Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Girls' Home in the Mountains (18)

That highway into the unknown, led into a small town north of Asheville, just on the other side of the Black Mountain, a town called Old Fort. Old Fort was indeed a small town, it’s closest to a town a bigger called Marion. Old Fort which was settled into a few mountains, was home to a small, independent girls home. The home was somewhat similar to the Home I just left but it was just for girls and it only had a handful of girls. The home sat on a few acres up in the mountain, the building looked like an old inn or retreat center. It was a long, one story building that had two wings and a kitchen and common area in the middle. The girls and the girls’ staff lived on one side and Mr. Dave and Ms. Desiree (a staff member) lived on the other side. There were just a few girls there, Mrs. Watkins (who’ll I just refer to as Mrs. Dave), another staff lady named Dorothy who had a little boy, a toddler.
Upon arriving at the home, I was very unclear as to what my responsibilities would be, I was even more perplexed as I discovered that there seemed to be several people there to help with just a few girls. All I knew was that a ‘deal’ had been kind of made between Mr. Dave and myself, he had ‘promised’ to help me get into Pensacola Christian College and help with my financial aid, if only I would commit to help him with the home for the summer. The plan was only to be there for the summer and then go to college and study nursing and music. But, I would soon find out that he was just lying and using me.

When I arrived at the girls home, it was in the middle of May and by the time June came around, social services and law enforcement had forced Mr. Dave to shut the home down. The girls had ran away from the Home and had gone and told officials that there was abuse going on there which sparked an investigation. It was rather blown out of proportion but there was nothing anybody could do. By the time the investigation came to an end, I would be investigated by Social Services, Dorothy would have her son taken away from her and the home would be forced to return the girls to their parents. Eventually, all the people there who were on staff left, Ms. Desiree would move into Marion, Dorothy left to try to get her son back, and I just kind of stayed around. I had no place to go. Mr. Dave thought, he would figure out a way to get the girls back and reopen the home, how he would do this, I had no clue but he would do something.

Before I knew it, my birthday had approached and I was turning 19. It had been one heck of a year being 18, I felt like I had lived a few years in one and I pretty much had. If you remember, when I left home and went to the Home in Corpus Christi, I had the mentality of a 12-13 year old, so in one year I had done a LOT of growing up and maturing. But, as I turned 19, there was nobody around except for Mr. Dave and his parents who had come from Ohio to visit and his son Paul. Paul was just a couple years older than me and we kind of became friends, I guess because we were the only ‘young’ people there. Mr. Dave and his friends and family had bought me a cake and they had made a nice dinner there at the Home and that was the extent of my 19th birthday. No calls from the adopted mother, she really hadn’t gotten in touch with me. I was exchanging mail and once in a while phone calls with Jonsey but that was it.

While Mr. Dave was trying to figure out what and how to get the girls back, the adopted mother had found me. All of a sudden she was interested in my life and she would do everything to convince me to go to College so I wouldn’t mess around with Jonsey. She knew I was still falling for him and now she was encouraging me to go school. It was rather interesting, when I was at home, going to college was evil for a girl but now it was okay, now she wanted me to go. But, as time was quickly passing that summer, the reality of going to College was starting to become very dim.  Paul, Mr. Dave’s son was starting to visit frequently from his college at Crown University in Tennessee. Every time Paul would visit though, I would learn more and more about his college situation. He was working 2 jobs to get ‘himself’ through college, he barely had money for himself and from the looks of it, it didn’t look like his Dad was helping that much. So, I started wondering how in the world Mr. Dave was going to help me go to college? He had made it sound like the girls’ home would sponsor me but when the Home was opened, we barely had money to buy groceries. We were having to pinch every penny that we had and the meals were barely big enough to feed everyone. I just didn’t understand how this was going to help me and any time I would ask Mr. Dave about helping me with my financial aid application for the college he would somehow blow me off or tell me he would get to it soon. It didn’t look like I was going to College but school didn’t start until September, so I figured I had some time but I would be wrong.

In July of 2001, Mr. Dave decided to take the girls that were in the home there in N.C. and take them to his other girls’ home in Milton, Florida. Somehow it would be okay to have them there. So, Mrs. Dave and I would ride in the Home’s van, Mr. Dave would follow us, we would pack up what we had, which for me wasn’t much, it all fit in a suitcase and a backpack and we would start driving down to Florida. Along the way, we would meet up with the girls and their parents and pick them up and we would take everybody down to Florida. It was such a long drive and I got to really know Mrs. Dave really well, well enough to know I didn’t like her. She was short with everybody, crude, never smiled and acted like being kind would kill her if she had to be. Needless to say when we got to Milton, myself and the girls were thrilled to get out of the van and away from her, well, as far away as we could.

The Home in Milton was smaller, much smaller. It was an old brick home that had been added on to in order to accommodate the make shift wing for the girls. It was small and I didn’t really like small. I would be the only ‘staff’ member there working with the girls, for some reason Mrs. Dave didn’t really feel the need to do much with girls except to discipline them or scold them. Looking back now, it seemed like she enjoyed it too. She was not one to hug you or go out of her way to be nice or pay you a compliment. She was a very odd person. But, since I was the only staff member, it would be my job to cook, do the girls’ schooling and anything and everything in between. We only had 3 or 4 girls and they weren’t bad, we actually kind of bonded and to this day, I have notes and cards from them. I don’t know where they are now but I think about them often.

Well, the situation with the girls there somehow didn’t work out and I can’t remember why but for some reason Mr. Dave decided to take the girls back up to N. C. It didn’t make sense to me knowing that the girls weren’t supposed to be there. The authorities had told us, well, Mr. Dave that he could not operate the home there anymore. But, it wasn’t the worst idea, in fact it would be a good thing. Mrs. Dave and I were not getting along, she was becoming a very difficult person to get along with. She decided it would be a good thing to contact the adopted mother and find out what she knew about me. Instead of dealing with me as one of their staff members, she decided to treat me like one of the girls there and she insisted on telling me what my problem was and that I was a troubled girl myself who had rebelled against my parents and had caused my own heartache. Not only had she interfered with the adopted mother but she was holding back mail and even phone calls from Jonsey. I had wondered why he hadn’t tried to contact me but in reality he had, she just thought she was  doing me and the adopted mother a favor by interfering. I had finally had enough and told Mr. Dave that if he didn’t do something, I was going to have a problem. He was never around, for some reason, he was always traveling, doing what, I’ll never really know. Finally, he showed up and offered to take me back up to N.C. with him and get the building set up again and get it ready for the girls to come back.

So, once again, I found myself in a car with this older man who had very poor hygiene and we were driving back to N.C. It was kind of awkward but he never did anything to me. I didn’t know about men who did that at the time. We eventually made it back to N.C. and were back in the building with two wings. I was back in my original room, and we were the only ones there. It was kind of scary. I would have to fend for myself, there wasn’t a lot of money to go and buy sufficient groceries. I would have to make my own meals with what food was stocked in the donation pantry. Mr. Dave would offer me a TV dinner a time or two but it didn’t sound that great. It was so quiet there and dark, I would find myself in my room a lot and even would have to sleep with the radio on.

Soon the girls would be there and the place was up and running again. But, I was doing anything and everything there. I was doing laundry, doing the cooking and watching out for the girls. We tried to make the most of it there, the girls and I would go hiking in the woods on the mountains. We would go on adventures and see what we could find and do. I remember on one of our hikes we actually came across a tree bride, it wasn’t that far off the ground but we had all dared each other to cross it. I was quickly reminded why I didn’t like heights. We found an abandoned house in the woods one time and as we walked around it and through it we found old postcards from a world away. The girls and I would have fun, we would sit around the front porch and listen to the coyotes howling in the mountains. Sometimes we would just sit around and talk like we all had known each other for a lifetime. We would get as involved as we could with the church we went to in Morganton, which was a town north of Marion. Shining Light Baptist Church, was our home church and I would become more involved with the church later. The church loved the girls, the pastor known as ‘Bro. Danny’ loved the girls too and would do what he could to make them feel special.  

