Friday, January 2, 2009

it's time to say........

Happy 23rd Birthday, M!!!

I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it is to be able to say those words out loud and know that you hear them. To be able to say I love you and know that you accept it, and return the love.

We've been through all the why's, the how's, the what-if's and more. And our relationship only continues to grow stronger. It's more than I ever hoped for and it's...........great.

I am honored to know you, and thrilled to be your friend.

Have a wonderful birthday, and always know how very much you are loved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

how to make me extremely happy

M was born in January of 1986. And unbeknownst to me at that time, a yearly tradition was about to begin. Approaching her birthday, I was always, at least mentally, introverted. Inside my head, I was wondering, remembering. On the outside, I was happy, enjoying the holidays, totally with my family and friends. But on the inside, my thoughts were focused on M. That's just the way it was. On her birthday, sometimes I would cry, sometimes I would take a long bath, but always I was thinking about her. And it was okay to do that. It was her day, and I wanted to think about her. Not in an obsessive way, but just to allow myself the memories and the wondering and the love.

These past two years (2007 and 2008) have been MUCH different on her birthday. After beginning to talk with her on the phone and then meeting her, the holiday/birthday time of year for me has drastically changed. I don't dwell on the new "tradition" of her birthday, or the old - I've simply accepted that I no longer wonder, or grieve, or stay inside my head.

But this coming January - it's going to be WAAAAYYY different. M wants to come up to my area for Christmas with her fiance'. AND she wants to be here, with me, on her birthday. The fact that she even desires to do that is huge. Her words - she wants to spend her birthday with the one who gave birth to her. I have to replay that statement in my mind a lot. She wants to spend her birthday with ME. (Can I scream now??) And even if it does not happen, the reality that she wants to do this is priceless. We have never, ever spent that day together. And SHE asked for it!!!!

Realistically, it may not be a "perfect" day. I live in an area that usually has rain or snow in January. It will not be summer (as in when M has been here before.) The day may very well be spent indoors, with a blanket and maybe a movie on tv, with a crock-pot full of warm food. (You've been warned, M. haha) It won't be exciting - wet and grey are better adjectives. But I don't think that will matter. It will not be what M is probably used to doing on her day, but it will be okay. I hope it works out - to be together for the **very first** time on her birthday. With our guys, with each other.

It thrills me that she requested this. Makes my heart skip a beat, brings a smile to my face. Simply having her in my life now and actually being friends and being able to tell her that I love her is so much. Her birthday goes beyond even all of that. I am overwhelmed, and very, VERY happy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Story continues, Part B

M's biological father, "Andrew", has been out of my life for many years. Sometimes I have been curious and tried to contact him or at least find out where he is and how he is doing. I have not succeeded. Twenty-three or so years ago, before I got pregnant, I really did like the guy. I found him fascinating. I wanted to get to know him - find out about his background, why he acted and reacted the way he did. He enjoyed the chase, but did not give me much real information about who he was. So now, when I talk to M, I wonder about Andrew. M and I are very similar in many ways, and very different in others. Part of me wants to know if she got traits from Andrew, or me, or her environment with her adoptive family. It's probably a mix of all of the above - and I will never know and should stop trying to figure it out. haha

M and Baby H were here for two weeks in the early summer of 2007. When M left here, she went back to her family, her situation, and life went on. This part is her story, not mine, so I won't go into much detail. She moved, met people, got a job, and more. My boys finished out summer, returned to school and life kept going for us, too. (We had some crazy winter weather and I told M about all of it, etc.) For the rest of 2007 and into 2008, M and I talked on the phone and emailed. It was normal for us to be in contact often, then not at all for awhile. But that's okay. A true friendship was developing, and both of us lead separate, unique lives. Sometimes I knew a lot about her life, sometimes not too much. And she was the same way with me. We just kind of relaxed and enjoyed what we had and did not stress out. Okay, so we had days when we worried about each other, but that's what friends do. We had become important to each other in a way that was not parent/child, but more than friends. It's hard to describe. But it was cool. Still is.

M divorced her hubby and split custody of the baby. That was hard, in part because of location (different states.) But she is satisfied with arrangements and how the baby is being parented, and that's good. Baby H is now two - active and talkative and growing up fast. "Baby" H is now becoming "child" H.

Over this past year, as M and I talk, at times we discuss how we got to where we are now. We are still in awe of our friendship, but we don't analyze it. Forgive all the "A" words here, but we are amazed by it all, and yet accept it. What was weird and fascinating has now become somehow normal. We laugh and complain and are just real with each other. In my wildest dreams, I could never have hoped for such peace and joy from finding my daughter. At times, it does put a lump in my throat that she not only forgives and understands me, but she likes me, too. I'm more used to that now. Usually. ;-)

We don't see eye-to-eye. We are of different ages, needs, desires, and stages in our lives. But even if we do not agree or fully comprehend, we accept. And just being allowed into her life is priceless to me.

