Saturday, 9 July 2011

Three Halves Make Me Whole

In the excitement of this reunion, I've been able to share my news with many of my friends and family.

"I've found my biological father! And I have three siblings!" <-- That's me, very excited.

Most common response, "Wow! Are they full or half siblings?"

My interior dialogue, That's the first question? Really? Out of, 'how did you find him?' or 'what are they like?' or just about a million more interesting questions...

Me, stunned "Ummm, half I guess."

Their reply, "Half eh? Well, that's still really something."

If you're one of those people that asked me that question, don't feel too badly. After all, it wasn't just you. I think I've been asked that about a dozen times. Including yesterday, which is what brought this post to the forefront.

It amazes me that could be the most important question in someone's mind.

For me, when I discovered I had siblings, all I could think was, Thank you God! I have a brother and two sisters... how much more blessed could I be? I wasn't thinking about 'half' or 'step' or whatever. That is so inconsequential for an adoptee. It really is. When you are raised with an adopted family, no one in your life shares any biological relationship with you. Not even 10%. It's a miracle to find a biological parent (and they're only 1/2 of your DNA FYI). How much greater to also find a brother (who is an amazing, mature soul) and two sisters (one who shares much of my personality and the other I've called effervescent... both are treasures).

Half or full, doesn't matter in my mind. In my new family, three halves have made me whole.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Emotional Baggage

I carry around a lot of great luggage.

Trust me, my favourite suitcase is this beautiful glossy-cherry-red. It's hard-sided, spins like a dream and it is completely 'me'. I have a Miche purse (gift from my mother-in-law), which is wonderfully versatile (and I really should start selling them based on the sheer number of people who have purchased them after seeing mine). I also have my favourite lunch-book-shopping-whatever bag that is covered with sunflowers (another gift from my mother-in-law; she knows my taste!).

I think I have great luggage because I have become very adept at carrying around loads of emotional baggage. I can do this with great ease now, most likely because I have so much practice at disguising ugly things and calling them alluring names.

Please take a look at this leather valise and meet Camille. She's my biological mother, and has rejected me again as an adult. I don't always remember to bring her with me, but most of the time I have her sitting next to the desk in my office; at home she sits in the front closet except for nights when sleep is particularly troublesome, then she's tucked beside my nightstand.

The next one is a real bother to carry around I'm afraid, would you lift that end for me? This very heavy trunk has been with me all my 27 years. I'll admit, it's a little bit '80s' but, it was born in 1983 after all. The big sticker slapped across the front "You're Adopted! And Therefore Different". I used to showcase this trunk as a bit of a trophy when I was in elementary school. I reveled in being unique. But sometimes it would be nice to be able to blend in a bit. Hard to do when you're carrying around a trunk all the time, although it is a handy place to sit when you're waiting for a bus.

This one is particularly heavy, I know it's deceivingly small. A tiny white box, just about exactly the size you may keep an engagement ring in, until the time is right. This box doesn't carry a diamond. I'm not sure of the contents, only that every few weeks it opens up on its own and I become completely flooded with emotions. I haven't been able to put my finger on what opens this box of its own accord, sure would be nice to find the trigger someday.

That's it for the today's tour. I do however have a huge walk-in closet, that contains many boxes, old purses, suitcases, even a few briefcases. Maybe I'll show you some more of them another day.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Our First Phone Call

Linda has agreed to allow me to share her thoughts about our first phone call.

I really wanted to talk with you because I am quite shy and I wanted you to be comfortable for our first visit. I assumed that talking with you would help you and I overcome the initial awkwardness of meeting new people. I was also feeling quite left out by this and Kevin were corresponding quite regularly (many times a day in fact) and the kids and you were doing the same. It was during this period of the reunion that I felt sure that I was never going to be loved by you and that the "division" in my family was sure to come. My feelings were all over the map. I was experiencing anxiety like I have only ever heard about. My mantra was "Dear God, help me".

The time was here that I would need to pick up the phone and talk with you. "Dear God, Your will be done in this me, help us." I don' t really remember what we talked about but I do remember hanging up the phone and feeling a calm and tranquility that I had not felt previously. I had made another step in welcoming you into our family. God was pleased.

Looking back...lots of pain but I had the definite assurance that God wanted this. What could I do...deny God? He was asking me to accept my husband's daughter. How could I say no? What could I have done differently? Hindsight tells me that had I not accepted you, I would have caused division in my family.


