Paternity

Alone

Right now, I don’t even know if there are words for how I’m holding up… I was okay before, but now, I’ve hit a low and I haven’t seemed to be able to pull out of it. We were supposed to know the results by Friday… But instead, we’re forced to wait until Tuesday…

I don’t even know what to do or say.

It’s been so hard to keep cool and not turn into an anxious mess just waiting until Friday. I know it’s only four days more… But this is something I have been waiting my entire life for, and have been searching and searching the best I know how to for the last five years. And they make us wait even longer.

I still don’t know what I will do… Positive or negative. Even if its positive, I don’t really know if it will change anything, aside from giving me the peace of knowing, and finding the answers to where that part of me came from. It will bring some closure and healing to an old wound. If its negative… At least I met some great people, formed some friendships, and will keep in touch with, despite the disappointment.

But for now…

I’m depressed. Anxious. Afraid. Nervous. Dreadful. Scared. Alone.

Monday, I might call around and see if any counselors could get me in on a really quick basis… I just want to talk about it and perhaps get some help preparing for either result…

I just feel so alone.

 

Today is the day… Or rather, today is supposed to be the day.

We’re supposed to have our results by today… I am hoping and hoping they come in. I don’t know how I’ll handle it if I’m forced to wait until Monday.

Honestly, I don’t think I’m prepared for either answer. Positive or negative. Both of them are monumental, and as such, both have the ability to create a tremendous impact on my life. Of course, one is obviously preferable, but life-changing nonetheless.

I don’t know what I’ll do with either answer… Except know.

I’ll finally know.

I feel like a hurricane of emotion and anxiety right now… Today is supposed to be the crescendo, and I’m still holding that note until we get word.

My grandpa has been such an incredible influence in my life, especially considering how long he served as my parental figure and guardian. Sure, I remember feeling angry and annoyed with him all the time as a teenager and as a kid. As I got older, and even now, I’ve begun to see that he’s got faults, just like the rest of us, but he’s also an amazing man who has taught me more than I can ever describe. The more I grow and the more I mature, the more I realize that, “Yes, Papa. You were right.” If you know my grandpa, you know he loves to say “And what are those famous words I like to hear?” All in fun and teasing though. He’d never say it to be mean. And of course, I always half-roll my eyes and give him a sideways smile and comply, “You were right, Papa.”

One of those things I’m realizing now, even more so than ever, is that he was right when he told me to get an education. He told me “No one can ever take that away from you.”

When I was in high school, I either got all great grades, or I got all bad grades. I went back and forth between over-achieving and not caring. When I do well, I do extremely well. When I do poorly, I do extremely poor.

I have ADHD and OCD… Anyone with either of those conditions knows that individually, they’re horrific… But combined? They’re hell. If either one of them crops up more so than the other… It can be difficult. I find the most difficult of the two being the ADHD. I have a certain order, and routine I do things in. When I have issues concentrating, I can’t do these things and it stresses me out even more because I still have the compulsion to do these things in that order or routine, but I can’t focus long enough to do it, and while there is conflicting evidence, many people strongly believe that supplements for adhd are having a big impact on their children’s behavior.

Recently, I told my grandpa that it’s his fault. I get an 89% and I feel like I may as well have gotten an F. In my head, I know an 89% is good, but to me, it’s not good enough. Despite knowing it in my head, it doesn’t help how I feel about it.  My teacher says to read a chapter… I read the chapter three times and write a 1-2 page paper on each section of the chapter. My teacher says to do even problems 1-100, I do them all.

That is how I keep myself so sharp. I’m not just smart naturally. Intelligent, sure. But being smart and knowing your books takes time, practice, memorization and application. I know this. And I know that if I want to retain what I’m learning, that this is what I have to do. Ultimately, these strange routines and habits pay off in the form of high test scores.

Back to my original thought though… My grandpa told me that no one can ever take my education away from me. He’s right. And although he never said it in words, he taught me that an education sets me apart from the rest of the world.

I know I’m not amazing. I know come December, I’ll only have an associate’s degree under my belt… But I’ve learned so much in my education pursuits… Not just regarding academia, but about how much people care, and what kind of effort they put into themselves and their lives. Before, it was just about getting by and hoping for something better… Now, it’s about being better, and doing what it takes to get there.

I can’t help but notice how different I am compared to the girls my age in similar situations… heck, even to just kids my age without kids.

Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few who have my head on tight.

Sorry if this was rambling or hard to follow. I’m just so scatterbrained today.

 

Things in my life are awfully complicated lately. I suppose complicated isn’t the word I’m looking for. Confusing? Conflicting? Complication? Anxiety-inducing? Terrifying? Exciting? Dread-inducing? All of the above and maybe a few more?

