Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
since the initial and immediate introduction to Grandpa on April 4, i have met several more significant people in susan's life. most of whom will likely become or have already become significant people in my life....
April 12 i went out for dinner (and margaritas) with Susan and met her husband, whom we will call D. it was a lot of fun and happened just in time- before we both went completely nuts with the rejection worries. i remember that the conversation between Susan and me that night began with more talk of fears and worries that we would be disappointed in what we find/learn about each other, blah blah blah... but that truly didn't last beyond that night (or at least that week) because worrying really is a dumb thing to do. especially if you don't have to do it. D was fun and funny and told a really lot of stories. he was kind to me and showed an impressive degree of excitement for this reunion. all in all, it was a great evening that ended with a lovely stroll through a beautiful neighborhood. and the moral of that story... wanna tear down some barriers, just add tequila... apparently.
April 22 i got to meet Susan's very best friend in the whole world... we'll call her... Lulu. because i like to say Lulu. we met at one of my favorite places to drink beer/scotch/bourbon/whatever... and had a terrific time! well, at least i did. i can't speak for Susan or Lulu :) but based on the size of the smiles on their faces in the photos from that night, i think it is fair to say we all had a lovely time. Susan and Lulu have been friends since about 3 years after i was born-- which is a long long time if you do the math-- so i imagine the news of a 35-year-old daughter was a bit jarring. it is always fun to talk to the people i meet and ask them about that moment when Susan first told them about our reunion. there is a lot of shock, some confusion, many tears. these days i often get to be there to watch her tell people who i am and i can't think of many things in my life that have been more fun than those moments! but i am getting ahead of myself. Anyway, Susan's best friend is a wonderful woman and a lot of fun! really everything a best friend is supposed to be. i hope she wants to be my friend too.
that's enough for now...
the other issue that has arisen is a simple matter of time. i have known Susan for 50 days and we have spent time together on 21 separate occasions. the only complaints about this schedule come from disappointed blog-followers... and maybe from her husband, but i am not sure. at any rate, we have been very busy girls! there is limited time for such things as documenting and summarizing.
i have added a couple of photos to bring some illustration to this little story. the first, obviously a tattoo, is the mark i chose to honor this moment in my life. as has been disclosed previously, Susan named me Julie Hope. among the many similarities we have discovered about ourselves over the course of the last 50 days, one of the first was that we have very Very similar handwriting. so, knowing that i wanted to use the middle name that she so beautifully and symbolically assigned to her tiny treasure 36 years ago, i played around with some fonts and ideas and decorations and finally settled on the simplest and most truthful way to honor this time in our lives: the anticipatory middle name that she gave me, in my own handwriting, in a location always visible to me. (with a tiny spiral to symbolize "life" and "creative healing"... a symbol i wear and use a lot.) so on April 20, i stamped this moment into my wrist. and i love it. every time i look at it, i love it more! and here is the kicker, on May 26, her 56th birthday, Susan is going to get the same tattoo on her ankle. i can't wait!
the other photo is pretty self-explanatory as well... i bought these necklaces on April 6. hoping that our reunion would continue in a way that would make it reasonable for me to give her this gift for Mother's Day. it did, i gave it to her, and we have both been wearing them every day since. i may just give away all my other necklaces... :)
more later... i promise.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
i can't believe it has only been three weeks since we met. the time has gone by in some kind of different dimension-- i feel like i have known her forever and to be near her feels so natural i sometimes forget that this is essentially a person who was a stranger three weeks ago. a blaze of glory, indeed. a blaze of grace, perhaps.
on saturday, while we were at the farm, susan presented me with my original birth certificate. i knew that she had it, and i was very much looking forward to seeing it, but i never could have imagined how emotional it would be to hold it and look at it for the first time. for starters, i was not sure until quite recently that it even existed. i wasn't sure if it would have been destroyed or discarded when the amended one was created. i certainly didn't know whether susan would have wanted to keep it even if she could. but she did. and she gave it to me. and i wept. there it was in my own hands... my original name, her name, her thumbprints, a golden seal and my tiny little footprints. for anyone who has always had the same name, the same parents and access to the document that certifies one's existence, it might not seem like a very big deal to receive it. but for my fellow adoptees, i don't think i have to explain the significance of that moment. i framed it, naturally, and will treasure it more than anything else, forever.
