From Airplanes to Adoption : The Story of Terri Jensen Moore
“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln
Terri spent the majority of her childhood popping from state to state, since her father was in the Air Force. She lived in Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, but eventually landed in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her father retired when she was 11. He was going to go into real estate with his brother, but before the family had even really settled down, tragedy struck. George passed away unexpectedly from pancreatitis. Terri was crushed. She was incredibly close with her father, and shut down for quite a while after it happened.
Throughout her teenage years, she struggled with her self image. She was incredibly skinny, and was often teased because of this. I still remember her telling me, “I looked like Barney Fife.” I tend to disagree, but it’s hard to think positively about yourself when those around you are being constantly degrading, whether with their words or actions.
Her experiences weren’t all bad though. She loved to ski, and settling down in SLC put her in the perfect place for that. She loved the water too, and would spend time with her friends at Lake Powell.
After she finished high school, she went on to attend BYU. Here she really began to blossom. To this day, I love hearing the stories about the elaborate pranks she would pull with her roommates. She spent a semester abroad in Austria, and a little time in Israel. Eventually, after her sophomore year, she decided to get a degree in CAE/CAD/CAM. BYU was the only school in the country, at the time, that offered a bachelor’s degree in this. Because it covered engineering, manufacturing, design, and computer principles, it took her an extra year to graduate.
When Terri was 21, she met someone by the name of Myles England. Even though she had dated other guys, she began to wonder if she would ever get married, as 21 seemed ‘old’ to her. Myles proposed, and it all seemed fine to her, even though her family cautioned her against it. This young marriage had some good times and some not so good times, as most young marriages do. The biggest trial came when Terri developed preeclampsia during her 7th month of pregnancy. To save her life, she had an emergency C-section and gave birth to their daughter, Kathryn. Since Kathryn was only 1 lb 13.5 oz, the doctors gave her a 50/50 chance of survival. After two weeks of being in the neonatal intensive care unit, she passed, while in Terri’s arms. This was the first opportunity Terri had had to hold her baby. This devastated her. Part of her, the irrational part, blamed herself for the death of her daughter, and struggled with her self worth. She felt she must be a really bad, worthless person, one that God couldn’t trust with a new baby, one that was unworthy of God’s love. As a result, her behaviors and attitudes changed to more closely align with the person she believed she must be, and a few months later, she and Myles separated. (Thankfully, she eventually came back to her old self!)
At this point she was living in California. She would spend the next 10 years in the Los Angeles area working in Aerospace. Employed by Rockwell (now Boeing) and Computervision, she was a pioneer in her field. She was young and a woman, trying to tell a bunch of ‘old men’ how to do their job this new and better way. Besides secretaries, she was one of only a handful of women engineers, but she still excelled at her job. She worked on the B-1B, developed a computer program that saved the company millions of dollars, and worked on top secret government contracts that to this day, she won’t tell me about.
She made an excellent income which gave her the opportunity to travel. She spent a lot of time in the islands, Fiji being her favorite. She is a licensed scuba diver, and general adventurer. She spent a lot of money to get a custom made wet suit, as her proportions were odd, being 5’10” but very slim. “I looked hot in that thing,” she would say to me. This statement always made me smile, as I saw it reflected the change in how she saw herself.
By the time she turned 30, she had enjoyed several years of being a single, divorced Mormon, and the super fun dating life that comes with that. One day, her Mustang was giving her trouble. Now she loved cars, especially hers, but was having difficulty pinpointing the problem. The engineer in her needed to know exactly what was wrong, and didn’t want any shop trying to swindle her, so during work one day, she asked one of the guys she worked with to come out to the parking lot and look at it. He brought one of his roommates to help. At one point they tried pouring gas directly into the carburetor, which, needless to say, was a bad idea. When she started the car, hood still up, flames erupted, scorching her friend’s roommate’s arm. That man was Doug Moore, my father. She didn’t even really realize what had happened, as he just looked down at his arm, and patted it out, not really reacting. That may be the truest reflection of my father’s personality. Later that week, he decided to ask her on a date at work, because apparently catching someone’s arm on fire is a good way to get someone to ask you out. He asked her to go wind surfing, which she said no to. A swimsuit on the first date was not something she was up for. However, he was not to be deterred, and asked her again a few days later. She said no, again. Finally she said yes when he asked her to a movie. Shortly thereafter they began dating.
