The Countdown has begun

countdownIt has been nine days since I was reunited with my biological family! It started with a comment posted on my blog, this blog, and things are getting real. I told a friend of mine it has been the most amazing few days but the adjective I should have used was MIND BLOWING!

It hasn’t been without heartbreak. My mother, whom I dreamt about all my life, is gone. I’ll never look into her eyes, never say the words I’ve wanted to say all my life. Only an adopted child who was given away and unable to express their deepest most profound desire to stay can understand my feelings. Please keep me. Don’t let me go.

For every lost child still out there searching, keep going. Don’t give up. Even if you never find who you’re looking for, you’re here for a reason – Believe it!

My biological family is out there and they hold the key to another part of my life gone unexplored, my Indian side. I am at least a fourth Quapaw Indian. I may be more. Right now, we don’t know for sure who my father is but my sisters and I have decided to get DNA testing. My older sister, separated by only nine months, may be my whole sister. It really doesn’t matter what the DNA tests prove. We all know we have one thing in common, our mother.

Belonging has always been key with me. One of the most important bonds I’ve ever established was with my fellow soldiers in the Army. MP 1992-1997 changed my life. For all the years I underscored myself I knew I could be better.  It enabled me to see my potential.  And like the Army, I want to belong to the Quapaw tribe. They have always been a part of me because if I couldn’t have my biological family, I could have them. Sort of like a substitute family. However my letters to the Quapaw council went unanswered. I wrote them several letters throughout the years and I understand their silent response. They could not give me the answers I was seeking even if they knew my lineage. I harbor only a small grievance. Any kind of response would have been appreciated. Thank you for interest in becoming a member however you do not meet the requirements. Here’s a Quapaw pin and a tribal tattoo. Have a good day! I couldn’t make the requirement. I need my original birth certificate. I petitioned the courts once before, I decided to petition again.

The other day, I called OKDHS and inquired what I needed to open my adoption record. They need a court order and then it might not happen. So just to see what they would say, I called the country clerk’s office in the county where I was born and told them what I wanted. They took my information, didn’t ask a lot of questions and said someone would call me back. I didn’t expect a phone call. I for sure didn’t expect the letter I got in the mail today.

The Comanche County Courthouse mailed my a court order to open my adoption records. How astounding is that?!

So the countdown has begun. The doorway to my heritage is in sight. Let’s see if I can open that door!

The 5 letter Word

doubtI am currently writing the third and possibly the final installment to the Lara Martin series. Lara is the heroine. Lara is also the underdog. She is her own worst enemy and she could be on top of the world instead of under if she didn’t have one constant companion, DOUBT.

They should create a series like that show ‘Wilfred’ because doubt gets me into trouble more than anything. Fear is no problem. I can face my fears all day long but doubt always wins. I can spend every ounce of my courage doing something I think is great and one word can bring it all down or in my case, no words. My mother is a big fan of ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. When I do something or say something she doesn’t approve of, she doesn’t comment. I thought this trait was unique to my mother but I have several people in my life that do this. What is that? Where did they learn this? Do they not know by not saying anything they’re saying everything?

Doubt holds me back. Doubt undercuts my courage and doubt prevents me from truly going forward. No matter how many steps I take in one direction, I find myself doubting the destination. Is this where I need to be? Is this the right path? I really feel doubt is sinful. It makes me stop believing in myself.

There is no question in my mind that the past few years have been for a purpose. I don’t know what that purpose is fully but I got a glimpse of it the other day when I found my biological family. Things had to happen the way they did. Every step I’ve taken these last years have led me here, to be here at this exact time and this exact place or it wouldn’t have happened! I know that.

Personally, I think it would have been okay of God missed a couple of steps for me along the way. I didn’t need to go through ALL that……..but then again, maybe I did.

Doubt is a five letter word I can do without. My new five letter word is FAITH.

