Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pregnancy Update and "My Story"

This is an exciting week for our family, as at the end of the week, we will discover how the tie between estrogen and testosterone will be broken!! After much prayer, Zack and I decided to have the first trimester blood work performed (an added bonus, of course, is getting to find out the sex of the baby sooner!). Because of my age and medical history, my doctor also suggested it. Zack and I knew that the results wouldn't change anything, but would help us be more prepared, if necessary. So we look forward to revealing our results this weekend with our parents who are coming to visit for this exciting time!

11 Weeks and Growing!! 

12 Weeks and I am not quite as far along as Caleb...hahaha!

I am thankfully feeling so much better. The nausea has subsided greatly, and I beginning to get some of my energy back as well. The smells still get to me, but I am tolerating them better. And as you can see, I am growing! 

Pregnancy certainly is a miraculous thing. I have always marveled at how God created life out of nothing, how he forms us in the womb, and all the amazing intricacies of his creation. There is no doubt there is a creator, God, when you view His handiwork.  Being pregnant has brought a new perspective to all this for sure! Each day I enjoy learning new facts about all that's going on in this little miracle living inside me...and so do my kids!

Speaking of miracles, I recently have been reading a book given to me by my amazing mother in law. It's written by Karen Kingsbury and titled, "A Treasury of Adoption Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence".

It has some amazing, miraculous stories of adoption. As I was reading it this week, I began to think about how, really, each and every adoption is a miracle, just as is each and every life God creates. My own adoption is a miracle. The adoption of my four children are all miracles. My life has been a story of adoption miracles.  And truly, it has. So, I decided to spend some time on this blog post telling "my story".

Many of you are familiar, at least somewhat, with my adoption story. Many of you, however, might not even know that I was adopted as an infant, and what entailed over the next several years of my life. From the outside, it might have looked more like a nightmare than a miracle, and at times, I am sure my parents felt like they were living through a nightmare.

It really is an amazing story and quite interesting to hear. I wish my parents could tell it to you, the reader. A book could literally be written about it, not only because it's an interesting, unusual and emotional story, but because the legal battle with my birth father spanned the course of about 13 years. Yes, 13 years.

It all began when I was born on August 21, 1982 in a hospital in Louisville, KY, to a very young lady, my birth mother. She felt that she didn't have the support system or means to provide the life that she would want her child to have, so she had chosen my parents to adopt me. A co-worker of a cousin to my mother knew of the situation through a friend of a friend. I am not sure about all the details and how they got it all worked out, but I just know I am thankful they did! From what I have read in newspaper articles and from his own statements, my birth father was supposedly not on board with me being placed for adoption. He attempted to not allow me to go with my mom and dad from the hospital, but a judge denied his request.

When I was 4 days old, I was brought home to the small town of London, Kentucky by two beautiful people, my mom and dad, Glenn and Linda Toney. Here are those beautiful people....

They had tried to conceive a child biologically but had not been successful due to my mom's medical issues. They had also attempted to adopt through the state of Kentucky, but had grown weary of the long wait. Many people in our small community of "Swiss Colony" knew of my parents longing to have a child, and, well, that's how they ended up with me!

I was received with open arms from everyone in my community, the way I understand it. My parents had a wonderful support system, and my adoption was finalized on March 11, 1983 in my hometown of London, KY.

I always thought I looked like a little boy....and that hair!!! 

 To my parents knowledge, their attorney had performed everything legally needed to terminate my birth father's parental rights, and had done so in the proper way.  Unfortunately, there was some room for debate in this area, and thus ensued what would be a 14 year long custody battle. Again, it would be impossible in one blog post to document what occurred in those 14 years,  but in doing some research (it is strange doing research about your own life), I found this timeline published in the Courier Journal. For those of you not from the Kentucky area, the Courier Journal originates in Louisville, KY and is the most widely circulated newspaper in the state of Kentucky.

Because of the back and forth nature of the court battle, and the decision in 1986 that restored my birth father's parental rights, there was a time when my birth father legally could have taken custody of me. Actually, an entire year passed from the time his rights were restored, until the time the ruling was appealed in my parents favor. During this time, he would call my mom at night and threaten to come get me. My mom would beg him to please not do that. My dad worked the night shift at UPS during that time, making these nights even more terrifying for my mom.

I knew I was adopted from a very young age. It was a fact that my family celebrated, and that I felt very special because of.  However, I knew nothing of the threatening my mom had to endure, or anything about any of the court proceedings.  I knew nothing at all, other than I had wonderful parents, an amazing extended family, and a pretty awesome life, overall. It was a happy childhood.

One story that has always amazed me occurred when I was around 7 or 8 years old.  My birth parents made a surprise visit to our home that evening. Somehow, they had found our home, and though not visiting as a "couple" they supposedly were visiting for the purpose of securing a picture of me to give to my birth mother's father, who was dying of cancer. My birth father, we would later learn, had ulterior motives.

