Wednesday, May 25, 2011

adoption cult

if you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you know that i went to the adoption reunion support group on march 14, and that within the hour following the meeting, Julie the social worker had contacted Susan and told her that i was searching for her. if you are good at tracking details, you also know that by the time the next Adoption Club meeting occurred, Susan and i had already met and spent several hours together. at that time, i was worried that Susan was completely freaked out by the whole process and the reunion support group seemed the obvious place to process whatever reaction she was having to meeting me. so in april, Susan attended the meeting and met some other birthmothers and listened to their stories.... i think she enjoyed it. by the time the second monday in may rolled around, we had already spent a lot of time together, she had introduced me to some family members and co-workers, and we had spent a wonderful Mother's Day together. so on may 9 Susan and i attended the reunion support group together... wearing our puzzle necklaces, of course. a detail that Julie the social worker observed right away.
we had so much fun attending together, providing an update on how our reunion is going, offering some support when we could to others who were scared and overwhelmed. i hope that we can continue to be in contact with the others from the group. apparently the village family service center is suspending the support group for the summer, but i do hope they start it again in the fall. the experience of adoption and then reunion truly comes with its own terribly unique set of emotions and reactions and anxieties and it is really quite wonderful to have a place to visit with other people who understand those issues. besides that, it is just a damn lot of fun to talk about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

surprise, it's a girl!

i was still all crazy in my head when i was last maintaining this blog, so i imagine there are not many details about what we have actually been doing during all of this time that we have spent together... perhaps i should provide a brief summary of activities and introductions.

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...

Catch-Up Time...

my intention when i started this blog was that i would keep it up-to-date and document the reunion experience honestly in all of its glory and terror. it is still my intention to do something like that, but there are new issues to consider. first, i started this as a person who was preparing to meet a stranger. i could tell the story in my words, from my perspective, with full ownership of my reunion story. that was easy when i didn't know the other person whose life i was about to twist and mangle and ignite. but now i know her. now she is my... friend? yes. family? indeed. mother? certainly. lest there be any doubt, i promised her i would quit smoking and i even bought a motorcycle helmet, for crying out loud! she has motherly powers, this one! :) but the point, and i do have one, is that now i am telling a story that we truly share. and other people are involved. i can and will leave their names out of this blog, of course, but it still feels kind of weird to blog the details of our journey when it is no longer just my story to tell. not to worry, though. i will still try to do it. i will do it until she asks me not to. :)

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 have been away for a bit, i am aware. i was busy. :) busy getting to know susan and meeting members of my family and learning about other members of my family. and telling my friends and my other family all about what an incredible experience this has been. i am happy to report that the anxiety and insecurity moments were brief and have fully relented. thank god! i could not have handled that as a permanent or even semi-permanent state. the fears and worries that i will disappoint or will be rejected are all in the past and the last two weeks have been absolutely amazing! i have met some incredible people, i got to visit the family farm-- where susan grew up. i have had wonderful, easy, beautiful conversations with her-- conversations that feel natural and sweet and normal and nice.

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


my voice cracks when i say things out loud that make me sad. it cracks and quivers and i don't like it. my voice--and my psyche-- did a little cracking while i was talking to my friend chris last friday. there are pieces of this reunion that are exceptionally painful, and i tend to find ways other than my voice to release those parts. but with chris, i could talk about the details because he understands. so as we are talking about reunion and the sheer joy of initial contact and the uncharted territory of things like Mother's Day, all in the context of a not-at-all small flooding situation, my voice broke a little bit. i told him a little story and said, "what do i do with this? i can't change it. i can't go back and make it different. but it hurts my heart every single day." and chris, in his stellar wisdom said, "put it in the blog." brilliant. i will put it in the blog and let it go to the best of my ability and this little piece of loss (that does not feel so little when i am looking at my mother and the river is rising) can maybe be healed.... so here goes. i will put it in the blog. i will put it in the blog, likely without paragraph breaks, because that is how blogger is still behaving. grrr.... i am not shy about the fact that i did not do so well at life in 1997. and i have not handled flooding situations very well since then. i am getting a lot better... but it definitely still makes me twitchy to think too much about it or to experience the cold heaviness of sandbags and observe the red cross vehicles prowling around muddy neighborhoods. i suppose because the loss in 1997 was sudden, unexpected and very personal, i just don't feel at ease with river water so far out of its banks. in 1997, we returned to piles of wet, molding, dirty stuff--mostly in giant black trash bags-- in the front yard of the house i had been living in. digging through all of it would have been, besides traumatic and disgusting, quite futile. i just walked away from most of it, with the full awareness that it would be even more upsetting to see all of the things that had been destroyed. to this day, i continue to think of little bits of my childhood or my previous life and sometimes begin to wonder what ever happened to that book/toy/game and then it quickly occurs to me that it was most likely a part of the massive wet trash pile of 1997. it was around Mother's Day in '97... nope, probably '98... i remembered one bit of flooded rubbish that i would have given almost anything to have been able to retrieve. as i perused the Mother's Day cards and prepared to choose one that is funny and appropriate for my adoptive mother and one that would be set aside for the day that i might one day meet my birthmother, it occurred to me that that stack of set-aside Mother's Day cards was gone. i had been buying them since i was old enough to do so without anyone else knowing about it. i was going to give them to her if i ever got to meet her, or mail them to her so she would know that i had always thought about her and always loved her. but they were long gone and this realization would be the end of that annual practice. i thought about starting it again, but it made me too sad that the set wouldn't be as complete as it was supposed to be, so i never bought another one. i would still look at cards and think of her on Mother's Day, but i stopped buying them. as i began to understand that my reunion with Susan was going to be during flood season and very near Mother's Day, i got a little sad because it has been a long time since i have thought about this little bit of loss 14 years ago. so, Mother's Day of 2011 should have been the day that i could present Susan with a lifetime of greetings on the day that i have always honored her courage and love. but i can't. so i am sad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

