|Sent by my alternate universe daughter|
I thought: That's what being a birth/first mother is like. No one who hasn't been there can understand the immense loss and grieving that comes with relinquishment--except another first mother. And yet, most of us don't go around talking openly about our experiences so that it's unlikely that I'm going to end up at a party one day and the host will introduce me to another person and pass on what we so deeply share: that we both lost a child to adoption.
Lost. That's the word. Whether our parents offered no support and we were very young, or we were older but still felt trapped by the strictures of societal mores, or whether we were talked into giving up a child two years ago by an adoption facilitator, it's all the same. We lost our children. We lost them when we gave them up. We sometimes get a piece of them back--I certainly did--but so much we lost. I always could sense my daughter's divided loyalties, her feeling that she did not quite belong in either family, her sense of what if my mother had kept me?
We are a sisterhood bonded in the sorrow of loss.
I miss my daughter. We had a glorious reunion, a lengthy relationship that spanned more than a quarter of a century, and we had our ups and downs. Sadly she died five years ago a few weeks before Christmas. But I have made my peace with her death, peace I was not able to find when I did not know if she were alive or dead, when I did not know where she was. Today I have a good life, with a good husband who has always understood my sorrow, a residual blessing of his favorite cousin getting pregnant in high school and having to give up her daughter.* One granddaughter is in college and doing fine; I'll talk to her on Christmas. The other granddaughter, who was relinquished by my daughter--yes, sadly this happened--prefers to be left alone. Tony's children--who were grown when we met--are part of my life; their children who call me Grandma Raine. The daughter of my first love--whom I almost married--is in some strange, mystical way that I do not question, is also a big part of my life today, though we are several states apart. She has a special place in my heart, and she is the one who sent the flowers above. Our bond is hard to explain to outsiders.
But of course, Christmas is a time when you remember your loved ones who are gone, and this year will be no different. I am thinking particularly of all the parents of Claire Davis, the 17-year-old who was killed by a fellow students at Araphahoe High School in Colorado. Claire was adopted; I haven't been able to find out if it was a closed adoption and if her first mother knows of her death. I'm also thinking of Carol-King Eckersley of Portland, Oregon, a first mother whose son died in Pan Am Flight 103 when a bomb in the plane went off over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. She didn't search for him until it was too late.
To those who have yet to find their children or reconnect, and want to, do not wait. Time is not on our side. Eighteen is not a magic age and eighteen-year-olds are notoriously hard to find if they are not living at home. I found and contacted my daughter's adoptive parents when she was fifteen. I--and they--wished I had done it sooner.
To those--adoptee or first mother--who have reconnected and found true communion with your children, enjoy the time you do have, do not spend too much time with each other expressing the sorrow of what it is lost. Focus on what you have.
To those whose reunions are broken, remember this: the people who want to be in your life will be. You don't have to go chasing after them. Surround yourself as much as possible with people who do love you.
To those who feel they would like to call or send words or flowers to someone you have not been in touch with, just do it--especially if you are the one who shut down contact, the one who needed "space."
And to those who will feel alone no matter what happens on Christmas, remind yourself that Christmas is a day, one day. The day after Christmas is a new day.
Jane and I both wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. We may be taking a short vacation here ourselves.--lorraine
*If anybody is reading who might know this person contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org: A daughter was given up some sixty years ago in Westfield, New Jersey to people who knew the doctor. The adoptive parents later donated to my husband's brother's political campaign--in Westfield--so they may have known he was "family." And the woman's sister is looking for her lost sibling.
Love by Vanni (illustrator) and story by Lowell A. Siff
"Its sweet, heartbreaking story is told on pages of vibrant colors and uneven widths, pages with cut-outs and strip-ins, pages with peepholes—pages of all shapes and colorful varieties. This story is a simple one about a little girl. She has parents, naturally, but they went away when she was nine. And as she has no relatives to care for her, she is taken in by an orphanage. Lonely and a bit unusual, she stares at people with her big eyes. She often does things that aren't very nice, and people aren't very nice to her. In fact, they want to send her away. Until, one day..."--Amazon
I totally love this book. I have bought several copies for friends as gifts, and oddly enough, I found it in a book store in Saginaw, Michigan long before I knew adoption would be a part of my life. It's a little late to order for Christmas, but this is a great gift book.
WE APPRECIATE ANYTHING ORDERED THROUGH THE PORTAL HERE. The title link and jacket art will take you to Amazon. Thank you!