Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Building a Relationship

How, you might ask, did things go after you found your birth mother? Did you talk and then never speak again? Have you met? Do you care about finding out more about your biological father? How, What, Who, When?

The questions are numerous and the answer is simple. Yes, my birth mother and I have continued to build our relationship since the day that I found her. We have a great deal in common politically, socially, personality-wise and hobbies, but we're also very different as we grew up in different times with different experiences and different world views. We started by finding the commonalities in our experiences and sharing them with each other. I never press too hard on any one topic and leave a lot of space for her to decide what's she comfortable talking about. We try to speak a couple of times each month and our calls are balanced--I don't impose on her and she doesn't overwhelm me.

A couple of months after I found her, she mentioned that she was going to send me a present in the mail. It isn't much, she said, it's just so odd that I purchased it last spring. She had seen an angel on QVC that she thought was soothing and it highlighted the Serenity Prayer. She had ordered two. At the time, she wondered why only two? She has two sisters but she always intended to keep one of the angels for herself so why didn't she order three?

The Serenity Prayer played a major role in her experience with my relinquishment. She had gone home after giving birth to me in Utica and had time to think about whether or not she would sign the relinquishment papers. She had prayed, cried, reasoned and changed her mind multiple times. She had spoken with the Catholic Charities caseworker, Ms. Doll, who had never rushed her or tried to influence her decision. With much heartbreak, she came to the final realization that she did not believe she should keep me. She credits Ms. Doll with not pushing her into a decision prematurely. When she returned to Utica to sign the relinquishment papers, she purchased a charm bracelet for Ms. Doll to show her appreciation for her kindness and sensitivity: it was a Serenity Prayer bracelet.

Over the years, she told me, she has avoided the Serenity Prayer because it always made her think of me and of the dark years she experienced directly after my birth. While she continued to strongly believe the sentiment, she couldn't deal with the prayer itself.

Her surprise in ordering the angels, then, is totally understandable and more than just a bit coincidental. She believes that she knew subconsciously that I would find her soon and that the purchase was in some way forcing her to begin to think about the possibility and how she would handle it. That second angel would be for me.

1 comment:

  1. Your portrait of your birthmother is so genuine, gentle, and open. I love the balance you seek with her, and the space you create for both of you. Your writing is informing my parenting-he may only be 4.5, but it is helping me to notice 360 degrees in our important conversations...