I am Schrodinger’s Box

September 16, 2008

in Birth parent, Open Adoption, Reunion in adoption, Tessa

I am currently holding two completely different realities in one space.

We have entered a new arena in our open adoption. Tessa’s birthfather has come into the picture, with our blessing. Things are going very well, and I will write about the reunion more as it becomes appropriate.

But back to the box.

I remember many years ago a thirtysomething episode that featured a double-date dinner as seen by each of the four people in attendance. The first 15 minutes was from Hope’s point of view, the next segment was from Elliot’s, the third from Nancy’s and finally we see from Michael’s eyes. We see the same events interpreted by four people, with each version being very, very different.

I was left wondering which of the four versions was the accurate one. I kept trying to splice together clips to get the One True View.

Which is both silly and impossible. Perception is reality. And since perception is uniquely personal, it follows that reality is uniquely personal.

So now, as I piece together the events that led to Tessa’s existence and to us being her parents, that thirtysomething episode has new meaning to me. Now I have the wisdom not to ask which account is the “real” one. And I just might have the breadth and depth to hold both versions as valid.

I don’t think either Crystal or Joe truly believe I am doing so. But I am.

I must show Tessa that it can be done.


This post is part of the open adoption roundtable in 2013. In the years since this post was first published, the various truths in our story have come closer together.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

luna April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

I love the awareness apparent in this post. that of the two versions of reality, no one is more or less real than the other. that there may never be one commonly accepted version of “truth.”I love that storytelling device, because it cautions the audience (viewer or reader) to check their own perspectives and biases and be open to what reality presents itself. we are often so tempted to decide which may be the “truest”, but ultimately all versions are real to someone in the story. the japanese film “rashomon” is classic in this regard, telling the story of a crime from many different perspectives. I have no doubt that you will continue to hold that box for tessa, as she forms her own reality. what an amazing thing that is. I hope it is not too hard or painful.


Wordgirl April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Hi Lori,This is so beautifully expressed and though our situations are very different there’s something in this post that resonates with me – perhaps its that I understand what’s possible to hold in your heart — the dichotomies you thought you couldn’t, the pulling apart — and back together again — and you do so because of your love of your child.I feel that way with W often — my heart has gone places I never thought it could go — and places, frankly, that other people might not understand — because though our situation, unlike yours, is Mom and Stepmom — it, like what you’ve described so beautifully here, requires so much of our hearts.You’re doing a phenomenal job.XOPam


Ms. Planner April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

You are undoubtedly one of the most confident, strongest women I know. This is huge, both for you & your daughter. I have every faith in you that you can walk this line between editing/protecting your daughter and opening her eyes to a new relationship that is v. meaningful as well.


Phoebe April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

I think you are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to adoption. I think it’s called evolution.Much of what we perceive as reality is just an illusion anyways. We are all so much more related genetically than we think, birth parents or not.


loribeth April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

You ARE amazing. (And from the title of your post, I gather you too are a fan of “The Big Bang Theory,” lol.) “All in the Family” did an episode like that where the refrigerator broke down, & Archie, Gloria, Mike & finally Edith each told the story from their perspective. (In the end, I think Edith’s was probably the one closest to what really happened.) ; ) And my all-time favourite episode of “King of the Hill” is a similar scenario… only when Boomhauer tells the story from his point of view, he speaks in perfectly clear English & everyone else’s speech is garbled, lol. I digress… there are many, many points of view of the same situation. Taking as many of them as possible into consideration & reconciling them into something understandable & resembling “truth” is part of the job of a journalist, which is my background… I think it drives my dh nuts sometimes because I’m forever seeing shades of grey, but that’s just the way I am. Good luck in helping Tessa find her own truth someday.


nancy April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Wow. Just plain Wow. To have the brains to even think about that, much less accept it as reality. Lori, you are amazing.


wheremytruthlives April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

I have been catching up a little on your story and I am in awe. When I divorced many years ago and my ex and I sought couseling to mend our relationship as parents and put our son first, people thought we were crazy and couldn’t understand why we would go to such lengths. But today we have a good friendship and an emotionally healthy son and no regrets. I read your story of approaching this adoption with compassion and a desire to share your daughter and I am so proud of you.And I love the symbolism of your scallop (For a number of reasons I have identified with the Puebloan symbol for Mutual Responsibility – http://wheremytruthlives.wordpress.com/2008/04/14/holy-groceries-batman/) I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.


Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

It is an incredible feat–and an important one. That perhaps your role is to stand back and observe it all so you can help Tessa filter in the future or understand in the future or navigate down the line. And complete understanding isn’t necessary to do that?


Melissa April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

All I can say is, “Wow”. You are amazing.Mama used to say, “There are 3 sides to every story.. yours, mine and the truth”Big Hugs From Up Yonder.


JJ April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Simply put, you are amazing–and doing all you can to make sure Tessa understands all the relationships around her. Lots of hugs to you, Lori.


Deathstar April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Wow, I am eagerly awaiting the details. You are one incredible lady. How does your husband feel about this new development? I concur with everything that others have said – talk about a mighty heart.


Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Nahhhh. Really, y’all. So much of this is just self-preservation.I mean, what else can I do? Polarize? Validate only half of Tessa’s origins?I am doing nothing remarkable.And I do appreciate your support.


beagle April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

I have to disagree: Doing right and being fair IS remarkable these days. So you are. Very much so.


Spicy Sister April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Lori, I think you are brave and wise and this post pretty much sums up one of the qualities I have felt most drawn to in you, your ability to see, really see, and to choose to accept and welcome others stories, feelings, and beliefs as valid – even if they are not your own or don’t match completely with your own experiences. You make room. And in this adoption you have made room time and again, in your heart, and in your lives. You offer Tessa a great gift not only in this interaction with her birth father, but in your courage to continually open and reopen the “box” – and in the process open and reopen your heart (often a painful process I would imagine) to love her in a mature way that allows her story to be her own, not the one you wish you could write for her. She is so fortunate to have such a wonderful mother.


Beth April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

“I am doing nothing remarkable.”I think what you’re doing is very brave.


Geohde April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Lori,You have a way of framing things.Much luck to all of you as you negotiate this relationship.J


Peeveme April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Wow Lori, Lots to think about. I tend to be “knee jerk” and take sides. It’s nice that you are more open minded than that.


Steph April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Wow. So, how difficult is it to try and balance the personalities and influences of each of these people in the life of your daughter? It cannot be easy. But I really admire you for trying. What an interesting situation…


Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

This is a great post, Lori.I remember that 30-something episode, and it was one of my favorites. They did it so well.And, ‘doing what has to be done’ <>is<> remarkable. So many can’t/won’t.Yet another example of how our kids take us some places we never imagined. We go there for them.LoveGAK!!! Blogger won’t take my password, then gives me nearly impossible letters to copy!Debora


Denise April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Thinking of you and wishing you the best in this next leg of your journey (and Tessa’s journey).


Kami April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

I originally read this post prior to meeting my donor’s mom and I thought it might be hard to do. Now I really think it will take some work.I love that you are able to see all viewpoints as valid. I agree with you 100%, but I find in practice I can’t help but think that my viewpoint is just a little bit more valid.


Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 12:28 am

Kami — In my case, though, I don’t have a viewpoint of what went on prior to Tessa’s birth — I wasn’t there. For 7 years I’ve had only Crystal’s version. Now I have another. They are in opposition. So if my choice is to validate one and alienate the other, what does that do to Tessa?If I’d been there, I would have had a 3rd version — mine. You are right — that would have been the “valid” one. To me.


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