Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blueprints for Footprints

Readers, lots of folks have enjoyed Chatpers 1-2 of The Eye of Adoption! Thank you for spreading the message! Today, I add Chapter 3, "Blueprints for Footprints."  (Remember, I’ll be back to my humor theories December 6.) I can't wait! I thought I'd enjoy the break from creative writing, but I miss it. Until December, my writing efforts are focused on promoting adoption as a modern, healthy option for creating families and helping men and women facing crisis pregnancies.

Each Friday in November, I'll post an additional chapter. I’ve also teamed up with other adoption authors to give our books away throughout the month. Be sure to check the links at the end of each post for information on how to receive other authors' download dates.

This weekend (November 15-17), you can download The Eye of Adoption FREE on Kindle or with the Kindle App.  Authors earn no royalties on free download days. Adoption authors particularly love to give their work away!

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)
Friends, I am the same everywhere I go, and that includes my writing style. I promise you will laugh and I know you will learn, so I hope you will read and share these chapters and my message of hope and humor, faith and family.

Besides, doesn’t everyone love a good adoption story?

Do you see the baby in the clouds? An ethereal ultrasound?
~ ~ ~


the true story of my turbulent wait

for a baby


Jody Cantrell Dyer
~ ~ ~

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the
United States of America.  Any reproduction or unauthorized
use is prohibited without express permission of the author,
except brief quotes for use in interviews,
newspaper or magazine articles, or reviews.
For information, contact author.
ISBN-10: 1481040138
ISBN-13: 978-1481040136

Bible verses quoted within are from the following versions:
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by
The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The King James Version is public domain in the
United States of America.
Front cover photograph obtained from
Back cover artwork by Houston Dyer
Cover design by Sherri B. McCall

 ~ ~ ~

Chapter 1
No One “Just Adopts”

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:
but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
—Proverbs 13:12

When I was a toddler, I entertained relatives by singing this little song:
Special, special, I am very special
           God made me this way!
I would draw out the word “way” as “waaaaaaaaaaay” like an operatic trill, a crowd-pleasing ending to my parlor trick performance. That song rings true for every child. My children are no more special than your children or the child for which you pray and wait. However, adoption is special. It was divinely designed and serves as a living example of God’s graceful, abundant love for humankind. 
I have two friends who, years ago, placed babies for adoption. Each was in college when she was surprised by a crisis pregnancy. One friend told me her experience when she found out my husband Jeff and I were trying to adopt. She gave me crucial advice regarding the birthparents’ extended family. Her help later proved vital. The other friend is unaware that I know she placed a baby for adoption. When she sees us, she asks to hold my child. I think holding my baby gives her assurance and peace about the decision she made so many years ago.
My initial purpose in writing this book was to chronicle the sweet and sour elements of our adoption story for my children. I am a public school teacher, not a writer, but I wanted my children to understand the extremes to which their father and I suffered and succeeded to create our family. Our children will have a colorful, descriptive, documented account of a story that tested love, endurance, commitment, and faith, a story they can learn from and someday pass on to their families.
As I revisited my journal entries, mined through letters and emails from friends and relatives, and studied countless pieces of medical documents and adoption paperwork, I realized that my story could benefit people outside my little family. For that reason, I expanded the book to reveal details regarding every step my husband Jeff and I took toward our second child. In these pages I will candidly present information to intimately describe how Jeff and I clumsily but successfully battled through the uncontrolled currents of infertility and adoption.  To protect my adopted child’s most personal history, I kept much of the birth family’s biological and social background information private. My intention in writing this book is not to expose my child, but to expose the raw and rewarding aspects of adoption.
Throughout each section of this book, I divulge friends’, relatives’, and strangers’ commentary, support, criticism, and reaction. I share the effects of all of the above on my marriage. I also try my best to illuminate God’s concern and involvement in every moment of our trek toward a baby.
I hope my story will benefit people who wish to become adoptive parents, regardless of where they are in the process. Whether you decide to adopt after failed fertility treatments, lost pregnancies, a lost child, no chance of conceiving, have a dozen children already, or feel “called” to adopt, I respect you. No matter the circumstances, adoptive parents share a special bond. I hope “waiting parents” will relate to my emotions, experiences, tribulations, and triumphs. I hope by doing so, you find camaraderie, relief, and optimism.
Because adoption is a spiritual transaction conducted within a commercial industry, success in adoption requires involvement from what seems like everyone connected to the adoptive parents. Thus, adoptive parents’ friends, relatives, co-workers, and even pets will find themselves here, too. I urge anyone connected to waiting parents to read my story to empathize with the adoptive family and perhaps alleviate, not complicate, the inevitable burdens. Do not underestimate the depths of suffering and lengths of endurance required of adoptive parents. Do not underestimate the difficult choice to find a child through adoption. No one “just adopts.”
My mother thought of the book’s title, The Eye of Adoption. She has a particular gift for naming pets; my aunts, uncles, and cousins often contract her to name their animals, so I asked her to name this book. After reading the book, her critter-naming gift prevailed once more.
Adoption is a storm of faith, fear, paperwork, people, hurt, healing, words, work, devotion, divinity, rawness, revelation, days, and, hopefully, a delivery.
I was not strong on my own. I relied on my husband, my mother, my friends, my family, and my faith to prop me up during my doubtful and weak moments.
I hope my story is a clear window through which you can visualize your potential adoption experience. I hope my story comforts you as you live in the eye of adoption.
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
—Robert Burns, “To A Mouse”
~ ~ ~

