Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ali's Forever Family

I "met" Alisha Palmer through my Instagram exchanges.  I was stalking her feed one day and knew immediately that we were meant to be friends.  She's got a great sense of humor that made me laugh.  I also noticed lots of pictures of faceless children and figured she must be a foster mama {the hashtags confirmed my suspicion}.  Then one day she mentioned something about being adopted herself, and I decided it was time to ask her to share her story.  And I'm so glad I asked. 

Here it is in her words:

On Dec 31, 1962 a little girl was born and named Lisha Dawn. She was born with a congenital heart defect and lived most of her precious life in hospitals until Dec 16, 1970 when she passed away. Her mother, Linda, was a Sunday school teacher at their church and one of her students vowed to name her daughter in memory of Lisha when she grew up. She followed through on this vow, and on Dec 15, 1982 when I was born she named me Alisha Dawn. My mother, "K", was 25 years old and married. Though I was the product of a planned pregnancy, she soon realized she was not ready to be a mom. "K" divorced my father, "C", when I was only 6 months old and moved us back to NC.

After years of teaching severely physically and mentally handicapped children in public schools following the passing of her only child, Linda finally decided to start her own daycare. Knowing Linda from years of attending her Sunday school classes, "K" enrolled me there as one of Linda's first students. "K" would often ask Linda to keep me overnight or even for the weekend. This went on for years. When I was two years old Linda married Ken, the man I had always called Dad. They had been dating for years before I was born, and though I had never lived with him, and no one ever referred to him as "Dad" to me, as a baby I CHOSE HIM. After Linda and Ken were married I become old enough to start making small decisions, and "K" began giving me the choice of who I wanted to stay with each night. I always chose Linda and Ken. It's where I felt safe, loved, and at home. This went on for a few more years. When I entered kindergarten "K" signed over guardianship to Linda and Ken. Life was perfect. I had a Mom and Dad at home and had everything I could ever want in life.

Mom and Me

Dad and Me

As I grew up, I realized I wanted more though. I occasionally saw "K" and rarely saw "C" and quite frankly, I was fine with that... I wanted more from Linda and Ken, my true Mom and Dad. Though "K" had full custody and had signed over her rights, "C" still had parental rights to me and we were always afraid to push the topic of adoption. Though he proved he wasn't going out on a limb to get me back, I had a paternal grandmother that wanted more than anything to have me back in the family. Thinking she was doing what was best, we knew she would push for custody if we pushed for adoption. Even still, I loved her and she loved me. I would occasionally visit her in SC and when talking about my family she would always correct me when I would refer to Ken as Dad. She would say, "He's not your Dad. "C" is your Dad. You call him Ken". To which I would start my story over, referring to him as Ken. It was always so awkward and felt wrong, but I always knew why she said it... she hadn't accepted what the rest if us already knew. The last time I visited her prior to her passing I was once again telling a story and quickly caught myself and called my Dad "Ken". She promptly stopped me and said, "No. I know he is your Dad and you should call him Dad." My heart jumped for joy. It is a moment I will treasure my entire life. It's my favorite memory of my grandmother. She passed away when I was 14 years old. At that time my desire for a more definitive connection with my family grew.

Between NC and SC child laws during that time, we were still too nervous to push for adoption thinking "C" may still fight. We continued to search for ways to complete our family and found a small loop hole one day. Because "K" had sole custody of me prior to signing over guardianship she and I could officially sign for my adoption once I became 16 years old! All we had to do was post the request in the local paper, which was in a whole other state than "C" lived, so there was no way he would see it in time to fight! Finally... yes finally, I was going to get the forever family I had always loved and wanted.

"K" asked what I wanted for my birthday, and boy did I tell her! Though I knew she would oblige, I did not expect the response she gave. Upon telling her the only thing I wanted for my 16th birthday was to become a "York" she looked me dead in my eyes, not missing a beat, and stated, "I've been wondering how long it would take you to ask me for that!" It was like joy to my ears! It was finally happening...FINALLY! On my 16th birthday, December 15, 1997 my Mom, "K", and I marched down to the lawyers office and started the paperwork. As most of you know, this paperwork is long and tedious and it takes forever (well, at least it seems) to be completed and signed off by the courts. During this time however, some of the courthouse employee's children attended Mom's daycare. She made a few calls and our request flew through the courthouse like wildfire! I got my forever family on December 31,1997, only two weeks after starting the paperwork! Oh, if you remember from the beginning of this story, yes, that was Lisha's birthday. Isn't it funny how God works?

I have not seen "K" since I was 18 years old. I didn't see "C" from the age of 7 until I saw him again when I was 18. He showed up out of nowhere one day when I was 18 years old. It scared me and my family so much. Did he find a loop hole we missed? What did he want? What happened next was never what we expected. "C" met with my Dad that day prior to even coming around me and explained how he knew Ken was my Dad, not him. He also said he would never try to have a father-daughter relationship with me out of respect for what Dad and I shared, but he would like to start some sort if relationship with me. I knew that wouldn't last long, but for a man who never stepped up to the plate, this conversation between him and my Dad was amazing. I have always appreciated that moment between the two if them. Though I chose Ken as my Dad since day one, he always feared "C" would come back and take his place. I am sure most adoptive parents always live with a similar fear. This conversation between him and "C" was calming to Dad's soul, as well as mine and my Mom's.

I still see "K" each time I look in the mirror. Though I did not grow up living with "K", she and I share more than I would like to admit. Her hair, nose, eyes, body shape, intellect, love for the arts; some of what we share isn't so bad. Some of it I work daily to change, such as our not-always-so-pleasant attitudes. Even between all the similarities I share with "K", I also share so many similarities between my Mom and Dad. I am my fathers mini-me. I have always had a love for emergency medicine because if him. I always loved watching him rescue people out of cars and lakes when he was a Paramedic and Captain of the local rescue squad. He has always been my real life hero. I look a little like him too! My mother is the proud owner of what we in the family refer to as the "Eudy temper". I can't tell you how many times Dad told me, you may not be blood related, but somehow you still got the "Eudy temper"! It was always a running joke in our family, and I'm happy to say adopted or not, all Eudy women possess this trait. Growing up I always knew I wanted to adopt. Biological connections did not prove to me that it was the only way to have a perfect family. I wanted to share love and home with another child just like my Mom and Dad had done for me. One year ago my husband and I became foster parents. Since becoming a Middle Mom I have realized how much more similar I become to my Mom each day. Somehow her words spew out of my mouth daily! She is my world. Also, the old saying is true; you are never too grown to need your Mom, adopted or not! My entire life was planned perfectly for me before I ever knew it, and I wouldn't change a thing.

The actual connection between an adoptive family is a gift that can't truly be explained, only experienced.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story and such a great inside story of adoption. It brought tears to my eyes more than once and was so impressed how everyone involved seemed to know God's plan and accepted me chills. Lovely, good people here.