Tag Archive: jackie barker


jackie2

I have taken a long time after telling Brett that I would write this, to actually sit down and put some words together. It feels strange to ‘tell our story’ because in so many ways we just feel like a normal family. Daddy, Mommy and baby. I’ve discovered in these last few months that much to my disappointment I am not a super-mother, I am very much the typical Mom who is doing all the stereotypical things Mommies do.

Did I freak out when she slept through the first time and kept going in to check that she was still breathing in the cot? Yes.

Did I feel immense guilt mixed with immense relief the first time I dropped her at day care? Yes.

Do I sometimes just watch her sleeping marvelling at this incredible bundle of beauty that God has entrusted to us? Yes.

I’m just a normal mom, with a little girl who is (in my beautifully biased opinion) the most awesome kid in the world.

But I suppose the journey of adopting her did involve a whole bunch of interesting emotions and debates in my heart and head that I can share – and here I do not by any means claim to speak for all adopted people or all moms who adopt. I have learnt very powerfully in this last while that there are no two adoption processes the same, no two adoptive children, no two sets of adoptive parents who have the same story. It is a very personal thing.

So firstly let me bring you up to speed since my last blog on adoption here in 2012. My hubby and I relocated to Pretoria, I have been called to a church, he has found a teaching post and we are both incredibly happy and settled and so decided the time had come to start a family. Adoption had always been on the cards, but I think we imagined that we would have biological kids first and then adopt – I’m not sure why.

Through a series of nudges from God, and God doing some crazy things in our lives (a beautiful story in and of itself) we met a little ten day old girl who we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was meant to be our daughter. And so ensued the legal nightmare of fighting to gain custody of her (her biological mother is Zimbabwean so we couldn’t get a birth certificate and thus couldn’t get custody), and getting other forms to eventually apply to adopt her. She was born on the 10th of December 2013, we met her on the 20th, and finally took her home on the 21st of March 2014. During the months of February and March we were able to take her home for the weekend and return her to the shelter on Monday. Taking her back was the closest thing to hell for me, and I’m so grateful that God limited that time to six weeks because I doubt I would have lasted much longer. The papers are all in, and now we wait 9months? A year? Who knows… in order for the adoption to go through and her to really become little Christine Grace Barker.

She has become our joy. She really has burst into our lives with colour and laughter and life. I have never known such a happy child. One of my fears in adopting was ‘how would I know whether I would love her enough? I mean the same amount that I would love a biological child?’ This was a totally unfounded fear. I cannot imagine loving anything as much as I love her. The love you have for a child is something incomparable to anything else. Powerful, fiercely protective, all encompassing. To the point that I worry now (along with the ‘typical mother’ I understand!!) how I could ever love another child as much as I do this one… I get reassured constantly by other moms that you can!!

But some of the things that have gone through my head are strange and I imagine different from other adoptive moms.

Firstly we have a copy of her biological mom’s passport. She happens to have been born 2 days before me. This messes with my mind and breaks my heart. Having journeyed with my own biological mother and understanding her heartache in giving me up, I wonder how she is doing. She is the same age as me and yet her life journey is one where at 30 years old she cannot keep her child due to poverty. How is it that we have been given such a precious gift and she has suffered such a terrible loss? She may be feeling relief, she may have buried any sadness, she might be grateful- trusting that her child will have something to eat tonight while she might not – I don’t know. But I pray for her – and I hope that good things come her way, that she receives comfort from God that her little girl is in safe hands.

I think I’m also a lot more chilled about the ‘adoption’ thing than other people simply because I’ve been there and it’s not this BIG BAD SCARY thing that you hide in shame… its normal. It’s simply an alternative way of doing family. People’s comments to us about adopting her communicate this all the time – the “You’re so brave…” kind of comments that really make my hair stand on end. And the funniest comment of “will you tell her she’s adopted?” I didn’t even grace that one with a yes, I simply said I’d let her think about that for a while. REALLY? So the kind of things I’ve read on adoption blogs of when to tell, how to tell, what to say – how not to make a big deal about it, but still make it ok to talk about – (there really is a lot of discussion about that stuff) doesn’t worry me at all. We’ll figure it out with her as we go along. When she starts asking about skin colour and why the kids stare at me strangely when they see I’m her mom – we’ll talk about it honestly at whatever age level will be appropriate then.

