Sunday, December 23, 2012

Finding peace as a first mother on Christmas

Lorraine at home, Christmas brunch for friends last Sunday
It's that time of year again, where the Christmas carolers and crowds crawling the aisles of the stores remind of us of family, family known and family lost. It is particularly hard to be a "lost mother" at this time. I know. I spent many years lost in the wilderness of not knowing where my daughter was.

Even before we get to Christmas Day, the reminders are everywhere and no more obvious than when shopping. We want to buy presents for our children, no matter their age. For those not in reunion, there are those questions: Where to send it? How to send it? Today we learn that only a very small percentage of adoptions are fully closed--
perhaps as low as five percent--as they were in the era in which Jane and I relinquished, the infamous Baby Scoop Era. But despite the good news about open adoptions, the stories we hear of promised openness that slammed shut, or nearly so, do not give us comfort.

Regular readers know my daughter, after 26 years of reunion, died in December five years ago. Of course I still think of her when I am in a crowded store, looking over the pots and pans and tablecloths and sweaters and what-nots. I see things I know she would like, and pass by. They are meant for someone else now. At home, I treasure the gifts I have from her. I remember the blessings I do have--her second daughter Kim, is doing well in college and is a joy in my life. I shopped for her. I shopped for my alternate universe daughter, Jennifer, who I've written about before. And of course I think of my daughter's other daughter, who was surrendered for adoption, whom I reunited with a few years ago but  has chosen not to continue a relationship.

Whether you are a first mother or someone who was adopted, try not to focus on what has been lost, but what might be gained in the years you can have knowing each other. Make your own traditions, even if it is as simple as making a phone call to the other one Christmas morning, or the first day of Hannukah. To those who have been rejected, or are living through a "break" in the relationship--as I did periodically--seek within for the courage to accept what is. Good advice, I know, but I had a couple of rocky years full of tears so I won't pretend that I got through unscathed. This year for me is much easier than last; I admit I now feel rather numb about my granddaughter's decision. I cannot change her; I can only find my own inner calm.

I have a friend, not adopted, who had a hellish relationship with her mother, who is now institutionalized. My friend will have a good Christmas, with her husband, and her friends, and we will spend part of the holiday with her. Though my two brothers are far away--one in Michigan, one in Florida--I'll call them in the morning, as well as Kim and Jennifer. I will spend Christmas Eve myself with my husband and his boisterous crew of nieces and nephews and their families, and Christmas Day with friends who live down the street. I'll make two pies--one pecan, one apple--and take to the dinner. There will be a daughter adopted from China there, a girl I've known since she came to this country as a one-year-old badly in need of cuddling and coddling. She got it, and she has blossomed. We all make our own beds, and this is mine.

For those--whether a first mother or someone adopted--who are considering whether or not to search, remember there is no "right" time to do a search, or "right" time to make the call that completes a reunion, or mends a broken one and heals it. There is only time, and each day we have less of it. Each of us only have so much time, and none of us know how much that is, and it is hurrying by like a horseman in the night. Let not another Christmas season go by without without taking the first step.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, everyone from Jane and--lorraine
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From FMF:  Letters Lead to an Alternative Universe Daughter
Calling loved ones (and those you are not so sure of) for the holidays
A First Mother remembers: My Adopted Daughter's first Christmas gifts
Does my (birth) mother think of me on Christmas?
Christmas Thoughts for Those Separated by Adoption

The Adoption Reader: Birth Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Adopted Daughters Tell Their Stories "Adoption has always been a woman's issue. With eloquence and conviction, more than 30 diverse birth mothers, adoptive mothers and adoptees tell their adoption stories and explore what is a deeply emotional, sometimes controversial, and always compelling experience that affects millions of families and individuals." --Amazon. The essays in here cover the waterfront. This would be a good gift for yourself. Full disclosure: Lorraine has the opening essay.

PS: For your own reading pleasure, just for fun, my friend, Kiana Davenport's book, The Spy Lover, is on sale for $5, and is getting great reviews. (See sidebar.) It's too late to order for a stocking stuffer, but it is a wonderful book. And I'm not saying that just because she is my friend and a first mother too. It is. The links above will take you to Amazon.

8 comments :

  1. Beautiful post and very wise Lorraine. Merry Christmas to you and a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

    Be safe.

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  2. Thanks for this post. I am so depressed by my daughter's rejection this year I can't stop crying, but this made me feel a little less alone.

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  3. Wonderful post. It is very sweet to see the beauty of your friends and family after the tears are shed. They are the rainbow after the storm.

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  4. Thank you for this beautifully written piece. You give me hope as I continue to try to make contact with the woman I am sure is my first mother. Blessings to you and yours.

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  5. Merry Christmas. My mother is coming for Christmas dinner! Our relationship has gone off the rails as of late. I just had an urge to ask her to come by, so I did it quick, before I talked myself out of it, and she accepted. A-mom lives with us, so she'll be there as well as hubby's mom. My daughter called it a 3 granny dinner!

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  6. Michelle:

    Fantastic! Now you have to tell us how it went, and we pray it will be a big success.
    Merry Christmas to you too!

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