I waited nine months to meet my daughter for the first time, and forty four years and nine months to see her again.
On February 19, 1970, in the state of confusion, er, New Jersey, I gave birth to a girl. Though unmarried and unable to care for her, I actually wasn’t confused at all. I knew from the beginning that the only option for me was to give her to others to raise in a way I couldn’t at the time.
Had I said ‘state of depression’, well, that would have been closer to the mark. Although I did what I felt I had to do, I lived with the consequences, day after year after decade.
My heart was with her every day. I wished her happy birthday every year – I prayed she be happy and healthy.
When she turned 18, I stopped thinking of her literally every day. I registered with the state and every organization I could find so that in the event she wanted to find me, the means were there.
In 2004 I found and registered with Adoption.com, a website offering a host of services, including a forum for adoptees and birth families to reach out and connect.
Every year that passed brought a decreasing sense of conviction that I would hold my daughter once more before my final breath.
Then on July 4th, 2014, I received an email from another member of the forum who said, “Your birth daughter is looking for you but she is having trouble with her post. Please contact her . . . ” I logged onto Adoption.com right away, found her post and replied. She wrote back, “I think I’m your daughter – if you’re my other mother, please contact me. If not, just wish me luck . . .”
She left an email address along with her phone numbers. As much as I wanted to grab the phone and call, I didn’t want to do so at a bad time so I emailed her first.
Then came the phone call. We connected, and shared, and over four hours later, we ended the call.
To paraphrase Kahlil Gibran, the gates of my heart were flung open and my heart flew. I even asked Rick if it was really happening. He said it was. But I thought, it feels so surreal. So unreal. Dreamlike. Like it’s happening to someone else. Like I’m not even in my body anymore. But it was real.
We will meet, face-to-face, for the first time in forty four years and nine months, on Thanksgiving Day at my sister Laurie’s in St. Louis.
Wish us well, and may the healing continue.
(To be updated in December . . .)
THE REST OF THE STORY (Added in December 2014)
A message board friend wrote, “. . . I am happy to see you made it back safely from your once-in-a-life-time Thanksgiving trip.”
I had just returned from St. Louis where I met my daughter for the first time since surrendering her for adoption over 44 years ago, and the term kept bouncing around in my head . . . “once-in-a-lifetime”.
In the preceding weeks I couldn’t imagine what would happen when we would meet at last.
What did happen in that magical (for me) moment?
(Pregnant pause for effect)
I took hold of Sandi and began to sob, holding my precious daughter and releasing years of fears and tears.
We spent the next few days asking and revealing, listening and learning.
Part of me was awed by this remarkably strong, compassionate woman and although I felt proud, I had no right to be. Her life and accomplishments are testimonials to the two loving spirits who nurtured and guided her, her mom and dad.
Any doubts I’d harbored that I’d made the best decision for Sandi those many years ago, evaporated as she spoke.
And then, I was amazed by what we had in common.
We’d both been married four times, our third husbands being the really problematic ones.
– had a daughter, followed by two sons
– enjoy rural life
– have a strong dislike of shopping
– don’t wear make up
– like to travel and will go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Sandi has already realized two of my bucket-list dreams by visiting Ireland and Machu Picchu. Maybe I’ll follow in my daughter’s footsteps
– had a son become an Eagle Scout
– are strong proponents of organic gardening and are avidly against genetically altered foods
– were hospice volunteers
We’re both “wordies”, which I define as taking delight in the use of words; we are writers, pleased to share our published pieces.
Even though Sandi is a Registered Nurse and my highest level was a Certified Nursing Assistant and Medical Aide, we have common fields/interests that have included in-home care, pediatrics, work with developmentally disabled and rehabilitation of those suffering from brain trauma.
The old question of nature verses nurture arises and it would seem that we do possess a natural inclination toward some things, physical traits being only the tip of the iceberg.
As far as nurture, well, I think it trumps nature and it turns out that my concern for Sandi’s well-being in the home in which she was placed was unnecessary.
Her parents are two incredibly awesome individuals who did a magnificent job in raising Sandi. They have my eternal gratitude for the loving, supportive environment they provided for her.
Special thanks to my sister Laurie for opening her heart and home to Sandi, me, Sandi’s husband John, and their friend Pat, who helped with the driving. We’re grateful for Laurie’s overwhelming hospitality.
Well, we just wanted to share the rest of our story, our once-in-a-lifetime meeting and hopefully help bring together others in similar situations.
Our message to you . . .
When all seems lost, when something appears impossible, when there is no hope left, don’t give up!