Laura Patey has been with her partner, Leigh, for 30 years. They have been married since 2004. Together, they adopted two adolescent boys out of the foster care system who are now in their 20s. She has always been interested in advocating for the marginalized in society. She recalls her own struggles of not quite fitting in as she was growing up, and she believes that experience has led her to be a protector of and an advocate for the underdog.
“If people were willing to be vulnerable and sit with someone else while they are exposing their own vulnerabilities, I think we can then connect on a very deep level.”
I am one of six kids. I remember going home for the holidays and my siblings were talking about their significant others. I jut talked about work because I didn’t feel like I could talk about who I was. It took a long time. I didn’t come out until I was in my early 30s.
My kids bounced around in foster care for years. They had not only been removed from their birth families and lost all of those connections, but they had both been adopted and the adoptions had been disrupted. That’s the word they use. Jesse had been with his adoptive mom for four years and one weekend she dropped him off at respite care and never came back.
Kids who have been in foster care have had so much pain and loss in their lives that they have a hard time making connections.Working through the pain of kids who have experienced disrupted connections and teaching them that they are valued and loved is a critical element of what we do.
We discovered that kids pick on kids for any number of reasons. We armed our kids for the fact that not everyone was going to value our family. That was okay as long as we surrounded ourselves with people who did: our church community, our friends, and others. We practiced making statements. When somebody would make fun of Jesse on the football field and say something about his two moms, he would say, ‘Pick a real issue.’ That was the line. ‘So, pick a real issue.’
For me it’s not about having people tolerate or accept you, it’s about embracing your identity. Peace is a state of mind. It is a very personal thing, yet we experience it only in relation to others. It’s about human connectedness. What is it that we can do together more powerfully than either of us can do in isolation?
Laura Patey full podcast
- When have you connected with someone you perceive as different from yourself? What was that interaction like? What did you learn from meeting that person?
- When have you found yourself failing to “pick a real issue”?
- What part of your identity are people slowest to accept? What kinds of things are you slowest to accept in others?
- What do you think about Laura’s thought that peace is only experienced in relation to others? Can you experience peace without feeling that you’re valued?
- How does being vulnerable correlate with experiencing peace?