Chapter 2

The Master Plan

Do not squander time
for that is the stuff life is made of.
—Benjamin Franklin

Though I am a “lonely only” child, I have nine first cousins who enjoy close relationships with their siblings. As a child I did not particularly want a brother or sister. I relished the one-on-one attention and communication I had with both of my parents. They talked with me and included me: we enjoyed a tight bond. When I was nineteen, my father died. It was June 1993. He was forty-four. I had just finished my freshman year of college.
My father’s death altered my way of thinking. I suddenly grasped the quantitative nature of my and my mother’s existence, life’s fragility, and death’s finality. I, erroneously, felt responsible for my mother’s well being. From then on, I longed for a sibling. I desperately needed a brother or sister, someone who knew exactly how I felt, someone with whom I could commiserate. Also, already known for my smart mouth (a high school teacher nicknamed me “tongue-lasher”) my sarcasm and cynicism sharpened.
A week after my father’s death, I applied for a summer job at IHOP in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. My cousin Toby, a return summer worker, championed my cause and implored the restaurant manager to grant me a coveted breakfast shift so I could be home at night with my mother. I did my best to model southern hospitality as I teased customers who ordered the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity pancake platter, but grief and anxiety accumulated like the plates precariously stacked up my left arm. Often, when I was exhausted from my trancelike trudge through a day of waitressing, I fibbed to customers when they ordered desserts, “We are out of that.” I just wanted the giddy tourons (my father’s term: half tourist, half moron) to pay and go back to their hotels so I could go home and be miserable with my mother. The fry cooks felt sorry for me and routinely treated me to rich chocolate chip pancakes with hot syrup, Cool Whip, and vanilla ice cream.
In August, I took my plumped up rear and sour attitude back to The University of Tennessee’s Humes Hall filled with carefree co-eds. College and the future took on new meaning for me. I became an impatient control freak, worrier, and planner. I wrote papers the same day professors assigned them. If my mother did not answer her home phone, I freaked out, figuring she had died of a heart attack like my father, had a freak accident (she did almost run over herself once), choked on peanuts…. My mind went into orbit with any hint of mystery as to her well-being.
I set my sights on graduating early to save my mother, a high school English teacher, money. I majored in finance to secure a lucrative job; if I became a young widow like my schoolteacher mother, I would be better able support my family. I mapped out my entire future: graduate early, earn a high income, take care of my mother, find a husband, have a big family, and hit all my goals in case I was going to die in my early forties. At nineteen, I had already made the decision to have three children when I got married.

