17 Apr Joy in the Journey: A Story of Adoption
By: Elaine Tomski
“There was never a time I didn’t know I was adopted.” Joy’s mom and dad never hid that fact from her. She realizes it’s not this way for everyone, but for her, being adopted was perfectly okay. Joy says, “I knew I was unique. I kind of liked that! That’s my experience.” In addition, Joy always knew she was loved. Growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania, the family of this bright-eyed spunky girl didn’t have much to claim in terms of possessions. However, she did have plenty of love, acceptance and open communication. Joy has spoken to countless other adoptees over the years. In story after story, she sees a common theme. Joy suggests, “It’s really key, that being adopted is shared from the get-go. Then the child doesn’t receive that abrupt jolt when they learn of their adoption later in life.”
Joy Budensiek has shared her adoption journey in the book RECONNECTED -to my bellybutton. It’s the story of the roller-coaster journey of an adoptee searching for family and roots. It’s the story of Joy’s attempt to unravel the mystery of her life. Best of all, it’s the story of a Heavenly Father who graciously provides unexplainable evidence, direction, and provision at every turn of the journey. Psalm 37:23 reads, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way.”
Joy in Believing
Joy has many happy memories of childhood. She enjoyed playing with neighborhood kids and keeping beloved family traditions. But the highlight of each year was summer camp meeting. Traveling 120 miles to Stoneboro, sleeping on a musty mattress, and sitting long periods of time on hard benches were no hardship to Joy. She was with her people and she sensed the presence of God there. Her Christian upbringing taught Joy to understand that the Heavenly Father loves unconditionally. In the seventh grade, Joy prayed the prayer of repentance and commitment to the Lord. She writes in her book, “The simple ABC’s of the gospel became a reality to me: I asked Jesus to come into my life, I believed He would keep His promise and make me His child, and I confessed my sins. For the most part, my outward appearance would not change, but on the inside, I was adopted into the family of God.” Joy was adopted, yet again.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:14-15
Joy in Living
Right on the heels of high school Joy met her gift from God, John Budensiek. After dating for three years, they were married. During the dating years, she attended Penn Commercial Business College, received a two-year business degree and graduated at the age of 19. She tells that Penn View Bible Institute in central Pennsylvania needed a business teacher. They contacted her upon graduation and asked her to come and teach. She says, “I was only 19 and had never had a teaching class in my life! Nothing in my life has happened traditionally. I gave it a try and realized after the first week of being in the classroom, I absolutely loved it!” Soon, John and Joy began their own journey of parenthood. They were blessed with three children: Julie, John Jr., and James. When their youngest began kindergarten, Joy also went back to school for education classes. How unique that when she reached her 16th year of teaching, Joy also received her teaching degree. She did mention that nothing in her life has happened traditionally. However, the one thing which remains constant in her life is the love of family. She and John have expanded their family with the addition of a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and eight grandchildren. Oh, the joy of life and love when the whole family is together.
Joy in the Discovery
As you can see, Joy has lived a good life. She has not been lacking in love. She has not been lacking in purpose. Yet, she had a mystery to solve. It was the mystery of her beginning. Joy’s search was never about pain or resentment. She realized her life was good. Perhaps her childhood love of Nancy Drew mysteries had something to do with it, but Joy just needed to unravel her mystery. You will want to read the whole story in RECONNECTED -to my bellybutton, but let’s take a peek at just a few of her discoveries.
In her growing up years, Joy could count on the need to open the little box holding a few items sent along at her infant adoption. Opening this little box at every birthday, looking at its contents, and holding the small flag would give her both a contentment and a curiosity. Her mom and dad were patient and understanding to allow Joy to process her adoption reality. They never argued against her feelings. Her parents would have joined her in the search for her roots if they could have. But it was later in life, after both her mom and dad had passed away, after her own children were raised and her nest was emptying, that Joy was ready to begin the search for her birth mother. She did not search alone. With the support of her husband and the hand of guidance from her Lord, the people who held the needed information were placed in Joy’s path, at times miraculously, at every turn.
Joy’s journey is rich with God’s goodness and provision. For example, God graciously opened the door for Joy to meet with the friend of a friend, who might be able to connect her with her birth mom. This lady was the best-connected person she possibly could have found! Having served as a kindergarten teacher for 35 years, she knew the history of every family in the area. Joy says, “It was a friendship God Himself gave me.” Unbelievably, this connection came from a bottle in the sand! God provided every big and little piece Joy needed for her journey.
Another discovery Joy made was about her heritage. As it turns out, she is of Irish descent. She says, “Maybe that’s why adoption has always been okay with me, because I’m of Irish descent. After all, the Irish are good at taking lemons and making lemonade.” She has discovered the Irish don’t get down, they just get going.
Each revelation on the journey gave Joy more hope and also more faith in the One guiding her. A quote from her book reads, “The emotional roller-coaster was incredible. One moment I was eager: Yes, I’m ready! Let’s go for it! Then the next moment, I thought I was crazy: You’ve got to be nuts! This lady doesn’t want to see you, even if you can find her. And remember you have no clue how to do that. Faith and fear wrestled together. Faith won, but only because God was so close.”
Did Joy find her birth mother? If so, how did that meeting go? Was she welcomed? You will want to read her book to find out the answers to those questions.
Joy in Serving
In addition to finding her roots, Joy’s amazing journey has given her the opportunity to serve other adoptive families. It’s been a delight to share her adoption journey with others as she both penned her story and now travels to market her book. Over the many miles, she and her husband have traveled, they have met possibly hundreds of adoptees. While swapping stories with other adoptees, the age of understanding has become evident. She says, “Around age seven or eight is when it clicks and the child understands what adoption is about.” Joy encourages fellow adoptees to consider their point of view. She says’ “It’s all in how you view your adoption. When you know that God has a plan, you are part of the plan, and He’s a good God, then it will be okay.” She adds that if you take the attitude of being unwanted, it won’t be okay. “Life is what you make it to be.”