almost normal

susan called today. she said to stop worrying that she doesn't like me. she also said that she has the same worry and together we decided that for both of us to have that worry at the same time is the world's most unreasonable waste of time and energy. so we agreed to let it go. that should certainly help bring back my normal self. she said that she does like me. and we talked about it three times, just to make sure we could truly and legitimately put that silliness behind us. i feel so much better than i did all weekend. and i don't have a mirror in front of me, but i feel fairly certain my eyebrows aren't scrunchy anymore. last night i had really scrunchy eyebrows. stacey looked at me and said, "ick, stop doing that." and then she asked alicia, "does she do that all the time now?" and alicia said, "yeah. you get used to it." stacey also listened empathetically while i worried out loud. for a while at least. eventually she said something along the lines of: oh my god, will you fucking quit that!? i told her i would try, then i tried to accuse her of not being a very supportive friend, but we both knew i was lying. we settled on an agreement that, now that i know i have some weird anxiety about rejection, that she and alicia would nurture me through what would certainly be an ugly time in my world. then we drank a lot of Johnnie Walker. but all of that is moot now, because susan and i are no longer allowed to worry. i am still a dash edgier than i prefer to be, but i am definitely close to normal. so now that my brain works again, i think i'll go read a book...


** it should be stated that i do not do vulnerability so well. and to offer the information that i am about to offer is so against my style. but i have tried all along to keep this blog honest every step of the way and i am going to keep trying to do that. no promises that i won't come back later and delete it, though.** perhaps i should have read some books about this process. i spent so many years getting ready for this moment in my life and as it turns out the only thing i readied for was whether or not i would get to meet her. i did not consider the incredible emotional toll that any of the possibilities would take. i can't imagine how i would be right now if the answer had been "no." maybe more fragile, maybe less. i guess i can't know that. and don't get me wrong, this has been as smooth and sweet as one could even dare hope for, and i am so happy and so grateful for that. but the total domination that this reunion has taken over my thoughts and feelings is way more than i took the time to consider. i don't know how to do "insecure." anyone who knows me at all knows that. and i didn't know that i would have rejection anxiety attached to this reunion, but holy shit!! apparently i do. i am so overwhelmed by the fear that she doesn't like me that i don't even really like myself right now. and that is just stupid. i would like to be able to do normal things again. i would like to have my personality back. it is too much tension in my brain to be so incredibly happy and so anxious at the same time. does this happen to everyone? i am going to go out to eat now and try to have a conversation about something else. we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


emotions are so dumb. i am for sure going back to not having them after this. i am like a zombie today. coming down from such a wildly fast and high ride is tricky. i was just talking to my friend stacey and she asked, responding to the tone of my voice, "are you okay?" yes, yes i am okay. i probably look like a person who is not okay, but i am most certainly doing wonderfully. just in a really tired way that probably looks like someone would look if they were contemplating suicide. i am not, of course, that person and i still have all the fluttery feelings of glee and child-like wonder, i just don't have the energy to exhibit said glee and wonder. i have exactly enough energy to drive my car and to walk around to some of my favorite little shops downtown. that is all i have really done today. wandered. wandered in my car and then wandered, very slowly, on my little feet. i also got my hair cut today. and i think my next stop will be the tanning store. even a zombie can be vain.

Friday, April 8, 2011


oh, thank you god, my brain is not wonky anymore. the exhaustion and eerie anxiety has passed and i feel like myself again. i spent the afternoon with my dear friend chris who has connected with me in the way that only another adopted person can and has helped me talk my way back to normalcy and contentment. thank you, chris, for meeting me where the worry is and letting me ramble until it sounded as irrational to me as it was to the rest of the world. i am once again even. i am again equipped to take on the confusion and wonder of my current situation. i am back to a place that allows for emotional eruption or emotional bankruptcy, as the case may be. i will rest tonight. i will rest and know that the next step will be the appropriate one... whatever it is. thank you, chris, for your comradery; thank you susan, for your presence and grace. it is time to breathe and let it be as it will be.