I was in my room playing my Nintendo that night. My dad has told me this story several times, and he always notes that I never closed my door when I played Nintendo. But for some reason on that night, I decided to close my door. When my birth parents arrived, my mom immediately called her parents and sister. My grandpa came over with a shotgun (gotta love Kentucky) and my uncle came over and stayed with me in my room while I played Nintendo. I had no idea anything was going on, I was just concerned with advancing on to the next level in Mario.   My parents called their attorney and were advised by him to not give my birth mother the picture, but my parents tender hearts made the decision, and they gave her the picture anyway. My parents  learned  shortly after the visit that the father of my birth mother did pass away.

The photo my parents gave to my birth mother 
and that subsequently appeared  in the Courier Journal on various occasions

Curiously enough, the very picture they gave my birth mother appeared in the Courier Journal (the newspaper I mentioned earlier) along with a front page story, written from the viewpoint of my birth father.  It  did include the "facts" of the case, but certainly appealed to sympathizers for my birth father.   In doing my "research", I found that my adoption case/story appeared in the Courier Journal at least 4 times, with three of those times featuring a front page story. My parents never commented about the court proceedings, and did so per the advice of their attorney. Therefore, almost every story that was published in the Courier Journal was heavily weighted from the viewpoint of my birth father. Here are some examples of the headlines and a few excerpts from some of the stories:

In 1996, when I was 14 years old, my adoption case was settled, legally, once and for all.  Throughout the 14 year long battle, our case had reached the Kentucky Supreme Court twice, and had been sent to the United States Supreme Court of Appeals, but was never heard. The financial costs associated with the 14 year long battle literally cost my parents everything they owned, including our house. The emotional costs were high as well. Because of the stress of the case, my dad began having seizures and actually passed out while driving his UPS truck, which further complicated our financial situation. My mom has dealt with heart issues for as long as I can remember, no doubt at least partially because of the stress and anxiety of the custody battle.  This case definitely took a toll on them in many ways. But through it all, my parents provided the most loving and stable home that I could have imagined. My childhood was full of happiness, and I believed we were blessed. I will never know how they did it, aside from eventually having an amazing attorney who knew adoption law inside and out, the support, prayers, and generosity of family and friends, and of course and most importantly,  their faith and trust in God.

As with every story in life, will never know it all, at least not from the side of my birth father, and especially, I think, my birth mother. There are many questions left unanswered as to my birth father's choice of timing, his motives, etc. There are certainly "off the record" situations that occurred that will never be published in the Courier Journal or any other newspaper, such as the time he visited my home unexpectedly. There are numerous more. Thus, at the very least, I will always believe that his motives were very suspect. I think it is very important for you, the reader, to know that I came to these conclusions on my own, as my mom and dad never spoke an ill word of either of my birth parents. In fact, they always let me know they would support me and my efforts if I ever chose to seek out either of them. And they have kept that commitment. Shortly after Zack and I were married, at my request, my parents helped me contact my birth mother, and I, along with Zack and my parents, met her for the first time and had dinner together. I may blog at some point about that meeting.

I began this blog post speaking about miracles. Maybe after reading this, you aren't quite sure what the connection is, or how any of my adoption story could be considered a miracle (it was quite a mess!)

Well, I find it quite miraculous that I was adopted by two of the most loving, kind, selfless people that I have ever met. That out of all the people who could have adopted me, I was given these two parents. That I have my mom's eyes and love for hospitality, and my dad's love for music and sometimes his temper. That I grew up with the kind of relationship with my parents that I would just as soon as hung out with them on a Friday night than to have gone out with my friends. That I could approach them at any time, with any problem, and I knew they would listen. We have always been the closest of close. I don't know what I would do without them.

I find it miraculous that God can take what was intended for bad and what seemed like a desperate situation at so many points in time, and use it for good.  That He could use the trials my family faced throughout my adoption to build perseverance, character, faithfulness, and a deep, deep love for one another. That, because of my adoption and the impact it has had in, and on my life, God opened my heart to adoption, and we now have four beautiful, precious children from all over the world (more on this in the next blog). Not only this, but God has used my parents, and now Zack and I, countless times to minister to families who have had difficulties in the adoption process, or whom are considering adoption, etc. He, the one true and Sovereign God, has brought beauty from ashes in many ways. And that truly is the picture and beauty of adoption, in my opinion.

Please don't hear me say that adoption is a cake walk. Adoption isn't always easy. Being part of the adoption community, I know of many families who struggle daily with adoption related issues. Not every adopted child feels favorably towards adoption, as some children have been placed in very negative circumstances due to adoption.  In my case, the adoptive process was difficult, but the relationships I have with my mom and dad are priceless to me. Adoption has been a tremendous, unspeakable blessing to me.

We live in a flawed, sinful world, and that sin taints everything.  We are all born into the world as sinners, and we take this sin with us into our relationships, whether those are biological, or are formed through adoption, etc. None of us, or our relationships, are exempt.

The most miraculous news of all is that there is an adoption that we all can be a part of, one that only brings life, light, and love, and that is secure for all eternity.  We can be adopted into the family of God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:5 tell us that God chose us, before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in his sight, and that in love, he chose us to be adopted as His children, through his son Jesus Christ. This means we have the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, not only now, but forever. This is the very best adoption of all.

Thank you for taking the time to read "my story". It really isn't just my story, as God clearly knit the story together using various people, circumstances, etc, as He does with every story. What an amazing God we serve. I don't ever want to miss a part of the story He has for my about you?

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