M came up here again this past summer. She did not have baby/toddler H this time. (He was with her right before she was here.) It was just M and us for a week. That turned out to be good - much as I adore H, without him we were able to get out more and "do stuff". M and the boys and I went sight-seeing around town. Hub took us all out to dinner. We relaxed and played and pretty much had a stress-free week. This was less about getting to know each other and more about just being with each other. Her visit, this time, was not surreal. And even though I am not immaculate, I am more into cleaning house than M is. But I did not need to clean and prepare and have a home that would pass a white-glove test before she arrived. This visit was............easy. And great. The guys adore her as much as I do, and I'm SO grateful for that.

M is now in the early stages of a new relationship with a young man - again, her story - but I'm really happy for her. I wish the best in whatever direction this takes the two of them.

This, now, what M and I have, is by far the most unique and wonderful relationship I’ve ever experienced with anyone. ANYone. I love her. And she knows it. AND she loves me back. My heart still skips a beat and I can't hide a smile whenever she tells me she loves me. And I tell her that I love her - and I mean it with every fabric of my being. The past is in the past and the future is wide open.

I really don't care how often we will see each other, and I don't worry about when the next phone call or email will happen. Because it does happen. All good. All wonderful. All priceless. My heart is very happy, very fulfilled.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

M - The Story continues (Part A)

In all the years after M's birth and adoption, through all the joys and heartaches and ups and downs, I never really knew if I'd ever see her again after I gave her away.

I had played around with scenarios in my mind - of meeting and talking and getting to know each other. Daydreams of maybe, somehow, starting to build a relationship with her. But I never thought about **after** that meeting, if it ever was to occur. I had never known anyone in "reunion" - it was completely new territory for both M and I. Unexplored, but worth exploring. A total leap of faith for everyone concerned. And absolutely glorious.

"The Story of M" was written in the spring of 2007. It ended with M and I talking on the phone, getting to know each other. There was the anticipation of us meeting in person. The reality of us having a genuine relationship was finally setting in. M was 21 and her baby was just over a year old as this was unfolding. I will now try to pick up where The Story left off..............

M and I had decided that the time had come for us to meet face to face. Our phone conversations were easy - like talking to an old friend - but actually meeting and hugging and being together was a huge step. My guys - Hub and the boys - were ready, probably more than I was. The boys were 12 1/2 and 15 1/2 at the time. They wanted to meet M, too, even though youngest (Monkey) told me that HE had the easy part - and that I had more invested in this. He was right. I love his insight.

So M made plane reservations and we set a time to meet. It was early summer - just after the boys finished the school year. M and baby were to stay with the guys and I for a week. I had asked my best friend, J, to come with me to the airport. I needed her level head in understanding and talking through the situation, her calmness in the chaos of my mind, and her shoulder to be beside me and literally hold me up. And I let her use my camera - I wanted that first moment to be recorded since I probably would not remember every detail of finally seeing M.

J and I had coffee at the airport and chatted while waiting for the plane to arrive. And then the time came. And I stood/paced in the waiting area, and watched a lot of people go by, and then J said, "There they are!!" J is cool - she took pictures and talked to the baby (in a stroller) while M and I hugged and stared at each other and hugged some more. The moment was understandably surreal and yet oddly comfortable. Not at all what I had imagined for so many years, but much more wonderful. Because of all the emails and phone calls, the awkwardness was not there.

We dropped J off on the way to my house. When we got home, Monkey bounded out to greet his sister. (Forget the "half" part - he instantly saw her as his sister.) Buddy came out and he and M stared at each other, head to foot, absorbing the new person. I'll never forget that moment. Very cool. Hub welcomed M and baby easily - I appreciated his kindness toward her and the baby.

The following week is a blur. It has been awhile since my boys were small - and it's an adjustment having a toddler in the house. Baby H was VERY cute, and very active, and messy in a way that only babies can be. Bananas and milk and crackers and more were on the floor. And............diapers smell bad. Living with a walking, noisy one year old was an adventure - and the boys told me that it would be awhile before they would be ready to be a daddy. haha

But that baby - I adored him from the first time I saw him. He's BEAUTIFUL. And the reality is that if I had aborted M, he would not exist. So that was another reason to be thankful that she is alive. I'm a Grandma although it took awhile to get used to hearing that. I could not hold baby H or talk to him enough. Amazing. I think he liked me, too.

Some of my friends here know all about M and the history behind her arrival. I had asked them to meet us if they could. We decided that an easy way to do that would be to go to a nearby park on a set day and time, and let friends stop by at their convenience. I doubt that M remembers their names or even faces, but it was pure joy to let them meet her and hold the baby and relax. It was a great day.

Due to circumstances back with M's family a thousand miles away, the decision was made that she and baby would stay with us for another week. It was a blessing - she and I still had our moments when we could not believe that we were seeing each other, but we were given more hours and days together. We got to talk about difficult stuff, and laugh and cry and hang out. And she got to see the guys and I let our guard down and be "normal". And that was good, because the reality is that families argue and make up and get serious and silly and boring and exciting. I'm glad she was able to see us as a family - warts and all. And I'm thankful that she accepted us.

