I see a face familiar to me across the room, not far. Behind those blinking eyes, there is a light hoping to be seen. Careful lips, through which strained breath passes, pause long enough with hope to speak the whispers of a heart kept silent. I can almost hear her words. Yes, I can almost hear her words from across the room not far. Her blinking eyes are in rhythm with my own beating heart, faster and faster our pulses quicken; I can tell we feel the same. She moves a thread of long dark hair, those wisps fallen across her cheek, with a shaking hand that tells a story I myself have written time and time again. Her chest rises with preparation, she is about to tell. This deep breath of speaking out, the all-defining moment of admitting … I am here. Is there anyone else like me?
Her eyes lower to her lap. She crosses her fingers against one another and I see the courage seep out of her. I want to stand and call out across the room to her. I want to reach her and help her stand and speak the words I know she aches to say. My veins are filled with urgency, my voice on edge of a cry … someone, someone, say the words out loud.
I cannot stand it any longer. Her face nearly breaks me. Just as my hands grip the sides of this metal folding chair, to gather strength to stand and say the words my soul longs to hear, she slowly rises. My heartbeat quickens, and I am all at once afraid and joyous for her. Be careful, I want to whisper, be careful what you say. So afraid she is, of judgment and cold, unfeeling stares. Among us, she is frightened. Even as she stands she questions her need to speak and the purpose of her being here. The slow pause is straining … those moments of choosing have never diminished from our thoughts.
Heads turn and all eyes are upon her. I can see in the way she stands, her attempts to shake off fear and insecurity. She is battling with herself. And then in one pure moment, our eyes meet.
Staring into the face of hope and courage, looking deep into the soul of survival, and without blinking, she takes her last deep breath and speaks, “My name is Courtney, and I am a birth mother.”
Were it not for that mirror lining the wall ahead of me, I would never have convinced myself to stand that day. If I did not see my own reflection, I would not have understood my own urgency. I’ve worked for nearly two years online writing articles and stories about adoption. I’ve written and responded to hundreds of birth mothers just like me from behind my computer screen. I’ve spent countless hours on my telephone crying with and lifting up others just like myself. I’ve admitted a thousand times, if not more, that yes– I am a birth mother. All from the safety of my desktop.
So when I entered into a conference room filled with birth mothers, I thought nothing of it– not until the faces, the words, the tears, and the stories slowly spoke themselves out loud and carried with them my own desires to admit, accept, and nurture the face and heart of my own self.
All at once I was taken back to the adoption agency 10 years before. But this time there were a hundred others there with me their arms around my shoulders. They knew the room, they knew the fear, they felt the pain of choosing. Without a single word, without having to explain … they knew me. A hundred hearts beating to one single beat, a hundred faces worn with the same tears, and a hundred smiles that warmed the empty coldness I never realized existed.
In that room filled with others just like me, we gathered, glorifying the lives of our children, despite the loss it required we suffer. We praised our very existence and honored the traditions we kept– survival and acknowledgment. With our tears we confirmed. With our stories we related. With our arms we embraced one another, in turn embracing us.
In a room filled with others just like me and across from a mirror of reflection, I finally became real. The light inside my eyes had the freedom to shine. The whispers of my heart were given voice to ears that heard. Everywhere I looked I saw prevailing proof that, in that room, we had harnessed a great and powerful force– one another.
When I walked away that day, my dreams had been confirmed. My dream to create a place like no other and open the doors to a thousand hearts from all sides and all stories of adoption. Where hearts would be united and purposes made known. Where the force of unity and compassion would create a divine connection to one another. With music and singing, with dancing and entertainment, with feasts made for kings, and speakers and workshops designed for what we want to know and share … the biggest and greatest gathering of those of us touched by adoption.
In a room filled with others who, without saying a single word, know exactly what you’ve been through and can’t wait to see where you’re going now.
My name is Courtney Frey and I am a birth mother … who dreams out loud.
“Making the Connection” Colorado Springs, C.O January 12th, 2002
“Breakthrough Live!” San Diego, C.A November 1st – 3rd, 2002