Category Archives: Birth parent

Out of proportion sad

A girl from my high school class died the other day.

I am so sad. Out of proportion sad.

I would call “Linda” more of an acquaintance than a friend. We went to different middle schools so we didn’t come into each others’ orbits until high school. Still, we had mutual friends and we were both in marching band. I, straining to stay first chair in the flute section and she hanging out with the guys in the brass section. I remember her being what you’d call cute — adorable with a radiant and infectious smile.

Linda became pregnant during our sophomore year by her boyfriend, a senior and a drummer. For months and months during her pregnancy, she carried her baby belly proudly through the hallways and classrooms of our high school. Never averted her eyes, never looked troubled, never gave off a whiff of shame. Other kids whispered, nosy but not mean-spirited. I remember being a little bit in awe of her and her ability to carry her head high, full term.

One day she wasn’t pregnant anymore. People whispered again, not from malice because Linda was well-liked; just out of simple curiosity. What was the outcome? The boyfriend had graduated, so I never knew if they’d stayed together or not. Word around was that they’d placed their baby for adoption.

Linda was the only one from my high school who became a birth parent during those years, in my recollection. She’s been on my mind in recent years.

I had always hoped to reconnect with Linda at a reunion, at the grocery store, at a museum or park. Now that I can see adoption from the inside, and with grownup eyes, I wanted to ask her about that time in her life. Was she as resilient as she’d appeared? How fully did she explore all her options? What kind of support was available to her? Did she experience the horrors of the Baby Scoop Era? What did she remember about placing? How much was being a “birth mother” part of her life, even now, all these years later? Did she ever reunite with her child? And tell the now-adult child about the manageable medical condition that eventually took her life?

I had the feeling that Linda would welcome opening up to me, that she might even get something out of this conversation, as I was well-versed in birth parent and reunion resources.

Or maybe that’s just my fantasy.

I did some poking around and found that Linda had registered to be found by her placed child, a daughter. What I am unable to find out is if that daughter ever sought to be found, as well.

I am sad for Linda and her family, including her husband and parented daughter. I am sad that I didn’t get to have that dialog with Linda, who had become joined to me via adoption at a level that exceeded being joined by 1st period Band class.

But mostly, I’m sad for her placed daughter. If and when she ever searches and finds, all she will have are missed memories of her birth mother, Linda of the sass, confidence, resilience and radiant smile.

Godspeed, Linda.

~~~~~

Have you signed up yet for the book tour for Found: a Memoir by Jennifer Lauck?

7 Points About the Birth Mom Conversations

Recently my son opened up to me asking questions about his birth mom and I responded as best I could. The first two posts in this series simply recounted the conversations. In this third and last post, I offer commentary about the dialog between my son and me and about the comments the posts generated.

adoption heart1. Know what it was; know what it wasn’t.

Continue reading 7 Points About the Birth Mom Conversations

Processing His Adoptedness: Conversation with My Son, Pt 2

In part one, I told how my still-and-deep-water son was churning some adoption stuff, and how he trusted me to do it with him. I am honored.

“No One Wants To Give Away Their Baby”

Reed and I were running errands the next day. Tessa stayed home with Daddy to build the first fire of the season. Brrrr….it had gotten chilly!

Bedtime and car time are conducive to touchy subject talk because of the non-confrontational positioning. In the car Reed and I were not face to face, and I knew it was a good time to try to get back into the emotional space we’d been in the night before.

“So remember last night? We were talking about the moment when you became our son. You seemed sad. Do you want to talk about that?”

“I dunno. It’s just that I was sad for Michele. No one wants to give away their baby.”

“That’s so right. It was very hard for Michele to do that. But what about you? What do you suppose that moment felt like for you?”

Feeling the Feels

adoption heartNow some would be content to leave this stone unturned, that not everything has to be dealt with. But my view is that what lies dormant affects us unconsciously. And what is brought to the surface can be felt, examined, and released. My hope is that if my son can become aware of his emotions and motivations at age 8, maybe they won’t get buried over the decades and erupt for him massively later in life. I want to give my children a head start on living mindfully, consciously.

Continue reading Processing His Adoptedness: Conversation with My Son, Pt 2

My Son Processes a New Layer of his Adoptedness

Adam Pertman told the story (which I’m paraphrasing, perhaps badly) at last month’s Open Adoption Symposium of his teenage son, playing a handheld game in his room one night.

Trying to keep the lines of communication open, Adam stepped into his son’s room and asked, “Son, how often do you think about adoption?” Without looking up from the game, the son simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Not much.” Adam stopped in his tracks and thought for a moment. Trying again to open a conversation, he rephrased: “What I meant to ask was, how often to you think of your birth mom?”

The teen barely look up and responded, matter-of-factly, “Oh. All the time.”

Adam Pertman teared up as he told us. For his son’s loss.

