It was Monday. We had a wonderful time earlier at breakfast and meeting a whole bunch more folks who arrived for the event.
It was around 11 am that a small nucleus was beginning to form in the hotel lobby.
We were all excited and there was a lot of chatter as we waited for H of the UK to join us. Although she was not downstairs yet, we were all talking about her and what was about to happen, Our Crafty Art Teacher made a sign for her the night before. If she didn’t want to use it, that was ok. But it was there ready for her if she did.
H arrived and we took a head count. Most people could fit in the van that Our Transporter drove down from Long Island. The rest piled into a car with the Itty Bitty Loudmouth and her hubby. I got to ride in the van with H. On the drive to the airport we listened to her tell parts of her story. It was very sad and angering to hear.
Now I’m not new to the adoption arena as far as what society believes and what apparent choose to think. In general society as a whole does want to hear anything “bad” or “negative” about adoption, especially NOT from an adoptee! Right away they want t o label him or her as “bitter” or “ungrateful” or both. Then they completely dismiss their experiences, thoughts, and feelings so they can just continue believing their untrue ‘feel good’ ideas.
But the sad part of H’s story is not about her childhood. She was raised in a good home and loves her afamily very much. But the truth is that her aparents and her life with them was not the VERY BEGINNING of her story (which is true of every adoptee). Her story started with a young woman I’ll simply call Mom.
Mom was a young single woman still living with her parents when she was expecting. It really was not all that uncommon, as some may think -- not even from back in that era. People just think it rarely happened because society tried to hide these young moms. These girls were whisked way from their home, families, and towns. They were hidden away in secrecy at maternity homes.
These ‘bad girls’ were punished by how they were treated throughout their pregnancies, and at the time of labor and delivery. They were mistreated and their babies were often forcefully taken away so they could be sold to a childless couple. Some stories have been recorded in the book “The Girls who Went Away.” http://www.thegirlswhowentaway.com/
Mom somehow was spared the punishment of being sent away, and the time came for her child to be born. After giving birth, she wanted to hold her child, but her child was not given for her to be held. Instead she was given platitudes and told her baby died while she was giving birth.
Mom did not believe it, she did not believe them. Yet they insisted her child was gone, had died, and sent her home with empty arms and a broken grieving heart that was now filled with anger, betrayal, and distrust.
After several years had passed, and Mom still refused to accept or believe that her first baby died, her mother’s conscience and the guilt got the best of her. She confessed that she had conspired with the delivering doctor to pretend the child died. It was all so the child could be adopted out.
I had not heard this part of H’s story before. There we were sitting in this van all listening to H retell what happened to her original Mom. She went on to tell us that after much searching she finally found Mom just a year ago. She dialed the phone number she was given. Mom answered the phone and H said to her, “Hi. You have not seen me in 38 years.” Right away Mom knew this was her stolen baby.
In just a few sentences Mom comments to H, “It sounds like you have a bit of an English accent?” She was stunned to learn that her baby was not just stolen away, but stolen away and carried across the ocean to another continent, to another country that her baby would call ‘home.’
Since that first phone call, they’ve called and e-mailed each other often. Mom even got to talk to her little grandchildren on the phone and got to know them too.
What a range of emotions we all had as H of the UK talked. We finally got to the airport, this little caravan to pick up Mom. It still chokes me up to remember and think how special this was, as that this would be their very first face to face meeting. Phone calls and e-mail during the past year was good, but not at all the same. Mom lived in FL and H obviously lived across the pond in the United Kingdom., and here at this Adoptee Rights Demonstration would be their chance to finally meet face to face.
We found a parking space, and this little caravan hurried on our way following this very quiet and soft spoken woman, H of the UK.
We found the area where her flight would be arriving. There we stood this cluster of guys and gals, with a buzz of energy and nervousness in the air. With the exception of myself and just a few others, this group had one thing in common, they are adopted. Back and forth they would ask each other that ‘forbidden’ question … “Have you reunited with your original Mom?”
