The Difficult Miracle

A while ago, I wrote about the experience of finding out my birth father had died. As I said at the time, I didn’t exactly know how to handle the situation.

What I didn’t say at the time is that I tried to make the best of things by taking the opportunity to look up my birth-mother. I had her name – Laura – and I could have done this a while ago – it’s just that after the official route to looking her up had closed, and after I’d gotten some satisfaction out of finding my birth-father instead, I had decided to let it be for the time being.

Death, however, has a way of casting a new light on things. In light of my birth-father’s untimely death, it seemed time to take the further step of looking up Laura. And so I did, and I found her.

This is a very private matter for me and my family, so I’m not going to tell all here. But I do want to say a few words, because I’ve been incredibly blessed in so many ways, and if I can share some of the blessings that will be a good thing.

I was blessed once to be born at all. I was blessed again to have a birth-mother with the strength and conviction to offer me a better life, through adoption, than I likely would have had. I was blessed again – and it’s a perpetual blessing – when my mom and dad picked me up at the Children’s Aid in Ottawa and brought me to the shores of Georgian Bay, where they faithfully and lovingly raised me. They continue to love and guide me from their happy retirement home on the west coast, and none of this would be happening if not for them.

I was blessed again this spring, when I found Laura with a heartfelt letter, and got one back in return. And then two weeks ago came the difficult miracle: a ten-day real-life visit from Laura, a blessing upon many blessings.

I call it a difficult miracle because it’s not an easy thing to do, meeting one another like that after 36 years. It was hard for me and it was hard for Laura, who was brave enough to take most of the risk by flying here from California. But we trusted each other, thanks to the communication we’d exchanged, and we did the work together. And so out of the difficulty came the miracle – the chance to meet and to get to know each other a little across the vast span of time and space.

There’s lots more. It’s a big deal for me. But this is what I’m ready to say in this space right now: that I have been blessed, and that I am grateful, and that I am a better person for all of this. And to the unknowable and indescribable forces that have directed my life, which I call “God” for lack of a better term, I say “thank you.” Thank you for the gift of life, and for the continued learning and growing that has made my life so rich and meaningful.

I really appreciate it, more and more with each difficult and miraculous day.

One comment on “The Difficult Miracle

  1. Remarkable Reprieve
    I was 19 years old when my son David was born. There was no family or friendly adult or spouse or boyfriend or even friend, to turn to for advice. There were no financial resources either.
    Forty years ago, a poor, unwed mother was a pariah and faced a hostile environment. In my state of shame, I never told anyone. I left home and moved to a strange city where I could live out my shame among strangers and make a difficult decision.
    In that era there was only one option: Agencies primed a woman to give up her child. And when I looked in the mirror, I saw only too clearly what the future had in store for my unborn child.
    It was nonetheless, a very difficult choice. Placing a child for adoption in the late 60s was giving up all rights. There was never any way of knowing who the parents were and how the child would be treated. All a mother had was hope. Hope that her child got lucky and got good parents. My decision and my child’s welfare were looked up in separate, secret compartments.
    So thirty-five years later, when a mysterious envelope from Toronto Ontario arrived in my mailbox in Oakland California, it shook me like no earthquake had ever done. I had no idea who that letter might be from but I knew it was life-changing. I felt it. Four hours later, I opened it.
    The wondrous words in that letter reduced me to tears. Tears of agony, relief and immense joy. An incredible young man, wise beyond his years, sensitive in a strangely familiar way, quick with pen and not without humor, was telling me he was my son, the son who over three decades ago I had placed for adoption.
    Here was joy beyond anything I could have dreamed. David was happy. David had had a good life. And most remarkably, David wanted to meet me. Oh happy day!
    Several months later I planned a trip to Toronto. Quickly on the heels of this decision, Fear returned. What were David’s expectations? How could I possibly know, and what if I fell short? Had he really had a good home or was he sparing my feelings? How did he feel about my placing him for adoption? Was he secretly angry that I had made that decision? In spite of the fact that I was a birth-mother I felt compelled to try to appear like a mother! I’d never been a “mother” though over and over I had been an “auntie”. What was a “mother” like? How did she look? (Certainly not like ME!) How did a mother “behave”? (Oh dear…) Was a mother an “activist”? A “bohemian”? And what kind of clothes did she wear? Would David be embarrassed when he met me?
    Yes, thirty-six years after the fact, I still wanted to be the perfect mother (birth-mother). I had no choice – it’s genetically imprinted. In the final moments I gave it all up to the universe and presented David with “me”. (I did get a little help from a pretty silk shirt). Meeting him and slowly getting to know him that year helped me retrieve all the joy that got left behind in his magical letter and gave me a long overdue reprieve for my difficult decision.

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