I chose you…

Adoption reunions can be a positive experience for all involved or create negative emotional responses.  There is much to be acknowledged from both sides of this parental coin.  Rather than rejoicing when there is a healthy re connection, a wave of understandable jealousies and fear often finds both the adoptive mother and birth mother in opposite corners with the child caught in the middle. 

To adoptive mothers everywhere, from a first mother.  A blending of my thoughts, both gentle and perhaps with a touch of harshness, but totally genuine and from my heart. 

 

I chose you.

I did not place my child because he was “unwanted.” I wanted him so much that I continued a pregnancy filled with unanswered questions.

I chose adoption because I loved my child. This parental love allowed me to put his needs before my own when making my choice.

I longed for the day I could look into my child’s eyes and tell him I love him one more time.

I hoped you would teach respect to my child by showing respect for me in your discussions.

I wished I could be there to answer my child’s questions about adoption, but, in giving him to you, I trusted you to answer them truthfully as best you could.

I never stopped thinking about my child. He will always be a part of who I am.

I would never try to disrupt my child’s new family with you. I put too much emotion and suffering into making this choice to allow anything to disrupt it – including me.

In my eyes, you will always be my child’s mother. And that thought brings me happiness, as his first mother.

 

And, since I chose you, please remember that his birth parents gave him life. Without them, you wouldn’t have had a child to raise.

Accept your child’s desire in that reconnecting with me has nothing to do with you personally; it’s not a hit against your ability to mother. None of us can be everything to our kids, natural or adopted. I wish all adoptive parents would recognize that. You can never have too many people loving your child. In the end, letting the first parents and family in can only make your relationship with your child stronger.

I find it baffling and quite interesting that so many people try to dismiss the biological bond yet act this way toward natural parents and become so frantic and threatened when mother and child find one another and attempt to have some sort of “relationship”. It is very sad and disheartening when that attempted relationship is sabotaged because of that insecurity and possessiveness. For if not for the woman who lost, they would have never gained.

For some adoptive parents, they believe that love is enough, or should be enough. After all, DNA doesn’t trump all, right? So naturally, why can’t love be enough to overcome anything?

So then you think “Well I loved my hardest and best and it still wasn’t enough, so what was wrong with me? What more could my child possibly need? Why would my child possibly need anything other than the love and nurturing I have provided?”  This sets the stage for failure and ultimately, that will take place, through no fault of the adoptive family. It’s the fact that adoption is based on a semi-broken premise and that love wasn’t enough to even begin with.

Well, understand that, for relinquishing mothers, their love was not “enough” and will never be “enough.” NEVER. But for adoptive mothers? Their love conquers this insane world! Somehow, their love is so special and magical it can erase all ties to centuries of ancestry and wipe away their adopted child’s entire culture and people with absolutely no harm or detriment to that child. But a relinquishing mother? We just loved a baby enough to give it away to strangers. Nothing magical or special about that, as we are frequently reminded. Any broad can get herself pregnant and give a baby away, but it takes someone special to be a “real mom.”

At least that’s the dominant cultural rhetoric and belief.

How many relinquishing mothers have spent the rest of our lives doubting and questioning and wondering if we will ever be “enough.” How many of us relinquishing mothers have gone on to become over-achievers, attempting always to prove our worth to the world, that somehow, we are “enough.” How many of us struggle in our relationships with our parented children because self-doubt and fear lingers?   How many of us have fought tooth and nail to rid ourselves of the lies riveted on our hearts by the adoption industry and to reclaim the truth that our love is enough?

Adoption is always about the adoptive parents. It’s about their wants and needs, their perspective, their love. Why is adoption a good thing? Because adoptive parents are (supposedly) able to love a non-biologically related child as much as a bio-one of their own. Who cares that the natural mother probably didn’t want to give the child up in the first place? Who cares what the effect is on the child from being given up by his parents and given to strangers? All that matters is the adoptive parents and their love.

Not!

Most women don’t want to relinquish their children and do so thinking they are doing the best thing because they are young, unmarried and vulnerable. When most of us realize that it was not the best thing and we find our children, or they find us, the way we are treated often develops into a reaction that marginalizes us as uninvited intruders who have no rights and have the audacity to consider our birth child’s family as our own.   Really.

Think about this…think about how many of us have lived with years of agony, not knowing if our children are dead or alive.

The searching adoptee embarks on a journey that can be full of unknowns and worries. They do not know if they will find open arms, a door slammed in their faces, or even a grave.  Adoptees may have religions, worldviews, political ideas, cultural practices, and languages that differ from those of our original families.  They may fear that, even if a connection can be made, there will be too little in common to carry on a relationship. The fear of rejection is compounded by the reality that one’s adoptive parents may make emotional distance or an emotional cut off as the result of the reunion.

