn't a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a -- a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?"

I think it is a wonderful thing that we live in a country where we have the freedom to believe what we feel is right, and voice these opinions without fear of persecution.  I may not agree with you (and vice versa) but as an American I will always fight for your right to free speech, whether expressed through media or at the polls.

You were right on point when you said several times that these are personal choices.  Very true.  God in all His sovereignty has given us the gift of free will.  It is up to us to choose what we believe is right.  I choose Him as the lens through which I see the world and make my decisions.

I hope this was a clear response to your message.   Thank you for taking the time to write me, and to read my response. Many blessings to you and your family!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013


As many of you know my husband Caleb and I are expecting our first child in October.  We are SO excited about our little baby boy.  About 75% of our daily conversations are spent discussing who he will look like, how we will do his nursery, what kind of personality he will have, how we are going to parent him, how fast and slow at the same time the weeks are going by and how my belly grows by the day.  This whole experience is both very scary and wonderful for me as a soon to be mother.   I worry about everything, and cry at the drop of the hat.  It doesn’t matter if I am shopping, listening to the radio, or just watching a funny video, emotions run high and tears are always on the brink of escaping.  Actually, me having my own children was never part of my main life plan.  I always wanted to adopt a bunch of kids instead.  But for my husband it was extremely important, and because it was so important to him (and as I grew older) it became the earnest desire of my heart as well long before our marriage.

In all of my preparing for and dreaming of the days when I would one day be pregnant, one emotion I never expected to feel was guilt. Joy, fear, and excitement are all common emotions associated with pregnancy, but no one ever prepared me for the overwhelming sense of guilt I feel for having a child.  Let me be clear that I’m not ashamed of having a baby. After all, I was one of the good girls who did things in the right order: love—marriage—baby.    I have several friends who did things in the right order too, but God has not blessed them with the child that they have so often prayed for.  To be honest, I don’t understand this, and have had this conversation with God on many occasions:  Why does the girl who doesn’t do it “right” always end up getting pregnant?  Why does the woman who doesn’t want a child and has an abortion, even have that opportunity in the first place?  Why are there so many abandoned orphans when just as many families long to have the joy of a child in their home?  I have been both blessed and cursed with empathy--the ability to place myself in the shoes of others and feel what they feel, and while I may not always agree with their actions or decisions I do understand the why behind them.  I have the ability to see frustration in the woman across the room longingly eying my belly.  I sense the sadness in the church on mother’s day.  I hear the half-hearted congratulations from my single girl friends who so badly want a family of their own.  And I feel guilt for getting pregnant when they can't.

I have tried to be sensitive to this in my conversations with other women and in my Facebook posts.  I try not to bring up my pregnancy. I hide the album of ultrasound pictures and most baby posts so that only family can view them.  But I also realize that this only goes so far and doesn’t really heal their hurt. So for those of you who are battling this (or have in the past) let me offer you some encouragement-- not as one who is expecting, but from one who was an abandoned child once.

God has a plan for you too, and it’s not for you to be childless. 

In our culture adoption has become like plan B.  It’s what people say to those women who are in their late 20-30s who are married and don’t/can’t have kids, “Don’t worry sweetie, you can always adopt.”  As nice as those words may sound and as kind as we mean them to be, that’s like saying, “I know you wanted the shiny sparkly diamond, but you can’t have it so take this cubic zirconium knock off replacement instead.” They pack more of a sharp punch than a gentle reassurance.  The women smile politely and thank us, all the while thinking “That’s not the same thing! That’s not what I dreamed of!”  or “That’s easy for you to say since you have your own kids!” 

Now let me flip things. Being adopted was never God’s Plan B for my life.  I say that to you now, but me saying that comes with a lot of praying and time spent healing behind it.   In my darkest days I remember expressing to my husband, “By all rights I should have never been born. My birth caused nothing but pain and heartache, a product of a sinful act. Why did my mother get pregnant and I was born, and not another woman who hurts in her heart for a baby?”  But now I realize the truth--we are all only born because of God’s grace on our lives anyway.  My birth mother did not get pregnant as a teenager simply to go through emotional pain as a consequence of a bad decision.  She got pregnant because God wanted me to be adopted by the Cashion family and sit here and write this blog to you today—I was born to bring healing and not destruction.  That was always Plan A.   