I remember before our call I was terribly nervous. I'm shy, you're shy...are we going to sit in silence for ten minutes before one of us has enough courage to speak? You called at exactly the time you said you would, and when I answered I was stunned. You're not shy on the phone! In fact, you're quite chatty, and it was great. You were completely friendly, welcoming, just lovely. After we hung up, I was so disappointed our call was over. I could have talked with you for a few hours. I'm so glad the anxiety was gone. I too felt at peace.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Secret Fears

Email to Haley, from Linda; March 23, 2011


Does the Focus 3 Bible Course end in June? Sounds amazing. When you lead a Bible Study, do you host it in your home? In the church? (...) Thanks for the link to your church. I am listening to a sermon by one of your pastors right now. He is also doing a PowerPoint presentation. Do you help him with that? This sermon is wonderful! He has a real love for the Lord doesn’t he?

(...) At 28 years old I had a conversion...2 years after our marriage. I learned all about the love of Jesus and His Divine Mercy. I suspect all of Heaven celebrated the day I finally accepted Him! It’s quite a beautiful which I will share with you face to face.

Thanks for the pic of your parents! (...)

I can only pray that the kids will all find godly spouses. How happy I am that your marriage is built upon Jesus. You are so blessed and Nick is just as blessed to have a godly wife!

OK enough for now! I’ll call you tomorrow.

In Christ,


Email to Linda, from Haley; March 23, 2011

Hi Linda,

Our Focus 3 course runs from September to the end of May. It wraps up with "High Adventure Camp" where our group (there's 14 of us, including our senior pastor and his wife) goes white water rafting, high ropes course, horseback riding, etc. It's kind of like teambuilding. I'm very excited about it! It sounds scary and my goal is to try everything! It's been a very meaningful year together so far. Like I said, we write our 'stories' and then we actually share them with the group. It's been so cool to share everything, dark times and all, and still be loved and accepted. They've been praying for us as we reunite, and they were thrilled to hear about you and know that your family is Christian. They're my other family :)

When we lead our small group, we took turns hosting. Often it was here, but other couples took their turn too. We'd meet every other Sunday night and always start with dinner first. It's a great way to get to know people!

My favourite Bible studies have all been by Beth Moore. Have you done any of those? They're ladies Bible studies with a dvd and a workbook with lots of homework!

I can't wait to hear your faith story. I love how God uses different things in each of our lives to draw us closer to Him. Tonight I'm volunteering on our Healing Prayer Ministry team. It's amazing to be a part of, I'll have to tell you about it some time. It's been a huge part of my faith story too :)

Yes I do all the PowerPoint for our pastors (I actually build it in Keynote - Mac software). I love doing that! It's so fun.

Well, I gotta run to my appointment! I look forward to our chat tomorrow!



All the while, when Linda and I are emailing happy, hope-filled emails to each other...we were both having major anxiety. I'm panicking that she won't want to add another daughter; she's worried that I don't want another mother.

Here's the thing I've learned in the last few years. We have an enemy, and he is not really impressed when God's plans are moving ahead. So he tries to interfere, and he attacks us in ways that will steal our joy. But I've also learned that he doesn't have original ideas. He was putting the same fears into both of our minds.

And we agreed to talk on the phone. To each other. While we're both secretly panicking. I can't wait to show you how it turns out! Tomorrow's post is going to be worth getting up early for :)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A city on a hill

Email to Haley, from Linda; March 23, 2011

Dear Haley,

I too wear my heart on sleeve!

We would love to have you come to Mass with us. Initially, when the plan was that you would come on Easter, Daniel wondered which church you would go to. Our piano teacher is Baptist so we thought we would ask her the service times etc. Most people wear casual wear, jeans etc. The girls and I wear dresses (but that is not unusual for me since I mainly only wear skirts). Do you and Nick go to Bible Study? Is Nick's Dad a Baptist minister? (...) Whew, so many questions :)

I will call you on Thursday evening. Over time, phone calls will be a piece of cake. (...)

Haley, would you be able to send us a picture of your parents? I would love to know what they look like (I am a very visual person). When I saw the pics of you, my heart melted. The one where you are wearing your graduation gown seemed to tell me that you were a gentle, loving soul!

Hope you have a great day!