On the day that she left, it was HARD taking her to the airport. She was going home to her life - entirely different than mine in many ways. Her circumstances were about to change - mostly in where she would be living. I wanted to hold her and let time stand still at the airport when she and baby departed. But it wasn't really "good-bye". More like "see you later". We just knew that this was not to be the end. After 21 years, it truly was the beginning.

~~~~~I'm seeing that this new part of The Story will take some time to write, and is long enough to be put into more than one entry. I guess I will label it Part A (for now) and add to it later.~~~~~

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Story of M

I'm writing this add-on note in the fall of '08. So very much has happened to me and my family in the last couple of years. Under the topic of "be careful what you wish for - and then accept and enjoy it when it comes true", comes the following blog. I started it as a way to write The Story. To get it out of my system, to put it all in one place. I'm glad I wrote this - for myself and for M. And I'm grateful to have moved on.

If you care to take the time to read this, I hope you get some insight from it. It is the honest telling of a deep, personal, life-changing event for me. Nothing that has happened since then will make much sense unless this is understood first. I will add updates to this later since The Story has gone WAY beyond my expectations. But for now, I give you................

"The Story of M"

(Note to you, the reader -- I wrote this blog over a span of about a week. I was surprised at how easily and quickly it poured out of me. I have now consolidated all of the entries into one blog, for ease of reading. You don't have to read it all at once - I won't be offended. Take it in parts/chapters, if you'd like.)

Part one


Many of us have an event in our life that is so pivotal, so important, that every other area of our life is measured by that single event. Everything happened either before or after it, in our mind's timeline. For some, it's a marriage, a death, a serious illness, a major move. For me, it's a birth.

This is the beginning of the story of M. Nothing is embellished. It's simply, honestly, the facts from my perspective. Detailed, yes. But not made-up. Written with permission.............

1985.........I was living away from home, on the campus of a small Christian college. It was my first year there, although I was in my 20's and had previously attended another college. This was my chance to get away from my parents, to figure out life, to grow up. And it was good. Lots of friends, plenty of learning going on in the classrooms and homework, and most of us had outside jobs. Not a boring life.

I had a crush on a young man who I will call Andrew. But Andrew had a crush on another young woman, "TL". (TL, as fate would have it, later married my younger brother.) Andrew had deep brown eyes, thick dark hair, and a soaringly gifted tenor singing voice. And he was younger than I was. My crush on him lingered, but I gave in to the fact that our relationship would never be anything more than just friends. And I did simply enjoy hanging out with the guy. We were born and raised in different states, different environments. We really had very little in common.

One night, I came home from work and stopped by the apartment of a mutual friend. Andrew was there, alone. I gave him a hug, and suddenly - for both of us - he turned around and kissed me. It caught us both off guard, but it felt good, comfortable, easy. And yet somehow, forbidden. He asked if I'd like to carry on the "conversation" at his place. I agreed, and we left. We kissed a lot that night, but nothing more. And then we found other occasions, places, to kiss. It was great. And I really think that we both knew that our relationship would never grow to anything more than what it was. Hidden, fun, enjoyable.

But it did change. On Friday night, April 12, 1985 (yes, I remember trivial details), we were watching a video at a friend's house on campus. I was on a couch, and Andrew was on the floor, in front of me. I was playing with his hair, kind of comforting for both of us. Nothing intimate or suspiciously touchy-feely about it, though. After the movie was over, we walked out together and went to my car. We decided to go for a drive - again, just hanging out. I don't remember why we ended up near some apartments on a quiet street a few miles away. Maybe it was to be away from school, to kiss, to talk. We eventually climbed into the back seat of the car. Andrew said something about being "hard" and it took me a second to figure out what he meant. But then I did understand - and our physical closeness increased and we had sex. We did not use "protection" - it never occurred to either of us that we would end up in that situation. In the back seat of my car, on the hump of the middle seat that made the whole thing uncomfortable, I lost my virginity. It hurt. I wondered if that was as good as it gets. It really wasn't great. And then we sat there, talking. Surprised that a crush had taken us so far. Then we went back to school. No more was said.

The next day, I stopped by Andrew's work. We hugged, held each other. Oddly scared. He asked if I thought I could get pregnant. I said I doubted it, because CAN you really get pregnant on the night you lose your virginity? And then I wondered about my monthly cycle. I did not think I could be ovulating. But it was still possible.

For the next couple of weeks, the "possibility" consumed me. But I didn't even notice my behavior until a friend pointed it out to me. She said that I seemed distant, preoccupied. I didn't talk to people in class. I would stare at walls and leave, alone, as soon as class was over. I was scared but did not tell anyone why. I finally did tell two friends, K and N.

