Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Adoptee/Author/Speaker Julie Barnhill Shares-" My Birth Mother Chose Life and I am Forever Grateful!"

My birth mother did not know the name of the man who fathered me.
He was a random extramarital hook up during an alcohol-fueled time period during the marriage to the father of five of my older siblings. (Step-siblings it turns out.)
I will never know the paternal side of my DNA makeup, ethnicity, or blood lineage of my birth father. I will never see myself in the physicality or mannerisms of a birth father. I will never know anything more about him other than what my birth mother told me when I was 40-years old: "He was dark."
I will never know but, understand this: I am known & my life was ordained.
God knew where my birth mother would be the day of my conception.
God knew (knows) the man who contributed the XY portion of my genome set.
God knew in that moment of adultery that I would be formed.

Me, the illegitimate child.
Me, the brown-skinned, brown-eyed baby who shocked everyone in the decidedly not brown-skinned, brown-eyed, biological family on a California morning back in 1965.

God knew them--birth mother, birth father.
God knew me--Julie Ann.
God ordained [fixed or established especially by order or command] the weaving together of my body, mind, spirit, and soul, in the secret place of my mother's womb.

I have lived outside the womb 1,583,280,000 seconds.
How does one fathom their non-existence? or, grasp what it would have been like to not know the love of treasured adoptive parents and the delight of a beloved Grandma? or, begin to comprehend not being part of the lives of friends from Kindergarten to her 50s? or, to have missed the passion of a tall, dark, and handsome man whose touch still makes her melt? and to have never felt the life of her own babies kick within her and to watch them take their first breath and turn at the sound of hearing your voice?
How? One does not. It is impossible.
Hashtags abound today exhorting women to ‪#‎ShoutYourAbortion‬. Tonight I choose to ‪#‎ShoutMyLife‬ and to give thanks to my birth mother (now deceased) who chose to continue my life despite her fearing over nine-months that I would be who she feared I'd be: another man's child.
Abortions in 1965, though technically illegal, were still a very real possibility for someone seeking an out from the evidence of her infidelity. My birth mother, Guin, chose life and I am here as the result and forever grateful for such.

‪#‎ChooseLife‬ ‪#‎EvenInTheWorstOfCircumstancesChooseLife4ItISLife

Julie Barnhill, adoptee, wife to one husband, mom to three children, author of eleven books, and Founder of Solace Gathering, an island retreat for women whose cheese has fallen off their cracker

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Adoptee Writing Contest 2015, 4th Prize winner Hugh Steven, An Open Letter to the Mother I Never Knew

