A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from an LDSFS Agency Representative. She wanted to know if I would be willing to speak about adoption during the third hour of church at her building - it's the fifth Sunday, so it's combined Priesthood and Relief Society. I said of course, I'd love to.
I'm not sure what I was thinking. I think I was thinking that since I've presented in schools a bunch of times, church wouldn't be a problem. Also, the AR was Susan, and I really like Susan. How could I say no? I couldn't. And I wasn't really too concerned about presenting until yesterday. And then I started to panic.
Presenting at schools is one thing. I've got my story down - what parts to play up, what to gloss over, what jokes I'll make, that sort of thing. I've gotten good at keeping religion out of it. And as odd as it sounds (since religion plays such a huge part of my story), I wasn't sure how I'd do. Faced with speaking in a dedicated church building, to church members who would (I hope) actually be listening, I found myself feeling dreadfully unprepared. I panicked. I wasn't sure what to say. With such a different audience than I'm used to, it seemed appropriate to alter the way I tell my story. And I wasn't sure how.
I stayed up until 4:30am, trying to type out my thoughts, editing and re-writing and trying to figure out what to say all over again. I had to downplay things I emphasize in school presentations, figure out what religious aspects to mention and when. And honestly, I think I did a horrible job this afternoon. Then again, I always feel like I do a horrible job of presenting. I feel like I get up there and ramble on and on and overshare and talk too fast and mumble and use too many big words. I must have done okay, though. Several people thanked me for sharing.
The thanks always make me uncomfortable. I don't want people thinking I do presentations for acclaim or attention. I'm sure it sounds odd, considering how openly I blog about things and how much I enjoy public speaking, but I don't necessarily like a lot of attention. Or, I guess what I mean is that I don't like people to think that I seek out attention. I know some birth moms who want to do presentations because they want to talk about themselves and have everyone think they're wonderful and brave and selfless. That's just not me. I talk because I think my story is a good example of ... well, several things, really. One is that it's never too late to make the right decision. The other is that adoption can be an amazing blessing, and that when making the decision, it's what's best for the baby that's most important, not what's going to be easiest for the mom.
I'm rambling again. See, this is what I'm afraid I do when I speak. Blah, blah, blah, me, me, me, no real substance. But Susan said I did great, and told me in no uncertain terms to stop second-guessing myself. See why I like her? She didn't give me a simpering, "Oh, you did amazing! You're wonderful!" Just a straight to the point, "You were great. Don't say you weren't." Susan is awesome (hi, Susan!).
I think it was good for me to shake things up a bit, to talk in a different setting to a different audience. I'm glad I did it. I think people got it. Some of them were crying, anyway, which I try to take as a good thing.
It was sort of a relief to be able to tell the whole story, really. I've always felt that my story lacks something important when I leave religion out. Talking today got me excited (a little, anyway) to speak at the birth mother group on Wednesday. I've never told my story there before, and I wasn't really looking forward to it before, but I'm at least not dreading it now. I think that'll be my toughest audience yet.
National Adoption Month is almost over, which would make me sad except that December is Roo Adoption Month. Her adoption will be finalized, she'll be sealed to her family, and she'll be blessed in church. I am super excited! I can't wait until Roo is theirs officially and for good. It will be such a blessing for all of us. And I'm looking forward to doing a presentation after all that's happened. I feel like it gives my story more of an ending, if you could call it that. More of a conclusion, or a place to stop talking anyway. As it is, I mention visits and openness and sort of trail off. At least in church today I could end with my testimony. Then my mom talked about what it was like for her, especially as an adult adoptee. She did great. My mom is awesome (hi, Mom!). It was nerve-wracking, but I'm glad I did it.