A few years earlier, K had an abortion - she told me a month after it happened. K and I talked a lot in the weeks following April 12, and after my period was late, she took me to a clinic. This was 1985 - home pregnancy tests were not available in stores like they are now. So the clinic was the only place to go to find out for sure, without anyone else knowing the results. I left a urine sample with them, went out to eat with K, and waited for the call. K and I talked about options if the test came back positive. We went back to school and the phone rang. A nice woman said, "Congratulations. You're pregnant." And then she hung up. I tried to breathe, to form a sentence. I knew I HAD to find Andrew.

I went outside and saw him walking to class with a couple of other guys. I pulled him aside, whispered in his ear, "I'm pregnant', and then let him walk off. I have no clue what he was thinking at that point, but I doubt that he got much school work accomplished that afternoon.

My journey had begun. I had no idea, no comprehension, of where this new road would lead me. No way of knowing how drastically my life would change. Completely. Forever. All I knew was that a life was growing inside of me. And even though I was frightened, alone..........somewhere deep down I LIKED being pregnant.


M, part 2

Decisions. No easy answers.

About a decade after the baby was born, I wrote down all the details. Put them in a letter for myself. I didn't want to forget. Much of parts 2 and 3 are taken from that letter.

Right before Mother's Day of 1985, I found out that I was pregnant. Seemed ironic to me that Mother's Day was so close. About a week after the pregnancy became became official, morning sickness set in. Only it wasn't only in the morning - why is it called that, anyway? Whenever my stomach was empty, I got nauseous. So I learned to have a small amount of food with me whenever possible. I threw up a lot. My roommates noticed my behavior. I lied and said I had a stupid lingering case of the flu. One roommate saw past that, and cornered me one day and asked what was really going on. So I told her. That was when I realized that the secret couldn't stay hidden for very long.

Andrew and I talked as often as we could. Abortion seemed to be the easiest way out. But in our conversations, we realized that a LIFE was in there. The life was innocent, and it did not deserve to die. I firmly believe that there is a purpose for that life, that God had a reason to create it, and I had no right to kill it. I don't think I could have lived with myself if I'd had an abortion. That's just me.

A month or so into the pregnancy, I decided to talk to one of the teachers about being pregnant - without Andrew there, without even identifying who he was. The teacher listened and asked to speak with both of us. This set in motion a whole chain of events - telling the college staff, telling our friends, my family, making BIG decisions. Pregnancy news, as I discovered, spreads quickly!

As I saw it - in taking abortion out of the picture, I had two options left. Andrew and I did NOT want to get married - anything long-term just didn't seem.......right. So, I could either become a single parent, or I could give the baby away. Neither seemed like a good idea. But I had to figure out what was best.

The thought of bringing a child into my immediate family did not appeal to me. My childhood was dysfunctional. My dad was an alcoholic, a chain smoker, and was verbally and emotionally abusive. My mom, although not a smoker (she did drink), was in her own way controlling and abusive. As a child, I saw that environment as "normal". But it wasn't. And when I got pregnant, I knew I did NOT want to raise my baby anywhere near my parents. (They divorced around the time of the birth, and my dad died a decade ago.)

I wasn't ready to live on my own. And I could not raise a child under my parents' roof. My baby deserved an emotionally and financially stable life. I could provide love, yes. Absolutely. But everything else, unfortunately no. Love just didn't seem to be enough. And it sucked. I WANTED to be ready - but I was not in a place in my life where I was able to be the kind of parent that I felt my baby deserved. Adoption seemed the best way to go - for all concerned. I waited until I had made that decision before telling my parents about the pregnancy. They reluctantly agreed to adoption, although I know it was hard for them. This was to be their first grandchild.

Entering the world of adoption was a wild ride. I looked in the phone book and found a local agency. Went in one day and talked to a social worker. We were in a cold, dark basement - I was uncomfortable from the start. I had a lot of questions, but the lady asked more of me than I did of her. She was telling me that I would pay all baby related expenses, including the hospital. The agency would take the baby at birth - I could say good-bye if I chose. The agency would pick a family, but the baby would not go to them immediately. Baby would be in foster care for the first four months or so, until the paperwork was finalized.

In so many ways, this did not appeal to me. I wanted to have a part in the process of choosing. I did not want the baby to go into one home only to be given to someone else. I wanted more contact in the hospital, and honestly I needed help paying some of the bills. I wanted to be INVOLVED. I left the agency and never returned.

I went back to school that day, crying. I called a close friend, "S". She and her husband were like my second family. That call helped tremendously. S told me that there were lawyers who specialized in open or semi-open adoptions. These were just coming into being back then, but it seemed like a great option to me. So I called a lawyer from the phone book and met with him. Andrew came with me. The lawyer had a thick stack of papers - files of people wanting to adopt. Andrew and I had to decide what we wanted in an adoptive family, in order to sort through the stack, but also to give ourselves clarity. We ended up narrowing the stack down to our top three choices. The lawyer said he would call them. A few days later, the lawyer called and told me that our top choices no longer wanted to adopt. So Andrew and I wondered how long those files had been sitting there. We did not return to that lawyer.