Do you think the cross was Plan B?  When Adam and Eve sinned do you think God was like, “Well, I never saw that one coming! Guess I’ll have to make another way for them to be my children!”  Absolutely not! Yes He was hurt by their betrayal, but adoption as made possible by the cross was God’s “Plan A” for all of our lives.  I know without a doubt that I serve a completely and totally SOVEREIGN God.  Those of you reading this who long for that child (or whatever it is you are struggling with in your life) God’s not surprised by it, and no matter how hard it is to go through, it was part of God’s plan to give you hope and a future and ultimately to bring HIM glory since that is the intended purpose for our lives.  As I said earlier, I don’t know why God chooses for some of us to go down more difficult roads than others.   I just have to believe that He is in control and can see so much farther than my simple human mind can grasp.

Let me reiterate.   

God has a plan for you too, and it’s not for you to be childless or remain broken.

One of my favorite Bible characters has always been Samuel.  Samuel consistently lived a life of faithful service to the Lord. I believe this was due much in part to the fervent prayer of His mother, Hannah.  I have prayed the prayer the same prayer Hannah and so many others have prayed—that if the Lord would just grant me child one day that I would give that child back to Him.  When I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I went back and marked this verse again in my Bible and plan to put it in my son’s room:

“And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord.  For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him.  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” 
-1 Samuel 1:26-28

This child that I have been blessed to carry is not mine anyway.  He belongs to the Lord, and for that I feel no guilt.  God may choose to one day send him to the other side of the world, or worse take his very life away, but still I have to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  His will is perfect, and mine is not.

Dear sweet sister, hand it all over to the Lord and let Him show you the joy in His Plan A for you. Samuel may not have been the key leader that he was if Hannah did not also first suffer through the pain of childlessness.  But she gave it to God and was blessed.  Please adopt, sweet friend. You were not meant to be childless any more than an abandoned one was meant to be father or motherless.  Quit making excuses about money or age or whatever it is that is keeping you from adopting and let God provide.  I can honestly say that you will never have a biological child that will love you as much as an adopted one—I know.  Adoption is not a semi-precious stone, and you will never see that child as less than anything other than your own.  Just make sure that when God gives them to you, you give them right back to Him.

I am so thankful that God calls so many to adopt, because without them I’d be stuck in Plan B. May you find as much love, joy, and grace in adopting, as I experienced in being adopted.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Finding E. Finding me.

It was around 12:15 p.m. on a Wednesday in February when I opened the single most important and long awaited message of my life.  I slipped into the bustling campus coffee shop to check my email and Facebook before my voice lesson.  As I opened my messages my heart stopped. “Hi my baby…” With trembling hands I clicked it. The guys sitting beside me in the computer lab must have thought I was crazy as tears began to roll down my cheeks.  Hurriedly I typed a brief message “Thank God! I don’t have time to write much now but I will write you later!” I searched the faces in the crowded room to see if I recognized any of my friends as I left. I wanted to scream, “Hey ya’ll I KNOW WHO I CAME FROM! And she STILL LOVES ME! ” There is something about amazingly life changing news that makes you just want to share it with someone and have them laugh and cry with you.  I spotted one of my best friends and ran up to her, “OH MY GOSH KAYLA MY BIRTH MOTHER JUST WROTE ME CAN YOU BELIEVE IT I FOUND HER AND THEN SHE FOUND ME!” She looked at me puzzled, “Is this good thing?” “YES!!” Then the hugging and crying commenced, “Yayyyyyyy!! I’m so happy for you!”  Thank God for friends like Kayla who love you and celebrate with you even when you are an emotional mess and don’t really make sense.