Now, Doug wasn’t LDS. While she was very much in love with him, she still knew she wanted a temple marriage. However, after counseling with her bishop, she decided to pursue the relationship. About a year after they had been dating, Doug took her to Diamond Head, an inactive volcano in Hawaii, and proposed. She accepted, and six months later, on October 11th, 1991, they were married.
They were both eager to start a family and on December 2nd, 1992, they welcomed yours truly into the world. In order to have me spend as little time with a babysitter as possible, they would take opposite shifts at work so at least one of them could be home. In 1994, they accepted an overseas assignment in Germany. While both of them were to be working, they never ended up sending Terri her work, so she and I traversed Europe while we lived abroad. When she returned home, she made sure she had all the correct documentation to prove that she would not accept an unpaid leave, and had to be compensated, regardless of the error that the company had made in not sending her assignment. To this day, they still tell me that story to remind me to always keep good financial records.
We were living in a condo in Redondo Beach, a few blocks from the ocean. If you know anything about California real estate, that is not a cheap place to live. Even with them both working, they knew if they ever wanted to have more kids, they would need a bigger and less expensive place. Now, a reasonable person would have moved a little more inland, but no. Not them. They moved a lot inland. As in Michigan. Because Detroit seems like a good place to move after living in a tropical climate for 10 or so years. (I’m still bitter if you can’t tell.) My father took a job with General Motors. After a year, Terri took a job answering phones for GMC customer service. This was not a job she enjoyed in the slightest. I still remember the day she told me she wouldn’t be working anymore. We were sitting on the back steps of my house, and I was so excited. “Does this mean you can play with me all day?” I asked her, putting my tiny hands on her face. She smiled, “Yes. Yes it does.”
My mother and I were very close, but we all wanted a bigger family. It had been several years now, and my parents still couldn’t get pregnant. The doctors could give them no clear answers. Terri was heartbroken, again. I didn’t make things any better by constantly bugging them about how I hated being an only child. After considering all the options, my parents decided to adopt. In 1999, they flew to Russia and picked up my two brothers, Brian and Stephen.
Shortly after we adopted them, Stephen was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, caused by heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy by his birth mother. Each person with FAS is different, but with Stephen, well, imagine Autism, with no sense of consequence, and an extremely violent side. I watched her try for years to work with him, and provide a home where he could thrive. She went to countless meetings, and support groups, and seminars to try and better understand her son and the challenges he faced. Even with all of this, she still made time to go to all of my plays, or Brian’s track and cross country meets.
In 2011, after 20 years, Terri’s dream of a temple marriage came true and my parents were sealed in the Detroit Temple. I love and respect my father, and I understand why he took so long to decide to join the church and go through the temple, but because of this, my mother was the spiritual rock of my family. She took us to church, she taught us about the scriptures, and was a beautiful example of Christlike love. She lived by the rule, “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.”
Through the years my mother has been a shining beacon of hope to me. When I felt alone, heartbroken, or lost, I could always go to her. No matter where I was in my life, I could trust her to be empathetic and understanding. She has been the most marvelous support I could have ever asked for in a parent, and I love her deeply and dearly.
As I leave you with the story of my mother, I wish to also leave you with a message. If you ever think, even for a moment, that feminism is meant to make less of the role of mother, you need to quickly reevaluate your definition of the term. Feminism is about freedom, and that all women should be allowed their free will. Narrowly defining what a woman can and cannot do, whatever it may be, goes against the very nature of the idea. The role of mother should always be respected and honored, as it is that role that has been the backbone of civilization, even when the people of the civilization degraded and oppressed it. For millenniums, it has been one of sacrifice, love, and empathy. Motherhood is truly an example of the best of humanity.
“Women’s rights in essence is really a movement for freedom, a movement for equality, for the dignity of all women, for those who work outside the home and those who dedicate themselves with more altruism than any profession I know to being wives and mothers, cooks and chauffeurs, and child psychologists and loving human beings.” – Jill Ruckelshaus
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