“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.”Psalms 3:3
It’s been almost three years “in reunion” with my first born. It’s a road I had no clue of where it would go, totally uncharted territory. There was no map, no compass, no GPS, not even a landmark to reassure me that I had not missed a turn. What I did have made up for all the unknowns-God’s abiding love and care, support from my husband through all the messy tears and the totally closed off emotions I held deep inside, forgiveness and understanding from our 6 grown children we raised not knowing about their older sister, and of course, the love and forgiveness of my oldest daughter, who bravely decided to invite me on this amazing “reunion adventure” and didn’t leave when emotions and feelings were hard.
I’ve heard a lot about the “honeymoon period” of adoption reunions. It’s all great while you are getting acquainted…the likenesses, the why’s and how’s, the instant connection many times. But then it gets hard. Memories for the mothers, dealing with shame and then guilt. The adoptee dealing with worries of rejection from not only birth parents and siblings but also from their adoptive families who may not understand the need for this reunion. It’s enough to end many reunions before they even start. I am thankful we have made it to almost 3 years.
I feel like we have moved passed the “honeymoon period” although I am still in constant wonder every time we are together. I still find myself looking at her in disbelief that she is actually that little baby I held for those ten minutes just before I left the hospital. She really is my daughter and crazy enough, she loves me. Incredible. We have developed a friendship even as we are learning more about each other. She seems to understand me so well in such a short time. I feel like I can tell when she is struggling or when she is comfortable or not with all the newness and sometimes awkwardness in all of these new relationships.
A couple of things I have come to realize:
1. This is still not easy. It may never be easy and that’s okay. Easy doesn’t mean good. Easy doesn’t cause me to dig deeper. Easy rarely causes me to cling to Jesus more.
2. I am still grieving. Oh, it’s nothing like the first year of reunion, for sure! Healing has begun. It’s just a slow process that probably can’t be totally finished until Christ comes again. There will probably always be triggers, but the effect isn’t as all consuming as it first was, at least the time to get through those isn’t as long now.
3. I still miss her. Even though I see her more than a couple of my other children, goodbyes are hard and the waiting between visits are harder. I think it may be because the foundation of a lifetime I have with the other kids has not been developed yet with her; it just doesn’t feel as secure. It’s almost like I’m not sure if it’s real when we are apart. Maybe she will decide it’s too much work building this relationship. Her life was so much simpler before birth parent reunions. So many moving parts now.
4. Forgiveness has been a much traveled road that I have to revisit often. God has taught me so much about forgiveness. I honestly thought I was very good at being forgiving, but it turns out I just don’t think about it. Instead of working through it, I was just burying it. Forgiveness was on the surface and it truly was my intent but each new memory had me back at the beginning wondering if I had truly forgiven. I’ve learned forgiveness is much more of a process. I appreciate so much more the forgiveness Christ has given me. Because He lives in me I can work through the hurts, disappointments and heartaches, knowing He understands. I can even forgive myself because God sees me through the blood of His Son as holy and righteous. He has offered me grace and mercy, showing me how to give grace to myself and to others.
5. I still fight fear of the future. I fear losing her again. I fear somewhat the memories that have remained dark and there are awkwardnesses I do not want to face or deal with. I fear I might disappoint her and even my other children. I have failed so many times, but I also know I loved each one with all I had. I have learned and I still learn it over and over again that all I have to do is take it to the Father. I read in His word that I need not fear because He will never leave me in the storm alone. There will most certainly be storms, but He is right beside me and in total control.
6. Sometimes it’s lonely. I guess it always has been and I thought somehow with reunion that would change. It hasn’t. I have found there are just going to be hard things I deal with between me and God….like everyone else.
7. I can be brave, because He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. I’ve always found it easier to hide my feelings and to hide my past. Even now in reunion, when talking about it I only talk about the positives with most people, most of the time. I’ve learned from experience people prefer to hear the successes and not the hurts. Sometimes speaking of past hurt, present grieving or questioning anything about adoption has brought me lectures of why I shouldn’t feel that way. So I only speak about these harder things to those I know will understand, or at least they try. Many times, I just keep my thoughts to myself. I feel like my feelings don’t even make sense to me so how will they make sense to anyone else. But when I need to share my story with someone I think it will help, maybe I can be brave enough. Volunteering at Embrace Grace is not something that makes me feel comfortable. I fight the shame. But then I look around me and realize if I am shaming myself I am shaming them too. We have all experienced unplanned pregnancies. I can step out in faith knowing God is giving me an opportunity to share the love of Jesus. I can use my experience of a broken heart being restored by a loving Heavenly Father to show someone else the hope that comes from Him.
kjp April 2021