Many people ask me how I found her, and why I wanted to find her.  Well, I always wanted to find her.  I know some adoptees are older when adopted and who come from bad situations don’t always want this, but for me (and I would say a greater percentage of adoptees) there is a deep driving need to know who you are and where you came from.  If you weren’t adopted there is no possible way you can understand this, because you can’t imagine what it is like to not know who your family is.  You don’t sit and wonder where you got your big brown eyes and strange looking nose from, because you know.  My father had always told me he would take me to find her when I got older, whenever I was ready.  While I had been quite content to wait, my curiosity had been growing lately. One night while staying with my parents over the Thanksgiving holidays, I snuck downstairs and made my way to the fireproof box which held all of my adoption papers.  After a few minutes of sifting through the files (and hoping my mom wouldn’t walk in and ask me why I was sitting in her closet) there was the little pink rectangular birth certificate which had her name on it.  I put the rest of the papers back and nonchalantly made my way through the living room and up the stairs to my awaiting laptop.  I sat there for a minute turning the card over in my hands. Now what?  I don’t know about you, but when I ever I want to find out about somebody I Facebook stalk them.(Admit it—you do it too).  I typed the name in the search bar and waited. Then, voilĂ  two names popped up. The first one I knew I had to be her. She lived in Venezuela, she was the right age, and most importantly she looked like me. The second name that came up I assumed was her mother.  They were friends and had almost the same name.  Once again I asked myself, Now what? I called my support line (aka Caleb) and talked it over with him. “She has your nose, Kate. That has to be her.” I decided that instead of writing her and taking a chance that her husband or kids or someone else who had no idea that she had had me would read it, I wrote her mother. It was pretty simple. Your basic I’m your long lost family member kind of message, “Hi my name is Katie.  I think that I might be your granddaughter.  Write me back if I’m right. K, thanx.” The next day she wrote and confirmed that she was the right one, and asked me not to write to her daughter yet.  I agreed, and for the next few weeks we wrote back and forth.  She shared with me the whole story, told me about her daughter and her family, and tried to explain to me what had led them to the decision to give me up.  It was after one of these messages that I became overwhelmed with the guilt of my birth. I had caused this family so much pain, and for me to come back now would only bring back more.  We didn’t write for a long time after that--I didn’t know what to say.  I pretty much gave up on the idea of ever knowing the woman who had sacrificed so much for me.

At Christmas I decided to tell my family what I had been up to.  I expected them to feel betrayed, unloved, and disappointed in me for doing all this behind their back.  Boy did I ever underestimate them.  If there was ever a time when my parents exemplified the love of God it was then. I was met with love and understanding, even joy and excitement at my new discovery.  They encouraged me to not give up hope of contacting her.

Then came that February day three years ago in the computer lab when she found me…

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for me curiosity pretty much just left me really confused. I went from being really excited, to really depressed in a matter of months. I was angry and unrational.  I suddenly felt like she was trying to take the place of my real mother.  I didn’t want anything to do with her despite her constant texts and messages asking me what was wrong, and if I was ok.  I still am not sure why this happened.  At one point I even sought counseling, but stopped after the first session when the counselor stared at me in a daze and bit his finger nails the whole time—seriously?  Two things happened that brought me healing. First, I watched the movie Octoberbaby. If you have not seen this film, then I encourage you to head to your neighborhood Redbox right now and rent it.  From it, God showed me that I needed to learn to forgive—both myself and my birth mother.  The second thing that has brought me the most healing, has been talking about it.   The Lord showed me that I was not alone.  Not only did I have family and friends who loved me, but there are millions of adoptees in this world who battle with the same feelings of anger and insecurity.   I hope these blogs have blessed you as much as writing them has blessed and encouraged my heart.  Things still aren’t perfect with me and E.  I still am not to the point where I want to call her and spend hours on the phone, but when she writes now I can respond.  We can talk online every now and then. It has taken me years to finally say that I am glad that I found her.  But mostly I am thankful that God makes all things new—even me.  If you have been adopted, don’t be afraid to talk about it. And I don’t just mean admitting the fact that you are adopted, because you know that.  Explore those doors of your heart that you keep locked away before you make the decision to contact your birth family, because it will change your life.  Furthermore, I would strongly discourage you to do so before you graduate high school. That task is hard enough emotionally and mentally without having to balance two families on top of it.

