Closing The Door

From a domestic infant adoptee, now 35, who has been contemplating changing her name to her real last name. Also possibly changing her first name too. The more she’s worked through her life experiences and struggles, the more she wants to close the door on who raised her. She goes on to admit that – they were probably decent parents. But I don’t recall any feelings of love, attachment, safety or comfort. I’ve harbored resentment for them both and as I try to work on myself, it only gets worse. She says, I’ve gone through all the phases of trying to be ok with my story. But I’m not ok with it. I can’t forgive them. I realize that I actually do hate these people. My first name is nothing special. She heard it back in high school and liked it. Her biological child has full family “heirloom” name. When I hear her say my name, it makes me grind my teeth.

Another adoptee notes – a name change is a very personal decision, one you have every right to make for yourself !! If you connect more to your birth name, then I say go for it. It’s probably a very empowering feeling to go do this for yourself.

Another said – If you know your true name and you want to claim it, CLAIM IT!!!!

One shared –  I’m in the process of socially changing my name right now while I wait for the funds to legally change it. I’m changing it back to my birth name because it’s a name I’ve always loved and it’s a bit more androgynous and I don’t like my feminine name. I really knew I had to change my name when I couldn’t bear to tell my son what my name was.

It’s hard to get used to hearing a new one but it sounds better in my brain than my old name. Lots of friends/family are resistant to calling me my new name and that’s been pretty hard. My adoptive mom threw a fit basically. Trying to explain why I’m changing my name and why they should respect that and call me my chosen name has been very difficult because they just don’t understand and think I’m being ridiculous.

I feel a sense of euphoria when I meet someone new and I tell them my (new) name and then they call me that. I started trying my new name out online or for take out orders and stuff before I took the plunge, just to see how I’d feel, and once I realized I liked it I started going more mainstream with it.

Yet another adoptee admitted – My adoptive parents translated my name, then shortened it. I grew to really dislike that name. I have “reclaimed” my actual name and everyone calls me that. I truly wish my adoptive parents had never altered it. My name was really the only thing that I had that truly was my own.

It is easy to see why a lot of adoption reformers are suggesting NOT to change your adopted child’s name. Better yet, chose guardianship rather than adoption if at all possible.

Just When You Really Need Them

It is all too common but still hard to understand why it can be this way – today’s story (not my own) from a 29 year old adoptee in reunion.

I was one of the fortunate ones who found my biological family this year in April. We’ve known each other for eight months and everything’s been going great with us. Unfortunately, my mother (adoptive mother who will always be referred to as my mom) is not handling it well. Unfortunately, she continues to use the fact that I want to build a relationship with my biological family against me. She continues to use my biological mother against me when she’s mad at me. She says things like “why don’t you go spend time with your real mom then” “and “you probably wish I was dead.” My adoptive father passed away four years ago and I know she is still struggling. But I’m not sure how to make sure she understands that I’m not trying to replace her. I just want to build a relationship with my biological family that I have a right to. Sometimes, I feel even more comfortable around my biological mother than I do my mother and it’s very confusing for me. I’m not sure how to process all this or how to not take what my mother says to heart, when she’s mad at me. Somebody please help with understanding how I can process all this and help my mom the best way I can, Thank you.

A first mother (one who gave up her child to adoption) answers – your mom’s feelings on this are NOT the most important, YOURS are.

Your mom needs to have therapy for her loss of her husband, she needs to have therapy for the insecurities she has that she is projecting onto you. Right now, your mom is being harmful and toxic towards you. This is emotional abuse. None of this is your fault. You have every right to know your first family, without someone making you feel like you’re a traitor.

It’s not your job to make her feel like you’re not replacing her, same with your first mother. Your mother adopted you and, at some level, she knew this day had to come. If she had been trauma informed and fostered a relationship with you regarding the reality that you have two mom’s throughout your whole life, this wouldn’t be an issue. Your mom has to deal with her own insecurities, same as us first mothers have to.

Absolutely none of this should fall on you, she needs to take care of her own mental health, so that you can freely process and heal from the trauma thrust upon you, instead of making you feel responsible for her own decisions. I am so so sorry that your mom is acting in this way, unfortunately it is extremely common, though it shouldn’t be. All of your feelings are valid. Both your first family and your adoptive family have to deal with their own insecurities and trauma and not drag you into it. Again, none of this is your fault! You need support and love in figuring out your life and who you want in it.