Email to Linda, from Haley; March 23, 2011

Hi Linda,

I think I've only been to Mass once or twice. I went in Jasper one time when we were there on a family trip. It was a world religions class assignment! It was different than what I'm used to :) I remember being confused about when to stand, sit, what to say/sing...I needed someone to show me!

Nick and I do attend a Bible study. We go every Tuesday night, and we really enjoy it. We led a Bible study group ourselves for a few years (we call them small groups). This year we're doing a program called Focus 3, and it's a leadership development Bible study course. One of our assignments was to write our life story and see where God's hand has been on each aspect of our lives. Writing that was what actually led me to decided to search for Kevin.

Yes Nick's dad is a Baptist pastor. Nick grew up very Baptist. (...) I'm not too concerned about denominations. I'm more concerned with people actually finding out who Jesus is and wanting a personal relationship with Him. In my opinion, no church has sole claim on that.

This picture of my parents is from last May; we went to visit them for their 40th wedding anniversary.

I look forward to your call!



So strange talking about faith and church via email. It's not usually something I talk about with, for all intents and purposes, strangers. Amazingly, it's not as awkward as I thought it would be. Faith is a huge part of my life, and obviously of Linda's as well. Glad that isn't going to be a stumbling point for us.

Sending her a picture of my that was a delicate decision. It's not like I think my parents will be running into them at the supermarket; they do live about four hours apart. It still felt like I was giving up some sacred information. I certainly considered declining Linda's request. I can't put my finger on why it made me uncomfortable. In the end, I decided it would be more honouring to my parents to share their photo, than to hide them away. Just as I choose to keep my city on a hill and reveal my faith in Jesus, I will share my parents with Linda. I know it's only a photo...but somehow it represents more than that.

Monday, 4 July 2011

I feel like I already know you

"I've read your entire blog and I feel like I already know you."

I was told that last week by a very dear, sweet gentleman. I'm sure it was meant as a sign of interest in me, and as a sincere compliment; he's enjoying learning about the addition to his extended family.

Instead of a compliment, I took it as a scary fact. My life is out there! For the world to judge. Not only my life, but also those of whose emails I've shared. My new family. Funny story about that...Linda's brother found out about his niece's favourite author by reading her email to me, on the blog. Oh, to live that one down! How can we share more about our lives on a blog than in real life?

I think I've felt fairly anonymous writing my story up to this point. I know my parents are reading it, my new family reads it (some of them religiously...), some of my facebook friends are reading it, that some fellow bloggers (strangers from afar) have taken interest. But now I know that people I will be meeting, that will likely be a part of my life to some extent, are reading it even prior to meeting me. That is a weird feeling. Very weird.

I feel I should issue a little challenge to you. You know who you are. You haven't commented on a post yet and you don't publicly follow the blog. Unless you do something like that, you're getting all the benefit of this one-sided relationship, and I'm just getting one more hit on my blog counter. I'd love for you to introduce don't have to share your life story, that can still be my half of the relationship. In fact, I'm truly honoured and very appreciative that you would spend your valuable time reading about my life. 

I guess what I'm saying is, I'd rather know you're around now. Otherwise, the first time we meet I'll shake hands with you, and you'll say "I've read your entire blog and I feel like I already know you." Then I'll have this awkward moment where I fumble for words like, "thank you?" or "are you 'hog11'?" And then, I'll have to write a blog post about you...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Reunion; Take Two

I haven't heard from my biological mother, Camille, in about five and a half years. I sent her flowers a few weeks ago. A bouquet of gerber daisies, if you're curious. I remember when I visited her home, on our very first meeting, she had gerber daisies out on her dining room table. They are one of my favourite flowers, so naturally I commented on them. Camille told me they were her favourite. Funny how I vividly remember those flowers, and yet everything else from that night is a blur.

Why on earth would I subject myself to further rejection? I'm not sure. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for punishment. Or hopelessly optimistic...

Dear Camille,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and felt compelled to write to you. I’m so sorry that our first reunion didn’t work out. It was very difficult for everyone involved, but I can’t help think it was hardest on you.

You’re the one with the painful memories of a teenage mother, who seemingly had no choices. You’re the one with hurts as an adult of probably the worst timing for a reunion, when you were trying to start your own family. It makes me cry just to think of this sorrow that I brought back up to the surface for you. I know sorry isn’t a big enough word, but it’s all I can give.