But, soon the adventures and all the good times would come to a halt. One day in August, social services showed up, somehow they had learned the girls were back and the girls got scared and ran away. It was a bad day. I had to go find them and went hiking through the woods to find them. By the end of the day, the girls would be found and brought back to the home where by now the police had now shown up. I remember distinctively the investigator that was there pointing his finger at me and saying I was going to jail, after he pointed it at Mr. Dave and told him the same thing. I remember being so scared. By now, I had figured out that Mr. Dave was not running the home the right way, not only that but was supposed to be paying me something to be working there and he hadn’t paid me a dime. After being interviewed by child services, I had convinced them and the investigator that if he would just let me leave, I would never come back. I told them, that I didn’t want to be there anymore and clearly they knew that I had been forced to work there under other motives. I told them that I was supposed to be going to college and they made it aware to me that the Mr. Dave barely had enough money and that he never intended to help me get to college.  I was stuck there that day, not knowing what to do, or where to go. The adopted mother had stopped talking to me after she figured out that she couldn’t force me to leave Jonsey alone. I didn’t know anybody up there except for the people at the church, but I was still getting to know them.  I had no place to go. One of the social workers had told me that there was a women’s shelter in Marion that I could go to and that they would take me there. So, I packed up everything that was mine, said my goodbyes to the girls that were once again being forced to go back to their parents and went to a women’s shelter. The social workers had forced Mr. Dave to write me a check for the work that I had done there and I guess I had only done about $200 worth of work in about 3 months. That was all the money I had to my name.  I actually had never had that much money to my name ever so to me it was quite a bit but in reality it wasn’t.  I was now on my way to a shelter, a shelter I knew nothing about or the ladies there. I didn’t know exactly what kind of women were there but I would soon find out. As I sat in the back seat of the silver car that belonged to the social worker and headed out the drive way, another chapter was closing and a new one was about to start, a chapter into the unknown.

Until next time, be blessed and inspired to make a difference!
~The Adopted Child 

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Year 9/11 Happened. The Year I got Married (19)

I arrived at the Women’s Shelter that afternoon, I had never been to a shelter before and like I mentioned before, didn’t really understand the concept behind it or was aware of what kind of people stayed in a shelter, but I would soon find out. It wasn’t big or fancy, in fact, it had been there for a while but it was okay. It had several rooms on one floor, a few rooms, a kitchen and a living room type space in the basement level.
I walked into the front room, which was like the main living room, to the right was the office where the man in charge him was working. There was him and his wife who owned and ran the shelter and then there was another man who worked there with his wife. They were very nice people, who went to church and were very kind. The social worker explained to them why I was there and they quickly welcomed me there as they made arrangements for me to move in. The social worker left after making sure that I was okay being there and I would never see her again.

As I stood in the living room waiting for the director to get a few things lined up, I looked around the room. It was like a square shaped room, with couches going all around, a big television sat in the corner, a desk sat by a window on one side with a phone sitting on it. There was an entrance that lead to the two different floors of rooms, my room was on the second floor. My room was very nice and quaint, it had a full size bed up against a wall, a microwave and mini fridge in the corner, a huge dresser with a TV on it, a mini vanity with a sink on one wall with a closet. The room was white, with a window that had a fan unit in it and carpet laid on the floor. I soon found that my room was one of the nicer rooms there in the shelter and I considered myself very blessed to have such a room. The shelter elsewhere showed signs of age and wear but the director kept up with it the best he could. It was the responsibility of the ladies there to keep up with the cleaning of the shelter, the community bathrooms, the kitchen and the living spaces. I soon met some of the ladies there, they all were different, older than me, some were old enough to be my mom or grandma. There was a lady there who had children, boys, one was in his very early teens and the other one was young maybe 7 or 8 years old. I would soon get close with this little family, kind of taking the boys under my wing as their mother tried to work her life out.

All the ladies had a story, they were either dealing with legal issues, drugs, or alcohol, custody battles, job problems, yet they were all very friendly. They soon found out what my story was after several of the ladies had been convinced that I couldn’t be old enough to be there. I guess my physical attributes hadn’t quite matured with my mental maturity, I still looked like a little girl to most people and I would look like one for a few years.

Everybody there at the shelter pretty much knew each other and kind of acted like one small happy family, well as happy as they could be considering their troubling circumstances. The director and assistant director and their wives were very kind people and would talk to me when they could. I would explain further why I was there and how my journey which had started just a little over a year ago, led me to their doors.
While adjusting to life in the shelter, I did what I could to stay in church, a few of the people who I had become friends with, made it a point to stay in touch with me and help me when they could. Mrs. Linda Ritchie, was one of the ladies who lived near by and she would pick me up for church, usually after she picked up Mike. Mike was a cool guy, who had some issues. He was old enough to be my dad, but lived at home with his parents, he had lost his drivers license due to a DUI and because he couldn’t go anywhere, he was subjected to living in the basement of his parents house. Mike was a very kind person but he struggled with prescription pills which I guess fed his depression, something he really struggled with. But, Mike was faithful to church, and soon he and I became good friends, it was nothing weird or inappropriate. I guess I was good at being friends with about anybody really, and looking back, I guess I was just looking for friendship, because there was nothing else.

Soon, I was working the bus route at Shining Light, and then the pastor, Bro. Danny, asked me to work children’s church. I was good with the kids and I was able to do fun songs with them, and teach them a few Bible verses. It was a great thing for me to do and Bro. Danny and the others were very impressed with my abilities to relate to the kids and keep their attention. I was becoming very good friends with the people at the church, even some of the younger teenage girls.

So, while I was adjusting to my new life at the Women’s Shelter and at Church, my relationship with Jonsey was also growing, or at least I thought it was. We would talk on the phone as often as we could and he would send me packages and letters. I felt special, and really felt like he loved me, again, I thought so anyways. It felt nice to have someone love me, nobody else really did, not my family anyways. I hadn’t talked to the adopted mother since I left the Girls’ Home, by the time that whole mess was over, it was pretty clear that college life at Pensacola Christian was never going to happen, no thanks to lies and false promises. I would try to apply at Hyle’s Anderson College in Indiana, and would be accepted but soon realized that I had no way of getting there, no money to buy necessary clothes and it was just something else that didn’t work out.

The only money I had was the $200 that the social workers had forced Mr. Dave to pay me. That was it. So, I had to make it work. After being at the Shelter for almost a month, the directors helped me look for a job. A job. I had never had one of those before, never applied for one, and had no clue how that worked. But, I would just do what I could and go with it. If I remember right, the first place I applied for was a Burger King. It was on the other side of town, up a hill and I would walk up that hill to the restaurant and fill out an application, I would go to the Ingles grocery store there in the shopping plaza too and fill out an application there. There were a few other places I applied for and I would wait to hear back from them but wouldn’t really get a response unless I called them and followed up on application, only to be turned down. But, I would follow up on the application at Burger King and would be told to come in for an interview. I was so excited, even though I didn’t know what to be excited about exactly but I was nervous too. The directors told me what to do and what to expect and they kindly told me not to be nervous and to just be myself.
So, I walked up the hill that day in late August and sat down with store manager whose name was Becky. Becky was a sweet lady, very outspoken, but, very friendly. As I sat down we talked, we hit it right off when she found out my name was Jessica, she too had a daughter named Jessica and after asking me a few questions, she was very surprised that I had manners; in fact she was rather impressed. Of course, the question came up as to what I was doing there in Marion, North Carolina and I briefly told her how I ended up there. The professional interview became more like a friendly conversation and Becky was just surprised that I was there and somehow had a head on my shoulders. She told me that day I was hired and that she looked forward to working with me. I left Burger King so excited that I had gotten a job, surprised mostly because I didn’t think I could get a job. The directors were very excited for me and even treated me out to dinner to celebrate and I’m guessing part of their excitement was that I was now going to be getting a paycheck and I was going to have to start paying something to live at the shelter.

Working at Burger King was really easy and I soon made a friend there, her name was Karen. She trained me from day one how to do everything I knew how to do. I guess having some kind of work ethic from working my whole childhood, had spilled over into my work at BK, within a week I had went from the first training station to working the registers. I was learning quick and it really surprised the managers. I soon found that most people who started working there never got past their training stations or at least for a while. But, I was doing everything and I was making the managers proud.

Karen and I soon became very close friends and whenever her mamma would pick her up from work, usually I was getting off at the same time and they would give me a ride to the shelter. I didn’t mind walking around town, it was just that, a town. It was beautiful living there and I was starting to feel like I had a life now, a life to call my own. My friends were the people I worked with, the people from church and the ladies and directors at the shelter. That was it. I didn’t know anybody else. I had no way of finding friends back home in Houston, I didn’t have phone numbers or anything. I had no grandparents or aunts or uncles to look up, there was nobody and yet there was a part of me that just wanted to be loved and the only thing that looked like love was Jonsey. He was calling me frequently from the Roloff Homes and we would talk about the future. He had convinced me that I was the one he wanted to marry but he hadn’t proposed. I wasn’t sure what would happen between us, if I was in N.C. and he in Texas, but that started working itself really quickly, the day 9/11 happened.

