One woman's perspective on being an adult adoptee, her experiences with search and reunion, and other random thoughts sprinkled in.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
When What You're Searching For Finally Arrives
Hi, this is Lisa Blinn, I believe you just called me?
There was a moment of silence, just the length of a heartbeat, then a deep breath, and then
Oh, hello! It's finally you! I'm XXXXXXXXXXXXX and I'm definitely your mother. Even if I hadn't been certain from the letter, the pictures leave no room for doubt......The voice wavered and then there were sobs. As I murmured how wonderful it was to hear her voice and how ecstatic I was that she had called, she continued with what was to be a very important question for her and the first of many she would ask me. Are you happy?
Well, certainly, I'm a naturally happy person and I have a wonderful life so yes, I would say I'm happy.
Have you always been happy? Have you had a happy life?
At this point, my heart fully opened to the origin of the questioning. This was about answering the real question in her life: DID I DO THE RIGHT THING? She wasn't looking for absolution but she truly needed confirmation that her choice had been the correct one for me, that my life had been everything she had hoped for when she relinquished me.
Once I realized this, it was an easy question to answer. My life has generally been a happy one, no more pain and suffering than most other people, with a family that is supportive and loving, even if I sometimes had trouble seeing that growing up. I know how fortunate I am and I quickly conveyed that to her.
The next topic of discussion was to be much more difficult. She was shocked that XXXXX was not my birth father, clearly she had never believed otherwise. I can't talk about it, it's just too much for me right now, maybe one day I can tell you, but I can't talk about it.
The one thing she was very clear about was that my birth father was NOT her now deceased husband, despite what the golf pro might have told me or insinuated. Apparently, he had appeared on her doorstep with my letter the day before, and after excitedly telling her all about how wonderful I was and how "smart" I was for having found him, proceeded to accuse her of having tried to entrap him by calling me his child when she "knew" that I was the child of another man. One can imagine that things just went downhill from there. Frankly, when I heard this, I was amazed that she had called at all. Everything I had feared from having an unpredictable intermediary had happened and she had still been brave enough to pick up the phone.
Our conversation continued for nearly three hours and was filled with copious amounts of both laughter and tears, sometimes in the same sentence. Eric had jumped out of bed and grabbed me a pen so I could write down anything I learned and looking back at my notes now, I see how desperate I was to capture any facts on paper. There are names of siblings, parents, and nieces and nephews, dates of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, bits of phrasing to try to remember exactly how she told the story--all scribbled on the back of papers that had been sitting on my bedside table when the phone call came.
It was a remarkable conversation--this woman loves me, truly loves me simply because I was hers. She was fascinated to learn about the details of my life story and genuinely interested in all aspects of me. Talking came easily, even when it was about what were hard subjects, such as deciding to relinquish me, the early years after my birth, and her relationship with the golf pro. Each of these deserves to be posted about individually to fully capture the details.
The woman I met for the first time on the phone was kind, generous, sensitive, funny, engaging, heartbroken, shame-scarred and welcoming. While her sisters and parents knew about me, no one else in the family did--not the myriad of nieces and nephews that doted over her or her close friends that had shared her life for many years. The sudden death of her husband six years earlier had left her painfully alone and the life she now lived without her self-described soul mate was empty and lacking of the joiedevivre that had characterized the majority of her years.
In short, finding her caused a seismic shift in her life. If I died now, I would die knowing I was complete again, she told me. You have answered the questions that never left me and given me a peace that I haven't known in thirty-eight years.
She wanted to get to know me better & she wanted to be a part of my life. I think the fact that I live 1500 miles away from her eased any trepidation that she might have had about me--I couldn't jump in the car and wind up on her doorstep unannounced, something I would never have done in any case. We made plans to speak the following Saturday, both of us knowing that further conversations would enable us to build a relationship. She was overwhelmingly grateful to my parents, expressing a desire to one day meet & thank them and further, affirming their primary place as MY PARENTS. Moreover, her perspective on her role in my life was similar to mine: what an added bonus!
As I hung up the line, I felt overjoyed, drained, overwhelmed and relieved all at the same time. While the search portion of my journey had come to an end, it was clear that an entirely new journey of discovery was just beginning. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the very same time and I owned it, it was a creation orchestrated by my hard work, perservance and plain good luck. Wow!
Quirky, outspoken, but secretly shy, I've never been afraid to be self-deprecating for a laugh. I believe that it's just as easy to be kind as it is to be cruel, that we are each our brother's keeper, and that no day is more important than this one.