Making that Connection

being differntI’ve been busy reading emails and looking at the pictures my sisters have been sharing with me. It’s amazing to see their faces and compare the similarities in our features. You have no idea what that means to me. Being raised in a family where we all look different reinforced all those doubts I had about not belonging. When I was younger I was always searching and I think my mother feared I would never find inner peace.

Talking to them is even more enlightening because our thought patterns are also similar which is astounding because if you read any of my blogs you’d see my thoughts are pretty wild. I think that might be why I haven’t found a man. No one speaks Deborah. Being my friend is also a challenge. Which is why I don’t have very many. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of friends but only a close few I share any details of my private life with.

These feelings I talk about (not belonging, feeling unworthy, unwanted) are feelings I had when I was younger. I don’t want anyone to think I still feel these things because I don’t but the illogical, implausible things we fear as children do carry over into adulthood but now I am old enough and wise enough to recognize them for what they are; childhood fears.

I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve had counseling regarding these feelings and that’s where I learned that adopted children have a hard time making connections. I never knew that. I knew that people passed in and out of my life without any real strife or concern but I didn’t realize there was a reason. The explanation was so simple but I never made the connection. It’s like trying to find your shoes in the dark. You’re scrounging getting frustrated and angry and then someone turns on the light- ah! Once I knew I made every effort to re-establish friendship and relationships with those closest to me. My real concern was when I had children. Would I connect with them?

I had no reason to worry because if you see my children, they look just like me. They might have my ex-husband’s coloring but they have my features and that bounds us in a very special way I never had before until now.  In these women in my life, my newfound sisters, I see the similarities in our eyes, the shape of our faces, the curve of their smiles, and in each of us I see our mother. With Season, Jackie, Tracy and LeAnn, I don’t have to make a connection, as a person on the outside trying to get in, I’m connected by blood.

Fitting in

calvinFor those of you who have not been reading, I started this blog for several reasons but the first and foremost was to shout out into the oblivion and see what shouts back. I asked the world- Who am I? And lo and behold, I got an answer.

I spent many years struggling over my feelings about being adopted and I spent many more in an endless cycle coming back to the original question over and over again throughout my life. I wanted to know who I was. I wanted to matter.

It wasn’t just a question of who my biological family was but also the heritage I missed out on. I am Quapaw Indian. Sitting in classroom as a kid we read about American history and the Indians we all but exterminated. Everyone would look at me as if I knew anymore than they did. I knew nothing of my culture being raised in a white family but I gleaned Indian way of life the same way America does, by books and movies. You might think that’s dumb but if you’re a kid in a small town in Illinois it’s hard to imagine Indians when you don’t see any around.

When my marriage was crumbling I again felt the need to find them. My thinking all growing up was that petitioning the courts was too expensive and that was the only way I’d ever be able to find out who they were. It’s not expensive – at all. But at that time I didn’t know that so figuring I’d never know I decided to drive down to Miami, Oklahoma and look around.

I had watched ‘Thunderheart’ nearly a thousand times so I was prepared for whatever the reservation would throw at me. I could have taken my best friend Nancy (she looks Indianish so we’d be okay if we got pulled over by tribal police and asked what we were doing there) but I felt I needed to do it alone. Even though I look Indian, on the inside I’m all white and I hoped yet feared that someone would recognize me.

I secretly hoped someone would and we’d have this joyous reunion yet I was afraid they would identify me as someone they had already gotten rid of – what part of ‘Don’t ever come back’, don’t you understand? Looking back, I should have taken Nancy. She would have given me the courage to get out of the car! I felt extremely out-of-place sneaking into Indian country.

Eventually I ventured out. I searched face after face looking for any resemblance but if  you’ve ever gotten a large group of Indians together you’d realize something I didn’t – we all look-alike! When the drums started I left. I figured my cover as an Indian would have been blown if I was asked to dance and I didn’t know how. I drove away with a big smile on my face. For a little while I was one of them.

I still can’t believe I found my family and I can’t wait to share all my weird and crazy idiosyncrasies with them. I just might find I fit in after all.