By early summer, the word was out that there was going to be a baby available to adopt. I was literally getting phone calls from people all over the country, asking if I would please consider them as potential parents. It was overwhelming. Hard to know what was best for this child. I went in to the college president's office and asked for his advice. "Mr Pres" told me that he had a lawyer friend who did adoptions. I eventually spoke to Mr. Lawyer on the phone and decided that he was the best person to help me. From then on, those two took the phone calls.

By this time, my belly had started to grow. And it was hot outside. And the morning sickness continued. I tried to keep my emotions in check, but it was a difficult time. Andrew went with me to an ob-gyn appointment and we both heard the heart beat. That moment oddly made the whole thing more official, more real, to both of us.

The Christian college had Andrew and I meet with a psychologist to see if we could both handle being at college together for the fall term. It was decided that we were stable and ready to take on school and the pregnancy, and we were emotionally prepared for what was ahead. The school allowed us to stay. And we WERE okay, but overwhelmed.

After school started in the fall, my belly kept growing and Andrew wasn't around as much. He stopped by my apartment one evening, and said that he was telling everyone good-bye. He was honest enough to tell me that he had informed all of his friends first. He was scared to let me know that he would hop on a plane the following morning and return to his home state, but he had to do it. He just could not handle the school-work, his job, and my pregnancy. I actually understood - he was being treated differently by everyone near him, he watched me basically from the sidelines, and he could no longer take the pressure.

He left the next day, after a quick and hesitant hug good-bye. In that moment, standing in the parking lot, I felt completely alone, but relieved. And scared to death. But this was to be my journey, not his.

I'll be honest right now and say that writing this story is hard for me. It needs to be written, for reasons that will become clear before the story ends. But I feel like I'm opening old wounds, tearing down the layers that have been hidden for awhile. But sometimes hurting is therapeutic. Getting it out of my system, I hope, will allow me to move on, and enjoy the future that is unfolding before me. In writing this, I'm re-living a time in my life that is complicated, emotional. The time has come to let go.

To you, the reader, thanks for coming along on the ride. I hope I don't bore you with the details.


M, part 3

Fall, 1985.................

School had resumed. Andrew had taken a plane back to his home state. Five straight months of morning sickness were finally coming to an end. I still got stares from classmates, and I'm very sure that much was said behind my back. I felt alone, isolated in a sea of students, teachers, and co-workers. And yet, there was a life inside of me - kicking, doing visible somersaults, growing. In the midst of an emotional, hormonal time, I tried to relax and enjoy the baby. Several close female friends became my rocks, my confidants.

Mr. College Pres and Mr. Lawyer had been busy - putting the word out of a baby available for adoption. They found seven couples ready and willing to adopt. Files were put together, although with no pictures and very little identifying information. I think Mr. Pres and Mr. Lawyer felt that they were protecting me. And at that time, I was fine with knowing these people only as couples A, B, C, etc. Honestly, at one point, I wished that I could somehow carry seven babies - to give to all of these wonderful, deserving people.

One day, I was in Mr. Pres's office, looking through the files. Slowly, carefully, asking questions and discussing details. There was a lot of information to sort through - occupations, values, pets, other children in the home, etc. The time had come to decide. It felt like I was playing God. "Difficult decision" doesn't even begin to describe it. But it had to be done. Baby needed a home, a life. And I wanted it to be a good life, for Baby to be happy and loved. "Couple D" stood out to me. A lot of details about them felt right. When I finally did say out loud that I thought they were ............the ones............... Mr. Pres said that they would have been his first choice, too. But he wasn't going to tell me that until after I had made up my mind.

From the-day-of-choosing on, I saw this baby as a gift, and I was the carrier. Baby belonged to AD and AM - Adoptive Dad and Adoptive Mom. (I only had first names to go by.) Somehow, mentally, that perception helped me to survive. It was no longer about me - it was about the family that they were to become. This decision - who would adopt the baby - helped me a lot. It freed me up to concentrate on the holidays, doctor visits, and the upcoming birth. I put together my medical history and other information that I thought might be helpful to AD and AM in the future.

I signed up for labor & delivery classes. Not wanting to be "put under", but to experience childbirth for myself, I needed a labor coach. It had to be someone who could handle seeing me in pain, and be strong enough to assist me through the birthing process. Enter "RK". She was one of my roommates at school that fall. She was smart and strong-willed, AND she had been her sister's labor coach a few years eariler. RK knew what to expect during labor, and she respected my decisions. We became good friends. She understood my silence as well as my words. I never would have survived without her.

