The Promise

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. I didn’t want to scare her. I didn’t want her to think this stranger was emotionally unstable. Then I worried if I didn’t let myself cry she’d think maybe I was emotionally inept. 

I changed my shirt 3 times. I was about to change it a fourth time when I decided that nothing would be good enough so I may as well save myself the trouble. I spent a great deal of time worrying that she’d find me reprehensible or think, “This lady is ugly. I got handed some bad genes.”

I spent days cleaning the house. I couldn’t seem to get it clean enough. Never mind that teenagers hardly pay attention to details such as clean baseboards, I was sure she would glance down and think, “this house is too dirty. I can’t stay in such filth.”

I loaded our little family into the truck and we stopped by the florist. My husband, her father, wanted to have roses for the first time he held his “baby who’s not a baby anymore” in his arms again. 

I handed him the card to fill out and watched him hesitate and struggle for the right words. “Just write ‘Love, J'” I instructed him. Relief washed over his face and he did what I said. 

When we arrived at the airport I thought maybe I was dreaming. There was no way I could be this lucky. In just a few short moments she would be standing face to face with us. It felt as if we were holding the winning lottery ticket. Guilt briefly touched my heart as I thought of my other first mom friends, women I have grown to love, who don’t have what I was about to or who may never will. What did I ever do to deserve to be this lucky?

The text message came. “We’re about to land.” I looked out the window of the airport and saw a plane coming in from the right direction. As it came closer I glanced at my husband. He looked terrified. As it’s wheels touched the ground his eyes became red and the tears could no longer be contained. 

I told myself I wouldn’t cry. He was making this plan harder to stick to. 

People could be seen walking down the long corridor, behind glass doors. A man in a suit, a woman in a dress. They were hard to distinguish until they were closer. 

But I spotted her before anyone would think I could definitively say it was her. I knew it was. I pointed. She came closer. Her gait was as familiar as my own. The way she swung her arms was like looking in a mirror. 

The first moment I saw her


I wanted to run through the gate doors, airport security be damned! Her pace quickened as she saw us all standing and waiting. We were completely oblivious to other passengers as we blocked the way out with our bodies. 

And then she was in my arms. I couldn’t stop the tears and hers flowed freely as well. I momentarily pulled away to put my hands on her face and stare into her striking eyes. She. Is. Amazingly. Beautiful. 

She was in my arms again. She was real. I could feel her. The warmth of her body. The texture of her hair on my face. Could it ever get any better than this? This moment would never happen again. This was it. It was absolute perfection. Divine. 

Over the years a song had always stuck in my head and reminded me of her. I had dreamed of this moment for years. And in my dreams the song would play. I now know how fitting the song is. 

“Together again

It would feel so good to be

In your arms

Where all my journeys end

If you can make a promise

If it’s one that you can keep

I vow to come for you

If you wait for me”

-The Promise, by Tracy Chapman

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Five More Days

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

It’s been 5,364 days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5 more days. 

5,983 days since you were born. 

You and Me


Just. 5. More. Days. 

Unless the bottom drops out. 

Unless something happens. 

Dare I hope that it really is happening?

5 more days. Just have to hold on for five more days. 

Short & Sweet

It’s been some time since I’ve updated here at Musings of a Birthmom. This will be a short, sweet, personal update to explain my absence – for anyone who should care.

My husband had back surgery about 3 weeks ago and his recovery was more than anticipated. He’s required a heavy level of care-giving that made multi-tasking nearly impossible to do. I had to prioritize and, as much as I love you all, this blog took a backseat for a few weeks. I do apologize. I had finals to take, kids to care for, housework to catch up on, and a husband who needed me. I also had, admittedly, writers block. I simply couldn’t think of anything to write but, at the same time, thought of millions of things to write about. It was quite the conundrum. I’m also hesitant to post personal updates about myself because doing so also reveals personal information about my daughter that she’d probably rather not have shared, even if no one knows who she is. I decided to go with a happy medium.

I was so looking forward to a face to face reunion with her this summer. I was also scared to death. I thought she’d be sorely disappointed in me, the real me…that maybe I wouldn’t live up to what she had thought about me in her mind. I was terrified that she’d take one look at our meager lower-middle class surroundings and think, “dodged that bullet.” I was scared of a lot of things, some irrational, some not. The most horrifying thing I could think of was to begin to have a full-blown panic attack the moment I saw her. “Hey! I’m your mom! I’m also nuts and can’t breathe because I’m so scared and I may faint on you in a minute. But I’m really a super cool person if you can get past the oddities that are my mental health.” For reasons that are really no one’s fault, we won’t be meeting for the “first” time. I was disappointed, hurt, relieved, and hopeful. Very confusing place to be. But I’m okay now. And I’ll be okay. Crap, we’ll ALL be okay. Since I seem to reproduce introverts prone to social anxiety, and am one myself, I often wonder if we’ll ever meet. Ha ha! But we’ll be okay.

I promise I have some exciting blog posts to read coming up soon. There are some things that need to be exposed and I am finally in a place where I think I can put my thoughts together and do so. Thanks for those who’ve hung in there with me and, of course, thank you to everyone who reads, and takes to heart or puts into action, the message I am conveying. It is truly appreciated. Together we will change the world….or, at least, this little corner of the Internet. I’d hate to be too overzealous and have a panic attack.

 

In My Dreams

I obsess. That’s what I do. Fear is something that is always a part of my life and I have struggled long and hard, for so many years, decades really, to not let it control me. Alas, it sometimes wins in the end.

I have waited so many days, months, years, to see her again. To have communication with her. Sometimes I feel like a crazy stalker. I mean, I kind of am, aren’t I?

I wasn’t told her last name, their last name. I wasn’t told what town they lived in. I was given first names and a state. I put my trust into an institution (adoption) that I would get my yearly visits and I’d never be a stranger to her.  Then the visits stopped, before she could form any intellectual memories of me, her father, her siblings. What was I to do?

I did what any mother would do. I began looking for her. I would receive pictures every couple of years and an update about once a year. A far cry from what I was promised, but I took it anyway. I would study the pictures, heed the words, analyze everything.

A picture from the first day of kindergarten. A name tag hangs around her neck and I see it has her first and last name on it but the exposure is so high it’s nearly impossible to make out what it is. I can tell the length of the last name, though. It’s not your average length and that’s a clue I keep. Pictures with license plate numbers in the background, restaurants, anything – I grab it, store it in my mind, search frantically for hours. I just want to know her last name.

Part of me doesn’t believe the narrative that I’m getting in updates. It seems too good to be true. Everything is always rainbows and sunshine. It drives me to search more fervently. I feel like a mad woman. My husband tells me I should leave it alone. He feels guilty. He knows its killing me. He can’t make up for it.

Haunted by the faces of my daughters whenever I look at them. Each of them carries characteristics of her. It’s like I’m haunted by the ghost of someone who is alive but is so very far out of reach.

Sometime around her seventh year I finally get somewhere and make a huge discovery. Her last name. It opens doors. For the years to come I silently watch. When she is old enough to utilize the World Wide Web, herself, I start to find her foot print everywhere. It is amazing to me. She’s real, she exists, she’s not a ghost. A secret peek into her life as she knows it, not through the lens of someone else and what they choose to tell me.

I stalk. Is it stalking? I feel like a stalker. I am silently watching my child, making sure she is okay, and as years go by sensing that things aren’t really that okay. I don’t do it for the reasons that others stalk. I never reach out to her, disturb her world. I do it because I feel like I must protect her, its instinctual, and this is the only way I know how.

The first correspondence that confirms my intuition that something is amiss. Questions about my pregnancy, hinting to some issues. It honestly sounds like everyone in my family. High-spirited, oppositional. Yep, sounds like my girls, sounds like my husband, definitely sounds like me. I implore them to not drug her up. I am reassured everything is fine. Life goes on.

