17 January 2012


once upon a time

Wasn't sure I wanted to write this post. Wasn't sure I ever wanted to reveal the secret. But here we are.

Ten years ago tomorrow, my adopted son took an unauthorized field trip. My son ran away. Seven months later, my 14-year-old adopted daughter followed suit.

I think almost every nearly-18-year-old yearns for freedom, independence, a place of their own and no parent watching over them like a hawk. I certainly did. I flew the coop at 15 but was returned to sender about three hours later by my dad's best friend. The Chief of Police.

denim sweet denimI was upset because my dad didn't want me wearing jeans. (I wore them EVERY day.) I wanted to pick my own clothes! His reply? "Why didn't you just ask?!?" To this day, I'm still attempting to claim the Queen of Denim crown.

My son's desires weren't quite as easy to fulfill. He wanted to return to his roots. He wanted an end to his pain. He wanted answers. Oh, and he wanted to smoke cigarettes without mom getting on his case.

Both of my kids (as well as seven others I fostered who weren't available for adoption) came from difficult backgrounds. Both were adopted at an older age. Both had special needs. Both struggled with memories of their former lives. Both wanted answers I didn't have. Both wanted normalcy. And both wanted the holes in their hearts to go away.

I went into adoption thinking I could heal anything. I thought with enough love, stability and structure, the pain would subside. I thought I could love away the sense of abandonment and betrayal.

Because I had some baggage of my own. The woman who gave birth to me abandoned my family when I was four years old. I didn't understand why she left me. I kept waiting for her to come back. Thirty years later, when I finally met her, I wondered why I wasted so much time wondering. I was blessed to grow up the way I did. My new mom, the one with three kids of her own who married my three-kid dad, is the most awesome mom in the world. To me, she's my mom. She's the one I aspire to be like. She raised a mixed brood not all her own and never made us feel as if we were not hers.

Team Colorado badge designed by meI thought I could do the same. I dreamed of ending the cycle of abuse. I took in what they called "throwaways." The older kids no one wanted. The "unadoptables." I wanted to be like the family in "Who are the DeBolts, and where did they get 19 kids?" I wanted to be a mother, and I couldn't do it the conventional way. So I rescued older special needs children. Or at least, I tried.

I prayed to be entrusted with children who needed to be loved. And that's exactly what I got.

I've learned over the years some pain doesn't go away. Some damage doesn't heal. I've learned some ghosts never stop haunting.

This is a year of anniversaries for me, and I thought the skeletons in the closet were long gone. I'm happy now. Really! I'm married to the most wonderful man on the planet. We have jobs, a home, a garden, bicycles, cameras, a computer, crochet hooks, plenty of yarn and thread and some of the most beautiful mountains, wildflowers and sunrises in the world. What more could we possibly want??? What more could I possibly want?

For my kids to be happy. For the pain to finally go away.

When I first began writing this post, it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek explanation for unraveling a sweater tomorrow. I thought I could come up with a couple of giggles and breeze through tomorrow the way I've survived the anniversary the last five or six years. Current real-life circumstances, however, prevent laughter. I will not share details. I've always believed my children's challenges are not my dandelion seeds to scatter in the wind.

Unraveling is a healing thing. I know because I've done this before. I had been working on a beautiful snowflake sweater when my brother died. He never saw the sweater. He likely didn't even know I was making it. Because it was the project in my bag when the phone rang, I guess it absorbed the pain I couldn't bear. I couldn't look at the sweater. It hid in a thick bag in a box in a corner, surrounded by other boxes so I never had to look at it.

Until the Winter 2010 Ravelympics. I had struggled with the Winter Olympics every four years because I love the Olympics, and I love winter sports. We had tickets for three events in Salt Lake in 2002. But my brother died. I went to a funeral instead. I wrote an obituary instead. In retrospect, I'm so honored my family chose me to write it. Yet at the time, it seemed to be one of the most painful things I'd ever had to endure. Perhaps, in part, because just three weeks earlier, my son had run away, and I still had no clue where he was, whether he was even alive or if I would ever see him again.

third medal!!!The Ravelympics give knitters and crocheters the opportunity to win electronic medals for competing in events such as Skelegurumi, Mitten Moguls and Sock Hockey for projects started and completed during the Olympics. In theory, you work on projects while you watch athletes triumph. I have no television, so I got a LOT done. I earned 11 medals. Because snowflakes don't take long. Almost like cheating.

It gave me a chance to love the Olympics again. It released the painful memories trapped deep inside for eight years.

let the healing beginMy favorite medal, my most meaningful medal, was not a snowflake. For the Aerial Unwind, crafters were to unravel an incomplete project with little chance of ever being finished so the yarn could be crafted into something new. I unraveled the sweater I'd been working on when my brother died, and something about the process brought a part of me I didn't know had died back to life. Creating something new, something cherished, something finished, something enjoyable, from what had once been so painful to look at, was like rebirth for me.

And so now, I am doing it again. The Summer Olympics likely will feature another Aerial Unwind, but this particular project can't wait until summer. It will happen tomorrow night.

I had been knitting a sweater for my son for his 18th birthday. Simple stockinette stitch, nothing complicated, because I was trying to finish it in time for his birthday, just two months away. Wednesday night he came home two hours late. Thursday night he came home about four hours late. Friday night, he never came home.

I've seen him six times since then. He says now he's sorry. He says he wishes he'd made different choices. Now that he's gotten to know his birth family, he says he understands how much I sacrificed. He says he appreciates what I did. What I tried to do.

Yet he's still running.

Neither of us can undo the past. Neither of us can change what has happened.

