no more april fool

I have often wondered what role my own birth played in the layout of my life.  It was a rather traumatic birth.  The doctors – insisting that they knew more than the millions of women who’d given birth before their intervention – told my mom they were going to have to induce and told Mama to pick a time.  So she picked her own birthday, April 27.

She tried to have me naturally, but the doctor kept telling her that her tension was pushing me back up into the birth canal (really???  as if someone can really do that, are you kidding me????).  So they knocked her out – literally put her into unconsciousness and yanked me out of the birth canal.  My only thought on that is that perhaps she wasn’t pushing me back up into the birth canal.  Perhaps I was trying to tell those clowns I wasn’t ready yet (I mean, let a girl finish putting on her eyebrows, for crying out loud!!!)!

I lived most of my life half of the time, it seemed, in paralysis, frozen, at a complete standstill on how to proceed with what was confronting me.  In some ways, I’m still catching up.  It seemed that everything that came to me I was hopelessly ill-prepared for.  I know how the deer in the headlights feels.  I spent a lot of time there.

My son’s due date wasn’t until April.  When it became obvious he had other plans to get on with it sooner, I wanted so much, so much, to slow it down.  I wanted to keep him with me just a little while longer while he was nobody else’s but mine, and I didn’t have to share him with anybody.  He came beautifully and perfectly formed.  He was plump, his head was perfectly and beautifully round, and his coloring was magnificent.

When I was carrying him, I couldn’t imagine that I had anything to offer him.  Any and all inadequacy I’d ever felt was compounded in amplification.

I grew up in a home that was a drunken mess…only it was one dry drunk and another binge drinker, so, in some ways I never really got to know what true sobriety was.  After my stint in rehab, sobriety became a wondrous world I wanted to explore to the fullest.  I started learning about boundaries: making them, enforcing them, and learning where the boundaries were outside the space I was occupying.  It was all very fascinating, this newly discovered world.

And as my son was approaching his teenage years, I lamented at all the things I was learning that I didn’t get to pass on to him: how to hide his heart from predators, and what it means to not be a predator.  I didn’t get to teach him what I learned about sex – which didn’t actually start to hit me until I confronted his biological father with the possibility of becoming pregnant.  It was one of those times when the words within me were a revelation, an eye-opener to me.  I wanted to feel him out one day as to where I really stood with him and whether or not the relationship was truly as dead-end as I’d been suspecting, so I told him I was having stomach trouble and put it out there, ‘Maybe I’m pregnant’ followed by a nervous laugh.  He shuddered and asked what I would do if I became pregnant.  I think I looked at him like, ‘Are you insane???’  I’ve never had a poker face, and that’s exactly what I was feeling, so…I said to him, ‘What do you mean, what would I do?  I would raise our kid, that’s what!  I mean, I love you…What???’  As he proceeded to tell me what he would and wouldn’t do (he wouldn’t marry me, but he would help pay for an abortion) when those words, “Well, I wouldn’t marry you” hit me, this thought within me was so resoundingly clear, ‘Well, then, what are you doing sleeping with me?  I mean, HELLO!  It is called, procreation!! (and for years I kicked myself for not saying what I was thinking out loud).

So, so many things I wanted him to know, specifically, to grow up knowing.  So, so many things I’ve wanted him to know from my heart, the   But, God, I was lost…and spinning, and in dark cloud upon dark cloud…and..lost….

All I can say is, if I’d known better, I’d have done better, and I’ll say it again: that’s all I can say.  

about those family secrets…bombs away!

One of the biggest fears I faced when I became pregnant was of telling my dad.  It had been threatened (not in so many words per se – which, in my case, was perhaps far more threatening and/or affecting than words) that if I ever became pregnant out of wedlock I would be disowned.

