Tag Archives: adoption

Happy Mother’s Day To My Son’s Mom

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Today is the first Mother’s Day I’ve ever heard my 23 year old son say the words “Happy Mother’s Day!”  This picture is the last time he was in my arms until the past year.  When I was 17, I made the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life: I chose his parents to care for him because I knew they could give him the life he deserved.  This was not an easy decision, and it was one that haunted my life for the next 22 years until we were reunited.

The first year was the hardest.  Every few months, I received pictures of my son.  I lived for those pictures in the mail, but they brought me joy and sadness at the same time.  I saw him growing, changing, and obviously loved.  I wondered if I did the right thing, if his parents loved him, and if I would ever see him again.  I also wrote letters, that I never mailed, that I carried with me everywhere I moved over the next 22 years.  Separate letters to him and his parents, maybe more for my own sanity than for them.  When I read these old yellowed pages of paper, I wish I had mailed them during that first year.  The first year was the window of opportunity, because the agency cut off contact after a year.  Those were the rules.  Not too many years after, the agency closed.  When I reunited with my son last year, I found out that his mother became sick with cancer when he was in high school and died as he was finishing high school.

I mourn this woman that I never got to meet.  The missed opportunity makes me sad.  I never got to tell her all the things I wrote in those letters.  They always started with gratitude.  I loved his parents for loving my son. When I had to leave the hospital on Christmas Day, in the midst of my tears and sadness I was able to find joy in the thought of his parents getting the call on Christmas Day to come meet their son for the first time.  Their love for him was the only thought that kept me sane at times.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I’d like to summarize most of what I said to his mother during the first year of his life.

  • Thank you for loving my son enough to make him your own.  You are his parents now, I have entrusted him to you.
  • Please teach him as he grows that I made the only decision for him that made sense at the time, and that the only reason I was able to do so was because I loved him more than life itself.
  • Never for  a moment think that I will ever come back into his life expecting to replace you.  You are his parents.
  • Love him always, even when he makes mistakes. Especially when he makes mistakes.
  • Teach him to love people.  Surround him with love.
  • When you kiss his boo-boos, teach him his ABCs, hug him when he’s sad…know that you are having the moments that I will never have.  I love you for that, even though it makes me sad.
  • One day I hope you will love him enough to encourage him to meet me.  I am a part of him, he is a part of me.  I will never have all those tiny moments you will enjoy with him. But I do hope to meet him one day.
  • Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  The letters are peppered with thank yous.  I meant every one of them.

I looked forward to the day I would get to meet her, and she could tell me those things that only a mother can tell about a child.  I wanted to hear stories about him when he was little.  I wanted to be able to look back through her eyes and see what I missed.  I had 22 years to sit and think about all the things I wanted to know from her.  I wanted to make sure she knew how much I appreciated her.

I missed that window of opportunity to tell her these things, and yet… When I first contacted his Dad, he was immediately receptive to talking to our son and finding out if he would want to meet me.  Our son is one of the sweetest, kindest young men I’ve ever met.  He grew up surrounded by family who loved him.  He loves people, especially elderly people.  He loves animals.  His parents always told him he was loved, that his birth mother must have been unable to provide for him but loved him enough to trust them with being his parents.  I didn’t need to tell them how to raise him, they did it perfectly.  My gratitude pours over for this woman I will never get to meet.  All I can do is love her for him now.

So today, on the first Mother’s Day that I got to hear my son say “Happy Mother’s Day”, on the first day ever that he told me “I love you” before hanging up the phone…

Happy Mother’s Day to my son’s Mom.  Thank you.

 

The Slow Thaw…

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     One day about 2 years ago, I sat down to try to figure out how on earth I was going to lead a group of middle school girls when I felt like I had been such a failure at that age myself. This was not an active choice that I made, wanting to make a difference in the life of girls. This group had suddenly found themselves without a leader and seeing that they were at the age that girls tend to drop out of activities like this, I volunteered. So I sat down one day and in between checking Facebook and google, I began to find words like girl-empowerment, self-esteem, body image, and media literacy. I started to fall down the rabbit hole of the issues that girls today face and realize that my own daughter was only a few years away from the age of these girls. My eyes started to open on the subject. But more importantly, a slow thaw had started that I had no idea would change my life.

