' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Happy Birthday, Sarah

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah

Here it is. My version of 9/11. Today is my daughter's 32nd birthday. But I'm not sad or angry, just wistful. Frequent visitors to FMF know that my daughter hasn't spoken to me for the past three and one-half years, but thanks to my Internet search skills I know that she has two sons, 2-1/2 and 1, and that she moved, but didn't know where. Tonight the guardian angel/goddess of first mothers was on my side and within minutes I had located her new address (I have no idea how I found it, it was as though some force was clicking the mouse for me). Satisfied with that information, I went to bed. But I could hear my heart pounding in my chest, my ears, and the tears started to fall. Last year was the first October 16 in 31 years without tears, and that's how I planned to spend this one. I'll go to work, have my lunchtime walk, come home, pay bills, and settle in for "Holy Night," my night to veg out in front of the TV.

At the urging of adoptive and birthmothers alike, I've tried to stay in touch, but my attempts at contact have been fruitless. I sent her firstborn son a small birthday gift on his first birthday in 2006 and Mother's Day and Christmas cards in 2007; all were unacknowledged, but I know the Christmas card unsettled her (she contacted my sister, who she'll contact on an as needed basis) because I addressed it to all the family, including her second son, whose first birthday is in eight days, and she was shocked that I discovered she had a second child (such information is a matter of public record, and again, the Internet is my paintbrush/cleaver/stethoscope, i.e., it's essential to my vocation.)

At the stroke of midnight, I pulled out a long-neglected necklace from my jewelry drawer and put it around my neck, hoping it might be a talisman. The necklace was a Christmas 2001 gift from my daughter--a spontaneous, very unexpected holiday surprise, our only Christmas together. We had been joking about those cheesy jewelry commercials for Kay Jewelers and J. C. Penney, so I thought it might be a heartshaped diamond necklace for $99. I was sitting by myself on the floor when I opened the box. The necklace was under a piece of cotton; I took it out, held it up, and started to cry. I held it up to my sister, she started crying. My niece started crying. It was a silver mother/child pendant, an abstract circle design that represents the eternity of a mother's love. The brick walls just tumbled down, we were kissing and holding each other. I had been holding in so much until that moment, it just all came rushing out; I swear I cried enough tears to fill a stream. That was the closest we've ever been, and one of my fondest memories.

And here I am, sitting in the dark illuminated by my computer screen, aching to send her flowers for her birthday, anonymously, knowing that I shouldn't because it will ruin her day knowing that I'm stalking her. And why do I want to, after the way she's treated me? Well, quite simply, because she's my daughter. And while I haven't always liked her, I've always loved her. I'm thinking of the moment I first saw her, and how in awe I was that something so beautiful, so perfect, came from me. The image is so vivid that it feels as though it happened a few hours ago, not 32 years ago.

So, readers, I'm asking for your help. Adoptee fans of FMF, if your birthmother sent you a birthday bouquet out of the blue, how would you feel? And first mothers, would you be able to resist temptation, or just go with your gut instinct? I suspect in the light of day this too, shall pass, but I'd like to know what you think.


  1. I am in a recent reunion, and have wanted to pull away many times. But deep down inside..I want my mother to fight for me..to think of me..to put me first.
    Send her the flowers, she might be mad at first but when she thinks about the effort you put in to find her she might be happy. I am sure she thinks of you and I don't know why she pulled away, but it is never a bad thing to remember someones birthday.

  2. Kind of along the lines of sillysiller, I wonder if you still keep in contact with her even if she doesnt with you? My daughter hasnt written me in almost a year. I still keep in contact at least once a year and tell her I love her, welcome her, want her in my life and wish her well.

  3. My daughter, also named Sarah will turn 23 on October 28th. She has very limited contact with me, her choice. I face the same question, Since I know where, do I send or will I be some just some stalker to her.

    My thoughts are with you...


  4. Lorraine solved the problem for me. I sent flowers to myself :) Told the florist I wanted something life affirming, I was celebrating the day I became a mother. So now I'm enjoying a bouquet of sunflowers, calla lilies and hydrangeas. And this morning's gloom has lifted, just as it does each 9/11 after the reading of the names. Thanks for the support.