So when I told my mom about my situation and asked for advice on how to go about breaking it to Dad, she didn’t hesitate or even blink at the thought of dropping this rather massive bombshell on me:  “I’m going to let you in on a little secret about your dad,” and she proceeded to tell me about an affair that he’d had with a married woman during the war when he was stationed somewhere over in Europe (the only place he ever talked about being stationed in his conversations about WWII was France, but that was in peacetime, just after the war had ended…he never would talk about where he was actually stationed during the war but would kind of dance around that particular subject with vagueness….perhaps the circumstances of his eldest son coming to be are part of the reason…I may have recently uncovered where this affair took place, but I’ve digressed enough…).  I knew the woman a little.  She and her husband remained family friends, and Mom still hears from a couple of their children, even to this very day (the children, neither of which are my brother…we’ve never heard from him as far as I know…).  The woman’s husband had denied her sexual relations for I guess what she’d considered an unreasonable length of time.  The affair with my dad produced a son whom her husband raised as his own, even though the man obviously knew the boy was not his biologically.  And this is how my mother told me not to worry about how my dad would react.  As far as I know, both parents left this world without ever having told him.  I’m the only one who knows…my brother still does not know about our elder brother, as far as I know…perhaps it’s time for me to let him in on the secret, but I really don’t know…

I found these little bits of evidence after Daddy died; these artifacts hold pictures of my brother when he was little, the words his mother wrote of him, and, to my knowledge, all that my dad would ever have as a reminder of the son he never really got to know:

photo2 005

These are among the precious few remaining personal affects that have survived of my dad in his youth.  The black book on the right is a baby book which contains recorded highlights and small pictures of their son in his first six months of life.  The writings reveal that she truly loved my dad and wanted him to be part of their son’s life in some small way (Daddy was, interestingly, named as his son’s godfather and can be seen in a picture within the pages of the baby book of the child’s christening – with the “father” [the woman’s husband] pictured on the left; the mother is pictured in the middle and holding the baby wearing a long christening gown, and my dad is pictured on the right in his military uniform).  The light grey piece in the middle is a portrait of the child at approximately 2 years of age.  The identification card holder on the left contains a couple of business cards of some doctors in Paris, some small pieces of paper with handwritten names and addresses, and a few snapshots of the boy at around 5 years of age.  My understanding is that when Dad became serious about his relationship with my mom, he asked the woman to stop providing him with with news of their son.  I have been digging for years to try and find out his whereabouts, and I think I may have just recently located my brother who is now in his sixties.

I have wanted to meet my brother for years.  Now that I may have tracked him, I am conflicted about whether to contact him and introduce myself to him as his sister.  This means dropping a bombshell on him.  While he may have the right to know that we are brother and sister and share a biological link through my dad, the real question is this: Do I have a right to change what he knows about himself?  This means also changing who he knows his mother to be, and, obviously, she chose not to reveal that she fell in love with another man and conceived a child with him while married to her husband (the woman and her husband remained married until his death in the late 20th century).  She passed away a few years ago, and, as far as I know, she took the secret of her son’s conception to her grave with her.  It is her secret, and she has a right to it – and yet it is not her secret, and she doesn’t have a right to it…he’s my brother!  You know?

Therein lies the conundrum of the dark side of family secrets.  Here, I have a brother I desperately want to know.  He has a sister and brother beyond the family he was raised with that he probably has no idea about.  Lord, in heaven, help us all!!

portrait of a broken family

I think that actively seeking to forgive myself and others for their role in the relinquishment of my child to adoption has enabled me to start opening up a little to my mom about what it was like for me to be in the process of self-annihilating so hideously while every single person with whom I came into contact not only watched but patted me on the back as well, telling me what a wonderful thing I was doing.

I’m definitely out of the anger stage of the grieving process.  In the past few weeks, where I’ve found myself in the process is having basically succumbed to a grievous, grievous horror at the realization of all that was happening.

My mother is the reason I do not carry vengeance in my heart toward anyone involved because I know my mom would not knowingly cause me harm.   I know with all of my heart that my mom has never wanted anything but the best for me.  And my dad, for all of his hardness and unwillingness to extend mercy, wouldn’t have wished what I’ve gone through on his worst enemy.  For all his shortcomings, I know he loved me too and would not wish even the most minuscule amount of harm on me.  I suppose the knowledge of this is partly how I have survived up to this point and how I continue to survive.