there are a million more things to catch up on... easter, conversations with my parents, the tattoo, etc.-- but that will come later.... for now, i am going to sign off and hug my framed birth certificate and continue to stroll through yet another day with a peaceful, easy smile.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
i spent six hours with Susan yesterday. three hours in Julie the Social Worker's office and three hours at my grandfather's house. it was surreal. it was perfect. i spent the time being so dumbfounded and overwhelmed that i could barely muster emotion. just kept staring at her, shaking my head, wondering if this is real....
today the emotions are setting in. indeed, taking over. i sat with three colleagues and told them all about the meeting and right in the middle of the conversation i just broke right down and wept. and now i am still weeping. i can't stop weeping and i should be working. but i can't work because my mind won't stop singing "i've got peace like a river" and my eyes won't stop crying.
i miss her. i miss her so much i want to go to the place she works just so i can look at her again and so i can make sure that this really happened and that she still wants to know me. i want to sit next to her again. now.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
- The Poky Little Puppy
- Frog and Toad Are Friends
- The Chosen
- A Tale of Two Cities
- The Giver
- Peace is Every Step
- Their Eyes Were Watching God
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
so, for that moment when the source of my genetic code first lays eyes on her product, i want to tan my skin, whiten my teeth, color my hair and... well.... if we are being completely honest, sanitize my biography. only some of these things are plausible and only a couple of them will actually happen. and there is that part of me-- which is usually almost all of me-- that just hates myself for all of this, but i can't help it. i don't want to be a disappointment. especially now that i know there are no other children to even the balance, i just want to be acceptable and maybe even pleasing.
my conclusion: birthfamily reunions are flashbacks to middle school, with a twist. i hope my twist comes with a lemon drop martini.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
imagine my sheer delight when julie the social worker said, "She wanted me to tell you that she is married, but she has not had any more children."
big grin. it's just me.
Monday, March 14, 2011
hi, shelly, this is julie.
guess who i just got off the phone with...
ummm... could it be a woman who gave birth to me?
it very well could be the woman who gave birth to you!
so, i have to blaze right past the "adoption cult is really cool" blog post and leap directly into the "Oh my gawd my mother is thrilled that i found her!!" blog post.
thrilled. that is the word that Julie used. thrilled. not even terrified or apprehensive or worried or conflicted or any of those other things, (although i am sure there is a great deal of that stuff going on too) but thrilled. she said that she cried and laughed when she heard the letter that i wrote. cried AND laughed! perfect. she already thinks i am funny! she said that she has thought about searching for me so many times and that she is so excited that i searched for her. she also told Julie this wonderful little tidbit: one of her colleagues told her one day that they had seen a woman who looked JUST like her and My birthmother said, "i was so excited that i wanted to stake out the place and see if i could see her too!" how fun is that!?
here are the other things i learned tonight:
my grandmother and my mother are both avid readers and also have built their own personal libraries. she thinks about me all the time. she is married. she has had no other children. (hello, relief of that whole not-bringing-anything-to-the-table anxiety.) she was very happy to know that i knew she had named me Julie, and yes, it did give her a moment of pause when Julie the social worker introduced herself by name. she KNOWS that she will want to meet me one day.
so, now i have to try to go to sleep and plan for a normal work week starting tomorrow morning. wtf. how the hell am i going to do that??
this is so freaking cool! i am soooooooo excited! now all of that totally stifled energy is seeping out of my pores because the answer to the ever-lingering question has been answered. the answer is yes. she wants to meet me.
oh and she also said about her only daughter, "she obviously loves words, she's a beautiful writer." :)
think of the reasons people don't answer the phone. telemarketers. the call shows up on the callerid as "unknown" with no digits. that is already suspect. the caller, being a social worker who is about to smash your world apart, is never going to leave a message> just like a telemarketer. here's what i know about that. the more "unknown" calls, the more irritated people become. and more resolute in their mission to ignore. my relationship with my birthmother is going to be a long pattern of phone harrassment, by proxy.
