Thursday, August 26, 2010
Honest Musings of an Adopted Dame : The Birth Parent Edition
I was born. This thought often surprises the crap out of me. Before you question my knowledge of biology, let me assure you I have a basic understanding of reproduction. I understand in order for me to exist an egg and sperm were likely involved. However, meeting my birth mom solidified this theory for me in a way I wasn't prepared for. Leeann is a tiny woman who stands about 4'11. She has striking golden cat like eyes, and a blue birthmark near her eyebrow. She is very unique and very youthful looking. Upon meeting her it kept astounding me that I was once inside her. Even more surprising that my sister and brother and I were all in the same uterus! I'm not sure why this continues to amaze me but it does. Perhaps it connected me to the earth in a way I hadn't realized I was disconnected from. The primal life circle I somehow saw myself outside of. I love the story Le Petit Prince, and I suppose I saw us as similar. As though I had simply journeyed here from a star with no earthly connections.
The first time I met Leeann was an emotional blur. We were both sobbing and I remember little other than her grasping my hand and asking if that was ok. I wasn't prepared for the waves of grief and celebration that rolled through me. I think she was more nervous than I was. I was apprehensive, but I think she was scared. Perhaps she thought I'd be angry, or ashamed of her. I don't think she realized I have long admired her decision. I have long thought of those terrified teenagers as strong and loving.They have given me many gifts in this life.
My Mom always addressed the topic of my adoption with respect. She was always very clear that my birth Mom had loved me deeply, and that I had two moms in this world who would give up their lives for me. I believe this made my ability to open my heart to Leeann much easier. I had spent my entire childhood knowing she loved me unconditionally. I don't believe any one takes the decision to give up their child lightly. I've yet to meet or read about a birth parents experience that suggest anything other than these parents love their children and experience tremendous ongoing pain from their loss. I believe a parents job is to make the best decision for the child, not the easiest decision for the parent. Knowing they can not provide for their child must be agonizing. Making that painful decision to let their child go, I can not imagine.
Birth parents are unsung heroes in adoption. While adoptive parents garner praise and respect for their decision to "save a child" (please be aware I cringe at those statements), birth parents are shamed. They are shamed for their decision to have sex, and then further shamed for giving up their child. These people who go through hell to give their child a better chance in life are not honored as they should be. These are tremendously strong people. They are NOT giving up "unwanted babies", they are giving up a piece of their heart. These babies are loved and adored, and they are given up because of an awareness that there is a better life for them. It is a sacrifice many of us will never endure, and many will never understand. As I sat next to Leeann with her hand in mine, tears streaming down her face, I was in the presence of that divine love and crushing heartache. I have rarely witnessed such love and longing.
Often in the adoption community we are bombarded with labels. "Real parents" versus adopted. "Natural children" versus adopted. Now that I have come almost full circle in my journey my understanding of this has altered some. I believe myself and my child's biological mom to be "real" parents. Neither of us will have a larger claim on this child. Without her, I would not be a Mom. My legitimacy as a parent is simply that I will be one,labels are irrelevant. My Mom will always be my mom, and I'll most likely always think of Leeann as Leeann. That in no way means I place the importance of one above the other. Without one there would be no other.
My mom wanted to write Leeann after I had made contact. My mom has always been extremely grateful for the opportunity to raise me (not surprising, I am adorable). She wrote her over Christmas and mailed her a small present. Leeann told me my mom's letter touched her deeply. My mom had written a letter of thanks. My mom was forever grateful to Leeann for giving her a beautiful daughter, and is forever in awe of such strength and courage. I think knowing how much my Mom and I respect her was a gift in itself. Adoption is never an easy decision. I know little of the pain they experienced upon coming home from the hospital other than Leeann was quite numb, and my father cried for weeks. My father's grief still haunts me. They all exist within me as parents. They may have played different roles within my life, but they are all a part of who I am. As my cousin so sweetly commented on a previous entry of mine, "being adopted means you are loved by two families". I truly believe I am.
LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD
Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears
One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.
Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.