Just this one day in kind of desperation, in other words, humility I said to God, “Oh my goodness, I’m on a deadline here. You have to tell me what to do.” And the Holy Ghost spoke to me in the clearest communication I had up to that point in my life. The Spirit said, “Tamra, give the Lord your will.” The thing is, I thought I had. I thought I was being pretty flexible up to that point. I was saying, I’m willing to do a, b, or c, but I was leaving out d. I was willing to get married to the wrong person and stay in a miserable marriage, I was willing to get married and divorced, I was willing to be a single parent the rest of my life, I was willing to give up my time, my money, my education my sleep. I didn’t feel willful. But when the Spirit said that I saw clearly that Thy will be done means even if it kills me. Thy will be done is what Abraham understood when he placed Isaac on the altar. Thy will be done is what Moses’ mama understood when she put that little baby in the basket in the river. And I hadn’t been to that place. I hadn’t been to that degree of humility—where the Lord says, what will you put on the altar? At that moment because I was that desperate for Justin (my son), I gave up my will. I said, “Thy will be done” and I meant it, I really meant it...
I think when we get to the other side I will be able to express adequately. I don’t think I have the vocabulary or that there are words to explain. But I’ll try. I know the first time I saw him (I can still feel just a fraction of it sometimes)… I know my heart grew inside of my chest. I know that I had never seen anything like him. I don’t know how much time passed before I was sure it was real. I loved him already, but what I felt was so much more than I was even aware. I felt love for the first time. I thought I had loved before, but when I saw Justin I knew I could die for him. I knew I would do anything for him. That is love I had never felt before. I learned love by having Justin. We spent a day and a half together and I grew in that love. I got to know him soul to soul, got a sense of who he is. I got a real sense of who he is. We spent time together that was so meaningful. We had such a good time together, we really did. It may sound strange, but our spirits interacted. We knew each other already. He was so familiar to me. His spirit was so familiar to me. I felt like I remembered him...
Just for that time I had a little window open up where I understood time—just for long enough. I understood as I said good-bye and let him walk out of my sight, I understood that I had seen him yesterday and that I would see him tomorrow. Time got really short. It’s hard to explain, but I understood it. I understood that we had just been together before we got here and that we would be together again so soon. It made it bearable to say good-bye. That was a tender mercy. And it still is because I can’t feel that right now, but I remember that I did and I know that I’ll see him tomorrow. I’ll see him sooner than tomorrow because I know I’ll see him again in this life. But even if I didn’t, all is well and I know it won’t break our connection...
When I decided adoption I always thought that I would be the victim of the whole situation—that Justin would have two parents and be sealed, that they would have the family they prayed for and I would be the throw-away, I would just be left by the wayside. That’s what I thought. But that was okay because it was all about Justin. But that has not been the case at all. I didn’t think the Lord could compensate for that loss, but He more than has. I’m not the victim. What good has come from such hard! I’m tremendously fortunate, still trying to figure out why I have been so blessed. My mom always says that the Lord remembers my sacrifice. He knows what I put on the altar and He’s just taking care of me.
When did you become involved in advocacy?
When did you become involved in advocacy?
Sometimes I’m overbearing because I can’t stand for anyone to think the wrong way about adoption. I was driven to talk about it too because I’ve always been a communicator. Initially I talked about it just in my personal life and people were exhausted by it honestly. My mother’s well was dry. I didn’t have a good enough support group. The thing is that people can empathize and talk to you about it, but no one really knows but another birth mom. And I didn’t have that. That’s something I could have really benefitted from and I have.
I moved west about two years after placement. I’d never heard of group. Then I heard about it and started going and it was so helpful. Having that community makes a world of difference. Just from that—initially besides just going to group, I started going to high schools and talking about adoption. Utah has incredibly progressive adoption laws and part of it is required to be taught in high school curriculum. We figure rather than have teachers take a stab at it, we should send someone from the inside. And I love doing it and I’m good at it. And I started to see results. We do these surveys at the end that ask if their views have changed about adoption and 95% say that they have. I saw it was needed and effective.
I’ve had opportunities to do media, to be interviewed, blog, speak at regional conferences. I received the Friends of Adoption Award in 2009 and that was cool. I’m on the Church’s adoption website and I’ve been published here and there. So, all the time people are put in my path who need to hear what I say, need to hear my story. I see the Lord’s hand. What He gave me, someone else can use.
What do you think about older single women adopting children?
I’ve thought a lot about it. Here’s my evolution of thought. I was saving up to do an international adoption for a while there. I do believe in the Proclamation on the Family and that children deserve a mother and father. However I know there are millions of children abroad who are growing up in institutions and I know I’m closer to that ideal than an institution. Also I spend all my time on myself and that’s not healthy. I’m 33 years old and I feel like I should be in a family, should be contributing to a family, and dividing myself with other people.
This last conference especially they talked so much about caring for the widows and fatherless. There are so many fatherless and so many of us who have the resources to take care of them!
But I’ve kind of stopped working toward that goal. I still think international adoption/foster adoption will be part of my life when I’m married. The thing is, right now if I actually had money to do an international adoption I don’t know how I would feel justified to not give that money to a family that could adopt. What I would like to do is foster care. Probably not foster adopt while I’m single, but at some point if I’m in a situation when I could do foster care I would certainly do that. I know it’s difficult, but I know hard things are compensated for so yeah, I think it’s a great thing for single people. I have no family, they have no family. It’s perfect. But it’s certainly an individual thing and anyone would have to follow the Spirit on that decision.
In close, what advice do you have for single women?
You know, we hear the same great advice every conference—have an eternal perspective. But I’ll admit that when people say that I think, “Don’t give up on me! Don’t tell me I’ll have my heart’s desire in the eternities.” I think I’m a little bit adolescent and I’m dealing with the now. The eternities are not real for me. I want family now while I’ve got eggs that work!
So my advice is to fill your life with service. That is my number one advice. Don’t draw into yourself. As soon as I’m insecure, comparing myself, depressed—that is a good indication that I’m self-absorbed. You have to focus out again, find things that get you outside of yourself and focus on other people. Don’t let yourself implode. Don’t draw into your world. Make your world as big as you can. Ask the Lord what cause you should be engaged in, ask the Lord for a mission, for an assignment and give your life to that.
I should have more of that sense of missing and loss, but I’m not just sitting idly and waiting. I’m anxiously engaged. I’m so lucky that I’ve found a cause that I love and is so immediately rewarding, but everyone can find that passion.
Be sure to check out Tamra's blog here. She also had an article published this month in the Exponent II that I love. Read it here. Thanks Tamra! You are wonderful.