May God bless you and strengthen you, and I hope you find your E too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Putting the broken pieces back together...Part 2

In every story there are supporting characters that keep the action moving forward, and in most cases make the lead character look good. They share in the hero's quest by fighting along side them, and offering them encouragement when they want to give up. I have shared with you many of these supporting characters in my story, and in part one of this post I shared with you about my closest partner and best friend. Caleb is my Samwise Gamgee (yes, I'm a nerd, and you can get over it, K?). He has carried me up Mt. Doom more than once, and stuck beside me when I have been very low. Kate would not have made it far without Caleb, this much is true. Today you get to hear from him, as he shares with you some snippets of my story from his view of things. I hope you will be as blessed as I was hearing from him.

Excitedly I pulled up Facebook, typed in her name and pulled up one of the best pictures I could find of her.

“This is her, Mom. I think she’s Hispanic or something."
“Why do you think that?”
“She looks like it. What do you think?”
“She’s cute isn’t she, Son?”

I knew there was something different about Kate from the beginning. I picked up on the dark skin, black hair, and dark chocolate eyes. It didn’t help anything that she wore a bracelet on her arm that to me looked like rosary beads. I even asked her denomination knowing that most Central and South American Christians are Catholic, I simply added two and two together (even though I turned out to be wrong about the Catholic part!).

It wouldn’t be until later that I actually learned of her heritage and her story. It was intriguing to me. I wanted to know everything, maybe partly because I was so interested in her romantically, but mainly because though I had been friends with adoptees before, I had never come so close to someone with a story like hers, adopted from another country by a family of missionaries. She wasn’t like other adopted children I knew. She had a deep appreciation for her parents and what they had done for her. She is very patriotic. She had been back to her Venezuela and knew what type of country she could have grown up in. She was not just religious or spiritual, but she shared in a deep relationship with Christ. She was more mature in her mannerism, she was driven, had a dream and a goal that were attainable and had a plan to get there. She was not a flirty young college girl, she had never dated and was not looking for a relationship with a boy, and if one found her, it would and did take a back seat to her relationship with Christ. I learned all these things early on. She was, as I said, different. She was and is special.

One thing that has affected our relationship is her adoption. One of the first things I noticed was when I would go with her to the doctor, they'd never fail to ask, “Do you have any of this in your family history?” I remember seeing the look on her face as she would have to tell them she didn’t know because she was adopted. “That wasn’t fair!” I wanted to scream. I remember a letter she received early on from a relative in her birth family, which told her how much pain and difficulty her birth had brought to the family. Distraught doesn’t begin to explain the way she felt. What was I to do? I remember the fear in her eye and her trembling hand as she prepared to tell her family that she had gotten in contact with her birth mother. I was just there for moral support and to be a glorified tissue dispenser. I was the one who was privilege enough to go with her to meet her birth mother for the first time. I was the one who asked the questions too difficult for Kate to ask like, “Tell me about Katie’s birth father? What was it like to let her go?”

In July 2011 we went to Venezuela on a mission trip with a large church group. While there we were able to meet the rest of her family. As North Americans we view a close family relationship as parents, siblings and their children. Walking into a “welcome” party in Latin America meant the WHOLE family. There was Kate’s birth mother and her husband, their three boys, grandmother, every aunt, uncle, cousin, several friends of the family and I’m sure I missed somebody. They played games, sang songs to an acoustic guitar, gave her gifts, and took new “family photos”. It was fun, but it was a touch frightening for Kate at first. I was the one who stood beside her as they welcomed us in that night showed us to a room they had set up just for her—permanently in their home. I was the one who held her that night when she was scared and confused…

If you are married to an adoptee, then you understand what I mean when I write all of this. If you are an adoptee, you know how important you spouse is to you (or will one day mean to you). It took me while, but I finally understood: she was different. She was broken. I realized it over time. Tears swell in my eyes even as I type this. Even after being adopted, she still honestly felt abandoned. I can’t imagine what she dreamed her birth family was like. I can’t fathom how her mind envisioned the events surrounding her birth and adoption. All I can do is listen, and take note. I can hold her, but I don’t even have the ability to truthfully tell her everything will be alright.