The birth of his first and only grandchild should have been one of the most joyous events of his life.  Instead, this is where it left him: crumbling to pieces, as this picture, to me, clearly shows.  Within 4 years from the taking of this photograph, my dad would be gone from this world.

dad92

A picture can tell infinitely more than thousands of words can.  Nearly 21 years later, this photo is still nearly impossible to bear and/or believe.  The fact that this adoption took place is a testament to how egregiously all was not well with this family.  To me, it couldn’t be more abundantly clear that this is the point at which all of the family secrets – the elephant herd that had been angrily charging in the room for decades – had hit home to deal their final death blow.  As I watched this terrible process unfold of my whole world, and my whole family, falling apart, there was little satisfaction in having such a clear illustration and confirmation of how destructive family secrets can be.

adoption is…

The biggest thing that struck me about what Nancy shared was how adoption, so often, seems to be one lifelong, inescapable life interruption.  From the very moment of separation, so begins the interruption, and the interruption continues and often increases in frequency and intensity.  I have fractured myself.  I have fractured my family.  I cannot escape it.

So maybe it’s time to go back, have a talk with that pregnant woman, and tell her…I’m sorry…I love you.  Maybe this will finally be the start of the healing of these fractures.

1992

the cost of freedom

This weekend I’ve been examining various choices made throughout my life, starting with my 1st marriage.  As I started digging through the rubble of my past, I started going a little further back and started looking at where it all started.

In the house where I grew up, my dad was a very stern disciplinarian who considered any show of mercy a sign of weakness.  His rigid exterior, however, could not hide a man at the edge of a major breaking point.  We all tip-toed around as if attempting not to crush egg shells and broken glass.  I remember a couple of times I really wanted to call my dad out on the injustices he was inflicting on us…what stopped me was an even deeper sense that there was such a fragility there, such a low reserve, that he could not withstand the blow of being confronted.  It would have been the truth, but I couldn’t bring myself to hit him with it.  I didn’t know back then that the truth would not kill.

There was a very traumatic shift in our relationship when I was somewhere around 6 or 7 years of age.  I have mulled over what might have motivated my father’s choices, pretty much my entire adult life.  I love my dad, fiercely, but even with all the searching I’ve done to try and understand what may have led him to do some of the things he did I cannot defend the choices he made with me and with our family.  I have learned to separate the man from his actions.  As much as I love him, and as much as I’ve been gifted with some insights into what may have been driving him, none of that will never mean that his choices were okay.  Forgiving my dad is where I learned that forgiving does not mean excusing bad behavior.  As for the emotional abandonment, I have come to understand that something very profoundly traumatic in his own life led to it, but whatever that was, he went to his grave without ever having said a word to anyone.  One day, we were best buds, the next, I was locked out in a very traumatic event and was never let back in.  Love became a carrot being dangled in front of me, and it wasn’t until the day before the surgery that inevitably killed him that his love and approval once again became achievable without having to jump through hoops.  He stayed in the home, physically, as a very imposing figurehead.  In my early teens, I thought his sole purpose for living was to make all of our lives miserable, and I was perplexed and frustrated with my mom for not divorcing him…but, again, that fragility, that blasted underlying fragility that we all sensed…My prison pretty much started with my dad, who was the cell, the bars, the guard, and the warden, all wrapped up into one very complex package.  My 1st marriage was merely a transfer of prison facilities (I was married at age 22 and divorced at 24).

My dad was a very cunning manipulator and set the pattern for the kind of men I would attract throughout my life: that sort of love/hate relationship pattern – but usually leaning more toward the hate – with that always present unidentifiable something more to it that I wanted desperately to resolve.  Until finding my current husband, the only man in my history whose M.O. didn’t include yanking my chain in some way or another was the man who ended up being my child’s biological father.  Of all the things he was or wasn’t to me, the thing that was so huge was the fact that he wasn’t trying to work an angle of some kind.  As a result, he was the 2nd longest relationship in my life, prior to falling in love with the man who is now my husband.  When I was choosing a couple for my child to be adopted by, the primary deciding factor was the father.  I had not known what it was to have a man fully invested in maintaining a healthy relationship, and when I was pregnant, that was one of the main ways I felt stuck.  More than wanting him to have the mother I feared I couldn’t be, I wanted my baby to have a dad who was present, emotionally available, and fully engaged in having a good relationship with him.  That was just huge to me.

