Thursday, July 20, 2017

Found Daughter

My mother & I doing a Facebook Live event.
The woman who gave birth to me lives two miles down the road from my house. Ours is a fairly ordinary mother / adult daughter relationship. She is the one who picks up my kids when I can't do so, or checks in on the dog if I am out of town for the day. She helps me out with my direct sales business on occasion, and we get together for a movie or a meal when we can find the time. We don't see each other as often as we'd like because we both lead extremely busy lives, but we take comfort in knowing the other is nearby. All in all, our relationship is most remarkable in its unremarkableness.

Unremarkable, that is, except for the fact that we didn't see each other at all for the first 30 years of my life. We were separated on the day of my birth, and I was placed for adoption in another family.

I grew up happy yet broken. That may seem like a contradiction, but it isn't really. I grew up in a loving, stable family in a small town in a beautiful part of the country. I had friends. I did well enough in school and participated in extracurricular activities. I hit developmental milestones and seemed fine. But there was no acknowledgement that I had experienced profound loss. Not from others. Not from myself.

The mini breakdowns began in my twenties, and I would spend the next twenty plus years processing the grief and anger that I had so successfully stuffed down in my earlier years. When I was 29 years old, my original mother and I reconnected and began our reunion. Though geographically far apart, we formed a close relationship rooted in the written word. Through the years we saw each other on a semi-regular basis, usually about once a year. Having her in my life again was wonderful, but it didn't fix the brokenness. Writing helped. Connecting with the community of adoptees helped. Meeting and forming a relationship with my original father, as I eventually did, helped. But though I was mostly happy and okay, there remained a lingering sense of not-right-ness. It had been there my whole life, even when I couldn't acknowledge it, and I had come to believe that nothing could shake it.

Then two years ago my mother moved to my area, and we became all that I described in the first paragraph of this post. And just like that, the not-right-ness simply evaporated.

I have hesitated to tell my story in adoptee spaces. I am aware that what I have is so rare, and I don't want my story to be a pain trigger for those whose adoption stories have no happy ending. But my Lost Daughter sisters have encouraged me to write this post, and I love them for reminding me what I knew but had forgotten: that all adoptee stories have their place in the collective narrative. Even this one.