Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who's your daddy?

So...I know who my daddy is. I also know that he doesn't want to have anything to do with me. I've seen him, twice. He didn't know who I was at the time, so it was kind of cool and kind of creepy all the same. I didn't talk to him. I didn't run over to him and give him a hug. I didn't call him repeatedly over the course of a few months begging for his love and acceptance. I did absolutely nothing, but sit in a chair about 10 feet from him and glance his way periodically so not to seem like I was staring., why?

When I think about my birth mom and the idea of her abandoning me again, it breaks my heart. Her absence in my life is so notable. I know I say that a lot, but it is so, so true. My relationship with her is very important to me. I just don't understand why I don't feel the same way about my birth father. Does anyone else feel this way about either parent?

I don't know if it is because she found me and showed interest from the beginning. I don't know if it is because I blame him for not 'being a man' and helping my mom financially so she could keep me. I don't know if it is because I am so emotionally drained from figuring out my relationship with my birth mom that I don't feel like I have room for him. I've wondered if it is because I am a girl and I relate better to my mom. I just don't know.

I guess I don't really have any answers. All things adoption, for me, usually end in a long series of questions and then me saying, "I just don't know." ::sigh:: Maybe one day it will all click and start making sense, but I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A second chance?

I did a post a few weeks ago about regrets. I mentioned within that post that I did have some regrets about how I have handled things along my reunion journey, but I am learning as I go. Since the past cannot be changed, I can only learn from my regrets and hopefully not make the same mistakes again. But, sometimes those second chances come quicker than you think.

This coming Saturday would have been my natural grandmother's 69th birthday. One evening while I was on the phone with my birth mom, she started talking about her mom's upcoming birthday and how hard that day was going to be. I realize that 'firsts' are always hard when you lose someone you love, so we talked about that. The next day, she called to ask me if I would want to go to the cemetery with her and a few family members to put flowers on her mom's grave, then go eat dinner and visit.

I'm sure you're probably thinking I am totally crazy for even momentarily thinking about saying I can't make it. It's so hard for me. I want to see my birth mom. It makes me feel really good to know she wants to include me. I want to be a part of my family. So, why is it so hard? What am I afraid of? I read other adoptee's blogs and am sometimes jealous about the relationship they have with their natural family. It seems so easy, natural, and unforced. I am SO afraid of rejection, that I am maybe a little too guarded. I worry about what people may say, how I will feel, will I be accepted.

So you may be again wondering, "Why is this so hard? What are you thinking?" Well...for me, it all goes back to the very reason why I was placed for adoption. It wasn't because my mom was only 17 and unwed. She had an 18 year old, unwed sister that had two children and one of them was being raised by her mom. She had to give me away because of my race. The fact that my father was black was a huge problem. Unfortunately for them, I cannot change that. I am who I am. I worry that my natural family may not accept me for who I am. If their reactions, issues, etc cause problems with my birth mom, it may lead to more rejection. I want to get past this. I want to be there for my birth mom. I want to do this for myself, but I'm so scared.

My birth mom and I talk quite frequently. Our conversations are good and I always get off the phone feeling better about our relationship then I did before. I have pessimistically waited for the ball to drop, the phone calls to end, the rejection to rear it's ugly head yet again, but so far I have seen nothing like that. I know she loves me and always has. I can hear it in her voice. She has told me too many times to count. She is my mom and I want to be there for her. I'm just scared.

Well, I have a couple of days to decide. She is not at all pressuring me, but I am putting a lot of pressure on myself. Why does it have to be so hard? This is one of those moments that I want to curse the day I was conceived. I didn't ask for any of this, but it is what it is. I've been given a second chance. It's up to me what I choose to do with it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A brand new end

I am not a huge John Mayer fan, but I am a huge fan of music. No matter the mood, be it happy, sad, mad or glad, I can find a song that fits. With that said, I have loved the lyrics to his song, "Say". It has been one of the many anthems in my "re"reunion. One of my favorite verses from the song is, "Have no fear for giving in. Have no fear for giving over. You better know that in the end, it's better to say too much than never to say what you need to say again." I have always had a problem expressing my feelings to others. I grew up in a home that didn't really allow for that, so I don't know if it's a learned behavior or if it's just my personality. My guess is a little of both. Whatever the cause, it is a huge struggle of mine.

