Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dial "M" For Mother


My friend, J, is looking for her birth mother. J is 31 years old. She was privately adopted at birth, and knows very little about the teenage girl who gave her away to parents who were old enough to raise a child. J's adoptive grandmother was there minutes after her birth, and took her from her biological mother's arms to her own daughter's.

J was raised in a family of great means that desperately wanted children, but couldn't have them. She has enjoyed every advantage that wealth could provide, and is at ease nearly everywhere in the world. She is one of the brightest people I know, resembles a naturally blond Brooke Shields, and is a PGA-ranked golfer. She is also one of the funniest people on earth. J is incredibly special.

She has placed her name and information on a national registry that exists to reunite adopted children and their birth parents if both are willing, but so far, there is no match. Who wouldn't want to be her mother? Every effort to find this woman, who is now in her 40's, has failed. It isn't that J is unhappy with the parents who raised her. She isn't looking to replace them. But a part of her remains unknown to herself because she has no idea who her biological family is. How can she then fully know who she, herself, is?

I have always been intensely interested in the issues surrounding adoption, although I was not adopted, and am not an adoptive parent. Nor have I ever given up a baby that was born to me. I would not have been capable of that kind of selflessness. If I had ever been forced to do so, I would have spent my entire life peering into the faces of passing children. I would have marked my baby's birthday every year, and never stopped looking for him or her. Giving up my own child would have been worse than amputation. It is hard to praise women enough who recognize their inability to give babies everything they deserve. It is a truly noble thing to do. I cannot imagine that in most cases, it is done without enormous soul-searching and many tears.

It was always my dream to have biological children and to adopt others. I envisioned my home as a place where kids of various ethnicities would become a family. Since I did not have Angelina Jolie's bank account, I did not adopt. I gave birth to three incredible children, whom I raised alone, and I took in animals. We all find our own level. The clothing bills for my dogs, cats and ponies were non-existent, and I didn't have to put them through college. (All my children accomplished this with scholarships, grants, and student loans.)

But how incomplete J and other adopted children must feel not knowing such simple things as whose eyes they have, whose hair, whose artistic talent or math skills. They deserve to know of any medical conditions to which their genetic heritage predisposes them. No matter how much love they share with the parents who raised them, they must wonder what their lives would have been like with their biological family, and if they have brothers and sisters somewhere. It must be a very special kind of loneliness. I hope that J and her birth mother are able to find each other and connect in some way, maybe even grow to love each other as the wonderful people they surely both are.

Happy Mother's Day to the special women who gave their children better lives through adoption than they, themselves, could provide.



UPDATE: J has found her birth mother! They have been talking lengthily, and will meet in person soon. I am so happy to be able to report this beautiful outcome, and I really believe that all the good energy you guys sent her way helped.

48 comments:

thailandchani said...

(standing up and applauding)

Awesome! :)


Peace,


~Chani

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Why, thank you, Chani. My goodness.

My Reflecting Pool said...

You have such a way of stating the simple honest grit and making it hit the heart. I hope your friend finds what she is looking for.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Reflective,

I hope so, too. That shouldn't be too much to hope for.

la cubana gringa said...

One of my dearest cousins is adopted and while I know she is very very happy to have been brought into our loving (albeit insane) family...I can't help but wonder if she longs to reconnect with her biologic family. Adoption is such a heartbreakingly beautiful thing, isn't it?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

La Cubana,

My favorite cousin was adopted by my uncle when he married her widowed mother, so she was a love relative, not a blood relative. It never mattered.

Of course, she still had her own lovely mom, and knew who her relatives were, all of them.

She died young in 1999, and I still miss her wisdom, her heart, and her amazing sense of fun.

riseoutofme said...

Heartbreaking yes, but time and life dull a lot of the crippling emotions.

I hope your friend finds serenity whether or not she is reunited with her birth mother.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Riseout,

It is also possible to experience a lot of pain with ones biological family of origin. Some of us are just luckier than others.

meno said...

Nice! How i admire a woman/girl who knows enough about herself and life to give up a baby for adoption.

One of my SILs found her birth mother a few years ago. It's been very exciting for her, and for me to hear about it.

I hope there is a match for her someday soon.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, I do hope J can find her sense of completion, somehow.

My feelings about adoption, especially international adoption, hae gotten so complicated since I, myself, became a mother. I have to say, if I were a poverty-stricken mother in, say, Guatemala, I might wonder why someone with $20,000 would use that money to take my child from me instead of helping me find ways to keep my child. I hope you can see what I mean by this, and I know it's only true in a certain subsection of adoptions, but I just know, with my own kids, that I would plead with the world to help me find ways to keep them rather than having them taken from me.

