Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What you need to know

Dear Mom, this is the baby you left behind in the hospital.

Do you ever think of her? When they wheeled you back to the recovery room, could you hear her crying in the nursery before they drugged her? Did it bother you? Or had you already made her a nonperson by that point so you could bear to leave her behind? Just as they gave you drugs to dry out your milk, did you also dry out your heart?

Right now as she lays alone in the nursery, wanting and needing you, she’s learning hopelessness and despair. She’s learning futility. She’s learning desperation and rage. She needs to nurse from you, but instead she will be given an artificial nipple on a regular 4 hour schedule. She needs to be held by you as she feeds, but instead her bottle will be propped up. She’ll feed alone. She’ll be changed and kept warm and dry. She’ll learn that which is most vital and necessary is not what she’ll get. She’ll learn to accept that. She’ll learn how to give up.

But it’s OK, because I’m here for her. I’m still standing. I’m still strong. I’m in the nursery with her now. And I’ll say to her:

I can’t give you what you need. I can’t mother you or nurse you or be your mommy. But I’ll hold you and let you cry, for as long as you need to cry. I know your heart is broken but you are strong, and you’ll survive. I love you.

And I’ll sit with her, holding her in my arms in a rocking chair in a dark and deserted hospital nursery, and I’ll let her cry all night. I’ll say to her what I whispered to my little sister the day she was brought home: I’m sorry you miss your mommy little baby. I’m sorry.

Dear Mom, this is your daughter at seven years old.

Do you ever think of her? When she was seven, your little boy was three and your little girl was two. Late at night, when your real children were sleeping, did you think of your firstborn off and alone in the world? When your seven year old lay awake a night afraid of monsters and ghosts, making an imaginary force field in the walls of her pretty canopy bed for protection, did you lay awake at night making an imaginary force field of your own heart for the same? Did you box it up to keep it safe from your monster ghost child? Or was it boxed up to begin with?

She needs you. She needs you to tell her why. She needs to see her own eyes in your face. She needs to be around someone who looks like her. She needs to be around someone whose vocal tones match her own. She needs to feel she belongs. She needs to know her mommy. But what she’s learning is how to lie. She’s learning never, ever, ever to tell the truth. She’s learning the truth causes a stiffened back. The truth causes a pursing of the lips. The truth causes a warning flashed in the eyes. The truth causes pain.

But it’s OK, because I’m here for her. I’m still standing. I’m still strong. I’m in her pretty French Provincial bedroom with her now. And I’ll say to her:

I can’t give you what you need. I can’t mother you or mirror you or be your mommy. But I’ll let you trash this bedroom. Go ahead and rip the covers off the bed, smash the lamps, throw your Snow White radio out the window. You can act out around me because I am safe. And when your rage is over I’ll hold you and let you cry, for as long as you need to cry. I know your heart is broken but you are strong, and you’ll survive.

And I’ll sit on the floor with her, in a trashed and ruined bedroom, while she sobs all night. I’ll say to her, You don’t need to make a force field anymore. All you need is to cry and have someone say they are sorry and they love you. And I’m sorry, and I love you.

Dear Mom, this is your daughter at thirteen.

Do you ever think of her? You must have been so busy at the time, with your nine and eight year old real kids. They must have kept you running. Did you work at that time or did you stay home? Did you ever sit in your kitchen on summer days, having a cup of coffee and looking out the window? If so, did you ever see this girl walking by? Did she make you think of your discarded daughter, or was she so invisible to you by then she had ceased to exist except in nightmares?

She needs you so bad right now, standing on the edge of womanhood as she is. She is being confronted daily with the power of motherhood and pregnancy, living with a pregnant woman. She sees the baby move in his mother’s stomach. She sits on the couch with her pretty aunt, her hand feeling little arms and legs moving. She goes to a hospital and says, “Oh how sweet” when she sees him, and his head turns towards her voice. She realizes he recognizes it, that he heard it before he was born, that he had awareness and consciousness.

She’s learning self-hatred and fear of her own sexuality. She understands completely the dynamics of fertility and conception. She know what happened to you could happen to her. She thinks of what it would be like, to be held hostage to a child you never wanted. To have your body grow warped and distended while you are helpless to a parasitic intruder who has ruined your life. To hate the child that robbed you of your summer and your teenage years. To be a breeding machine for a couple in the suburbs.