After the funeral, I more or less was prepared for my birth mom to slowly drift back out of my life. However, that did not happen. It was actually the complete opposite. She would call me about every other night. We would talk for quite a while, sometimes a couple of hours or more, about anything and everything. We talked about us a lot. She was a lot more forthcoming about her emotions. She talked repeatedly about feeling so guilty for giving me up, but she never really addressed the years of silence. Judging by some of the things she said in our conversations, I could piece together different reasons, but I really needed to hear from her what happened. I didn't want to guess, I wanted to know. Every conversation we had, I wondered if it was the last one for a while. I was tired of living with that fear that she was going to walk out of my life again.

As much as I wanted to just come out and ask her, I was afraid of how she would respond. Would it make her mad? Would she tell me I was being selfish just thinking of myself after her mom just died tragically? Would she hang up on me and never call again? Regardless of my fears, I had to know. I didn't want another conversation to go by without finding out what happened. I didn't want to make the same mistakes again. So, I finally got the nerves to say what I needed to say. Finally.

When I asked her what happened she took a deep breath, followed by another one, and then there was a long pause on the phone. I asked her if she was OK, and she said yes. I could tell she was crying. I quietly started crying as she explained. It basically was all the things I had assumed. Her husband did not know about me and when she told him, he was very upset. Not so much about me, but the fact that my biological father was who he was...a black man. (I guess some things never change.) He gave her a very hard time about that. She also said that she had an overwhelming amount of guilt and sadness about not being there for me. That she gave me away and let total strangers raise me. The fact that she missed it all. She said it was, and still is, very overwhelming.

So, I asked her if all of that was the cause, how was I to believe that things would be better this time around? The feelings were still there, why did she think she could "handle it" now? Again, long pause, deep breaths, lots of tears, followed with another explanation. She told me that she knew she was wrong. She was so disappointed in herself for how she handled our relationship and even during the time she was not talking to me, she thought about me every single day. She said my entire life, a day never went by where she did not think about me several times. She said that losing her mom was a huge wake-up call for her because it happened so quickly and without warning. She did not want something to happen to me and for me to not know how much I meant to her and how much she loved me and always has.

My birth mom and I are alike in so many ways it is often freaky. I don't know how many times I have wondered how you can be so much like a person you spent the majority of your informative years away from. Our similarities are good and bad. One of the bad ones is our lack to truly express how we're feeling. This time around, we have talked about this particular flaw and have vowed to share our feelings with each other and not hold anything back. So far, it has gone very well. I love sharing my life with her. I think we both have our moments where we think about what could have been. Those times are sad, but I'm trying my hardest to move beyond the past. I think my birth mom said it best. She said that no one can go back and make a brand new start, but anyone can start from now and make a brand new end. I'm really counting on it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mama, do you love me?

If you have small children, you more than likely have come across this book before while perusing the bookstore or library. Maybe it's the elementary teacher coming out in me, but I LOVE children's books. They're simple, sweet, and full of meaning. This book is no different. It is a touching story about a little girl who imagines different scenarios to test her mother's love and devotion. No matter what scenario the little girl comes up with, her mother reassures her and lets her know how deep her love is for her. It's a very sweet story about a child's insecurities and a mother's unconditional love.

I really struggle with this very thing in my reunion with my birth mom. Love is such a complex emotion. It is sometimes hard for me to understand how she could possibly love me. She says it, but how do I know she really means it? In some ways, I'm a little jealous of the girl in the story. I didn't have the opportunity to grow up in a world where I could ask that simple question, "Mama, do you love me?". After all, my mom gave me away. If she loved me, she would have kept me. She would have tried harder, fought longer, found a way to make it work. Now, here I am an adult... she was in my life, then out of my life, now she's back in and she's telling me she loves me? How do I know?

The connection I have with my birth mom cannot be described with words. I love her very much. Having her in my life is so very important to me. Deep down, I believe her when she tells me she loves me. I really do. It's just sometimes the child inside me fears that love could fade based on the different scenarios that I've imagined. But, I am slowly learning to trust. I just wish it were all a little easier.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Speak up now, please!

I have mentioned on my blog before that I speak occasionally at a local university on the topic of adoption. The class itself is entitled, "Issues in Adoption". The majority of the students enrolled are seeking to become social workers.

The professor of the class, D, is a family friend we got to know through church. At one time, she worked for a private adoption agency. She married and divorced never having children. She later adopted two children (not related) from Guatemala and was a single mom. I babysat for her when I was in high school and through college on a very regular basis. I was more or less a nanny to her boys.

Over the years, we formed a very close relationship. When I babysat and she would come home from work late in the evenings, I would stay at her house for another 2-3 hours just talking. She was very open minded and would talk to me about being adopted, my feelings, my thoughts towards my aparents and siblings, etc. She made me feel like it was okay to have a curiosity about my heredity. Growing up, I always knew I was adopted, but it was more or less just the giant elephant in the room. I never really felt like it was okay to talk about it. Needless to say, she was a godsend through a very informative part of my life.