seriously, everyone knows that once you begin to ignore and despise a mystery number, you don't suddenly change your mind about it and check it out. nope. and if she has ever had an issue with a creditor in her life, then i am totally screwed. having bad credit is how i learned to never answer the phone in the first place.
so i woke up to a missed call from Julie the Social Worker. (missed because i was sleeping) the message said that she wanted to talk to me about some updates on my search. after a bit of phone-tagging i finally got Julie the Social Worker on the phone. here is how the conversation played out:
JtSW: Well, as you know, we believe we have located the correct person, and have a phone number for her.
JtSW: I just wanted to let you know how the search is going...
JtSW: Well, i have tried calling several times, but no one is answering the phone.
JtSW: i have called in the morning, daytime, at night, on the weekends. i just can't get anyone to answer.
Me: Oh, well that is genetic then. i don't answer the phone either.
Me: For real, i get in so much trouble for it! i am more of a texting and facebook kind of person. it's genetic. she might never answer your calls.
then there was a bunch of blah blah blah and then we hung up. and then i started to think about the dirty dirty irony of the fact that my birthmother is not taking my calls and i started laughing really hard. it's classic. it's karma. my friends, some of you who may be reading this, are always on my case, my parents get just Pissed at me for not answering the phone...
karma. and DNA. that is what this is.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
i also spent some time online in the last few days researching some laws about foster care (for reasons that shall be discussed at a later date, don't get ahead of me on this, lovely readers) and of course there is no researching foster care without seeing a damn lot of adoption material. then there was an article in the advocate that was about a 10-year legal battle that finally ended with a french lesbian adopting a child. oh, and one of my favorite colleagues informed me yesterday that he is also an adoptee... did not know that....
adoption adoption, everywhere....
ok. back to waiting. waiting. waiting.
pssst.... Julie, i am being a very good little waiter. but i am sort of wondering if you tried to call my mother today.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
i said, "ok."
so she gave me Julie's office phone number. she told me that she would send my file to Julie on Tuesday. then she said that Julie usually works on searches on Tuesday's but that she might work on it throughout the week.
i said, "ok."
i guess we'll wait to hear from Julie.
Monday, February 14, 2011
now, those of you who have been paying attention might be thinking that i am preparing for adoption club tonight, but as it turns out, AC is canceled tonight. i think this is a good thing, as i was having a bit of difficulty deciding whether or not i was going to go... it is valentine's day, after all, and i was pretty worried that if i did go to the clubhouse i would be the only one there. it is hardly a club if it is me and a social worker/stranger. that is not a group or a club. that is therapy, and we have already visited my thoughts on that.
it was really nice of the social workers to call me today to tell me that it was canceled. i like a thoughtful helper.
i have to take a nap now. i am very tired. i will be back later to offer some actual thoughts.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
yes, i recognize that i am the person who is setting the pace so far and that things will likely slow down significantly now, but still... this part is happening crazy fast! i talked to cindy for the first time 15 hours ago and now she is about to call my birthmother.
this is definitely the coolest thing i have ever done. even if the very last chapter is the part where cindy reads the letter to her. at least i will know that she knows how i feel about her and about my adoption. that is very important to me. most important, in fact.
and now... the waiting actually begins, or begins to end... i'm not even sure anymore...
my birthmother named me Julie Hope. i don't think i have included that tidbit of info on this blog yet. but that was my name for about 2 weeks. Julie Hope. i signed the letter Shelly/Julie. is that weird?
then i swallowed and discovered the raging fire in my throat and the dream-state was gone. so now i am here on my couch, taking medicine and blogging. and wondering....
