Monday, 22 February 2016

A Letter To Those Mothers Who Have Given Up A Child For Adoption

Dear Mothers of Loss to Adoption,

I don't know if you will want to hear from me, a mother through adoption but the beauty of the internet is that we all have a voice.  We can all be heard.

I read some of the comments you wrote about my recent article on infertility that was posted on your Facebook page.  One of you said I was disgusting and another said that it was impossible to mourn what I'd never lost.  One wrote that your sympathy for those experiencing infertility ended when a woman thought she could take the child of another mother and try to make it her own.  One person commenting likened adoption to wanting a Porsche and feeling entitled to one and so simply taking one that rightfully belonged to someone else.  One woman shared her belief that the only real mother is a birth mother.

Reading those comments didn't make feel me angry, defensive or even offended, but they did make we wish that there was some way I could reach out to you.  Just as each birth mother is unique and has her own story, so is each adoptive mother.  We are not all the same.  I won't try to make less of your grief. You have every right to it.  We all have our own stories and those stories are our truths.

My truth is that I have thought about you from the moment that adoption first entered my mind. Before I even knew with certainty that we would try to adopt, it was you I wondered about.  I hurt for you because although I wasn't yet a mother myself and I knew nothing of your circumstances, I understood that this was not all joy and celebration.  There was immeasurable grief, loss, anguish involved too.  I knew my gain would be someone else's heart-shattering, lifelong loss.

I tried to imagine you.  My mind wouldn't rest.  I pictured you in an unfamiliar place, a world away from me.  Arms wrapped around yourself.  Hands resting on your belly.  I wondered how old you were.  If you were just a child, or a widow, or a woman my age.  I wondered if your family had abandoned you upon learning you were pregnant as so often happens in some countries even to this day.

I wondered what you felt when you learned you were pregnant.  Were you filled with a tentative joy? Did you hope against hope, pray for a possibility, however small, that you might not have to part with the precious child you carried inside?  Were you terrified, did you dread what was to come?  Did you feel full of resolve or full of despair?  Was the child you carried a product of love?  Anger?  War?  

I wondered when you would begin to think about me, a nameless woman in another country. Another world.  What would you want to tell me if you could?

Now I am writing this years later, I feel deeply the pain of adoption but I also see the beauty it can bring in some situations.  It is not a perfect answer or solution but it can be an option or answer for some.

Even at the beginning of this long journey, I wanted to promise you so much.  Mostly that I would not forget you, but more importantly, that I wouldn't let your child won't forget you either.  That we will always be a part of each other.  You will always be with me and with this child.

It is my hope that my children carry a love for their birth parents and their birth country in their hearts as they live.  I promise you I don't feel threatened by this.  There is enough love to cover this. Enough love to cover me and you.  It is my hope that one day we will meet you again.

I am stepping into the gap for this child although I am not perfect and can't do it all or know it all.

I can't apologize for the fact that my husband and I are parents through adoption.

But I promise you that I don't feel entitled to this child.  I know he is not fully mine.  He is fully his own and I have the honor and great responsibility to care for him as he grows and love him.  In this way, I hope to honor you too.

I picture myself standing before you, beside you, with you, someday.  I feel we are united.  This is your child. This is my child.  We are united in our love and responsibility to him, you and I.

As I said, I don't know if you wanted to hear from me but I wanted to tell you this.

Love, C.

(I wrote this in response to comments that were written under my article on infertility on one of the pages that shared it on Facebook.  I don't usually respond to those sorts of comments and did not want to engage in an argument no one can win on Facebook or in the comment section of Huffington Post but felt as though I could address it here.)


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I Forgive You Fully But Will Maintain My Distance

“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.” – Henri Nouwen

To truly and fully forgive another person is a beautiful act of liberation as Henri Nouwen states.  The decision to forgive is a choice that does not depend on feelings alone and yet when we choose to forgive, we are often freed of our feelings of anger and negativity toward a person as well and that is true liberation of the spirit.

There is a common misconception that to forgive means that all goes back to the way it once was and that if it doesn't, forgiveness hasn't actually taken place.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Genuine and authentic forgiveness can take place while still maintaining distance in a relationship or even while severing ties altogether.

Another quote I like says that " forgiveness does not always lead to a restored relationship" and I feel that is an important point.  It can lead to a healed and restored relationship of course but forgiveness can still be present even when a relationship is not healed.

My mother also wrote something once that I feel sums up the concept of forgiveness beautifully: "Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling.  It does not always mean you forget, especially if you or others were deeply harmed.  Nor does it mean what happened means nothing now.  What happened, happened.  Whether you ever trust that person again or re-establish a relationship has NOTHING to with forgiveness.  Some relationships need to be severed.  How do we really know we have forgiven someone?  When we can ask God to bless that person with faith. good health and peace in their lives."

As for myself, I will not ever withhold forgiveness when asked for as I often need it myself.  I forgive fully with all my heart but believe things can presently remain as they are.  

The beauty is the lightness I feel in my heart, the liberation of letting go of anger and the very real knowledge that I wish the forgiven person every success and joy in their life.  I wish them peace, abundant love and good health for themselves and their family.  I wish them only the very best and will be happy for them when life treats them well and sorry when it doesn't.  I will pray for their success in every area of life.  

It's done for me.  I forgive you and I set you free.  I wish you only success and happiness.  

It's settled and I also am set free.  I no longer carry what you did with me.  I am not wounded or offended or angry or hurt.  I am free.  

I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive because I truly, deeply was in great need of it.