I realize I’m obsessing and for my own sanity take a break. I decide to only check up on her every few months, just to make sure she’s alive, because I honestly don’t know if I’d be told if she wasn’t.

The feeling is overwhelming. The “knowing.” I just know. I can’t explain it. It’s the same feeling from when she was just a week or two old and I knew the people in charge of her care were not treating her right. I awoke my husband very early and told him we needed to go get her that very moment. I knew something was wrong. I was right that time. I didn’t want to be right this time.

A single post, expressing how she was going away. It was made the same day I had the feeling. Now the feeling has changed. I feel betrayed, I feel sick, I feel like I may genuinely go crazy knowing she’s been sent away. A new obsession begins. I must know where they’ve sent her. I must know so I can see if she’ll be treated badly, if she’ll be abused, mistreated, there.

Pictures. I assume they are taken in the place she has been and I look for clues in the background. The name of a little coffee shop and a quick search reveal to me a city and state. Another search reveals the only place it could possibly be. The pictures match.

The waiting for her to come home. Never being outright told she was sent away so never expecting to be informed she was home. Worrying, wondering. More obsessing, more searching. Finding a blog written by a “house mother” who is bragging about sending a child outside in the freezing cold without shoes or a coat because she wouldn’t stop yelling. I wonder if that child is mine. I secretly want to hunt the woman down and hurt her for hurting my baby.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

And then, confirmation, from her personally. A secret connection between her sister and her. I am overjoyed. I am scared. I don’t know what to do. I’m terrified of her adoptive mother. If she finds out, if I overstep anything she deems “appropriate” then it all crumbles. I know nothing. I have to obsess and search and worry on the Internet. Updates will cease to exist and updates are clues.

It’s all out in the open now. Most of it, anyway. I still watch my step, stay in my place, because if I don’t get to see her again, don’t get to touch her again, don’t get this visit, only the third since she went with them when it should be the 16th, I just might end up having a nervous breakdown. But now there is another fear, another obsession.

I am a stranger. There is no possible way she could think of me as much as I think of her. I don’t expect her to. This obsession isn’t healthy. I obsess about if she wants to talk to me, I obsess about if I’m coming off too strong, I obsess about if she would rather me just go away but she’s too scared to tell me. I obsess about, well, rejection. I want to talk to her like I do my other children. I want to have funny conversations about gross and inappropriate things. I want to discuss social issues that I am passionate about and teach her about the world, the way I do my other children. I want to know her. I want to hear her voice, see her face in something other than a still picture. I want to soak up every last bit of her. The good, the bad, the pretty, the ugly, the everything.

But I don’t want to scare her. I don’t want to hurt her more. I don’t want to make her feel like she owes me anything.

I don’t know what to say. I’m scared. I want to tell her how her expression in the newest picture is my expression in the picture of me 6 years ago. I want to tell her that her handwriting is the same as mine when I was her age. I want to tell her that her fiery personality and stubbornness comes from her father and I but the undertone of kindness, compassion, and empathy comes from me. I’m hard on the outside, soft on the inside. I want to point out that her voice, in the one video I saw, sounds just like mine. I want to tell her that her sister can’t distinguish, sometimes, while scrolling through her feed if a picture is of me or her, for just a second. I want to tell her that I see her.  I don’t “know” her but I see her.

I want to tell her I believe her. I want to tell her that I can’t say all the things I want to because I have to stay in my place because I don’t hold all the cards. I don’t hold any, actually. I want to tell her that she will always have a home. I want to tell her that she does belong somewhere, she exquisitely belongs, but she doesn’t know it. I want to tell her so many things. Little things, big things. But how much is too much? Where do I walk the line? How do I know? So I say nothing.

And then I obsess that my nothing is too much. Am I sending the message that I’m not interested, don’t care? Nothing could be further from the truth.

She’s hurt. She’s wounded. She’s been through a lot and, ultimately, it’s my fault. I chose this for her when she had no choice. And here comes another obsession. I don’t deserve her kindness, her love. I don’t even deserve her “like.” I had no idea, though. Everything everyone told me was that this was what was best. But I feel guilty claiming that I am a victim, too. At least I had a chance, she never did. How do I make it better? How do I find forgiveness?