Monday, February 7, 2011
i have to write a letter to my birthmother. that is the next step in the process. i write her a letter and send it to Cindy. Cindy calls my birthmother and reads the letter to her over the phone. holy moly.
i am so happy this is the next step-- i was quite worried that i wouldn't get to share some of my own thoughts on this potential reunion. as it turns out, i get to share a whole letter full of thoughts. yippee! then, after she reads the letter to the woman who gave birth to me, that same woman will receive all the same information release documents that i just completed. and according to the "law" she has 60 days to fill them out and return them or to, well, not fill them out and return them. sixty days seems like a very brief amount of time considering what we are asking of this woman. i hope it doesn't totally freak her out. at least not in a way she can't handle.
so tonight i am going to write the letter. i know that i should wait and do it sometime when it is not almost the middle of the night, but i will definitely not be able to sleep if i just lie in my bed and write letter fragments in my head. i will edit it when it is not the middle of the night, but i am for sure going to write it tonight. then i will email it to Cindy. and then it is go time. as soon as i send the letter, she makes contact. seems awfully fast after 35 years of separation. but that is fine by me. i wouldn't be doing this if i wasn't actually ready for my social worker to call my birthmother.
and Cindy already has a phone number for my birthmother. double holy moly.
here we go......
i've never had a social worker before. well, not that i remember at least. i guess i did at the beginning of this whole thing, but i don't really remember that. i was, after all, 2 1/2 weeks old. but now i have a social worker again. and it's weird. i DO things that are social-worky. and i facilitate support groups. now i have to go to a support group and i have to talk to someone about things that i really don't want to talk about with someone i have never met before. if she isn't willing to at least pretend we are real friends and, like, go out for a couple glasses of wine, that will surely be a deal-breaker.
T-minus one week until adoption cult.
wish me luck. at the adoption clubhouse.
Friday, February 4, 2011
that was your warning. now i am free to say whatever i want and you can't judge or mock because you have been fairly warned. this is ridiculous. but....
you know how when you have something really cool and really big going on in your life... like you are waiting for something big or planning something big... and it is constantly in the back of your mind and random things throughout the day trigger your excitement for it. no? ok, i'll try harder. let's say you are planning a wedding. you have to continue to complete everyday tasks, like, your job, for example. but the fact that you are planning a wedding is ever-present in your mind and even, i think, in your body. it's just there. being triggered. so you know that you have to clean your house and do your job, but at every turn you are drawn to and distracted by, say, that cute up-do on the cover of a magazine... you see it and you have to pause for a second to picture your veil with that hairstyle. or a particular shade of pink looks just right for the table decorations... ok, i never have and never will plan a wedding, but it seems to me these types of things would happen. every cool life event brings this kind of preoccupation, right?
well, it is no different with this situation. it is constantly present in my head, and i remember about 1000 times a day that i am doing this crazy, scary, fun thing. but something is getting mixed up in the symbolism or imagery of the reunion fantasy. i do not get distracted by strangers who may or may not look like my family. i don't see adult women with their mothers and think of my own biological mother. adoption reunion doesn't really have its own imagery. so i am distracted and triggered by baby stuff. (i told you it was weird.) it is not a crystal clear association, it's more of a nagging attraction. i don't look at baby stuff and think of my reunion attempt. i look at baby stuff and i feel drawn to it because of a sense that i have something happening in my life that is related to baby stuff. but i don't. i am not now nor do i intend to become pregnant. but today i walked past a baby section in a store and something in my head struck a tone of familiarity and said, 'hey! you have a reason to wander on over there!' so i start to wander on over there, head cocked to the side, wondering: huh? why should i be looking at baby stuff? and then i remember. i don't have to look at baby stuff, i have to wait for a phone call. there is no baby coming into my life; quite the opposite is potentially happening. i don't get to have a baby, i am the baby. i was the baby. now i might get to have a grown up. i am attempting a reunion, but reunions don't have imagery.