i had no idea how this reunion thing was going to go. i quite intentionally didn't try to imagine how the days and weeks and months following our initial meeting would go because that is one of those things that one can simply not predict. our first two meetings have been amazing, joyous, cathartic, even. and the catharsis doesn't necessarily relent when i go home. or to work. or to bed. i have been so over-joyed for the last week and a half since i learned that Susan wanted to meet me that my body has been in a constant state of alert/energy/agitation (in a good way) and i have no idea when it will go back to normal. i have started to sleep again, but everything else is still all wonky. and i am exhausted. but even in exhaustion parts of me are still bouncing. still vibrating. what comes next? how do we do this? do we take an emotion-vacation from the whole thing? do we sort out all of the new information and re-connect at some point in the future? can i ever get through a day without feeling like i have to email her to remind her that i miss her and that i am thinking about her? when will the fear that she doesn't like me relent? that one is the weirdest. there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to think based on her words or actions that she doesn't or won't like me. and i have not been the kind of person to geek out on that kind of thing in the past... but this is all different and i am learning to roll with it.


is it normal to worry that she isn't going to like me? or isn't going to want to keep me around? and when am i going to stop missing her every second of every day? not that i don't enjoy the constant grin and constant state of catharsis, but it seems like that would take a toll eventually... just wondering...

Thursday, April 7, 2011


on this day, all is right with the universe. i spent 5 more hours with Susan last night and every minute of it was superb. of course. she gave me a most amazing and beautiful gift and we talked and talked and told stories and smiled and laughed and i began to feel like i know her. i know what she likes to do, i know about her most significant friendships, i know things about her actual life and she knows about mine. this feels so good. i am still battling a bit of the "i don't want to disappoint" twitchies, but i guess that is all part of the process. i think she likes me. i know that she has loved me forever, but i also think that she likes me. on my way home from our 5-hour dinner-and-drinks marathon, i called my parents to tell them about the reunion. as expected, my mom received the news with all of the grace and joy that she brings to every situation. she is very happy for us and very interested in the details. long gone are the worries and intimidations and jealousies... she is happy for our joy and is very excited to share in it when she comes to visit in August. i still (and for a long time will) get shivery when i think of that first time i will get to sit between Maxine and Susan. so much love and so much joy and so many questions answered... for all of us. there was the one teensy weensy moment of disfavor in my conversation with Susan last night. she was talking about medical history in our family and she noted that there were a number of cancer-related deaths. then she said, "but most of them had contributing factors, like smoking." i began to hang my head just a bit and her lovely, and suddenly very maternal, voice sounded a most displeased, "Nnnnnoooooo." with downcast eyes and a juvenile sense of embarrassment by my transgression, i said, "i will quit by your birthday. i promise." so, now i guess i have to quit smoking. i promised the woman who MADE ME. if ever there was a motivation to quit....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

flutter flutter flit flit

my heart is all wonky. it is beating all fast and weird and my insides are vibrating again. after my completely useless day of inability to function at my job, i talked to Susan on the phone. then i talked to more people about Susan. then i tried to sleep, but i could really only think about Susan. i was going to try to behave like a normal adult today, but then i got to work and more colleagues were prepared to hear every detail about our first meeting and then while i was talking about how much i love her and miss her and can't wait to see her again--for dinner tonight-- i got an email from her. that's when my heart went all wonky. so many things on my mind, so many things to talk about, so many new and potentially awkward things to navigate. like mother's day. that is coming up, right quickly and it will be our first mother's day and i would really like to make it super-special, but will she think that is weird? now that this blog is linked to Finding Jane Doe, there may be some birthmothers reading this... so, b-moms, would it be weird for me to buy lovely presents and ask to spend time with her on mother's day? just one month after reunion? i don't know!! another unfortunate thing is starting to take hold of some of my thoughts: that sinking sense that i desperately do not want to disappoint her. i fear that she has had an idea of who i would be all built up in her mind for so long and what if i am not that? what if i start telling her more about myself and i catch little hints of disappointment in her beautiful, shiny eyes. it has been so long and this is so wonderful and i already love her so much, i can not stand to think about looking in her eyes and knowing that she is re-aligning her idea of me and settling for who i am instead of who she always thought i would be. ok, screw that, that's a crappy crappy thing to think. moving on. more later.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

tick tock tick tock

every single moment that goes by feels like another moment i wish i could have talked to Susan. i want her to know how much my heart is bursting right now. i want her to know how much i love her. i want her to see what i look like when i have been crying for two hours. i just want to tell her everything i am feeling on this day. yesterday i was in such a hazy state of shock... today i just want to cry with her. Susan, if you ever read this blog.... know that on this day, all of the emotion that has ever been attached to the idea of you is pouring out of me and i want to see you. soon. soon and very soon.

peace like a river...