I will never forget it. It was my day off and I had been sleeping in but I remember dreaming very vividly and in my dream, it was kind dark and there were military helicopters flying around a city, and they were flying low. I don’t remember much about the dream except that in the dream something was wrong and that’s why the helicopters were flying around, something bad had happened but I didn’t know what. I woke up around 9:00, and after getting washed up and dressed for the day, I went downstairs to the living room. A lot of the ladies where sitting there and directors were standing around and everyone was glued to the TV. As I looked at the TV, I saw along with the rest of the world, the second plane hit the second World Trade Center. Some of the ladies screamed, some covered their mouths in disbelief and you could hear a few saying  out loud ‘Oh my God’. Of course I had to figure out what the World Trade Center was, I had never heard of it before and when I found out I too was in disbelief. We all sat there watching the news unfolding, soon, we would hear about the plane hitting the Pentagon and then the news turned to the fourth plane that was in real time being hijacked in the air over Pennsylvania. It was just too much. Those broadcasting the news didn’t know where to go and cover, there was news happening everywhere. So much loss of life was happening in 4 different places. I remember the ladies and the directors were talking and wondering with the rest of the world if the Towers would fall over because of the impact they had taken from the planes. And then sure enough, we sat along with the rest of the world and watch the first tower crumble to the ground like a bunch of children’s blocks. We could not believe it. The Towers weren’t supposed to be able to do that, they were strong and able to withstand it but they weren’t made to withstand the heat that was so incredibly hot. As we sat there, some of the ladies had tears in their eyes, we watched as the second tower fell too. We just could not believe what we were seeing and hearing. Everyone what was a huge reporter that day were on TV, trying to make sense of it all. I remember Tom Brokehaw, Peter Jennings, Brian Williams and others, all on TV trying to cover what was going on. They couldn’t keep up. There was so much devastation and death everywhere.

As the day went on, and as some of us were able to peel our eyes away from the TV, some of the ladies were worried about their money being in the bank. Because we lived in N.C. we were close to Charlotte and Charlotte was a big bank city and I remember the banks there were closing in fear of what was going on that day.
It was just a crazy day, full of sadness and helplessness. I remember feeling helpless and feeling an urge to go to New York to do something to help but I couldn’t.
At the end of the day while the TV was still on in the living room, and the news just kept going, Jonsey called and we talked about what had happened. I don’t remember much about what else we talked about except that he proposed and asked me over the phone if I would marry him. I guess he and anybody else that had lived through that awful and sad day, thought the world was coming to an end. So, I said yes. I said yes to marrying a guy who I thought really loved me and I thought I loved him too. But, I really didn’t know exactly what love was, I thought I did and I thought I had learned what love wasn’t so knowing that somebody loved me was a comforting idea.

Soon, we made plans, Jonsey was going to come to North Carolina, he had already decided that he wanted us to get married December 14th of 2001. Why that date, I’ll never know but I agreed to it. My friend Karen who lived in a small, independent trailer park, had found out that a small 2 bedroom trailer in the park had opened up and so we looked into getting it for Jonsey. He would need some where to live, as he couldn’t stay at the women’s shelter. Jonsey finally came up in October, moved into the trailer and started looking for a job. He ended up working at a truck stop that had a TCBY store and a restaurant in it. He would be one of the cooks. I would keep working at Burger King, by then I was starting to train to be shift manager. Becky and the two shift managers there saw potential and they knew I could do it even though they hadn’t had anybody learn the restaurant that quickly. Within a matter of weeks, I had left my station making hamburgers and was proficient at the register and or the drive-thru.

Eventually near November, Jonsey and I decided that instead of me paying to live at the Shelter and him paying for the trailer, we would move in together and save some money for the wedding. The directors at the Shelter tried to convince me to go to the local health department to get on birth control. They were concerned that I was going to be pregnant before we got married and they wanted me to wait even until after the wedding to have a baby. But, the whole birth control idea scared me. I had heard and learned about it at the Roloff Homes but for some reason it wasn’t a good idea to me. Besides, I was still a virgin and planned on being one when I got married. Jonsey and I had agreed that even though we were living together, we weren’t going to have sex until our wedding night. He was on board for it and I was too. But then I didn’t know much about sex, it was a taboo thing at home and even at the Roloff Homes, I hadn’t been exposed too much to the subject. I even trust Jonsey to not do anything to me either, I thought since he loved me he would respect me and my body but I would be wrong.

After leaving the Shelter and saying good bye to the ladies and the kids, I moved into the trailer. I still kept my job at Burger King and Jonsey was working at the truck stop. Karen was still at Burger King too and she was becoming a really good friend, even though she had a boyfriend who wasn’t much of a man. He was always doing drugs, cocaine and drinking. Karen drank too but she stayed away from the drugs, hoping that her boyfriend would clean up his act too and get away from it. That was the first time I had been that close to drugs and what they did to people and it was kind of scary. Karen would hold her own though and her boyfriend Mike was a cool guy when he was sober and not high as a horse. 

Life was going to pretty good I thought but the day came when it was time to let my adopted parents know I was getting married and Jonsey was supposed to tell his Dad and stepmom and mom and step dad. Well, my adopted parents didn’t want to have a thing to do with it or me and that was the end of that. I wasn’t surprised at all.
Jonsey called his Dad and stepmom who lived in Florida and they didn’t even know he was in North Carolina, he hadn’t bothered to tell them. His mom and stepdad in Atlanta were all excited and planned to give him the money they had set aside for his college fund so that we could have the wedding. I was soon learning what kind of family he had and it was kind of weird. His mom and stepdad fell in love with me and were happy for us, his Dad on the other hand wasn’t too sure. In fact I would learn later that they thought I had made their son leave Texas and I was the problem. His Dad and stepmom wouldn’t be a part off the wedding, they wanted nothing to do with it really.

As the weeks went by and time got closer to the wedding date, I was getting really comfortable with how things were. There was a sense of a routine and I had friends that cared about me. I was still involved with the church teaching children’s church and everyone was learning to accept Jonsey, even there were a few people who weren’t so sure that we should be getting married, at least not so soon. Looking back, I realize that people were looking out for me and warning me but I was convinced that this was what I wanted, I was loved and I couldn’t face the idea of being unloved again but I would soon question Jonsey and his motives.

One night when were in bed, he thought I was asleep and lack of being specific, he pretty much molested me in order to molest himself. I didn’t know what he was doing to me, I just lay there and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t sure what to think, and I never said a word about it until years later. I soon wondered if he wanted to marry me for the right reasons, apparently he couldn’t keep his hands off me until our wedding night and if that’s all he wanted me for than maybe I was making a mistake? But, I would convince myself that it was just something that happened and in a matter of a couple of weeks we would be married.

We were married in a couple of weeks. We had the wedding at Shining Light with Bro. Danny officiating the wedding. We had invited the church to come but just a few people showed up. Two of the teenage girls that I had befriended and worked with sang ‘A Whole New World’. Karen would be my maid of honor, Scott a friend of Karen’s and I from Burger King would be there, my assistant manager Nancy came and took my pictures. Jonsey’s Mom and stepdad came; his step dad would be his best man. My good friend Mike would give me away, since my family wanted nothing to do with the whole idea. That was pretty much it. It was small and looking back, maybe awkward? But, we got married. I was 19 years old, he in his early 20s and we were married. We spent our honeymoon night in a hotel that his mom had gotten for us there in town. We had a small used car but we didn’t have the money to spend on a nice honeymoon, so the hotel was it. We spent one night there and then it was back to our little trailer, and within a couple of days it was back to our jobs and starting a life officially married as a couple. I didn’t know what was going to happen from there on out. Christmas was coming and we had enough money left over from the wedding to have a nice Christmas together. We bought tickets to go see the Gaithers in Charlotte New Year’s eve and we took Karen and Scotty with us. It was a nice night out and we had a ton of fun, but, a new year was starting and so much lay ahead of us, much certainty and yet uncertainty. So much had happened that year in 2001, I had left a life I had known in Corpus Christi, to start a life in North Carolina in the mountains, to start a life being married and it all happened so quickly that looking back, that year was more like a blur than anything else. I didn’t know what the year 2002 would hold in store but it would start out pretty dramatic. Dramatic is so many ways, ways I could only have dreamed about.
Until next time, be blessed and inspired to make a difference!