I continued to flounder in relationships in the 2 years following my son’s birth then lost interest in relationships for a couple of years or so when I first became committed to following the Lord.  Once that part of my interest became reawakened, it was the same battle over and over.  At least the power of God gave me some ammo and equalized the battlefield.  Every man I seemed attracted to and/or seemed to attract proved to be yet another snare to break free from – until my now beautiful husband.  He is my reward for persevering.

With Jesus, there came the ability to see through the pretty words cloaking hidden agendas and power to choose whether I wanted to participate.  There were times I ignored the instincts given me because I wanted to, but I still discerned that which had been concealed before.  Before the game was changed, I was a trampled doormat that kept on getting trampled repeatedly.  The only thing that changed from incident-to-incident was the footprints, and I was powerless against it.  I lived my life completely like an inanimate object in pretty much all my relationships.  Not even something as powerful and life-changing as having a child could break that pattern.  I hated it, but I didn’t have a clue what to do about it before being awakened by a power greater than myself.

I remember now: that powerlessness was what I was most afraid of.  It was one thing to be a victim myself….it was quite another to bring my child into it.  My biggest motivation for giving him up was breaking a really sick cycle that I didn’t know how to break in my own life.  I wish I’d have been able to see it was possible to both raise my son and break that pattern.  Getting free cost me more than it should ever have had to.

a little of my story

For anyone new to my story, I am not the kind of birthmother I am advocating for – but I’m not not the kind of birthmother and/or prospective birthmother I am advocating for either.  Specifically, my situation was this: No one coerced me to give my baby up for adoption.  In some ways, maybe, adoption for me is harder to grapple with than if I had been coerced because I have only myself to look to whenever I feel victimized…victimized by my own ignorance.  It’s still hard for me to comprehend the levels of self-loathing I have experienced through the years – even to the point I believed at times I deserved the punishment I’ve lived in – which is an oxymoron because I don’t believe that anyone deserves that kind of punishment.

I was very resolute and had convinced myself that I was not mother material – which I’m sure also made me very convincing to everyone I was speaking to about it.  Getting pregnant made me stop and pay attention to my life in a way that I hadn’t done before, and it made me see how aimless I was, how messed up a person I was, and how messed up my life was.  I thought, ‘I’ve made my bed and have no choice but to lie in it,’ but I didn’t feel it was fair for this baby, who was an innocent life and had done nothing wrong, to have to lie in it with me.  I was 26 and had lived long enough to see that I was stuck but not long enough to see that it was possible to get unstuck.  So, I guess the whole self-loathing thing really took root even deeper then.  And I had not come across anyone who seemed to have any of the answers I’d been seeking.  Sometimes even the most mundane and basic things that seemed to come to a lot of people without much thought or effort would be baffling and overwhelming to me.  What my life looked like when I was pregnant was a fast-moving train that was headed for derailment.

It probably wasn’t until moving to California in the month before my son’s 2nd birthday that I ran into a kind of “happy accident” as I sometimes like to call it: Rehab.  With all the gamut of internal struggles, I had been trying for years to self-medicate, mostly with alcohol and pretty much any drug anyone would put in front of me.  The story of how I got there is interesting but not necessarily relevant to what I’m trying to express here.  I tried for a while after my son’s birth to stay away from substances but had reached a point of such numbness…I felt like a walking dead person…how I chose to handle the crisis was the same way I’d chosen to handle every crisis: Screw this!  Will someone please tell me why I’m existing in this hell sober?

When it was first suggested I go through treatment, I didn’t understand why but basically said, ‘What the hell…I’ve tried everything else known to man…what can it hurt?’  I didn’t think of myself as an addict.  But the more I went into those rooms where I was being introduced to the 12-step program, the more I started hearing similarities in the way that I’d been thinking and conducting my life.  Gradually, the fog began to clear, and I started really making a connection with God, and things started looking up.  The dark and terrifying places I’d been going to in my mind and emotions were not as dark, not as terrifying – not that I couldn’t be knocked off balance…it just kept getting better the more I sought the Lord and the more I simply stayed away from drugs and alcohol.  That fog clearing was a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, I was happy about my newfound freedom; on the other hand, I began to wish I’d known there was a way out sooner as the fog clearing also meant that the horror and regret over having made the choice to give up my son was all the more apparent.  I remember well the day when I had the thought, It would have been okay after all...I’ll never forget it, I can still remember where I was when the thought hit me, everything.  I was crushed…so I leaned on the Lord even heavier and poured myself even more into learning more about God, about myself in relation to God, and, in all my searching, Jesus was the most shining example I’d found to follow.  And I devoted myself to following Him with everything that was within me.