~~~~~

Reed is now closer to age 9 than to age 8. It’s always seemed that he’s smooth-sailing and resilient, able to roll with life’s punches and not have “issues.”

But I was not wholly surprised that some revelatory conversations came up this weekend. I expect that as my children grow they will, at stages, deepen their understanding of their adoptedness through wondering and questioning. And I will encourage this every chance I get.

Just before bedtime one night, Reed and I read entries from his new Guinness Book of World Records and marveled at crazy human feats. We put the book down to cuddle, just the two of us, in his parents’ bed.

adoption heart“Do you think often about Michele?” I opened the door.

“Yeah. A lot.”

“Mom,” he continued, “do you think I could try living with her for a week or a month or something?”

“Sweetie,” I replied, searching for wisdom. “It doesn’t work like that. But we can certainly try to arrange for a visit with Michele the next time we are all in the same state.”

“OK, Mama,” Reed said.

A moment later: “Mom, why did Michele give me away? And how did you and Daddy become my parents?”

“Well,” I scanned the archives of my memory for advice I’ve read by and for adoptees on how best to proceed. “You were a surprise to Michele. Before she even knew she was pregnant, you were being born.”

“Uh hunh,” Reed said, encouraging me. He’d heard his story before.

“She was going to college and wasn’t really prepared to take care of ANY baby right then. She had to scramble to figure out how to do that — take care of a baby while finishing up school. She tried really hard, and she loved you very much, but she just couldn’t figure out how to be a mom right then.”

“Did you know her before that?” my son asked.

“No. We met her after she went to the same agency we did and picked us to be your forever parents.”

“When did you meet her?”

“The first time we met it was just Michele and Daddy and me at the agency. It was a time for her to check us out. It was a big decision for her, and she took it very seriously. WHO could she entrust her beloved son to? The agency called us later that evening to say that Michele had decided on us, and that we could come back the next day to meet our son. And bring him home.”

I paused to read his body, still nestled against mind. I knew that he was present with me, with the story.

“The next day we drove back to the agency, but this time Grandma and Grandpa and Tessa were also invited. It was the first time we saw you and boy, were we happy! You were so adorable and loveable. Michele brought her three best friends. We all met in a conference room for an Entrustment Ceremony.”

“What’s that?”

“That’s where Michele entrusted you into our care.”

“Tell me about that.”

“Well…” I knew that this coming part was likely to hurt. I breathed and became conscious of my breath. “Michele was holding you. The lady running the meeting said a prayer for Michele and a prayer for AJ [first father], who wasn’t able to be there. There was a prayer for Daddy and me and, of course, a prayer for the baby — you — who joined everyone in the room together.”

“Then what?”

I breathed again. “Then Michele placed you in my arms.”

My son then let out one whimper. His small body sobbed one time. I held him more tightly (but not too tight) and stroked his shoulder, arm, side, leg. “I know, baby.” I breathed deeply, willing him to, as well.

I abided with him for a moment, simply giving him the space to feel what he was feeling. Then his sister entered the room and asked what we were talking about and would I tell her about her story, too?

Reed and I would continue our conversation the next day… (tune in for part 2).

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

~~~~~

 Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a now teen daughter and a now teen son, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.