~The Adopted Child 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dear Dad (A Year Later)

Dear Dad,
Today it has been a year, well, technically the 25th it will be a year since you went to Heaven but Thursday is the day it all happened. I remember that day like it happened yesterday and it and the days after were some of the darkest days I have ever gone through. As hard as I try to not think about it, I keep finding myself rehearsing the events of that day. I remember every detail so clearly.
I have spent the last year, just heartbroken and confused and yes even angry. I was angry at you and I was even angry at God. I just could not wrap my mind around the idea that you would just leave me, even after you said you loved me. Who does that to someone who they love? You were the only person who was remotely like family to me and now you’re gone. Yes, Ashley and Nicole are my family, they are my sisters but we are building relationships that should have been built 14 years ago. You were it, you loved me, and I was your daughter, your first one. You chose me to be your daughter for some reason. I’ve wondered why ‘you’ wanted me. Why did you pick me?  I’ll never know now.
One of the biggest things I have struggled with is the many ‘nevers’ that have crossed my mind. You’re never going to get to walk me down the aisle if the Lord gives me another chance to know what true love is. I’m never going to be able to call you or talk to you on Father’s Day, on Christmas Day or any day for that matter. You have no idea what I would do to just talk to you, to hear your voice, to have you give me just a hug. The last time I hugged you, all hell was breaking loose and I whispered into your ear ‘everything will be ok’. Now, I’m telling myself that. Somehow, everything is going to be okay. Some days I don’t even know how.  
Dad, this last year has been so hard and I have hit lows I never thought I could hit and I have walked through valleys that I thought would never end. I’ve been told the grieving process is different for everybody and I have found that to be true. I think I have grieved all year long, going through the different stages of it that only I can describe. I went through the stage where I was angry at God. Why would He let you do something like that? Why would He take the one thing that I have wanted my whole life, a family? Why? I would ask why for a very long time and even today I still ask why. But, I know that God loves me, somehow He does. And I know that He wants me to keep going.
For the last year, I have been writing my story like you told me too. It’s a really messed up story but I guess it could be worse? I just keep telling myself that the story is so far from over and I keep holding on to every promise He has made for me and I keep pushing forward.  Life is so hard right now Dad and I feel like I’m drowning and I can’t keep up. I feel like I’m doing this on my own and I can’t keep doing this. But, somehow I keep going, I keep pushing through with each passing day and just keep holding on to hope that it’s going to all turn around one day and I will be okay. It will be okay, right Dad? I wish I could hear you say that to me. If you only knew the tears that I have shed, if you only knew the pain that I have dealt with, if you just knew how much I missed you.
Dad, I have spent the last year trying to forgive you, trying to forgive myself for letting you down. I was told that the police who came to your apartment were about 3 minutes too late. I keep telling myself that if I hadn’t taken a nap that day, if I just turned my phone on instead of putting it on silent. There are so many ‘what ifs’ but I have had to let them go. I have to let you go and move on. I have to stop trying to figure out why you did what you did and why God let it happen and just trust Him. I have had to do a lot of trusting this year, not just with your situation but with so many others that most people don’t know about.
Anyways, Dad I miss you so much, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you or pull up a memory from my memory bank and think about the good times. Every time I drink a Dr. Pepper or an A&W I think about you. Every time I make a meal that you used to make, I think about you. Thanks for the memories Dad, it’s the good ones I choose to remember, not the bad. 
A year ago, I learned the phrase ‘Choose Joy’ and tonight through the tears, I make a commitment to live by that phrase. I’m going to try to push through this year and finish the process of grieving and ‘Choose Joy’ and trust Jesus. 
I can’t wait to see you again Dad, I hope that it is soon but until that day comes, please know that I’m trying to make you and my Heavenly Father proud, proud to call me your daughter, ‘strong as a rock’ like you told me the day you went to be with Jesus. Your death as tragic as it was, has not been in vain, not if I can help it. You were a special person to so many people, people that have become my friends and family. They miss you too and you touched their lives in ways I’m sure you’re now discovering up there in Heaven. You were always special to me, I respected you and cared about you, even when it seemed like nobody else did. Anyways, I’ll write to you next year when the anniversary comes around but, for now, goodbye Dad. There are no words, just tears to tell how much that I love you.

 ~Your First Daughter, The Adopted Child

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pregnant & On A Horse (20)

Like  mentioned, I didn't know what the year 2002 had it store and had I known when the year started, I may have been a bit eerie about facing it. I had gone from in a year from being a little girl to being married and on my own. I thought being married would provide some shelter, some protection and maybe some certainty about life. I had been taught that the husband is supposed to take care of his wife and provide for his family. I didn't necessarily believe that he had to do all of the work but I did believe that he had what took to carry the burden but that wasn't the case with Jonsey. In fact I soon found that he was a bit mentally behind and I wasn't the only one who noticed, in time, in quick time my pastor would notice and others including my friend Mike and at some point Mike would even be concerned that he (Jonesy) wasn't capable of taking care of me but that would prove to be true over time.
In January of 2002, I found I was expecting. It took me a while to realize that I might be pregnant, I think part of me didn't want to be so soon and part of me wasn't sure what it was supposed to feel like when you became pregnant. When I started to realize that I might be pregnant, all I could think about was the talk the directors at the women’s shelter about getting on birth control. Now it made sense what they were trying to do, they were trying to help me and later I had wished I had listened and heeded to their direction and counsel.
I would take the at home pregnancy tests but they would all come back as negative but I knew that I was. I had already missed my first period which had never happened to me and I was feeling the signs. I remember the adopted mother’s sister years ago telling her what it felt like to know you were pregnant and for some reason I could never forget it. And the way she described it, matched my symptoms.
I finally went to the health department in February if I remember right. My friend Karen had gone with me and it was confirmed that I was pregnant and my due date was October 3rd.
I was excited, nervous and curious all at once. But part of me felt ashamed? I guess because we hadn't waited to have a family and I knew in my heart that any kind of life as far as school or college was going to have to wait. I knew that the baby was going to have to come first.
Jonsey was excited but as far as showing any more emotion than that, it wouldn't happen but I’m not sure what else he was supposed to fee?
I would keep working at Burger King after the wedding but the shift manager Nancy had already picked up on the fact that I was pregnant. My performance there was not the greatest and I was soon not feeling good and it was taking its toll on my job. People kind of acted disappointed that I was pregnant so soon after being married and I wouldn't understand that until a few years later when I would start working with teenage girls on a regular basis.
Soon the ‘not feeling so good’ kicked into morning sickness but it would soon become all day sickness and then mostly nighttime sickness. It was sad because my favorite thing to eat was Taco Bell and one night I was craving it and so Jonsey had gone out to pick me up a couple of tacos only to have me throw it all up later. Needless to say I had to take a break from TB for a while which was very sad.
Not much else really appealed to me except for the infamous pickles and then homemade spaghetti with tons of black pepper in it. Milk was another thing I craved and I would drink lots of it too.
Life went on though, I would keep working at Burger King with Karen and Scotty. Jonsey would keep working at the truck stop and we would keep going to church in Morganton. By now, I was working a lot with the kids in children church. I was asked by the pastor to start teaching them and heading up the music segment of children’s church. It was a lot of fun and I was able to use what I had learned over the years to teach the kids.
The morning sickness carried on though for a while in fact I remember it carrying into the month of March and it was kind of getting worse. I would talk to the doctor about it and they weren't concerned yet. I remember the day I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat, the sad thing is, is that I can’t remember if Jonsey was there. But, I got to hear my baby’s heart beat and it was loud and strong. I couldn't wait for the day we would find out what we were having. I really wanted a boy for some reason. I guess part of it was because that’s what I was used to, I had grown up with boys and they were fun and easy.

The day would come for the ultrasound and we found out we were having a boy. I was thrilled. I remember the adopted mom preaching at me when I was at home about how she wished I would have a daughter one day so I could go through what she had to go through raising me. I remember praying that I would always have a boy first and the Lord answered my prayers! It didn't really matter though, the adopted parents weren't around when I found out that I was pregnant. I didn't know how to contact them and they hadn't bothered to contact me since I went to the women’s shelter in 2001.
Jonsey’s mom and step dad in Atlanta were excited though and his dad and step-mom were okay with it, they weren't thrilled for some reason but they would try to act like they were.
I had the support of the church, my pastor and my friends including Mike and Karen and that was okay with me.

