Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas 1990

Not long before Christmas I wrote a letter to my son detailing who I was and how I’d come to give him up for adoption. I enclosed a faded color snapshot of his biological father and me dressed in our pastel evening finery at our senior prom. I tried to imagine what my son would think when he saw those two innocent smiles. Would he realize that he was in the photo too? Christmas was just a couple of weeks away, so I wrapped the letter around the photo and put the packet in a red envelope, hoping to pass it off as a Christmas card. If he doesn’t write me back in a couple of weeks, I thought, I’ll call him.

The mail fell in heaps through the slot in our front door during the week before Christmas. I’d hear our dog bark, and I’d race to the entry hall to contemplate the holiday envelopes strewn on the rug. Examining each hand-addressed envelope, I hoped for a return address from Arizona, but there was nothing. At the meetings I’d heard adoptees say that reuniting with a birthparent could make the adoptive parents feel abandoned or threatened. I told myself my son was just taking it slow out of consideration for his family, but even ten days later there was no response.

When I first received information about my son, I learned some basic details. I knew that he lived at home with his parents, that he had a sister, that he worked as an information operator for the phone company. The searcher had given me my son’s phone number and had pointed out that the line was separate from his parents’ line. As I began working up the nerve to call him, I wanted to find out if my son shared his phone line with his sister. One afternoon shortly after New Year’s, while my daughters were napping, I sat on my bedroom floor with the telephone in my lap. Since I had his sister’s name, I would call information to get her number and see if it was the same as his. I dialed information for Mesa, Arizona with my pencil at the ready. “Hello, this is Cory. May I help you?” said the operator. I gasped and slammed down the phone and lay on the cool oak floor of my bedroom. Was it possible that I had just spoken to my son?

Nibble Nibble at My House

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of family and the effort and grace it takes to keep love in tact.  My first experience at creating my own family was an utter failure and it was 21 years until I saw my first-born child.  There were 20 Christmases, 2o Thanksgivings and  20 birthdays before I knew my son’s name or where he lived.  Our reunion reverberated through his adoptive family and through my own new family with a husband and 2 little girls, yet somehow we made ourselves a new family without damaging the roofs that already sheltered us.

All of my children are adults now, and in the aftermath of my divorce from my daughters’ father, I think about family life as bricks and stones that need regular shoring up to keep the walls from falling down.  In our case, a lot of travel is required–this holiday involves travel across a desert and an ocean for my youngest child and myself and every mile is part of the path that leads us to the sweetness of hearth and home.
As I lay on the couch at my son’s house with my oldest grandchild–just the two of us singing Christmas carols in the dark beside the lighted Christmas tree–I noticed how our voices blended together and thought, for just a moment in the midst of that joy, about the birthmothers who not only don’t know their children, but whose grandchildren are also lost to them.