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

4 hours....

this time i am not even trying to hide the fact that i am blogging at work. door is wide open, soul exposed to the world, brain all a-flutter and that ever-present grin on my face. i can't believe this day is here. for as long as i have had thoughts, i have thought of this woman. i have wondered and imagined and dreamed and hoped for all good things in her life. i have created an enormous cloud of wonder about her that lingers over every place i have lived, visited, rested, dreamed... today, all of that wonder, all of the possibilities, the images, the questions-- all of it will come together in one body, with one face, and one smile in a chair right across from me. today the gigantic question mark of my very existence will be replaced by my mother. Susan. i. can't. wait.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


ok, i posted that last bit and i got an immediate ad for something that "stops panic attacks." sometimes i am creeped out and grossed out by the internet. just sayin'.


i generally do not panic. ever. i don't even startle anymore after those years of employment in residential treatment. sometimes i forget to react at all, even when it is clearly expected.... i don't panic. i don't really worry or get "stressed" either. not often, anyway. flood season tends to have a bit of a negative effect on my psyche, but i am getting over that. to be sure, i am not feeling any sense of panic tonight.... yet. i am going to go to bed soon, and that would be about the time that my mind goes completely wonky with thoughts of all that i could have or should have done or prepared or thought of or arranged prior to meeting Susan. it would be just like my mind to come up with the perfect gift idea at about 3 o'clock am. or to feel as though the meeting won't be right if i don't have a perfectly constructed memory book ready to present to her. but let's be real, i have never and will never construct a memory book of any kind or quality and the perfect gift, the perfect meeting, the perfect words do not exist. i just have to trust that this process will continue to go just as smoothly and beautifully as it already has and know that however it happens is how it is meant to happen. so please, busy mind, let go of the imaginings and rest. let it be. we have the rest of our lives to grow this relationship.... now i must go to bed and lie there, sleepless, with an enormous grin and all of the hope that Susan intended for me from the beginning.


i spent a long and lovely afternoon at barnes & noble. i was in pursuit of two things: a birthday gift for my dear dear friend D, and the perfect book to give as a gift to Susan. the first part was easy. i wanted to give her one of my very favorite novels and she already knows what it is and that makes it a simple success. after finding D's gift and showing alicia what she is going to get me for my birthday in 2 months (The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1) i turned to face the rest of the store and stood quietly stupified for several moments. i slowly began to shake my head and said, "this is not going to work." there was no way, i thought, to find the right gift. i wandered and wandered and wandered the store churning thoughts of beautiful old musty books that can only be found in places that are NOT barnes & noble. i wanted a cherishable considerably earlier printing of A Tale, but there was not time. i wanted the quintessential novel that captures my love of literature, but it does not exist in a single binding. i decided to do what i could to trigger memories of the beginning of my affection for reading by entering the children's book section. initially, nothing happened. just as i was about to walk out, having decided that this was a ridiculous idea, i thought of the little golden books. then i thought of my books on record. then i decided to keep trying to make some kind of connection to my own literary past that would translate to a meaningful gift. it sounds crazy and if someone else told me what i am about to say i would totally call bullshit on it, but this is what happened next: i was walking through the children's section and i thought, i remember Harry the Dirty Dog and i remember Frog and Toad...i LOVED those books! and as i thought of that i approached a display stand that had Harry on one side and Frog and Toad on the other. i kept looking around, trying to not let that be as weird as it was, and i encountered collector's sets of The Boxcar Children (my favorite series as a child) and Nancy Drew (Susan's favorite series, per her letter to me) and i knew then what the gift was going to be. my gift to Susan at our initial reunion is going to be a collection of seven of my very favorite books from various stages of my life. by no means an exhaustive collection of favorites, but a representative one. a bit of insight into the life i have lived, through the lens of my deep affection for words and language. because i cannot get perspective on this situation and i have no idea what type of behavior is normal, i have no idea if this is a reasonable thing to do, or if it just oozes self-absorption, but it is too late to try to think of something better. so a re-usable b&n bookbag full of my favorite literature is the gift she is going to receive. for interested parties, the collection is as follows, in this order:

  • 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
there is quite an intellectual development gap between 'Frog and Toad' and 'The Chosen' this i understand, but it is difficult to choose any book from the beverly cleary or judy blume line-up that is particularly and uniquely meaningful, so i skipped the elementary school phase. i did really like From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, however.... perhaps i will pull my copy out of my library and add it to the gift bag.... okay. insert Mrs. Basil E. between Frog and The Chosen and we have our list. now it is time for serious feedback, before it is too late and i have handed over the bag'o'books... is this a dumb thing to do??

pictures and presents

i guess i have a lot to say today. i want to bring a gift for Susan tomorrow. what does one buy the woman who is responsible for the fact of one's very existence and who has proven herself as unselfish and loving as humanly possible. (more selfless than firefighters, even! and those are some pretty selfless folks! hmmmm.... do you think if there was a firefighter who released a child for adoption because they believed that the child would have a better life with another family, that would be, like, the most altruistic human ever?? i do. probably instant sainthood, in the right context. but i digress.) so, a gift. susan and i both talked about reading and our love of books in our letters to one another. so the obvious gift is a book, right? i was thinking, like, one of my very favorite books. but which one? and what kind of publication? my favorite books of all time are A Tale of Two Cities (another classic example of selfless love) and Their Eyes Were Watching God... but i am not just going to go pick up a penguin re-print of A Tale and call it a meaningful gift. so perhaps an older printing of the beautiful classic novel, but it might be a bit late to be thinking of this, as i would probably have to have ordered something like that from somewhere far away. and i don't want to pick up some cheesified version of Their Eyes with images from a freakin' Oprah movie that did almost nothing like justice to the beauty of the novel. incidentally, one of my other favorite novels is Catcher in the Rye, but i don't want her to think i am a serial killer so that one is off limits. ( i have never ever understood that association, by the way. there is nothing so particularly anti-social about Holden that crazy-ass stalkers and assassins should feel such kinship to him... but what do i know, perhaps i am missing something. or perhaps i share it and don't even know it. all the more reason to avoid giving this novel as a gift, i guess. but i digress again.) and pictures. i am going to have some pictures of my life with me when i go, and i will determine during our initial conversation if it is appropriate to offer to show them to her. my mom is very dedicated to documenting absolutely every stage of our lives, so i have complete sets of me smiling while propping up my birthday cakes, me blowing out the candles on all of my birthday cakes, me standing by every christmas tree, me standing by every christmas tree next to my brother, me and my brother sitting under the mantle of our fireplace singing christmas carols, me and my brother on the first day of school from kindergarten until he graduated, me in the living room wearing all of my sports uniforms..... a well-documented life.... there are so many pictures. i have no idea what she might want to see, if any at all, so i will just hope my instincts inform me correctly tomorrow. ok. i have to go now. i have to shop for a present. and some new shoes. then i have to go to the tanning store and whiten my teeth and condition my hair. the vanity has not relased me from its wicked wicked grasp just yet. it's my new favorite sin.