Chapter 3

Blueprints for Footprints

In dreams begins responsibility.
—William Butler Yeats, Responsibilities

Jeff and I married on April 15, 2000. What a deadline. I was twenty-six, and he was thirty-six. We were not naïve. As an only child whose mother suffered two miscarriages, I did not take pregnancy for granted. I sincerely hoped to become pregnant as soon as possible. I even promised my mother-in-law! I wanted those three children.
Jeff and I lived in a one-level, three bedroom ranch home with a flat backyard and a big kitchen. It was in the perfect proximity to hospitals, libraries, and parks. I saw no reason to move until we had a school-aged child. But Jeff wanted to. That was one of our first lengthy arguments. Jeff put a For Sale by Owner sign in the front yard. Daily, after Jeff backed out of the driveway and turned out of sight, I jerked the sign up from the grass and threw it in my backseat. When I got home from work, I pushed it back into place so he would never know. Weeks later, overcome with guilt, I admitted my crime. My forgiving husband hired a realtor to find us a house, so I stuck the For Sale by Owner sign in the grass and left it. Not long after that, I negotiated the sale to a co-worker.
So, just four months after Jeff and I married we began looking for a new home in Knoxville. Jeff wanted to move closer to his friends and be in the “right” school zone.
My parents raised me in Sevier County in East Tennessee on seventy-two acres of Appalachian hills, hollers, and creeks. I could see Mount LeConte from my Gatlinburg-Pittman High School parking lot. My mother (who taught at my high school) and I drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every day on the way to and from school. Sevier County has grown tremendously, but when I was growing up, trips to the grocery store, school, hospital, or church were long and tiresome. As a new wife and habitual worrier planning a three-child family, I desired a safer, more convenient location in which to raise my family. My must-haves were much more specific than Jeff’s: in my search, I combined my future children’s needs and my desire to re-create my best childhood memories. I thought through the details and played out all kinds of scenarios. My children needed to grow up close to a hospital. All the bedrooms had to be together so, in case of fire, I could grab my bra (The Red Cross does not usually get my size over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders in their donation bags) and my children and “head for the pines” for safety. I wanted to be able to wash dishes and watch my children shoot basketball. My cousin Claire says you know you are in East Tennessee when someone misses a rebound and the ball rolls fifty feet downhill and then a fight ensues about who is responsible for its retrieval: the shooter or the rebounder. We also needed a spot for spinning Big Wheels. I grew up in a one hundred year-old cold farmhouse, so I was low maintenance. I was not picky, just specific.
Our realtor found several pretty houses near Jeff’s friends, but the homes either had split bedrooms or no basketball goal within kitchen view. No deal.
My in-laws lived in Knoxville at that time, so our plan was to stay with them during the old house sale and new house purchase gap. One Sunday, I had had it. Married only four months and not too eager to live with my in-laws, I decided to rush the process. Jeff was playing at least eighteen holes of golf that morning, so I took off on my own to find a house. I started at Kingston Pike, the main thoroughfare that juts through Knoxville, and took roads left and right until I happened upon a realtor open house in Glen Cove subdivision. Lyons Bend, the road just before Glen Cove, reminded me of Gatlinburg’s steep, snaking, sun-dappled roads. I was still unfamiliar with that area of Knox County. Having driven in all directions all morning, and being naturally “spatially challenged,” I thought I was out in the boonies but went in anyway. I was surprised when the realtor informed me that youth baseball fields and Lake Loudon were only a half-mile away. She further explained that Glen Cove was zoned for Jeff’s sibling’s old elementary school, and was only a few miles from our church. The house was ten minutes from the UT campus, ten minutes from Children’s Hospital, and two miles from Food City.
The 1956 basement rancher contained three bedrooms all on the northern edge of the house and a large guest room with its own bathroom and sunroom on the southern edge of the house. I could store my children on one end and my mother on the other! The basement–just a huge playroom–was a bonus. The Poplar and pine-shaded backyard offered a safe place for children to explore. The sunny, sloped, grass-covered front yard was ideal for a Slip-n-Slide. The back patio, my favorite spot, was the perfect place to spin figure eights on a Big Wheel. Best of all, when I stood at the kitchen sink, I looked out the window to see a basketball goal, slap in the middle of the backyard.
I called Jeff and exclaimed, “I found our house! You need to come over here right now.” I stood guard at the open house until it was over, making small talk with the listing agent and shooing away any other lookers. When Jeff arrived, I used every ounce of my newlywed allure, wit, and equity and took advantage of his eighteen-hole beer buzz to sell him on the house. He agreed to make an offer. I called our realtor. He came and we drew up a full offer contract.
