I spent some more time reading through the journal I found yesterday. I say “journal” and some might think it was some leather bound volume with carefully lined pages, but really, it’s just a 70-page spiral notebook I wrote in during that time period. The entries begin on September 16, 1993 and end on January 2, 1994. Here’s a very small sampling of excerpts.
On September 21, 1993, approximately six months after caving to the pressures of the LDS community in which I lived, I copied Isaiah 49:21 into my journal.
“Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing as I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro?”
I go on to say, “I am very sad today about Bear (my nickname for my relinquished daughter). Yesterday wasn’t much better. I miss her so much. I miss my little baby girl. I know the [insert her adopted parents’ last name here] will take good care of her and will raise her correctly, but I still miss her. It never goes away, this missing her. ”
A few days later, I copy the verses from Isaiah 49:15-16 into my journal.
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. . . .”
On October 4, I write, “I got up and cleaned for the first time in a week this morning. I am so sad about all the choices I have made, all the stupid, stupid, stupid things I’ve done, primarily letting Bear go, even if I did it because I thought she deserved better than me. I am filled with pain. I suppose this feeling will eventually lessen somewhat. I am told it will but I don’t know how I am supposed to get over her.”
October 20, 1994: “I haven’t talked to Bishop F.* in over two weeks but I am going to go stop by his office today to see him. Hopefully I can make it through our chat without crying the entire time. It seems that his office has become my “crying place.” Do I have a ‘laughin’ place’ like Uncle Remus says we all have? I can’t think of one because any time I stop long enough to be still, I cry. It’s been nearly six months and I still cry every day over my Bear. Bishop F. keeps telling me I will be blessed for my sacrifice. He says Bear is happy with the [adoptive family], happier than I could have possibly made her trying to raise her on my own.” (*Bishop F. is the former LDS social worker, then religion teacher, and LDS bishop who facilitated the adoption of my daughter by his neighbors.)
October 26th, my 21st birthday: “[On Sunday], Sister C. was sitting in Sunday School with her little baby and it made me cry. My arms ached for my child, they hurt. My heart hurt. My head hurt. I wanted so much just to take him in my arms and rock him. My sweet Bear, oh how I miss you.”
October 27, 1993: “Monday I cried nearly all day. I miss my baby so much AND I had a BAD baby day on Monday, even worse than Sunday. I feel like the worst person sometimes because I can’t be happy about having to let her go. I am so sad and my heart hurts and aches for her. People say, ‘You’ll have another one’ but I will NEVER have another Bear. She was the only one in all of God’s creations and now she belongs to another mother. I am told the pain will lessen, but I will never stop missing her.”
November 11, 1993: “Lately, I’ve been missing my sweet baby Bear something awful. I dream about her, I ‘see’ her with other people, I think about her constantly. I don’t think there will ever come a day when she isn’t with me in my thoughts. I cry a lot, too, lately. I just want a baby to hold for a little while. Maybe someone will let me hold theirs. That would be so good for me.” (Followed by a note to call my friend who recently had her first son.)
The following day, I stopped by Bishop F.’s office at the Institute of Religion again. According to my journal, I went there specifically to ask him about Ms. Feverfew and how she was doing. I guess I spent the entire exchange with him crying and later that night, I wrote in my journal, “I am going to write a letter to Bishop F. about how I really feel about losing Bear. I feel like my center cannot hold for one more minute, that I am rapidly unraveling, and I am dying inside. I miss her. I am desperate for her. How can he not know this about me? Why does he act like this is going to go away? She will never go away – I have the stretch marks to prove it.” I don’t know if I did or not – I suspect I didn’t based on the conversation we had a year or two ago in which he said I “blossomed” after I relinquished her for adoption. Blossomed????? I was stunned – still am – that he perceived my slide into a deep depression as a “blossoming.”
I have to admit though, I can see why he might have gotten that impression. I did a *very* fine job of hiding the searing pain from every one, and acted well the “part” of the fallen-but-now-redeemed-through-adoption Mormon birth mother. I am left wondering, did anyone in my life at the time see what a hot mess I had become emotionally and spiritually? Did anyone care? Why didn’t my bishop or some other trusted person tell me to get the hell into a counselor’s office STAT? Why was I offered a band-aid for my wounded and suffering heart when what I really needed was CPR?
December 17, 1993: “Today has been nine months since I last saw my baby. Can you believe I have been without her for as long as I was with her? I still think of her and talk about her daily. She will always be with me, always in my heart. I often fantasize about getting her back from the [adoptive parents], but only if that is what the Lord desires for her. I love her. I miss her. My arms ache to hold my happy little girl again.”
December 18, 1993: “Joe & John turn 19 today [they are two of my brothers who happen to be twins]. It is also Bear’s 1 1/2 year old mark. I can’t believe she is that old. My heart hurts today more than ever for her. I miss her. What did I do to deserve this? Will I ever feel any kind of peace longer than a day or two about this? I am struggling to keep it together, to keep the strings tied, to keep the facade upright.”
From that point, I begin to really spiral downward into an inky dark place and then the journal ends on January 2, 1994. By virtue of the fact I am writing this today, I know losing my daughter to adoption didn’t kill me entirely, though it came very close to doing so. Somehow, by sheer determination and grit, I was eventually able to dig myself out of the deep depression adoption had brought into my life. If adoption taught me anything, it is that I am far more resilient and tougher than I ever imagined I could be.
There is much more in those 70 pages I have not shared here – so much more, but I think this is a pretty representative sample of my state of emotion and mind at the time. In case anyone ever wonders if this was ever “easy” for me or if I ever felt “good” about my “choice,” the answer is right here in my journal.
It hasn’t been easy and I have never felt “good” about it, regardless of what carefully-crafted mask I have presented to the world. Am I resigned to my loss? Yes. Accepting of my reality? Yes. Hopeful to find healing? Yes. But do I feel “good” about losing my daughter this way? No. Not for one moment since she left my arms in 1993.