An Open Letter to the Mother I Never Knew
~By Hugh Steven~
At the outset, I must say this title is not exactly correct.  What is true, however, is that after more than half a century, I learned your real name. Elizabeth is such a lovely name.  It slips off the tongue with a delicious poetic rhythm and cadence, although I understand everybody called you Elsie. 
It is also true I never heard you laugh, saw the color of your hair, knew what your favorite foods were, the kind of music you liked, or the books you read, but I have come to know at least who you were.  And while I am saddened at never having had the joy of recognizing your handwriting on a birthday card, or hearing the sound of your voice over the telephone, I have, however, met you in ways far beyond those who made life difficult for you when you delivered a four and a half pound boy without the support of a husband or the approval of family.  What a moment of awful loneliness for you.
I say I know you, because I can close my eyes and visualize the kind of young woman you were.  Like most young women, you were vulnerable, trusting, longing for love and acceptance.  Later, when you found yourself pregnant, you had the strength to admit that to be human is to err.  You also had the strength of character not to blame anyone but yourself.  You steadfastly refused to implicate my father.  And then after keeping me for five and half months, you found yourself in the grip of circumstances greater than your strength to cope.  But you possessed enough emotional intelligence to make the hard choice to give me up to an orphanage rather than an ill-tempered abusive uncle who wanted me.  Thanks, Mom.
As it turned out, some of the several foster homes that I was in for a couple of years were not a whole lot better than the home of my ill-tempered uncle.  What you didn't or couldn't have known was that all this occurred within the Divine will of God, the Creator of all life.   You see, God had a plan for me to be shaped and molded in a certain way and that shaping would come from the tutelage of my Grandfather Steven.  But before this could happen, I had to be taken into the home of Dave and Mable Steven.  They were a young couple who had suffered two miscarriages and believed they would never be able to have children of their own.  And so, Mom, at the age of two and a half, the Stevens took me into their home.  But what they didn't know was how much the abuse of over two years of poor foster care had on my physical health.  I don't remember it of course, but my new mom said for several weeks after they took me to their home, I was unable to walk. I had severe ear infections that required surgery, and I contacted every childhood disease that came down the pike.  These illnesses, plus being a nervous and shy little boy, made me lose a lot of early school time.
But little by little, as the years passed, my health improved under the care of the Stevens.  All through those years, I was also under the supervision of God's grace. 
I say, God's grace, because as a young teenager, there were many competing voices calling for my allegiance.  Some would have caused great personal wreckage had I listened and followed.  But that did not occur, because the most High God prevailed.  At the suggestion of Mom Steven who thought, I should attend the neighborhood Baptist church; I complied. Interesting, I noticed you and Clarence the man you eventually married both listed your religious affiliation as Baptist.
Thus, as a young teenager, I found myself in church, and as I began to hear a story of profound love, a spiritual rebirth took place in my life. Soon after my spiritual journey began, God brought into my life a dark-haired, beautiful and talented young woman who shared my same faith in God and my dreams for the future.  She had herself discovered how much God loved her and had made her own personal commitment of faith.  Her name is Norma, and she became my superlative wife and mother of four fine talented children, two boys and two girls.  My sadness as I write this to you is that you never had the opportunity to meet Norma nor any of your amazingly beautiful and highly individualistic eleven grandchildren and our two great grandchildren.
As I close this letter, I have often wondered about you, what you looked like, what my two half sisters and brother were like.  But more than wanting my curiosity satisfied, I have thought about your own emotions during particular moments of solitude.  Perhaps, just before you drifted off to sleep or while walking through a park, you may have heard the excited laughter of a child.  Did you, in that instant, think of me and wonder what I was doing, what I looked like?  And as the years ticked by, did you ever wonder how I matured?   I can tell you that looking at me today, none of my friends would ever believe I began life as a four and a half pound baby!
Since this is Mother's Day, and since this is the very first letter I have ever written to you, I want to tell you I love you, am grateful to you and to God that you didn't take the easy way out, but gave me the gift of life.  That took courage, faith and love.  Thanks, Mom, and Happy Mother’s Day. ~
Hugh Steven is a historical biographer, author and photographer with Wycliffe Bible Translators (now retired).  He has published over thirty books and hundreds of articles on the work and ministry of Wycliffe.  Many of his books, articles and photos have given readers dramatic insights into the high adventure and transforming power of the translated scriptures into many of the world's ethnic languages.  


Hugh has also been a summer lecturer at Regent College of the University of British Columbia, Biola University, and Trinity Western University on creativity and writing.  With his wife Norma, Hugh has held writers workshops in Singapore, Australia, the US and Canada. His book The Nature of Story and Creativity is a standard text in these workshops


Hugh's most recent book is Translating Christ, the Memoirs of Herman Peter Aschmann.  When they are able Hugh and Norma spend time each summer on one of the Gulf Islands in the Pacific Northwest, fishing,  “a great place to read.”.  He and his wife Norma, also an author of four books,   enjoy visiting their children and grandchildren in Seattle, Virginia and Florida.  The Stevens make their home in Santa Ana, California.  They have four married children and eleven grandchildren and two great grand children.  Both are active members at Trinity United Presbyterian Church, both are ordained elders.

( Permission is needed to reprint this letter in any print or online media, 2015 )

Monday, August 31, 2015

Adoptees Writing Contest 2015, 3rd Place Winner - Lyn Rowley

Dear Birth Mom,
I don’t really know much about you. I don’t even know your first name.  But I do know that on May 14, 1952 you gave birth to a baby boy in Lodi, Ohio.  It was weeks before your due date and I don’t know what the emergency was, but you had a C-Section and delivered a very small little boy that you decided to give up for adoption.  He was in an incubator and spent several weeks being cared for by the nurses at the hospital who named him “Jimmy-Joe” after the two doctors who had delivered him.  One of those nurses had a cousin that she knew wanted desperately to add to her family since she was unable to have another child.  She got in touch with them and on June 12, 1952 that baby became their son.  Twenty years later, I met that boy and fell in love with him. Two years later, I married him.  Forty one years later, I still love him.  While I am sad that you never got to know him, I am so thankful for your gift of life that you gave to him when you said yes to adoption.  Did you imagine who he might have become?  Wonder about his new family?  Pray for him?  I will never have the answer to these questions because my husband, your son, does not want to find you.  If it were my choice, we would seek you out.  I want you to know that I pray for you every day.  In my dreams, in a very beautiful wonderful place, I see you running towards your boy and he knows immediately who you are.  And when he looks into your eyes, he understands.  And this is heaven. ~
 Lyn Rowley- Author
I've been married to my husband Ken for 41 years.   We have two wonderful children and four grandchildren, who are the joy of my life!  I love scrap booking, reading and journaling.  I have been writing a blog ( for the last two years and have made many connections around the world through those posts.  I love sharing about Jesus and how He touches my everyday life.
( Permission is needed to reprint this letter in any print or online media )


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Adoptee Writing Contest 2015- Tied for 2nd Place Winner, Sheri Novotny

My Birth Mom   by Sheri Novotny

That call came one December night,
As we just sat down to eat.
My spouse he almost dropped the phone,
When he heard that voice so sweet.