Whenever I’d see boys around the same age as my son I would wonder if that little boy would be someone my boy would want to play with and hang out with.  I’d see things I imagined would be similar mannerisms, similar interests, sometimes I would even see similarities in appearances, just little nuances here and there to my boy like maybe in the shape of the face, the hair color or cut, a piece of clothing similar to clothes my son was wearing in the pictures his parents were sending me.

And that brings me to the pictures.  In the throes of my active addiction I managed to lose almost everything I owned, sometimes a piece at a time and sometimes in whole chunks.  After sobering up, what I didn’t lose in my disease I threw away because it was too painful a reminder of the past that I was trying so desperately to purge.  There came a point, literally, when the only thing I had with me from my past was the pictures of my baby.  The agreement was that, in the first year, I would receive pictures and update letters every 4 months, then after the first birthday I would receive them every 6 months, then every year around his birthday thereafter.

The parents were so proud!!  And I couldn’t help but be proud too…such an exquisite, exceptional, beautiful child…kind of bittersweet, you know?  As he grew from a baby, to a toddler, to a little boy I was so falling in love with the person I was seeing through those pictures and through the letters telling me about him…falling deeper and deeper in love with each passing year.  As he grew, I could see that he was growing up a sweet and confident young man with a very intelligent mind with a sort of focused resolution to himself.  I’ve said it for years and years…those pictures, those letters were my absolute lifeline.  I can’t imagine how awful it is when parents do not honor their agreements to send the pictures they promise…it is the most brutal betrayal any mother can endure – which is why I’m so rabid about defending the rights of each mother where we have been tossed aside, betrayed, violated in such countless ways…that betrayed birthmother is me, and I am her; we are one.  I’ll never forget the first woman who told me she had a daughter she’d given up; she was promised the same thing but after only a few short years the letters and pictures stopped coming.  She had no idea where her daughter was, how she was, she knew nothing…horrifying…and terrifying!  I mean, in my heart, I didn’t feel the people raising my son were capable of something so callous, but, you know…that fear and insecurity was always there, lurking.  The day of his birthday would always feel precarious, and the package would usually arrive some time after his birthday.  It was the biggest relief imaginable when their packages would arrive in the mail as promised.

I’ve been crying desperately through this post, and I feel feverish and sick in my stomach like I’m coming down with something, so I’m going to jump off here with a promise of more later when I’ve kicked this thing’s butt!

a heavy revvy

Seeing this today on facebook really hit me like a ton of bricks (that first comment is mine):

fbrevvy

Is it too much to ask for a little humanity here???  In this modern era we have been perfecting ways to very clinically deal with women who get pregnant under the societal norm’s less than ideal circumstances, and the best we can do after decades is move us through like a bunch of cattle?  I grew up on a livestock farm.  I have experienced life on a farm, cows and sheep calving, de-worming, all the things a farmer must do to make a living off of livestock.  It’s very difficult to see our approaches as much different than life on the farm…(and no wonder I couldn’t burn rubber to get off the farm fast enough once I came of age…but, then, that’s for another entry, perhaps…hmm…I’m building up quite a few of those, innit??  :D)).

They “counsel” many women before sending them to the stirrups to terminate “unwanted**” pregnancies, but, as far as I know, they never show them films of or offer the chance to speak to women who went before them recounting the deep dark secrets that haunt them from having terminated.  When I was newly pregnant, and word got out in our rather closely knit community that I was pregnant and considering relinquishing to adoption, there were so, so many women who sought me out to tell me that they wish they’d done what I did instead of terminating (of course, now, though, looking back, I would tell them with emphatic certainty: ‘No.  You really don’t wish you’d done what I did…please, pretty please, just trust me on that…’).