But it’s OK, because I’m here for her. I’m still standing. I’m still strong. I’m in the forest with her now. And I’ll say to her:

I can’t give you what you need. I can’t mother you or mentor you or be your mom. But I’ll just hang with you here for a while. I’ll watch you dull your pain with drugs. I’ll watch you puke after eating. I won’t judge you for it. I’ll just tell you these things aren’t the problem, they are just a symptom of something much deeper. It hurts so fucking much, I know. And I’m going to stay here with you until your buzz dies down and the hurt comes back, I’ll give you a cheeseburger and fries from your favorite restaurant and tell you it’s ok to keep it in, you don’t need to abort this food, what you need to do is cry.

So I sit on the grass against a willow tree with her in the dark forest. There’s a cold bong on the ground and an empty takeout container nearby and she’s crying so hard she can barely breathe, tears and snot running down her face, while I hold her and say, over and over, it sucks, I know, it sucks, I love you, I know.

Dear Mom, this is your daughter at forty-three.

Sorry she doesn’t look so hot. It was a rough night. She didn’t feel like putting any makeup on today, because makeup is a mask. Today she’s not masking anything.

How did it feel to hear her voice? To hear her hope die? To hear her start to cry? To deny you existed to her? To say over and over, no, sorry, no, sorry, no, sorry, no, no, no, no. How does it feel to say no to your child in need? I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t know. I’d never know.

She’s learned so much, but right now, she need to learn how to heal. She needs you so badly. She needs you to recognize her, to admit she exists. But she knows that won’t happen. At least for now. She offered you a gift, a chance at healing. You chose to refuse it for your own fear. She doesn’t know what that fear is, be it fear of losing your man, fear of losing your real children, fear of scorn, or pain, or shame. The gift is always there for you Mom, should you ever grow up and choose to take it.

But it’s OK, because I’ve got people there for me. See those links off to the left and the right? I purposely chose a template with that format. They and my family of my own creation are what hold me up. They are what keep me grounded. They are what keep me afloat when I stare at the ocean sometimes and a fragment of an old poem I wrote whispers ”there is no suffering under the sea, so sweetly the waves, they call to me.”

I’m alive, I exist. I’m still standing. I’m still strong. I have a cool t-shirt from one of my favorite authors that says so. I will heal from this.

I love you Mom. I hope some day you call me.


29 complaints from ingrates:

elizabeth August 16, 2007 at 3:48 AM  


But tears. Many many tears.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 6:08 AM  


Oh Theresa. I can hardly believe this, I am so so sorry. So very sorry.

I don't know what else to say either because this just truly sucks. I wanted so much more for you, with you.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 6:45 AM  

Dear Theresa

I cried when I read your post today.

It breaks my heart when mothers outright reject their sons and daughters.

This (bio) mom is here for you and is glad that you are in my life.

I count you as family.

Your mother is a fool not to realise just how lucky she is to have her daughter wanting to know her. Many mothers would give their right arm (and a whole lot more) to have you come back into their lives.

Personally, I think it is selfish.

I am not an adoptee - I speak as a reunited mother.

Shame on ALL mothers who turn away their own flesh and blood, no matter how terrible the circumstances were surrounding the birth of their children.

It all still hurts for me - but, hell, our sons and daughters should ALWAYS come first.

Adoption does NOT absolve mothers of their sons and daughters needs - quite the opposite. Separated or not, we should ALWAYS be there for them. It makes me so angry when they are not.

(I am always tempted to give such mothers a piece of my mind but I know that would only make things worse for you).

Please count me as a mother who does care about you Theresa.

(I think you already have my e-mail - if not, I'll send it to you along with my group web site for you).

Take care, Theresa.

suz August 16, 2007 at 8:10 AM  

I agree with Cathy. I had no words to use so I will ditto what she said. I am terribly sad. For you. Hugs. Its all so wrong. So very very wrong.
Adoption is horrible. Its a crime against nature that the victims spend their lives paying for.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 8:40 AM  

I am so sorry.
Too too many innocent people spend their lives asking those same questions
With no answer.
I fucking hate adoption.

abebech August 16, 2007 at 9:09 AM  

Theresa, I am so sad and angry for you, for the baby and the little girl and the woman.
You are right when you say that finding her and offering her contact is a gift -- an incredible one. I've never known pain like hers or like yours, but I'm hoping and praying she chooses not to compound either of your losses by continuing this denial.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 9:20 AM  

FEAR SUCKS. I'm so sorry Theresa, but to read what you've written, I know (again) you are amazing and I do pray that someday she will be able to find that out for herself.