My heart was heavy to hear some of their answers. What courage and strength for Jimm to be here among us. He found original siblings, but the search for his original mother proved to be too late, she had already passed on a few years earlier.
It broke my heart to know how much he wanted to see her, to talk to her, just to know her. Yet even her last breaths on this earth, she did not know this. Two hearts, two lives that were destined to be together were instead separated; separated forever, never to connect again. What an unnecessary tragedy.
The ridiculous laws of ‘secrecy’ (sealed birth records) cost him (and her) that chance and hope to reconnect. Michigan needs to change these outdated and discriminatory laws! Change them ‘for the sake of the children’ – for surely these children will grow up. When they become adults they should have their original birth certificates hassle free!
Next to Jimm stood Our Transporter. He is adopted, but he is no longer a child. He is a husband and a father of two lovely little girls. We originally met on Facebook. As he stood there, I remembered some of the messages he sent me about his story.
Although NY is like Michigan in regards to sealed OBC, he had the info on his original mother to search for her; and search he did. But his search took him to one dead end after another. How much disappointment can one heart endure and still have the strength to continue on. While the dead ends were discouraging, none of them had the weight of that final blow – the original birth records were falsified. He will never know his original Mother’s name. Worse yet, he will never be able to find her.
I can’t even begin to imagine what an isolated feeling to be in a sea of people, yet not be biologically connected to any of them. No original grand parents, no original aunts or uncles, no original siblings. Yet, here he stood with H of the UK as we all awaited Mom’s arrival.
Many thoughts and feelings swirled around inside of me. I wondered what was going on in H’s heart and mind as she stood there at the gate (well, as close as a non-passenger can get)? She was holding her ‘Hi Mom’ sign that could’ve been read from a very far distance.
As the passengers exited, we did not know what flight they were disembarking. So with each flight that came in we had no way to know if Mom was among them. For some crazy reason Mom would not send H a recent picture of herself, so we all just scanned the faces of the passing crowds.
Had it been me standing there with the sign, I would have been embarrassed at the strange looks and comments of those who passed by. But H of the UK stood there, she seemed a bit nervous, but she was unwavering as she held her sign waiting expectantly for Mom.
I don’t know how I missed it, short attention span got the best of me again I guess. I looked over and there they were!!! The ‘Hi Mom’ sign was on the floor and Mom and H of the UK were in one of those gigantic hugs where you could just see the love, joy, and happiness radiating! They were unashamed to embrace in a public place.
Finally! Mother and Daughter together again!!!
The rest of us stood there crying – yes, even the guys had leaky eyes as H and Mom hugged and cried and hugged again.
Slowly we started to make our way to the luggage pickup area.
Then I saw it!
I’d read and heard about it from many other reunion stories, and I got to witness it for myself. H and Mom walked side by side chatting and holding hands as they went.
They held hands the entire journey from the airport terminal, to and from the luggage pickup area, and across the parking lot to the van.
I hope to never lose that picture I have in my head.
(Romany contributed the photos I’ve shared with you. Thanks Romany!!!)
What a beautiful and emotional experience for H to share with all of us. While we waited for Mom to arrive, thoughts and hope for reunion with my own lost son danced through my mind. These thoughts were soon followed by a keen awareness of missing him and desperate longing; longing to look into his eyes, to hear the sound of his voice, to feel the warmth of a loving hug.
What an amazing time it was! I tried to imgine all the thoughts and emotions that H of the UK might have been feeling. And yet, and yet as we were riding back to the hotel, she reached out her hand and rested it on my shoulder. A gentle squeeze was her simple gesture of compassion and understanding. Mom noticed this and looks at H questioningly.
H leaned over to Mom and let her know that Cheerio is an Original Mom who lost her son.
Mom looked at me and simply said “Never give up Hope.”
links to other Cheerio ARD related posts:
Searching for Identity and Ridiculous Red Tape (Day#2, first of 3 posts)
Day #1 Meeting on-line Friends
Funky light patterns on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge