Wednesday, December 24, 2014

THEY adopted ME

I placed a baby boy for adoption in May of 1996, at the age of 18. I selected my son's family from paper profiles and met with them in person once, about a week before he was born. An hour and a half was miraculously enough to know with a surety that hey were good people, that they were my son's family, and I loved them instantly. We were not allowed to exchange names or any other identifying information. Very limited correspondence was facilitated by the agency for 5 yrs. I lived from one letter to the next. They were so full of genuine generosity. I was always so surprised at their outpouring of gratitude. I owed THEM the thanks! They knew me for the best thing I'd ever done and they saw me only as good. 
After correspondence was discontinued per agency policy, I began to have nightmares. The setting and circumstance varied but always, our paths would cross and they wouldn't want me. I was a threat or a nuisance. I knew it went against everything I knew of them yet I was haunted.
When the boy was 15 and a half, after having searched for years, I found contact information. I determined to write his parents. I'd tell them that while I missed them all terribly, my greatest concern was still for what was best for our boy, that as his parents, they knew what that was and that I trusted them. That I wished only to make myself available and be a resource if, when, and to whatever degree they felt best. That while I'd be disappointed if it were a no, I wouldn't be offended, that I was ever loyal to them. 
But my fear paralyzed me. Though I thought of it everyday, I waited over a year to act.
His dad's reply had me KICKING myself for letting fear drive! He said how good it was to hear from me, gave me a brief update, and asked why didn't I just go head and contact the boy directly? "I'm sure he'd love it". Fear is a thief.
I was again afraid, but this time only let it take 3 weeks from us. In our first conversation, I felt I was talking to an old friend. he said to me "Thank you for what you did for me. It was such a generous choice"! 
We kept up with each other pretty well. I wanted so badly to see them in person but didn't want to push. When, out of the blue, I was offered an amazing job in CA an hour and a half away from them, they said that of course I had to come over and even insisted it be on his 18th birthday about a week after moving! This was my dream come true and my prayer answered! So WHY was I terrified?! I prayed for courage and put myself on autopilot. His father opened the door, there was my old friend. I was immediately at ease. The boy came down the stairs and and said hello like it was the most natural thing in the world. We hugged and joked and I totally held it together. Then his dear mother, suffering physical and cognitive affects from a stroke 12 years earlier, made her way around the corner. I. LOST IT. I trembled, uncontrollably, from my head to my feet-shaking- like my legs would give out underneath me. I wept as she held and kissed me just as I always imagined she would. "Debbie, I'm shaking" I said. She pulled back for a moment and said "don't be scared Tamra, you did the right thing." All these years I'd longed to thank her and she had been waiting to comfort and reassure. 
The next time I came to visit, I asked the boy's dad "People keep asking me if y'all feel threatened, insecure, or displaced at all. If ever you do, please let me know, I never want that." He sighed and almost rolled his eyes, "don't you know by now that you are family. You were never far from us. The door is always open, you don't hafta call."
On our next visit, much of my family were in town and so we all got together for a picnic. Debbie wasn't able to sit on the ground with the rest of us. I got up and sat next to her. She hugged and kissed me and said "Thank you so much for giving him to me".
"Oh Debbie, he was yours".
"But he's yours too. We'll share him in heaven".
I thought my heart would explode. The words of love and inclusion from those 3 have been the sweetest I've ever heard. They have healed my heart. 

I work in the field of post-adoption search and reunion, I have seen too many stories go so very and tragically differently than ours. While more are positive than not, I have certainly seen many parents who could not embrace their child's birthmom. I imagine that the boy's parents have had some of those same feelings of fear and maybe even jealousy. While they had had his whole life, all of his firsts, things I would never have- he had my biology, something they'd never been able to give a child. They could have been insecure about their imperfections and difficulties and hid from me. But if they have grappled with these things, they've won the struggle, or set it aside enough that there is room for me.
I will never know the words, until the other side, to say what their love has been for me. They didn't have to do any of it and nobody would have faulted them. It may have been easier for them to forget me and pretend they were no different than all of the other families. they could have spoken ill of me or not have spoken of me at all. they could have allowed the boy to know me but declined to be included, or to have ignored my petition all together. I THANK GOD AND I THANK THEM to the ends of the universe! If I couldn't give my love to them it would hurt so so very badly. We all grew our hearts for eachother! What's more family but a blessing?!
I didn't know if my heart would be whole again in this life. The missing piece is back and more layered on top! I hope that I can give that sort of selfless love and brave inclusion to others in my life. I am the luckiest girl!

Friday, October 24, 2014

a bit about reunification and such

I placed my Justin with his sweet fam in May of 96. I met them once for an hour and a half.
The agency facilitated 5 years of limited correspondence and then we had to say good bye again. I missed them terribly.
AND THEN! When he was 15, at Lindsey's house, Jessa used her powers to find them! I laugh-cried! And then for a year and a half, I stalked his fb and thought about the letter i'd write every day. I was scared. I wish I could go back and be brave and faithful instead.
AND THEN! Days before he turned 17, we said hello again and talked from 1am til sun-up (irresponsibility is genetic) and then atleast once every couple weeks!
 I was so glad but i was SO SAD! His dear mamma had had a stroke when he was 6 that left her brain quite altered, and he was a pretty unhappy kid.
I spent a year processing. I cried alot. I worried so much. I was so confused. I kinda dropped out of the adoption community. For the first time in 18 years I didn't wanna talk about adoption. It was the hardest thing since actually placing. 

