Monday, July 31, 2006


This is a totally personal exploration. If you want amusing, skip this post and come back another day.

Compartmentalization: This is something I am an expert with. My ability to block off my emotions is well known, if not well loved, by my friends. A significant example of this not all together admirable skill is revealed in some of the events following my recent introduction to my daughter. My husband, who is occasionally lacking in those skills that smooth out social interactions, was telling my daughter's parents (within the hearing range of my daughter) how he would inquire over the years, whether I ever thought about her, how she was doing, etc. As I listened, he told her family that when asked, I would tell him that I didn't wonder about her or 'care' what happened to her. I can't really dispute that this is what I expressed to him, but it doesn't really reflect the full reality. It isn't as simple as me not wondering, it's that the wondering has been very carefully confined within manageable compartments.

Compartmentalized: the fact that I became pregnant at age 17 and was at least realistic enough to know that I was not fit to raise a child.

Compartmentalized: While I enjoyed dating the boy/man who impregnated me, there was no way I was going to marry him, both for my sake and for his. He didn't deserve what he would have been in for and I didn't love him enough to even try. Now (only since I met my daughter) I occasionally second guess myself about never having told him I was pregnant, but it was the only decision I could have made at the time. I doubt if I would change that, even if I could. I wonder, only a little, whether my daughter should know her birth father (sperm donor). Mostly, I realize I didn't really know him well enough to want to deal with having him involved. This is probably incredibly selfish, but there is it is.

Compartmentalized: I gave birth to a baby girl, and believe(d) I gave up any right to her life as soon as I signed the papers putting her up for adoption. That her parents are so fantastically generous to have made the effort to reunite us takes my breath away. It is way beyond anything I could have ever imagined, let alone hoped for.

Compartmentalized: The fervent hope that she would be adopted by a loving family and have a good life versus the fear that she would be lost in a horror of foster homes, abandoned and unloved. Justification or blame. The die was cast.

Compartmentalized: the belief that she was much better off with a family who wanted a baby than with a dispensation teenager and her equally dispensation mother (I loved my mother but she was, in many ways, a real mess).

Compartmentalized: the possibility that my "given up for adoption" child would suffer from abandonment issues. This fear reinforced because I haven't really managed to completely overcome my own. Therapy, a stable circle of friends and a committed marriage have helped, but the reflex is still lurking under the surface. One of the first anxieties, when facing the first conversation with her, was does she hate me for giving her up?

I never regretted giving my daughter up for adoption. No matter what situation she ended up in, it had to be better than what she would have experienced if she had stayed with me. Since I have had the privilege of meeting her family; the couple who took her as their own, the children that they bore that became her sisters, one of her uncles and a grandmother, I can only be thankful that she had the opportunity to be raised in a stable, sane and loving family. The amazing fact that she grew up to be so much like me is mind blowing. Fortunately, it's the better parts of me.

She is bright and brave and adventurous. Talented, intelligent, funny and a great mother (yes, I not only got a daughter, I got a grandson as well). She is confident, caring and socially concerned. She loves sunflowers (my favorite flower), won't eat cooked carrots (me either), has fat fingers, no waist, narrow hips and trim thighs like her mother (sorry about that). I am amazed at how much alike we are and what a delightful individual she is.

The compartment that held the idea of the child that I bore but never knew, is cracking. As it shatters, I discover that love; unquestioning, unconditional, soul-deep love is inside. I couldn't let myself recognize it while she was in my body, I wasn't allowed to see her once she left my body. I don't believe I have to right to claim in now, 38 years later. But there it is. Amazing!

1 comment:

kenju said...

As an adopted child, I love reading this kind of thing. You are blessed to get to know her. I wrote about meeting my birth mother. If you want to read it, go to my archives for 7-09-06.