Soon I would have to quit my job at Burger King and I wasn't the only one, Karen would quit too. Things were changing there and it was becoming frustrating to work there. Karen would get a job at the Truck Stop where Jonsey worked at the restaurant and she would be a waitress there. I would get a job at the TCBY booth there, as a manager. It was kind of cool that all of us worked there, even though we had different shifts.
But, the morning sickness was getting worse and that was when it became all day sickness and again, it was effecting my job and I had to quit. I was becoming very good friends with my bathroom and it was just awful.
When all of us or the others weren't working we would hang out when we could. We either went to Karen’s house to cook out and watch movies or we would hang out at our house. One night Scotty and Karen had come over to hang out, we started out at Karen’s house and then ended up at ours. Karen and I had to go back to her house to get something and while were gone, Scotty was alone with Jonsey. By the time the night was over, Scotty had taken off but not without stealing cash off our coffee table, grocery money that was intended for groceries. We never saw Scotty again which was sad, he was a good guy but obviously had some issues. Jonsey thought it would be a good idea to call the cops though and report the cash stolen. I wasn't sure what good that would do but he did it anyways.
The very next morning, while we were in bed, there was a knock on the door. Jonsey went to answer it only to come back to the room and tell me that he was being arrested! I quickly woke up and asked why. He said it was because he had gotten a $25 ticket in December sometime after the wedding for the tags on the car being expired. I could not believe what I was hearing. I knew nothing of a $25 ticket, had never seen it, he had never told me about it and apparently he had never paid it or went to court for the ticket. Because he had called the cops that night to report Scotty for stealing the cash, they had put Jonsey’s information in the computer and a warrant came up. So he went off to jail that morning. I was stuck at home, by myself without a car, without a phone (it had gotten cut off) and I didn't know what to do. I called my pastor and told him and he pointed me in the direction of a couple of people who might know what to do. I had never done this before. Karen came over that morning after I told her what had happened. She was shocked too and about as mad as I was. All of this for not paying for a $25 ticket! We had the money at the time to pay for it, why he hadn't was beyond me. I was so angry. He hadn't been honest with me and had hidden something from me and I was very upset.

I remember calling the jail to find out what his bail was and I can’t remember how much it was but it was a lot. I would have to go over to the Landlord’s house next to Karen’s house to use his phone and I would spend time trying to find a bail bonds man only to find that Jonsey wasn't eligible for bail because he hadn't lived in N.C. as long as I had. So, I had to call his mom and tell her what was going on. She was ticked off too! But she said she was sending me a check for to pay for the bail in full and she was rushing it there. The odd part of all of all that going on was that the stress and being upset had been too much that it had made the morning/all day sickness stop. It took me a couple of days to realize that I hadn't thrown up at all. I wasn't sure if it had completely stopped or if it was just for a day or two and then would come back.
The Landlord was being helpful through the whole ordeal. He was an older man, kind of a like a grandpa who lived alone in a big house next to the trailer park. He lived alone. He was always nice to Karen and I, sometimes too nice but we wouldn't pick up on it until later. He would leave his garage open and leave the door open that went into his kitchen so we could use the phone whenever we wished. When the check came from Jonsey’s mom, I needed help cashing it. We didn't have a bank account so cashing it to pay for the bail would be a problem. But the Landlord offered to cash it for me and then he took me to the jail to get Jonsey out. He got out and we went home. I think I may have chewed him out, I tried to find out why the heck he hadn't said a word about the ticket but he didn't have a reasonable answer. I would find out that one of his answers to everything was ‘I don’t know’.  He had to call his mother as she had directed and I’m glad I wasn't part of that conversation.

Life seems to calm down a bit after that ordeal happened. But we were struggling already. Jonsey wasn't making a whole lot at the truck stop as a cook and it was out of the question for me to get a job because of the pregnancy and the toll it was taking on my back. We owned three cars in a period of 4-5 months? Jonsey always bought a piece of junk that wouldn't last long and I guess it never dawned on him to save up for something that would last. But because he was buying junk, all of the money we had was going towards fixing them and we were constantly struggling to keep on top of bills. The phone had been cut off, our power bill was tied into the rent and we were barely keeping up with that. We for some reason were not able to get on food stamps and so grocery money was tight. I remember having to count coins to find enough money to buy a can of something to eat from the store. I was able to get on the assistance program for pregnant women so we had that to use. But times were just hard. It never really occurred to Jonsey to get a better job. There were jobs there, but he didn't want to do the work to get one. It was getting rather frustrating.

When we could Karen and I would hang out together. I was so grateful to have her as a friend. I remember being about 4-5 months pregnant with the baby and I was barely showing, and we went to a friend’s house to ride horses. Yes, I was riding a horse while I was pregnant and it was a ton of fun. Karen would ride too and we had a blast that day. Sometimes we would go to Karen’s mom’s house down the road and we would cook out and have dinner there. Her mom was Mexican and she loved me and she always had fun with Karen and I.
One day Karen and I were at friend’s house down the road, we had been invited to come over and look at the horses. While we were there, Karen and I were hanging out at a fence watching the horses and then she asked me if our Landlord had been acting weird with me. I told her no, but then she told me that she thought that he had been acting weird with her. She was convinced that she had seen him peeping in her windows at the house but she wasn't sure. She said that he would ask her if she wanted to come over to his house for odd reasons and she would always tell him no. 
Karen thought she was just overreacting and of course I wasn't too aware of what an old man could do. I knew something wasn't right but I wasn't educated enough to put two and two together. But, I would find out soon what she meant and I would learn what it mean to put two and two together and it would haunt me for the rest of my life.

One day Jonsey was at work at the truck stop, which was right down the road from us, in a car it took maybe 3-4 minutes to get there. Karen was at work too and I was at home. Ever since the going to jail incident, the Landlord had been kind enough to take Karen and I to the store or to Walmart if we needed to. But ever since that day that Karen had asked me those questions about him, we both had kind of backed off of him and tried not use his phone or anything. He had already asked me once if he could touch the baby but that was before he was supposedly acting weird and I hadn't thought twice about it. I was starting to show and he wasn't the only one who had asked and I was okay with it. On this day, I needed to desperately go to the store and went over to Karen’s to see if she was home (I hadn't know yet that she was at work), because her house was next door to the Landlord’s, it was kind of impossible to see people in his driveway when you were at her house. I saw a friend from church there and he waved at me. I went over to say hi and we talked, he then left and the Landlord asked me to come in really quick to ask me something. We went into his house, into the kitchen and he asked what I was doing that day and I proceeded to tell him that I was looking for Karen and that I needed to go to Walmart. He by now was sitting at the kitchen table where the phone was and he went on to talk about something.  All of a sudden those whole thing felt weird and all of the questions that Karen had asked me that day about him were coming to mind. The guy from church was already gone and Karen was obviously not at home. Before I knew it the landlord asked me if he could touch the baby and I was like ‘okay’. But he did more than that and he went on to do things that were considered today as molesting me. He didn't see anything wrong with that he was doing and I couldn't stop him, I knew (and Karen) that he had a gun in the house. I didn't know what to do, on the inside I was panicking and I wanted to run but I didn't know what he would do to me if I tried to run. When he finished touching me inappropriately and doing other things, I told him that I needed to go back to my house and get my purse and that I needed him to take me to the store. In my head, I needed him to take me to the truck stop though and I was trying to act calm. There was nobody around for me to run to for safety or to call the police. So, I went back to his house and got in the truck, he didn't act any different or like anything had happened. I told him as we approached the truck stop that I needed to stop there and get some money from Jonsey. So he pulled up in front and I went inside. I found Karen first and I was already in tears as I walked up to her. She saw that I was upset and pulled aside some place where the landlord couldn't see through the restaurant windows. I told her what had happened and I cried. She hugged me tight and cried with me. She was shocked. Soon Jonsey came around and she told him what happened and he was furious! Karen and I decided that calling the cops would probably be futile because it was going to his (the landlord’s) word against mine. I was allowed to stay at the restaurant with Karen and Jonsey until they got off work, so I went out as calmly as possible and told the landlord that the manager needed me to work as a server (which had happened before) and that I didn't need to go to Walmart. The landlord left and I can’t remember if he had figured out that something wasn't right or not.

All I remember of that night is going to bed and laying there wide awake crying, crying hard. I felt dirty, angry, broken and a hundred other feelings all at once. I cried so hard and it turned into sobs. Jonsey wasn’t much of comfort for some reason. I wasn’t sure if he understood the severity of the situation and what had happened. Karen understood and she had made sure that night before leaving my house that I was okay. I wasn’t okay. I was so angry. Why had I not known that men were capable of doing such things to people? Why had I not been warned about perverts and old dirty men? I know the adopted mother knew about this but why had she not taught me about this kind of stuff? How could you not warn your children that there are evil people in the world who will hurt you? I was fortunate that he hadn’t raped me or killed me and I’ve been told over the years that me ‘playing it calm’ may have spared me even more damaging acts being done to me.