Joy recommends parents be upfront about the situation. Her parents were open and never negative about her need to process her feelings about adoption. They always gave her the space she needed. Joy says her mom even said to her, “Oh, I wish your birth mom could see you on your wedding day.” Doesn’t that statement say everything about her mom’s gratitude for the inexpressible gift given to her by Joy’s birth mom? Joy says, “I’m confident that my mothers are together in heaven.” Don’t you wonder if they are chatting about Joy’s wedding day?
Perhaps you are considering adoption. Joy encourages those wanting to adopt to evaluate their motivation. The motivation to adopt has to be love. Any other motive will be evident to the child. In her travels, she has met people who have been adopted to be extra hands on the farm or extra legs on the mission field. No one likes being used. She says, “It has to be love.” She questions, “Must you have a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle? No, Not really.” Her parents didn’t. However, she says, “I never, ever, not even one time, doubted my parents’ love for me. You can see the need, but if you don’t have that internal love prompting you to adopt. Don’t do it. The desire to adopt must come from the heart.”
Joy also has a really strong piece of advice for adoptive parents. She has heard so many negative stories about adoptees seeking and finding their birth parents at an age much too young. Please support them in their search, but do so when they are older. It requires maturity. She’s seen disasters happen when children or teens find their birth parents. Their hearts are torn, their identity confused. There’s pain for both the child and the adoptive family if the seeker is not mature. It requires maturity to be able to deal with the dynamic. Joy says, “I was middle aged, had a home, a husband, children, grandchildren, a career, everything was in my favor. And still, the pull to go back to where I started was unbelievably strong.” Speaking of her own journey she says, “Eventually, it worked out okay, but the pain in the process could have been destructive for me at a young age.” She considers that it is very helpful for adoptive parents to walk the path with their adopted child when they are mature enough. Also, testimonies from other adoptees have revealed that if their adoption was hidden, once discovering they were adopted, they were willing to seek out their birth parents with or without the help of their adoptive parents. This is yet another reason to be open and honest in the case of adoption.
When asked…What do you wish you would have known growing up that you know now? Joy replies, “Nothing!” Her parents must have done it right. She says, “The only thing I would do differently is, I would have talked more to my adoptive mom to find out the story of my adoption from her perspective. Where it happened. What her emotions were that day. She’s gone now, so I can’t ask, but I’d like to know her perspective as an adult.”
Joy in Giving
In addition to her passion for helping adoptees and their families, Joy has a great passion for missions. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Missions from Moody Graduate School, Joy also became active in teaching, as well as serving, in missions. The co-founder of the Touching Lives for Christ summer missionary ministry of Hobe Sound Bible Church, she has personally taken teams to Bolivia, Perú, the Bahamas, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, London and Ghana. Her best-selling book titled Jesus, My Very Best Friend, was written to introduce children around the world to Jesus. Currently, in over 50 countries, the ultimate goal is to place one million books into the hands of children who need to know the love of Christ.
While on her journey, Joy has given so much to so many people. And she isn’t done yet. She will soon be retiring from her teaching career to follow another path she is very passionate about. Let’s take a step back to see the origin of her most recent passion. Joy says, “One day, while in church, I heard the speaker say that 19 out of 20 Christian parents don’t talk to their children about God. That was earth-shattering to me!” It is the reason she has a new purpose. She desires to provide parents and grandparents the tools and bits of scripture needed to communicate their faith and values to their children and grandchildren in the midst of everyday life.
In her By The Way series of children’s books, Joy provides teaching moments to make eternal investments. Whether it’s talking to kids at the dinner table about how God provides food or pointing out the stars to admire how God lights up the night sky, parents have the opportunity to help their loved ones see the world through the eyes of faith. Discovering Biblical Truth in Everyday Life is the vision of this children’s book series. Currently, her By The Way series includes books highlighting nature, history and God’s character in these locations: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida’s Treasure Coast, Smoky Mountains, Washington State, Colorado, New York City, and Ireland. Joy’s goal for this series is a big one. She hopes to complete 6 new books per year and plans to reach parents and children beyond the USA to the whole world. I’m glad Joy is on God’s team, and ours. Aren’t you?
As busy as she will be with book creation, Joy is also seeking opportunities to share with groups large or small about her adoption journey and her new By The Way book series. She and her husband love to travel. They continue to find joy in the journey. To reserve a date for Joy to speak at your event, please contact her at (772) 214-8966 or email her at email@example.com. If you would like to read her amazing story and discover more about Joy’s adoption journey, you may purchase RECONNECTED-to my bellybutton directly from Joy Budensiek, P.O. Box 1065, Hobe Sound, FL 33475. U.S. $10.95, Canada $12.95, add $2.00 for shipping and handling.
By the way, Joy is also planning to write a sequel to her first adoption story. The sequel will describe the search for her birth father. This search continues and so does her journey. She knows she can trust God with this journey, too. God is a loving Father. He is faithful to provide. He is the one who brings joy and peace to our journeys. Joy says, “God is very involved in our lives. He has a plan, He has a provision, and nothing happens by accident. When you look at life through that lens, it adds so much pizzazz to life! I can’t imagine living life without being consciously aware that God is directing my steps. That awareness of the presence of God is so real. Even today. It’s a beautiful thing.”
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
~ Psalm 16:11