Adoption to Ashes

Giving peace to my birth mother's once broken life.

Rebecca Tillou April 26, 2014
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1249882_halfway_to_heavenMy birth mother passed away in February of 1999. I turned to my biological uncle for answers, who had called me on May 17, 2013. He was unaware of her passing. He told me the last time he saw my birth mother was in 1963. He told me that his mother had given birth to him, then when he was 10 months old, she left. A couple of years later his father met up with his mother again in New York. She became pregnant with my birth mother. After having my birth mother, she left. Nobody ever saw her again.

As a baby, my birth mom was sent to an orphanage in Lodi, New Jersey. Her brother was raised by their grandmother. I had never envisioned this scenario. An innocent child given to an orphanage. The reason was never revealed.

My birth mom never married (that I am aware of), and per my biological uncle, she worked as a cocktail waitress in a lounge bar. She never knew what it meant to be a mother, as she never had a stable mother figure in her life. I could have ended up in foster care. She probably thought that would have been better than living with a woman who was single and working in a bar, one who never had a mother and didn’t know how to be one. It all makes sense now. My heart goes out to her.

I continued to do research because I wanted to know details of my birth mother’s death. I wanted to have a more complete picture of my birth mom’s life. The daughter of the executor of her estate recalled that my birth mother was intoxicated the night she died and fell down the stairs to her apartment. I asked who found her. She said her mom had just hired a new bartender. When the bartender opened the door to go into the bar, my birth mother fell out of the door, dead.

I sent for my birth mom’s death certificate, and as I was reading it I found out that she was cremated. I contacted the cemetery on the death certificate, to see if her ashes were buried anywhere so I could go and pay my respects. The cemetery put me in contact with the crematory where my birth mother’s body had been taken. I spoke to an employee who told me he still had her ashes. Fourteen years later, nobody had ever claimed them. My stomach turned and my heart dropped. I stammered that I’d like to have the ashes sent to me. I felt in my heart it was the right thing to do.

On June 7, 2013 at 8:30 am, I drove to the post office in my town to collect the ashes. The post man gave me the box of ashes. I took the ashes home, mourned the life and passing of my birth mother, and then placed her in a safe place. I will scatter her remains into a creek behind my house when I am emotionally ready. I was going to spread her remains on her birthday, August 11, but I could not do it. Her remains are the only physical tie I have of her that I can keep close to me. For now, she is in my cedar closet. In time, I will give serenity and peace to my birth mom’s once broken and lonely life. My birth mom needs to know that she never was, and never will be, forgotten.

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Rebecca Tillou

Rebecca was adopted as an infant. She found her birth family in May of 2013 and continues to keep in touch with them. Sadly, her birth mother passed away in 1999. She and her husband live in New York and are the parents of two beautiful little boys, Dominic and Nicolas. They also have a German Shepherd mix named Chester. She was recently diagnosed with FASD at 34 years of age. She is currently working with nofas.org and thearg.org to get the word out that there is hope, and that you are never too old to better yourself.


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