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Lost Daughter

I made the worst mistake of my life. I didn’t kill anyone or steal millions of dollars. I made a choice almost twenty years ago that has haunted me everyday since that day. On that day, March 26, 1990, I gave up my child to a family who could not have children. I thought I was doing a good deed, a selfless deed. Today I see that it was the most selfish act I have ever committed. I gave up a beautiful, smart, sensitive, hard-working, compassionate, bilingual, talented daughter. I thought it would be easy to hand her to someone else and not think about her or see her. I tried to see her for a few years but realized that it was a horrible feeling to have to leave her at the end of the visit. I chose to spare my feelings without ever thinking of the devastation that it might impose upon her. I pushed all of those gut-wrenching feelings down into the pit of my soul and tried to never look at them.

But in January all of those feelings came barreling to the surface when my daughter contacted me and wanted to correspond. Stupidly I thought it would be easy to talk through the impersonality of the Internet and mail. Again I was wrong. There are no guide books or instructions manuals on how to reconnect with a daughter that you have never had a conversation with or met in person. No one tells you how to be a mother after twenty years of pretending she was better off with someone else than with me.

I wasn’t addicted to crack, or living in poverty, or a single mother with too many mouths to feed. I was a twenty-six-year-old, middle-income woman who thought it would be fun to see what it was like to be pregnant without having any of the consequences of raising a child. I could travel the world, sleep wherever I wanted to sleep, and wake up in strange cities without worrying about anyone else. Wrong does not begin to describe how all of this feels right now. We tried to communicate but the feelings were so raw and intense that she has backed off and may never contact me again.

How do I deal with the devastation I have inflicted upon her? It feels similar to the choice Sophie made in Sophie’s Choice. Do I choose to walk away right now because the feelings are too difficult to deal with? Or do I stay and make both of us deal with the feelings right now? Do I tell her to go away and come back in a few years when she would be stronger? There are no answers except waiting. All of my friends tell me to “wait,” “be patient,” “everything will be fine.” I am so sick of hearing those words. It evokes the feelings I had when people at my mother’s funeral would tell me that she was better off; at least she was not suffering. What about all of the suffering she inflicted upon her children when she left so suddenly and voluntarily. I had my daughter back, in a way, for two months. I waited twenty years for two months. Now all I can do is wait again for her to come back to me. We are tied to one another and I just pray that the tether is strong enough to weather the storms of feelings that have been waging in both of us lately. I hope she will come back. I don’t deserve such a beautifully talented young woman as my daughter. I hope we both get what we want and need to heal the demons raging in us from years of separation. And that we can find each other and no longer be lost.

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