' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The Christmas Spirit and Adoption Sorrow

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Spirit and Adoption Sorrow

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. I won't lie: the holidays before I knew my daughter Jane were pure hell. I'd fly home to Detroit to spend a few days with my mother, year after year, with a husband, without a husband, and there we would be on Christmas morning at Mass, the choir would sing Silent Night, one of the oldest and most common of carols, with a melody so stirring when it hits the high notes, and my eyes would flush with tears. Where was my daughter, my only child whom I relinquished for adoption?

And the years before I even told my mother of her existence--all six of them--I'd try to hide my glassy eyes because of course she would wonder why I was fighting tears. It's just Silent Night....

It got a whole lot easier after I found my daughter, when she was fifteen.

And now she is gone again. She would be forty-four this year. She died in 2007, just before the holidays. As regular readers know, Jane took her own life. It was troubled right from the start, with abandonment issues, epilepsy, sexual abuse, PMDD,  and all the attendant neuroses, and so when she died--even that first night after, as I absorbed the news--I knew that in her own way, she had made a rational decision. Though she was married to a good man, though she had Kimberly, a lovely, bright daughter, she now was finally raising, Jane's personal turmoil was not abating. Her internal demons were not going away. Life was not getting better. I do accept that.

But acceptance does not make Christmas shopping easier. I 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 am glad I did not wait to find her, I found her at exactly the right moment. I think of the blessings I do have.

Last year, shortly after the new year, not knowing if she would answer my email, I reached out to my granddaughter, Lisa, whom my daughter Jane gave up for adoption. This year I bought her a rug that we picked out together on Ebay, and a rug pad from some on-line site. I sent Lisa a few small items, including a rhinestone pin that was my mother's, her great grandmother. I sent Kim something of mine, a few small gifts, and cash she needed for her car repair.

Kim and Lorraine
Today I talked to both Lisa and Kim, and though I won't see either of them these holidays--adoption after reunion is like that--I will call them Christmas morning, just to say Hello. And I will call Jennifer, my alternate universe daughter who came into my life last December too. Her presents--a box full of them--arrived yesterday and she had found things she knew I would like, including red, black and white Japanese-style dessert plates that reminded us both of her father, as we had planned a home with Asian accents. We chat like the mother-and-daughter who-might-have-been quite often.

Lorraine and Jennifer
I take my comfort now from people who are are able to give it. If Jennifer had never called me, hoping that the daughter I had was her sister, we would not have each other in our lives now. If I had not reached out to Lisa, she would not be in my life today. Both bring me great joy.

I know that many of you involved in adoption one way or another have been on a long and winding road that seems to have no end. Many of you are still searching for your children--and no matter how old they are, they are our children--or you are the adopted and are searching for your first/birth mother or biological/birth father. Or you have found but have not had a good resolution. Children reject the mother whom they feel rejected them; first mothers live in the closet and can not open their hearts and their lives to the children they relinquished decades ago. So many sorrows and hurts in the way. So much angst, so much fear of opening up the door that has long been closed.

But find in yourself the courage to go through that door. We all have as much courage as we need to do the hard things life puts in front of us. It is all there, waiting to be tapped.

Whether you are an adoptee or a first mother, open up your heart to the love that someone wants to give you. She or he will not be a "perfect" person, but he or she is the right person for you. And to those who have been rejected, I can only say that rejection is part of your Tao, your path, and you need to be brave and call upon that courage to move around, over, and beyond the rejection, and find empathy in your heart for the person you seek who cannot summon their own courage within.

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.--lorraine


  1. Didn't BJ Lifton say a good time to search was age 10-14 when the adopted out child is old enough to understand?

  2. Thank you for such a beautiful post...Christmas and every Holiday is always bittersweet for all of us affected by adoption. Always. Bless you this Christmas.

  3. Thank you for such a beautiful post...yes, Christmas and every Holiday is so bittersweet for those of us affected by adoption.
    Bless you this Christmas.

  4. What a beautiful post, Lorraine, with the reminder to keep hearts and minds open, even in the face of rejection. I am so glad that I didn't give up, that I didn't take my first mom's repeated "No" for a final answer. I don't know what 2011 will bring for my fmom and me, but I am so happy to have had you cheering me on from the sidelines.


  5. This is a beautiful post. I am so happy that your granddaughters are in your life this Christmas.

    Thank you for your lovely words about searching, empathy, and courage.

    I wish you a very merry and blessed Christmas!


  6. Carolina WhitefreezeDecember 22, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    This Jennifer sounds like a keeper!

  7. "Whether you are an adoptee or a first mother, open up your heart to the love that someone wants to give you."
    You are just such a beautiful soul! I think that the love we need and want finds a way to get to us... with love always/all ways - Cully

  8. Today was the day for my first meeting with my grandchildren. It didn't happen. I will keep my heart open in hopes that my son will find the courage to come close. Such a sad, sad story, to have all these days, months, years pass by without the chance to be together. I still believe that my son is still lost, even though found. The common thread in our stories is sorrow, always that sorrow. We weep for the pain in your Jane's life, and for her death. Peace is the hallmark of the season, so I know Jane has found hers. Peace to you Lorraine.

    Jane Guttman



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