Last Thursday we (and by we I mean Ozzie and I) had the humbling honor of sharing our story.
We were invite speak at our adoption agency’s annual black tie fundraising dinner. This annual event raises money for many of the support services and programs they offer.
We were contacted a month earlier and asked whether Ozzie and I would feel comfortable sharing our story. They wanted us to speak on his journey leading up to adoption, the blessings and struggles of adoption, how God called us to adoption and Bethany Christian Services, and how adoption has impacted our lives.
They wanted us to give insight into what adoption journey looks like to the patrons who were attending and considering whether to donate to such an amazing cause.
When we were asked I approached Ozzie and asked him what his thoughts were. He said that he was nervous but thought we should do it,
so we said, “yes.”
The weeks leading up to our speaking engagement were fraught with high emotion as we worked on what we wanted to say…what parts of the story to tell.
We began by having Ozzie list his non-negotiables, those topics he didn’t want to talk about at all. I made note of those things so we could stay away from them in our presentation, but also so I could slip that list to Tina (our therapist) knowing they were important in his avoidance of them. I knew they were important for future therapy sessions.
Then we began to prepare our thoughts. We wrote out our words as a dialogue between him and I with the thoughts that an interview style of sharing would be less threatening and overwhelming for him. I would be able to lead the presentation by asking him the questions we prepared in between the thoughts I planned to share.
His anxiety built as the day drew closer. I knew that while there were some nerves over public speaking, the bulk of his anxiety centered around the discomfort of telling his story. I was so proud of him soldiering on despite his fears and discomfort.
On the night of the dinner we got dressed up in our Sunday best. It was just Ozzie and I attending since the other kids were marching in a light up night parade. It worked out well. Toby took the other kids north and Ozzie and I headed south for our special date.
Ozzie looked like a little gentlemen in his suit and I knew the purses of little old ladies were going to open of their own accord when they met my little charmer. 😉
We arrived at The Chadwick and had the opportunity to step on stage, try out the microphone and go over our presentation before guests started to arrive. That practice helped settle Ozzie’s nerves.
The room was beautiful and Ozzie was amazed that he was going to eat such fancy food at such a fancy table. 🙂
He then joined a few other Bethany kids at the door to greet guests, point them to the table that held their place cards, and give them the program that outlined the night.
He worked that doorway like nobody’s business, calling on his natural friendliness and charm to make guests feel welcome.
Then it was time for the evening to begin. Fundraising was being done on multiple levels. There was a silent auction, a wish tree that held notecards listing small, specific needs (like diapers or formula for emergency placements), as well as donation envelopes that could be used to make a monetary donation.
The night began with a blessing on the food, followed by opening remarks and an introduction to Bethany Christian and the services they provide. They spoke of the great needs that exist and the staggering number of orphans in need of a home and a family. Ozzie was deeply affected by the statistics and in the middle of the presentation he leaned over to me and said, “That was me…We need to adopt some more of those children.”
It was humbling and affecting.
Then dinner began. We enjoyed a meal of salad, bread, beef medallions, garlic mashed potatoes and maple carrots. The waitress approached Ozzie and asked if he would prefer chicken nuggets and fries like some of the other children, to which Ozzie replied, “No thank you. I can have chicken and fries anytime. I never get fancy food like this!”
He then enjoyed chocolate mousse for dessert to which he loudly declared,
“I’ve never tasted a chocolate MOUSE before, but I like it!”
Then it was time for our part of the evening. We stepped on stage and told our story. Ozzie stole the show. In his earnest, honest, transparent way he told his story. He spoke of what it is like to be a foster child. He spoke of the fears and uncertainty of being placed in a stranger’s home. He spoke of the mix of emotions that come with adoption and the challenges an entire family faces as they welcome a new member into the home. He spoke of his adoption day and the joy he felt when Mom and Dad promised the judge they would love and care for him forever. Then he told them how adoption changes lives. ..
how it changed his and how it can change others,
if they would just say, “yes.”
There were many tears. The power of the truth he was speaking could be felt by all.
He did it. And I have never been prouder of him.
The night ended with call to act.
A call to make a difference.
A call to change a life,
in whatever way God was calling each of us to do that…
sponsorship, donations, or perhaps opening our home to a child in need.
After dinner was over we prepared to leave. As we worked our way toward the exit Ozzie was stopped many times by those who were touched by his story.
As I watched him interact and speak with the guests I was given a glimpse into his future. This won’t be the only time he will ever stand before a crowd and move them with his story. This won’t be the only time he stands before a crowd and challenges them to make a difference. God will not let Ozzie’s past define him, but instead He is going to use the heartbreak to bring about change, to inspire people, and to move mountains in miraculous ways.
God has big plans for my little man.