I would be numb for a few days. I wouldn’t know what to feel or how to feel. I knew that I didn’t want to be there anymore. I was already having doubts about our marriage. Jonsey didn’t have any drive or motive to work harder or get more work. I was 5 months pregnant and really starting to show. Life was getting harder and this was not how I imagined married life would be. I knew that it was going to rough but not this hard. I was maturing more but Jonsey wasn’t so much. He was already hiding things from me and being dishonest and I could only hope and pray at the time that it wasn’t going to be like this for the rest of our lives. We had a baby coming and we had to be ready for him. We couldn’t be counting change for groceries when the baby came and struggling to pay the bills.
We hadn’t confronted the landlord about the incident that day in fear of him throwing us out of our trailer. We didn’t have anywhere to go, we didn’t have the money saved up to move. We had just gotten another little car but that was about it. Inside my heart, I was starting to feel hurt and let down. But help would come and change would be on the way again, but change would take us somewhere else outside of North Carolina. Change would take us to Atlanta Georgia and we would start another chapter in our lives. But that’s for the next story.
Until next time, be blessed and inspired to make a difference.

~The Adopted Child

Friday, April 26, 2013

Change In Atlanta Georiga (21)

The ‘change’ that was coming would take us to Georgia. Everything in North Carolina was just a mess that didn’t seem like it was going to get any better. There was the issue with the perverted landlord, Jonsey losing his job and me becoming very pregnant with each passing day.
Jonsey’s mom and step-dad lived south of Atlanta and after we told them what was going on in N.C., they offered to move us down there where we could start over. We would move in with them and live in the basement part of the house until Jonsey could find a job and we could find a place to move into.
We started packing up what little we had in our little trailer and then started saying our goodbyes to everyone. It was hardest on me because I had lived there longer and had been more involved with people. There were the people at Burger King that I had to say goodbye to, the managers said they would actually miss me and I would miss them too. Then there was everybody at church, at Shining Light Baptist Church. I was really going to miss them. We all had done so much together, Youth Rally’s, camp meetings, children’s church, the bus routes and the choir. The church had become very special to me, the pastor, the people and young people.
I went by the women’s shelter too and said goodbye to the few ladies there that I knew and the director and assistant director. I hadn’t been there in a while and so the ladies were admiring the baby bump and they expressed how disappointed that they weren’t going to see the baby. I gave them all hugs and even the directors would say a prayer with me in their office, the office where I had first met them when I showed up that day with the social workers needing a place to live. It was special.
The day would come and the in-laws would drive up in John’s truck with a trailer and they would pick up the bigger stuff and what could be taken and drive it down to Atlanta. We would take the smaller things and load up the car and come a day or two later.
It was finally time to say goodbye to Karen and her sweet mom. Karen was my best friend and she really had been there for me while I was in a place like the mountains all alone. She was the first person to train me at Burger King, she was my friend and she was my maid of honor. Her mom had become like a mom to me and had always welcomed me in her home and fed me. Karen and her mom were of Hispanic origin so I was going to miss the mutual bond we shared with Mexican food.
The morning we were to leave, for some reason we needed gas in the car, I think it was because there wasn’t enough in the car to get to a gas station and it was closer to drive to Karen’s mom’s house which was right down the street. Mamma (as I called her, Karen’s mom) had said we could use what was in the gas can outside and we would leave some money for what we were needing to put in the car.
 After, we got some gas and made it to a gas station to get more gas, we would stop by Mike’s house on the way out since his house was on the way out of town. He was the last person I needed to say goodbye to and I dreaded it. Mike was probably the most special person to me there. I remember when we first met, he paid for my lunch one Saturday afternoon after working a bus route. He was just special, not in a weird inappropriate way either. We had spent a lot of time on the phone talking and sometimes it was just so that he had someone to talk to and to fight the depression he struggled with.
We got to his parent’s house where we sat and talked. It was hard, he didn’t want to say goodbye and he even told me that he didn’t know what he was going to do when I left. But, soon we had to get going, we had to be in Atlanta soon and I probably would have just sat there and talked to Mike all day. So, as we walked out onto the car port, I said good bye to his parent’s who I had gotten to know. And then we just stood there and tried not to cry. We hugged and vowed to write to each other and then off we went. I cried as we drove away. The life I had been thrusted into over a year ago was all behind me and even though I would be back to visit a couple of times, it was pretty much over. I would stay in touch with a couple of the girls from the church, girls I had worked with and a few others from the church. And of course I would stay in touch with Mike for a while through letters in the mail.
We were heading to Georgia, a place I had never really been to except the Greyhound Bus Station on my way up to North Carolina. It wasn’t going to be that long of a drive. I think it was supposed to only take about 3 hours to get there, maybe a little bit more because we were going south of Atlanta and we were going to be going through traffic.
It was summer time though, I think it was either June or July and I was very much along pregnancy wise. I was about 6-7 months pregnant and was really showing it, in fact the baby had already dropped so I really looked like I was close to having him and I wish I was. I was ready to be done being pregnant. It wasn’t fun anymore but I was just getting ready to start the third trimester and I didn’t realize how much more ‘fun’ it would get.
So the drive down the mountains wasn’t so bad, until we go somewhere in South Carolina. Then the car started having issues and would shut down. I don’t remember what was going on, but I do remember it being hot and when the car shut down, the air conditioning went out too. I was HOT and miserable. We got the car up and running, only for it to break down again somewhere in Georgia. It would break down again and again, and I was getting really mad. It was so hot and humid in Georgia and the air wasn’t like it was in the mountains. I was just miserable and not feeling so good at all. I don’t remember how or when we made it to the in-law’s house but we did. What should have only taken about 3 hours to drive there, took about 5 or 6 and that was just stupid.
Fortunately, when we arrived at the in-law’s house, they had already put our furniture together and had our place downstairs set up and ready. We had a room that was already furnished, a bathroom and then there was like a den/office room where we were allowed to set up our computer and all. It was our space and I was grateful for it.
After we settled in I called my friend Karen to let her know we had made it safe and sound as well as could be. I told her about the car breaking down all the way down and we were trying to figure out what in the world was going on. She was on the phone with Mamma nearby and she was explaining to her what had happened. Soon, Mamma got on the phone and asked me which gas can Jonsey had used. I told her after I asked him and she exclaimed over the phone that it was the gas can that had oil in it! He had used the wrong can and had put oil in the gas tank. That explained it all! I was so mad. All that mess on the way to Georgia was because he hadn’t paid attention and it could have all been avoided. Oh well. What was done was done. We were there alive and ok, tired but ok.
That night, the in-laws laid down some guidelines and some rules. Jonsey was to find work immediately. There was no reason to not find a job, we were right in the middle of what looked like industrial city. Every warehouse and distribution center you could think of was in Atlanta and in the surrounding areas.
We would have to find our own place before the baby came too, who was due in October. The in-law’s both worked full time and they really did not want to listen to a crying baby all the time, considering hours they had to be up and in bed.
There were a few other rules laid down as far as the house goes but everything was within reason. There wasn’t much for me to do. I couldn’t work, or go anywhere. We had one car and when Jonsey found a job working the Toys ‘R’ Us distribution center, he would work the second shift. So, I would become kind of bored. I would sleep a lot in the morning, mostly because I would stay up late waiting for Jonsey to come home around 11:00 and go to bed late.
The baby was doing fine. I would get set up with a doctor, actually a few doctors. I was being seen at a center where they had multiple doctors in the office. I would be seeing each doctor so that when the baby came and either doctor was on call, I would be familiar with them. Everything was going good though as far as the baby went. They kept his due date the same which was October 3 and everything was on track. I was really craving food though and the baby was always hungry it seemed like.
The change was good, I thought so anyways. I missed everyone in North Carolina though. Mike and I would call once in a while just to talk and stay caught up. It was always good to talk to him.

I was looking forward to being in our own place though. I didn’t mind living with the in-laws but I remember feeling like I was in their way and a bother. But, for now, I was content and ok. We were safe, we were with family and everything was just ok. 