Deciding to Live

I attended the White House Medal of Honor ceremony yesterday where we honored SSG Ty Carter.  He risked his life to rescue another soldier.  Not everyone would have done that but in a split second he made the decision to go for it.  Not everyone has that kind of courage. I’m not sure I do. Half my life I’ve crippled myself with indecision and the other half in rash decision. Ever since I knew I was adopted I’ve lived believing I was a mistake. I was unwanted by my mother and given away. I never felt ‘chosen’ or ‘special’, I felt abandoned and unable to express those feelings with anyone else I mainly felt alone.

But I was the life of the party. I was a free spirit, carefree and fun. You never would have guessed I had problems with my identity and self-esteem unless you took a moment to look past my smile. I was like a magician distracting you with one hand so you didn’t see what was going on in the other. A lot of relationships didn’t work out for me because I never let anyone in.  I needed to change.

I ended my marriage because I was living a lie. I was living someone elses dream; the house, the car, the clothes.  Some women will endure anything to have that kind of security but I walked away. Whatever dream I had in my heart, I felt now was the chance to live it.  I struck out on my own hoping to find what I was looking for and through hard work I am where I am today.  But what about my mother?

In 2010, when I found out my mother’s name, indecision hit me like truck. Fear kept me from finding her. I wanted to go to her but all my failures held me back.

I learned something through all my trials and tribulations, never give up. The road is long and the road is hard but it’s my road. My mother gave me life so I could live it and I have. I feel like that woman in Titanic when the boy she loves dies in the water. He tells her to live and at the end of the movie you see her surrounded by all her pictures. Proof of the split second decision she made to live and she did it gloriously.

Making that split second decision to change things is where courage comes in and the strength lies in the determination not to give up. I may die tomorrow but I can tell you this, Mom, beautiful mother, I- have- lived!

 

Two days Ago

130824-123356For those of you who read my blog, you know I started it a week or so ago in the hopes of finding my biological family. I was given up as an infant and my records have remained sealed besides my best effort to open them. I had given up hope that I would ever find them but Wednesday afternoon I received a comment on my blog that literally said, I think you’re our sister. Please contact us!

My new sister called me the missing piece of the puzzle and she has no idea how accurate a description she gave me. Not only do I fit into her puzzle as the last remaining family member our mother gave up for adoption but they, my entire family, are the missing piece in my life. It overwhelms me beyond words and I’ve been speechless for 2 days!

Whoever it was that contacted my family, I will forever be in your debt. If you need anything, please contact me.

Sadly, the one person I did hope to reconnect with is no longer living. My mother died last year. A part of me is shattered but another part is so very happy that I will know her and see her in the sisters I have found. Five of us! It still makes me cry and I wish I could see them to hug them so at last I will know they truly do exist. I have had them in my mind and in my heart for years and one day I hope to have them in my arms.

Two days ago I was broken, today I am whole!

a very big But

big butts 1There’s good news out there but for me, it often comes in two parts. You know when someone says, I like  your hair but, or you play the piano really well but – “but” always implies there’s something bad coming.

I’m a writer and I’ve been writing pretty steadily for the past four years. I write because I love telling stories and my latest book, “One Step Closer” is about my story.  There are some of us that go through divorce and then there are some of  us that go through something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I went through a divorce, then a terrible custody battle and Lara Martin, my character in “One Step Closer”, is the result.

My good news came in the form of an email from an editor. I usually get the standard email, “though your work is creative and unique, we feel your book is not a good fit for us, blah blah blah and no thank you” but this time with the usual email, she sent me a personal note!  She said I have an original story with a good hook but it is too descriptive and bogged down with characters not important to the story. Don’t tell the story, ‘show’ the story. Use active verbs and cut, cut, cut. Get a free-lance editor, rewrite and we will be glad to consider it again.

Hmmm, now I do not have a literary education. I have not been schooled in how to write other than English in high school and college both of which I know I didn’t pass with flying colors. I thought writing was ‘telling’ a story. I have no idea what ‘showing’ means.  Was I using passive verbs? What characters weren’t important? All of them, I feel, add value to my tale. She suggests to cut but what if I cut the wrong thing? My book is now a big ol’ mess.