From another adoptee – What she is doing is extremely wrong, in any event. But she thought that you were completely hers and now she is jealous (again) after she proved she was the “better mother.” And of course she cannot understand why your biological family has any pull or interest for you. Of course, you’d be more comfortable with your genetic family. You need to process this by setting firm boundaries with her and telling her that it isn’t a contest or competition. If she says those things to you – she is actually pushing you away, so it benefits you both if she realizes that and simply enjoys what time she has with you. You need to decide how to persuade her to stop being childish and realize that you want to expand your family and knowledge of your own genetic roots/heritage. No matter how much she wants to pretend otherwise, hers are not yours but were grafted onto you by legal force.

From a kinship guardian – The only thing you can do is tell her that you’re not trying and will not replace her. And suggest therapy gently to her. All the rest is completely in her hands and you can’t jeopardize your reunion because of her insecurities. Losing a husband is a traumatic event. And I can only imagine that she is afraid of losing you as well. It must be a hard place to be. But even if that’s the case, you cannot be responsible for that. She needs to work on herself instead of making you responsible for her emotional well-being. If we agree to take on the care of other adult’s wellbeing, as our own responsibility, it will start a chain of mess that can be never ending. Big hugs to you. Just keep in mind that by respecting your own wishes, you are doing the right thing for you. You don’t owe either of your mothers their own happiness.

Sour Grapes

From my all things adoption group – an adoptee after reaching maturity should not have to deal with this in her adoptive mother but I have seen such bad behavior before in one of my adoptee relative’s adoptive mother as well. So sad.

How do you help someone you love, who is on the fence and struggling, come out of the adoption fog ? Or do you even try ? The person I am talking about is going to be my daughter-in-law in less than a month. We have become close and she is great. She is only 20 years old. I’ll call her T.

T expressed to me that she was curious but scared to reach out to her birth mother. She eventually did so behind her adoptive mom’s back. Her adoptive dad has passed. She said her birth mother was very nice and she told T that she tried to make contact many times throughout the years but that the adoptive parents would block her and change their numbers. T told me she didn’t know who to believe because her adoptive mom said this was a lie. T asked me why would her adoptive mom lie and so, she tended to believe her adoptive mom over her birth mom. I gently asked her to think about who would be more motivated to lie about this.

Anyway when her adoptive mom found out that T was contacting her birth mom, she had a complete emotional breakdown and made T feel so bad. She even said maybe it was a big mistake even adopting her blah blah blah.

I met her adoptive mom last week at the bridal shower and she told me that she was totally fine with T meeting her birth mom but she would not let the birth mom emotionally abuse her with lies.

T has since blocked the birth mom on social media and says she is scared and creeped out. These situations have shoved her way back into the adoption fog. I’m so sad for her because I know that this is important for her mental health. She deals with a lot of anxiety and often struggles with her adoptive mom. T was adopted with 2 her biological sisters who also are struggling with anxiety and mental health.

What can I do with the most love to help her ? She has some leads on her biological dad but now says she is even more creeped out by him. Someone told her he may or may not have shot someone in the past. I wonder who she got that idea from?? Eye roll.

She is definitely afraid of getting in trouble with her adoptive mom (who is paying for the wedding). Her adoptive mom also helped her get a car, after T went back into the adoption fog in submission. Another Eye roll.

My own comment is simply – why do adoptive mothers behave this way once their adoptee is a grown person ? Clearly exerting financial leverage (I saw my mom’s adoptive mother do that with her). They had the child all to themselves all the child’s life. I saw this during a loved one’s (adoptee) wedding. Previously, I would never have thought that woman could be that way but . . . adoptive parents it seems also have their own triggers.

Poverty

I belong to a group of people who actively seek a world that works for every person. Within the adoption related communities, I promote family preservation. At one point, our federal government tore families apart. I believe some of those children have been returned and some remain lost in a system that has likely allowed them to be adopted.

I grew up on the border in El Paso Texas. A friend of mine who still lives there wrote to me today these words – “This is an invasion. No telling whom is crossing. A bit frightening. I have not been frightened until about a week ago.” I happen to know that she is on the more conservative side of Republican perspectives. I can’t judge what she is experiencing there. When I was younger, I had several adventures in Mexico and some misadventures that still turned out with me returning safely to the United States. I always knew that our American legal system was preferable to what I might encounter with the Federales in Mexico.