Late in the pregnancy - around Christmas - my blood pressure got very high and stayed there. On a grey afternoon in early January 1986, near my due date, I was hospitalized. The doc wanted to monitor my blood pressure and the baby. I lost the mucus plug that day and knew I'd be giving birth soon. RK went back to the school and got my hospital bag. The next morning, I was informed that they would be inducing labor - for the safety of both the baby and me. RK let the school know, and AD & AM came to the hospital. RK met them in person, as I later found out. I did not ever meet them. Part of me wishes now that I had seen AD and AM face to face. There was just so much happening with hormones, labor, etc, that I did not think clearly on that one, and I had no way of knowing that in years down the road, I would regret not meeting them.

In the middle of the afternoon, after about 6 1/2 hours of labor, a baby girl entered the world. She had a head full of black hair and she smelled like play-doh . She was the most beautiful little person that I had ever seen in my life. Absolutely perfect. I was so, so glad that I had not killed her. No regrets. The name I gave her was a name I loved. The adoptive parents gave her another name - and I was fine with that. They named her well, and she was theirs. "M" had entered the world.

When I got to my recovery room, there were beautiful yellow roses and the most wonderful thank-you note from AD and AM. For the next four days, until I was released from the hospital, I held and talked to my daughter, taking in her beauty and new baby smells, her voice. I changed her diapers. It was good to say "See you later" in my own timing. "Good-bye" was too final. I could not go there. I never said those words.

Before I was discharged from the hospital, alone in my room, I signed a form. It released M into the custody of AD and AM. It was not final adoption papers. But it did have their full names and the city they lived in. I did not tell anyone that I knew that information.

I was about to find out that what my brain told me was good - the right thing to do, and what my heart felt deep down, were two entirely different things. No way could I have known that in advance. I simply had to live it.


M, part 4


Grief is not a "feeling". It’s a living, breathing entity that arrives due to circumstances. It stays for as long as it wants, and does not leave simply because a person decides that it should go. Grief remains, taking on new forms, until IT chooses to depart. And then sometimes it comes back. Grief is necessary sometimes, but it’s not a pleasant companion.

Many of us, for whatever reasons, go through a painful situation or time in our lives. Those near to us, caring and close as they may be, do not fully understand what we are feeling. They are BEside us, which is good, but they are not INside us. They are not "walking in our shoes" - and we do not walk in theirs. So we go it alone. And we survive.

We appreciate the mountaintop - the joy - more, after we have walked through the valley. The bad helps us cherish the good. And ultimately, we are stronger for having gone through the rough times.

This is my valley..........

I carried a child inside of me for nine incredible, crazy months. I gave birth. And four days later, I gave that baby away. To strangers. My brain told me it was the best thing to do - in that time, that place, under those circumstances. It was good, what was best. And it WAS right.

But my heart screamed at me - "How COULD you?? This is your baby!! I want to hold this child, love it, raise it." My heart had a lot to say. My heart was wounded.

I literally felt ripped apart. I ached in every fabric of my being. No one told me ahead of time how deeply this would hurt. No one could have. You can't prepare yourself for that kind of grief. It takes on a life of its own. It takes over.

Every single day for the first six months following M's birth, I cried. I didn't want to. I had naively assumed that once the baby was out, I would magically get on with life. I was wrong. The crying came in waves, sometimes when I was not expecting it, but always overpowering. I would be talking to someone and feel a tightening in my throat. Breathing would become suddenly difficult. I would try to hide the emotion until I was alone, and then I would sob. Break down. Every. Day.

My whole body seemed to be in a cloud. It was like I was in a bubble, looking out at the world, trying to function. Wondering if anyone saw that I was walking around in a fog. I never got up the nerve to say out loud that my soul was screaming on the inside. It hurt.

There was a black hole - I could see it, visibly, when I closed my eyes. And on many days, I struggled to not let that hole grow, or to suck me in. But it was constant. I did not want to allow myself this kind of pain - I really felt that I should be over it. I had done what was right. So I should move on. But I could not.

Without even being aware of it, I had stopped eating. I simply was not hungry. I was fitting back into my old tight clothes within three weeks after M was born. This, to me, was justified. I was not pregnant, or busy with raising a newborn. I should be returning to leading a normal life. My roomates stopped me one morning and insisted I eat a piece of toast, eggs, anything, before going to class. They saw what I did not - I was starving myself. They sat me down and made me eat.

A month or so after the birth, there was a dance at school. A party, really. And a few days before that party, I did something big. I intentionally hurt myself. I wanted people to notice me, to ask if I was okay. To care for me. Everyone assumed that I was all right after the birth, dealing with life. I knew I was not. So without admitting that I was still grieving inside, I did something visible on the outside. I walked into my kitchen and heated up a boiling pot of water. Rolling boil. And then I stood over the sink and poured it on the back of my left hand. Searing pain. Unbelievable. But I did not reach for ice or pain relief or anything to heal my hand. I let it get bad. And I almost repeated the action - to be sure my hand was visibly messed up. But I could not handle any more pain.