AND THEN! I got a call offering a job in CA an hour and a half from them. We were chums by now and I told em I was gonna be in the neighborhood. AND THEN They invited me to HIS 18th BIRTHDAY!!! And car died on the way. AND THEN! It started again!
It was like the first time we'd met, sublime and familiar and exactly as it should be. I hugged his dad, hugged him, holding it together all the whille, AND THEN that precious lady, who's been my sister since before i ever even laid my eyes on her, came hobblin around the corner. and i LOST IT! cry-laughing again! and absolutely trembling from head to toe! My heart took over and spilled out of my eyes and vocal chords and shook my body! I had prayed I'd see her through her conditin, and i felt her! Her same spirit and personality were so evident to me! she kissed me and hugged me just like I'd always imagined!
I was able to visit them through the Summer I was in CA. On a visit I asked his dad if he ever felt insecure, displaced, or threatened by all of this. he looked at like -what a dumb question- and said "Tamra, don't you know by now you're family? You were never far from us. You don't hafta call, our door is open"! On our last visit his mamma says "thank you for giving him to me" and I say "oh Debbie, he was yours" and she says "he's yours too, we'll share him in heaven". Her spirit and heart fought past her brain to give me that message she'd stored up all those years!
The days preceding the birthday meeting, I prayed SO MUCH and i got a real attitude adjustment! I can barely remember the expectations that haven't been realized and I could care less what anybody else's fairy-tale reunion looked like. I know that the boy is gonna be just fine. I'm seein and countin so many blessings, i feel like a jerk i ever felt sorry for myself! Me and the kid are homies---super tight. That family has adopted ME! My cup absolutely runneth over!!! My happy is back!
Bein knocked up sucked. Placing sucked. Closed adoption sucked. Finding them hurting KILLED me! but however deep the waters I wade through, some how it is ALWAYS worth it on the other side! I feel so crappy in the thick of it and then I marvel at God's grace and feel lucky for the whole thing. What an adventure! I just keep lovin this story more and more!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

how do i "cope" with the pain?

my forward walking video was posted by a girl who received this response "It's unfortunate that she does not share her reality of how she has coped or is coping over the years. You can see the tears in her eyes, the pain in her heart, and hear it in her voice. There is so much below the surface...and that's what really needs to be voiced. That's my opinion on what I see in this video." and asked "I was wondering if you have done a video or any blog posts about your coping or if you think this description is accurate? Thanks!"
here is my response: 
 y''s interesting, i was seein a guy who had the same impression recently, the "sad" was what stood out to him. it surprised me, i had to watch it again myself to look for what he'd seen. it is in there, to be sure, and it's in me. there was a time when a couple years passed where i hadn't felt it in an acutely painful way and in my presentations or writings i would say "i'm not sad anymore, it doesn't hurt anymore" and then the night before my son turned 14, i felt the hole in me as fresh and raw as if it had been yesterday. and to be honest, the timing of this question is interesting me, not only because it's the 2nd comment of this nature i've encountered in just a few weeks, but as recently as Friday night, some loss landed on me out of nowhere and weighed heavy. i was sittin around a fire with about 20 people and the 3 directly across from me were mamas cuddlin sons in their laps from toddlers to about 8 years old. as guitars were played and songs were sung and under a full moon sky, i couldn't keep it in. i wept as inconspicuously as i could for like a half hour. 
i think there are a few things that make me ok. one is that i've learned to surrender to the pain, to give it the space it needs and to honor it, even to see the beauty in it and be grateful for it, but the other part is that i hold tightly to the peace that came when i decided to place him for adoption, when i found and met his parents, when i met him and got to know him, when i signed the relinquishment forms and said goodbye, when i went home with empty arms, when the agency discontinued correspondence, when reunification brought the discovery that trauma and tragedy had been a part of his formative years, and at every point between. for the sake of my own well being i have trained my mind to count every blessing and acknowledge every tender mercy, to build my faith and confidence on every confirmation, the which have come to me too many times to recount and in so many varied ways. i pay attention to the pain, but it's in paying attention to the sweetness and the blessings that the loss becomes meaningful and even beautiful. there's purpose in my pain. i accept it as a part of the package, an essential part even. the taste of the bitter has made the contrast of sweetness all the sweeter. every time i've been stretched to a new extent for anguish, my ability to feel joy also extends. Neil Maxwell said "the cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy". i believe this because it has happened to me. because my sacrifice was good and right, it has been, to my continual surprise, compensated for. the video is sad but it IS happy. i am sad but I AM happy! happier than i'd had the capacity to be until my range of emotion was expanded by grief. i would be a fool to reject the rose for the thorns attached.
i think another key to my coming to and maintaining my peace, my healing, and my processing is that i have made my suffering even more valuable by using it to serve and help others, there is SO MUCH sweetness in that! exhilaration even. i just see my path as blessed in spite of and even because of the burdens built in. 
placing a child for adoption is miraculous and beautiful but it is also trauma. i haven't found the way around the pain, i hope i never give the impression that there is a way around it. in the filming i did address some of what that "coping" and healing has been for me and i wish there'd been time enough to include it, the commenter was right, it is much needed. i hope this addresses it in a satisfactory way. time and patience are a big part as well i'm afraid. the sucky parts come inevitably, my aim is just to try to endure them well and with perspective, anticipating the parts that make it worth it.