I do know that as the misdeeds of our former president become ever more obvious, his side of the partisan divide loves to use immigration issues to distract from the factual inconvenient truth. Realistically, I do know the the US can’t take in every person who wants to come here. We do have a shortage of the kind of labor pool who is willing to do a lot of the work that migrants are willing to do. Our social security system could use the increase in tax revenues to support today’s and tomorrow’s beneficiaries. I do know that immigrants (my biological, genetic grandfather was one) make a net positive contribution to our country economically.

What I think has changed is technological. Inexpensive “smart” phones and social media drive, I believe, the global increase in desperate migrations, whether from the global south to the United States or from Africa and the Middle East to Europe. The news spreads and who can, with any heart or compassion, deny the desires of people seeking a better life ? I believe most to these people who embark on dangerous journeys in the hopes of better circumstances would prefer to remain in the countries of their birth if the danger and wealth inequality were alleviated.

In less than a week, we celebrated the idea that a baby born in the most humble of circumstances could mature into a man who changed the hearts of multitudes. That is the real truth of Christmas regardless of whether the story actually occurred or not.

Owned By The State

Samantha Morton

An article in The Guardian caught my attention – LINK>”I was owned by the state” Samantha Morton on foster care.

Question ? What advice would you give to a foster mum ?

First of all, love. Whether you are fostering for a week as a short-term foster carer or you’re a long-term foster parent, try to show love. What hurt me when I was younger was being separated as the foster child. So I wasn’t included in family photographs or family dos, or they went on family holidays and left me behind. Try to get support to make the child feel part of the family as much as possible, which isn’t always easy financially if you’ve got your own kids and only getting a little bit from the council for your foster child.

Also don’t tell everyone all the time: “Oh, this is my foster child.” I really liked it when we’d have a little fib that I was, say, a cousin’s cousin or something like that. So I felt that I belonged.

Question ? What do you think the treatment of children – especially in care or those who are vulnerable – tells us about our society ?

Somebody posted an image on Twitter the other day of how many politicians were in parliament for a debate on the Care Act. There was nobody there. I think that it comes from the top. So if our politicians are not taking it seriously – the welfare of our children, the care system, how broken the care system is – then how is society expected to take it seriously? We need our politicians to take notes, to listen to doctors and social workers and teachers, and look at how broken this country is. The most vulnerable people in society are children and young people, and because they don’t get a vote, they are just disregarded. Politicians have to show compassion and care, and a commitment to real change, before other people kind of go: yeah, we believe that too.

Question ? Have you met a politician (in the current government or otherwise) who said they understood the value of art but then voted to shaft the vulnerable ?

No. The last time I had anything to do with government was after I made my film LINK>The Unloved (2009), about a character who goes into care, and Ed Balls invited me to talk to him and then asked me to be a children’s tsar. I took that role very, very seriously and had lots of discussions about how best I could help with my knowledge and experience. He really took it seriously. And I was incredibly proud of what the Labour government did then in regards to a huge initiative to recruit more social workers and provide better funding. I think since the coalition got in, they have done nothing but decimate children’s services. Anything that makes life better for children, they have actively sought to destroy.

The government has failed us miserably in regards to young people and culture and healthcare and national security. We need a general election now. We need to fight. It makes me very weepy. I cannot get my head around the lack of integrity. It’s just so bad at the moment and it’s going to get a lot worse. It will get better when a different government gets in but they’re going to inherit an absolute mess. Carnage.

Question ? Is it strange to have so many people know your story ? How do you protect your privacy while also allowing yourself to be, at times, very vulnerable ?

I made a choice to share my story because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to make a change. I believe certain things happened to me so that I could make a difference. I was somehow given the toolkit to survive, to not become a victim, to be a survivor. I do have privacy, though. I don’t really talk about my family and children and husband. I feel incredibly private. But I feel my childhood is certainly up for public scrutiny and conversation because I was a child of the state. I was a ward of court. I was owned by the state and the state treated me a certain way, and I’m a product of that.  The legal system is built to protect people with a lot of money.

Limited

Mindy Stern

I discovered Mindy Stern today and have maxed out my “free” member-only stories on Medium for the month looking at her essays. They are definitely worth reading. She speaks truth about what it is like being an adoptee. That the experience is not better, only different. You can find links to her Medium essays at LINK>The Mindy Stern. If you want insights straight from an adoptee voice, go there.

