Hello again from the last frontier!
She gave me life and then she gave me away; a sacrifice few women could even consider but one I am eternally grateful for. This week I learned that my birth mother, biological mother, Debra, died on February 19th. Though I knew her only through letters and email, she was very special to me and I will miss her.
I am adopted, if you haven’t already guessed. Going through life as an adoptee was neither traumatic nor difficult in any way. I was a baby when I arrived at the home of Bob & Lorraine, my adopted parents and so have no memory of it. My adopted parents, as well as my sister Kelly (not adopted) were, and always will be, the people who I think of when I say Mom, Dad and Sister. So let me tell you about adoption…
First of all, why is it such a big deal? I shake my head every time I hear about couples going through expensive and painful treatments, over and over, all for the sake of having a baby. What’s wrong with adopting? There are all kinds of children out there in the world who would love to have a mom and dad so why not spend the time and energy on finding one and giving them a good life?
I couldn’t love my family any more than I do, regardless of the lack of genetic link. In fact, growing up, I thought being adopted was cooler than being a regular kid. My parents always told me I was special because I wasn’t just born I was “chosen”. OK, yes, I’ve heard the horror stories – birth moms who change their minds, health problems related to the birth mom, scam adoption agencies – but giving birth naturally is also a lottery with just as many pitfalls. Like everything else, you do your homework, prepare as best you can, and cross your fingers.
The key, I believe, to raising a happy, well-adjusted, adopted kid, one that you won’t see crying on Oprah’s shoulder someday, is honesty. I personally know people who didn’t find out they were adopted until they were an adult – Ouch! Wow, talk about the world as you know it being turned upside down. I’ve always known I was adopted. I can’t even remember being told, that’s how young I was when I found out. Attitude is also important. My being adopted was never made into a big deal, around me anyway. It was merely a fact of life and at no time were there any negative connotations expressed about it. Never once did I feel that I had been “abandoned”, mostly because my parents never let me feel that way. And I know it’s the trend but I’m not a big fan of open adoption. I know I wouldn’t have liked having a birth parent in the picture; it would have been confusing, weird. Mom is Mom; Dad is Dad, end of story.
Now among the reasons many people do not choose adoption is, I think, a bit of insecurity, a fear of rejection. Let’s face it, at some point, the kid’s going to get curious. I did. At the age of twenty-five I put my name on the passive registry. If I’d never heard back from anyone then I would have been OK with that but I did hear back, from my birth mom who had already been on the registry looking for me. Now, again, because I was brought up in a loving home with a positive attitude toward adoption, I was not looking to find a new family. No, I was only curious. What I wanted was to see a face that maybe looked like mine, find out a little bit about what my birth mom and/or dad was like, and learn what my heritage (nationality) was. That’s about it. And the truth is most adoptees who meet their birth parents are sadly disappointed. I wasn’t but I was lucky. Debra and her kids, my half brother and sisters, turned out to be really great folks, plus I am a realist, I figured if someone gives their child up for adoption there’s probably a good reason – and it’s usually not because they are a multi-millionaire who has a brief yet passionate affair with a handsome, struggling artist and has to cover the pregnancy to keep their husband from social disgrace. Ah but that’s the dangerous fantasy many adoptees have, that’s where the honesty comes in again. My mom told me, when I asked her, that my birth mom had given me up because she was very young, a teenager, when she got pregnant – and that was indeed the case.
Yes, I know everyone wants to have a baby that is theirs, to experience a life inside of them, but I know if I wanted children I wouldn’t hesitate to adopt, especially if I was having difficulty conceiving naturally. I wouldn’t even care what nationality it was, black, white, yellow, green, whatever, what matters is love. What a better world this would be if we all started cross adopting between races and colours. Think of how much more tolerant we would learn to become. And think of all the karma points you’d rack up!!
So how do I feel, now that she is gone, the woman who brought me into this world, the woman I barely knew? Sad but sad in a distant way. From what I know, Debra’s life was not an easy one. She battled (successfully) alcoholism, struggled with MS, Lupus and Bi-Polar depression, and had a few marriages that didn’t quite work out. But I also know she had three amazing kids (besides myself), LeAnna, April and Glen that she loved to pieces, she was an artist (thank you genetics), loved to paint and play guitar, she had a big heart, loved to help people, and she was brave, very brave, brave enough to tough out a teenage pregnancy and do the right thing, give her baby a chance at a better life. That baby was me. A million thank you’s will never be enough. Prez says thank you too.
The universe is a strange place isn’t it? Even in bad there is good. My half-sister April, who I have not been in contact with for about three years, worked like crazy to track me down and tell me of Debra’s passing. I’m glad she did. She says she and other family members would like to meet me, which I think would be terrific. Who knows, this could be the start of some good friendships. And as for me, the adopted, “abandoned” kid, the universe has showered me with loving mothers, more than I deserve I’m sure. First was Debra, who made my life possible. Next came Lorraine who loved me with all her heart and raised me as well as any mother could. Both of those women are gone but I am not without a mother. Eight years ago the Prez brought me to this tiny slice of paradise in the desert where I met Ruth-Ann, a woman we both call “Mom”, a woman who I love as deeply as any ‘real’ Mom. Lastly, on Sept.18, 2004 I married the man of my dreams and inherited his Mom, Nancy, who welcomed me into the family with open arms from the moment we met, and a woman I am proud to call Mom.
I wish I could travel back to that day in the hospital when a terrified, sad teenage girl said good bye to her baby forever. I’d hold her hand and tell her about all the joyous and amazing things that await her little girl. I’d say thank you for giving me the greatest gift of all. I’d say…I love you Mom.
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy, and lovin’ life.