Giving Thanks, Part Three

Me in Thika, Kenya circa 1976

“So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me
And if I saw you on the street
Would you know that it was me
And would your eyes be blue or green like mine
Would we share a warm embrace
Would you know me in your heart
Or would you smile and let me walk on by
Knowing you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And I hope that you'd be proud of who I am.”
~Mark Schultz, Everything to Me (Lyric excerpt)

It was a was a normal day under almost normal circumstances in the summer of 2008. Not feeling well, I called into work and stayed home for the day. I rested… as much as single mother can rest with two crazy boys in the apartment. Summer. No school.

Somewhere near 2:00pm Tony, my mailman, knocked on the door. I groaned. I wasn’t expecting any packages (cause for jumping to get the door quickly). He stood there with a certified letter. I signed and then pondered not looking at it or even opening it. Surprise past/unknown/pre-divorce debt notices had become something of the normal… bills I wasn’t aware existed. The last thing I wanted or needed was another financial burden; however, upon closer examination, I realized the return address on the envelope was in Oklahoma. Huh?

Two minutes later I was shooing my children back into their room with no explanation, tears were rolling down my face, and my hands shaking as I reached for the phone to call… anyone while trying to comprehend what I was reading.

What I held in my hand that day was not a bill. It was a letter… from my birth mother.

Throughout my life I have made no secret of the fact that I personally had no desire to go in search of my birth parents. I had an amazing childhood. Once I gave birth to my own children I was curious about my medical history but that was it. That was all I wanted and, on a whim, I posted a request for that very thing on a Texas adoption website sometime around 1995… and then forgot about it.

My birth mother read it.

The letter I received from her, thirteen years after my online post, was one of brief introduction (sans name) and personal medical information. She honored my request for that and nothing more. No pressure. No expectations. The ball was clearly in my court.

For a year and a half that ball stayed firmly in my possession. In fact, I rolled it into a corner so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

In November 2009 I woke up one morning in a panic. To this day I don’t know what triggered that panic attack, but I was absolutely convinced that something had happened to my birth mother since receiving that initial letter and that I had waited too long. I would never know anything about her or about where I come from and suddenly, without warning, that was very important to me.

I emailed the family counselor through whom the correspondence from my birth mom had been sent… and I waited. And waited. And waited. Just before my out-of-sight out-of-mind brain took over, in January 2010, I received a response. My birth mother was open to communication but there were some things in her life that needed her attention. She would contact me when the time was right.

On March 2, 2010 I received an email simply titled “Hello”.

In the last nine months, through intermittent email communication, I’ve discovered that genetics is amazing. The number of commonalities we share is borderline bizarre. We’ve learned that we both have an insatiable obsession for music and a strange affinity for Saturday night made-for-TV movies on the SyFy Channel. I’ve learned about my birth mom and her family. She has learned about mine. She has explained to me the circumstances surrounding my birth and her reasons for choosing to place me up for adoption. I have assured her that I never held any resentment to her for that decision. I thanked her for having the strength to make it. See? I was born in 1974. Abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973. She had the choice and for me she chose life.

Every year I have given thanks to her (even when she didn’t know it) for giving me breath and for the amazing life I got to have because she made a difficult choice. This year I give thanks for our developing friendship.

Now, you will have to pardon me because I owe her a long email.

4 comments:

  1. As a birth mother. Thank you. Thank you for not judging. Thank you for being thankful. She... I am glad to have made the right decision. And to see a bit of "ourselves" carry on despite adversity and distance. I find I feel a kinship now to all adoptions; a sister to birth moms and parental to adopted children/adults. Every story such as yours reaffirms the hardest best decision ever. Hugs.

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  2. Now on my 2nd pregnancy, I have so much appreciation and admiration for those who choose life. Although I think having an abortion would be absolutely heart-wrenching, bringing a child into this world, even when you planned it and have a committed relationship, is a huge deal. And I think it takes a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you don't have what it takes to raise the child and to give him/her a better chance at life. Blessings to you both, my friend.

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  3. Okay...ya got me a little weepy on this one.You were a cute little nipper. =)

    I'm really happy for you and your birth mom, that you're finally getting to know one another. It seems an extra blessing, one you weren't fully aware meant that much to you. I think there is a bond that is inexplicable between a mother and a child one that can't be broken. Do you think you'll meet up someday and see your extended family?

    Lis

    Hope you have a good Thanksgiving!

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  4. Thanksgiving ... a single day I attempt to keep in my heart year round

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"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman

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