I don’t know how much my mom tried to talk to her adoptive mother about her adoption. At most, I know that my adoptive grandmother did her best to reassure my mom that she was not one of those babies that Georgia Tann had stolen and sold after the scandal broke. That is about as much as my mom ever told me about it. I do know that my mom went to her grave believing her adoption was inappropriate. I know that the state of Tennessee refused to budge and give her the adoption file that had been closed and sealed. The one I now have completely. I now have contact with genetic relatives though it will always be problematic because I didn’t grow up with them and it leaves a gulf of experience that a late discovery that I am “one of them” never quit seems to bridge. I know my mom gave up trying to do a family tree at Ancestry because in the language of genetic connection that is what DNA is all about, the adoptive families weren’t real and she eventually resigned herself that it was pointless to continue. Just a few of the sorrows and sadness felt by one adoptee and I was fortunate as her daughter to be trusted with her truest feelings about it all but even those were only expressed in a limited way. There is no other way to say it. Adoption robs an adoptee of so much.

I was able to relate to so much in Mindy’s essay – LINK>Don’t Make Us Choose. Because my adoptee parents (both were adoptees) were never able to unravel their own origin stories, adoption limited us as their children from hearing much of anything about them or how my own parents felt. What I know now is what I had to find and reveal to my own self after they died.

The essay describes Mindy’s visit to her adoptive mother at the hospital after emergency heart surgery. The nurse asks her – where did you get your height? – because she is 5’6″ – her adoptive mother is 4’8″. All her life, her adoptive parents expected her to lie and pretend. She says, “pretending was implicit in our contract. Intended or not, their silence told me lying about my identity was acceptable, even encouraged.”

Mindy asks her readers to “Imagine what it feels like to worry if answering a basic question about your height will hurt your mother’s feelings. Consider the pain of pretending. The charade begins the moment our records are sealed, birth certificates amended, names changed. They build every closed adoption on lies, and adoptive parents who don’t proudly celebrate their child’s differences conspire with the pretense.”

Similar to my adoptee father, her dad never knew about her until she found him. Her birth mother took the secret of her to the grave. My dad’s father never knew about him. They look very much alike, just like my mom looks very much like her birth mother. Adoption robs the adoptee of genetic mirrors. They never know where this physical or innate trait (like a love of fishing in my dad) came from. The truth in my dad’s case was both nature and nurture. His original father spent his life involved with fishing, my dads’ adoptive parents loved to go fishing. Yet Mindy explains that her adoptive mother kept a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding Mindy’s original parents.

When Mindy does try to touch that place with her adoptive mother, the tears begin. So, Mindy says “I’m not a sadist so I go along with the policy. She won’t ask, I won’t tell, and our relationship will stay limited and distant and my god that is such a shame.”

I have struggled with that need to choose – my parents’ adoption and now knowing the truth they never did – has forced me to confront it, second hand. Who do I love – my adoptive relatives or the ones that came through the birth of my parents to their original parents? I have almost worked through it well enough to be able to love them all equally. Mindy describes a snippet of conversation with her adoptive mother when she touches that place.

“Mom, you get how fucked up this is, right? It’s like telling a gay child you accept them but not allowing their partner to come to dinner.”

“I’m afraid it makes you… regret your life.”

“They (her reunion with genetic family) give me something you can’t, you give me something they can’t. Neither of you replaces the other.” And I appreciate her words because they express the paradox of adoption so well. She notes that after that the server arrived and placed our food down. Her mother changed the subject. Mindy says, “We were done. That was the best she could do. At least she listened.”

Her essay ends on a decidedly happy note and I encourage you to read it for a smile today.

Ancestral Reverence

It is the final Dia de los Muertos and my thoughts are on my ancestors. The image comes from LINK> Christiane Pelmas site for Women’s Ancestral Reverence Group – Weaving Our Radical Roots In These Darkening Times. It is an Autumnal Equinox Kiva. I have scattered roots of American, Mexican and Native experiences in my life having been born in Las Cruces New Mexico and growing up in El Paso Texas. My family often vacationed on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation campgrounds in Ruidoso New Mexico. Once my sons, husband and I spent Christmas Eve at the Acoma Sky City Pueblo.

My ancestors include my deceased parents, their original parents and their adoptive parents. Therefore, I have 8 grandparents instead of the usual 4. The original grandparents are people I never knew but that I now know had lives – information that was kept from me until after my parents deaths. I like Christiane’s site because when adoption is part of one’s core self there is trauma. It can’t be helped but it can be healed. I believe much of what I have been doing since I set off on my genetic roots journey in the Autumn of 2017 has been to heal the broken threads.