I’m not writing to bring back bad memories, though I’m sure I have even by having my name on the outside of this envelope...instead I just want you to know that I’m still here. I’ve grown up a bit more, have a few more years behind me, a few more grey hairs, and a bit more life experience to know that I should have been a lot kinder and more gracious in our first reunion.

I hope you are doing well. I think of you often, and wonder how life has been to you these last few years. I’ll be turning 28 in a couple of months. Wow time flies. Life’s too short for me not to give this relationship another try.

Lesson learned for next time: slower is better. I still can’t believe we met on the very first night! So much for my impulsive teenager-like tendencies! I promise I’ve grown up past that, well, mostly!

Let me just close with, I’m still here. Still interested in knowing you. 


It's been a few weeks now. Still haven't heard anything from her. If I'm very honest with you, I'm not surprised. Disappointed? Hmmmm, mildly. But I have many people in my life that love me, care about me, actually want to invest time in me. I can't get hung up on the one that doesn't. Well, I could, but I'll try not to...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Happy Belated Father's Day

Due to our postal strike in Canada, I have had to delay this post until my Dad received his card! Only a few weeks late...I believe he got it in the mail on Thursday. This will be a rare fast-forward glimpse into our reunion. I've had the pressure turned up on me to get to the present story, so here's me caving to pressure, yet again :)

Today I stood in front of a wall of Father's Day cards.

I don't even send cards every year to my parents for Mother's Day or Father's Day. Our family believes in the conspiracy theories about the corporate card companies scheming to steal pennies from innocent card-giving victims on pseudo-made-up-holidays. But sometimes I do send them, and I thought it was especially important this year of all years.

I chose my Dad's card first. That one was easy,

     From your Daughter on Father's Day
     If I had asked God to give me
     the best Dad in the world...
     His answer still would have been you! (...)

Now for Kevin's card. The first ever Father's Day card he's going to receive from me. I wept.

So many cards with sappy poems...
So many with fond memories of childhood...
So many with the cute little girl standing on her Daddy's feet...
So many tears.

I couldn't see through the tears, so I'm not certain that there were many strange looks shot my way, but I suppose it's likely there were.

I'm torn in half standing in front of this wall. I have a Dad, and now I have a new Dad, and I don't want to hurt my Dad, and I want to include my new Dad, and am I even allowed to call him Dad?

I choose this, the only one that seems right,

     I'm thanking God for you, Dad...
     and praying your Father's Day is happy and blessed.

I think that's a pretty good gift. He gets to share the title now, Dad. Hope all of my Dads are ok with that.

Friday, 1 July 2011

To fake or not to fake

Email to Linda, from Haley; March 22, 2011

Hi Linda,

I often wear my heart on my sleeve, so if I express emotions I hope that doesn't scare you! I just try and be really honest about what my reality is. I never want to be the kind of Christian that pastes on a happy face and gives the impression that following Christ is a cakewalk. That's my reasoning behind the 'heart on my sleeve' mentality :)

I appreciate very much the fact that you are all trying to be very sensitive to me. I'm probably a handful to keep up with! I know that one email I sent to Kevin was probably not as sensitive as it could have been, but he was so gracious about it. I know I don't always have the censor that I probably need to have, so I hope you're ok with telling me when things are too much as well. (...)
I don't really know too much about Catholicism, so feel free to educate me! I'm very interested in learning more about what you believe. We would love to attend a service with you when we're out in April; I really want to see your church! Do you dress up when you go? Our church is pretty casual, so we often wear jeans.

Linda, I'd be delighted to chat with you on the phone. I'm sure Kevin probably told you about our phone call, but it was soooo much better than skype, and much less awkward. There's just something about one-on-one that's better for me too. I can definitely be shy and I especially don't like large groups, so I think a phone call would be great. (...)

Hope you have a great day! I look forward to our chat!

Blessings, Haley

I can't decide what's harder. Living life pretending to be happy, or actually letting people see inside my heart. I've done both, and most of the time I think being authentic is the way to go. But sometimes, especially when I feel really vulnerable, I wish I could go back to pasting on a happy face. As much energy as putting on a facade takes, it feels like that might be easier than letting someone in to see the real me.

Though I would like to hide behind a smile, eventually it will come out that I'm just a broken girl. Desperate for healing, craving acceptance, thrilled that anyone would want to phone me even if it's just to find out what my favourite foods are. 

Better to be the real me; I don't think I have the energy to fake it if I wanted to.