These are such deep thoughts and, no doubt, would be hard for anyone to process. I stay quiet. I can’t push too much because if I do and she decides to go away, it would be like giving her up all over again.

There’s no going back. What’s done is done. I can only hope for the future. But how do you dare hope for something so perfect? Just to be a part of her life would be like a piece of heaven. Do I dare hope for that? Am I setting expectations too high?

In my dreams we walk, we laugh, we hug. We tell each other all that needs to be said. We catch up on everything we’ve missed without each other all these years. I catch her up on all my quirks and she let’s me into her private world. We don’t judge each other or push too hard. We just walk. And it’s exquisite.

 

The Adoption Rollercoaster: Reunion?

As my relinquished daughter gets older it’s become more difficult to keep up with personal updates in regards to my adoption story. The older she gets, the more I realize that it isn’t just my story to tell and I have become conflicted about just what to share and what to keep private.

I see so many birthmom blogs of mothers early into the adoption journey blogging all the details of their great open adoption story. I see the same thing with adoptive parents as well. I’m guilty of putting things out there without thinking as well. I’d just like to remind everyone to be cautious when publicly sharing your story. The way you see things may not (probably isn’t) exactly how your child does.

Even so, I would like to share some things that have transpired. I’ll keep things simple out of respect for IKL’s privacy. I won’t imply that I know how she feels. This is just my side of the story and I’ll stick with facts and how I feel.

I learned that some decisions had been made for my daughter, by her adoptive parents, that I did not agree with. I felt there were some definite issues going on and could reasonably correlate adoption to some of them – again, my opinion. As you already know, I had an open adoption, with direct communication with my daughter (phone calls, visits, etc) until she was almost 2 years old. Direct communication, and visits, were cut off at this time. I still received periodic updates from her adoptive parents, sometimes sporadically, through email and there were a few photo albums mailed over a decade. I saw things through their eyes and while my daughter was becoming old enough to express herself and how she feels, I was not privy to what that may be. I’m going to assume it was the same for her as well.

Where were we? Some decisions were made to address “behavioral problems” and I didn’t agree with those decisions. I felt that the decisions made would reinforce any feelings of rejection or abandonment and wouldn’t really get down to the root of the problem which, I believed, adoption played at least some part in. I do believe her adoptive parents felt they were doing what is best, even if I didn’t agree – and it still didn’t mean it was right or the appropriate course of action. Of course I never expressed this to them for fear of risking communication being cut off altogether.

This started 2 years of emotional hell and the realization that I may have made a huge mistake. My fog began to lift and I found my voice.

At the beginning of that 2 year period, I went out on a limb and asked permission to write to my daughter for the first time. My request was received well and with much enthusiasm. I was hopeful that maybe the door to openness would begin to unlock. Previous attempts and open invitations to Skype, connect via social media, and visit were unanswered. Well, the open invitations to visit (and some even included that my daughter not need to be present if they were uncomfortable with that) were always answered with, “if we’re ever in that state.” So, the warm welcome to write a letter directly to her gave me hope and was something I viewed as promising. After all, regardless of any hard feelings, what’s truly best for my daughter would be for her to NOT be put into a position of Us vs. Them. She should never have to “choose.”

My first letter, written 2 years ago, came about 6 months after I learned of the decisions made as a desperate attempt to help heal any wounds caused by adoption that may not be being acknowledged. Carefully I composed an email, written to her, for her adoptive mom to print out and pass on, explaining, to the best of my ability, why she was relinquished and a little bit of information about what me and her father were like. I had to choose my words carefully as it would be first read by her adoptive mother and father. But I wanted to be honest. Quite the conundrum.

After hitting “send” I waited. A few hours later I received a message back saying that it was “beautifully prophetic” (whatever that means) and would be printed, placed in an envelope, and given to her.

