Mom

With Mother’s Day just a couple of days away, I have been thinking a lot about my mom.  About the influence she had over my life and what she and daddy did so many years ago to drastically change the lives to two little girls.  They truly were amazing people.  What many people may not know, is that my mom was a pillar of strength and courage.  She went through things in her life that would have broken many others, but she choose to use those experiences and setbacks as even more fuel for her desire to succeed and be her own woman.  By the way…….you might as well go get a cup of coffee, because I suspect this is going to be a very long post……

My mother was born in 1915…….a time when little girls were taught to be young ladies who got married and took care of the home.  My mother did not get that memo!

My mom faced adversity very early in life when she contracted polio as a toddler.  She didn’t talk a lot about that time, but did tell us that she had to relearn how to walk all over again when she recovered.  She carried some of the effects of her battle with polio with her through her entire 93 years of life.  I loved hearing mom tell stories of you younger years and teen years.  She definitely had an adventurous spirit and her stories about riding ponies in the mountain, being chased by Indians (no joke) and more tell me that she loved life and lived it to the fullest.  After my mother graduated from high school, she decided to attend college and off to Washington State College (later named Washington State University) she went.  She was the first woman to take an agriculture class at WSU (this was in the 30’s).  Unfortunately my mother’s college days were cut short when she contracted Tuberculosis in her early 20’s.  This is something else that she didn’t talk about a lot, but I do know that she was in and out of the hospital, battling the disease for much of her 20’s and was finally sent to Portland for a radical surgery to collapse one of her lungs in order to save her life.  My mother lived most of her adult life with just one lung.

My mom and dad met shortly after she recovered from TB and he was a patient at the VA hospital in Walla Walla (he was injured in WWII).  It didn’t take them long to realize that they were made for each other and they got married on August 15, 1945……..VJ (Victory over Japan) day.  My mother did NOT fall into the traditional role of most wives of that time.  She was an equal partner with my dad in pretty much everything they did.  She and daddy had two girls, Linda and Molly, just 13 months apart.  They also raised daddy’s two children from a previous marriage, Ginger and Max.   Both of my parents had a deep love of children…….and throughout their marriage they had approximately 25 foster kids in their home, choosing to adopt my sister and myself when our biological mothers’ parental rights were terminated.  During this time of raising kids, running a farm etc., my mom finished college and became a elementary school teacher.  She actually was my 2nd grade teacher.  The woman was driven, and once she set her sights on something, she went after it.

Mom

I often tell people that my mother was my coach and my dad was my cheerleader and this is so true.  I didn’t realize it when I was young, but my mother started teaching me at a very early age, that I could do anything I wanted to do in life and be anything I wanted to be.  She is the one who got me started in competitive public speaking.  She is the one who would stay up many late nights with me helping me write my 4-H demonstrations.  She is the one who made the coolest “Little Bo Peep” consume for me to wear for one of my demonstrations on caring for a bummer lamb.  Yep, I had a real live lamb up there with me and yep, there were times when we needed the clean-up crew after the demonstration was complete.  It is because of her support and coaching that I  competed at the State competition every year that I was eligible.  When I decided to join FFA, it was my mother who said “ask them if they have any public speaking competitions”…….and I still remember asking Mr. Clark that very question and having him hand me the FFA manual and turning to the FFA creed, he said “memorize this”…….I remember when I decided to attend WSU and major in Ag Ed…..mom didn’t say anything, but I could see it in her eyes…….she KNEW that as much as I loved FFA and everything that organization did for me, that my passion wasn’t teaching.  She was so happy when I decided to change careers and go into TV/Radio broadcasting.  I don’t think she expected me to go into sports broadcasting, but it was because of her that I did.  I loved sports and even though more than one professor told me that he’d “never seen a woman go into sports broadcasting” (remember this was in the 80’s), I had a stubborn determination to do just that.  My mom is the one who gave me that determination…..because of the example she set for us girls.  She really was all about ‘GIRL POWER” before that phrase was popular.  She was a woman who knew who she was and wasn’t afraid to “break the mold” and do things her way.  She was an amazing mother and I miss her greatly.

One thing that I realized during my Wings experience is that even though my parents are gone, they are always with me.  They were absolutely amazing people.  Were they perfect?  NO.  Nobody is perfect. But they did their best, and their best was pretty damn amazing.

So…….mom as you look down from Heaven, I want to say “thank you” for loving me unconditionally.  Thank you for giving me the tools to face this life with all the joys and sorrows that come from a life well lived.  Thank you for being a trailblazer and teaching me that I could be one too.  Thank you for being you.  I love you………Happy Mother’s Day!

Mom and Dad

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Every Child Deserves a Home

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I was adopted after spending time in the foster care system. I talk a lot about being adopted, but not much about my time in foster care of the feelings of abandonment that went along with it. I just prefer to keep some of those memories private.

