Dear Ms. Feverfew –
So…I have a confession to make.
You know how I just registered with the Utah Mutual Consent registry so you can access your original birth certificate when you turn 21?
Well, I actually have one copy of it already. I keep feeling like I should send it to you – it is yours, after all. I know you can get a copy of it in a year or so, but I feel like I am doing something wrong by keeping this one. Am I? It’s one of the only tangible things I have that proves you existed at some point in my life, that you and I are connected. So is it wrong for me to want to hang on so tightly to this piece of paper?
And what happens if I send it to you? I don’t have your mailing address at school and so I would have to send it to your parents and…well…there isn’t a good history there of them giving you things I have sent. So do I send it to your parent’s address, risking it getting lost in the holiday shuffle? Or do I tell you about it when I send you a Christmas message via Facebook and ask for an address to which to send it? Or would that seem like a ploy to get you to contact me? Do I just tell you I have it, if you ever want it? Or do I not say anything at all about the fact I have the only existing copy of your original birth certificate? And if I do send the only one in existence and then you never register with Utah Vital Records, then that means I will never be able to get a copy of it again, either.
Help me, Ms. Feverfew. What should I do?
ETA (March 21, 2013): So I was sadly mistaken. Original birth records are sealed in perpetuity there in Utah. The Utah Mutual Consent registry is ONLY for identifying information. NOT for OBCs. This is particularly troubling since you are now in possession of the only copy in existence, ever.)
I saw the obituary today for your adoptive grandmother, June. Did you know that my grandmother’s name is June? Did you know I have a picture of my Grandma June – your great Grandma June – holding you when you were four or so months old? Did you know that my older sister’s middle name was June?
Those are stupid questions.
Of course you don’t know.
Perhaps you don’t even care that we both have grandmothers named June. According to all those good birth mommies out there in the blogosphere (of which I am most decidedly not one since I am speaking the truth of what it is like to live as an LDS birth mother
for the last 18 years for the rest of eternity), I don’t even have the right to wonder about this or the right to grieve this latest “coincidence.” You are sealed to that family for ever and ever and ever AMEN and I should just get over “it.”
Adoption – the gift that on keeps giving.
Dear Ms. Feverfew –
If I had my druthers, I would put my Christmas tree up in mid-October. As it is, I have to restrain myself in order to accommodate Mr. Bah-Hum-Bug-the-tree-should-not-be-put-up-until-December 1st, AKA Mr. Amazing Man. (He really isn’t a grinch, we just differ on when to put up the tree and when it is appropriate to start playing Christmas music. He seems to think that July is not appropriate.)
My older son is of the same mindset. He will sit there on the couch with Mr. Amazing Man and roll his eyes (ever so lovingly) at me when I bust out the stockings and “Cookies for Santa” plate. In past years, I have indulged their ill-humor and waited until the 1st of December but this year….
This year my tree was up by November 20. Ha! Victory.
And this year, I have had a partner in my Christmas criminality – the Professor. Turns out he adores Christmas as much as I do. The music, the lights, the decorations on the tree, the yummy baked goods, the Santa letters, the 30 nights of Christmas movies: we delight in these things equally. He simply cannot understand why other people in the neighborhood don’t already have all their decorations up. (Me either son, me either!)
And so I wonder…are you more like Captain Knuckle who likes Christmas but approaches it with a more restrained pleasure, or are you like the Professor and myself, reveling in the season’s delights?
I recently read the article “Your Mother Would Know” by Carol Barbieri that originally ran in the NY Times on November 29, 2005. (Thank you Lori and Elaine at Adoption Education for pointing me to it.)
It’s all about medical records and adoptees. You know, life and death issues – the kinds of things I never thought through at 19 when I relinquished you for adoption. I thought (and was told) that love would be enough. Love would always be enough. It all about love, isn’t it? Turns out, it isn’t. At least not if the doctors think your 14-year old son might have Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Or an number of other countless diseases and disorders that are inherited or genetically related.
Turns out all the love in the world can’t compensate for not having a first-hand knowledge of your roots.
You don’t have any of that information. Well, you have the sketchy bits that I could give at 19 years old. But do you know that heart disease runs in your family (thanks ex-dad!)? PCOS? Diabetes? Alcoholism? Hepatic cysts? Depression? Gout? Rheumatoid arthritis? How about chronic hypotension? Fortunately there isn’t anything too out-of-the-ordinary that we know of other than rampant stupidity for those who possess a Y chromosome, but since you are a girl, I think you are safe.
So this got me to thinking: Should I write up a detailed medical history dossier and send it too you? Or should I just wait for you to ask for it? If I write it up and don’t send it in the hopes that your need for it will someday motivate you to contact me, then am I holding that information hostage? The Book of Melynda dictates that it is rightfully yours, so would I be going against my personal moral code to not send it to you?
This whole adoption thing…I think I have it all figured out and then whammo kablammo, as the Professor says, yet another curve ball is pitched at my head.
I guess I just have to think this one through a bit more carefully. What would I want if I were in your situation?
I noticed you tweeted that you love St. George. You probably have no idea that is where I was born, do you?
Actually, I can answer my own question: You don’t have a clue I was born in St. George. You don’t know that my birthday is coming up in two weeks, either. Nor do you know that you and I were born at almost the exact same time of day.
I wonder…why do you love St. George? Is your unknowing heart tuned to the same desert song as mine? Does the heat of the sun reflected on the red rocks press into your pores, warming you through as it sways your unknowing heart towards your roots?