Time went by. A few months later I decided to take a bolder step and send a photo book of our family and another, more casual, letter. I asked if the attorney’s address I had, from all those years prior, was still okay to send things. I didn’t get a response right away so I sent the package anyway. A few days later an email arrived with a PO Box address I could send anything in the future. This, again, gave me more hope. More openness. They were now allowing me to know the town they lived in, even if not their address.

About every 3 months me and the kids would send letters. Sometimes we’d include other things. Pictures, a life book, a handmade pillow, etc. Each time IKL’s adoptive mother would email that she was receiving these things but was not yet ready to respond or have contact but that she was hopeful that one day she would. Part of me would be devastated each time but the other part of me understood and didn’t want to push too hard. I felt that if she didn’t wish to receive communication, at all, I would be informed.

Things went on this way for a while and then, almost a year ago, we got a package in the mail. You can read about that here: https://musingsofabirthmom.com/2015/01/12/the-letter/

4 months after that, I learned that my older parented daughter had received communication from IKL via social media. I won’t go into the details as that is their story to tell, but, suffice to say, I learned a few things that my parented daughter felt was important to share.

IKL had written me a letter, before my husband’s letter, and was under the assumption it had been mailed to me. I never received any letter.

IKL thought I had received her letter and was ignoring her since I never wrote back. (I had been writing every 3 months – this leads me to believe not all – maybe not any – of my letters or packages had been given to her)

IKL was more than ready, excited even, to have a relationship with her first family – again, my perception.

IKL did not want her adoptive parents, at first, knowing she was talking to her sister.

It was very hard not to jump in and tell her the truth. I don’t have all the facts and do not want to put her in the Us vs. Them game. I encouraged my parented daughter to encourage IKL to be forthcoming with her parents and removed myself from the situation altogether. I was not going to be the one to “tattle” on her for talking to her sister and betray any small amount of trust she might have for me. Nothing she was doing was dangerous and I made an executive decision, as her mother, to let the relationship unfold while guiding and educating my parented daughter about reunion. I thought she needed this contact and that it was good for both girls.

A few months later, I received an odd email from IKL’s adoptive mother stating that IKL had told her she was talking to my parented daughter. Just that line. Nothing more. I responded that I had never spoken to IKL and that I was glad she had told her. I asked how she felt about it. Her response what that she thought it was great and that I could talk to her if I wanted, too…she’d ask IKL how she felt about it.

I waited a few days, to see if I’d get an email back, and heard nothing. Since IKL had liked a few of my photos on one social media site, I decided I would initiate a hello message. I’d been given permission to talk to her, so I did. It went well. Short, awkward, and beautiful.

As it stands now, a few more months in, my parented daughter and IKL continue to grow closer thanks to social media. I’m more cautious about contact as I don’t want to overwhelm her. I want her to know I’m here, but I don’t want to be pushy. 15 is a difficult age for any kid without throwing in the added bonus of being bombarded by a whole other family eager to get to know you.

She’s always receptive and kind when I do message her. I see, in her, a tenacity, a love for life, pain, ambivalence, passion, stubbornness and a huge heart. It amazes me just how much like myself and my husband she is.

So, for now, we are okay. Baby steps. I’m not foolish enough to think this will be a happy ending to a reunion. I know it takes work and I’m not even at the tip of the iceberg for all to come in the future. I am hopeful, though. Hopeful that maybe one day we can build a relationship and make up for lost time. (is there really ever any making up for it, though?) 

For now I am happy that my children get to have some sort of relationship with each other, on their own terms, and that I still have the possibility of one with her. Far too many of my dear friends have crossed that bridge into “no hope” and it breaks my heart.

I’m letting IKL take the lead, make the choices, decide for herself. No one else has, thus far. She’s earned it. Hopefully she’ll decide to take the lead with a place in my life. If she doesn’t, I’d be heartbroken, but understanding.

I was never supposed to be in a “reunion.” I was promised my daughter would grow up knowing us. That’s what’s most infuriating. But, there’s nothing I can do about that now except look forward.

As of right now, I’ll continue to ride the adoption roller coaster and enjoy the plateau for a while.

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