I looked at him unknowingly,
As he prepared to drop the bomb.
He had to sit, get off his feet,
As he announced, “It’s your birth mom!”

I took the phone, held it to my ear
As the voice said, “Hi, it’s your mother.”
Was caught off guard, in disbelief,
and I just wanted to take cover.

God truly had His hand in this,
As the reunion came to pass.
It was what we both wanted,
but it happened all so fast.

We met a couple times you see,
As she struggled with her illness.
Just two quick months I knew her
Before she entered into stillness.

Into my life she did appear,
And then she went away.
The time I spent with her was gold,
But God took her home to stay.

A blessing to have met her,
The one who gave birth to me.
Even though it was for a moment,
I met my birth-mom thankfully.

Even though we talked a little bit,
Never sure just what to say,
A wave of peace came over her,
When she knew I was okay.

One day we’ll meet in heaven,
We’ll sit and talk awhile,
We’ll know each other even better,
The thought makes my heart smile.

For now she’s in the good Lord’s care.
The best care that I know of.
And when I think of my birth mom,
I’ll always think of her love.

A love that I had never known,
Before we met that day.   
Thank you mom for my life,
And making sure I was okay.
Sheri's Bio: I was around 3 weeks old when I was adopted by a Christian family.  Throughout my life, I had always wondered about my birth family. In my forties, I learned I had seven siblings living in Chicago along with my birth mom.  There was a reunion, but my birth mom passed away two months after our meeting.  It was all orchestrated by the good Lord and gave my birth mom immense peace before she passed.
The coolest part about the reunion was that my adopted family members were able to meet most of my birth family.
God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and an awesome son and I know things would have been way different had I not been given up for adoption.
The one thing I never take for granted is being adopted into a Christian family.  They always made me feel like one of their own, which I’ve always appreciated.  And looking at my life story, you can see God had His hand in all of it!

Copyright 2015 ( Permission is needed to reprint this poem in any media form- written or online )

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Adoptee Writing Contest 2015- 2nd Place Winner Shefalie A. Hollis

In memory of my birth mother:          


It is my birthday

And I think of you…..

Thank you, for my life……

In all the passing years

I still think of you.

This day…… My day……

Not much celebration going on

The day you delivered me.

But oh my mother…if you could see me now….

I would want it to bless your heart…..

To see what I have done with the gift of life given to me.

I am so sorry you could not keep me or

Watch me grow and bloom into the woman

I am becoming today.

I am sorry, it was not your hand that held me

As a child in the night ,when I was so afraid.

Nor your voice that comforted me in the darkness and challenges  of

My life……

Nor your laughter, or your encouragement I heard

Throughout my youthful growing years.

You have not seen the many places, and people

Whose  lives have touched me and I them and all

That has gone into making me………Me.


But still…here I am……

I am trying  to do the best with my life I can.

I have loved, laughed, climbed mountains,

Walked in the valleys and…..well sometimes I have even stopped to rest in the shadows for oh so long………

Until I had almost forgotten the warmth of the sun……

I am learning to let people into my life and heart

And build a bridge to friendship……

I have known times of deep loss, .…. but also the pleasure of much gain…..

And I have known the joy of being raised with a family…..

I have been a daughter…and a sister…a wife…a mother….… and a friend to many…

Who have lost their way in life…….

I so wanted you to meet my friends…

I wanted you to meet the woman who became my “mum”…

I am learning  to sing in the barren times, and the times of plenty….

I am learning to let the light shine from within…

And to let the wounds heal over…..

I am learning to sing  a new song…..

And I wanted to say thankyou.

I think of you and wanted you to know

My life has gone on…..

And I am coming into full bloom…

And this day of all days……. my birthday,

I remember you and smile.

