You are currently viewing archive for May 2008
Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

My son came home at seven-days-of age.  Fifteen years later, I am still in Nursery Nirvana. From the moment I first held him in my arms, I have felt a deep pride in him and how he came to be my son - and he knows it.

We have always discussed adoption naturally and openly, and with great joy.  I call him my Very Special Child and even wrote a book by that title for him.  He is giving a copy of it today as a present to a young girl who is also adopted, because he is proud of it and is proud to share his specialness with others.

In discussing your child’s adoption openly, just like you would discuss your child's birth had you carried him or her, you make it a common every day thing: I have two eyes, two ears, a nose, I'm adopted, I'm a boy, I live in biggy.  On the other hand, by hiding it, you make it seem like something to be ashamed of, something to push to the back of the closet, something that you wish had never happened.

More importantly, you are basing your entire relationship on a lie - a lie of omission.  How is your child going to trust you in any other area of life if you have deceived them about the very core of your relationship?

I have a cousin who was adopted and his parents never told him.  He found out on his own at age fourteen.  He ran away from home and refused to speak to his parents.  They reconciled, after a fashion, but their relationship was damaged irrevocably.  My cousin never trusted his parents again.

I say speak of adoption to your child.  Show them the pride you have in choosing them out of all of the other children in the world.  Encourage them to adopt when they decide to have children.  Tell them openly about waiting for them, praying for them and that glorious moment when you finally got THE call.  My son knows the story backwards and forwards and loves to tell it to others.  When he speaks of it, his face lights up and he smiles.  He even wrote a book about it which is coming out soon.  Here is a quote from it which I think clearly makes my case:

From Just Chris by Christopher Shiveley Welch

I am adopted.  That feels good.  I like being adopted.  If it weren’t for my parents, I don’t know what I’d be like.  They are here for me.  My mom and dad tell me that I am beautiful, so I believe that I am.  They tell me I’m a good kid, so I accept that I am.  They tell me that I’m loved, so I know that I am.

            I have learning differences.  Mom says I am not learning disabled, I just learn differently, and that’s okay.  I don’t mind having differences.  I just want to learn.

            Mom says that a child sees themselves in their parent’s eyes.  I want to put this poem of my mom’s in here:

I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
You see how beautiful you are.
When you enter a room, my heart lifts up to meet you;
A smile of greeting lights me up from within. 


I am your mirror.  When you look into my eyes,
You see love, as my soul embraces yours,
Revealing to you just how wonderful you are:
My friend, my heart, my son.
From “Mirroring”[1]

            Mom uses this poem a lot in her interviews.  She tells people about adopting special needs kids and that makes me feel good.  I know she is so happy that she adopted me and she just wants people to know how it can make them happy too.

[1] Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, Debra Shiveley Welch, Saga Books, page 118

Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

Chris  Every spring, Chris and I order butterfly caterpillars.  We have an inexpensive, one gallon aquarium, where we keep them safe and snug, while they munch themselves to ten times their size, finally go into chrysalis, and then - the butterfly.

Usually, everything goes very well.  We watch them with awe...eagerly awaiting the beautiful painted lady butterfly that we know will emerge. They hatch…they dry their wings ... and then Chris, oh so carefully, places them on his finger, gently releasing them outside.   He always says, “Goodbye my baby.  Be happy!  Be safe!”

This year, things didn't turn out the way we'd hoped. We got our five caterpillars, and gave them a snug, safe “womb” in which to develop. We watched them with delight as they grew and grew, finally making that long journey up the sides of their jars to the lid, where they formed their “J” to go into the chrysalis stage.  With anticipation, we awaited the hatching, eager to see those beautiful orange and black wings spread out in flight. But, something went wrong.

Two butterflies were born with mangled, twisted wings. They couldn't fly. I waited a day, giving them sugar water, to see if the process was just taking longer than usual. Things didn't improve. Finally, I took them out into the bright sunlight, thinking that God's healing sun would dry their little wings. That's when I noticed they didn't have all of their legs.  Sadly, I told Chris to put them in the rose garden and leave them, hoping he wouldn't be there to see the inevitable: a bird swooping down to capture them to feed her young.  Such is the way of nature I reasoned. It's the only way.

As Chris was dutifully taking them down to place them by the roses, totally innocent of what I was asking him to do to his beloved butterflies, it occurred to me: nature doesn't HAVE to be this way. They don't have to be “perfect” in the literal sense of the word. If they couldn't pollinate and procreate, their right to exist wasn't automatically negated.  They could just be themselves, giving pleasure to a six-year-old little boy who loved them, and was willing to turn them loose simply for their own good.