But I can change this sweater. I can undo this UnFinished Object, this UFO. Tomorrow night, it becomes a great big giant ball of yarn. Thursday, that ball of yarn goes to charity. Within a week or so, that ball of yarn will be something keeping a homeless person warm during Colorado's frigid winter. New life. Rebirth. A hole filled. Hearts soothed.

Thursday is the first day of the rest of my life. I intend to spend it well.

soon to be freed tweed


  1. I can't imagine the pain you and your family have had to deal with. I'm not going to pretend I can. I just wanted you to know that someone heard you, today, and is thinking about you with prayer, and sending as huge a hug as internet words can bear.

  2. So beautifully written, poignant and enriching. Thanks for sharing. Lovely to know more of the person who resides behind the facade of this fabulous blog. Your depth and ability to share it in words is beautiful.

  3. Oh my...my heart goes out to you and your children. Your deep story has much pain, but also rays of sunlight....your son, he will take more time than a snowflake, but everyday we learn, and get closer to ourselves....somedays I could really kick my own self but then I remember I'm my best friend. Sometimes life is just like baking a cake, some turn out good, some (like mine) have ended up in the refrigerator, which is silly, just cuz something is a bit lope sided doesn't mean it doesn't taste good...we all do eventually learn, we just keep baking and trying and in the end it's all about the trying that we remember most isn't it? xoxoxoxo

  4. I'm sorry for your struggles and pain.
    I teach the kids you were referring to, in a secure facility. I know how easy it is to love them and want to help them find their way to wholeness.
    Thank you for giving your heart and time to your children, despite the pain you're now in.
    And thank you for sharing with us so we can support you from afar.

  5. God bless you for just trying. My husband adopted my youngest daughter and my son. My son has not realized the sacrifices and the love that my husband gave yet, but one day he will. Hope your son wakes up soon.

  6. Life can sure lead us through journeys of grief and tribulations.
    You have shared with us from your heart today and you can be sure we all have those journeys too and somehow we just take it on.

  7. Tomorrow night my thoughts will be with you. Warm hugs and special kisses...

  8. There are no wonderful words to heal your pain. But what you put into words is magnificent - and purging - just like unraveling. If I could give you a whole bag of three-to-a-sheller Peanuts, I would. As it is, I will just send you goat snuzzles on the wind.

  9. There's a silvery half-moon looking through the trees and if the moon could weep, this one would. For all of the days, all of the ways The Hurt keeps on bringing it. Unravel the hurt, the loss, the un-fixable, the broken, the irreparable, the good, the bad, the awful, the empty nights, the too-quiet afternoons, the absence of argument, the empty arms, the tomorrows that didn't. come.

    I will light a candle for you, for your big, brave, beautiful heart. For the love you share, the pain that comes with loving much, the hurt that comes with letting go.

    For all that is said and unsaid, for words and the lack thereof, there is little I can add. Just know that you are admired, appreciated, valued and understood.



  10. Right now I have no words, only feelings and I cannot express them, there are tears. I learn more and more of just how special you are. My prayers will always be with you, your family. God bless you.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I don't know what it is like to be an adoptive parent, even though my best friend is one. I don't know what it is like to be a foster parent, although I have friends who are. What I do know is that being a parent is about so much more than biology. It is about giving your heart, knowing it can be trampled on. It is about trusting God with your children, to watch over them when you don't get to. I'm so thankful to be a part of your life, to learn from you, and laugh with you. God Bless

  12. Thank you for sharing your story about your son. I can't imagine what it's like on either end, since I never had the guts/motivation to run away, and because I've never been a mother. -Hugs-

  13. That was a very intense post. After all the terrible events that pocked your life 10 years ago, your enduring spirit really shined through when you talked about the "UFO" and donating the yarn to charity so it could keep someone warm. Then, you talked about Thursday being the first day of the rest of your life. You are an amazing, inspirational, and strong woman.

    Hugs from me to you.

  14. oh, my dear girl. . .thank you for sharing this . . .I deleted my blog (inspired by Lizard) because I am not willing to be open about my life, even though I know how valuable it can be for others when people do . . .so Thank You.

  15. Dearest Deb - There are no words good enough or strong enough or wise enough to offer here. I wish you peace and joy, and a healing unravelling.

  16. peace and hope, my friend.

    I have had a few of these guys and gals in my classroom over the years.

    peace and hope

  17. WOW! what a sad yet awesome story. I'm so sorry for you but I worry about the same thing with my two younger sons. My husband adopted them, their birthman is a total looser and I worry that they will one day want to meet him and hang out with him and fall into his BS. Your story pulled a major heart string with me and to donate the yarn and make something new is so awesome. You inspire me. Thank you

  18. This post makes me wish I had kept the sweater I knit as a beginner, for my brother as a Christmas gift. When he died in an auto accident as a very young man, I saw no purpose for keeping it, but just the thought of unraveling that yarn, transforming the hurt is so healing, thank you for sharing.

  19. Dear Deborah,

    This is not so much a comment on the post as a message for you. I don't mind what you do with it, but wanted to send it.
    Reading your post and praying for you over the past couple of days led me to write this prayer.

    O Lord,

    Where I am torn

    Would you
    unroll, unfold, unpick me
    re-tie, re-dye, restick me

    unstitch, unhitch, unknit me
    rewrite, relight, refit me

    unravel and untravel and undo me
    retake, remake, renew me

    So I'm no longer holey
    But, by grace, am holy whole.
    [But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as it seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:4

    You knit me together. Psalm 139:13]

    May God bless the unravelling, and the remaking!

    With love,


    P.S. For some reason I can't get a blog on google account, and I can't include my email, but it's cajunemus@ntlworld.com.

  20. I have a lump in my throat after reading your post. ((hugs)) to you. I love the idea of raveling out a UFO (I am so going to do this) and then using that yarn for charity to help someone in need.

    Blessings always


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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