A Birthmother’s Story
In 1970, I gave up a baby girl for adoption. Keeping her was never a choice because of where and what I was going back to. I grew up in a village of 400 very Catholic people in northern Michigan. My parents were very involved in the machinations of the everyday life of the village, and my bringing a child home as an unwed mother would not have been looked on very favorably by the straight-laced, narrow-minded neighbors, storekeepers, and relatives of this area.
In the early 70s the mindset for birth mothers was that we would forget what we had been through, that we would move on with our lives, and never look back. Somebody forgot to tell our conscious that, along with our hearts. I mourned the loss of my daughter as someone who had lost a loved one to death. I so regretted what I had done, but there was no going back.
Years later, when the guilt, curiosity, and need to know became so overwhelming, I decided to start searching for my daughter. I joined support groups, sent letters to the adoption agency, and joined search groups hoping that information would be forthcoming. I finally ended up hiring a private search agent who luckily was able to find my daughter and provide me with some very eye-opening information.
I decided to write her to see if she was interested in a meeting. My efforts were met with much resistance from both her and her mother, so I wrote one more letter telling her I respected her wishes and that I would drop out of her life.
Several years later we had a second case of cancer show up in the female side of our immediate family, along with multiple gynecological problems that I had gone through. My mother suggested I once again write my daughter and let her know that the cancer history existed in our family and that she might need that information for her own medical history.
Surprisingly, I heard from her. My husband and I were on vacation in Jamaica, and the phone rang in our room around midnight. I answered it and that call started what would be the first step in a slow dance of two people who were forming a new relationship.
We decided to finally meet for the first time several months later, and the initial meeting took place in an airport in Texas. We both hugged and cried and hugged some more. It was like a dream come true. Something I would never have thought I would ever experience. But by the second day I realized that my daughter was pulling away. And by my last day there I knew that it wasn’t going the way I thought it should have. I went home and called her to let her know I had made it safe and sound, as she had asked. There was no answer, and no return call from my voice message. Nothing for years.
After months of much needed counseling, I finally realized that I had to break the grip that this rejection had taken over me, and at my counselor’s request, I wrote her a letter letting her know of my hurt, my confusion, and my lack of understanding of what had gone wrong. In the same letter I also told her that this would be the last communication I would attempt, because I could not put myself through that agony again. And I moved on with my life.
Last year in August, I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer. I felt like my life had ended. She was my best friend, my confidant, someone I could laugh with until tears came down both of our faces. Her illness took over her body and mind so quickly that I never had the chance to just sit and talk with her. With my sister by my side, we held her hands as she passed from this life, telling her all along that she was going to a much better place and that it was okay to let go.
Two months after my mom’s death left such a huge hole in my heart, my kids talked me into joining Facebook. I did, not thinking I would use it that much. I was going through some postings one day and I noticed a post asking if I had given up a daughter. I lost it. It was my daughter and she was asking to reconnect. Not having my mom to turn to, I immediately called my sister and cried as I told her what was going on. I told my daughter that I would only go into this relationship if she allowed it to go slowly. I let her know from the start that I was very leery of even doing this again, and that it would take time for me to trust again. She said she understood.
Six months into our new relationship my daughter came to visit her birth family. She met her grandfather for the first time, and it was love at first sight for both of them. We continue to communicate and our relationship is growing stronger as the months go on.
There are some ironies to this story. My name is Kathy; her name is Kathy. My husband’s name is Bob; her husband’s name is Bob. My husband worked as a warehouse manager; her husband does also. We have the same sense of humor and have discovered that we would do whatever it takes to protect our families.
She has had a good life, which is more than I could have ever asked for. Her adoptive mother has never accepted the fact that we have been in contact, and unfortunately doesn’t know about our current relationship. My one wish in all of this would be to thank this wonderful woman and her husband for caring for, raising, loving, and sharing their lives with my daughter when I wasn’t capable of doing so. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to do that. In the meantime, I am taking it one day at a time, enjoying the love, laughter, and correspondence I share with “My Kathy,” and pray that our lives meld into a relationship that is built on love, trust, hope, and compassion. She will always be my baby girl, and she has always held my heart in her hands.