“Do you think my daughter thinks about me?” My adopted sister Lisa asked.
“Finally…” was the unspoken response that came from deep within me. After 30 years, the subject that I thought was taboo and locked away finally was being spoken and I was overjoyed.
30 years prior to this one sentence when my big sister was 16 she had a beautiful daughter. The decision was made to give the child up for adoption and somehow at 16 years old Lisa was strong enough to stick with that choice that was better for her daughter at that time.
I was 11 years old when she had her baby and I clearly remember Lisa being home on her Easter break from the Catholic School/home for unwed mothers. My best friend and I were playing on the garage roof when Mom announced Lisa was in labor and they left to go to the hospital. My Mom was so preoccupied with Lisa she never noticed I yelled “good bye and good luck” from atop the garage, an activity that would normally allow me to hear Mom’s displeasure at a few hundred decibels
The next morning Lisa had a baby girl that had the roundest head I had ever seen. A few days later Lisa was released back to the home for unwed mothers and we never spoke about her daughter again. We were never told not to talk about it but that was the way our family dealt with emotional issues. We ignored them and somehow carried on with everyday life as if nothing happened.
Last October, I was sharing with Lisa my journey to find my birth parents and out of the blue she asked me this powerful question. It was in this moment, I smiled to myself and whispered to God, “good one.” Part of his divine plan in matching me with this family was so I could sit on my phone as an adoptee and respond to a question from my sister as a birth mother. The intersection of these two paths was seen by God long before I was born.
I tried hard to contain myself as I saw this closed door open. A door I have been anxious to open for many years. I easily spit out what I as an adoptee knew, “Of course she does; all the time. There is no way she couldn’t”
In October of 2009 we both searched for our biological connections together. I had the honor of helping my sister find her daughter. I contacted the adoption angel that helped me find my birth family and within 30 minutes we found my sister’s daughter and my niece.
The real joy for me came when my sister would have questions and I could answer from the adoptee point of view and when I had questions she could answer from the birth mother point of view. We walked together through this emotionally draining process and held each other up.
When I was frustrated because I couldn’t find a reliable address or phone number for my birth family, my sister attacked the internet and found the phone number that put me in touch with my biological sister. When my sister was frozen with fear about taking the next step and arranging to meet her daughter face to face, I shoved her to get her moving and we both met the people we have thought about over and over again for the majority of our lives.
As the day came for me to meet my biological sister, my sister Lisa texted me frantically anxious to know how it went. The when it was her turn to meet her daughter and grandson, I sat at home rebounding from wall to wall waiting to hear how her reunion went. What a fantastic emotional cyclone that we were able to share.
After my recent post, A Birth Mother’s Story, the birth mother I interviewed did a great job of painting for me how hard it must have been to live with giving a child up for adoption. The deep pain that the mother expressed was so real and then reality collided inside my head with a loud “thud.” This was the pain, the deep pain my sister has lived with for 30 years. It took a stranger to help me understand that and I cried as I read the pain of a stranger who bore the same pain my sister did for so many years.
Why didn’t I just interview my sister for the birth mother’s story? It didn’t occur to me until after I read the birth mother’s story. It is so easy to fall back in to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality that we have lived under for the last 30 years. I also didn’t think my sister’s story was mine to tell.
To put an end to that mentality, I sent a text to my sister today and asked if I could share her story. She quickly responded and gave me permission. It is comical now to realize our family contains every branch of the adoption triad; birth mother, adoptee and adoptive parents. To be able to walk through this journey escorted by my sister has been a true joy. To wade through this healing process together has been a god-send and the luxury of having such an amazing resource so close has been an experience that words can’t describe
As we reunited with our biological ties, I was also able to reunite with my sister who I have missed over the last 30 years. Looking back on it now, I realize that this monumental event in her life changed her and the closeness that we shared prior to the event was disrupted. How could it not be? The deep wounds that a birth mother feels after giving up her child should change her. My realization of this sent daggers to my heart for the pain my sister has had to endure in the cloak of the family silence must have been unbearable at times. My realization of this pain sent daggers to my heart as I understood, through my sister, the pain my birth mother felt over giving me up.
A Birth father’s story: Look for the post in near future. The adoption story told from a birth father’s point of view.