  5. Lorraine said...

    Oy, this is the hardest part of reunion--to be found and then to lose contact. Linda knows that I had to sit it out one year on my daughter's birthday, or my birthday, and it just felt horrible...it seems as if everything is a test. One the one hand will she think: If my mother really loved me, she would acknowledge the day; or will her reaction be: 'that woman' sent me flowers! She is stalking me.

    Among the many letters I have is a copy of a letter written by an adoptee to a firstmother, saying that her birthdays are stressful because she worries that she will get a card from her firstmother! What that means in the end, though, is that she can't help not think of her other mother on her birthday.

    Linda, I wish I could offer sage advice on this. But I'm at a loss. I remember that BJ Lifton didn't connect with her first mother for ten years after she sent BJ a Hallmark card.
    my thoughts are with you, this day, and all the rest.

    October 16, 2008 12:34 PM

  6. Oh it is weird, my mom and I were just talking about how 9/11 adoption is.

    It is terrifying/terrorizing.

    It is.

    I don't have any advice. I am just really sorry.

  7. For 39 years I didn't want my mother sending birthday cards to me, but she did anyway. She never sent flowers or included a gift. (Well there was that one year she included money) I hated the cards. In fact, I would throw them in the trash. Of course this was after I read them.

    Now, that we are back in each other lives, I wished I would have kept every card she had sent me.

    It didn't matter then that she sent them, but it matters now that she sent them. She showed me that she still loved me by sending the cards. Now I don't have to ask her "why did you not send anything to me on my birthday." She would probably say, "because you didn't want me to" and then I would have to say, "so that means you didn't think of me and you didn't stand up for what you believe in."

    I am glad that she sent a card and not flowers. A card was hard enough, but flowers? I would have some explaining to do if someone saw them especially my adoptive parents.

  8. Wow, Thanks TRT, I appreciate your point of view on this.


  9. What is sad for me is that I jump through some hoops to get that card or those flowers. To have a heart shaped locket.Oh my goodness. What I would give for just that.

  10. I wrestle with the same question.

    My son's birthday is coming up in a few months. I'm leaning toward doing something but I don't know what.

    I believe the things that adoptees say about deep down inside they want to know they are remembered but I don't think he does.

    Wish it all were not so complicated.

  11. There's just no easy answer to this one.

    Since reuniting 3 years ago, I have gone through some very angry periods. I have buried issues I didn't even know existed. I have lashed out terribly at times. If my birthday had fallen in the middle of one of those angry phases, I can't say that I would welcome a card or flowers at the time, but later on? You bet. Once the anger subsides, perspectives can change big time. I value every scrap of anything I've ever receved from my natural family. All the cards, pictures, and letters are in a stack right next to my bed. I promised myself that no matter how angry I got, I would remember how much I always wanted that connection, to be able to say, "Look - here they are. The people that I came from." I don't throw anything away, ever. But that's just me.

    I'm glad you sent the flowers to yourself, Linda. I think that was a wonderful idea.

    Next year, I hope you can send something to your daughter. Maybe just a card. Something just to let her know that you love her.

    I think deep down inside of all adoptees, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, is a fragile little person that really needs to know that their mother cares.

  12. October 17 was my granddaughter Rachael's 20th birthday. Rachael is the daughter of my surrendered daughter Megan. Last August, Megan asked me not to send her children birthday presents explaining that it made her uncomfortable. I've been sending them presents for 10 years. Otherwise I would have sent Rachael a check. She is a college student and I know she could use the money. I considered sending her an email wishing her Happy Birthday or posting a birthday message on her blog. However, I feared antagonizing Megan so I did not.

    November 17 is Megan's birthday. I've about decided not to send her anything. I've also decided not to send Megan or her children Christmas presents. Megan has sent me a Christmas present every year for the past 11 years.

    Perhaps I'm being spiteful.


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  15. You deserved the flowers!

    I believe that even "angry" adoptees need desperately to hear from their nfamilies ~ and cards/flowers/whatever mean alot even when it isn't shown. JMHO

    I personally enjoyed the flowers the most because they are alive and real and special. They were the hardest to "accept" though. The gifts felt like just trying to buy me, but the flowers meant I love you. I didn't feel like I deserved either, because of the warped self-esteem I had, though. I felt like they were giving them to me out of obligation.

    But after I began to heal a little, I look back and see how extremely special it was to receive them.



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