Now, if I'd gotten pregnant at age 16, that would have been different, of course...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jocelyn,

I wonder the same thing about many international adoptions -- why those with so much money are often so self-serving and use it to buy babies as if they were trinkets when that money could make a huge difference in the lives of a poor mother and her child.

Being an incubator for richer women would devastate me. That's not really unlike selling ones body parts to those who can afford to buy them.

EsLocura said...

I "got" my brother when his parents decided drugs and crime were more important to them. We talk openly about his past although he hasn't had contact with his "birth" family since he was 2. I have told my brother I would help him find them if he ever wants to. I believe that there is always an empty spot left when you are adopted. So far he doesn't care but ya never know. (another great post, btw)

Lee said...

Wonderful, as usual. I hope your friend finds peace.

QT said...

I hope your friend can find some closure on this. I hope what she finds is good. I know a few people who have done this and it didn't turn out the way they planned. But I can understand her curiosity.

Nice post, as usual!

Dumdad said...

Fascinating post. Whenever adoption is mentioned, I think of the excellent movie Secrets and Lies by Mike Leigh.

Open Grove Claudia said...

That's lovely - thank you for sharing.

Brian Weiss, MD, studies past life regression. I don't have any idea if he's a complete quack - I could make arguments on both sides. But he says that souls find each other. That it's the soul of the adopted child belongs with the adoptive parents. I think that's such a lovely idea.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Meno,

It has to be the most difficult decision of a lifetime. I admire the courage it would take to give up a part of oneself for his or her own good.

It's wonderful to hear a happy ending like your sister-in-law's. She must have been scared of what she might find.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Eslocura,

Your brother is a beautiful young man. He was meant to be in your family, but sometimes it takes some doing to bring about the right match.

I'm so glad he has you for a big sister. I know that has changed his life in countless ways. And yours, too.

Lee,

I hope so, too.

Qt,

I've heard of such instances, and they were very hurtful. But I think it's human nature to wonder who we are and where we came from.

Dumdad,

I've never seen that movie, although I know the basic premise. I'm going to see if it's available to rent.

Claudia,

I know of Dr. Weiss's work. I believe in reincarnation, and would love to have a past-life regression. I think it would explain so much.

His idea that souls find each other makes perfect sense. I think we all do that when we choose our friends and mates as well as our families.

seventh sister said...

It may be that the birth mother has gone on with her life and does not want to be found. She may view the loss of her child as irrevocable and her past as her past and wants it to stay that way. This may be expecially true if she were subjected to shame and humiliation surrounding her pregnancy. She may feel so guilty about it all that she never wants to be reminded of the "incident" and who knows if she willlingly gave her baby up or not. She may have been pressured to the point to where she felt forced to do so. I have heard of such cases, espcially if she were in a home for unwed mothers or ifi she were from a small town, etc.

I hope your friend and the birth mother find/have found peace with the situation.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Seventh,

There is a very good possibility that her birth mother is now married and has not told her husband about the baby she gave away. Or that for other reasons such as you've touched on, she does not want to be found.

I hope it works out for J and for her in the best possible way, and that nobody gets her heart broken again.

If I were adopted, I would want to know, too.

velvet girl said...

I always thought that giving up your own child was like removing a limb and that there would be phantom pains for the rest of your life.

Best of luck to J in her search.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Velvet,

I agree completely. That is why I compared it to amputation. I think that the rest of ones life would feel like a ghost limb.

goodthomas said...

I admire you, HinSF. You tackle all the issues, each and every issue, and you do so with good sense, humor and an acute wisdom.

It is amazing that in this day and age, that one person looking, searching for their biological mother would have trouble finding them. It just goes to show that while the internet has helped make the world a smaller place, it is still a very, very big place.

I send the best of luck to your friend, I hope she finds what she is looking for.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thomas,

It is amazing that with all the resources that abound, someone can still not be found. Of course, it is complicated by the fact that most women still take their husband's names when they marry.

I hope J finds her birth mother, and that it goes well for both of them.

MsLittlePea said...

What a touching post! There is so much truth in what you wrote especially for my oen family. My mother had two children with her first husband, my borther and oldest sister. He left them when they were very little and my mom never knew what happenned to him and since they were living in a third world country there weren't/aren't any resources to find out where he is or if he's still alive. They both struggle very much with their identity because they only have a name but not a face for their biological father. It's painful for both of them just not knowing one parent I can only imagine what it must be like to not know either parent.

I don't know that I would be strong enough or selfless enough to make that kind of decision. I hope someday J finds her biological parents and that it is a joyful and fulfilling reunion.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

What a terribly sad story about your sister and brother. I really feel for them, and for all that your mother had to endure.