D asked me several years ago, before I was in reunion, if I would be interested in coming to speak to her class. My first thought was "No, way!", simply because I am not a public speaker. The thought of a room full of strangers staring at me while I shared my adoption story made me cringe. However, D would not let up. She would ask each time a new semester started...4 times a year (counting the 2 summer sessions) to be exact! After about a year of asking, I gave in. How hard could it be?

The first time that I went to speak, I was still in major denial about any and all feelings I had adoption related. I went and shared with the class my feelings about my birth wonderful and brave she must have been to not abort me but instead make the ultimate sacrifice just so I could have a better life...a life she could not provide me...a life free from racial prejudice and an unsupportive extended family. I continued on with how I grew up in a financially stable home, I didn't 'stick out' in the family photo album, I had a great childhood, I grew up going to church, I went to college on a basketball scholarship, met a great guy, got married, had children...I had it all. What more could I have asked for in life? THAT was my story that I shared. And what's so sad is that I actually believed it. That is what I grew up believing my entire life. I am actually embarrassed to even post it, but it's the truth and I'm not going to stray from it..however ugly it may be!

At the end of my spiel, it's open to the class to ask questions. They asked all kinds of very personal questions, but I of course answered them with the textbook, "I'm a very happy, fortunate adoptee that was 'saved' by a wonderful, loving family" answer. Kind of sickening when I think about it. Anyway..this went on for a couple of years. During that time was when my birth mom 'found' me. After we were in reunion for a couple of years, she even went with me and spoke from a birth mother's point of view. I shared my fairytale adoption/reunion story, while she shared her story of unspeakable loss to happy ever after now that she had me in her life. I got to where I really liked going. It was fake therapy at it's finest. The more often I went and shared how wonderful my life was, the better I felt about being an adoptee. That was until the day I was asked one too many questions.

The kid was only in the class because he needed 3 more credits and thought that class would be easy. He would be the one to ask a question that left me speechless. At the time, my birth mom had rejected me...again. She was actually supposed to be at the class to speak with me but never showed up so I went alone. I wasn't in the best frame of mind, but had promised D I would be there and I am NOT a promise breaker. I went through the is great, I'm so fortunate, blah, blah, blah...and then started taking questions at the end. I was getting ready to wrap up when his hand shot up in the air. It was like he just had an epiphany or something. I called on him and he said, "Are you really as happy as you say that you are? Something about you tells me there is more to the story than you're sharing. I'm only here because I have to be, but something about your story makes me want to stay longer because I want to hear more. I want to hear the whole truth." could have heard a pin drop. I was speechless. After a couple of minutes, and YES, it was a couple of minutes so it felt like an hour, I told him something along the lines of everyones life has things they wished were different, but overall I was happy and that was it. It was a bunch of BS...he knew it, I knew it, for all I knew everyone knew it...but I wasn't ready to admit it.

I left as soon as I could with D following after me while she let the class have a 10minute break. She wanted to talk, but I told her I was fine. The question just caught me off guard. I could tell that she too knew I was a fraud. There was nothing legit to my story. I fought hard to keep myself composed and left the campus. I haven't been back since. How in the world could I share my experience when I couldn't admit the truth. The class was supposed to teach the students about issues in adoption. What help was I when I was just pretending that there are none. I was humiliated and so disappointed in myself.

Well, it has been almost 3 years since that dreadful, eye opening day. D called today and has asked me to come speak to her class in August. I have agreed. However, this time I am going to tell the whole matter how hard it might be. I never realized how big of an opportunity I had until it was brought to my attention that I was being a fake.

I have a month, but I am preparing now. I would appreciate your help. If you could share one thing with this group of students about adoption, what would it be? The purpose of the class is to teach about adoption issues. We all have them. I do not know one person affected by adoption that does not. So...speak up now, please! I'm listening and ready to share.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


We all have them. I think it's impossible to live a life with absolutely no regrets I think that's why we have the saying, "hindsight is 20/20"...or something like that.

I definitely have my share of regrets in my life. There have been plenty of times that I wished I could take something back I said, say something that I chose to keep to myself, reacted differently to a situation...the list is endless. My reunion journey has been no different. When conversations did not go well I would think of all that I should have said differently. When opportunities arose to ask questions and I didn't, I would get so frustrated at myself for letting the moment pass by without mentioning anything. When I needed to do something just because it was the right thing to do and I didn't, I would wonder over and over again if the choice i made would haunt me later.

