Friday, May 6, 2011

Composing a letter to my birth daughter

A few months ago I went to a movie with my daughters. And throughout the movie and especially during the last part, I bawled my eyes out. The movie was Tangled, and parts of Rapunzel's story paralleled mine in ways I can't really explain. I have since watched the DVD with my kids and I still cry every time.

I want you to know, I do not feel like my daughter was stolen from me. That was a choice a made, nothing like what happened to Rapunzel. But that part at the end where 18 year old Rapunzel was finally united with her parents, terrifying and thrilling at the same time, that moment was so poignant for me. It spoke to me. Will I get to have that moment? Is it coming soon? Will it be a positive thing, or will it be traumatic for both of us? I just don't know.

When I first saw the movie I had no clue that my husband had been trying to orchestrate a reunion with my birth daughter through communicating with LDS Family Services, the agency through which I placed my daughter for adoption nearly 18 years ago. I really didn't know if there was any chance I would be able to meet her, or that she would even want to. I didn't know if she chose to find me if there would be any kind of record or trail for her to follow. There were just so many unknowns. But if she did want to meet I hoped it would be a beautiful, happy moment, like in the movie.

You may remember I contacted someone at the agency that is over our area a while back. And they told me they would do everything they could to help me reopen the lines of communication with her family. But a couple months later when I received a call telling me they didn't actually have current contact information for the family, I got discouraged. They told me I should still put something together, and they would hold it while they tried to find the family. But I just didn't want to send something not ever knowing if it was going to get anywhere. The not knowing is the worst. So I did nothing.

And then I received an email from my husband:

I hope you have an outstanding day, I know I'm going to. I just got a phone call that brought tears to my eyes because of how happy you are going to be when I tell you about it. I have been working on a special surprise for you over the last few months, it won't happen for a few more months, but at least now I know it's going to happen. I can't wait to tell you about it, sorry to keep you hanging, but I have to tell you about it in person, and I just had to share how excited I was after getting this call.

Love you forever,

What was his news? He had been talking to the agency and they didn't think they would be able to find the family, but then they did. And her family had already reunited with her older brother's birthmother. That had been a positive experience and they were open to something like that for us. They decided we should initially communicate through the agency and then maybe arrange a meeting after she graduates from high school. So, I have known about this since the end of March.

So, I immediately put together a letter, right?

Uh, not exactly.

I don't know how to explain to you the torrent of emotions this whole scenario brings for me. I had already been anticipating the silent turmoil I was going to experience around the time of her 18th birthday. There would be wondering whether she even thought about me, if there was any desire on her part to know me, if she would pursue it, or if there would continue to be years of separation, possibly never meeting again until some time in the next life. I have prepared myself for that possibility. It is difficult to acknowledge, but very real.

But now there is an opportunity for us to communicate again. Exciting, right? Terrifying. Where do I begin? How do I fit in? I received many wonderful letters from that family. I knew they had loved me. But it has been 13 years since we last communicated. She is not a little child anymore. Maybe she resents me for not being part of her life, even though I was never given that option and it pains me terribly that we couldn't have known each other more.

Am I ready to open myself to the potential pain or the possible joy this new relationship (with both her and her family) could bring into my life? How could I write that letter, re-introducing myself to them? It was truly a daunting task. I say was, because I am smiling and somewhat relaxed as I type this. The letter is in the mail.

It is huge, so many pages to her family, describing my life, telling them about my kids. And then two special letters addressed just to her, one from my husband and the one I just completed today trying to tell her how much I have loved her.

I don't very often veer off the adoption sites where dear friends of mine share their testimonies of the joys that can be associated with adoption. There are some nasty people out there who decry the horrors of adoption and the "terrible" people who they say mislead young women to allow their babies to be taken from them. And they say how horrible it is for a child to grow up knowing it was adopted, how it is such a great tragedy.

I would never want her to feel that way, but I can't help but acknowledge that maybe she would. I don't want her to hate me. I did what I know was right. I know she was raised in the family in which she was meant to be. But that doesn't mean I have never missed her, or felt sad for the loss that choice created in my life. There are so many emotions associated with this whole process. Even right choices have hard consequences.

Now, I wait. This will be a difficult time also. I hope my husband and family will be patient with me. This whole process is stirring up so many dormant emotions. Emotions that are both good and bad, kind of a turmoil of feelings. I remember that first year, when I would wait in agony for a letter and/or pictures. A friend of mine told me I always got kind of crazy when a letter would finally arrive. It is hard to understand if you haven't been in that situation. It is such a joyful, wonderful thing and at the same time a painful reminder of what you gave up.

I am so grateful for Britt for his part in making this happen. When it all happens, eventually when it all comes together, I think it will be fun for our families to make this new connection. But if you would, would you pray for me? None of this is as easy as it would seem to be. I need a little extra help to survive this joy.

These pictures are pages from an album I started for Cosette 8 years ago. Hopefully I can complete it soon. Click on the pages to view them larger. Maybe I will share some of the journaling with you later. If you want to know more of my adoption journey, click the label on the sidebar there that says adoption. Thank you.


Brookie said...

I am praying for you Nan. You are a strong woman and I love you.

Chrislynn said...

I don't even know how to express my emotions about this whole thing. I love you!

birthMOM said...

adoption luvs! xoxo

Morgan-Shae said...

Wow, that made me cry. I am so happy for you, Nan. You are so strong. I hope someday I can have the same strength of spirit that you have.