I wanted to clear something up in my previous two posts. Re-reading, I may have given an unfair impression of my mother. Although what I said was factual, I didn’t present it in the best light. My mom did the best she could given the situation, and even despite the fact that my father was absent, she still made the choice to keep me and give me an opportunity at life. I had a lot of problems in my teen years, and in a way, she may have thought she was protecting me by not telling me who my father may be. Although I disagree with that choice, and it hurt me greatly, she made the choice she felt was best at the time. Maybe in retrospect she’d have told me then. Maybe she wouldn’t have. Regardless, we can’t change it now and I didn’t mean to make it sound as bad as it came out. There is no checklist of how-to-make-all-the-right-choices-as-a-parent, and just as I’m learning as I go with my own children, she was too. I can’t fault her for that. Thankfully, I’m not in a position to ever have to make that kind of choice with my own children… But I can only imagine how difficult of a situation that must have been for her. We all do things we aren’t proud of, and admitting and owning up to those things, especially to have to do it to such an intense level, can’t be easy and for that, she deserves respect. It takes a big person to own up to something of that caliber. Although I will never understand why she made the choices she made, and it will probably always sting a little, I don’t believe she made them out of ill-intent.

Now that’s cleared up, I did my DNA test. We drove to Anchorage, my grandma, myself and the three kids. I enjoyed the ride. I like it much better when someone else is driving, rather than myself. It was nice just to talk and relax a bit. On the way up, we pulled over before AJ’s roadside memorial. I can’t believe it was two years ago in August…. I fixed it up some while I was there, but I didn’t have much time.

I knew someone had put up a second cross a while ago, but I didn’t know who. When I got up close to it, I realized it was probably Rodney’s mom or dad because they had chiseled “Rest in peace son” into the wood of the cross. I didn’t know Rodney, but I can’t imagine the pain his parents feel, even now, two years later.

We made it to Anchorage and had lunch with Dan’s grandmother who was up from Texas. She had asked me a while ago to make her some diapers for a friend, and even though it took me quite a bit (finals, school, life, etc) I got them done and she absolutely loved them.

So after we had lunch, Grandma and I headed off to find the place where my appointment was. It took us a little bit of searching, but we found it. We went in about half an hour early though because my phone and camera were both dead and I needed to find an outlet. We let the kids walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator. After all, they’d been cooped up in the car all day… Might as well let them stretch out while they can, right?

We waited a little while and they called me back. I had Ava in the moby wrap, and she was being a little fuss bucket. She was her usual self… Angry at the world and screaming her head off. She wouldn’t even calm down long enough for me to fill out my papers even though I had just fed her and just burped her. Sometimes I think she just hates me or something.

Anyways, I popped a boob in her mouth to keep her calm while I was trying to fill everything out. They had to do an identification photo, and there was no way I was taking her out and pissing her off even more… So this is what my ID photo looked like…

I thought it was hilarious, so I had to have the woman take a photo of it.

The actual DNA test was simple. I filled out a form with my information, name, birthday, social security number, address, etc. Then they took my thumbprint, a photo then they had me sign the form and the picture. Then, they took swabs and I had to sign the envelope those were placed into as well. The form, picture and swabs were all then put into a plastic baggie sealed with tamper tape, which was then put into a FedEx envelope and shipped.

It was easy. Almost felt too easy, like “That’s it?” I remember being strapped to a board when I was a little girl, kicking, screaming, hyperventilating while they drew blood from my ankle. I know it was only a cheek swab, but I expected those kind of feelings.

After, we went to Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart, then headed home.

Now all we can do is wait.

 

I was 17 when I was told the names of the two men who could be my father.

The last few days have been a whirlwind. Actually, the last two weeks have been… Between my little sister going missing (and her subsequent recovery) to finding the man who may be my biological father.

It seems as if I’ve been standing in the center of a hurricane. I can’t feel the wind,  but I can see what it’s doing and it’s overwhelming.

I’ve spent so long thinking that I would never find my father, and that this part of me would always be void. I’ve spent so long thinking that it was always going to be this way and nothing would change, no matter how much I searched. I’ve been searching so long, that I didn’t stop to think, “What happens when I find him?”

The answer seems like it’s simple. We get a DNA test and go from there. That’s what we did last time. I never talked to the guy. My mom orchestrated it all. I got the cheek swab, we waited for the results and that was it. They were negative, and it hurt, but part of it was a relief. The guy in question wasn’t the most savory character, so even though it stung like nothing before to get a negative result, there was at least some silver lining to it. I wouldn’t have to meet my father for the first time in a jail cell.This time, it’s even scarier.

Why?

Because this man, his wife, their family and their friends… They all seem so amazing. Just from the limited interactions I’ve had with them, I can tell they’re such positive people. They didn’t react the way I expected when I approached them. They were open, accepted and excited. They still are. These people are really nice, and I like them. I want to be part of that.

So why is it scary?