I had made up a story - that I had accidentally spilled hot coffee on myself. Even had the coffee on the counter to prove it. My hand blistered up, big time. The veins somehow moved to different places. I wore bandages. And I was noticed. Cared for. So I had acheived the goal - to be nurtured for the pain I was in. A misplaced pain, to be sure. But it got me attention. That event should have been a red-flag for me - to seek help. To deal with the grief. But I did not. I just kept living day to day, telling myself that I would feel better. Eventually.

After the first six months of daily crying, the emotions started to ease up. The second six months, I cried every two or three days. I saw this as an improvement, and it was. I allowed myself the grief. But then the first Christmas came. M was in my thoughts constantly. Her first holiday season. Approaching her first birthday. Once again, I was an emotional mess. I was completely withdrawn on her birthday. Isolated physically and emotionally. I had every right to be. This yearly ritual of hurting on her birthday and not talking about it, never left. Every single holiday season for literally the next two decades became of time of wondering, renewed pain. Giving a child away never ever leaves the heart.

To this day I don't understand why some people tell me I was brave. I don't see that. It was more like being lost, alone, scared to death. It was HARD, not heroic. All I wanted was to do the best thing for M.

I complained to God - a lot. Amazingly enough, He never left. I have seen - touched - a tiny portion of hell. I never want to go there again. My eternity lies in heaven. I truly believe that they are both real places. Heaven, for me, would not be complete without M there. I hope she goes.

I'm impatient by nature. I hate waiting. And I'm also stubborn and curious. There were several times after M's birth that I wanted to give up, end it all. Kill myself. Part of me could not go on without her. And yet I had to survive. That curiosity kept me going. I had to be okay for M, if she ever decided to meet me. I had to go on. And I did.

Hang in there, readers............the story gets better............


M, part 5

1986 and beyond..........

Four months after M was born, I signed final adoption papers. It was official. Over.

Life went on, somehow, whether I liked it or not. Cousins married, grandparents died, parents divorced. College ended, and most of us went our separate ways.

M was not forgotten. Ever. Sometimes I'd see a newborn, hear the cry, and memories would come flooding in. Sometimes a sad movie would set me off emotionally. I won't say I got used to that, but I did accept it.

Eventually I moved to another part of the state - not to put physical distance between me and M's family, but more of........that's where my job took me and I needed to be away from my parents. I settled in to the new city. RK was there. I worked, went to church, made new friends, even played. Eventually - several years after M's birth - I started dating a young man, T. I told him about M - probably on the second date. Carefully put it out there. If our relationship was to progress, he needed to know about her and accept that she **might** some day, want to see me. And T was fine with it. Wow. After a year or so, T and I got married. RK, my labor coach and rock, was my maid of honor.

Months quickly turned into years. T - now Hub - and I moved to a different state, and pretty soon started making babies of our own. And yet M was always in my thoughts. My prayers. Not knowing anything about her was so difficult, though. I wondered so much.

Hub and I made boys. Two wonderful, unique boys. Sometimes people would ask me if I ever wanted to "try" for a girl. They had NO IDEA how painful that question was. It cut through me like a knife every time. I'd end up saying something stupid like, "Boys are great. I have tough pregnancies. I'm done." And I'd be thinking........"If you only knew." Much as I loved M, her story was too complicated and emotional to tell strangers. They didn't need to know. So I'd smile and walk away. And die a little inside. But the funny thing is - boys were good for me. I never compared them to M. I never looked at them and wondered what SHE was like at that age. My boys, surprising at it was, were a total blessing. God knew what I needed.

When M was 12, I could no longer handle the wondering. I did NOT want to interfere with her life, but hoping she was happy and well-adjusted was not enough. I wanted to know something, anything, about her. Not knowing is HARD. So I got on the internet and looked up AD and AM. (I remembered their last name and location from the paperwork in the hospital.) I found an address that I hoped was correct. And I wrote them a letter. Snail mail. The letter included general information on where I was, what I was doing. I included my e-mail address, in case they needed anything or wanted to reply. I did not get a response. They either did not receive the letter, or they didn't want contact with me. And that was okay - I had put the letter out there and it was their choice how to deal with it.

But then..........three months later, an e-mail came through. .....From my daughter...... Her parents had given her the letter. I was in shock. This began a slow, VERY careful, correspondence. She was okay. She was maturing, busy with her life, but wanting to know me in a limited way. We would write - sometimes once a month, sometimes once every six months. I welcomed this. Absorbed it. But gave it space. Adolescence is hard enough without an outsider being involved.

When M was 15, in one of her e-mails, she enclosed a picture of herself. First time I had seen her since she was four days old. Wow. More emotions. I kept that e-mail. She was gorgeous. She looked a lot like her dad, but I searched the picture for some resemblance of me. Cheeks, chin, eyebrows, mouth, anything.

