Posts Tagged reunion
My partner Margie and I are sitting in a Starbucks at the Phoenix airport waiting for our flight back to San Luis Obispo. It’s been an action-packed trip. Yesterday I drove south from Sedona to Phoenix and spent another afternoon with my birth mother Maya, half sisters Ruth and Katie, their daughters (my nieces!) Kailin and Amy, and Ruth’s husband Dave.
It would be impossible to chronicle the events of both meetings with Maya. But I did get some questions answered. A couple of weeks ago I posted a list of questions I had for her, and here they are – with at least partial answers.
Did you hold me after I was born? No
Did I stay in the hospital alone for any length of time waiting for my adoptive parents? Lots of drugs involved in my delivery and no clear memory of the day.
What did my adoptive parents say to you before leaving with me? See above – drugs and no clear memory of any conversation with Carol and Del.
Did you have any communication with my adoptive parents after that fateful day in the hospital? None
Did your parents know about me? No, she never told them – but her children (my half sibs Ruth, Katie and Geoffrey) knew about me all of their lives.
Did you ever try to find me? Evidently Maya played out the fantasy of searching for me with Ruth and Katie many times but always concluded it might be a disruption to my life and information my adoptive parents would not want me to know (an understatement!).
What did you do in the months following my birth? Maya stayed in Southern California and acted with a Pasadena acting company. She eventually acquired an agent, which led to professional photo shoots, which led to a “Miss Palm Springs” coronation – a fact that 8-year-old Kailin proudly reported to me at brunch.
How did you feel when I first made contact with you? (frightened, apprehensive, relieved, happy etc) It was months after I sent Maya that first letter before she called. My half-sister Ruth recalled, “I picked up the phone one day and mom was on the line sobbing and saying ‘I was sorting through mail I hadn’t opened and….it’s her Ruth….she’s contacted me…what do I do now?’” Ruth said, “Well hang up the phone mom and call her!” Which is what Maya did. From Ruth’s description I would say a combination of all the above came up for Maya: fear, apprehension, relief and joy.
How do you feel now that we’ve met in person? After both meetings (6/1 and 6/6) Maya grabbed my face and plumped up my cheeks saying, “I feel like we’ve known each other all our lives!” Okay Maya here comes a boundary: easy on the slobbery lip kisses.
Now that we’ve spent some time together, do I remind you of anyone in the family? Ruth and Kaitlin, my two half sisters, remarked as we were melting by the pool in our last hour together in the hot Phoenix afternoon air, “You and Maya have so many mannerisms in common!” Here is the short list: Maya is a fanatic about getting her fruits and veggies (and with Kailin getting hers) and is very holistic in her approach to health. Maya has a ‘thang’ about taking food off of other’s plates to ‘taste’ (someone actually mentioned this trait of mine at Margie’s and my commitment ceremony, so characteristic is this behavior of me). We chew similarly. We both seem to be spiritual seekers. We both have a tendency to pontificate. We both seem to be open, non-dogmatic. We both play music by ear. We will both work hard to qualify our loved ones for helpful government programs!
Likewise, I have the ‘math’ gene like Maya’s father and brother, who were both chemists. (I teach chemistry.)
Actually one of Maya’s first comments upon meeting me was, “You sure look a lot like your father Donald,” to which I replied, “Don’t throw me a right hook Maya!”
Over the years…what did you tell your other kids, husbands, family, friends about my birth? All of Maya’s children (Katie, Geoff and Ruth) and her ex-husband knew about me “since they could remember”. As far as I could tell, Maya was forthcoming about all the details leading up to and following my birth with everyone except for her parents (whom she never told) and her brother.
As we were leaving the scene of the reunion in our rental car, my partner Margie reported to me that my birth mother Maya turned to her before we pulled out and said, “I think that went pretty well!”
A couple of weeks ago the blessings started rolling in. Not unlike the tale of the three wise men, they took the form of people bearing gifts – unbidden but nonetheless welcome.
Adam used to live in the studio behind our house. He got an important looking piece of mail in our box in early May and I decided to drive it over to him. As I was about to leave his place, he stole into his bedroom and emerged with a totem and a story. He too reconnected with his biological father, who threatened ultimately to cut up Adam into undecipherable pieces and stuff him, tritely enough, into garbage bags all because Adam defended his mother, bio dad’s ex-wife. But I digress…back to the totem.
Adam recently traveled to an exotic island and before departing a friend gave him a little Hina Goddess totem. He placed it on a rock at low tide, brushed some sage and holy water over the thing, watched it wash out to sea and took his two-week trip. When he returned to surf 3 weeks later, he was forced to move far from his regular spot due to a rattle snake in residence and a crop of naked singing women, strange enough in and of themselves. He went to pee behind a rock and lying at his feet was The Hina Goddess totem, head broken off and sitting next to body. He bequeathed this goddess of the moon to me: here’s to two unlikely reunions.
The next day our neighbor Anne was selling her primitive kept rattles at a yard sale. I recounted my upcoming journey to her and she offered me a rattle. I selected the beautiful piece in the picture. The handwritten label reads, “One of the oldest and most universal instruments, the rattle is given to newborn infants in many cultures. Shake the rattle and let its sound renew and bless you.”
Saturday Margie and I met my cousin Ellen at a labradoodle kennel up in the hills outside Atascadero. We had to put down our 16-year-old lab Tucker in March. As a result I had to cancel my first scheduled trip to Phoenix to meet my biological mother Maya. Margie’s allergies disappeared completely within 48 hours of putting down Tuck so we knew the next dog had to be hypoallergenic.
As we drove up to the kennel, the owner Kristen appeared with a brown-skinned toddler. I said to Margie, “That boy is adopted.” It turns out that Brandon and Kristen made a conscious decision to raise a family of adopted children, and Micah was their first. Upon hearing that I was about to meet my birth mother, Brandon laid his hands upon me and incanted a spontaneous blessing that brought tears to my little agnostic eyes. And they offered us guardianship of their precious boy Blaze (pictured above with Margie).
The three blessings had come to pass.
Evidently it is not uncommon for a period of gestation (no pun intended) to occur after adoptees make initial contact with their birth moms and before they meet. There are two reasons cited for this: 1) allegiance to the adoptive parents and 2) an unconscious attempt to let her know how it felt to be abandoned.
I find this intriguing. The year I made first contact with my birth mother (2006) coincided with the year my adoptive mother began her accelerated slide into dementia and I began my intensified management of her life’s affairs. It is also undeniably true that it feels easier to reunite with my birth mom knowing Carol Louise cannot be emotionally affected by it.
As for the second common reason for the time-lapse, I don’t know. Like the books say, it’s unconscious. But if a man can mistake his wife for a hat, I suppose adoptees can make their birth moms wait to meet them in an unconscious attempt to let them know how it feels to be abandoned.
I’m starting a list of questions for my birth mom. Feel free to add your own:
Did you hold me after I was born?
Did I stay in the hospital alone for any length of time waiting for my adoptive parents?
What did my adoptive parents say to you before leaving with me?
Did you have any communication with my adoptive parents after that fateful day in the hospital?
Did your parents know about me?
Did you ever try to find me?
What did you do in the months following my birth?