why is blogger posting without paragraph breaks? that is annoying as hell. FTR, there were paragraph breaks when i wrote all of these posts... and they were very strategically placed. now i just look like MORE of a rambling idiot than i already did! bleh.


in theory, i have just one more sleep until the day that i get to meet susan. in reality, there will be no sleep. i would like to sleep so i am not a spaced-out, freaky zombie when my birthmother sees my face for the very first time. but based on the last 4 nights, i am guessing there will just be a lot of thinking and smiling and wondering and flopping all night long. were either of my two faithful readers wondering what i am worrying about these days? ok, i will tell you. lately i have been having a lot of guilt about how my incredible excitement is perceived by adoptive parents. i mean, tomorrow is going to be, like, the biggest day of my life and i am saddened a little bit by the possibility that this fact would make adoptive parents feel minimized. of course, the fact that i have wanted to meet susan my entire life has nothing at all to do with my adoptive parents or how i was raised or the family that i know and love. the joy of reunion is not at all connected to my adoptive parents. but it kind of is. and for this, i feel sad. i have a number of friends who are adoptive parents, and i am grateful for their shared joy in my search experience. but reunion does change things. it changes conversations, it changes language. how do i communicate to my parents that this experience, which looks and feels like a pinnacle in my adult life, is not going to result in a relationship that trumps my love for them? how, when this degree of excitement and joy appears to indicate a "return" to THE primary relationship-- mother and daughter-- do i tell them that they are not being replaced, that they were not temporary? it does change things in ways that cannot be ignored. my parents, in conversation about this stage of my life, are now my "adoptive parents." they have never had a qualifier precede their role before. to qualify 'which' mother i am talking about changes things. i wrote a letter to susan to initiate this search; perhaps the next step for me is to write a letter to maxine to tell her exactly what i am doing and why. to remind her that she is still primary, she is still the source of love and generosity and kindness and strength that made me the person who is capable of making this decision and navigating all of the conflicted emotions that come with it. she is still the mother. the one who suffered through the developmental years and shared in the triumphs and devastations. she is still the one who maintains the title. thankfully, she is also one whose strength will allow her to feel whatever pain might come with learning that i have chosen reunion and delight in the joy that it brings me. and she is the kind of loving mother who will know in her heart that Susan is the reason for all of this, and cannot or should not be a source of worry or intimidation. in the end, i have no doubt that one day Susan and Maxine will meet and it will be beautiful.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

her name is susan.

i have to change the name of this blog, i think. she has a name now and it is susan. susan. my birthmother's name is susan. i should back up... so i am sitting with a student (the one and only student who knows i am in the middle of a reunion search) and my phone rings. "unknown" is the caller. unknown=Julie the Social Worker, this i have come to know. so, i turn to my precious student and i say, "i am so sorry, i know that i never take phone calls at work, but this one is going to be important. do you mind if i step out for a minute?" of course she didn't mind, why would she mind? so i answer my phone and Julie the Social Worker informs me that she has in her possession a letter from the woman who gave birth to me. giggling a little as she says it, she offers to mail it to me and before she can offer the alternative, i rudely interrupt and say, "no, that's ok, i'll come and pick it up." a lot back-and-forth chatter occurs, the details of which are still lingering somewhere above my spaced-out brain in the funky funky atmosphere and some kind of Julie-will-call-my-mother-to-discuss-what-we-all-do-next conclusion occurs. i do recall that it was in this first conversation that Julie informed me that my birthmother and i live in the same town. to which i replied, "i KNEW it!" significantly louder than one should in a middle school. especially if one is supposed to be an adult. so my brain is morphing into yogurt and i can no longer feel my feet. or my legs or arms, for that matter. but i have to go back to work. focus. julie calls back a few minutes later and says, "i talked to Susan...." and i, being the rude rude interrupter i am on this day, cut her off. "Her name is Susan?" julie very apologetically says something about, oh didn't i tell you that yet.... blah blah blah but i don't know what she said because my mind was stuck on susan. susan. susan. susan. as it turns out, Susan seems to think that 35 years is a long enough wait just as i do, and is not messing around with a bunch of letters and emails and junk. i am going to meet her on monday, april 4, at 4:30 in the afternoon. i am sure i'll be back here many times before then to freak out in cyberspace while i maintain perfect composure in "for real" life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


for those of you (two) who read this blog and wonder with more fervor than is probably healthy, i would like to update you by telling you that there is no update to be offered. things are as they were the last time i posted on this wall. i am still coasting on words like "thrilled" and "i know i will want to meet her" and such. so don't go worrying your precious little heads that i am leaving you out of the information loop. there is no loop. you have to be okay with that. i am still okay, you have to be okay. don't think that the "oh, no, she is going to change her mind" or "she was shocked and delighted and now she is over it" worries haven't started to creep in once in a while, but this is all part of the waiting process that we are all so good at. i found out from another adopted friend yesterday that she completed the search process a couple of years ago. she said that she had contact but then, in her words, chickened out, before the face-to-face meeting. i was stunned by this! i can't imagine coming this far and then not feeling absolutely compelled to go through with the actual meeting. i hope that doesn't happen to me! even more, i hope that doesn't happen to my mother! ok, back to work, and back to waiting...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 prob'ly think this blog is about you...

the possibility of reunion is making me more vain than i ever imagined being. on a typical day, i do enjoy a good make-up job and a nice hair styling tool, but these things that are going through my head now are a whole new game. thinking about that moment of first sight is the thing that keeps me up at night and part of the reason for this is that i am incredibly distracted by thoughts about how i can make that moment as pleasant as possible. it's definitely more vanity than i ever wanted to exhibit, but truth is truth and i am just going to have to keep telling it. she is the person who made me, after all. i am a reflection of her in a very real way; who would want to disappoint? not me.

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


i am driving home from adoption club last night, and as i am about to take a left turn toward my house, i have this eerie thought--for the first time ever-- about potential siblings. i haven't given the sibling idea much thought in the past, for obvious reasons, but after some discussion about sibling drama with reunited adoptees i experienced this horrifying thought.... what if there are other kids and i am jealous of them? followed by: what if i find my mother and then i just want her all to myself? Yuck!! who wants to think about shit like that?? not me! but i did and it freaked me out. i started thinking about whether or not it would be possible to keep my relationship with her completely separate from the fact of the other childrens' existence. then i thought about the possibility that i would like them and wish i could be their real sister... but that seemed unlikely. i am much better at friendship than that whole "sibling" thing. it was weird. it was creepy. i felt like a toddler. but it was real, so i had to go with it for a bit. i don't generally experience a lot of jealousy in my life, but as we have maintained throughout this process, this is a whole new world for me. weird and seemingly inappropriate feelings and responses are par for the course as i delve into mystery reunion land. so as i turned left onto 25th ave. s., i had to give myself time to think about the possibility that i would not want to share. i had always believed that the notion of siblings was a positive one, but it wasn't feeling so positive.

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

zoom zoom again...

holy moly!! i was about to sit down to this blog to tell you all about how much fun i had at adoption club tonight. i went, it was amazing. i got to meet a birthmother who is very cool and very sweet and whose story was so insighful for me.... just an all-around good thing. that is what i was going to tell you about. then as i was settling in to my spot on the couch with my lapdesk and teensy computer, my phone rang.

hi, shelly, this is julie.
hi 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." :)

"oh, it's that damn telemarketer again!"

i seriously believe that my birthmother is never going to answer the phone. let me tell you why... and it isn't just because i know that i would never answer, but that is part of it...

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.

ring ring ring

a really funny thing happened this morning. really funny. and the more i think about it, the funnier it is...

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.

Me: Yep.

JtSW: I just wanted to let you know how the search is going...

Me: Yep.

JtSW: Well, i have tried calling several times, but no one is answering the phone.

Me: Ok.

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.

JtSW: Hahaha

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

so much going on...

i am quietly and patiently waiting. waiting. waiting. and this is not an easy task since there are adoption stories all around me these days. and not just adoption stories, but adoption reunion stories. there was an article in my local newspaper yesterday about a woman who was adopted as a baby, reunited with her birth mother and learned that she has a 4-year-old half-brother who the birthmother is also not-so-able to care for, so the reunited adoptee is about to adopt her own half-brother. now, granted, none of us have major mommy fantasies that we are the product of a person whose ability for self-care or degree of mental illness is such that she has children removed from her home in 4 different decades, but it did make me stop and think... hmmm.... i could adopt a 4-year-old. and we'd be related.
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

new social worker

over the last couple of weeks, a few of my friends have asked if there has been any news on the reunion front. and by "a few of my friends" i mean, pretty much all of the friends who know about the search. i think some of them spend more time thinking about this than i do. it's adorable. anyway, the answer was "no" until yesterday. as i was walking through the hallway and toward the exit at school yesterday, my phone rang and it was cindy. cindy informed me that, due to limitations in her availability, she is going to transfer my case to Julie. she said, "as i told you before, i have some phone numbers for your birthmom, and because of this i think that your case could move very quickly. i don't want to slow it down for any reason."