I tried to back out of writing for her blog; after all, it’s her blog and her story, not mine. But upon her insistence, I relented. I have tried to tell pieces of her story that I most remember as one looking in from the outside, and maybe help you understand her a little better as she shares with you. I didn’t know what bit of wisdom I could offer up on adoption, I have never been in a family that adopted (prior to our marriage). As I thought about it, I came to this. If you have adopted, or if you plan to adopt, be prepared that that adoption doesn’t just have an effect on you and your child. It will also affect your whole family, and their future family. Pray for your child’s future and for their future spouse and as they grow, teach them to do the same. Pray that they will find someone who will accept them, broken pieces and all. Their future spouse will have to find broken pieces that you may never have even known were there. I think Kate’s brokenness has made her more empathetic. I wasn’t adopted, but even I had loose end and broken pieces that she helped find and heal in me.

I’m so thankful that God brought us together to share in this journey.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Putting the broken pieces back together... Part 1

In eleven days I will be celebrating my second wedding anniversary. Yes, I know, I’m still a baby and I don’t know anything about marriage beyond the “honeymoon” phase.  Maybe.  Lord knows I still have much to learn about biblically loving and respecting my husband inside the walls of marriage. One of the chief tasks I believe God gave Caleb in our relationship was to love me with His love. I know what you are thinking, “That’s biblical Kate—to love your wife Like Christ loved the church.”  This I also know, but it’s one thing to A) DO it, and B) experience it.   The love of Christ is infinitely more powerful than we give it credit for, especially when it comes to healing brokenness.  In my life, for example, God plays many roles. He set the example in my life for a Father who cares for me, providing for my needs and disciplining me when I need correction.  He is the Lover who loves me no matter what I have done or do, and accepts me by saying, “I want you.”  And He is my Savior, restoring my brokenness and healing my sin problem.

When we think of love in marriage our first thought is romance, but as so many of you know there is a deeper driving passion than that.  Let’s be real, I love him to death but my husband is not always romantic! However there has never been a moment in our marriage where I have not felt the inescapable love Christ lavished on me from my beloved. 

That’s beautiful…but what does this have to do with adoption?  Well, several things. 

As a child ages and begins to grow through the different stages of life new challenges and emotional struggles will arise—for any child this is true.  For adoptees it seems that the more life experiences you go through the more you struggle with who you are and where you came from.  I believe (next to slavation) marriage and children are the biggest life experiences that one goes through, therefore they seem to raise the most questions.  The closer I got to my wedding day the more I wanted to know my identity. As a parent knows, the love you have for your child is every bit as deep and full of healing as the love between man and wife.  This is true, and it takes a lot less effort to love your child that intensely because they are your child.  This is why it is so important to pray for the spouse that your child—especially your adopted child—will one day meet.  They will be entering your child’s life at a pivotal point. Not only that, but they aren’t going to automatically love your child the way you do.  That is a love and a union that can only come from God.   You might have shown your child that they are wanted by adopting them, but their spouse choosing them is crucial. Think about the love and acceptance you felt when you met your spouse.  When my husband asked me to marry him, it said, “I love you and only you. No matter where you came from. No matter who you are. No matter what condition you are in. I want you.” 

I doubt there is an adoptee out there that has not, or will not struggle at some point in their life with the issue of feeling unwanted.  In my case, I struggled with the fact that I was conceived in sin.  My mother was not married, and I believe sex outside of marriage is sin.  You can call me old fashioned if you want to, but not only did it hurt her emotionally to have the burden of having a child as a teenager, but I in turn also felt the brokenness and abandonment associated with her sin.   Please understand that I knew that my mother was sorry, and that she didn’t want to have to give me away but knew that was what was best. Still, I often felt like (and still do) I was simply the product of sin, not really meant to be born.  If I was meant to be, then my mommy and daddy who were happily married and loved each other very much would have been happy to have me and done anything to never have to let me go…right? You may think that the eight your old child that you adopted at a very early age doesn’t understand the logistics of the birds and the bees and what that means for how they were created, but I guarantee you that they have a deeper understanding than your biological child who probably takes their “happy beginning” for granted.  While my parents were the example of what a relationship between a man and a woman is supposed to look like, it wasn’t until I was married that I felt like I had corrected the sins of my parents by saving sex for my wedding night. I was made clean.   I no longer wore their mistake, because I broke the cycle.