So for today, I will share some excerpts from Christiane’s site. I would add that I am aware that many people have uncomfortable relationships with one or more of the members of their family. She writes – “Nearly all human cultures (with the exception of western industrial, capitalist culture) practice complex rituals designed to foster on-going intimacy with, and healing of, their ancestral lineages (deceased relations of our blood lines). In western industrialized culture (and increasingly around the world, as Patriarchy colonizes more, and more, of the globe) we suffer from a devastating orphaning.”

Christiane writes of 3 intentions for practicing Ancestral Healing –

[1] to make connections with people of our blood and bone; those ancestral relatives who are vibrantly well and eager to provide us with their support, love and guidance as we journey through our lives. And in the case of my adoptive grandparents, I will add the people of my heart.

[2] to heal the significant trauma burdens woven deeply into most human lineages today; trauma burdens caused by endless war, poverty, social and economic injustice, environmental devastation and the diaspora it causes, racism, sexism and all forms of intolerance and violence toward the multiplicity and diversity of Life’s expressions. So much pain. In this healing process, the brilliance and medicine of each lineage is excavated and brought forward into its present-day expression, which is my very life, the life of my daughter and the lives of my grandchildren. We all live because they lived.

[3] to do the intimate ancestral healing work necessary – so that we are capable of turning our attention to the tremendous harm we continue to cause the ability of the Earth to sustain us all. I remember within my online social networking community there was developed what was called the Gaia Minute. A daily communion with the Earth (I often did mine in the darkness at night under the stars). From that practice I came to see the Earth as my deepest core mother. Not to leave the Sun out, I acknowledge the father energy that sparks all life with existence.

In my Science of Mind magazine Daily Guide for today written by the Rev Dr Dennis Merritt Jones, he shares this affirmation – “Everywhere I go, I see only the sacred presence of the Beloved One clothing itself in a multitude of divine disguises.” He also writes that Ernest Holmes dined with a vase of weeds on his table. A reminder that the only difference between a weed and a rose was the value we place on one over the other. Through a long reckoning in my own heart, I am balancing my genetic grandparents with those who adopted my parents.

Big Rage

When I was 4 and my brother was 10, our mother was sentenced to two years in prison for drugs. She was the eldest of 5 siblings (my natural father was not in picture or listed on the birth certificate). At first we bounced around to various family members. Eventually my brother went to live with our uncle and I went to live with a friend of the family. My natural mother signed the custody papers, then later the voluntary termination of parental rights, from prison with her sister (a Notary Public) signing as witness. Suddenly, at 4 years old, I had a different family. We moved to another state when I was 7 where I proceeded to live a brand new, vastly different life.

I won’t go into the rest – the court trial for custody when my natural mother was released from prison (she lost); the old money, don’t-air-dirty-laundry, only blood relatives matter mindset of my “new” extended family; the shock of moving from a major city in one state to rural farmland in another (on top of everything else); having my name legally changed as a teenager, when the adoption papers were finalized; everyone in my small town knowing my story because I had a different last name than my “parents”; reconnecting with my natural mother, natural brother, and her family as an adult and discovering they’ve always felt I was “stolen” from them.

I fucking hate it.

I hate being adopted; I hate my natural family for splitting up siblings; I hate them for giving me away to outsiders; I hate my extended adopted family for hating me, belittling my experience, telling me to be fucking grateful I was taken in by someone; I hate that I am reminded of my adoption Every. Single. Day. in large and small ways; I hate that I’m fucked in the head with no concept of normal; I hate feeling like a piece of luggage; I hate having two birth certificates; I hate people thinking I’m “playing the victim” when I try to talk about it; I hate not knowing my genetic history or where I’m from; I hate my natural mother for signing the termination of parental rights; I hate my natural brother for getting to grow up with our cousins; I hate feeling like I don’t belong anywhere, with anyone; and I HATE that I cried while writing this because after 40 years it still hurts so much.

So much hate inside me. Big Rage. But I am more than that, I have just as much love. A bundle of strong emotions. I’ve always said I feel like I was born without skin – just raw nerve endings exposed to the world.

Second Family Confusion ?

Matching Dresses

From an adoptive mother who has attempted an open adoption, which now appears in danger of becoming closed.

So birth mom requested before the adoption that we take annual photos together, our whole family along with her and her son. At the time we were fine with it, we’ve embraced her and her son as an extended part of the family and had no issue with us all having photos together. Well, here we are second year of photos and birth mom bought our daughter a dress for her birthday to wear. She told me about it and I thought it was so sweet. What she didn’t tell me was that her dress was going to match our daughter’s. She shows up with these “mommy and me dresses” for photos we are suppose to take as a family. Totally thrown of guard and didn’t say anything about it. Definitely bothered me though as I feel like that can be really confusing for my daughter as she gets older.