The truth is that, adopted children who search for their natural parents, have no reason for shifting their loyalties and feelings. They set out on the search because there is a deep-seated need for most of them to know as much as possible about their history, both racial, cultural, personal and genetic.

Be supportive. This is not a betrayal. This is a human being looking to complete the picture of his or her life.  An adoptive family is a part of that child’s being.  Every adoptee, regardless of the circumstances, has their own unique journey to follow. Searching, connecting and reuniting with biological relatives may not be all “unicorns and rainbows”, but there is absolutely NOTHING like the feeling you get from knowing about your origins…and that feeling of connection.

Sometimes, it seems like that happens naturally. Perhaps it is due to similar personality traits between biological family members. There is a natural tendency to view things the same way, to see relationships with a similar viewpoint, to meet new situations with a recognizable attitude.

In my own reunion with my birth son, almost five years after he first found me, I do chalk up much of our ease with everything due to an innate “sameness”. I mean, I knew him before I knew him. I naturally understood and “got” him because we approach things in a very similar way. He is willful, strong minded, rebellious, non-conformist, sarcastic, kind, and confident.  I knew all that from first seeing his Facebook page and smiled at our similarities on so many levels. I had no doubt then, before we ever spoke, or met, that genetics shaped who he was and I would recognize my own blood.

While a birth mother’s experience after placement may be different in open versus closed adoptions, the process leading to the choice of adoption is much more likely to follow the same thread – love. Regardless of our place on this planet, birth mothers share the journey of facing a decision in a pregnancy and letting our love for our child lead the way. The individual circumstances may be very different from culture to culture, but ultimately, we come to a place where we feel that what is best for our child is to have a life different than what we can provide so… we choose adoption.

“Children are never really ours; they are just entrusted to us for a time by God.”  As birth mothers, we take our short time with our child very seriously, and it affects us the rest of our lives. We place that final kiss on our baby’s forehead and pass them forward to your waiting arms because we know you will be taking it very seriously too.

And remember…I chose you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Immediate Connection…

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for my birth-……………

Born…………

In……………hospital and given up for adoption.  

My name at that time was………………….

 Age…… 

Please help me by sharing this!

 

We’ve all seen them.  Photos posted here and there; a smiling face that beams with hope yet masks one more sad story of separation as they hold up a poster with details of the person they long to find. 

In my own years of searching, of always wondering, I could never quite bring myself to take such a giant forward step.   Instead, I silently admired those who made their valiant quests so very public on various social media sites.   Sure, my name and other data was out there in cyberspace, posted on one or two choice reunion sites and I shared my story here on this blog.  Public enough, at least for me.   It seemed, well…safer, protected in some way from judgmental eyes, people with no clue about my circumstances or those who probably didn’t give a damn.  Instead, almost three years ago, I chose to write about that empty spot in my life mostly to acknowledge the person involved and leave an honest record behind for my family.  And, yes, there was my hope the trail of information might someday lead to that slim chance of a reunion.

Oh boy, did it ever!

Two weeks ago, while at work, that remotest of possibilities took place with some help from Facebook’s private messaging.  You know, that little window that pops-up when one of your inner-circle friends on the site shares something not meant for all to see?   Well, there it was, in the “Other” folder and I almost…almost ignored it!  Suddenly, there was my maiden name, photos of a scanned document that I immediately recognized along with some messages.  My dear friend, Traci, was standing nearby and I yelled to her as I sat in disbelief, afraid that it was a mistake.  We both choked back tears as I kept staring at the screen and, in the span of a few seconds, there was an immediate connection as the name in the message window became real again; after 47 years, my birth son found me! 

Amazing, isn’t it?

So, where do we go from here, is what you might be thinking…right?  The answer is, we (Andrew and I) are moving forward.  Talking, messaging and getting to know each other as friends before we re-unite as family.   For me, the opportunity to explain, to find no anger from my birth son for the painful decision I made long ago,  to enjoy the support of my family, well, it’s the best possible gift.  I sit back and watch the comments fly on Facebook, enjoying so many similarities in the conversations that we all share.  Love it or hate it, the social media platform has paved the way for so many people to re-connect and situations like mine are the proof…an absolute positive.

The most important part of all this are the two people who have been, and will always be, Andrew’s parents.  All I did was to introduce him to this universe, they gave him what I was unable to all those years ago; they loved someone else’s child as their own. 

And I thank them!

 

Mama’s Losin’ It
One of the prompts from Mama Kat’s this time around was “something that made you smile this week”….honestly, my “something” has had me smiling, ear-to-ear, since January 31st!   What I’ve shared here isn’t an exercise in prose or poetry, it’s a long-overdue story, written from my heart.  For anyone who is searching for someone, never, ever give up.  Miracles, well, they do happen!