When she was 16, in an e-mail, she told me about her birthday. And then I heard very little from her after that. She needed to grow up. Have her space. Over and over again, for the next several years, in my mind I had to let her go. I had to accept that she may never need to know me. She may very well hate me for the decisions I made. It was all up to her. I completely backed off and gave her time. This was HER life to lead, and I honestly, totally, accepted that. I had to.

I had always known that I would tell the boys about their half-sister. I stressed out about this "talk" for years. When each of the kids was around 9 years old, I gave them the news. Carefully. Just the basics. And to my amazement, each son had basically the same response. "Is she happy? Where does she live? Can I meet her someday? Can I go PLAY now?" All that worrying, and my boys handled the news just fine. Kids are resilient, accepting, understanding. Kids are cool.

At age 18, M was considered a legal adult. I bawled on her birthday. This was the magical number I had been waiting for. The records would be available for her, IF she desired them. It was killing me inside whether or not to try to contact her again. I eventually sent her family another snail mail letter. It came back as undeliverable - they had moved, and the forwarding address had expired. My heart sank. But there was nothing I could do. I had to mentally let her go - again.

A year later, through the wonders of the internet, I found AD and AM's current address. My curiosity got the best of me, and I re-sent the letter. I hestitated on that one. M had every right to reject me, hate me, not want to know me at all.

M's e-mail reply, in the summer when she was 19, was a complete shock.

She was about to get married. She had not forgotten me. She thought about contacting me when she was 18, but had misplaced my e-mail address. She did want some contact. But she kept it limited. I understood - a lot was happening in her life. The contact had to be on her terms, at her pace. But it was good. I was thrilled.

I'm not going to say that I've had a miserable two decades without M. It has actually been very good. I have a family, home, friends, an awesome best-friend, a good life. I appreciate this, I'm thankful for it. I feel blessed in many ways. But.........M is my first-born, my missing piece. Deep down, I am not complete without her.


M, part 6

Remember when I said that the story gets better? Here it comes............

M got married in the fall of 2005 - she told me about it (before it happened) in an e-mail. Once again, we had contact. I didn't hear from her for awhile after that - I was assuming she was busy with getting married, adjusting to being a newlywed, etc. And then in the spring of 2006, she gave me a surprise.

She had given birth, to a beautiful baby boy. She sent pictures of her and hubby and the baby. Cool. This was the beginning of a new start for us. We sent LOTS of e-mails to each other, and digital pictures were sent both ways. It was a blast.

After becoming a parent herself, M was thinking more about me. The communication suddenly became wide open. We asked "little" questions of each other at first - stuff like favorite color, what we wanted to be when we grew up, etc. She wrote about her life growing up - the good and the bad. She told me about baby and hubby. I told her about my guys and my life now.

And eventually she had "big" questions, deep honest ones, about her start in life, why I made certain decisions, and more. I answered her truthfully, honestly. She had every right to know. It may have surprised her that I didn't back down. But she didn't back away from me, either. She was open and honest. About a LOT. Priceless.

Somewhere in there, we kind of came to the conclusion that in a lot of ways, we are very similar. Weird. Amazing. Wonderful. We are basically strangers to each other, but we are so much alike. My apologizes if adjectives are eluding me. I hope you get the idea. ;-)

And then something else happened..........we began talking on the phone - M's idea. Yeah! I can't even describe hear her voice. Unbelievable, fantastic. We laugh and cry and never want to stop talking. How great is THAT?? haha

We talk about once a week now. And it's incredible every single time. I LIKE her. She's an absolutely GREAT person!

When we first started talking, it was surreal for me. Something that I had wanted for so long was finally coming true. And I didn't know how to handle it. It took me about three weeks to get comfortable with our conversations. M adjusted to it much more quickly than I did. I finally decided to write down words and put them on a piece of paper, hidden away. It came out as one word every two or three days. I couIdn't get my brain wrapped around what my heart was going through. I wrote.......thrilled........surreal.........ovewhelmed........oddly lonely - no one has been in this "place".......fear...........jumbled........relax............JOY. And it's the joy that has remained.

M wants to meet me................She and the baby are coming to my area this summer. I can't wait -- I CAN'T WAIT -- to hug her, look her in the eye. To say "I love you" face to face. To laugh and cry and never let the time end. Fulfillment. Feels very, very good.

M is in a difficult place in her life right now. A lot is happening with her. I can't change that or fix it, but I care about her, and she knows that. She will survive. I'm proud of her.

I am not her "mom". But am I a friend? Sure feels like it. Not sure. Right now, I don't think we need to define those roles. We just have to accept, and enjoy, what is. And that's good enough. I don't know anybody else in this situation. It's great, unique, but new territory. And it's fantastic.

21 years is a long time, make no mistake. But what M and I have now, in all honesty, is well worth the wait.

I didn't expect to write this story. Amazing how it just flowed out of me. But it needed to be said. I hope my dear M approves.

Is this The End of the story? Nope. It feels like The Beginning.

Thanks for reading. I'll keep you posted.