And lastly let me say that an ongoing struggle for me now is what next? Part of the reason we have adopted is that we believe in it. Statistics in South Africa are telling us that by next year there will be 5.5 MILLION orphans – 5.5 MILLION. How do we live with this kind of knowledge? 5.5 MILLION kids who could hugely benefit from a family, a home, a stable life. We chose to adopt, it wasn’t because we couldn’t biologically have – we really haven’t tried. Do we try? Is it ok to fall pregnant and thus prevent another child from taking that space in our household? Not everyone can adopt – I get that. But we can. So should we? There is a huge heartache in giving up the desire to see your husband’s eyes looking out of the eyes of child, a heartache in never knowing what it’s like to have a life grow inside you, a sharp stab in the heart every time someone insinuates that you’re not a ‘real’ mom because you didn’t give birth. And yet the knowledge that somewhere out there perhaps there is already our second child………. Waiting.

So we’ll wait for God’s leading on that one [Symbol]. He has been so faithful, so good, so gracious to us in the past. We’ll simply trust in that for now. And in the meantime, delight in the gift of Christine, our joy.

Be blessed. I pray that our story in some small way may be a blessing to someone.

jackie1

[For more stories about different aspects of the Adoption journey, click here]

jackie

We got married on the 28th of November 2009.
Best decision ever.

Seriously.

We have both loved being married and will often wonder how we got to be so blessed.
There were a few things we decided on early in our marriage that has made a world of difference, and we have practiced them ever since.

Firstly… We decided to never leave the ‘honeymoon stage’. Everyone around us who heard how happy we were kept saying things like “that’s so sweet… You’re just in the honeymoon stage.” As though there would be a time when suddenly we didn’t love each other so much and wouldn’t have such fun being married.

The honeymoon stage ends because you choose to not see the other person like that anymore. We decided early on that we will actively choose to be madly in love with each other every single day. We climb into bed every night snuggle up and say to one another, “I’m so grateful for you. You rock my world. I love you.” Or something equally mushy… And we mean it.

The second thing we decided that in communication, if something could be taken in two ways… One of which isn’t so nice… Then we choose to hear the nice version. We believe that neither of us ever wants to actively hurt the other. So if something hurtful was said it was either done by mistake or out of a place of tiredness or personal hurt. This prevents so many arguments before they even start, and allows for gentle conversations of “you said this and it really hurt me…. Are you ok?” Which is a very different angle to accusation.

Lastly, we keep no record of who does or gives what. We actively try to out-give each other, and graciously accept what the other does for us. With both of us working full time and with a baby now, this is especially true. It’s never a case of ‘well I did the dishes so you must…’ Rather we see what needs to be done and both do it so that we actually get to bed… sometimes before midnight! Tim’s mantra (a bit tongue in cheek) is “Happy wife, Happy Life!”

We realise, reading back over that, that it sounds awfully starry-eyed and idealistic…. Maybe we are still in the Honeymoon phase! But by God’s grace we will work exceptionally hard to stay there because it’s worth it. Before we got married we were told over and over how much hard work it was and how much you struggle with each other and how difficult it was… To the point where we wondered why anyone would want to get married!!!

While there is work involved it is work that keeps us happy and in love and having fun – and what could be better than that?

[To read the next Marriage Year 5 post by Lily and Jonathan Dunn, click here]

This is a powerful testimony from my friend Jackie who was adopted:

It was never a secret that I was adopted. Both my brother and I were told before we even fully knew what it meant – and so was never a big deal. But that’s where it ended. We were never told any more than that – and so growing up I had no knowledge of my birth parents and had no wish to ever find out… when friends or teachers found out that I was adopted that immediate question which followed was, “So are you going to find your mother?” and my response was always, “No. She gave me away – she means nothing to me.”

But then in the beginning of my Grade 9 year everything changed. In looking for some documents I stumbled across my file – the file that had all the info about who she was and who he was and what my original name was and and and… and I freaked out. This person who had meant nothing to me suddenly became a real flesh and blood woman with feelings and a story and the line that killed me – “Tracy wanted her daughter to know that she gave her up because she loved her.” I remember running to the bathroom and crying until I had no more tears. This woman I had so casually and callously brushed aside was a real person who was living out there and who had made a massive sacrifice for me! I secretly made a copy of the file which I hid and read every so often.