There’s still a chance I’m not. There’s still a chance that this amazing family isn’t connected to me at all and that I might be putting them through this all for nothing. I hate the thought of getting them excited, and getting their hopes up just for the test to turn out negative.

There’s a chance that all of those similarities I’m seeing between us aren’t real and that maybe I’m just trying too hard to see what I want to see. There’s a chance that all of the silly little coincidences that have to mean something that I keep stumbling over, really are just that. Coincidences.

That is what scares me.

The problem with this fear, is that there is no solution to it either way. Had I not approached them, I’d have spared them the excitement and possible letdown, but I’d still be dealing with the inner turmoil I’ve always dealt with. The only option, is to continue on, and find out the truth.

So for now, I’m stuck here, in limbo,  in the eye of this emotional hurricane, and even though I can’t see it on the outside, I can feel it on the inside.

 

I’ve spent my entire life feeling like half of my self was missing. I was lied to, deceived, and put off. My paternity wasn’t something I was allowed to bring up… Not unless I wanted to start a fight. Yes, I had two step-dads, yes they were great. But no matter how amazing or wonderful a step-parent can be… It can’t fill that emptiness, longing or desire to know where you really come from.

The last DNA test was done when I was fourteen. I remember asking, very sincerely, if he was it. Is this the one? I was assured, it was the only possibility. When the DNA test came back negative, I was devastated. The man who had orchestrated my abduction when I was only five, wasn’t even my father. Part of me was relieved… The other part of me was devastated.

I tried to find out who else it could be, but my mother refused to tell me. It wasn’t any of my business. I moved away to live with my grandparents and we hardly spoke about it until later. When I was seventeen, my mother used the two names as a bargaining chip to make sure I wouldn’t dart off in the airport on my way to a treatment facility for my eating disorder. I couldn’t do anything with those names. Not yet.

When I got out, I started searching. And searching. And searching. And searching some more. I searched every profile I could find on Facebook and Myspace with either of the names. Nothing but a lot of dead ends. I used google. I signed up for military websites, hoping for something… anything. But it was all done in vain.

I sent a letter to the National Personal Records Center and the U.S. Army Enlisted Records & Evaluation Center, hoping they could help me, but they couldn’t. They send the letter back telling me there was no way they could help me. I still have that letter, along with the letter I enclosed that I had hoped they would send to him. They are sitting in my filing cabinet.

The last few months, I’ve felt like giving up. I’ve felt like it was pointless, useless, a wasted effort. Maybe these men didn’t want to be found. Maybe there was a reason I couldn’t find them.

I started searching death records. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been afraid that these two men would die before I got the chance to find them and to find my answers. It’s always been a real and nagging fear of mine.

Yesterday, a couple friends helped me search. We pulled up some interesting things, but nothing useful. Nothing that led anywhere. I posted on a website I use every so often about the situation, and some amazing women on there helped me. One of them pointed me at a website called Veromi. From there, I was able to find past cities the man lived in, along with the name of a possible relative.

Instead of paying to get other information, I started cross checking the information on google. After about three or four hours, I found his facebook page. He hadn’t updated his facebook in a while… So I looked at his wife.

I’ll admit, I was a little stalker-ish. I read almost two years worth of her Facebook posts. By the time I was done, I felt like I almost knew her. It’s amazing how much we put of ourselves on the web. I wonder if the people who read my blog feel that way about me. In the wife’s posts, she mentioned the name of the relative.

I knew this was it.

I sat there, in the dark, late at nigh, my three-month-old baby sitting on my lap, and I cried. I’ve been searching for so long, and I’ve never even come close, and here it is, right in front of me.

I didn’t really think it through. I sent him and his wife a message. I didn’t tell them who I was, just said that I may know him and asked if he was in the military. The wife added me.

I saw her login and panicked. I wanted to talk to her but didn’t know what to say. I struck up a conversation and within a few minutes, I just told her everything. I expected her to be angry, apprehensive, disbelieving…

But she was sweet, kind, and dare I say, excited?

I’ve played out so many different situations and reactions in my head over the years. The good, the bad, the neutral, the insane…. But never had I pictured it going this well. There is no easy way to tell someone you might be their daughter… But there is no easy way to tell them you might be their husband’s daughter either.

I learned a little bit about them, and now, I really hope this is it. I’ve been waiting for so long and this means so much to me, and it’s finally within reach. I started feeling panicked, in the back of my mind. What if it’s not him? I’m back to square one. I told the wife this and she asked the other man’s name. Turns out her husband was best friends with him.

Relief.

The answers are neatly gift-wrapped, sitting under the tree just waiting to be opened. Before, that box was nowhere in sight. I’ve been waiting anxiously for Christmas to come. I started to feel like it’d never be here, and now I see that box. Waiting for me. Within reach. Looking for baby shower gift inspiration? Check out Little Chickie here https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/special-occasions/baby-shower-gifts/

I’m finally going to know.

