Friday, September 30, 2011

Life Changing

I awoke that morning with a feeling of anticipation, excitement, and joy.   I didn't know what to expect.  The World's Best Bleeding Heart Attorney and I dressed for a long day of driving and visiting with many of my family members.  On our annual pilgrimage to their part of the world, which is always chock full of amazingly warm, enjoyable, rejuvenating visits, this day on the ocean with my brother and his family never disappoints.  The food is always incredible (my sister-in-law is a fabulous cook), we always discuss movies, tell stories, and enjoy the entertainment provided by the littlest members of our family.   Our arrival at their home this year would come on the heels of this morning-one that dawned bright and clear, with the promise of ocean breezes urging us out of our nest and onto the road.  Before we got to their house, we had an appointment.

We pulled into the parking lot.  I saw it.  A late model Japanese car, sparkling in the fall sunlight, clean as a whistle and empty. The Attorney and I got out of our rental car, closed the doors in unison, and headed for the heavy, glass double door.  Each of us grabbed a handle, and threw open our side.  Another set of doors, and we were in.  My eyes scanned the room, and immediately settled upon a face so familiar, yet so unique.  A huge smile, a happy wave.  I knew her immediately.  We walked quickly toward one another, I dropped my purse and my camera bag on the table near her, and we embraced for a long, long time.  We would step back and look in each others eyes, and hug again, tears streaming down both of our faces.  Then the same process with the Attorney.  I sat next to her in the booth, the Attorney went to get us coffee.  I pulled out the laptop and started showing her pictures of my daughter.  Her daughter.  OUR daughter.

After 16 years of mystery, and only 10 days since we found each other,  I was there, in a little town in the middle of nowhere, eating breakfast with my daughter's birth mother. 

You may wonder if they look alike.  See for yourself.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fast Forward

...she read the letter very slowly, very carefully.  We saw her eyes land on each word.  The enormity of the unfolding situation was evident on her young face.  When she finished reading, the letter lay open, face up in her lap.  Her head was down, her eyes fixed on the paper, but no longer scanning.   After several minutes, the tears began to fall, plop-plop-plopping on the open palms that I have held and caressed so many times in the last 16 years.  It was impossible to tell what she was thinking, but it was clear that there was a lot going on inside her head, despite the stillness of expression.  We were all silent, as if to pay reverence to this once-in-a-lifetime moment. 

Jazzman slowly, carefully, wrapped his long arm around her tiny shoulders and pulled her gently closer to his heart.  I spoke.

"Are you ok?"  (nearly imperceptible nod)
"Did we do the right thing?"  (again)
"Can you talk about what you're feeling?"  (tiny shake, conveying "not yet.")
More silence.

I began to worry that they would leave.  It seemed important to me and The Attorney that the four of us stay together until she was able to feel comfortable again.  We offered to take them out to eat because food is my drug we thought it would be a nice transition and she said she would love to have dinner with us.   At the restaurant, she opened up and the thoughts, questions, and ideas came tumbling out like so many clowns from a tiny circus car.  Why?  When?  What about my birth-father?  Siblings?  The food took forever at a place where service is usually their signature trait.  During the wait, my phone rang.  It was her first mother.  I could spend a lot of words and space on how we got from the letter in the mail to the phone call, but it's not important.  What's important right now is maternity.

My daughter is pregnant.
She has been happily reunited thanks to the USPS and phone with her birth mother.
She is more deeply connected with us than ever.
I am fulfilled.  And at peace.  And thrilled. be continued...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Of Letters and Serendipity

(Stick with me here-it's a long one.)

It is not unlike me to write a letter.  I love receiving "snail" mail, I love stamps and stationery and pens.  How the pen feels on the paper is very important to me, and I have been known to throw out a beautiful note card on which I have started writing to a friend simply because it doesn't feel right.

Before the advent of email, I had written many a letter informing people of momentous events in my life: the arrivals of my daughters, the death of my father, my own job changes, moves, and changes of outlooks, opinions, or feelings.

Since June of 1995, when my second precious child came into my life, I have dreamed for her of letters exchanged with her birth family.  Her first family.  The circumstances around her adoption are details that are hers only to share, but they are very different from those of Older Daughter, whom I was able to bring home in infancy.  Younger Daughter was three when I got her.  A whole different world.

The missing puzzle piece in her life has been monumental.  "Who do I look like?"  "Why did this happen?"  "Am I somehow to blame?"  "How different would my life have been?"  These questions have colored her view of her reality.

Three weeks ago or so, Younger Daughter and her long-time boyfriend, whom we love, respect, and thank for his kindness to YD, came home to visit on a Sunday afternoon.  They're expecting a baby.  The Attorney and I were not terribly surprised, and I must say we took it with amazing grace.  YD said she had known for a couple of weeks, but was afraid to tell us, because she was afraid we would be angry or disappointed.  While the timing is less than ideal, we were neither.  We went through the practicalities of it:  what about college (she's a sophomore), housing (he shares an apartment with his sister), and money (they don't really have any)?  When we got done with those obligatory issues, we moved straight into how exciting it would be to be grandparents, what we wanted to be called (me-Grammy, The Attorney-Grandma) and what we could do to help.  We are eschewing any negativity and celebrating a new life with the bundle that will arrive in early March, we think.

How does this relate to letter writing?  The very week that we heard about the baby, I found, after years of searching, a possible clue as to the whereabouts of YD's birth mom.  I sat down and carefully crafted a very short letter to her.  It included no identifying information, to eliminate the possibility of a misstep in making the connection with the right person.

"Dear _________"
I am writing to you to let you know that in 1995 I adopted a child through _________.  If you are the birth mother of a child who was adopted then, or if you have contact with her, and you are interested in having information about the child, please send me a letter with any information that will help me make sure you are the right person.  If you are unrelated to this child, or you do not wish to have contact, please disregard this and accept my apologies for any intrusion."
In Peace,
Yankee Transferred

Yesterday, I received this in the mail:
"Dear Yankee Transferred,

I received your letter on 9/9/2011.  My name is ____________ and I live in ___________. I am the mother of Younger Daughter.  I gave birth to her in _______hospital.  I have her birth certificate which I have kept in my safe for 19 years.  The reason you ended up with her is because I couldn't take care of her due to ____________.  God has been very good to me, He pulled me out of that situation and has stayed with me so that I could experience this very day.  Please tell her she can contact me at any time.  I have prayed for this day for 19 years.  Thank you for contacting me.
Thank you again,
Birth Mother

We asked Younger Daughter and Jazz Man to come over last night.  When they got there, we told them that we have tried her whole life to give her everything she needed and wanted, and we always knew that there was one thing that we had been unable to give her.  We handed her the letter. be continued...