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Part of me is missing…

 

 

I looked down at the tiny bundle, quietly telling him that I loved him, one last time. As I sat in the wheelchair, outside the hospital doors, a woman got out of a black Lincoln, walked over to me and reached for the baby. With tears, I handed him to her and she quickly walked back to the waiting car. The driver of the car was easily recognizable, he had come to see me in the hospital after the baby was born, to see what I was like and to make sure I hadn’t changed my mind, about the adoption. That was the last time I ever saw my very first baby, my birth son, more than 40 years ago.

As quickly as I could, I got into the car that was waiting to take me home, along with my mother who showed no sign of emotion and instead remarked, “Well, that’s over and done with!” We pulled away from the curb and I turned around to see the black car leave behind us and turn in the opposite direction. Nothing else was said during the ride home, in fact, where my mother was concerned, it was already ancient history. 

It had been a high school romance that continued long after graduation and into my boyfriend’s short-lived first year of college. I went into secretarial work shortly after while he managed to flunk out of his first year of school.  The family business became his next option. Life progressed and there was talk about marriage, at some point in the future. Meanwhile, my parents, who had been separated for several months, were actively embattled in a divorce. I wanted out, anywhere but where I was, someplace where I wasn’t caught in the middle of their warfare. And so, I managed to get pregnant, a moment of deliberate carelessness that I thought would be my way out.

When the news hit on the boyfriend’s side, his parents were anything but pleased; in fact, his mother offered to send me to Puerto Rico for “an abortion and a vacation”, as she so kindly stated, going on to say that “there would be no marriage, we were much too young”. We were both 22 years old. The now ex-boyfriend quickly joined the Air Force without so much as one last word and I made the adoption decision with the intervention of my Obstetrician, it was handled privately through my father’s attorney.

To my mother, my condition was a matter of embarrassment and furthered the heated arguments between her and my father. They fought about anything and everything while I tried to become invisible in their angry lives. My pregnancy managed to go by quickly and the baby came exactly nine months after my birthday, the night he was conceived. I requested that my newborn son be brought to me for all feedings, much to my mother’s dismay and the surprise of the hospital nurses. I even went so far as to fill out his birth certificate information; naming him made him completely mine, at least for the three days I was able to count his tiny toes and fingers and just hold him.

I had no visitors, with the exception of my mother and a man who came into my room, armed with a Polaroid camera, a copy of J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey” and his business card. He was an attorney and, as I later found out, the father of the adoptive mother, the driver of the car waiting outside the hospital when I was released.   A fast talker, he spent time questioning me about my background along with other subjects. He threw out questions about politics and the arts almost as if he wanted to see if I was an intelligent person or just some stupid girl who got herself in “the family way”. I fired back, with acceptable answers,  and he finally stopped with his third-degree asking then if he could take my picture. I agreed. He then wrote his home telephone number on his business card, told me to call him with anything I needed, wished me all the best, and he left.

That card was the only connection I had to my birth son and I left it tucked between the pages of the book. Sometime after I returned home from the hospital, my mother deliberately threw them out; her way of making life disappear. One day the mail brought the baby’s hospital photographs; my information was on his birth certificate so the pictures automatically came to me. I have them still.

I went on to marry and have children, I have a good life but the emptiness inside has never gone away. As time went on, stories about adoptees searching for their birth parents gained popularity on television and elsewhere in the media; by now, my son was well into adulthood. Over the last twenty years, I’ve registered with as many birthparent websites as possible just to have my information out there should my son ever look, avoiding the scam-oriented, paid search “specialists” who provide little, or no, positive information.

After all this time I still wonder if my son was ever told that he was adopted and if he was, what he was told about me. He might know and have no interest in finding me, he might have been told I died or, worse yet, he might be dead. I will continue to search with the hope of someday being reunited with my son, to let him see the person I am, to make him understand why I made the heartbreaking choice in giving him up for adoption.

And to tell him that I love him…again.

 

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Once the “Publish” button was hit, I had second thoughts. 

What was it about this missing part of my life that just reached in and pulled such a tender memory out of my heart and onto this screen?   For me, it was about sharing a loss, something that I had been told to just put out of my mind almost forty-five years ago.

How can any woman make believe a life never existed? 

Adoption, abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS,  loss of a child in an accident or through an illness, it’s all the same.  If you have a heart, part of every breath you take belongs to the child you helped create.  It belongs to their memory. 

Since I’ve gone this far, I’ll share a little more.  The name on the birth certificate reads Stephen Lee Smith, born June 7, 1967 in New Rochelle Hospital here in New York. 

He was mine.  Just for three days.

 

Update!   It took almost 47 years but, on January 31, 2015, a private message on Facebook opened the door for a reunion I thought would never take place.  He found me!  One of the first things I wanted him to share was to thank his wonderful parents for giving him the life I could not, those many years ago.  Now, we’re busy with e-mails, phone calls and getting to know each other…at last!

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