It feels so surreal.

Just like most other people, I don’t appreciate inadvertently being exposed to obscene material. I have seen some photos, some video clips, and heard some language that I certainly could have done without. But at the same time, I don’t believe in targeting people or discriminating against people due to perceived obscenity, rather than actual obscenity.

The word “obscene” is defined as…

–adjective  

1.  

offensive to morality or decency; indecent; depraved: obscene language.
2.  

causing uncontrolled sexual desire.
3.  

abominable; disgusting; repulsive.
So, let me ask you. Does this picture fit any of those qualities?


Averly JoAnne Van Vleet

Is it immoral to breastfeed a baby? Is it depraved? Does it onvolve obscene language? Is it inappropriate to breastfeed, even though babies are meant to be breastfed? Do I look like I’m try to seduce someone or cause them to lust after me? Is it abominable, disgusting or repulsive?

I don’t think this picture meets any of that criteria, and you think it does, you need your head checked and your morals and ethics reevaluated.

Facebook deleted this picture for being “obscene,” but really, I’m just not seeing it.

This picture is representative of so much more than just nursing. Yes, I’m feeding my baby, but you can see more if you look deeper. You can see how exhausted I was after my VBA2C. You can see how much I love her and how content the two of us are to have each other. This picture is more than just a breast. But because my child is being fed in this beautiful and heart-touching photo, it’s “obscene.”

I don’t see the pictures of babies being fed a bottle being deleted. And I don’t see picutres of scantily clad women and drug use being deleted. Why aren’t these ones being sought after? Is it really necessary to pick on breastfeeding women, facebook? Women are already discriminated against and made to feel badly about their choice to do what’s best for their child. I can’t even count how many women I know who didn’t or don’t breastfeed simply because of the judgment they would or did receive because of it.

Do you really have to join in on the witch hunt and persecute the ones who aren’t ashamed, and don’t mind letting their friends see that amazing bond with their child?

Thanks you, facebook. For being part of the problem.

I can’t be content with things just the way they are.

I don’t mean that to sound ungrateful, or snobbish or anything else awful. What I mean, is that I can’t be content with how our life is now, forever.

We don’t have a bad life. We do well for our age, and exceptionally well for having had so many kids so young… But this isn’t all I want. I don’t want Dan to be stuck working retail. I don’t want to be stuck in a tiny fixer-upper forever. Sure, it works for now. But this isn’t what I want forever.

One thing I don’t think I will ever understand, is the people I see who are content living on the bottom rung. The people who have no desire to move up. It boggles my mind when I see people with little to no education, working a low-wage, entry-level job, living off of public assistance, and yet they’re content with it. Why don’t they want better? There’s nothing wrong with taking the help if you need it, but these people I’m talking about seem to be genuinely content with living like that for the rest of their lives.

Why not try to get a better job? Go to school? Get a certificate? Be something better and set an example for your kids. Stop being content with the bare minimum and strive for better. The best way to lead is by example. Is the way you’re living now what you want your kids to be content with when they’re grown? Is that all you want for them? Even if you’re content living that way, your kids still deserve better. At least try for them.

I’ll never understand it. Maybe it’s because I know I’ve made mistakes in my life. But maybe it’s just because “good enough” isn’t good enough for my kids.

I want them to have everything. And it’s up to me to give it to them.

I’m starting to really enjoy the camera. I’m glad we got it back. I’ve been having a lot of fun taking pictures. I know it might seem overly sentimental, but pictures mean a lot to me. Having nice pictures of my kids is important to me.

I did these ones of Ava today. They turned out nicely.

School

Step One

I know an associate’s degree isn’t a big deal. It’s only a two year degree. It’s not a huge thing, but for me, I can’t help but be excited. I will have my associates by the end of fall semester… And that is something to be proud of, especially since most girls who have children young don’t finish high school. Let alone get a degree.

But I can’t help but get excited… I’ll be the first grandkid in my family with a degree… Even with having a baby in high school and getting married young. I’ll have done what others in my family didn’t do until much later… And then I’ll go above and beyond that achievement.

My associate’s degree is only step one. Step one of many more steps to come. I’m not sure exactly how many steps there are… but there’s several.

Associate’s degree.
Bachelor’s degree.
Join the military.
Basic training.
Medical school.
Serve my time.
Start my own practice.

It’s a long list of things to do…. but I’m close to being able to cross one thing off of the list. I’m achieving small things on the way towards my goal too… I’m a birth doula now and I got my childbirth education certification. I’m hoping by the end of this year I can apply to take the exam to become an lactation consultant. I should have enough college credits by then. I’ve been debating taking the EMT I class next spring just for fun.

It’s a long road, but I’m on my way. I know that I can do it. Doing it isn’t the hard part. Finding the patience and the time is.

 

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