I didn’t tell my folks for over a year. I grew up in a very loving, albeit broken family. My parents divorced when I was young, so grew up mostly with my mom and stepdad who are both incredibly wonderful special people. My mom however found it very painful that she couldn’t have children, and so while we always knew we were adopted, any suggestion of the topic or that we weren’t ‘fully’ hers was a very sensitive subject. I managed to keep the secret of the file for about a year, until I finally told her. It was an unpleasant evening to say the least. I knew that I had hurt her by saying that I wanted to find my birth mother, but it was something I needed to do. I hated it. My mom graciously said that it was fine; she just wanted me to wait until I was eighteen, and then she would give her consent and blessing.

My eighteenth birthday came at a very tense time in the middle of my Matric Finals. I think this pushed things over the edge and when I brought up the topic (as delicately as I could) I was harshly shut down, and so I left it.

My brother however did no such thing. Being older than I was he could do it without consent and went through the whole process, telling no one but me. In doing so he met the social worker who worked at the orphanage we came from who told him, “I didn’t facilitate your adoption, but I did your sister. I still have contact with her birth mother so if she’s looking; tell her to come straight to me”. This was torturous information – I was so close, yet without my mom’s consent, so far. I knew she would give the consent if I pushed, but also understood the pain that it was causing her, so decided to wait until I was 21.

When I did go through with it finally, I was blessed that it was a very positive experience. Tracy and I met at the orphanage I came from, and ended up talking for about 5 hours straight. She was nineteen when I was born, and I really was the result of a one-night-stand, that in her ignorance at that age she had thought was more. Since there was no chance of any relationship, Tracy had decided to give me up for adoption so that I could be raised in a full family. She herself came from a very close knit family and so believed it was important. She also felt it she was too young to manage to raise a child. I do not in any way begrudge her for this – because of her I have the most wonderful mom in the world, and belong to a wonderful family. She had truly given me a wonderful gift. We remain very close friends and I see her often.

I decided I had to tell my mom though, and so did so as delicately as I could. Unfortunately my brother had decided to break the news about his search results at a similar time – and not so delicately. This was extremely hurtful for my mom, and so I broke contact with Tracy to give my mom some time to adjust to the news, and then slowly re-initiated contact. My mom has come to peace with this more and more especially as she has grown on her walk with God. She and Tracy have met, as well as further members of Tracy’s family. They were all at my wedding and in fact my blood grandmother actually did the flowers for my wedding – it was extremely special.

On the other side – I also traced my blood father with the name Tracy had given to me. It was a very bizarre experience as he was a top-notch business man, and so when we met it felt a whole lot like a business transaction. We had a fair relationship over business-like lunches and emails, but I never met or spoke to any of his family. He sadly passed away end of last year from a stroke which I found extremely painful, as I suppose I had hoped for more. What was worse was that because it was sudden and unexpected I only found out about it because I followed my half-sister on facebook without her knowledge of who I was. It was a great sadness for me that I never got to meet my half siblings – a girl and a boy, both a couple of years younger than I was. In his passing I gave up hope of ever knowing or meeting with them and spent many hours in prayer about this pain and this unclosed area in my life. It was interesting in reading in your other adoption story the fact that James knows he has half-siblings out there, but has no way of finding them. It’s a strange thing that there is a connection there whether you like it or not. I care for my half-siblings a great deal even though I haven’t met two of them. It was hard too that I didn’t even have the full details surrounding my father’s death and was unable to attend the funeral and all this was very painful for me. I came up with all sorts of crazy reasons and ways in my head how I could stumble upon his family, revealing who I am – but knew that it would be wrong – and so ultimately just entrusted it to God thinking that it was the end and was praying that God would give me the peace I needed.

And then about two months back my half-sister wrote me a message on facebook saying that she had found out who I was and wanted to start a conversation – I couldn’t believe it! I hadn’t thought he had even told his wife about my existence, but apparently he had! This meant a huge amount to me because it also meant that I was important enough to him that he told his wife about me. I really hadn’t expected that he had. God was so good to me. We have now chatted on and off, and she has even suggested meeting which I look forward to in nervous anticipation. I’m so grateful that God allowed me to have these answers and receive this kind of closure – far beyond my wildest dreams.

Be blessed Brett.
J

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