When Jeff and I got home, we talked about our new house. He asked, “How big was that garage?” I told him there was not one. I had whisked him through that house and completely manipulated the deal but it was too late then. I was determined to have that house; the location and the important things—to me—were there. Within days, our full-price offer secured for us a wonderful place to raise our three children. We stayed with Mr. Dyer (Mrs. Dyer was visiting Jeff’s brother, who was working in Africa at the time) for three weeks. Each afternoon, Jeff and I would leave work, go to his parents’ house and change clothes, and then go to Glen Cove to pull up filthy, decades-old carpet, score and strip cigarette-smoke stained wallpaper, and paint. Jeff’s daddy (also named Jeff) brought us supper almost every night. When Mrs. Dyer returned from Africa, she bragged on our remodeling work but admonished us for our combined fifteen-pound weight gain. Jeff and I moved to Glen Cove.
In May 2001, when we had been married a year, Jeff’s sister Jenny came to Knoxville to visit for Mother’s Day and Jeff’s birthday. Coincidentally, Jeff’s birthday fell on Mother’s Day that Sunday, May 13th. The Friday night before, Jenny announced to all of us that she was pregnant with her first child. Thrilled for her, I was sad for me. I had been trying to become pregnant since my wedding day, and I was getting worried. I happened to be a few days late in my cycle and had actually stopped at CVS to buy a pregnancy test. After hearing Jenny’s big news, I over-celebrated slash self-medicated with a few vodka tonics, forgetting until just before I went to bed that I had a pregnancy test in my purse. With liquid courage, I went into the bathroom, took the test, and waited the three minutes.
I was shocked to see two pink lines appear. I looked at that little stick, expecting that second pink line to fade away, but it remained. I was pregnant! I stared at the test for a moment, then walked into our bedroom and told the always-calm Jeff I was pregnant.
He responded, “Are you sure? Take another one in the morning.”
He was hesitant. I was elated. Saturday morning, I tested positive again. Jeff and I smiled and savored the momentous revelation all day.
Sunday morning, we attended church with Jeff’s family and celebrated Mother’s Day and Jeff’s birthday with brunch on the Dyer’s back porch. Jenny was happily babbling about her big news. Jeff and I, still in shock, mentioned nothing about ours. Women’s intuition never fails. Halfway through the meal, Mrs. Dyer looked at me and asked, “Jody, how long have you been pregnant?” I delighted in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“About three weeks.”
Screams of delight filled the patio; we sounded like the bird exhibit at the Knoxville Zoo.
I visited my gynecologist the next morning. He tested my hormones. My progesterone levels were quite low so he prescribed vaginal suppositories. I had to insert the progesterone “tubes” at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. each day and lie still for thirty minutes after each insertion. I was a bank branch manager in downtown Knoxville at the time. We had these ridiculous weekly “call nights” each Thursday. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. we phoned customers and tried to set appointments to sell bank products. To accurately maintain my 7:00 p.m. suppository schedule on those nights, I sneaked to the ladies room two floors beneath my office, near the hefty main vault filled with hundreds of safe deposit boxes.
 I inserted the medicine and laid flat and still (there are no pillows in bank basements) for thirty minutes, just as the doctor instructed, praying my male boss did not ask where I was. God was looking out for me because, for the six weeks in a row I did drugs in the vault, my boss never caught on. Other than that, my pregnancy was healthy and surprisingly easy; I never threw up, and I had no issues that I knew of other than low progesterone.
Just days before Christmas, Jenny gave birth to my precious niece Ellie. 
On January 7, a week before my due date, I visited my obstetrician. I begged her to induce me the next day. She agreed. I was so keyed up, I mistakenly took the wrong Interstate 40 ramp and drove miles out of my way before I realized I was headed to Nashville. I went home, called the bank human resources department and my boss to tell them I was beginning my maternity leave. I called my mother who squealed in delight. She planned to stay with us the first week after I gave birth.
My matchless mother, a hyper-thinker, has mastered the art of anticipation. She loves to make lists and pack coolers (a throwback to her University of Georgia days of partying) and suitcases. She had packed her bags, made a list of suppers and treats she would cook for Jeff and me, and purchased birth announcements, stamps, and envelopes. She was ready to be a grandmama! On the phone, she told me she had cleaned and ironed a particular bold-colored shirt so her infant grandson would “immediately notice” her. She hung up the phone and carried her suitcases to the driveway. She carefully draped the outfit over her suitcase and went to make sure the stove was off and to lock the front door. Then, in a typical fit of excitement, she cranked up the car and backed over her own suitcase. When my frenzied mother got to my house, she showed me her black shirt, embellished with large, bright puppy faces and muddy brown tire tracks.
The next afternoon, family and friends eagerly waited at Fort Sanders Hospital on The University of Tennessee campus for the arrival of Jefferson Houston Dyer III. At 5:21 p.m., January 8, 2002, Houston was born.
Jeff walked into the waiting room to a crowd of Houston fans and proudly announced, “He looks just like me.”
 ~ ~ ~

Readers, please send this post to anyone you know who is touched by infertility, adoption, or crisis pregnancy. You can copy and paste the URL into an email or you can Google+, Tweet, or share on Facebook.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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See you next Friday with Chapter 3! Until then, think outside the barn.

Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...