I was reunited with my daughter almost 12 years ago. Many changes have happened in those years, some bad, but most good. My daughter did the search, which began in March of 1994. In reality, she was searching for me all her life. She contacted a searcher and he was able to get the needed information from the adoption agency (The Cradle in Chicago). She had already received her non-identifying information, but of course that was not going to find her mother. Once he told her he'd found out who I was, she then took a deep breath and called one of my sisters. She was instantly received. In fact, my sister's first words were "We love you. Are you all right?" My sister was very protective of me and after a long conversation, she told my daughter (Christine), that she would call me and let me know. That was an earth shattering call to receive and I felt so many incredible emotions. Fear, joy, grief and finally, peace. It came to me that this was right and I was ready. I waited one day to collect myself, then called my first born child. We talked for hours and when I asked her if she wanted to meet me, her instant reply was, "I've wanted you all my life". What she didn't realize was that I live in San Diego, just a little over two hours from her in L.A. She drove down the next day and then our journey together began.
We were both filled with emotion and excitement. We spent the entire day together and when my husband came home, he could see that she wanted to be part of us. The next day the doorbell rang and it was a huge bouquet of red roses. It was her birthday and her card read "One rose for every year of life you gave to me". She had vowed to not let another birthday go by without finding her mother. The hardest part of all this was telling my son who did not know he had a sister "out there". I was told I could never know her and she was closed off to me for the rest of my life, so I'd never told him about the sister I believed he'd never be able to know. My son had married a few months before, so he and his lovely wife came over and I told him about Christine. He was shocked, but told me how much he loved me and he was immediately open to meet and get to know her. When she and her husband came down a few days later, we all met at my house and the first words out of my son's mouth were "My long lost sister", and he put his arms around her. It was so incredible for all of us. A week later we went back to Chicago so she could meet all her aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a remarkable event and I even invited her adoptive mother to come up from St.Louis and meet us all. Christine & I felt it was important for the two mothers to meet and understand one another's role in her life. However, she did not want us to have a relationship and we only met the one time. That was fine with me because her amother tried to manipulate the reunion and interject herself inappropriately. I never regretted meeting her and I've never regretted not having a relationship with her. I realize that it's different in every situation, but she truly had no place in the emerging relationship between my daughter and myself.
We had a long "honeymoon" period and then the pain and anger really began surfacing for my daughter. It came to a head in 1998 and we did not speak for an entire year. We both were into our respective therapies and I guess it was a good thing to have a break for awhile. Of course I say that in retrospect. At the time it was most painful. However, we both gained strength and understanding of ourselves and one another. When she became pregnant with her own daughter, she then realized how much she truly needed me in her life and we reconnected. It was tentative at first, but the former ease resurfaced and this new life coming into both of our lives was so healing. Since then, our relationship has deepened and it all is just so natural to both of us. Of course, my granddaughter (6 yrs. old), knows me as her grandmother, without any labels attached to our relationship.
My daughter and her adoptive mother never had a good relationship and it grew increasingly toxic to Christine. It all blew apart almost five years ago and they have not spoken since. It was not about me or our reunion, but no doubt that played a role in the final split. It makes me sad to think that her adoptive mother is missing out on my wonderful granddaughter, but it was her choice as much as Christine's. I see such a sense of peace in my daughter, and to me, that is of utmost importance.
I welcomed my first child back into my life with open arms and an open heart. I have worked through the pain of her loss and the guilt I felt for giving her up for adoption. Of course in 1965, that was my only option. Like so many middle class girls from good families, I was shuttled off to a maternity home and then after delivery, had to sign away my rights to my baby. I try not to dwell on that time, but it does resurface at times. My daughter and I both live in the now and rejoice that we have so many tomorrows together. We cannot change what happened and we cannot let it deter us from our loving relationship.
I think that it was very important for HER to find ME. I have many birth mother friends who searched for their children and have reunions. All of them have difficulties in these long term reunions which I do not have with my daughter. I feel one of the reasons is because by deciding to search for and find me, my daughter took back control in her life and this was HER choice and HER decision. It was empowering for her. Also, through the rough times we had, we both wanted this relationship to survive and we both worked hard to make that happen.
Reunion is full of so many emotions for both mother and child. It's not easy, but the rewards of healing and completeness make all the hard work so worthwhile. And so, our journey together continues, but the path is well lit with all the love an acceptance.