When I chose Caleb and he chose me, I was choosing the man who I wanted to build a family with.  That may not sound like much, but through our children we will have a biological connection that I have never had.  My future children won’t have to feel that they were made in anything but love.  They will never have to feel unwanted, or like they were “an accident.”  (I can’t think of anything worse than a parent telling their child they were an accident! ) I know that my husband will be the wonderful biological father that I never had, and I will always fight for my children.

When we were dating, Caleb would often ask me what feelings I had about being adopted and how that influenced my life. I don’t think that anyone had ever thought to ask me that before. Most people feel that it is too sensitive a subject and don’t go into much more details than, “Wow, you were adopted? That’s great.”  I remember leaning over to him during the closing of one church service and whispering, “I want to find my mother. I really want to find her.”   As always he wrapped his arm around and said, “I’m going to help you.”  He was the first person that I called when I succeeded in this.  When I received a discouraging message back from my family, and began crying uncontrollably, he was the one that let me cry.  He didn’t say anything, didn’t try and tell me things I wanted to hear, he just held me.  When I told my parents the news, when I finally met her, when I was conflicted with a million different emotions, he was there to hold my hand. As I write this blog and have begun to heal from deep inexplainable wounds, he is my biggest supporter.

Parents, I know that you want to be the one to be there for your child during this time if they ever go through a search for their biological family.  I know you want to listen to all of their struggles and concerns about how their adoption has affected them.  But the truth is, for many adoptees (I think many of you adoptees reading this can agree) we feel a sense of guilt for even wanting to approach the issue.  I felt wrong for not being happy with just knowing my adoptive family.  Once I found my birth mother many people told me, “But you know who your real mother is, right? You aren’t going to replace her.”  Well, no.  But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be able to identify with someone biologically.  I was so afraid in the months that followed meeting my birth mother that I was going to do what everyone told me not to do.  I say this because even though you are the ones that want to be there, your child’s future spouse is probably going to be the one that they feel more comfortable pouring their heart out to about this particular subject.  After all, in marriage God makes them one for a reason, and they will experience all of their pain together. If not a spouse, a best friend—for me they just happen to be one in the same. 

In closing, I challenge you as parents to pray that God will grant your child with a spouse who will love and accept them with the love of God.  Most importantly, teach them who Christ and encourage their relationship with them so they will be able to pick out the good guys/girls from the bad ones.   As adoptees who are yet to find a spouse, pray for the man or woman that God has created for you, and set your standards HIGH—yes, one day your prince will come!  And for those adoptees who have spouse that has lovingly accepted them the way mine has, thank God for placing them in your life, and don’t be afraid to open up and share your every fear with them. 

As I said in the beginning, the chief task God gave my husband was to “be” Christ to me and he has so wonderfully allowed the Lord to work through him in this way.  He cares and provides for me. He loves me infinitely.  And he healed the emotional brokenness of abandonment that I had been afraid to face for so long.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Sister Sister

“Is this your daughter?” the young teenage cashier asked. “No, this is my little sister,” she said with a grin.  The girl smiled out of slight embarrassment and handed us the groceries. “Have a nice day!”  I skipped out of the small grocery store behind my sister chuckling.  My sister Missy was only in her mid- twenties, and I was ten years old.  I remember thinking how much I liked that the girl thought we were related, and that my sister didn’t say anything about me being adopted...

One of my favorite things growing up was when one of my sisters would come to visit me and my parents.  Once, when I was only about five years old, my oldest sister Amy was coming home from college for a weekend visit.  I was SO excited.   While mom was working around the house, I was sitting by the window waiting for Amy's arrival. I had a plan: when I saw her car turn in the drive way I would pour both of us a glass of tea from the full pitcher that my mom had just made.  Did I mention that the pitcher was full, and I was five years old? Yeah, I think you know where this is going.  I spotted her car turning in and bounded for the kitchen.   I grabbed the glasses of ice I had already prepared and set them on the table. As I tilted the pitcher, gravity took over and sweet tea now covered the table, the floor, and me.  In walks Amy to a sea of tea, and me who stood there disapointingly with tears forming.  Plan failed.   She hugged me as I explained the way things were supposed to happen, and then helped me and mom mop up the mess. 