     The thaw started the day that I read this post, by Melissa Atkins Wardy, on her blog PigTail Pals: Waking Up Full of Awesome. When I read this post, something changed in me. This was no longer just about how to deal with these girls one day a week, but about seeing how deeply affected my life was still by things that happened to me as a child.

Do you still have it? The awesome.

Did someone take it from you?

Did you let them?

Did you hand it over, because someone told you weren’t beautiful enough, thin enough, smart enough, good enough?

Why the hell would you listen to them?

Did you consider they might be full of shit?” 

These words struck me as a description of so many encounters in my childhood that had held power over me for far too long. They dug deep inside of me and gave me the insight that perhaps what I’d been dealing with all along was a case of missing awesome. I KNOW I had it once, but somewhere along the years it had disappeared. At 38 years old, I still felt like a fraud in my own body. I felt like that pretender who didn’t fit in anywhere, that no one truly knew me as an entire person, flaws and all. I’d done a great job of compartmentalizing my life so that people only knew what I wanted them to know, and no two people knew the same exact parts of me. All I knew was that reading this, and following Melissa’s blog, made me WANT my awesome back for the first time in a very long time. 

     So I joined this community of people who wanted better in life for the girls in their life. It eventually also included issues dealing with boys. A funny thing happened along the way. In seeking to empower girls, I was learning to empower myself. I found feminism. I found my voice, and began to be more comfortable using it. My love for other people started to flow out of me, and I eventually even started paying attention to political issues for the first time in my life. I was truly in a state of awakening for the first time in my life. And yet… there were still times that I felt like an incredible fraud. I met this amazing community of women, became friends with some very talented bloggers. It made me feel good to have people to discuss and learn things with, but deep inside there was still a voice that told me that some secrets keep me apart from these women. As nice and supportive as they were, they still didn’t know ME. Because I still kept some secrets inside. 

     Except…slowly during this slow thaw, bits of me started sneaking out along the way. I told one truth to one person, and she still wanted to know me. So I continued in this manner, leaking out tiny bits of my truth along the way. Learning that maybe other people weren’t as likely to judge me as I judge myself. Seeing these brave women laying themselves out there in their blogs and even withstanding some of the nasty comments that inevitably occur on blogs. They told their truths and they were still standing. People still liked them and wanted to know them. They gave me hope that I could do the same. Not the blogging part, just the honesty thing. Oh, and I made friends. These weren’t just amazing women, but they seemed to like me as a person. That has been hard for me in my adult life. 

     Then yesterday, after having a rough emotional night before, one of these women posted a link that sent me to the Momastery Facebook page. When I got there, I saw that the writer on that site had a TED talk, so I decided to watch it. The thaw that had been happening over the past 2 years suddenly turned into a swollen dam that burst and left me crying for hours and exhausted. When I was done, there was just clarity.  

“Now what they don’t tell you about getting sober, about peeling off your capes, is that it gets a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. Getting sober is like recovering from frostbite. It’s all of those feelings that you’ve numbed for so long, now they’re THERE and they’re present. And at first it just feels kind of tingly and uncomfortable, but then those feeling start to feel like daggers….” -Glennon Doyle Melton

     So I am now on a new journey, a delayed one if you must. See, I have been a recovering drug addict for 8 years. But being clean does not equal recovering. So I will say I have been clean for 8 years. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was a pregnant teenager who gave birth at 17 and placed my child for adoption in hopes of a better life for him. I battled depression throughout college and self-medicated with binge drinking and sex. I somehow made it through college and became a nurse and a mother, and eventually ended up taking drugs of almost any kind, still trying to numb the deep hole in my heart. I only got clean because I got caught, and sat for 6 years paralyzed by all of these things. Until the thaw began…

     Now, 2 years later, the dam has burst and I can’t hold it back any longer. I have reached the point that it is more painful to remain still than it is to move forward. So, I am moving forward knowing that I am surrounded by some of the most amazing women who support me and like me, flaws and all. More importantly, I am moving forward knowing that these things may be my past, but they do not have to be my future.