I had counseling…the whole time I was pregnant.  I had access to women’s health organizations.  Not one entity who knew what I was doing offered me any films or conversations with birth moms whose ties were completely severed from their children – or with children who grew up adopted either, for that matter.  Since everyone else around me was taking my word for it that I knew what I was doing (even though, I clearly see now that I didn’t have a clue), including my own family, the most useful counseling would have been this rich, untapped resource of experience.

Haven’t enough people been wounded past the point of recovery?  Haven’t we done enough damage?  Haven’t we figured out that our children are the greatest thing about us?  Haven’t we figured out that a woman considering relinquishing for adoption during pregnancy is the very person who should be considered to put the wellbeing of her child first, so, therefore should be given first consideration and opportunity for the giving of that child to raise?  Did the story of Solomon judging between the 2 women who gave birth, but one woman’s died and she stole the other woman’s and tried to pass the child off as her own teach us nothing – after thousands of years to have this lesson sink in??? (For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Solomon was David’s successor to the throne of Israel, and one of the first issues brought to him at the beginning of his reign was the case between the 2 women: 1Kings 3:16-28).  GOD!!!  Please help us stop the madness!!!

** – re: “unwanted**” – It is my opinion that no pregnancy is truly unwanted.  I believe the very desire for sexual encounter is rooted in an even deeper desire to procreate, but, then, that would upset a lot of feminist and probably even humanist sensibilities, so I won’t expound on that too much more…for now…

Breathe

I want to find a way to do that, just breathe…breathe and trust the process. I need to find my way back to some gratitude – and not the false advertising kind of gratitude, but gratitude that comes from a place of rest, rest in the knowledge that everything will work out for the best.

I gave birth in my native Northwest Arkansas but moved to California just before my son’s 2nd birthday and was there until he was almost 18. The last 10 years while there, I had a pastor who, upon many attempts to escape, discouraged me from coming back to the area I’m from and where my son lives. I valued his input, so I heeded his words though I desperately didn’t want to. But, I tell you, if just one word had come my way even hinting that my son needed me here, I’d have crawled on my hands and knees the 2,000 miles if I had to – even if the pastor would have strictly forbidden it. My son is a part of me where I will not be deterred, and I will not be moved.

I went to rehab after moving to Cali and sobered up. And when I say I sobered up, I mean, it really scared the piss out of me when I stopped drinking and doing the things I was doing long enough to realize how incredibly, insanely, unnaturally lucky I was to be alive and how close death’s door was to swallowing me whole. It would have come so quickly I’d have never known what hit me and eaten me up without remorse and without a moment’s thought or hesitation. While I was in my addiction, I didn’t really care if it did come. But when I started coming out of the fog, and started waking up to reality, I found a very ferocious desire to live all of a sudden. After a few years of getting my head screwed back on straight, of course, I was devastated at what it had cost me. My choices had cost me my son…my beautiful, beautiful son…

Once I decided that I was going to let the pregnancy come to term, I did quit drinking and smoking cigarettes, and everything else. I took really good care of myself, in fact. But I didn’t do any kind of program or anything then. I just quit to focus on something else. Even though I wasn’t drinking or using any other intoxicants, I wouldn’t call myself sober because I definitely wasn’t thinking like a sober person…and I do know the difference now. One must reprogram one’s mind to think like a sober person in order to stay sober. For me, this is an irrefutable fact. So when my thinking started functioning more soberly, I really wanted nothing else but to go back and choose to raise my son. I spent a good 2 years in nothing but mourning over that, to the point I could do little else.

I knew I couldn’t rip him from the only parents he’d ever known by that point, but I did start to seriously regret having not insisted on the possibility of having contact with him in some form or another. So, finally, when my son was around age 9, I worked up the courage to write to his adoptive parents and express my regret at having shut myself completely out of his life. I asked if it might be possible to have some kind of contact with him. They wrote back to me fairly quickly and very politely shut that down.

There was nothing else to do but persevere. It was like trudging through sludge. I look back on that time, that very lonely, lonely and very hard time…it is amazing the things we can endure that necessity dictates. If one chooses not to end her life, then living through these things becomes a non-option. Don’t tell me there isn’t grace!!! If there wasn’t grace, the anguish would have vaporized me. For me, that is another one of those irrefutable facts.