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

more like it....

this pace is more my style. now it actually feels like waiting, and i am definitely okay with that. let the wondering continue! i do have a few friends who are slightly less patient and are using phrases like "pins and needles" as they wait to hear about the next step in this process. they will just have to get accustomed to sitting in quiet wonder.

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

zoom zoom

well this is a cyber-quick process. all my life i have imagined the search process as something that begins sloooowly and then slows down some more for months and months until it is nearly forgotten-- or actually forgotten. this is not at all how i imagined it! i received an email from cindy about an hour ago that states: "hi Shel, your letter looks good. i will call you after i contact her."

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...

cindy, you've got mail!

i wrote the letter. i wrote it, i read it, i hated it, and i sent it. there is no way for me to write that letter correctly. there is no chance that i can say in a page or two exactly the right things in exactly the right way. so i didn't. i wrote what came to mind as i considered the incredibly bizarre notion that my words would be read to the woman who birthed me and i just sent it right through the cyber-world to my amazing social worker. who will, at some point, place a phone call that will rock that poor woman's world like most of us can't imagine. i hope she is at least a little bit happy to hear from me.

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?

dreams, such strange dreams

i woke up startled and disappointed this morning, and not just because i woke up with a major sore throat. i woke up from a dream that could only have been motivated by my support group flub last night. there were a lot of elements-- many of them very family-oriented-- but the part i recall was the part that woke me. i was leaving a restaurant where the server kept bringing me really gross eggs. yolky eggs. gross. but i must have been in the company of someone i didn't know well because i was trying to force myself to eat them. so i had just left the restaurant and was in my bedroom (kind of) and talking to someone who was riding her bicycle through the house when i looked at the clock and realized that i was late for book club. it was 5:57 and in my dream, book club started at 5:30. so i began to tear through my closet to find a shirt to wear. all of the shirts were too small and they all had Peanuts characters on them, but this was apparently normal in my dream. so i put on a tshirt that had Lucy on the front with some kind of witty quote about being smart and dashed out the door for book club. i got on the riding lawn mower, which did NOT move fast enough for a person who is already late for book club. i started to ride my lawn mower towards Kathy's house when i realized that book club is at Beth's house. then i discovered that it is winter, and i wouldn't be going anywhere on my lawn mower. then just as my dream brain started to wonder what any of this has to do with my birthmother, i woke up. startled, upset (about being late) and a bit overwhelmed by the sense that my mother was somewhere in that dream.

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

social worker

i just spent the last 90 minutes on the phone with my social worker. i am all done being twitchy about having a social worker; Cindy is very cool. and she's an adult. i am quite sure i would have lost my mind if i had to deal with a social worker who is younger than i am. but Cindy is an adult. this is good. she also has over 20 years of reunion search experience. and it seems like she is really good at it.

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......

a different kind of support

i guess what i really need is an idiot recovery support group. this is february 7, making it mathematically impossible for this to also be the second monday of the month. i don't have to go to adoption club until next monday. this is good. it felt kind of early to be joining adoption club. i received a letter from LSS today asking me to call the social worker who will be handling my case, at which point we will discuss the next step in my search. i did call her, but there was no answer. i left a message. i think it will be good for me to have had at least an initial conversation with my social worker before i sign up for the adoption clubhouse.

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.

sooo not a support group person....

i am going to a support group tonight. i can't believe this is true even as i type it. the agency that handled my adoption offers a group meeting for all members of the triad who are in various stages of the reunion (attempt) process. i have no idea how i will walk into that room. i don't exactly do things like this. support group. i wonder if we can change the name of it. like, Adoption Social Club. that's what i'll call it. i would be so much more willing to speak and discuss things at a social club.

wish me luck. at the adoption clubhouse.

Friday, February 4, 2011

wires are crossing

this is going to sound ridiculous.

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


last night i had difficulty falling asleep because i could not stop trying to picture what my birth mom looks like-- something i have specifically and completely avoided doing all these years. the closest i have ever come to considering her physical appearance has been to wonder if i look like her at all. i do not, have not, can not allow myself to try to invent an image in my head. mostly because it would be impossible to do so with any degree of accuracy. partly because if i were to start it would be difficult to stop. thus the sleepless night.