You know what I need?  I need a free-lance editor!  LOL I thought they would help me with those streamline critiques now I’m back to the drawing board. Between you and me, if you liked my first book you’ll Love my second, “Through the Darkness”. I’ve sold twice as many copies in less amount of time.

I wish editors acquired writers through benefit of the doubt. I’m a diamond in the rough and hopefully someone will take a chance on me. It was good news, no doubt, but it was good news with a very big But!

http://dmlvanheest.wordpress.com/

Minus a Back Up Plan

plan BI was getting coffee this morning and I saw a headline in a newspaper someone had left behind, it read, ‘Minus a back up Plan’.  I didn’t read the article, i was on my way to work, but it made me think, is it necessary to have a back up plan?

What happens when I can no longer do what I’m doing? What happens if I get hurt or laid off? I am lucky in my background, I’ve done just about everything to earn money. From factory work to shoveling manure, I’ve done it all so I wouldn’t be too proud to go back to waiting on tables if I had to. I would love a job that doesn’t require a lot of thought because I spend most of my time writing. I have nothing but respect for men and women in the service industry; I’ve been there. I paid my dues.

A friend of mine recently injured her shoulder. She works for an international money mogul to be nameless and she was assigned light duty until her shoulder got better. She said if she wanted to she would retire. Her husband wants to move to Idaho so I hope she doesn’t retire anytime soon.

Another friend also mentioned retirement and she plans to move to Arizona……somewhere near a casino – It just occurred to me that a lot of my friends are old, Lol. That was a friendly jab at my “friends” because they do read my blog. They are a little older. In truth, I only have a handful of friends my own age. Why is that? For starters, they are generally all married with lives of their own. Once in a blue moon we might get together and have a night out but truthfully, I’d rather stay in.

So, what’s my back up plan? I’d like to say that I’ve been picked up by a publishing company and I can be a full-time author but that hasn’t happened  yet. I write for the joy of writing and self publish all my stuff. I’d like to say I’ll settle down, marry my summertime sweetheart and become the homemaker I never was. (Yea, right, that won’t happen) So, what will I do?

I have no idea. I am minus a back up plan but the possibilities are endless and I’m an innovated kind of girl. The three I’s: innovated, ingenious and idealistic.  “Hope is a waking dream” and I hope to remain optimistic. Life is a mystery! If plan A doesn’t work out, you can bet I’m working on plan B.

 

Fiction

puppetsI love my job.  I kinda of have to because aside from my work, I have no life. Literally, no life – okay, not literally, but you get the idea. I write about my woes as a divorced mother of two in my book, One Step Closer. And if you like whining with a little bit of mystery you can check out my second novel, Through the Darkness – that was an unabashed solicitation to read my books.

http://dmlvanheest.wordpress.com/

I relate my life to a fast car in a big city. Seeing all the glorious opportunities pass me by like an array of lights dancing across my windshield. It goes by so fast. I did get out of my car a time or two and someone should have taken that opportunity and run me over! Maybe then I wouldn’t be where I am today. And where am I, you might ask? On a couch, writing not living. Maybe writing is another way of hiding from life. My character finds love and happiness – heck, I can make her take over the world but its fiction, complete fabrication. My life is non-fiction. It’s not pretty and it’s not easy and the truth is, I’m still in the dark. I’m like playing shadow puppets on my wall it’s so freakin’ dark where I am and my fear is, what if that’s all there ever will be? Faith is a choice. Waiting is the hard part.

 

That’s what you do

broken dreamsThere shouldn’t be a difference

In what you say

And haven’t said.

 

The ties of past yon on unfettered

A promise of something new

But what you say or haven’t said

I fear nothing you say is true.

 

There shouldn’t be a difference

In what you do

And haven’t done.

 

A boast of friend and friendship

Alludes to loyalty and truth

But what you say or haven’t said

Speaks more of what you do.