I know I'm not alone. I am sure everyone has something they wish they could go back and change. However, since that time machine has yet to be invented, there is no other choice than to move on. That is something that I have been trying to work on. It's hard, but I'm trying.

So, back to the story... The night before the funeral I talked to my birth mom. I didn't go into a lot of detail about my feelings, our relationship, not really feeling a part of the family, etc, but I did touch the surface on it all. We had a very good talk and she said that she understood. She told me that she had a lot of regrets about how she treated me and how she handled our relationship. She sounded like she truly did see where I was coming from and that made me feel very relieved.

At the end of the conversation, I told her that I would not be there. She again told me that she understood and apologized for things not being different. I thought that I had made the right decision. That was until the next morning.

I hadn't slept well the night before and woke up feeling very unsettled. As I was driving to school, I kept thinking that I should be driving an hour and a half the opposite direction to the funeral. I was constantly looking at the clock thinking of her and what she was doing as it came closer to the time for it to begin. Even though I had a very good conversation with her the night before, I could not get her off my mind. The what-if's were starting to set in and I was afraid I'd regret my decision.

I am always looking for 'signs'. Since I am a terrible deciison maker, I always play games with myself and look for a sign to help me decide what to do. Not being there was driving me crazy. I didn't know what to do. I told her I wouldn't be there. Now I was regretting it. I had a hundred other thoughts going through my head, so I decided I needed a sign. I was going to call my birth mom and if she answered, I was going to tell her that I would be there. So, I did. And she didn't answer. That was my sign.

I arrived at school and started the day. I usually do not keep my phone out because I do not have time to talk while teaching, but for some reason I did. Halfway through the morning I saw my phone flashing, so I knew i had missed a call. It was her. She had left a message.

I had my teacher's assitant watch my class while I stepped out of the room to check it. When I heard her voice I lost it. She sounded so sad. She told me that she was sorry she missed my call. She went to the funeral home by herself to say goodbye to her mom. She said it was very hard, but something she needed to do. She said that she really wished I was there and that would have been good, but she understood. She said she loved me and would call me later that night. Oh...sometimes life REALLY sucks!

Do I have regrets about my decision? Yes, I do. However, I have come to look at all of this as a learning process. I don't think there is anything that can prepare you for this journey. There is no amount of therapy that you can get to ensure you that you will make all the right decisions and get through this without an ounce of regret. It's impossible. So instead of beating myself up over my past, I'm trying to learn from those mistakes. Maybe it will get easier down the road. At least it's a start, and I think I owe that to myself.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Now or Never

I was heavy with sadness. I was so torn as to what I should do. I was angry that it was a decision that I had to even contemplate. What child should have to make a decision as to whether or not it was appropriate to attend their grandmother's funeral? It was, however, my reality and I had a choice to make.

I thought about my relationship with my birth mom. It had been nonexistent for the past four years. But if this accident had truly caused her to change and she really wanted a relationship with me, would I later regret not being there? I beat myself over this for the five days until the funeral.

I felt like I had no one to turn to. I wasn't seeing a therapist at that time and I did not have much support from my husband and friends. I did not blame them at all. I would have been the same way if the tables were turned. I totally understood why. They dealt with my tears, anger and frustration in relation to how she had treated me. They only knew that she had hurt me. They thought I needed to forget about her and move on with my life. If only it was that easy.

I had been talking to my birth mom throughout the week since the accident and before the funeral and had caught up somewhat on what was going on in our lives since she stopped communicating with me. I decided that I would just talk to her about the funeral and why I was not comfortable going. Each time we talked I had the words on the tip of my tongue, but I could not bring myself to do it. It seemed so insensitive on my part. She was grieving her mom's death and, at the time, did not know what her dad's outcome was going to be. She was planning a funeral with her sisters, her dad was in a coma in a hospital in another state unable to even attend his wife's funeral, she had a recurrence of cancer, and she was separated from her husband. I felt like I was just being a baby and I needed to get over myself. This was about her...not me.

However, that was my problem and continues to be to this day. I am always excusing the behavior and actions of others because I feel like I'm being selfish if I mention how I feel. I so often get caught up in what is going on in other's lives that I do not take care of myself. Why would anyone treat me with respect if they know I'll take whatever crap they give me, forgive easily, then move on like nothing ever happened?

Despite my feelings, I still had to decide what to do. I only had a day left to do it. Should I stay or should I go? Did I mention I am a terrible decision maker? I wish I had the support of my adoptee friends I have now at that time. I know it would have helped.