I don’t know what I expected when he turned 18, but I wasn’t about to not be close by if he did express that he wanted to meet me. Coming back to the place of his birth and the place where he grew up was like visiting the scene of the crime. I had to drive through the town where he was raised twice a day to get to work for over a year. I was hit with wave after wave of pure grief for the first few months, and then the old familiar and faithful perseverance kicked in. Didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It just means I learned to cope.

I still don’t know what I expect, and I’ve actually put forth considerable effort into letting my only expectation be to meet him and let things unfold very naturally as they will. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a relationship to develop from that meeting, but I am also very aware that I have no control over the outcome. Want and expectation are 2 different things to me. Expectation, to me, carries with it an air of entitlement that I find very ugly. It is not always easy to avoid the pitfall of expectation, but the hand I’ve been dealt in this life has helped me learn a thing or two about avoiding it (ironic laugh). Want is a completely different – and, I feel, a necessary – thing for ensuring any kind of quality of life. The things I want in life help inspire me to get out of bed and put forth the effort required to get from day to day and find my place in this world. I want a relationship with my son, so much more than I can express with words. I expect nothing except what he will decide and do where I am concerned. People will only give you what they are willing to give wholeheartedly, and if they are willing to give you anything at all from the true value and beauty of who they are, then that is a gift and certainly not something to be taken lightly or for granted.

I acknowledge that the potential for having my heart broken exists. I’ve been aware of this potential for over 20 years. But, then, that is the risk one takes in bringing a human being into this world. Humans come into this world endowed with fully functioning wills of their own, and they will make choices throughout the courses of their lives according to those wills (those pesky, pesky wills…). Some of those choices will break people’s hearts…some of the people whose hearts might get broken might happen to be their own parents, a mom, a dad, natural or otherwise. I’ve come to accept that heartbreak is just part of the risky business of living in the skin of humanity…

Questions

I became a part of an adoption reunion support group about a year and a half ago or so.  Our group is open to basically anyone who is touched by adoption and has reunited or is looking into possibly reuniting.  We have quite a few people who were adopted in the group.  When I first started listening to their stories and seeing them grapple with the prospect of searching for or meeting their birth parents, or grapple with the results of having met, it was the first cold, hard slap in the face to awaken me to the impact of my decision to relinquish: ‘They’re afraid of their own mothers…My God…oh Lord…oh Jesus…, WHAT have I DONE??’

I thought I had thought it all the way through when I was in the process of deciding to relinquish, but I didn’t have enough insight to think far enough.  How could severing an infant’s only biological link to this world not have far-reaching and profound consequences?  What conflicts of divided loyalties did I create for him?

I got to know my son’s adoptive parents somewhat when I was carrying him.  I would meet with them once a month at my counselor’s office.  I had him at home in my apartment with a midwife and kept him with me for 5 days and nursed him before placing him into his adoptive mother’s arms.  So when I was out and about this past May, and my baby’s adoptive father happened by, I recognized him instantly.  My son was 20 and in college by this point, and I’d spent at least 2 years fretting over whether he might possibly want to meet me or not.  The dad’s immediate reaction when he recognized me was to apologize for not letting me know sooner that during his Christmas break 5 months before, he’d shown his parents my facebook page and told them that I’d gotten married (even though I’d written to tell them that myself, but the man had for forgotten…but anyway…).  He said it was nothing personal against them but that he wanted to meet me.  They immediately communicated to him that they are completely supportive of him in this.

So 7 months later I am still waiting, having no idea if it’s appropriate to be the one to reach out to him or if I should let him find me in his own time, in his own way.  Giving up my parental rights has caused me to second-guess myself in matters concerning him absolutely all the time.  Sometimes I just want to throw caution to the wind and reach out to him on facebook as I have no idea how to have direct contact with him otherwise.  I don’t know if he’s afraid, and, if so, I don’t know what it is he might be afraid of.  I don’t know if he’s just busy being a 20-year-old, in college, discovering life outside the nest.  Perhaps it’s a little of all of the above – or none of the above?

My compulsion, consistently, through the years has been to find some way of telling him that my decision had nothing to do with not wanting him.  I want him to know that he was wanted, he was loved, and still is.  If I can get that across to him, if I can just convey that, I feel I can handle whatever does or does not happen beyond that.