And then I wonder…will it ever matter to you? I know you are young, oh so young, and I know I must be patient, oh so patient, but this mother longs to tell you: You are a daughter of the high desert and of the ocean waves.
Dear Ms. Feverfew –
Tomorrow morning you graduate from high school. I often dreamed of sneaking in to the ceremony and sitting way up top in the basketball arena at the university where it is held. But then I saw pictures of you all grown up. I knew there was no way I could make an appearance there, as clandestine as it might be, and not be recognized for who I am. Plus, I live 2220 miles away from you now and think I might have a hard time justifying a trip back home just 16 days after the birth of your sister.
We are cut from the same cloth, you and I. Right down to the high set cheekbones and the way we part our hair. We are the same height and wear the same shoe size. If we were ever in the same place at the same time, there would be absolutely no mistaking that I am your mother and you are my daughter. So much so that I recently had a friend who doesn’t know about you but lives in your same, small, provincial hometown email me to say she saw “my twin” at the library the other day.
*Deep, long, drawn out sigh.* If only she knew the truth. If she only knew.
So happy graduation, my darling Boo Bear. I can hardly believe it has been 6552 days since you were born. I won’t be there in person but I will certainly be there in spirit and heart. I hope tomorrow is as wonderful as you can possibly imagine and I pray your future brings you happiness, success, and much love.
Your birthday is in a few short months. Your 18th birthday. I weep as I write those words.
It means you will be of legal age, an adult.
It means I have to decide: What do I do?
I wish I could read minds. I wish I knew what you wanted me to do.
Do you want me to send you a letter and let you know that I am here, always loving you, always wanting to have you in my life again? Or would a phone call be better? Or do you want me to let you make the first overtures towards rebuilding our relationship? Do you even want to rebuild a relationship with me? And how do I even explain how all of this came to be like this? Do you even want to know or are you fine in your life, knowing only what your adoptive parents have told you of me? Since you will be a legal adult, do I need to go through your adoptive parents? Or are you really an adult, independent and autonomous? Can I send letters directly to you? Friend you on Facebook? Follow you on Twitter?
Most importantly: Do you want me to?
I know what I want, but I have the feeling that this must be about what you need. After all, you were the innocent, voiceless part of this whole equation.
So my dearest Ms. Feverfew, please tell me: What do you want?
Dear Ms. Feverfew –
I am certain you have heard that Marie Osmond’s 18 year old son committed suicide this weekend. It seems that he was “struggling” with depression and didn’t feel like he “fit in” with any one.
What a lot of the media in the U.S. is failing to report is that Michael is an adoptee.
I wonder if that has anything to do with his depression and his feelings of not fitting in. I don’t have to wonder what my adoptee friends will say – they will state unequivocally YES!!! I also know what some of my adoptive parent friends will say – Oh no, it couldn’t be adoption – but maybe. Then there will be that group of adoptive parents that will scream “THERE IS NO WAY HIS ADOPTION HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIS DEPRESSION! Show me the studies, show me the STUDIES, SHOW ME THE STUDIES that prove it does have something to do with his being adopted!!!!! Until then, I refuse to believe that it could have had any impact on him – there must have been something else wrong with him.”
I wonder if his natural mother will be told. I wonder if she will be invited to attend his funeral. I wonder if she will even be acknowledged. I wonder if Marie Osmond even knows who Michael’s natural mother is. I wonder if Michael knew.
This has always been one of my greatest fears – that I would finally start searching for you, only to find that you had passed away and I had never been told.
I wonder…would your adoptive parents tell me if something happened to you? Or would I have to find out from a newspaper headline?
Is it bad that I’d rather read than socialize? (10:32 AM Dec 9th)
Absolutely not. Especially since you are related to me. And your grandmother. I wouldn’t expect any less of you to be honest. Books are some of my best and dearest of friends and I suspect your grandmother would say the exact same thing. When I married Mr. Amazing Man, I told him there were two things I would simply never not have in my budget – money for books and money for fresh flowers. Books feed the mind and flowers feed the soul.
(OK – there were actually three things: Books, fresh flowers, and professional hair care products. I tend to be a wee bit vain about my hair – a vice I will readily admit to. All other budgetary items were negotiable.)
But back to the matter at hand – I wonder if you have a stack of books next to your bed like I do mine. I always have four or five that I am reading at once – a classic, a biography, a book about education/learning/psychology, one about science of some sort or another, and something “fluffy” (but rarely popular). I almost always have a book in my purse, under my pillow, and in the car. I would rather curl up in bed in the evening with a familiar, dog-eared favorite book than spend it out “hanging out” with friends. I was never good at “hanging out” and at 37, haven’t quite cultivated that skill yet. But give me a good book and I am in heaven.
I collect books like some women collect shoes.
Don’t be so anxious to grow up, little Ms. Tanacetum parthenium. I remember those days well – I was so d.o.n.e. with school I quit in February of my senior year. Looking back though, I am pretty certain there were other things going on in my life that influenced my choice to leave. Like the crushing blow of my sister’s death, my family coming apart at the seams, the unyielding responsibility of caring for my eight younger siblings, all the abuse stuff finally coming out. High school was just…well, it was just too much and not enough, all at the same time if that makes any sense at all.
When I look back at those years, it seems like they all passed before me as if it were dream. It has just been in the past few years that I am finally waking up to the bittersweet goodness that is my life now.
Hang in there, Ms. Feverfew. This too shall pass. It will be over in the blink of an eye, I promise you.