Until Next Time, be blessed and inspire to make a difference!
~The Adopted Child

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Heartache & Heartburn (22)

Everything was okay. Jonsey was going to work every day. He would work from 3-10 and be home around 11. I would usually wait and eat dinner when he got home. We would stay up at night and watch the news and then Jay Leno. Usually though Jonsey would be asleep soon and I would still be awake.
During the days, there wasn’t much to do. I was getting along in the pregnancy where my doctor appointments were almost weekly. The baby was still doing great. He was growing like he should. I remember having to take that awful glucose test though, for some reason, you never forget that and the taste of that soda drink and you definitely don’t forget all the bruises on both arms from them having to draw blood 6 different times.
I remember having heart burn though, something I never had before and a lot of acid reflux, both of which meant the baby was growing some nails and hair. I was starting to look big and even bigger because the baby had dropped kind of early. He was always moving around, and you could definitely see it when he had the hiccups. He moved a lot though at night when it was time to sleep and he was always digging into my ribs and of course my bladder.
Everything was becoming so routine though and I was getting bored. I didn’t have any friends; I didn’t know anybody else there. We occasionally would go to the church the in-laws went to but it just wasn’t the same as the church I had gone to in North Carolina. It was more of a contemporary church and I just didn’t really meet anybody there.
Soon, I was becoming so bored, I would find whatever was in the in-law’s kitchen and just bake. I kind of got carried away with it and I had to stop baking stuff because we all just didn’t have time to eat it all.
I was really getting anxious about being pregnant and having the baby. For some reason, I thought that maybe I should tell the adopted mother and Dad about it, about being pregnant and getting closer to having the baby. So I can’t remember if I wrote them a letter or if I called them. But, somehow I told them. I was really hoping that they would be excited and it would break the ice and start to smooth things over. I couldn’t remember the last time I had talked to them it had been that long.
But, my hopes would be crushed once again. I don’t  remember word for word all that was said about the baby, only that the adopted mother made it a point to tell me that grandchildren were a ‘gift’ and were only supposed to be enjoyed if they were brought into the world the ‘right’ way. What was the ‘right way’? Her idea of the ‘right way’ was me marrying someone they approved and being an obedient little girl. Never mind that I had waited until I got married to have a baby which most of the world and girls my age were not exactly doing.
She was rude about it and I remember when I heard that, my heart just broke all over again. I think the news came from the adopted mother in a letter and I remember reading it when the mother-in-law came home from work that evening. I also remember sitting there in the living room crying and her holding me. I just wanted the adopted parents to be happy for me, that’s all. Of course I never heard from the adopted Dad, it was just the adopted mother doing all the talking.
I remember not too long after that getting a letter from Michael. It was hand written and I don’t remember exactly what it said but it was hateful and very judging. He made it a point to tell me how wrong I was for getting married and now having a baby. It sounded like someone was telling him what to say and I had an idea of who that someone was.
So, once again, I was forced to just deal with it and move on. It hurt though. I thought I was doing it all right, getting married first, then having a baby. Sure we were living with the in-laws but it was just temporary, we were going to be on our own feet again soon. I just could not understand what I was doing wrong and why they just couldn’t accept me and be proud of me and want me to be a part of the family.
The news kind of depressed me and I remember at nights lying in bed crying. Not only was I dealing with the heartache of my so called family but I was scared about having the baby. I knew it would hurt and all and I remember realizing that nobody else was going to be there when I had him. It would have been nice to have my family there but that was not going to happen.
I was also finding out that Jonsey wasn’t much of a comforter either. I would cry at night and he would just ignore me. I was hoping he would hug me and tell me it was going to be okay but he never would. I soon found that sleeping with a ‘hugging pillow’ actually helped me sleep. It was the only thing I could hold on to and hug, that and it really helped when sleeping on my side with the baby.

The time of summer was going by quickly, which I guess it would if you were following a routine pretty much all the time. Finally we had enough money saved up to find our own little house. I don’t remember how we found it but we found a small single wide mobile home about less than a mile from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was in a very nice and clean trailer park. It was not junky at all and nothing like the trashy small place we lived in up in North Carolina. It was a nice little mobile home, with three bedrooms, 2 of them were a bit small, and 2 bathrooms. It was definitely more space than what we needed. But, we would purchase it (I think) and we would start moving in. The in-laws helped with some of the expenses, under the impression we would pay them back.
They would help us move our things into the home, we would move about 15 plus minutes away from where they were living. We would be one side of Interstate 75 and they would be on the other side.
It was finally nice to be in a place of our own, we had our own privacy and we would make into a home. The closer we got to the due date, the more I would do to make the place feel like home, it was the ‘nesting’ mode I was finding myself being into more and more often.

We would occasionally go over and visit the in-laws on the weekends, we didn’t have a washer and dryer yet so we would have to go over and do laundry until we got one. Sometimes we would just drive to the speedway and drive around, if there was anything going on there. We lived so close to it though, we could hear the races and cars on the tracks from the house.

But, as we settled into our new place and learned our way around the side of town we were now living in, I would be getting closer to my due date. If I remember right the move happened about a month before the due date which was October 3rd. I was so ready to have the baby too. In fact, we had a couple of trips to the hospital thinking that I was in labor, only to be reminded that they were just early contractions. Again, I was so ready to be not pregnant anymore and would do anything to just have the baby already. I remember before we moved, the mother-in-law and I would walk around the neighborhood just to see if it would get the labor going but it would not.

But, now that we were moved and getting closer, I knew it was getting close to having him. My doctor appointments were becoming weekly and I had met all the doctors but one. I was supposed to have met all of the doctors that practiced at that office so that when it came time to have him, I would know them all. But, I had one or two more weeks of appointments left and at least one doctor left to meet.

The first week of October, I would go in for my normal doctor appointment that Wednesday, October 2nd. I was already dilated at a 2 but the doctor wasn’t too concerned. In fact they thought I would go past my due date and even told me that if I did, they would schedule a day to induce me. So, they sent me home and I was really hoping and praying that the baby would come on time and not later.
Well, my prayers would be answered the very next morning. It was around 10:00 and I had slept in that morning. I got up and went to the bathroom and sure enough my water had broken. It’s funny how you just know what’s going on and even though you’ve never been pregnant before, you know what it means when your water breaks. I sure as heck knew what was going on, it was time to have a baby and even though I wasn’t even having contractions yet, I knew that when the water breaks, it’s about time.
It was Thursday, October 3rd at 10:00 am and I was getting ready to have a baby that day, or at least I thought I was. 

Until next time, be blessed and inspire to make a difference!

~The Adopted Child 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

12 hours and Counting (23)

I don’t know if I was more surprised that my water had just broken or that the doctors were pretty much on target with the due date? How do they figure out stuff like that? I mean right down to the very date!  That would baffle me for years later and I’m not sure why.

I wasn't sure what to do. I knew my water has broken, or at least I thought it had but I wasn't having contractions or feeling anything. So, we got dressed and made our way up to the front office where we could use a phone (our phone hadn't been turned on yet) and call my doctor’s office. I can’t remember her name but the little lady at the front office, her eyes got really big when I told her I thought my water had broken. She knew who I was and she was well aware that I was pregnant but I think she was thinking I was going to be having the baby there in the office. I was pretty sure ‘that’ wasn't going to happen. At all. 

I called the doctor’s office and explained that I was pretty sure that my water had broken, even though I had just been there on Wednesday for a regular appointment and was only dilated at a 2. They told me to go ahead and come into the office and they would check everything out.
So, we packed the bags, pillows and everything else that you practiced to pack and take when it was time to have a baby. My doctor’s office was next door to the hospital and it was about 10-15 minutes away from the house, so we made sure to pack and take what we needed to avoid driving back and forth. We would wait and call the in laws who were at work until we knew for sure what was going on.

We got to the doctor’s office and remember how I told you that I was supposed to have met all 4 doctors by the time the baby had come so that I would be familiar with them all? Well there was one, one doctor I hadn't met yet and sure enough, she was going to be our doctor. I always thought that was crazy. Anyways, she checked me out and confirmed that my water had indeed broken but, I was still dilated at a 2. She said that I needed to be induced to get labor going because I already had lost the water and everything else hadn't progressed. My hopes of being close to delivery were diminished really fast. But, it was time to head to the hospital per doctor’s orders. She said that I would be induced when I got there and that she would meet me over there.

I hadn't  eaten all morning and so on the way to the hospital next door we went through the drive-thru at McDonald's to grab a cheeseburger and an orange drink. I didn't realize that I wasn't going to be allowed to eat later and I was going to regret later only having eaten a cheeseburger and a drink. I should have eaten 10 of them.

We made it to the hospital by 12:30 or so. I remember by 1:30, they had given me whatever that stuff was called to induce me. After I was settled in, we made the call to the in-laws  to let them know. The nurses had said that the induction would take a few hours so we told the in-laws to not bother coming until they were off work that evening.

Then it was time to wait for what seemed like forever. I remember getting hungry and asking the nurse if I could have something to eat and she told me no. I was so mad. I was hungry! The cheeseburger had worn off a long time ago and she wanted to offer me ice-chips, like ice-chips were going to satisfy my need to eat real food. They told me it would make me sick and I was willing to be sick. I couldn't even have a Popsicle! Ice-Chips and water.

The hours kept on dragging. Nothing was happening. I wasn't feeling contractions and I hadn't really dilated much. I tried to sleep as I could, between the nurses coming in and out, that wasn't proving to be a great idea.