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


tonight i am feeling a bit of anxiety. not hesitation or regret about starting this process; i am quite sure about it for myself. i am feeling anxious about the moment that is likely about to crash my birthmother's life. i have some guilt about this. for over 35 years my biological relatives-- those who know about me-- have been allowed to go about their business without outside intrusion. undoubtedly they have experienced their own thoughts and feelings about my birth and subsequent adoption-- i certainly don't think that they have forgotten that i ever happened. however, until right now, they have had the relative comfort of suffering/wondering/enjoying only their own part of this triad. to make the decision to thrust myself back into their world, their thoughts, their immediate awareness feels... invasive. even selfish. i don't know the next step in the process. i am guessing that once the adoption agency receives my documents someone from the office will contact me. do i have to meet with one of their social workers? that would only make sense, i guess. but it better not feel like a counseling session or some kind of therapeutic drama. that would irritate me. if i do have to sit down with a social worker, s/he had better be smart and it better be business-only, please. if i wanted a therapist to escort me through this little journey, i would hire one. but i digress.... what i really meant to talk about next is that i hope i have an opportunity to send an "i totally understand if you want to keep things exactly as they are now" message. it is important to me that along with the "i would love to see you, meet you, know more about you" message, there is also a "i truly understand and respect that when you agreed to this arrangement it was with the presence of and future expectation of confidentiality" message. will i get to do that? wow, this is such a mind-fuck. most of the time when it pops into my head it feels very business-as-usual because i have thought about my bio family so many times over the years. there is nothing weird about that. but when i remember that i am actually in the process of trying to locate and perhaps even contact them... then it just feels crazy. crazy-good. mostly. partly crazy-scary and partly crazy-guilty. i know that there are some people who might want to talk me out of the guilt. maybe someday i will be in a different place, but today i feel a bit selfish. yes, i know that adopted kids have a right to know about their origins and a right to wonder and ask questions. yes, i know that there are people who are horrified by the shrouds of mystery and secrecy that envelope closed adoptions. i understand the perspective that views them as traumatic. i simply do not share it. not right now. i think, probably, not ever. i am curious. i would love to know my birth family. in fact, i would really like to write the script and the characters of the potential reunion. that would be one way to be sure it goes smoothly! i want to know. but i am not quite in that place where i believe that i have an absolute and inherent right to know. i am incredibly grateful that my birthmother chose adoption for me. the alternative seems kind of, well, boring from my point of view. not that i would have noticed or anything, but it does seem like not existing would be rather dull. and because i am so grateful for her decision i feel like i should respect that she agreed to this with an expectation of privacy. if there had been no promise of said privacy, would things have gone differently? well, i surely don't know the answer to that, do i? not today, anyway.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

in the mail

i had my documents notarized on friday. i was spared the awkwardness of the anonymous notary by learning that one of my very dearest friends at work is a notary public and was fully prepared to take care of this issue right there at her desk. it was nice. i got the doc notarized and it offered me the opportunity to invite her into conversation about the fact that i am doing this. she is one of three or four colleagues i will talk to about doing this, so it was very cool that her services were available to me and the door was so smoothly and conveniently opened to the dialogue.

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

...nothing to the table

i thought i had considered everything: the possibility that my birthmother will not want contact, the possibility that she is dead, that she still wishes she hadn't had me, that she regrets giving me up, that she will overwhelm me or i will overwhelm her with contact once our identities are known to each other... and many others. i have spend the conscious part of 35 years considering possibilities. a new one occurred to me this morning. everyone is familiar with the fantasy life of the adoptee. especially as young children we all go through the phases of fantasty where we are reconnected with our biological mother and she is amazingly famous and beautiful and wealthy and everything Beverly Hills or Washington DC is made of. (depending on your particular bent on the fame factor.) then we come to a place where we acknowledge that the chances are much more likely that our biological families are much like all the other families we know. normal. maybe even kind of boring. flawed. human. this reality is much more of a relief than one might expect. but as we grow and progress through our idea and impressions about who our bio peeps might be, we start to acknowledge that their lives did not stop when we were born. they have moved on just as we have and they have possibly created new genetic relatives, expanded the family tree that we only kind of belong to. there are probably genetic siblings and cousins and second-cousins and cousins with some kind of removal quality that i have never ever understood. herein lies the new panic reaction.... i bring nothing to this potential reunion. what if my bio mom is one of those bio moms who wonders about other relatives? what if she has some kind of sweet fantasy that she has genetic grandchildren? what if she wants to meet them? what if she only thinks i am valuable to her world because i might have maintained a genetic line that she hopes for? but i have nothing to offer except my own little self. my own drab, occasionally troubled, under-achieving self. not even a damn husband! i already have two disappointed, grandchildless parents. do i really want to go through this entire process just to have her look at me with a 'what? it's just you?' expression? it is one possibility.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork....

i got the forms in the mail today. they look, well, familiar. but it feels very different because this time i know that i am going to send them back. i am going to follow through with this long-standing desire to try to learn more about my genetic origins. i filled out the forms and will go to the bank tomorrow to have them notarized-- another incredibly awkward stranger moment. "hi, can i please see a notary?"
"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

step one.... and a bit of background

this week will be the fifth or sixth time i have completed the information request forms at Lutheran Social Services. i got them when i was 18, completed them, and then did nothing. i requested them again at age 22. same story. 26, again. at age 30, i completed the non-identifying information request and actually returned it. i then received a 6 page letter from LSS which included all of the information my biological mother and father provided at the time of my birth. that was pretty cool. at age 34 i decided that i was ready to learn more if my birth family would allow it and i requested the forms one more time. i filled them out and promptly abandoned the idea again.

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.

Another new blog?

i already have an adoption reunion blog, this is true. my friend Phil and i started one a few years ago, but i have proven to be completely unreliable in blog participation and blog maintenance on "Finding Jane Doe" so i decided to start a new one that will be linked to FJD through my profile and can be, like, its cousin blog. Phil has been very active on FJD and i have done almost nothing because i have this long-standing habit of believing that i am going to start the reunion process and then slipping away into oblivion. rather than continue that behavior, i am going to start "Hi, Mom. So, what's your name?"

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....