I recently started listening to a new New Song CD and on it they have a song called Every Child Deserves a Home and it has touched me to the very core of my being. It was written by Eddie Carswell and Matthew West, both are amazing song writers.

Every Child Deserves a Home
To be remembered on your birthday
Feel a father’s kiss good night.
To have a mother wrap her arms around you
And say it’s gonna be alright.
These are the things we take for granted
That every child should know and love.
It’s simply heaven’s way of telling them
They are precious in this world
Precious in this world

Every child deserves a home
Every child deserves to hear the words
“You are not alone”
Every life on earth is sacred
Every heart is heaven’s own
Every child deserves a home
Deserves a home

They are out there by the millions
Hurting children without hope
Little boys and girls who need a family
That they can call their own
Now it’s up to us to help them
We can’t just close our eyes
Jesus loves the little children
And His arms are open wide

Every child deserves a home
Every child deserves to hear the words
“You are not alone”
Every life on earth is sacred
Every heart is heaven’s own
Every child deserves a home

There’s something in their faces that tells us their story
There’s something in their cry that keeps calling out,
“Don’t forget about me”
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus died for all the children of the world

Every child deserves a home
Every child deserves to hear the words “You are not alone”
Every life on earth is sacred
Every heart is heaven’s own
Every child deserves a home
Deserves a home……

My Story Isn’t Just Mine

I was talking with my oldest daughter yesterday afternoon. She mentioned that she was once asked to give her testimony at her church. She said that she declined because she doesn’t have a story to tell. I thought about it for a while and responded that I have never done my testimony before church because I guess I don’t have anything real interesting to tell either. Her eyes got real big and she said “what do you mean you don’t have a story…..what about your adoption”. I had never thought of it that way.

We talked for a little while longer and then she started telling me about a conversation she recently had with her cousin and they both realized that they don’t know much about my sister (who was adopted with me) and my past. That comment made me realize that while I talk openly about being adopted as an older child, I do not share many details of why I was in the foster care and eventually given up for adoption. I don’t share a lot of what it felt like to have other kids at school tell me that I was in foster care because I wasn’t wanted. I don’t talk at all about the dark memories I have of life with my biological mother and also the times I lived with my biological aunt and uncle. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is because I truly do not remember much from those times. The second is because the memories I do have, are ones that I would rather not have. I have spent the majority of my life pushing those memories to the deepest corner of my memory. However, last night I realized that it is time for me to visit those memories and share some of my history with my children. They deserve to know some of the details. Now I just need to find a way to organize my thoughts……and put them together and share some of my past with my present because after all my story is indeed part of their story.

Childhood Memories

I don’t have a lot of childhood memories. My very early childhood was not good. At the age of 3 1/2 or 4 I was put into the foster care system along with two of my sisters. I have spoke of my adoption in previous posts. It is like a light went on when I went to live with the Williams at the age of 5. That is when my childhood memories begin. I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood. The years that we spent out on the Ranch in Lowden, Washington were the best years of my life.

I had so much freedom. I rode horses almost every day when I got home from school. I helped take care of the livestock, feeding the bummer lambs morning and night and helping my dad with the rest of the livestock. I have always loved animals, and our farm was full of them. Chickens, ducks, sheep, goats, a couple of cattle (for the freezer) pigs (again for the freezer) horses…..oh how I loved hopping on the back of a horse with just a bridle and riding until darkness forced me to come in.

Other memories of my childhood that I will cherish include food. My mother made the best homemade bread this side of the Rocky Mountains. She was a fair cook. There were times when we went by the rule “if you don’t recognize it, don’t eat it”. Mom made amazing pepper relish that I am going to try and make this year and she made the best meat and tater type dinners that farm life calls for.

I could literally go on all day talking about my memories, but I will close with just one.

My dad loved roses. He grew some of the most beautiful roses that I’ve ever seen. In many sizes and many colors. He spent hours each day working out in his garden. I loved watching him coming in for dinner with a beautiful bouquet of colorful roses in his hand for my mom. He new the way to her heart because he knew her heart.

I spent several hours today working in my little rose garden. I have finally found a way to grow nice roses in Bend. I cleaned out and trimmed back my more mature bushes and planted two new ones. In just a couple more weeks………my beautiful roses will be blooming, a living reminder of my parents an my childhood.

Memories of Love

Sharing Difficult Memories

Today was difficult for me. It didn’t start out that wat, actually it started out on a beautiful note. My husband and I had the opportunity to spend the weekend alone….no kids…..just the two of us enjoying alone time together at Skamania Lodge near Cascade Locks on the Columbia River. It truly is a magical place. Absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Our weekend was a gift from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. What I didn’t know was that there was more to the gift than anyone had shared with me. Last night when Dave and I went down for dinner……Katie and Larry were there. They drove up from their home to share a wonderful, special dinner with us. I honestly don’t know how the dinner coulld have been more perfect.