Jean shefalie Hollis copyright 1/1/06
Bio:My name is Shefalie and I am bi-racial. I live in the UK and am married and have a grown married son, and we have a lovely granddaughter who is a gift to my heart and spirit and has brought much healing into my life. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Adoptees Writing Contest 2015 1st Place Winner- Alissa M

Becoming His Own

I don’t remember the day or the hour,
but I do recall the elusive power,
Of knowing that out there, somewhere unknown
Was the woman, the mother in whose womb I’d grown.

I thought about her day and night, 
And prayed and prayed that I just might,
Get to meet her face to face,
And give her a long-awaited sweet embrace. 

Out in public, I’d look all around,
Wondering if she could be found,
I searched for a familiar face here and there,
Paying close attention to those with red hair.

While I waited, there were lots of questions…
“Do we look alike or have the same expressions?”
“Does she have the same curiosity?”
Or most of all, “Does she even love me?”

I knew I must keep those questions to myself,
And my feelings of rejection belonged on the shelf.
Because society said, “You were special and chosen,
So keep your mouth shut and your feelings frozen.”

I was grateful to the parents who loved and raised me,
But it wasn’t about them… it was about my desperate plea.
My longing to find the many unknowns
So I could stop guessing and feeling alone.

For years, I begged God, searching to no avail,
knowing deep down that my prayers would prevail, 
So after much research and letters and calls,
I finally found the searcher who would end it all.

I sent off to get my birth information,
And when it arrived, I studied the narration.
“Baby Girl Crittenton” stung at my core,
A nameless baby with her mother no more.

On the last page was just what I needed,
The signature of the one who bravely conceded.
I can only imagine what she went through,
As she lived out her secret that just a few knew.

My searcher then found the man she had married,
I called him, trying to hide the secret she’d carried.
When I asked where she was, I was shocked at his answer, 
For sadly three years prior, she had died of cancer.

So I told him the truth about how she was my mother,
But he denied it and said it must be some other,
Because the Carol he knew loved her children too deeply,
That to give one away would not have been easy.

I said what I had been taught, that I was just blessed,
That she loved me so much and wanted the best, 
But deep down, I heard, “Your mother loved her children…BUT
I’m so sorry to say that YOU did not make the cut.”

I buried that grief for years and years,
Not even knowing that there were tears,
But with some wise counsel, I have learned to grieve,
The one who gave me life, the one I had to leave.

I know that the Enemy has whispered lies in my ear, 
About how I’m not wanted, about how I should fear,
Rejection from those who are closest to me, 
But I’m here to tell you that God’s setting me free.

He whispers truth to my spirit, telling me I’m wanted,
That I should reject those lies that have keep me haunted,
He tells me that I am chosen, loved, and completely known,
And that HE was the first to call me His own.

Alissa M    2-7-14 
"Alissa lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids. After teaching deaf preschoolers for fifteen years, God called her to homeschool her children, so she has been dedicated to educating them for the past seven years. In her free time, Alissa enjoys serving others, hanging out with friends, playing pool, and doing nail art.  Her deepest desire is to continue to grow closer and closer to her Heavenly Father and to become the woman He created her to be."
( Alissa M was awarded a $200.00 cash award for her 1st place entry.  Congratulations! )
Copyright 2015- Permission is needed to reprint in any media format in print or online.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Adoptees Writing Contest 2015 Winners Announcement

Announcing the Adoptees Writing Contest 2015 Winners:
1st: Alissa M of North Carolina 
2nd: Shefalie from the UK.
2nd: Sheri N. of Illinois. 
3rd: Lyn R, of Illinois. 
4th: Hugh S. of California. 
The winners have been notified and awarded their cash prizes.
1st: $200, 2nd: $100, 3rd: $50, 4th: $50
Thank you to everyone who sent in submissions! It was difficult for the judges to make decisions with some wonderful and creative and heartfelt entries. One of the goals of the contest was to receive many submissions and an extension of the first deadline was made to allow more entries to come in. There were a limited amount of entries and so some of the initial guidelines for submissions needed to be waived a bit for a good number of them would not have qualified. Instead of extending the contest a 2nd time these variances of the guidelines were accepted ( Such as being a piece that was never published before, word count, and written by an adoptee- and not someone touched by adoption ).  Also with votes, there was a tie for 2nd place. Entries were judged on creativity, adoption education, positive adoption language, and heartfelt expression.
Beginning this week and for 5 weeks, each of the winning entries will be published here and on the Adoptee's Cafe site on ( Starting with the 1st Place Award )
Please Note: These poems and letters many not be reprinted or shared in any print media form without permission. These entries will be shared in another adoption publication to be announced at a later date. To contact any of the authors, you need to contact Jody Moreen. Send inquiries to jodymoreen (and the @ sign )