Category Archives: family

A Good Age to Be A Mother

“Grandma, did you want to give my daddy away when he was a little baby?” I’m sweeping the floor in preparation for my eight-year-old granddaughter’s birthday party when she asks her question. In a couple of hours the house will be overflowing with pizza and kids and presents, but right now, an emptiness seizes me in the pit of my stomach.
“No,” I say. “I didn’t. It was sad to give him up.”
“Why did you do it then?”
“It’s what girls had to do in those days if they had a baby too young.”
“How old were you?”
“I was sixteen when I got pregnant with him.”
“That’s so old. That’s a good age to be a mommy.” She’s sitting at the table with a glass of milk and a cracker, her eyes wide as she watches me. I must seem ancient to her.
“Not really, I say.” And then I explain about high school and college, and how a baby should probably  have a grown-up mother.
“Bompa and Grammy said that the first time they saw Daddy they knew he was the baby for them!”
“I bet they did,” I said. “Your daddy was a really beautiful baby.”

A couple hours later we’re all singing Happy Birthday together–Bompa, Grammy, and me–along with a the other guests. I’m wearing a black fringed shawl as a gypsy skirt, a scarf wrapped around my hair, borrowed bangles, and silver hoop earrings. It’s a costume birthday party. There are pirates, a witch, an old man, a couple of versions of bat girl, cat woman, and a knight. I think of the first time I met my son’s adoptive parents twenty years earlier. I stood in my hotel room that evening changing into and out of every article of clothing I’d brought on the trip. A costume party might have assuaged some of that nervousness. I’d probably have chosen to be a saint or a nun. Maybe the first woman president or a high-powered executive to disguise the bewildered and shamed teen-age girl that  lived inside me in those days, not far at all from the surface.

After the cake has been devoured, the games played, the princess unwraps her presents. She sits on her chair next to her mom, dutifully reading her birthday cards, one minute in the reality of party thank yous, the next in whatever fantasyland her new toy conveys her to.

At the end of the evening my son’s adoptive father comes up to me to say good-bye. “I’ll bet you haven’t had a hug yet today,” he says.
“Not from a tall person,” I say. He laughs. My son’s mother and I hug, too.

In my perfect fantasy world, I would have kept my son. But in the post-reunion reality that I live in, I can’t imagine things being any better.

Adoptive Parents Read This: You Might Be at the Top of the Triangle

When I think about how the past 18 years of reunion have gone with my son and the hows and whys of all of it, I can’t help but think about his parents (his adoptive parents.) Especially his mother. She had lost a child herself, and I think because of this experience, was able to understand what I had lost. In our correspondence through letters and in person, in all these years she has never once been negative toward me, any aspect of the reunion process, or post-reunion life. The last two years, we’ve been at the same Thanksgiving table.

If there are any adoptive parents who stumble onto this blog, I encourage you to imagine yourself sitting at the top of the triangle. Imagine your arms and hands stretching downward. See the strength in connecting all of us.

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.

Here’s the list of what I’m thankful for:

The sight of my youngest child giving the youngest grandchild a “plane ride” by lifting him into the air  on her feet while lying on the ground with her legs extended.

The sound of the blender in the kitchen and my son asking me, “salt or no salt?”
The ring of my my cell phone with the song “Wooden Ships on the Water”–this means the sailor daughter is calling, even though she can’t join us in person.
So much happy noise that it’s hard to have a conversation.
I’m thankful, too, to be at my son’s house.  The table here where all of us–adoptive parents, birthmother, children, grandchildren and siblings gather.