As adoptive parents, when we enter our journey, we have the end goal in mind of becoming parents. When children are adopted at birth or a very young age, we may not even consider that being adopted could one day cause them pain. The voices of adults who were adopted help me prepare myself for how to help my son grow stronger and hopefully cope with any pain he feels. I encourage adoptive parents to keep learning. To keep listening. To keep loving.

Aandra was adopted from Tunis, Tunisia Africa in 1975 into a multi-racial family. Her parents were Caucasian with a biological son, a son adopted from Vietnam, and a daughter adopted from Illinois. As Aandra went through her teen years, she started struggling with self-identity. She tried to keep up a happy facade on the outside while hurting on the inside. The only knowledge she had was that she was dropped off at an orphanage by her birth mother and then she was adopted by her parents at 18 months of age. She needed more. Her grades fell, her relationships suffered. She was lost. Although her parents supported her in finding knowledge and suggested a trip to Africa to connect with her heritage, she rejected the idea. She wasn’t ready.

When Aandra was in her 20’s, she started to blossom. She found things she enjoyed and was good at that had nothing to do with her roots, her family, her heritage, her adoption, her connections. She started the journey of healing through these newfound interests. It was during this time that she was also able to reconnect with friends and family and found a good support system of friends who were also adopted. They could relate to one another and support each other.

As Aandra went through her 30’s she became a life coach. She was able to focus her energy on positive transformations of herself, and others, with forward movement. While working on emotions she was ready to conquer, Aandra started a Facebook community dedicated to connecting with other adoptees. When birth parents and adoptive parents also started flooding the page, she felt divinely inspired to learn about all members of the adoption triad.

There were many blessings that came as a result of the page, but for her, the greatest gift was hearing the perspective of the birth mothers. She received countless stories from birth mothers who shared their emotional journey. These women shared their hearts with her regarding their losses, and did so with grace and strength. It shifted her to a new level of awareness about herself.

She now believes that she was being prepared for the greatest journey of all: forgiving herself and her birth mother. In order to do that, she felt she would need to be willing to mourn the loss of her birth mother. She needed to release the emotional weight that was holding her back from a happier life; free of guilt, sadness, and shame . . . and so a poem was born.

Today I Cried For You – A Poem For My Birth Mother
By Aandra Ibtissem Von Bohlen Hall-Sharif

I cried for what I’ll never know
I cried for what I’ve never showed.
About the loss of you, my birth mother
and what you never knew about me
your birth daughter.
Today I cried.

I’ll never see your face,
touch or hug you in a warm embrace.
I’ll never fully know my race or
the heritage that is called my birth place.
Today I cried.

I cried for what you’ll never know
About what became of your birth daughter
from so many years ago.
You’ll never know the man I’ll marry
or the many people in my heart I carry.
Today I cried.

I cried that you’ll never meet my parents
who took your place
and created a life I would never forsake.
Today I cried.

I cried for any sorrows that you have felt
for the decisions that changed your life
the day you left me on those orphanage steps.
Today I cried.

I cried for all the guilt and blame,
I’ve placed on you with no shame.
Today I cried.

I cried for the two women I share
whose love is unique and can’t be compared.
Today I cried for you.

Love – Your Birth Daughter

Aandra Ibtissem Von Bohlen Hall-Sharif is a Master Certified Life Coach (MCLC) who specializes in coaching clients who are looking for transformation, growth, and the opportunity to tap into their life’s calling so that they can pursue their passion with purpose. Aandra has personally experienced many of the transforming moments that her clients are facing–she’s walked in their shoes so she can understand and empathize. Aandra is extremely passionate and highly energetic. Her enthusiasm is infectious and helps clients create a balanced, healthy, passionate and purposeful life.

Aandra owns her own Life & Entreprenuer Coaching Practice, InsideOut Life Coach and is launching a new brand/business GET YOUR HAPPY ON to begin sharing and spreading happiness, one smile at a time, through seminars, speaking engagements, workshops, and online retail get-your-happy-on goodies. Aandra also had a radio show where she speaks on topics that support listeners in Tuning Into Their Truth about all matters of living our best life.