Yes, their wings were mangled, and they flopped when they tried to walk, but they had their own beauty, their own value, their own perfection.

Chris and I are keeping the butterflies until they die a natural death.  I know it will be hard for Chris when they die.  He wont’ be able to look for them next spring, thinking that every painted lady he sees is his beloved Sam or Lou, but he will learn a very valuable lesson, and I'm pleased to learn it with him.

You see, Chris is adopted.  My husband and I were the seventh couple called.  Chris was headed for Children's Services because he wasn't “perfect.”  He was born with a moderately severe unilateral clefting of the lip, gum, and hard and soft palates. While he was carrying his butterflies down to the rose garden, I suddenly thought -- What if we had not been contacted, and Chris had not come home to me?  I would not be here, in this garden, enjoying the unique beauty and perfection of my son. I would not know of his goodness, his sweetness, his gentleness, and my life would not be as full and rich as it has become.

I called Chris to me, and oh so carefully, we returned Sam and Lou to their “womb” for safe keeping.  Within their imperfection dwelt perfection; their existence, a lesson so gratefully learned.  I looked at my son, and saw him smile.  I think that he understood long before I did.

Excerpt from  Son of My Soul - The Adoption of Christopher

Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

I had a particularly interesting job to accomplish today. I had to clean up the remains of a squirrel’s nest, which had fallen on to our tow path. Inhabited by a bachelor squirrel throughout the winter, its fragile form held up much better than I had predicted, in spite of its antiquity. It did, however, ultimately disintegrate, as witnessed by the pile of twigs and dead leaves, clumped upon the gravel of the path which encircles our lake.

I’m not surprised at his choice of “digs” for the winter. It had been my privilege to witness his attempt to take possession of a certain tree this last fall. Sitting at a window, which faces our front yard, I witnessed his “battle for ownership” of a particularly stately ash, which culminated in his ignominious ejection from said tree, ending in a resounding thump, as his body hit the ground, clearly heard in spite of the glass pane through which I peered. He fled with much chattering, which I can only guess, were I able to translate, offended any lady-like squirrels within hearing distance.

He is a handsome fellow. His tail is full and tipped with white, his ears are pert, his eyes large and bright. His pelt gleams with good health and is quite attractive. I can only imagine that this spring, he will reach his goal and woo a lady love, the ultimate end of course being that of becoming a patriarch. I wonder if he’ll rebuild where his flimsy shanty sheltered him throughout this rather wicked winter, or will he choose more stable environs? I find it intriguing as to what Monsieur Squirrel will do now.

Posted By Debra Shiveley Welch

Another birthday dawns, and I awaken to the sounds of ducks peeping and quacking, birds singing and splashing water. I stretch and rise, eager for the day: your special day – your birthday!

I dress and walk to the staircase. Breakfast and coffee must be prepared and I want to make sure that your presents are well-hidden, although you have a knack of finding even the most "cleverly" concealed gift. I put my hand on the rail and pause as memories sweep over me – memories of the time I stood at the top of these very stairs with you in my arms. It was 2:00 a.m., just twelve short hours since I first beheld your sweet face and breathed deeply of your unique scent. Twelve short hours since, with arms outstretched, I said to our attorney, "Give me my son!" and held you to me for the first time.

Twelve, short hours – you had awakened for your two o’clock feeding, and I leapt from my bed, eager to hold you once again. I gathered you up and started for the stairs. Something made me pause. I guess I just wanted to take a moment to once again look at you, savor the feel of your little body in my arms. I stood there, looking down at you, breathing you in once again. You arched your back as if reaching toward me, and I was lost.

Sixteen years have sped their course since that day. And yet, I can still feel the thrill that leapt through my heart at that particular moment of our bonding, of our truly becoming mother and son.

Memories race through my mind, like a slide show, embedded in my heart and sealed forever until the end of time: memories of adventures we have shared, cities we have explored … memories of raising you and the joy it has brought me.

Sweet love, you have placed my feet upon a path which I never want to leave. You have given me a gift far sweeter than I ever believed possible. You have made me a mother. More importantly, you have made me your mother.

I have watched you blossom and take on life’s challenges. I have witnessed your struggle to overcome your learning differences. And I have glowed with pride as you grew from babyhood to the incredible young man you are today. In my joy and pride, I can’t help but reflect on our journey as mother and son.

Sixteen years! To some it may seem like a long time, yet in twelve short hours, my heart was lost. And it still is. You have held my heart in your hand since that very moment. It’s a nice place to be.





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Debra Shivel...
Central Ohio


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