Dear Ms. Feverfew –
So after I came home last night and bawled myself silly for a while, I had a good talk with my ever amazing husband and was able to figure some things out.
First, I don’t think Jane was being intentionally cruel or malicious last night. Neither was her husband (who is actually a pretty nice guy). Here’s what I think happened. Jane is an adoptee who came from some very difficult circumstances with her original family. Adoption has been exactly what I have believed it should be, a safe haven for children whose very lives were in danger because of poor choices made by her original parents. She was adopted and mothered by a pretty amazing woman and all they know as a family is the party line “adoption is a miracle and a blessing” because…well, because that’s all they know. And it has been a miracle and a blessing in their family’s life.
So here I come, trotting along, doing my thing on Facebook and BLAMMO, she runs headfirst into an ugly, intense, and not so pretty side of adoption, the complete and polar opposite of what her experience has been. I can pretty much guarantee she has NEVER heard a first mother speak with as much frankness as I did in those Facebook comments. She has most likely never even met a first mother (that she is aware of) because we are still so closeted in the LDS culture. Well, maybe except for those new-fangled ones who seem to be so proud of what they have done to their babies but that’s another letter for another day. To her, “birth mothers” really are crack whores baby abusers. That’s what she knows about women who lose their children to adoption.
I can only imagine what I said rocked her world view to the very foundations. Jane has only known the uber-accomplished, articulate, can do everything, no hill to high, no bridge to far, nothing I cannot master, go to church every Sunday, teach Relief Society and Gospel Doctrine, over-achieving Melynda. To discover there was this reservoir of hidden grief, filled with tears over losing my daughter to adoption? To try to assimilate and accommodate a different world view of “birth mothers”? That’s a lot to take in, even for the non-adopted. I can only imagine how hard it would be for an adoptee whose experience was so vastly different than mine.
Which brings me back to what I said earlier. I don’t think Jane was being intentionally cruel or malicious last night. What I saw in her eyes wasn’t hate. It was confusion. It was hurt. It was fear.
And fear does funny things to us.
I know it does to me. Like, take last night for example. Fear told me to stay home from the Christmas party, but faith told me to go. Fear is what made my stomach lurch when I saw her pull up, but faith is what prompted me to ask what I could do to help.
And then she got out of the car and her fears collided with my fears and you know the rest of the story.
Last night as I was going to sleep, I realized that Jane’s response came from the same wounded place as my reaction to her behavior. Yes, it was hard–it still is hard and still hurts–but this is what adoption has done to two women who are otherwise lovely and gracious people. I don’t hold it against her. If anything, I feel even more compassionate towards her because it was obvious that even though adoption has been a miracle and a blessing in her life, she is still hurting.
I share this epiphany with you because it only serves to highlight the real intent of this letter and that is the second thing I realized last night, which was actually the first thing I realized last night, prior to the big epiphany about Jane I just told you about.
I am, as my dear husband said in the same voice as Ralphie’s dad from A Christmas Story, “fra-geeeeeee-lay.” And sometimes I have the emotional maturity of a 12 year old.
How do I know this? Because last night after I was fairly certain the party was over (and before my epiphany), my husband and I went to retrieve the things I had left at the church. When we arrived, we discovered that most of the things had been washed and gathered up and were being delivered to my house. By Jane and her sister.
So we went home and when we came around the corner, I saw Jane and Elizabeth getting out of the car and collecting up the items to take them to our front door. I started crying again and said, “Noooooooo!!! I can’t face the both of them right now, please, can we keep driving?” And Jeff, being the kind husband he is and realizing the F.R.A.G.I.L.E. state I was in, went around the circle. We parked by the pond and waited a few minutes until we were fairly certain they were gone.
While we were sitting there, I thanked him for putting up with my 12-year old junior high antics. He looked over at me with a twinkle in his big green eyes and that devilishly handsome grin of his and said, “Yes, dear. I only put up with it because I know how fra-geeeeeee-lay you are.” His humor was just what I needed to see how stupid I was acting right at that moment. And then I saw their car coming towards us and I ducked down, hiding my face in my hands in the hopes they wouldn’t see me. There’s that fear thing again, making me do dumb things.
Did I mention that last night I was displaying the emotional maturity of a 12-year old?