Second issue is that her birth mom is taking photos of our daughter with her biological son alone. I feel like this can be super confusing for a child also. She will see our family photos when we get together with birth mom and brother. Photos with her “second family”. The whole feels wrong to me.

Am I wrong in not being okay with these two scenarios? Like both of these cross boundaries and could be confusing for a young kid right? I don’t want her growing up thinking she has a third parent or another family like that. I guess I’m just looking for validation in my thought process before we address it with birth mom. It would be cute, if that was her mom but she isn’t, I am – and she didn’t even ask me if I’d be okay with it.

On response immediately noticed this red flag of insecurity – if she “was her mom but she isn’t . . .” Actually she is her mom and always will be. Such insecurity and denial of reality. When will adoptive parents learn that the biological parent IS mom and dad ? That never changes. These are the adoptive mom and adoptive dad. That is all the amended birth certificate did – give them rights of authority. It didn’t change the facts of the child’s biology.

Someone else pointed out what may be the crux of the issue – Wearing matching matching dresses with her mother, taking photos with her mother and little brother, are not confusing to that little girl. What is likely confusing to her (and what her adoptive mother doesn’t want to try to explain and justify to her because she knows it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny) is why can her little brother live with her mother, and not her ? The adoptive mother may not even understand what troubles her. This is not as uncommon as it may seem when an unwed mother gives up her first born and then later goes on to have other children. My paternal grandmother was one like that.

AND, why can’t she live with her biological mom ?! Because a selfish adult got attached to someone else’s child, and now that the mother is in a better position it doesn’t matter because the adopter/purchaser/adult; who should be able to manage their feelings appropriately; has the money and the power in the situation, and won’t let them go. This is why it is often suggested to a vulnerable expectant mother NOT to use a permanent solution to what may only be a temporary problem.

A reality check for the adoptive mother – Children need to know that they are loved by their parents! She’ll need the photos of her family. She’ll need the photos of herself and her brother. She’ll need the photos of herself and her mother. If you’re truly thinking of your adopted daughter, then you would understand why those photos should be the most talked about pictures framed in her room. It isn’t about you and your feelings. Think about how she will feel years from now finding out that you stopped contact because her MOTHER purchased mommy and me dresses ? Can you live with the hate, the backlash, the anger, THE TRAUMA!! That’s selfish. Are you really that blinded by a piece of legal paperwork ? Do you not see that it is ONLY a piece of paper and that baby has her mother’s DNA running through her veins! You do understand that there is absolutely nothing that anyone (including a judge) can do to change that ? Or are you really that selfish and controlling that you can’t see passed yourself and your own emotions ?

The Body Never Forgets

From a Birth Mother –

My baby girl turned 21 this year. It’s been another one of those weeks that I go through every year. There is a five day span before and after her birthday that lays me out. September 11th 2001, the actual day of the tragedy, happened only the day before I went into labor. I was 19 years old on the couch at my parents’ house. I had been crying for 12 hours because I felt like I was bringing my baby into a terrifying world and I didn’t feel like I was “enough” for her, alone without a partner. I woke up at 5:30’ish am on the 12th, went into labor and had her 24 hours later, on the 13th.

We signed relinquishment papers on the 14th, which was also her birth dad’s 21st birthday (quite a poignant year, this year, and that’s how old she is now plus she’s never met or talked to him). I signed surrender papers at the hospital in Georgia, he signed at the adoption agency office in California. The 15th was my leave-the-hospital-without-my-baby day. My arms empty, everyone looking at me being wheeled out of my hospital room with balloons and flowers but no baby in sight. It was like she had died. I had five days of trauma, on top of trauma, on top of trauma, compacted tight.

Without fail, every year since then, my body implodes on itself for those 5 days, and usually, by the 16th, like clockwork, I’m good.

Know this – the body never forgets. Even decades later. No matter what I do to prepare myself every year, I get annihilated physically, emotionally, mentally. My body will never let me forget those five days. I wrote this to her on her birthday.

Dear Wandering Wildflower,

You bloom wherever you blow
Cleansing the air around you
Seeking out the sun
Reveling in it
Dancing in the showers
Gaining strength from the chaos
Finding solace in the shade

There was more. She said it made her cry and was exactly what she needed to read, regarding where she’s at in her life right now. That was exactly what I needed to hear and it warmed my mama’s heart to no end. I wish things could have been different for her and I. My love for her is endless.