Today Dave and I slept in, then visited the beautiful outdoor hot tub, enjoyed an absolutely amazing Champagne Brunch……then packed up for the drive home. It was on the drive home that I shared with Dave, for the first time ever, memories from my early childhood.

I have shared many times on this blog that I was adopted as an older child. What I have not shared is the difficult memories that go along with being adopted as an older child…..memories of time with my biolocial family…..memories that are painful….memories that I have kept buried very deep inside of me for a very long time. I don’t know what got us on the subject. I think Dave asked a question about our (my two sisters and I) time in foster care. Sharing some of those memories led to deeper memories. Memories that are part of my past. Memories who have helped shape the woman I have become, but memories that are very difficult and hurt. Today I shared with Dave what it was like to sit at a table at the DSHS office and hear my biological mother tell my sister and I that she would never see us again. I was approximately seven at the time. I honestly cannot put into words what it is like to hear those words. I can say, it is something that no seven year old should ever have to go through.

For those of you who are not familiar with the foster care system, let me give you a little insight (as much as I can remember). When children are in foster care, there is still contact with the biolocial family. In the 2-3 years that we were wards of the State of Washington, we had frequent visits with our biological mother and also saw the aunt and uncle whom we had also lived with off and on. However, when a mother either relinquishes her rights, or has her parental rights terminated by the state, that contact ends…..there are no more visits. I don’t know how this situation is handled in other cases, but in the case of my sister and I, we had a meeting that included the two of us, our social worker and “Pat” (our biological mother). From what I remember of that meeting, I remember sitting at a round table at the DSHS offices and her telling us that she would not be our mother any more…..and quite honestly I was ok with that information. I loved the Williams family and was excited to be adopted by them. They loved us and for the first time in my life, I was going to have a stable home. However, what I was not prepared for were the words “I will never see you again”. I did not realize that this was also part of the deal. That is a LOT for a young child to process. I don’t know if I ever really did process that information. Based on my response to sharing this information with Dave today, I think I stuffed those feelings so deep into the depths of my soul that I haven’t allowed myself to have any type of emotions related to this meeting until today. Dave’s response touched me to the core of my being. It made me realize that my early childhood was anything but normal. It made me realize that it is ok to feel pain over that loss and it also made me realize that it had a profound effect on who I am today.

As an adult I put up walls. I hold people at arms length……I don’t let them see deep into Ginny Hamilton Wiilliams Streeter. I think I do this because it’s easier than feeling any type of rejection. I think that 43 years later, I am still that little girl sitting at that table feeling the rejection of the one person who should always be there…….her mother.

I have always been very open about being adopted and I have shared many things from my past……but for the most part I have never really allowed myself to feel the emotions that were/are tied to those events…….until today. Thank you God for opening the door to share those stories with Dave. Thank you Dave for your deep love and sincere regret for what I faced as a child……..and more than anything else, thank you Frank and Betty Williams for giving me a life that was so much better than than what I experienced in my early childhood.

I am so thankful…..

Since July 15th is the 45th anniversary of the day my sister, Delphine and I went to live with Frank and Betty Williams (the wonderful people who would become our adoptive parents), I am going to dedicate this post to listing all of the reasons I am thankful to have been adopted by The Williams’.
1.) I grew up in a loving Christian home.
2.) My parents truly wanted me.
3.) I was taught that I could have dreams and to reach for those dreams.
4.) I was saved from a life that would have been difficult at best.
5.) I am thankful that even though my parents had raised a family of their own, they were willing to take us in and give us a home.
6.) I am thankful that I was not separated from my sister, Delphine but at the same time sad that our little sister was separated from us.
7.) I am oh, so thankful that I was raised on a farm, learned to ride horsed and had lots of cats (yea I’m a cat lover).
8.) I am thankful that my parents were strict and we were raised with rules, and love.
9.) I am thankful that I had my parents as long as I did.
10.) What I am most thankful for is the values that my parents instilled upon me…..ones that I am now sharing with my own children.

Mom and dad……you were amazing people and amazing parents. Thank you for CHOOSING me. I love you.
Ginny Kay

A Special Anniversary

Today is a special day in the life of my sister and myself. It is on this day, 45 years ago that our social worker drove us to the home of Frank and Betty Williams. Our third foster home in less than two years. When we walked into the door that day, I immediately felt welcome. I never felt nervous and almost immediately started calling the Williams’ mom and dad. When my parents were alive we celebrated our anniversary with them every year. Now that they have both gone to their eternal home in heaven, I remember the day with joy and sadness. Joy that I had the honor of calling them mom and dad for so many years. Sadness that they are no longer here and that my family is now what it was when they were alive. That is sad to say, but oh so very true. Mom and Dad…..thank you for opening your home to Delphine and I. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for raising in a Godly home. Thank you for supporting me in my dreams and truly believing that I could be successful at whatever I put my mind and efforts into. I love you mom and dad and I miss you with all my heart. You touched the world with your love and greatness.

My mom and dad. Frank and Betty Williams