Finally, around 4 in the afternoon, I was starting to feel something that I knew only had to be contractions. When the nurse came to check on me, I told her I was finally feeling them. So she went to get the epidural people. It was their turn to do their magic. I had already made it known to whoever that I was going to have an epidural, there were no ifs about it.

I remember having read the brochures and pamphlets about epidurals and the descriptions of how it was given to you but none of that reading material had described what was about to happen to me and my epidural.  The guy came in and did what he did through my back. I didn't really feel much because of the other pain meds they had given to me through my IV. It didn't take him long it seemed and as I laid back in my bed waiting for it to kick in, the contractions were only getting harder. You see, I didn't realize that when they injected that wire inside your back that you were supposed to instantly feel the epidural kick in. I thought it was supposed to gradually make it’s way into my system and I would know it when it had ‘arrived’. But, I kept on waiting and finally after the nurse had come in, she was wondering what was wrong with me. I asked her how long it was supposed to take for the epidural to kick in and her eyes got really big and she said ‘instantly’.  She proceeded to ask me if I was feeling the pain from the contractions and I quickly told her ‘yes’. I wasn't sitting there in almost tears for no reason.

So, the nurse called the epidural people back and explained that something had gone wrong. So, the guy sat me up in bed, I had a couple of nurses in there literally holding me, the contractions were really kicking in and it hurt. BUT, that’s not what hurt as bad. Because they thought the epidural had kicked in the first time, they cut back the pain meds in my IV. So, as I was sitting there feeling every contraction, I was feeling the big needle going into my back and not just that but the wire he was pushing in and pulling out. At one point he asked me if I could feel what he was doing and I said ‘yep, sure can’. He apologized over and over. I was sitting there in tears. I wasn't sure what hurt more, the contractions or him and the needle and wire. We weren't sure that day if the problems with the epidural were related to my back problems or not. But it was rare that an epidural would be that complicated to administer.

Finally, I felt the epidural magic kick in and I knew without a doubt it was the epidural. I think the guy had given me more of the epidural to make sure that it got to where it was supposed to be because I was pretty much paralyzed from the waist down. For a few hours I got to feel what it would be like to be paralyzed and not be able to move your legs, your feet or toes. It was a weird feeling.
The second epidural was done and had kicked in about 5:30ish. I was tired and still wasn’t dilated enough to do anything. I was told at the rate I was going, I wasn’t going to be fully dilated until midnight and I wasn’t allowed to start pushing until I was fully dilated! I was getting aggravated.
Sometime that evening the baby was having a few minor issues, he was coming but not as easily as hoped. I remember I had a Filipino nurse come in after the shift change that evening, she was so sweet and I loved her. She at one point had to come in and get me to lay on one side to see if that got the baby moving some more. I’ll never forget her telling me to roll over but I looked at her with this blank look on my face and said I couldn't feel my legs. If I was rolling over, I didn't know it because thanks to the awesome epidural, I couldn't feel a thing! It took her and Jonsey to help me roll me to one side. Again, that was the weirdest feeling, not being able to feel.

The in-laws had already come to see me around 6:00 but after they learned that the process could take a while longer, they decided to go home. I was wishing I could go home too and eat. But, no, I was stuck in a bed, waiting for what seemed like forever for this baby to come already. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being pregnant to some degree but like every expecting mom out there, by this time you are just wanting it to be over by now. You just want to hold your baby and in my case, I wanted to eat real food.

Finally around midnight I heard the most wonderful words come from the nurses mouth, ‘You can start pushing now’. I had been ready to push already but they told me not to. So, push I did for almost 4 hours straight. I would push and push. They said that I was helping the baby get moving, I wasn’t sure what was up with this kid, he was just taking his sweet time making his exit and he was wearing me out.

My poor nurse, she would help me push and tell me that I was doing great and I wasn't sure what ‘great’ meant. I thought she meant I was getting ready to have him and he was going to just come out and be done. No. Her idea of doing ‘great’ was that she could see his head. I couldn't see a darn thing and that was after I asked for a mirror so I could see what they were seeing. I wasn't seeing anything. All I knew was that I was getting tired and exhausted and irritable. I had already bitten Jonsey’s head off as he could find no other kinds of words to say when I would push. It was the same words over and over, finally I told him to shut up. I remember the nurse grinning and nodded her head in his direction and said ‘you might want to do that’.

Sometime around 3:00 on October 4th, my doctor came in, the one I had only met once and she took in consideration what was going on. I begged her and the nurse to do something that I couldn't push any more. If they hadn't been there to talk to me and poke and prod, I would have just fallen asleep.  I was almost in tears, that was how exhausted I was. Finally the doctor realized that she was going to have to help, that the baby just wasn't coming on his own and she didn't want him going into distress mid delivery. So, the inevitable happened and she had do some cutting and later some stitching and I had to do some pushing. But, around 3:47 am, Mr. Dalton Michael would make his appearance, all 8lbs and 7 ounces of him.

I remember they took him to his table and he wouldn't cry. I couldn't hear anything and because everything had gotten a bit complicated during the last hour or so, I was concerned that something was wrong with him. But, in a short couple of minutes that seemed like hours, I heard him muffle out a cry and then I cried. He was okay. The nurses got him cleaned up enough and brought him to me and I held him ever so gently. I just looked at him in awe and wonder and for a few seconds, everything that had led up to that very minute didn't matter anymore. I didn't get to hold him long, the nurses wanted to get him to the nursery where they would clean him up and do what they needed to do.

 In the mean time, I was getting stitched up and even though I wanted to go to sleep, the nurses wouldn’t let me. There was more to do it was already after 4:00am. Eventually the doctor was done doing what she needed to do and it was time to move me to another room. I remember the first thing I asked the nurses was if I was allowed juice or something relative to food. I was so grateful to get some orange juice but that was all I was allowed but I wasn't complaining.

After they got me settled in my new room, the meds started wearing off. Nobody told me though that when the meds wore off, I was going to go through some serious hot flashes. I’ll never forget thinking that the thermostat in my room was broken. It felt like it wasn't working at all. They even had a repair man come in and for a while he worked at that thermostat. It was all of the meds I had been on that was causing me to be incredibly hot and miserable.
Eventually sleep kicked in. The nurses said it would be a while before I could see Dalton. We were also getting closer to the shift change at 7:00am and the new nurses would need to do whatever it is they do. So sleep I did as I could.

Finally, they brought me my baby and I got to hold him and stare at him. He was already an amazing baby. He never cried. He slept and when he was awake, he was trying to see the big world around him. He was perfect. Even when he cried, his cry was quiet and muffled, not ear-piercing like some of the other babies I remember hearing down the hall. I tried breast feeding but he wasn't really co-operating with me on that. So, we went back and forth between that and baby milk.

The in-laws stopped by and got to hold their grandson and checked on me. They were the only family though and in the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think that my family should have been there. I wish they had been there anyways. They were missing out and it was a bit hard on me. But, I focused on Little Man. I remember I got to eat real food that morning. Because of the meds though, I didn't eat as much as I had been convinced I could have eaten, but it was nice to eat real food again and not just ice-chips!

I had a bit of healing to do though, so I wouldn't leave the hospital until a day or so later. I can’t remember how long it was, it wasn't longer than 2 days and I was ready to go home. The hospital and the nurses had been great though, I couldn't have asked for better staff during my stay there. It was all definitely an experience, one that you just don’t forget, no matter how many years later.

But home was looking more and more appealing. We would leave with our precious little baby and a prescriptions for pain meds for me (who was still pretty sore you know where). We would have to stop at the local Walmart and get my prescriptions filled and grab a couple of groceries. I had to be pushed in a wheelchair,  I certainly was not walking around. So, as I was pushed in my wheel chair, I held my baby and of course everyone who saw me could tell that I was a new mommy and congratulated me. I wouldn't let anyone touch him of course. But it felt pretty cool and special.
Finally we made it home. I would find my way to the couch and while the car was unloaded and things put away, I would hold my baby who was just quiet and calm.

I remember that night as I went to bed, Dalton was in his bassinet next to my side of the bed and as he lay there asleep, I found myself sitting there staring at him. I was staring at this little person who I had worked so long and hard to bring into this world. You know, even when you’re pregnant, you do things and don’t do things to protect the baby while you’re pregnant, the instincts do to do whatever it took to protect them already kicks in but then you have them and that instinct is even stronger and now you realize you have to do whatever it takes to protect them because they are so little and fragile. 
I remember the tears crawling down my face as the realization hit me that this was ‘my’ baby and he was finally here. But little did I know sitting there by the side of the bed that one day it was just going to be me and him, all I knew was what was then and now. He was here and life was going to be forever different from that day forward.

Until next time, inspire and make a difference.

~The Adopted Child