Learning about Love through Death
The words so many women have said, “I gave up my child for adoption” don’t apply to me. True, I had a baby girl I named Hope when I was 15, but I didn’t give her up. She was taken from me against my will. I had planned to keep her. For 44 years I’ve held anger, sometimes rage, at those involved, including my parents, doctor, and social worker.
My anger hasn’t come from a place of not understanding (now) that I was too young to give this baby any kind of life that would have produced the woman she is today—especially considering the lack of support I had from a family sick with secret keeping. It was the deception; and being led to believe I’d be dressing my baby in the tiny, hand-me-down baptismal gown I took to the hospital for her to wear home.
Even when Hope found me years later and told me everything had turned out great for her, that she’d been placed in a wonderful, loving family and had no regrets for how her life had turned out, I didn’t believe it. My guilt and shame for allowing it to happen consumed me. I couldn’t believe that there could ever be a situation where a natural mother should be separated from her child. I believed that even if they lived in poverty, the physical connection between a mother and child is necessary for the healthy development of the child. And I knew first-hand the damage it had done to me, the mother, to lose the child.
This last week my daughter lost a family member—her brother. I’ve followed her and her adoptive family’s grief played out on Facebook and I’ve witnessed full-on love. She wouldn’t have experienced that had I kept her. My family barely acknowledged my brother’s suicide. When my mother died, I couldn’t get a straight answer about what happened to her ashes—my dad was too drunk. I don’t know if my dad was buried or cremated, none of the family was speaking to one another by then. So when I watch my daughter’s family love and care for one of their own, see him through his journey until they know he’s safely passed to the other side, I’m grateful. Grateful for the family she knows will always be there for her, and that she can trust. I feel a weight lift off me now. I know my daughter is in good hands. I only have one regret: I wish her family would have adopted me, too.
My forthcoming memoir “Secrets In Big Country” is the story of childhood sexual abuse, betrayal and abandonment. I hope by sharing my story, I can reach adults molested as children, to let them know they are not alone. Together, we can overcome the shame that comes from secret-keeping.