Unknown August 16, 2007 at 11:15 AM  

wow. this post brought me to tears.

it reminds me of loss on a huge profound level.

it reminds me of the time i had to let my parents go - i had to accept that they were never going to be able to parent me or give me anything i needed as a child. i had to grieve the fact that i have biological parents but that i was never going home.

one thing i know for sure is that healing deep wounds takes a long time. and the other thing i know is that your mother is the one who has missed out on a wonderful daughter.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 2:34 PM  

Tears tears tears.

I love ya and I'm so sorry you have to bear all this grief right now. Oh, T, I am really really sorry.

Anonymous,  August 16, 2007 at 5:46 PM  

so sorry this happened.

Unknown August 16, 2007 at 11:05 PM  

I don't think anything has ever slayed me so deeply, you are an amazing writer, spirit, shitfuckgodamnbigfathell.

I am so sorry.

Gershom Kaligawa August 17, 2007 at 2:22 AM  

fuck! i just sit here with the comments window open, wanting to reach through and just hold you theresa. fuck!! AARRRRGGHHHH!!! WTF!!

Possum August 17, 2007 at 7:30 AM  

speechless.....just tears
Poss. xxxxx

Kelly August 17, 2007 at 9:00 AM  


Sending you lots of hugs,

Anonymous,  August 17, 2007 at 2:57 PM  

Oh T!!!!

A big ((((((((hug)))))))) for you my dear.

Wonderful, beautiful post. I wish she could see it.

Hang in there, you never know what tomorrow may bring.

h2o girl August 17, 2007 at 4:17 PM  

Er, what Joy said. Your writing is exquisite and I cannot fathom why your mom would refuse to acknowledge you. I hope that changes someday. It would only enhance her life, truly.

You are a beautiful writer and spirit.

Anonymous,  August 17, 2007 at 11:28 PM  

Nothing, nothing has moved me to tears like this.


Incredible post.

Anonymous,  August 19, 2007 at 4:48 PM  

Oh my. Tears streaming down my face.

Heather August 20, 2007 at 3:32 AM  

I am so sorry.

I wish there was something else I could say or do. This just isn't right.

Anonymous,  September 8, 2007 at 11:13 PM  

I found this post via Lightning Crashes. I'm so glad that I read it and so sad that I read it. My heart breaks for you. I can't imagine ANY mother (as one myself, in reunion with my son) walking away from their child TWICE. I wish I could say be patient, she isn't ready, it's so hard for we moms who were commanded to let go and move on. But I really don't get it. I want to throttle your mother. Sending you the biggest hugs.

Anonymous,  September 10, 2007 at 7:43 AM  

Oh, Theresa....what a powerful expression of your feelings. It's so hard to be going through this... No human being should be going through are such an amazing woman.

Ungrateful Little Bastard September 19, 2007 at 11:53 PM  

Thank you. As long as we're both alive, there's always hope.

Chooch December 28, 2007 at 12:52 PM  

There are literaly thousands of "us" Theresa that feel the same way as you have described in your utterly moving tribute to the small you. What most non-adoptees do not realize is that we adopted children become an expert in hiding true feelings. You on the other hand have lighted a room with your prose and God bless you for it.

Ungrateful Little Bastard December 30, 2007 at 10:36 AM  

Ah Jude that's so true. What's the use of telling my true feelings when everyone has some sister-in-law who was adopted and is just fine with it. It's hard to be honest in the face of a sea of happy sister-in-law's.

carolinagirl79 January 27, 2008 at 4:19 AM  

I got my rejection letter in 1992. Sorry, but I never told my husband or real children about you and why don't you just be happy with your adoptive parents? Bye now.

Ungrateful Little Bastard January 28, 2008 at 6:20 AM  

Oh my god I'm so sorry. That is so cruel.

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