It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a personal update. And I’m not quite sure how to even start this blog. So many thoughts are running through my head and I can’t seem to organize them all. Even after 2 days of taking everything in. Where to begin?
Saturday afternoon I sent my oldest daughter out to check the mail for me. When she walked in the door I could see that she had a larger envelope. The color and type of envelope she was carrying is what IKL’s parents have typically sent updates in, in the past. That was confusing, though, because I usually only receive something in the actual snail mail about every 2 years or so. We had just received a small photo book several months ago. But, sure enough, the return address stated her parent’s first names and the PO Box they had set up for me to send things. I thought to myself, “What a pleasant surprise!” I anticipated some pictures, maybe an update.
Let me back up a bit…
Because, by nature, being a birthmother always means being scared you may say or do the wrong thing or that at any moment contact can be cut off, I sometimes feel as if I’m in a perpetual state of unrest. Just before Christmas I had sent off a “Merry Christmas” e-mail. There was no response to that email. And even though (by this time) it had only been 16 days since Christmas, my insecurities started showing through and my mind went to those places. The places that say, “I must have said the wrong thing or overstepped my boundaries somewhere. I wonder if they’ve decided they don’t want to talk to me anymore. I wonder if this is how they are TOTALLY closing the adoption, by just not replying.” I have no rational reason to think they would do that. There have been longer time periods where they haven’t replied. But each time I don’t receive a response after about a week my mind let’s loose the beasts of worry. Let’s face it, there is always that possibility. And I think the fall out that led to no more visits may have given me a little bit of some PTSD about it.
Where was I? Oh yeah…
A package from IKL’s parents.
I opened the large envelope and saw a news letter type paper with pictures and some typed words. I started there. There was some talk of the new year, the Life Book I had sent, all very positive. The next line stopped my heart…
It stated that there was a letter enclosed from IKL to my husband.
I didn’t even get to the rest of what was written. I began to shake the large envelope so that it’s contents fell onto the couch where I was sitting. The whole time I was thinking, “Did I read that right? No. I must have read that wrong.” Sure enough, two smaller envelopes fell out of the large envelope. One had no writing on it and one was sealed with a “TO: and FROM:” handwritten on the outside. Now, my husband was in the most precarious of positions at this moment. I didn’t care. I busted open the bathroom door and shouted, “You got a letter from IKL! You got a letter from IKL!” He looked at me like the crazed maniac that I was. I don’t think he fully comprehended what I had just said. His response was, “What? From who?” I repeated myself. Again, “To me?” I just shook the envelope at him wanting him to take it while repeating, “Yes, yes, yes!!” It was then that he asked me to leave the bathroom. I realized how silly I must have looked and exited.
My husband was so sweet. He wanted to open the envelope perfectly. I wanted him to tear open the envelope, the hell with it all!! He asked for scissors to make the perfect straight incision at the top of that little gold mine he was holding. He was careful to make sure he didn’t accidentally cut the actual letter itself. I tried to take it from him because he was being too slow. I said, “I’ll open it, here give it to me.” He pulled it out of my reach and said, “Stop. I want it to be a nice opening.” Yes, I was a lunatic for about half an hour. I admit it. I own it. I wanted to respect the privacy that the letter to him had held. I wanted to respect IKL and the fact that she had written to my husband and not me. But, more than anything, I wanted to hold something she had held. I wanted to touch something that had been in her hands. I wanted to see words written from her own hand. A hand that, not so long ago but oh so long ago, I had touched. A hand that I had counted all the fingers on, kissed. You see, we have never had any communication from IKL. From her parents, yes. But never directly from her. No e-mails, no letters, no phone calls. About a year and a half ago I began writing to her and sending her things, as well as her sisters, but J never had.
For one, J isn’t big on writing letters to anyone. He will only write if he can type it out and print it. He loathes writing by hand. Always has. For two, J wasn’t quite sure about me writing her, let alone doing it himself. He didn’t want to “step on toes” as he put it. He didn’t feel he had the right. He wasn’t sure if she would even welcome it. Me, I decided to just bite the bullet and do it. In my heart I felt she needed it or, at the very least, would enjoy it. J was very unsure. But, then again, J has reason to be. He never has had the best self esteem and I know that at many times in his life he has always struggled to feel accepted and loved by others in his life. Why should he feel that this child we had “given away” would feel any differently. He really didn’t feel he had the right at all. No, that’s not exactly right. He felt he didn’t deserve to reach out to her. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
I watched my husband as he began reading this letter. For a few moments, at the beginning, I panicked and thought, “What if its a rejection letter? What if she wants him to tell all of us to leave her alone?” I pushed those thoughts aside and watched as a smile came across J’s face. And then tears. I rarely see my husband cry. We have been together for over 16 years and I have probably seen him cry maybe five times. But there they were. Those tears, streaming down his cheeks. He began to read aloud. Oh how sweet those words were.
It became so obvious to me why she had chosen him to write to. There were some fleeting moments, during my 30 minutes of lunacy, that I worried she had written him because she hated me. I was very wrong. She asked him to please write her, even if he had nothing important to say. She told us some things about herself and then expressed that she was having a struggle with knowing who she was. She ended it by telling him that she loved him. She didn’t know why because she doesn’t know him, but something inside of her loves him.
If someone had told me that day that in my mailbox would be either a winning lottery ticket or a letter to J from IKL and I had to pick, the winning lottery ticket wouldn’t even be given a thought. This was SO much better. It affirmed to me that she did, indeed, enjoy and benefit from the letters I have been sending. It affirmed to me that she didn’t hate us or hold a grudge. It affirmed to me that she had conquered some of her struggles enough to go outside her comfort zone and compose a letter to the father that enabled her to have life.
Many adoptees can be told, all day long, that their birth parents love them. Some need to hear it from the horses mouth. The same applies here. I can be told, all day long, that IKL is doing well. I needed, truly needed, to hear it from her to have some peace. And such a peace, for now, it has brought.
Human beings are imperfect things. We make mistakes. We all do. I was promised an open adoption with visits. That did not end up happening. And it was wrong. What I am thankful for is that contact was never totally cut off and that IKL’s parents are willing to do the right thing now. This is a small blessing to me in this world of hurt called “Birthmother.”
I am hopeful for the future, in regards to IKL. There was a mention of having a visit the next time they are in our state, however they do not know when that will be. I mailed off our letters to IKL this morning. J spent 2 hours composing the “perfect” letter for her. He said, “If she wants me to write her every week I will. Whatever she wants.”Does this me that I am in a reunion of sorts? I don’t know. Maybe it does! For now, I am content. This happens so rarely in the adoption world. I am going to just enjoy being content for now. I’ll take it where I can.