Was this in the Philippines? There must be a special place in hell for men who abandon their families. It's cruel and cowardly, and scars their children for life.

I wish for a joyous outcome for my friend, who is well aware that it may not happen as we all hope for her.

She is a wonderful young woman, and her birth mother missed out on so much happiness. Of course, it is equally possible that J would not be the delightful, funny, and extremely ballsy person she is if she had not been raised as she was.

There is no way to determine how much of our personality is nature and how much, nurture.

So complicated. Sigh.

Jay said...

Not all of them wonder, actually. Many are content. Which is not to see that someone who goes searching for birth parents is not content with their adoptive ones, just that people can be very different and feel very differently about their parentage.

Life is what you make it, I guess. We have different expectations of what the world should give us.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jay,

Exactly. My friend is happy with her adoptive parents. They ARE her parents. But I think she feels incomplete without knowing more about the biological family she came from. I think I would feel that way, too, in her position.

In this as in every respect, life is, indeed, what we make it. If we could substitute hopes for expectations, there would be fewer disappointments in life.

CS said...

Shortly before I went in search of the sister who was adopted away before I was born, I asked my mother if she ever thought of her (the daughter would have been about 30 when I asked). My mother teared up and said, "Every single day." I can't even imagine how ard that would be. I did find her though, and I wish the same for your friend.

My heart runneth over... said...

I wish your friend peace of heart, that she finds what she is looking for but also that by looking in the mirror she knows all she needs to as well.

I can't imagine the torment...

All the best for you both,
M

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cs,

I remember reading that incredible story on your blog. Even more amazing is the fact that she is your full sister.

That post touched me so much for all of you, and I am so very glad you were reunited and your family became whole again.

Maria,

When J looks in the mirror, she should be grateful. She is a very beautiful young woman.

Michael C said...

J sounds amazing and I wish her the absolute best of luck!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Michael,

She is. I hope it works out for her, too.

urban-urchin said...

One of my best friends got pregnant and had a baby at 17 in small town Minnesota. It was an open adoption and as such she is fortunate enough to have had a relationship with him- he's 14 now. He's come to stay with her and her husband, was in their wedding and was the first person they told when they learned of their two subsequent pregnancies.

The love and courage and desire for a better life than a teenage girl could offer him that she showed- humbles me whenever we talk about it.

J is doubly blessed to have a birth mother that wanted the best for her and a loving family who wanted her.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Urchin,

That is such a beautiful story. I love to hear about people like your friend and her family.

And you are so right that J was doubly blessed. You expressed it perfectly.

thethinker said...

Wonderful post, as usual, and it hits close to home. Though I am not adopted, my older sister is. I've always wondered if she's had any desire to reconnect with her biological mother. So far, she seems pretty content as she is. I hope that your friend is eventually able to find her biological mother.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thinker,

Your family sounds great in so many ways. I'm sure your sister is happy, but hopefully, if she ever feels a need to find her biological mother, she will be able to.

I'm sure the woman who gave her up would love to know that she is loved and cared for, and has a very cool little sister.

Judith said...

I think we tend to tar these girls/women who give their children up for adoption with a sense of selfishness. You highlight their true colors though they are being incredibly selfless for their children. The are the forgotten souls on Mothers day. Giving their child the gift of comfort, opportunities and love when giving them up for adoption is a tall order. We should not judge these women for their own 'selfish' ends they should be praised for their bravery and as soon as the stigma that comes with giving your child up for adoption diminishes maybe there will be less terminations and less childless couples.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Judith,

All too often, we tend to throw stones at those whose hearts we really do not know.

I cannot imagine a greater sacrifice than giving ones child a better chance at life than one can provide.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if babies were born only to only those who wanted them and could also take care of them?

furiousBall said...

That rocks socks! I feel like I'm on Oprah. Where's my free car?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Furious,

Oh, no, no, no, my dear. You misunderstood the premise of this show.

You get a free MOTHER.

CS said...

Great news for your friend! - I like to think all the good energy sent her way by your readers was the karmic push that got her there.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cs,

I'm sure of it.

We really are all connected. It's great.

Crankster said...

Congrats to J. That is truly awesome!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Crankster,

It is for sure, and enhances my belief in an orderly universe.

katrice said...

I am thrilled for your friend! I felt a similar curiosity before I met my biological dad and his family. It's been a great experience, as they all have welcomed me in. However, I am all the more grateful that the man who I call dad did the hard work of actually raising. He was far better suited for the task.

katrice said...

*raising ME, that is

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice,

Things do seem to work out the way they're supposed to. It's wonderful that you were able to form a bond with your biological father and his family after you were raised by the right man for the early stages of your life.

There is enough loveliness in you to supply two families. :)