My sisters were 14 and 16 when I came into the Cashion family.  I immediately became their human baby doll.  The played with me, dressed me up in silly hats, took me around to all their friends at school, and yes—they got me to say bad words when my parents weren’t looking.   They patiently waited at Christmas for me to open all my gifts first, and helped me put together my new toys.  They included me in their weddings, and in all of their black Friday shopping adventures.  They made the drive to my plays, cheered me on at graduations, chatted with me at 2 am about boy problems, and stood beside me on my wedding day. Not once did they ever make me feel…adopted.  

It is one thing as an adoptee to be loved and accepted as part of the family by your parents. After all, they are the ones who picked you out and legally committed to love and care for you.  Being accepted as a sibling is so different, and in a way, a deeper love and commitment.  They don’t have to accept you.  They can treat you like Cinderella if they want to, and talk about you behind your back.  They don’t have to share their toys and adventures and special days.  All these things are privileges for us adopted kids.  I think this is especially true if you are coming into a sisterhood.  There is something unexplainable about the bond between women, and when it is a familial tie that’s even stronger.  Not only that, but when my parents set out to adopt a child, they were looking for a boy. Surprise! Here I came to join and complete the girl power that is my family (we’re up to 11 women now and I am yet to have my kids), and become a candidate for the sisterhood of Cashion women. 

I don’t think I could begin to thank or explain how much their, not just acceptance, but overwhelming welcome of love meant and means to me.

This really is something that as adopted parents you have little control over. All you can do is, raise your biological kids in love and in the Lord and pray for friendships to form, bonds to be made, and the trust of siblinghood to be developed.

I think it was a cross between this love that I had with my sisters, and the fact that we didn’t have any boys in our family, that always drove a curious desire to connect with biological siblings. Next to my birth mother (and definitely above my birth father) I always have wanted to know if I there more “kids” like me running around somewhere.   In fact I have not one, but three half-brothers! Surprise again! 

For once in my life I was the big sister.  I remember step nervously into the sea of people at the Venezuelan airport.  I was met with flowers, balloons, and three sweet boys who hugged and kissed me just like the long lost sister I was.  During our short time together we traded small conversations of mixed Spanish and English, ate meals, celebrated a birthday, and played soccer (they actually thought I was good so I know they are sweet). 

I would like to say that we have a great relationship, but unfortunately it is not more than friends.   This is not their fault.  They have written numerous cards and sent me messages of warm greetings and love.  Sometimes the things we pray and wait for the longest end up very differently once we arrive there.  Even though I had wanted to connect with my birth mother and family all my life, I wasn’t prepared for what all that would entail.   The imaginary figures you have always dreamed about become real people, with flesh and bone, feelings, and dreams of their own.  I have thought so much about the months and now becoming years that have followed finding the woman who gave me life. I felt like once I found them and had this whole other family, it was like I was on the edge of some sort of strange double life.  If I accepted this new life and family, I felt like I would be betraying the one who had supported me for 21 years.  Could I really have both?  As an introvert, there are only a handful of people that I really connect to and keep close contact with.  The idea of instantly adding 20 people to this handful was incredibly overwhelming, and caused me to shut them out altogether rather than allow them in one at a time.  All this to say, that if I could do things again I would do them very differently.  Mainly, I would get to know each person in my Venezuelan family on a one on one personal basis: beginning with my birth mother and siblings, and then moving through everyone else in the family.  I think I was and am most sad that my brothers got caught in the middle of my own personal confusion.  All they wanted was a big sister to love and accept them, and I ended up treating them like they were the adopted ones.  I acted the way I was glad my sisters didn’t act towards me.  I love each one of them so much with my heart, but my mind always wants to trip me up and stop me short of acting on it. Slowly, things are beginning to turn around, and one day I hope I can be the sister that they always dreamed of.

For the mean time, I am learning from the best.  They have been with me during every step of my adoption journey, and just lived life with me.  I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Much love to you ladies—you will always have a special piece of my heart.