p.s. i am not drunk or high. this really happens, i just don't know how to explain it. and, you were warned.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
it went sort of like this: ...her hair is probably lighter than mine, as the 1/4 German heritage comes from my father's side... she is quite petite, assuming she didn't grow considerably and magically taller in adulthood... she is 55 years old-- quite young, so i tried to think of my friends who are 55-ish, and i have to tell you that translating these dear friends into 'mom-age' was not an easy task. so she is short, young, blonde; does her face look anything like mine? does she smile like me? does she laugh like me? does she laugh a lot--as i do? what do her hands look like? will we have the same hands--probably not. i wonder what her voice sounds like, what will that first moment of contact be like when i see her face and hear her voice for the very first time? how will she dress? her haircut? her career?...... and then the inner voice of reason fires up again: stop. let this go. be realistic. i can't spend my time imagining this moment of contact when i do not know that there will be a moment of contact. i can't have rehearsed conversations, imagined her laugh, pictured how her face moves when she talks only to be told that i will, in fact, never get to witness these things. on this nonsense, i cannot spend my time. especially time that is meant to be spent sleeping.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
once the documents were signed and notarized, all i had to do was place them in an envelope and find the address. i did those two things. then i got a little bit freaked out. i spent friday evening at my friend D's house and, naturally, this topic came up in conversation. it does tend to dominate my thoughts, so when i am in a room with someone who feels safe enough and interested, i will take the opportunity to discuss all the crazy ideas that are bouncing around in my head. we talked about a million different possibilities that night. and about 1/3 of the things we discussed resulted in me saying, "hmmm, maybe i don't want to do this...." but i know that is just part of the 'letting go of the wonder' part of this process. i very much DO want to do this.
and this is a good thing, because the proverbial ball is, in fact, rolling in this search game. we went to the post office today and printed some postage for my little life-altering mail parcel. then i became completely overwhelmed by the need to ritualize the event in order to make it perfect (see: Second Impression references to shelly's lifelong need to ritualize) and i simply had to walk away from the situation. it is a letter going into a mailbox, for pete's sake, there really is no way to make that any more or less "correct." so i handed the envelope to alicia and said, "you are going to have to do this part." she smiled at me lovingly and with a smidge of excitement and dropped it in the slot.
now i guess i wait to hear from a social worker. what an odd thing for me to be waiting for...
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
"hi, person i have never met before, will you please lend your curiously impressive degree of authority to my life-altering project?"
and then they look at the form and they have the same kind of emotional lurch (by proxy)that the woman on the phone at the social services office did, but again, this is just business. so i will flash her my ID, sign my name and walk away with a bizarre sense that another stranger just peered directly into my soul without having earned the view. dramatic, i know, but this is a pretty intense thing to do. even for someone as rational and emotionless as myself.
i am about to write the $350 check. i marked the box for "identifying search." once i put this little stack of legal blabber back into the envelope and in the mailbox, it is game on. my eyes are welling a little bit... must be dusty in here.
Monday, January 24, 2011
now, at 35 1/2, having abandoned my 4-year cycle, i am definitely going to do this. definitely. i called LSS one more time and asked to have the request forms mailed to me. again. it's a strange call to make. trust me, i know this... i have made it 6 times. the person who answers the phone is just chillin' at her desk, doing her job, fulfilling requests. but the caller.... the caller is beginning what is arguably the most significant process of her entire life. so there is this terribly drab and official business interaction going on between strangers that includes the sharing of a current physical address and full (adoptive) name, but what is really being said-- to this complete stranger-- is, "i am an adult adoptee and i want to meet my birth family. and i am going to put that desire right out there for the world to know and for my family to either honor, or reject." holy shit! it is so awkward and so bizarre and so loaded with emotional energy, but in the end it is 4 minutes on the phone. usually the lovely woman who is just doing her job has a kind of expectant energy in her voice by the end of the conversation. she is probably a counselor or social worker so her instinct in a conversation like that is to invite some conversation or processing time, but this is, after all, just a mail request. the most she can really do is offer a very emphatic "Have A Great Day!"
i think the fact that i enjoy the awkwardness of that conversation so much is a definite sign that it is time to move on to the next step. sign the papers, sign the check and let the waiting begin. or end, as the case may be.
there are a lot of reasons i want to blog about the adoption search/reunion (?) process. the primary reason being that i want to keep track of my experience as i attempt to locate biological relatives and my hand gets too tired when i journal in a big book. blog services offer a beautifully arranged journal opportunity and i like beautifully-arranged anything! since i am going to take notes on the entire process, i figure i might as well let others watch. why not, right? it might be interesting to some people.
so, welcome to the journey. i can't wait to see how it goes....